Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do you have an influence over another person or group of people? Are you a parent, grandparent, teacher, or maybe a supervisor at work? If so, then Ezekial 34 is for you.
God is prophecing against the shepherds of Israel, but He is also speaking to anyone who has influence over others. Note that the shepherds of Israel were selfish. Note that the Lord clearly states what their purpose as shepherds should be. They should strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, look for the lost. Now that sounds pretty difficult so let's break it down.

1. Strengthen the Weak - to encourage the fainthearted.
2. Heal the Sick - to care for the sick like a nurse.
3. Bind up the injured - to treat one's wound like a mother caring for her child.
4. Look for the Lost - to find those alone and bring them into the fold.

Look around you. Does anyone need to be strengthen, or treated, or bound up, or find? Your assignment as a shepherd (one of influence over others) is to follow the pattern laid out in Ezekiel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

God called prophets to speak to the people and call them to repentance. He also call the prophets to speak to the nations. Ezekiel 25-30 is one prophecy after another against several nations (Ammon, Moab, Seir, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt). The main section of this chapters focus on Tyre and Egypt.

The Tyre prophecy is divded into three large segments by the concluding refrain at 26:21; 27:36; and 28:19. This lengthy collection surpassed only by the Egygt prophecy raises the question - Why? Tyre and Egypt were the only two nations that had the power to withstand the Babylonian army. Egypt had the military power and Tyre had the economic power. To Egypt and Tyre, Ezekiel pronounces destruction.

It is interesting to look back at history. Tyre and Egypt will fall to the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire. It will be Alexander the Great and his Greek army that completely destroys Tyre. Also, after the Romans conquered Egypt, Egypt will exist even today, but with little power and influence in the world.

Once again we see the Lord God directing the affairs of nations. What is God up to in America today? What is His message to us? Most likely it is to repent or face judgment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have you ever learned something from past history? The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 20 gives a unique and inspired look at Israel's exodus experience from God's vantage point. It is designed to remind Israel of their past. It is worth reading again to understand God's perspective. It also gives us a perspective on how God responds to us. As always, He conclude chapter 20 on a positive note. Stating He will restore Israel one day, but for now He is drawing His sword.

The story of Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem) depicts how unfaithful these two nations have become. Their sins both politically and religiously break the very heart of God.
It is important for us to think about our unfaithfulness to God and how it affects Him. Have you broken the heart of God? If so, repent. He is always willing to forgive.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 3, 2011

Philippians 3 & 4

In our reading for today, the Apostle Paul continued to discuss the joy of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. From chapters 1 & 2, the letter to the Philippian church exemplified God’s sovereignty (1:12-13), Jesus’s faithfulness (2:6-8) and how Christians are supposed to respond (2:14-18) when faced with adverse situations. Paul also, in chapter 2:12-17, gave an outline of four ways for believers to be obedient to God during trials.
1) Do everything without complaining or arguing.
2) Live clean innocent lives.
3) Hold firm to God’s word.
4) Faithfully serve (make a sacrifice) as an offering to God.

In our reading today, Paul brings up elements that prevent believers from being obedient and thus causing a break in the joy of fellowship with Christ. The apostle gives an example of how our past accomplishments and pride are often the biggest and most frequent barriers (3:1-6). Paul writes about how his past success and even his heritage is not worthy or comparable to knowing Jesus. He emphasized that it is only through faith in Christ that we are made righteous. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, The Lord tells us not to boast about our own wisdom, power and riches but to boast about understanding and knowing him.

But Paul does not leave us with identifying a barrier but gives three suggestions towards pressing on to establish a joyous relationship with Christ:
1) Focus on Jesus Christ
2) Forget about past accomplishments
3) Mimic the actions of Jesus

We however, cannot leave Philippians without stating the key verse of the letter, 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. These simple words carry the weight of this letter as they emphasize how joy and security is found when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Repent! That is the final verse in this section of Ezekiel 13-18. However, it is a call to repent on every person. Jerusalem was destroyed for not repenting as a nation, but this call is to individuals. Every person is to repent and take responsiblity for their moral lives. Thus the appeal is to make yourselves a new heart and spirit.

The appeal is true today for us. We need to take responsiblity for our moral lives. However, many today want to blame someone else for their sins. "It was my parents fault." "My surroundings made me this way." "I would have been different if I had lived in a better place."
You hear the blame everyday. However, God says it is our choices that determine who we are.

I encourage you today to take an inventory of your moral life. Do you have a new heart and spirit? Are you making good moral choices? Are you blaming others for your failings? Just as your parents or surroundings can not save you, neither can your parents sin be held against you. We must take responsiblity for our moral lives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday June 26, 2011

Philippians 1 & 2

“I got JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY down in my heart”, a song often sung by our kids but lost as they grow older. So often in our day we are bombarded by problems, stressors and crisis. Some are more credible than the others but often we make our own mole hills into mountains. In starting our reading of Philippians, we find the Apostle Paul in a serious situation as he has been imprisoned and is awaiting trial. He is aware that he could be waiting for his execution. So why this letter of being joyful in a time of peril?

The letter to the Philippians is a response to the believers providing aid and encouragement to Paul while incarcerated. Through the letter, the apostle desired to exemplify God’s sovereignty (1:12-13), Jesus’s faithfulness (2:6-8) and how Christians are supposed to respond to adversity (2:14-18).
So often we face the challenges in life as reasons to quit or complain about not accomplishing goals or dreams. So frequently we forget that in facing our problems in a particular way, we are actually building our relationship with God. In James, chap 1:3-4, we are told that when faith is tested through adversity it is an opportunity to grow endurance. But it’s not just about lasting through the trial; rather it’s about how we handle ourselves through the period. As stated, Paul wanted the Philippians to understand true joy even when a crisis arose. He pointed out actions and attitudes that would not only strengthen your faith but also display to others how Christians handle trouble.

In chapter 2:12-17, Paul outlines four ways for believers to be obedient to God during trials.
1) Do everything without complaining or arguing.
2) Live clean innocent lives.
3) Hold firm to God’s word.
4) Faithfully serve (make a sacrifice) as an offering to God.

Consider what joy really means to you. Tangible items and placing your happiness in earthly things will fail. True joy comes from knowing God and growing a relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s sovereignty and Jesus’s faithfulness is everlasting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today we begin our read of the prophet Ezekiel. This is one of my favorite books of prophecy.
Ezekiel begins with the famous inaugural vision. This opening sequence is the most elaborate and complex of the prophetic call narratives in the Old Testament, and also one of the most carefully structured. It begins with a vision in which Ezekiel witnesses the awesome approach of the glory of God (1:1-28). Ezekiel receives his prophetic commission through swallowing the scroll God offers (2:1-3:11). After the glory of God withdraws, his role is further refined by his appointment as a "watchman" (3:16-21). This sequence concludes with a further encounter with God's glory (3:22-27).

The next three chapters begin the chronological ordering of the downfall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel is commisssioned, equipped, and positioned to state God's judgment on Jerusalem.

As we begin the study of Ezekiel, I hope you will hand in there as move from past to future prophetic truths found in this book. The big question is always before us. "How is my relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus?"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ephesians 1 – 3
In entertainment wrestling (WWE) there is a character called John Cena. Presently he is the defending champion and has been on numerous occasions. As he enters the ring, he announces, “The Champ is here!” He is considered the golden boy of the organization. Disliked by some fans but admired by many, including several youth. In his popularity, he always wears the same designed t-shirt representing his motto “hustle, honor and loyalty”. These are good qualities, as youth and some adults try to emulate his actions. But not just in this scenario, many people place others and objects as their central figure. This week we have the fortune of starting one of my favorite books of the Bible, Ephesians. This letter, written by Paul, is in contrast to some of the prior books we have read. Paul, in this letter, is not writing to redirect a serious problem or deal with false teaching. He instead is writing to encourage the church to continue to develop and move towards establishing its self with Jesus Christ as the center. To accomplish this, Paul’s first three chapters are focused on identifying Jesus Christ as the focal point or “CHAMP”. The apostle made clear that “ALL” things run through Christ as God planned it. The last three chapters describe how individually, as believers we are supposed to carry ourselves. In viewing today’s reading; what would your t-shirt say and who would you be emulating?

As stated, the first three chapters are focused on laying down the foundation and benefits of having Jesus intervene for the church. Paul reminded the Ephesians of how believers profited from Christ’s actions. Here are some of the things we should carry on a banner for our Champion: Jesus is our:
Brother – Through Him we are adopted into God’s family. (1:5)
Savior – He purchased our freedom through his sacrifice. (1:7)
Master – God’s plan, everything will come under the authority of Jesus Christ. (1:10)
Conqueror – We were saved by God’s grace through Jesus conquering the grave. (2:4-6)
Peace maker – Jesus brought unity and the wall of indifference was knocked down. (2:14-16).
Foreman – Through Jesus, we are directed in our actions to give glory to God. (3:10-11)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lamentations is a neglected book. It was most likely written to be prayed or sung in worship services devoted to asking God's forgiveness and seeking restoration to a convenant relationship with God. Lamentations was written by Jeremiah and holds some very important key theological concepts.

Such concepts as...
a. It offers compelling prayers of confession, renewed hope, and dependence on God's grace.
b. Affirms God's faithfulness and never-ceasing mercy.
c. Affirms that prayers of confession and petition are the means for restoring a broken relationship with God.
d. Affirms that the "day of the Lord" is the day God comes to judge sin.

The key passage in Lamentations is 3:19-24. It states:

"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him."

I love verses 22-23. They bring joy to my heart. I hope they do the same for you. In fact,
I have a song I like to sing related to these verses. Ask me and I will sing it for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday, June 05 2011

Galatians 4 – 6

Hello to all, today we conclude the book of Galatians. This letter, written by Paul, once again focused on the negative impact of false teachers on new believers. The Judaizers spread false doctrine that in order to truly be saved, Gentiles not only had to believe in Christ Jesus but also had to comply with Jewish Law and rituals. These same false teachers also attempted to minimize Paul’s authority to preach the Gospel.

To counter these acquisitions, Paul spent time providing a history of why he was an authority on Jewish Law and how Jesus Christ chose him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In the letter, Paul goes through a process of explaining why the Law (the old covenant) was no longer the standard. He stated its purpose of providing guidance on how to live, its ability to convict people of their sin and how it drives people to have faith in Christ. Paul, however; continued to reemphasize that salvation could only be obtained in placing your faith in Jesus Christ (the new covenant), not by your own actions. The apostle proceeded to use Old Testament scripture and common life illustrations to support his stance on salvation.

For the remainder of the letter, Paul desired for the Galatians to avoid believing in the false teachings that emphasized customs over faith. He as well wished for the people to embrace the freedom that comes with believing in Christ but not to abuse it by engaging in sinful behavior identified in (v. 5:19-21). Instead, Paul gave other virtues we are to display (v. 5:2-23).

In applying this book to our daily lives, we need to be aware of people who influence our walk with Christ. We need to always remember that our salvation is based off of our faith in Jesus, not by rituals or traditions. We however perform certain actions because they exemplify Christ. We are to be the peacemakers, we are to show forgiveness and have compassion, we are to display self-control in what we watch, listen to, consume and say, we are to practice being faithful to Jesus and our commitments to others and finally we are to follow the greatest commandment, to love God and our neighbors.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today we finish reading the book of Jeremiah. These last few chapters are judgments on the nations around Judah. Judgment is declared against Egypt, the Philistines, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Lebanon, Syria, and two Arab clans (Kedar and Jazor). It is a picture of the future.

Today we see these very same nations at odds with Israel. More and more everyday the nation of Israel is feeling the pressure of being surrounded by their enemies. Everyday the Arab nations are becoming bolder in their talk of driving Israel into the sea. God judges the nations that curse Israel. He did it in Jeremiah's day and He will do it in our day.

It is awesome to know that the God who loves Israel with an everlasting love also loves us (His children) that same way. We can rest in the truth that God has a plan for us now and in the future. His love is wide, deep, and forever.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011

Galatians 1 – 3
I was fortunate to attend my wife’s nephew’s graduation this week. As the ceremony started the audience was reminded, “by the powers that be”, that the event was a formal occasion. Rules and expectations were established. Tradition was to be enforced. My wife, who attended the same high school, noted minor differences in procedure but held that it was pretty much the same way. As the event proceeded, a young man with Downs Syndrome came across the stage to receive his diploma. He proceeded to do a little dance and show his joy at his accomplishment. While it took all the school personnel on stage to get him refocused and redressed his classmates first, then the audience began cheering and clapping, sharing in the young man’s joy. So much for tradition. I later asked my wife’s nephew whether the young man or anyone got into trouble for the celebration. He replied “NO”, for that student was the heart of our senior class. Tradition and procedures were not important to these students because they realized what they and this young man had accomplished and the new life they would all start.

So how does this pertain to today’s reading, as we start the book of Galatians? In the first three chapters of this letter, written by the Apostle Paul, he once again had to defend his authority and authenticity of the Gospel he preached. He as well had to deal with false teachers, known as Judaizers. These people taught that Gentiles had to follow Jewish Law and customs in order to be truly saved. Throughout this letter, Paul will reemphasize the “Good News” that salvation was through faith in Jesus Christ and not in performing traditions to follow the Law. Just as with the students who broke from traditions and procedure to celebrate an accomplishment and new beginning, we to should be mindful of our own new beginning. Our salvation is based on faith in Jesus; not our adherence to old customs.

From the beginning, Paul set the stage of urgency. He uncommonly skipped over his remarks of thanksgiving after the greeting and launched into the problems. Throughout the chapters, Paul confronted allegations from the Judaizers that dealt with: 1) his preaching being unauthentic and inspired by man, 2) His being unaware of Jewish customs and 3) how the Jewish Laws were still the path to salvation. To rebuke this teaching, chapters 1 and 2 addressed his past and how God chose him and gave him revelation to the Gospel. Paul laid out a timeline showing his knowledge and zeal in Judaism, his conversion through Christ intervention and how he was inspired by Jesus, not by man or other apostles, to preach the word.

Throughout chapters 2 and 3, Paul tackled the key problem of the allegations from the Judaizers. Paul remarked that he even challenged the Apostle Peter’s hypocrisy when dealing with how salvation was obtained. Paul asserted that the Gospel was about salvation coming solely through faith in Jesus Christ, not adherence to the Laws. He used the patriarchal image of Abraham to emphasize how it was through faith in Christ (God’s promise to us) not our actions that brings about salvation. If the reverse was true then Jesus’s sacrifice was made in vain. Paul went further to explain that the purpose of the Law was to come alongside the Messiah and convict believers of their sins. There were two other purposes for the Law. The first was to give guidelines on how to live and the second was to drive us to have a relationship and be dependent on Jesus Christ.

To conclude chapter 3, Paul wanted the Galatians to understand, along with what we should take from it, that as believers in Jesus Christ, we are all children of God. Despite being Jew or Gentile, black or white, Baptist or Pentecostal, we are all able to receive God’s promise of freedom when we place our faith in his son Jesus and not by our own actions.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011

2 Corinthians 11-13

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

As with the days of the knights, Paul is taking off the gloves and throwing down the gauntlet. Within these final chapters (11-13), Paul directly confronted the major issues of the letter, false teaching, defending his authority and spiritual immaturity.

In chapter 11, Paul began by reemphasizing the need for believers to focus purely on God and to not be swayed by false doctrines and teachers. This was the idea of the “pure bride” (v.2-3). Ironically, in viewing our own time we are still confronted with this as recently as yesterday. A pastor persuaded many people to believe that May 21, 2011 at 6:00p.m., the rapture was to take place. There were many who spoke out against this prediction based on biblically truth. Matthew 24:26-44 is Jesus, “THE AUTHORITY”, telling the disciples the end of time is not for man to know but to be watchful and live accordingly. We must be as alert to false teachings, as Paul was back then. From (11:11-15) Paul made known that as Satan disguises himself, so shall his servants. So remain vigilant.

In continuing our reading, Paul begins to layout his credentials for his authority to preach. He laid out several factors that distinguished him from the rest, such as: diligent hard work, imprisonment, physical torture, a stoning, several shipwrecks and long journeys with constant endangerment. Paul informed the Corinthians that he was not boasting about his own efforts but rather how God had sustained him through these trials and his weaknesses. The apostle went further as he noted how God spoke to him is his moments of physical affliction. Paul informed the believers, that God made known that His grace is all we need and that His power works best in our weakness (v.12:8-10). What a glorious thing to hold on to day by day.

In concluding today’s reading, Paul desired for the Corinthians to understand that he passionately cared about them. He wanted them to know he was not weak in comparison to other speakers but diligently chased after them, because he was invested in their maturity towards following Christ. Paul warned them that on his next visit he would openly deal with those who did not heed his corrections. To end, Paul illustrated the behaviors we should display towards others who are falling into deception: stand strong in your faith, rely on God’s grace, be vigilant to deceivers and perform redirections firmly but with love. Paul made a key point in (v. 13:10), that we should remember. A mature believer would rather use God’s truth to build/strengthen fellow believers as opposed to tearing them down.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19th

There is no one like God. Who is His equal? Job 39 is a continuation of a list of questions given by God to Job that started in chapter 38. The questions are rhetorical. The point; to help Job (and you and I) remember that He is God and we are not.

Job 40 shows Job silent in God’s presence. Job says that he will place his hand over his mouth. Just the same way that Princes used to do in the presence of Job. (29:9)

This makes me think; how often am I silent in the presence of a Holy God. I sing… I “pray”… I talk about Him; but when I look back I realize that I do not find myself in the position of stillness and silence before him.

I’ll just be honest; I would hate to have to go what Job went through. However I would love to know God in the way that Job knows him towards the end of this book. Truth be told though, I’m not sure I can have one without the other. Lord help us to embrace our times in the valley.

(LATE) Thursday, May 12th

(Sorry for this late post. It seems the blog website was down last week.)

I made reference in last week’s blog about Elihu’s arrogance. In some ways I could sum up Job 37 with the Latin phrase; et cetera. On and on go the words of this young man who stated he has perfect knowledge (36:4)

Lest we be too unfair to Elihu he does make some great observations. He sees the power of Almighty God in nature and makes note of how it rocks mankind’s world. Sad to say that I believe we have lost some that in our day and time. Not that God’s power isn’t still turning the plans and schemes of man upside down; it’s just that so often we have forgotten to drop to our knees and say, “We remember you O Lord!” After all to do so would make us ignorant of how earthquakes and storm systems work, right? May we never forget that the power that moves us to the basement and interior room of our homes; the power that “gets our prayer life caught up,” is only a fraction of His might. We remember you, O Lord!!!

Speaking of YHWH God…. Wait for it… Wait for it… “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…” (Job 38:1) The silence is over!!! Job was absolutely right; our Redeemer lives!!

God answers Job in “personal power.” Out of a whirlwind He speaks directly to the man. Many questions have been asked thus far. Now the Lord of all has some questions for Job. “Job… you’ve gone on about the day you were born?” “Were you there when the universe was born?” How’s that for perspective?

I am not going to comment very much more on chapter 38. I want you, the reader of this blog, to go back to chapter 38 and let it be personal. How many times have you doubted God’s plan for you? Remember the time that, in your heart of hearts, you did not feel like you could trust God with____?” I have been there as well.

Do yourself a huge favor today. Read Job 38 out loud. Go ahead… read it. At the end of ever question I want you to answer… out loud. How great it our God. He’s got the whole world in His hands; and for the record, that includes you and me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Have you ever felt like your life was like a roller coaster? Jeremiah understands this feeling. Jeremiah 37 through 41 finds himself imprisoned, cast in a Cistern, rescued from the Cistern, eyewitness to the fall of Jerusalem, released to go wherever, and sees the death of the newly appointed leader of Judah.

When Jeremiah thinks everything is getting better, the situation gets worse. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. Jeremiah is one such person. We are not promised that life will always go in a good way, but we are told that God will never, never, never, never, never leave us or forsake us. That is an awesome promise.

Today, be prepared for bad things to happen by being in a close walk with Jesus. He is the only one who can get us through the bad things of life. Quess what? He wants to get us through the bad things of life. Trust Him.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday May 15, 2011

2 Corinthians 8 & 9

The Art of Giving

Today’s reading is on Paul encouraging the Corinthians to give financially to support believers in Jerusalem. He emphasized how the other churches, especially Macedonia who was poor, gave so abundantly and beyond his expectation (v.8:3-5). His desire was for the Church in Corinth to live up to the boasting he had spread about them (9:2). Paul noted that since they excelled at so many things, they needed to excel at giving. It is at this point, Paul gave basic principles to giving that we should be mindful of today.
1) (v.8:5) First give yourself to the Lord.
2) (v.8:8) Be mindful whether you are taking steps to mature in your walk with Christ.
3) (v.8:9) Imitate Christ, by making a sacrificial gift to help others.
4) (v.8:10-11, 9:5)) Fulfill your obligations to others.
5) (v.8:12-13, 9:6-8) Give eagerly but responsibly, as a willing gift.
6) (v.8:14, 9:10-11) Obedience to God never comes back void.

Throughout these chapters, Paul wanted to make clear that giving was something people are led to do by the Holy Spirit acting upon them, not because of obligation. We have an opportunity today to give financial to support missions and church growth. We also have an opportunity to give of our time and talents in church ministry. Just as well as tithing, giving your time in a ministry allows you to achieve the overall results Paul mentioned in (v. 9:13-14). You will display an eager heart to help those in need and you will show your obedience to God.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

God told Jeremiah in chapter 32 to buy a field outside Jerusalem. The city had been under siege for a year, and Jeremiah bought land that the soldiers occupied -- certainly a poor investment. In addition, Jeremiah was a prisoner in the palace. But Jeremiah was demonstrating his faith in God's promises to bring his people back and to rebuild Jerusalem.

Trust doesn't come easy. It wasn't easy for Jeremiah to publicly buy land already captured by the enemy. But he trusted God. It wasn't easy for David to believe he would become king, even after he was anointed. But he trusted God (1 Samuel 16-31). It wasn't easy for Moses to believe that he and his people would escape Egypt, even after God spoke to him from a burning bush. But he trusted God (Exodus 3 - 4). It isn't easy for us to believe God can fulfill his "impossible" promises either, but we must trust him. God, who worked in the lives of Biblical heroes, will work in our lives too, if we will let him.

Jeremiah 33:15-16 refers to both the first and second coming of Christ. At his first coming he would set up his reign in the hearts of believers; at his second coming he would execute justice and righteousness throughout the whole earth. He is coming again. This is another reason for us to trust him.

Jeremiah 34 describes the fulfillment of many of Jeremiah's predictions. The people of Israel had a hard time keeping their promises to God. In the temple, they would solemnly promise to obey God, but back in their homes and at work they wouldn't do it. God expressed his great displeasure. If you want to please God, make sure you keep your promises. God wants promises lived out, not just piously made.

God told Jeremiah in chapter 36 to write his words on a scroll. Because he was not allowed to go to the temple, Jeremiah asked his scribe, Baruch, to whom he had dictated the scroll to read it to the people gathered there. Baruch then read it to the officials, and finally Jehudi read it to the kimg. Although the king burned the scroll, he could not destroy the word of God. Today many people try to put God's Word aside or say that it contains errors and therefore cannot be trusted. People may reject God's Word, but they cannot destroy it. God's Word will stand forever (Psalm 119:89). We should never forget this truth. This is another reason we can trust God. May you trust him today in whatever you face.

Thursday, May 12th

I made reference in last week’s blog about Elihu’s arrogance. In some ways I could sum up Job 37 with the Latin phrase; et cetera. On and on go the words of this young man who stated he has perfect knowledge (36:4)

Lest we be too unfair to Elihu he does make some great observations. He sees the power of Almighty God in nature and makes note of how it rocks mankind’s world. Sad to say that I believe we have lost some that in our day and time. Not that God’s power isn’t still turning the plans and schemes of man upside down; it’s just that so often we have forgotten to drop to our knees and say, “We remember you O Lord!” After all to do so would make us ignorant of how earthquakes and storm systems work, right? May we never forget that the power that moves us to the basement and interior room of our homes; the power that “gets our prayer life caught up,” is only a fraction of His might. We remember you, O Lord!!!

Speaking of YHWH God…. Wait for it… Wait for it… “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…” (Job 38:1) The silence is over!!! Job was absolutely right; our Redeemer lives!!

God answers Job in “personal power.” Out of a whirlwind He speaks directly to the man. Many questions have been asked thus far. Now the Lord of all has some questions for Job. “Job… you’ve gone on about the day you were born?” “Were you there when the universe was born?” How’s that for perspective?

I am not going to comment very much more on chapter 38. I want you, the reader of this blog, to go back to chapter 38 and let it be personal. How many times have you doubted God’s plan for you? Remember the time that, in your heart of hearts, you did not feel like you could trust God with____?” I have been there as well.

Do yourself a huge favor today. Read Job 38 out loud. Go ahead… read it. At the end of ever question I want you to answer… out loud. How great it our God. He’s got the whole world in His hands; and for the record, that includes you and me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday May 9, 2011

I thought I would take a second here in this blog post and encourage you in your Bible reading plan.

Some of us may have let slip recently our steadfastness in our daily reading. Family, work, school, friends, etc. etc. etc. Everything takes up time and takes time from our time in God's Word.

Let's remember Jesus' words in John 17:17:

"Sanctify them in truth, Your Word is truth."

God's plan for us is to no longer be conformed to the patter of this world, which hates God and his people and is only focused on pleasure and selfishness. On a daily basis we are at war with our sinful natures. We are either making decisions based upon our fleshly life or our spiritual life; the two never work together.

Perhaps you've stopped your plan to read through the whole Bible in one year as our whole church is doing. Perhaps other things have taken up that time slot that you set aside at the first of the year. Perhaps life happened.

Perhaps today is the day to repent of the sin of ignoring God's message to you, that He has written clearly in His Word, and begin afresh to read and study the life alterning, holiness imparting truths of the Bible.

Let us confess today our inability to be holy on our own and surrender to the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. For, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

And may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ be honored in our pursuit of Him.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2 Corinthians 6 & 7
Triumph in the Face of Adversity
Happy Mother’s Day

Today’s reading finds Paul, on the surface, defending his credentials and authority to the people of Corinth. However in viewing the passages more closely, Paul used his own hardships to exemplify his reliance on God, to triumph. From chapter 6, three assurances are displayed when people rely on God: 1) He is sovereign over all things, 2) He is faithful and will be there with us (v.7) and 3) His grace, as he provides for us (v. 8-10).

Throughout much of chapters 6 and 7, Paul called for believers to do more than just vocalize their faithfulness to God. He called for people to act in times of adversity. Paul illustrated this as he called believers to first cleanse themselves from anything that would defile their spirit (7:1). This cleansing is not just a movement away from sin but a turning to God. In John 15:18-25, Jesus spoke about how the world hated him and how we are chosen to come out of it. In 1 John 2:15, we are told not to love this world, for if we do, the love for the Father is not within us. Paul continued to demonstrate this as he used scripture from the Old Testament that gave reference to God’s people turning away from sin and focusing on Him. As believers, we are first called to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and secondly to repent of our sins and focus on God.

But Paul called for more. He encouraged the Corinthians to work towards complete holiness (2 Cor.7:1). Paul, in chapter 6 gave examples of how Christians should carry themselves in hard times. He mentioned relying on the Holy Spirit to empower us to show a pure heart, have patience to endure, display understanding and kindness and to show love to everyone (6:6). We are reminded that these actions were not performed for prestige or to earn passage into heaven. Believers are to perform actions in order to exemplify God’s love and give Him glory.

At the conclusion of chapter seven, Paul returns to his discussion from chapter 2; as he gave the Corinthians praise for their repentance and zeal to do right. At the center of these two chapters is Paul’s desire to convey the gift of salvation. In chapter 6, Paul starts out warning the Corinthians to not waste God’s wonderful gift. Throughout the course of the two chapters, Paul informed the believers about how to be reconciled back to God and receive salvation: use the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, repent from our sins and live a life that gives glory God.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Have you ever gotten conflicting reports? The King of Judah found himself in this very situation. Jeremiah 27 provides a message from the prophet Jeremiah to the king. His message is that Judah is to serve Babylon for 70 years or face sword, famine, and pestilence. Jeremiah warns that any prophet saying otherwise is not of God. Sure enough a false prophet named Hananiah comes to the king prophecying that the yoke of the king of Babylon has been broken and that they would be free in two years. Jeremiah and Hananiah confront one another in the king's court. Jeremiah states that Hananiah will die for his deceit and he does within two months of this confrontation. A true prophet's words will always come true. God's Word is always true.
It is important for believers to read, know, and live God's Word daily.

Jeremiah 29 finds the prophet writing a letter to those in exile in Babylon. He encourages them that God has not forgotten them, but that they need to plan for a long stay in Babylon. He encourages them to hope and work for Babylon's success. This message did not go well with the exiled. Once again a false prophet named Shemaiah begins to say the opposite to the exiled. He calls Jeremiah a madman and that the exile would be short. Jeremiah once again reveals that Shermaiah is a false prophet. The king must have realized that Jeremiah was the true prophet of God because he does not punish Jeremiah.

There will always be someone saying the opposite of what God says. We see it every day. God says to aviod sin, but many say that sin is not really sin. God says there is only one way to heaven, but many today say that there are many ways to heaven. Who do we believe? We must always believe God's Word.

Jeremiah 30 begins a positive theme. He claims that God will restore the nation, make a new covenant with Israel, bring Israel back to the Promised Land, and honor the Davidic covenant.
All claims have been fulfilled. God is Faithful Always.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(LATE) Thursday April 28th

A note before I begin. This was last week’s blog. I had it written but forgot to post it. If you ever look for Thursday’s posting and by noon there is no blog posted; please call me. It means I forgot againJ

Before I was a believer in Christ I was very good pointing out reasons why I was not a believer in Christ. Most of those reasons revolved around the words and/ or actions of those who professed to be believers. I fully admit that most of my judgments were self centered and wrong but never the less it reminds me that the world is watching.

The reason I mention these things is that the speech from Elihu to Job reminds me of one of those conversations that I would’ve looked down upon. If I would’ve overheard Elihu’s words I do believe I would’ve said, “See… that’s why I’m not one of them.”

Numerous times throughout the passage Elihu twists Job’s own words and ideas in an attempt to show Job that he is somehow under the shadow of God’s judgment on his life. Can you imagine sitting near this conversation; seeing that the man listening has red, dry eyes from constant tears. Seeing that the man is covered in boils you lean in to hear what words of comfort and encouragement are being offered. What do you hear; a religious man espousing religiosity instead of godly truth and comfort. Is there anything more disgusting?

I know that today’s chapters are long but I am going to keep this short. Remember that we are to love like Jesus. People are watching our actions. They hear our words. Sometimes people just need someone to pray for them instead of praying “about” them. Lord have Your way because often times we don’t know exactly what You’re up to.

Thursday, May 5th

Arrogance - an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions; see Elihu.

For the length of these two passages this is going to be a very short blog. I am going to admit something to you. I am sick of hearing Elihu talk. Catch that; I am sick of hearing him talk. “I” who still has my family, means of income and health intact. Can you imagine how Job feels as he sits broken and feeling abandoned by the God he loves?

Elihu is a relatively young man. The text mentions that as well as the fact that he has to wait for the other three to speak to Job. Have you ever worked somewhere and had some younger know-it-all either as a supervisor or as someone who just constantly seems to run on at the mouth? If you have then you are beginning to get a feel for these two chapters.

Elihu is arrogance personified. Take note of chapter 36 verse 4. “For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.” Wow!!Two things that I think we can take home from Elihu’s speech; which will actually carry on in chapter 37. One, if we are not seeking the Lord in humility we could easily become a person like Elihu. No matter our age or life experience only God truly knows the heart of a man and we are to humble our hearts before His perfect knowledge at all times and in all situations. Two, Job doesn’t answer Elihu. Not to give too much away but the next person to speak after Elihu will be God himself. There’s a lesson there. Stick around, it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tuesday May 3

We see In 2 Samuel 5, That David's long wait is over and he becomes king. He reigns in Henron but then captures Jerusalem. The key verse is

2 Samuel 5:10 And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.

The Key to David's life is that he had an intimate close relationship with the Lord jehovah. Out of that intimate close relationship we see God's hand of protection and power revealed through him for His people.

In 2 Samuel 6, we see that David moves forward with his idea of bringing the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem rather than God's plan of transporting the ark. David chose a new cart believing that his new way was better but instead his defying of God's plan of transporting the ark caused the death of a fellow Israelite who touched the ark. As david chose to leave the ark where it was in an impetuous decision we see the key verse

2 Samuel 6:11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.

We see exactly what David ultimately saw: that God's presence brings blessing. This truth can't be ignored, but we must live not only with His presence but in His plan of obedience for our lives.

In 2 Samuel 7, we see David's desire to build a building for God's ark and to honro His presence. Nathan relays to David that his desire is right and honorable but Gid's plan is for David's son to be the builder of this facility and not David.

in 2 Samuel 8-9, we see that David as King is both a victorious warrior king and a king with a long memory as he does not forget that he made a promise to Jonathan concerning his family when he became king. David asked the question if there was anyone that he could show mercy/grace/kindness to in the family of Saul and the one that was brought to his attention was one that could never give anything in return. (Does this sound familiar to anyone?) David hunts this person down and rather than kill them as they were a part of the former king's family he has them eat at his table fo rthe rest of their life not because of who they were but because of His grace/mercy/kindness. What a wonderful O.T. picture of grace that was reflected by God in the N.T. as He hunted us down and gave us mercy/grace/kindness.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday May 1, 2011

2 Corinthians 4 & 5

Greetings everyone,
Today’s reading is one of HOPE. Both chapters 4 & 5 contain words that inspire us to focus on Jesus and what we have after this worldly life. Also embedded into these chapters are Paul’s continued efforts to address false teachers, his ministry and cultural beliefs that do not coincide with biblical principles.

In looking at chap 4, Paul begins to remind us about our future as he illustrated to the Corinthians that this world is Satan’s and these earthly bodies are but temporary, fragile clay vessels. Paul points out that even though we are in this state, it gives testimony to how things are accomplished through God empowering us and not through our own skills. Paul later in chapter 4 used this concept to show how even though we go through strenuous circumstances; God is always with us (4:8-9). These same trials, Paul continued, could be seen in two manners. First it would act as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Secondly, as we faithfully go through our troubles; it gives testimony to others about the power and goodness of Christ Jesus.
Something always to ask yourself; would people see God’s light shining out of you, during troubled times or would they classify you as a poor witness?

In looking at chapter 5, Paul begins to readdress the issue of resurrection. Paul is confronted by the problem of cultural beliefs that conflict with biblical principles. The Corinthians were heavily influenced by the Greek culture which did not believe in the resurrection of the body. In our own time are you able to identify cultural beliefs that go against what the Bible teaches. Issues like abortion and premarital sex are always at the forefront but what about other issues such as the increase in fatherless homes, media/entertainment and poverty?

In chapter 5, Paul not only painted a picture of hope, as we would dawn new bodies and be present with the Lord; he wanted to make clear that believers were to acknowledge their new life here on earth in action and thought. Paul urgently tried to get across that a new life meant, a new creation, specifically for Christ, a new perspective about others, and having a new family. What we can draw from Paul’s view of a new life in Christ is:
1) Live by believing not by seeing. (v. 7)
2) Be fearful of the Lord’s judgment (v. 10-11)
3) Our actions are guided by the Love Christ displayed on the cross (v. 14-15)
4) We are God’s ambassadors as we are tasked with reconciling others to Him. (v. 18-20)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Saturday, April 30

Last Saturday we read in Mark 11-12. It was here in these chapters that we saw many things that took place leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ...which we just so happened to have celebrated last weekend. It was and is a joyous celebration because Christ is no longer dead, He is alive.

But then today we begread in Mark 13-14 which to many is a bit of disheartening discussions. In Mark 13 we look towards the end times, which many fear. I think that in looking to the end times, many want to focus just on all the bad stuff that happens but I think that in Mark 13:13 we can take courage. It states, "And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Being hated isn't exactly a happy thought but I think the reason for being hated is...we belong to God! People will hate us but they first hated Christ! I find refuge in this. And then the second part of that verse reminds us that there is something to come later! Persecution will happen, followers will be handed over for death, but ultimately our God, our Father, or Savior will do just us!

Of course first followers must go through the trials and we must, "be on guard" as Mark 13:22 states because false teachers and prophets will try to lead us astray. I think this being on guard goes right along with what we are doing right now and right here...reading through God's Word. To be on guard against false teachings, we must first know the truth. So let me encourage you to keep on studying, keep on working through the Bible this year. Soak it in!
As we move past chapter 13 and into chapter 14, we see the the trials leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus and it solidifies the theme of today's reading...trials and hardships will come our way. But I do find strength in knowing that no matter what I may face, Christ faced it first and He wants to help me through it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 29, 2011

The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry while Josiah was King of Judah. Josiah served the LORD and brought revival to the land. However, when Josiah dies his son Jehoahaz, also called Shallum, becomes king for 3 months. He does not follow in his father's footsteps. Instead 2 Kings 23:32 says "He did evil in the sight of the LORD." Thus God sends Pharaoh Neco to Jerusalem and he captures Jehoahaz and places his brother, Jehoiakim, on the throne of Judah.
Jeremiah 22 is God confronting Jehoahaz with his sin and declaring his loss of the kingdom. Jeremiah 22:13-17 is a message for Jehoahaz, but it is also a message for us. God reminds the king that his father was a man of justice and righteousness, but he is one who cares only for himself. Selfishness is still hated by God today. We are called to love others more than ourselves.

Jeremiah 23 condemns the shepherds (leaders) of Judah and the lying prophets. God is always angered by leaders who care for themselves and do not take care of their people. God states that the shepherds of Judah do not care, heal, protect, nor feed their sheep, but instead they scatter them. Today believers are all shepherds in some form or another. Anyone who has influence over others is a shepherd and God calls us to care for the sheep.

Jeremiah 24 finds the people of Judah under Babylonian rule. Jehoiakim rules Judah for 12 years. In 597 B.C. his son Jehoiachin becomes king. However, he rules for only a few months and Nebuchadnezzar replaces him with Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.). It was during 597 B.C. that Nebuchadnezzar takes several officials and craftsmen to Babylon. Daniel will be one of those taken. In chapter 24 Jeremiah sees the two baskets of figs. The good figs represent those going to Babylon and the bad figs represent those left in Judah.

Jeremiah 25 is an important prophecy of the time frame of the exile. Here God states that the exile will last 70 years. God also declares that the Babylonian Empire will fall to the Persians.
God makes it clear that He is about to bring punishment to the nations. It will not be stopped.

Just as Jeremiah was an instrument to speak the words of the LORD to Judah, God's Word (the Bible) speaks today. It calls us to be righteous and holy. It calls us to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. It calls us to stand firm in our faith and trust the LORD to protect us.
The world today seems to be spilling out of control. God is however, still in control. We must trust Him with our lives, our families, our future. Jeremiah 26 tells us that Jeremiah's faithfulness to God almost got him killed. The truth is Jesus said that His people will be mistreated, imprisoned, and killed for following Him. Not a pretty picture, but death is only a gate to eternity with Jesus. Praise the Lord.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Exodus 13-16

One of my favorite times in the Bible that the Lord God shows His incredible provision to His people is after they flee Egypt's oppression. Over and over again, the people grumble about their circumstances. God provides and tells them what to do and they complain and don't do it.

He had given them meat and water and bread and yet they grumbled and complained. But even before that, He had just rescued them from 400 years of slavery, and yet they complained. He had just made the Red Sea part allowing them to cross and also killed the Egyptian army that was pursuing them to re-enslave them.

God had provided for them time and time again and yet, complaint arose from within them.

What kind of people look at all of God's blessing and provision and presence and yet, complain to His face?

Normal people.

If you're a Christian, you're a slave of God. You've been set free from the bondage of Sin and become a child of God. You've been spared the awful wrath of God, an eternal Hell, and been given God himself as your prize through Christ our Lord. I've been given those things along with you and yet, I find myself complaining at certain points in my life.

I find myself complaining about incredibly ridiculous things in light of the blessing and unmerited favor of God in my life. I find myself being ungrateful to the King of Kings. I find myself living according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit at some points in my life.

There is an overwhelming characteristic of a life that has been born again: a life of gratitude.

The one who understands how deep the Father's love is for them, understands how much we have to be thankful for.

I've said it before: it's hard to not like a genuine, overly-thankful person. And conversely, it's hard to be around people who are ungrateful for anything and who complain about everything.

What kind of witness to we offer our King? Does the Grace of God overflow into our hearts to make us into thankful, humble people? Or does it give us the license to expect more from the world than it offered our Lord Jesus?

May we be people of thanks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday April 24, 2011

2 Corinthians 1 – 3

Hello everyone, HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY. We celebrate because He’s ALIVE. I hope today finds everybody being thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Today’s blog starts the book of 2 Corinthians. This is actually the fourth letter written by Paul to the church of Corinth. In this letter Paul addressed false teachers and those who questioned his ministry. Paul informed believers he would not return for a visit, in chap 1 and 2 due to his desire to spare them a “severe rebuke”. Paul wanted the followers to understand that he loved them and he desired their change not for his glory but for the glory of God. He further illustrated this pattern as he discussed the need for the forgiveness of repentant sinner. Paul reminds us in this chapter that our goal is to lead people back to the body of Christ and to not provoke others to be bitter enough to stay away. Bobby often reminds us, especially before communion, to make sure our relations are right with our brothers and sisters. Be a light upon the world.

In continuing with today’s reading, Paul began to defend his ministry as he confronted false teachers who carried false documentation about their status. Paul wanted the believers to understand that his good works for Christ were his validations. He desired for them to understand that God enabled him to perform these works in order to spread the New Covenant. Paul reminded the church, in Chap 3, about the difference in the old and new covenant. This reading is perfect timing for us as it illustrates what Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection did for us.

Old Covenant (The Law)
- Led to death
- Displayed our guilt and sinful behavior
- Brought about dependency on self-action
- Aspire to follow a strict religion

New Covenant (Faith in Jesus Christ)
- Led to new Life
- His blood atones for our sins
- Holy Spirit given to guide us
- Grace poured out to give us freedom

Thank you Jesus for LOVING US!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday, April 21st

You go to the mail box, open it up and inside is a nice white envelope. You know by the name printed out the outside of the envelope that it is a bill of some sort. Maybe it’s from a Doctor’s office, a credit card company, the bank… whatever. What’s the question in your head? “What is this thing for?”

Red and blue lights flashing behind you; a uniformed officer matter-of-factly walks up to your car window. Say it with me, “What did you stop me for?”

We all want full and complete knowledge of any given situation. Maybe we did deserve the bill in the mail. Maybe the officer just stopped you because your license plate had been removed. We just want to know the deal.

In the 31st chapter of this book Job ends his time talking by laying out the facts, as he sees them, and asking God, “What’s the deal?” “What are my charges?” Job looks over every aspect of his life and examines it. He asked if he is a fornicator, a liar, a wicked employer, an oppressor of the poor, apathetic, greedy… the list goes on.

Job is so much like you and me. We are more than willing to trust God; we just want all the details and then some.

This final diatribe of Job’s elicits a response from a younger man; who has until now remained silent. Elihu the son of Barachel is angry. He is angry at Job because of Job’s claim to be righteous when his circumstances obviously say he is not. (Insert sarcasm.) He is angry and Job’s friends because they seem to have lost the debate. Most of what Elihu has to say in chapter 32 is all about how he just has to speak. He claims that he has held his tongue long enough. We will hear more from Elihu in the next coming weeks as it takes another 5 chapters for this brash young man to say what is on his mind.

Job knew whose judgment mattered and whose did not. I have found the more that I willing let myself be examined by God’s Holy Spirit the less I care if anyone wants to examine me. “Search my heart O God and see if there be any wicked way in me.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

Exodus 9-12

We're right in the middle of God judging the Egyptians in His plan to release the Israelites from captivity. Don't be fooled, God isn't trying in failing to get them freed. God's plan is to fulfill each one of these plagues and then at the culmination of them to have His children released, on His timetable.

Exodus 9 and 10 show us God judging the Egyptians by:

1: Killing their livestock
2: Sending painful boils to all the people
3: Sending hail storms and destroying their crops
4: Sending Locusts to eat all the crops that the hail missed
5: Sending darkness upon all of the land

Each time a plague comes, Pharaoh says that he starts to fear the Lord but each time he does, Moses sees through his lies and says that Pharaoh is just putting on an act. At the end of each plague, God hardens Pharaoh's heart even more and he would not let God's people go....just like God had said.

After the plague of darkness, Pharaoh, who is really mad that he can't stop what God is doing, tells Moses that if he sees him again that he will have Moses killed.

Then in Chapter 11:1, God says:

"Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here."

God begins to set the stage for the completion of His diving plan to set free the people of Israel. Moses says,

"Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, 'Get out, you and all the people who follow you.'

God reveals that His divine plan includes killing the firstborn of all in Egypt as judgment for their wickedness and refusal to bow before him in repentance and faith.

God at this point tells the Jews to slaughter lambs and paint the door posts of their houses with the blood of the lambs. This is God's protection of the children of Israel: where the blood is, the spirit of death passes over and does not kill the first born of that house. Where there is no blood, the first born will perish.


"At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, "Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said." (Exodus 29-31)

"There was not a house where someone was not dead." What a terribly horrible sentence. What a terribly holy judgment upon Egypt. The firstborn of Egypt paid the price of Egypt's hard hearts. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.

There are SO many lessons to learn from this huge block of Scripture.

I will close with what I think the main point of the passages is:

God's plans always come about and always on His schedule; He fulfills His will regardless of what we think or do about it.

God's plan from the beginning was to set his children free from Egypt by killing the firstborn of Egypt and protecting the firstborn of Israel with the blood of lambs.

This was going to happen. It was a part of His redemptive plan for mankind from the beginning. It was a step in the grand meta-narrative of Scripture to redeem His Bride and hold fast to her. God is about accomplishing His purpose and glorifying His name. This is seen supremely in how God planned from the beginning to justify sinners by the blood of another Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you been set free from your slave master of sin? Have the door posts of your heart been painted with the Blood of the Lamb? Have you been born again out of your dead self in the land of sinful Egypt and into the promised land of new life?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday April 17, 2011

1 Corinthians 15 & 16
Today’s reading ends the book of 1 Corinthians. In this letter, Paul addressed several problems plaguing this church. Two dominating issues were spiritual immaturity and divisions in the church body. Other problems that seemed to stem from these were sexual immorality, a misunderstood representation of spiritual freedom and disorganization in worship and church ministry. To resolve many of these problems, Paul emphasized the importance of loving your fellow brother and sister in faith. Through exemplifying love, one should perform certain actions that raise other believers up. Still, other behaviors should be avoided if they cause other believers to stumble in their faith.
In viewing the last two chapters, their topics could not be better timed for Easter. The final issue Paul deals with is the disbelief in resurrections. Due to Greek influence, some believers questioned this event. Paul used this opportunity to restate the Good News and how everyone placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul continued as he explained how vital the resurrection is to completing the identity of Jesus as the Messiah. As with Bro. Bobby’s sermon today, Paul refers to the same situation in 15:21-22, as he stated that one man (Adam) brought death into the world and new life is given through another man (Jesus) through his resurrection. Paul laid out a clear line of understanding: 1) If there is no resurrection then Jesus was never raised. 2) If Jesus was never raised then we are all still guilty of sin in the sight of God. 3) if we are guilty in the sight of God, because of no covering we are doomed.
During this time of year, however, we can rejoice over the fact that Jesus did rise from the dead as he said he would and sits at the right hand of the Father, acting as our intercessor. Paul concluded on this topic by stating that through Christ’s resurrection and defeating death, deceased believers will someday be resurrected and all (including the living) will be transformed into eternal bodies what a glorious gift.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday, April 16

Mark 9:30-32 and Mark 10:32-34 both show Jesus predicting His death. As He talked about such things to the disciples, they struggled to understand what He was actually talking about. The death of Jesus was not something they were expecting. But as we know, it was exactly the reason He was here! Jesus wanted to place the idea of His death into the minds of the disciples. And I think that is exactly where it should be still today. As Easter approaches next weekend, it is common for us to think of the death and resurrection of Christ, but I think that we see Jesus here encouraging us to think about it more often than just once a year. The gospel message is why we celebrate Easter, but we should be grateful for that message more than just one day a year. We should live by Jesus' example and talk about it often!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jeremiah 12:1-4 expresses just how I have felt at times. The question "Why do all who are treacherous thrive?" has been stated my many over the years. Have you ever asked the Lord "How long?" How long will the wicked prosper and the righteous struggle? To Jeremiah's question the Lord tells him it is going to get worse before it gets better, but there will come a day when God will bless His people. Today I find myself thinking that it might get worse before it gets better. Every year more and more people turn their backs on truth, on God's Word. Every year true believers seem fewer and fewer. Every year the wicked seem to get stronger and stronger. The Lord tells Jeremiah "But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it,... (Jeremiah 12:17)" Jeremiah 13 - 15 reveals God's intent for His people Judah. It is not a pretty picture. Famine, sword, and pestilence is what awaits Judah. Jeremiah complains, but God will not relent. God had given Judah opportunities to repent and they did not. God in His mercy will always give us opportunities to repent, but if we refuse, judgment will come. Jeremiah 16 finds the prophet renewed by the Lord. In every difficult situation God is faithful to renew His children if they are faithful. When life seems to get tougher and tougher, remember that God is not lost. He is not asleep. He is right there to give you strength and to renew your heart and mind. Let Him renew you today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday, April 14th

Calamity has a way of bringing relationships into focus. That is true in national relationships; country to country. It is true is business relationships. It is especially true in personal relationships.

Job paints a picture of this painful reality in full color. In chapters 29 and 30 Job talks about they way things once were. I have to admit that as I started reading this passage I struggled a little bit. Is it just me or does Job seem a little boastful? Upon further reading and reflection however I think that Job is just telling the truth. He was the “upper crust.” He was an “upright man.” But even Job recognizes that God is in the business of humbling those who would become too proud. (30:11)

I would like to point out one thing in this passage that I see different from the other times that Job has spoken. Job’s theology goes a little “sideways.” Job says that he wishes for days prior when God watched over him; when God was with him. In the coming chapters Job will soon know that both he and his situation have God’s undivided attention. Let me pause for a moment and recognize that you and I also have God’s attention. Despite what we might think about our circumstances; God still sees the sparrow fall and still holds our lives in much higher regard than the birds.

Job compares the way that people would react to him before he lost everything. I recently spoke with someone who described losing a position of power. This person talked about how, before the change, that their phones (plural) never stopped ringing. After the loss; nothing. Even worse, “friends” had turned their backs. Again I feel the need to go all “pastor” on everyone. As believers our love for others is not to be based on who they once were or could be. Our love for others is rooted in who God is. God is love.

Is there someone in your life that may have lost their power or prominence? When did you last speak to them? Do they know that you love them regardless of their title or bottom line? Search our hearts, Lord. Teach us to see others the way that you see them. Teach us love. Teach us how to love.

Tuesday April 12 posting wednesday the 13th

In I Samuel 21-22, we see that david is on the run and goes tot he Phillistine city of Gath, the hometown of Goliath. He acts like a madman and the king after finding out who he is had no use of another madman to be in his court. David leaves and goes into a cave where many people who were in distress, discontented and who were in debt came alongside of him and joined up with him. This is a reminder to me of two important thoughts: first, you actract who you are and you better be careful who you are. Second, God can use anyone as these people would become David's mighty men. This would happen in spite of their circumstances that they had been facing. Good leadership and spiritual direction is to bring people up to a new place with the Lord in usefulness and intimacy with the Lord. May we not be quick to give up on the people that are around us.

In I Samuel 23-25, I notice that David deals with those whom God has placed in positions of authority with great precision and care. David protects the Priest Abiathar and we also see that when he gets a chance to take the life of Saul he makes the decision to not take it because he sees the king as God's anointed. I would encourage us all to look at people whom have been placed in positions of authority with great care and give them prayer even when we may not agree with them. This is true for those in political positions of leadership as well as positions of church leadership positions. This does nto mean that they are nto wrong at times and that we can't communicate it to them in the right way but we are to do so in the right attitude, atthe right time and not in public. David is a wonderful example of his care for God's anointed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exodus 1-8

A quick recap of what has happened in these 8 chapters:

Chapter 1:1-7 could be summarized by saying that the Israelites were having tons and tons of babies, so much so that, "the land was filled with them"

The rest of chapter 1 tells us that the new king of Egypt noticed that the Jews were becoming too populated and if they wanted to could overtake them so he devised a plan to control the population by killing all the sons born. I find it interesting that the solution to the population explosion back then was the same as it is now: kill children. Back then they killed them at birth; today we kill them before birth. The principle is the same: there isn't enough room here for all of us, therefore kill the ones that take up the least amount of space. This is sound logic, if you're a child of the devil. The sons of God know better:


I find myself wanting to veer off from the rest of this blog to focus on attacking abortion and the evil mindset that is inherent in its practice and theory. But that topic is for another day.

Chapter 2-4 and a half or so give us a leader named Moses. Moses' mom hides the newborn because she's afraid of the law that says the child should be killed. (Again, my mind is racing towards our country's whacked out abortion laws) but eventually decides to put the little boy on a raft and floats him down the river to at least give him a chance. (she's leaning heavily on faith here folks) Before he sets sail, the daughter of the king comes down to the river to bathe and finds the baby. Basically what happens is that Moses' life is spared and he's raised and then becomes the son of the king's daughter.

Moses then grows up and sees how the Egyptians are treated and actually kills a guard who was beating a Hebrew slave. At this point he runs away from his privileged upbringing and marries a lovely lass from Midian. Moses becomes a shepherd, helping his father in law, Jethro, tend his sheep.

God, during this time begins to act and starts to unfold His long awaited plan to set His people free from slavery. He calls Moses by showing up in a burning bush and tells him to go back to Egypt and to tell Pharaoh that God has decided that it is time for the Hebrews to be set free so they can begin this stage of redemptive history.

Moses questions God and God sets Moses straight and sends him on his way telling him that God will do mighty wonders before the world's eyes that will convince Pharaoh to eventually set the Hebrews free.

God tells Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me." If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'"

Long story short, chapters 5-8 are Moses and Aaron telling Pharaoh what God said and Pharaoh telling them in effect, "Who is God? I don't know God. I'm not setting the Hebrews free. Y'all are dumb for even asking."

Oh, and at this point, Moses is 80 years old.

God speaks to Moses again and tells him that He's going to stretch out His mighty hand and do wonders before Pharaoh and yet still harden Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let the Hebrews go.

Chapters 7 and 8 are the first four plagues:

1. Water to blood: An interesting plague. The Egyptians worships the Nile. They had also bloodied its waters with the lives of the newborn Hebrew children. Now God had turned their whole source of life into blood and cursed them.

2. Tons of frogs: Everywhere the Egyptians turned there were frogs. I suppose God could have used Lions or Tigers...or ever Bears...(oh my) but He chose a little frog to impede the lives of the Egyptians. Such a mighty nation brought to utter stand still because of such a vast majority of small creatures.

3. Plague of Gnats: This plague was an attack by God on the Egyptian priests. They had rituals that called for a clean area and these tiny creatures were able to keep them from performing their satanic rituals. The priests also tried to recreate this miracle but were unable to.

4. Plauge of Flies: At this point, Pharaoh was going to relent a little bit and allowed the Hebrews to go into the wilderness to worship God as He had commanded. But as we'll soon see, the relenting goes away and Pharaoh's heart is hardened yet again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1 Corinthians 13 & 14
What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?
Today’s reading is one of my most favorite verses. I use it frequently in different work settings and apply it constantly in my personal life. Ladies and gentlemen this is sometimes not an easy task. What characteristic of love do you need to work on?
In viewing today’s reading as a whole, Paul continued to confront the Corinthians on their lack of spiritual maturity and divisions being started in the church. More precisely in these chapters, the apostle addressed the people’s mishandling of spiritual gifts. As in chapter 12, Paul gave order to the different types of church ministries. Throughout chap. 14, he addressed the level difference between speaking in tongues and prophecy. He rated having the gift of prophecy higher due to its ability to minister to more people.
v. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
v. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Paul wanted to stress that the purpose for having any spiritual gift was to share it with others in order to draw people towards Christ. It is still true today, if these spiritual gifts are not used for God’s people and purpose, they are just empty actions. This is why Paul emphasized LOVE in chap.13. He made known that regardless of your gift, if not used in love, it was in vain. Paul proceeded to answer the question of what exactly is LOVE. We need to acknowledge that this definition, found in 13:4-7, is not set by human standards but are characteristics of God’s nature.
My challenge to the reader is to note in a daily journal situations where you demonstrated the characteristics of LOVE. When were you patient or kind? When did you avoid boasting or tracking others mistakes? When did you give hope or build someone up despite your own pressing situations? Always keep in mind Mark 12:29-31, the greatest commandment.
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday, April 9

Today we read Mark 7-8 and as I read through one thing really jumped out at me that I thought I would share with you. In Mark 7:15-16 we read, "There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." This is referring to the Pharisees following of all the laws, including the food laws. But I think it is interesting how much this can still pertain to us today, who don't follow the Old Testament Jewish food laws. We live in a society that focuses so much on food and health, and eat this not that. And I think that we often forget to really think about the things that are coming out from us. What does this mean exactly? I just had the discussion with some of our middle school students about our actions and lives reflecting whose we are. We must guard our hearts because the words we say and the things we do reflect what is in our hearts. Here Jesus is telling the people that what is more important than following the dietary laws is the way the people are living their lives. Were they a reflection of the God they claimed to follow? Are we a reflection of the God we claim to follow?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday, April 7th

A lot of great leaders throughout the canon of scripture seem to answer their critics with statements and ideas that seem out of place. When Jesus was asked a question by some know-it-all legal expert about the legal definition of a neighbor; Jesus begins to tell a story about a robbery. (Luke 10:25-37) When Stephen is accused of blasphemy by the religious establishment, he answers with a scathing sermon/ history lesson. (Acts 6-7)

When you apply Job 27 and 28 to the rest of the previous chapters of Job I believe that you see a man who answers his critics without using a whole lot of “direct answers.” Chapter 27 starts off with Job affirming his innocence and letting his small audience know that he will not confess to a crime that he didn’t commit. He follows it up with a small lesson on the ultimate end of evil people.

I find chapter 28 fascinating in light of Job’s entire situation. He is answering his critics with a dissertation on wisdom. This speech seems to very much be a forerunner to Solomon’s writings on the subject. Job gives wisdom physical form and compares its true market value against all of the other “stock” of the day. Just in case you didn’t catch it; wisdom wins out. Wisdom is valuable above all else. With this I believe that Job is telling his “friends” to go seek wisdom and stop giving him a piece of their minds. Much like Jesus and Stephen, Job’s talk is given to address the true heart of the matter.

This leads me to ask a question about worldview. How do you see the world? Is it through the lens of scripture? What is your view of God, man, ethics and wisdom? I pray that we would all answer those questions on a personal level. Job would suggest that we are start with a healthy fear of the God that was able to turn his life upside down. (28:28) I wholeheartedly agree.

Tuesday April 5 posting on April 7 :)

I apologize for my tardiness in posting this week - I forgot to post my thoughts.

In 1 Samuel 16, we see where the Prophet Samuel is instructed to go and anoint the future king of Israel. This is a wonderful picture of the fact that what you see is not always what you get. David was the youngest of Jesse's boys and was not expected to be chosen by Samuel but the Lord knew something beyond age and appearance as the Lord knew the heart. We will see in David that he is a man after God's own heart yet has fears, and great failures in his life. But even with his failures we will see a heart that is sensitive to the Lord when confronted by his sin. Oftentimes the question is what do we do when we see our sin do we hide it or do we confess it so that there can be forgiveness and restoration.

In 1 Samuel 17-20 I notice three things; first, I see David's willingness to stand up for the Lord and the nation of Israel. David killed Goliath when no one else was even willing to fight him. He also killed 200 Phillistines and took their foreskins and gave them to Saul in order to marry his daughter Michal and this is after Saul's requirement for marriage was 100 Phillistine foreskins. David was willing to put his life on the line for the Lord and the people of Israel. Second, I see Saul's hatred and jealousy for David. No less than 4 times did Saul try to kill David with his spear, and the entire purpose of asking for 100 Phillistine foreskins was that Saul believed that David would die in the process. Third, I see a deep love between Jonathan, Saul's son, and David. This love began soon after the killing of Goliath and is also seen in Jonathan protecting David from his father. We also see a covenant between David and Jonathan that would last after the death of Jonathan as David has promised that he will care for Jonathan's family even as he is the king. We see David's courage to fight, loyalty to God and to country, and we see that David is a wonderful friend to Jonathan as Jonathan is to him.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Often we Christians try to present a godly life while in reality we are living a lie. Judah did the same thing during the time of Jeremiah. They were stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, worshipping idols but they would come to the temple and present themselves as godly people. Jeremiah 7:1-15 declares this truth. In fact, Jeremiah 7 - 10 gives evidence of God's accusations that Judah takes comfort in the temple while breaking God's commands (Jeremiah 7:1-8:3), rejecting the law (Jeremiah 8:4-17), living deceitfully (Jeremiah 8:18-9:9), grieving the prophet (9:10-26), and engaging in idolatry (Jeremiah 10:1-16). The Church is no different today. We come to church smiling and pretending that everything is great. When asked we say, "everything is fine." However at home our marriages are drowning in anger and deceit, our kids are sexually active and we hide our heads in the sand, and our finances are stretched to the limits. We lie to ourselves, to our loved ones, to those who could help us. Most importantly we try to lie to God. God called Judah to amend their ways and their deeds. He called them to be honest with themselves and not to take advantage of God's goodness. He tells them that if they don't amend their ways He will remove them from the land He gave them. Which He did. God calls us to amend our ways. To be honest with Him. To repent. Jeremiah 11:3-5 states: "Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I man confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day." These words say to us to "keep the Lord's Word, listen to my voice, and do all I command you in my Word so you will be blessed in all your ways." It is time for a moral inventory. How are you doing in your spiritual life? Are you doing what you know to be right? Are you keeping the Lord's commands? He is patient, but only for a time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday April 03, 2011

Sunday April 03, 2011

1 Corinthians 11 & 12

We are a Family United

In today’s reading, sermons could be preached on several different topics, such as the reverence of worship, the submission of equals, how to receive the Lord’s communion, using spiritual gifts and the order of ministries in the church. Today however, I will focus on the underlying issue of unity.

After reading through and considering the several topics, the notion that kept presenting itself was believers being unified for God. In chap 11, Paul first confronted the issue of poor worship practice. He noted the swing in attitude was causing a division in the church. In our own time, how often have we heard or seen a change in practice divide a congregation? Sometimes the division is necessary such as a church moving away from sound biblical principles but Paul dealt with a smaller issue that began causing a rift. His solution to the problem was to prompt the people to behave in a manner that was respectable to God and less of a distraction to other believers. This is a similar ideology used in chap 8 and 10, where Paul urged believers to avoid behaviors that would hinder another believer’s relationship with Christ.

Another unity problem Paul confronted was the Lord’s Supper not being conducted in an appropriate manner. After seeing people not only take the supper without considering what it represented but many wealthy followers gorged themselves early at the fellowship meal while others starved. Paul’s resolution was to remind believers about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and to examine themselves to make sure they were worthy to receive it. In our own church, it is a regularity that our pastor first reminds us how the supper represents the sacrifice Jesus made for all sinners and secondly, we are asked to examine our relationships with Christ and others. As in Paul’s time, we are still held responsible for showing unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The final show of problems with unity comes in chap 12. This chapter is devoted to discussing the spiritual gifts God has given believers. Divisions were created in the Corinthian church as followers noted certain gifts to be more important or spiritual. In resolving this, Paul used the analogy of a human body to express the need for unity. He demonstrated that the church has many parts to it, like the body. Each part performs an essential task and is important to overall effectiveness of the body. We should remember that spiritual gifts come through the Holy Spirit and are used to lift up the church and draw others towards Christ. It is used to unify people for the glory God.

Saturday, April 2

As we looked at Mark 5-6 I saw two different responses of the people that were around Jesus. First, we see in Mark 5:15-17, that after Jesus cast out the demons from the man possessed by a legion, the people were scared. They even asked him to leave the region. Then in Mark 6:6, we see that Jesus marveled at the people's disbelief. However, we also see a second response to Jesus. This response is one of the people marveling at Jesus. They followed after him and wanted to be near him. One woman even knew that if she just touched his garment, then she would be healed. These two responses are still common today. Jesus and his message scare people at times but at other times cause people to marvel. Lives are changed by the message of Christ...but how is the question. And for those who claim life change, are they living as one that is scared of the message or as one that is amazed by the simple knowledge of Christ.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 is an amazing verse. God knew Jeremiah before he was borned. Does he know you? Absolutely!!! He knows every child being formed in the womb of its mother. I wonder how many great leaders God knew and called in the womb only to be taken by abortion? I wonder how many great musicians, teachers, businessmen, pastors were called by God in the womb only to be killed by an abortion? It is a sobering thought that stems from this verse in Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet." He lived during the reign of 5 kings of Judah. His calling occurs during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was a great king. He brought revival to his people. He restored worship again. Jeremiah will begin his ministry during this time. The first 6 chapters of Jeremiah were most likely written during the reign of Josiah. The first chapter records Jeremiah's call and message. The next 5 chapters address Judah's adultery to God's covenant with them. The themes are as follows: Jeremiah 2:1-3:5 Israel has been a faithless spouse. Jeremiah 3:6-4:4 Israel is called to repent Jeremiah 4:5-31 Disaster is coming Jeremiah 5:1-31 What will happen if Judah is unwilling to repent Jeremiah 6:1-30 God's response to His people is rejection Before we get pious let us not forget that we have a new covenant with God through Jesus Christ and we have His Word to guide us, but we have a nature like Israel's. We often stray from God's desire and will. The good news is that God offers us opportunities to repent. God is a God of second chances. Where are you today in your walk with God?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday, March 31st

As a Police Officer I have done things that I wish I never had to do. I’ve been a nameless face to many persons worst day of their life. I’ve held the hand of a young lady as she passed from this life unto the next. I’ve stored a lot of memories that, left to my own purposes, I would rather erase. Chief among these memories was a “run” that I made when I was still a uniformed officer. It was early 2006 and I happened to be right by a home where a father had found his son dead of what appeared to be a suicide. The son was only 16 years old.

I wish I could go back to that day and call in sick. I saw the young man. Without giving unnecessary details he was in a state of near undress. His father had placed him on the floor and was knelt down over him experiencing a type of pain and suffering that I never ever want to witness again as long as I live; much less experience myself. It was in this moment of pain that the teenager’s father turned, looked me in the eye and asked if it was too late to get a priest to come and administer last rites. What was I to say?

There were a lot of theologically true statements that I could have made to the father at that moment. I could have pointed to the holiness of God and the wretchedness of sin. I could have explained that it is appointed a man to die once and then the judgment. Both statements would have been as true as anything that was ever said. However neither one was what I believed God wanted me to do. I just put my arm around the man and allowed myself to cry with him.

Job 25 and 26 are the two shortest chapters in the book. In the midst of Job’s pain, Bildad the Shuhite speaks a few scathing yet true words about God’s holiness and man’s sinful presence before Him. Then Job responds. I believe I can paraphrase Job. He in essence says, “I know God is Holy and while my “guilt” did not cause my situation; I know that I am not innocent. However right now; I just need a real friend.” Job doesn’t need a spiritual detective… he needs a loving brother.

Truth is always of the utmost importance. However we as believers must let the Holy Spirit lead our speech if we are going to be “truthful encouragers.” Let us each examine ourselves and ask if we counsel out of our own knowledge, or do we let God’s loving truth speak through us? “Lord, let my words be Your words… and my thoughts be Your thoughts.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday 1 Samuel 11-15

I am so, so sorry that I am late in posting the tuesday blog! I have failed you, but I hope that you have noticed that I am tardy and that you are keeping up with the blog as well as the reading through the Bible in 2011.

In I Samuel 11, we see that King Saul is an encourager to the people of Israel as they are discouraged and disheartened against the Ammonites and the threats that they are communicating against Jabesh Gilead. His encouragement is a reminder that sometimes all we need to attack the enemies that we are facing is an encouragement from someone around us to not give up.

In I Samuel 12, Samuel reminds the people of Israel that they must followw the Lord are they are doomed to repeat their past. If they disobey they remove the hand of God's blessings and bring upon them pain, but if they obey their is blessing. they have a choice and he encouraged them to obey and follow the Lord under King Saul.

In I Samuel 13. we find the 1st battle mentioned under King Saul as he faced the phillistines. We kind that King Saul could not handle the process of waiting. This is a process that many people fail at. Ultimately, King Saul acted rashly as he could not wait on Samuel to come to him and took on Samuel's responsibility. For this reason Saul's kingdom would not last within his family, but because of his actions the kingdom would not stay within Saul's family.

In I Samuel 14, we see King Saul's son Jonathan and his armor bearer who had great loyalty towards Jonathan. Their courage and loyalty brought great destruction to the Phillistines and great glory to the Lord. We also find that King Saul is still making rash statemnets about what the Israelite army is to do and not do. His rule to not eat until the Phillistines were defeated or else there would be death had nor Godly or Biblical merit whatsoever.

In I Samuel 15, we see a very specific set of instructions given to King Saul from the Lord through the Prophet Samuel as Saul was to go to face the Amalekites and kill everyone taking nothing. King Saul goes to battle and wins, but his obedience is partial and he attempts to pass off his partial obedience as complete obedience to the Prophet Samuel. How many times have we wanted our partial obedience to be seen as complete obedience? The Prophet Samuel confronts the king and at the point that the king can't ignore the truth any longer he states,

But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."
I Samuel 15:22-23

What God is looking for from His followers is our obedience even when its is hard and even when it makes no sense. We are to obey. To not obey is to rebel. May we not forget the lesson from King Saul as he lost the kingdom for his family and for himself.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Genesis 48-50

To recap our last few blogs:

1. God tells Joseph that he will reign over his family.
2. Brothers decide to kill him but instead sell him into slavery.
3. Joseph is sold a second time as a slave to a high ranking family in Egypt.
4. Joesph is falsely accused and put in prison.
5. Joseph interprets a dream for a fellow inmate.
6. Joseph gets out of prison to interpret Pharaoh's dream
7. Joseph gets put in charge of all of Egypt.
8. Joseph's family comes to Egypt to escape the famine.
9. Joseph helps and forgives his brothers and family.
10. Joseph is restored to his father.

Dreamer to death threat to sold to sold again to slavery to leader to prisoner to dream interpretor to Prime Minister to brother and son again.

yowsa! that's a lot of moves in a lot of time in very little Scripture.

That brings us up to the closing chapters of Genesis.

I want to focus on one part of one verse. We look at Joseph's life and see evil after evil thrown upon him by his family and other people. He's abused and discarded like livestock. He isn't treated like a loved one, he's treated like an enemy. He's plotted against by people who, when it comes right down to it, just plain hate him. They mean him harm and desire his downfall. They actually have meetings in order to plot how they can destroy his life and end his existence.

So how on earth, after all of that, can Joseph say,

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good...?"

How can this man look at his brothers, who actually tried to kill him and sold him into bondage as a slave, and say to them that he means them no hard and that he forgives them?

Simply, Joseph believed God. He actually took God's Word seriously to heart. When God showed made a promise to him, Joseph took it to heart and counted on it as a fact of life. Joseph, like Job, could look at everything that was done to him and faithful and assuredly say with Job,

"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God," (Job 19:25-26)

People whose faith is surely in the Lord, who have the Rock of Salvation to stand upon, who are firmly rooted in Christ Jesus are simply, and ultimately, unmovable.

They are unmovable.

The devil and his minions and the whole world can throw whatever they wish at them and even though pain and sorrow and suffering come, they will stand until the end.

This is why in Revelation 2:10, our Lord Jesus says,

"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."

Christ isn't promising the crown of life to people who might get it if they stand firm. He's saying in effect, those who get the crown are the ones who stood firm, who were faithful until the end, until death.

There's something different about those who stand firm even unto death:

" were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

If, you have been born again, (you've turned from your sin by placing your faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ) you have been sealed for the day of redemption and you are untouchable when it comes to eternity. The Apostle Paul goes further saying that even though,

"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:36-39)

If you're born into God's family, if you're an adopted child of the Father, nothing can separate you from God and His goodness.

do you believe that? Do you really believe that? I'm convinced if we really believe those words, then, come hell or high water, we will remain unshakable in our faith and in our lives.

And now, may we be a people who stand secure and firm in our faith and know fully and can say, with Joseph, "when the world means us harm and evil, the Lord means us good."