Daily Devotional; formerly Chaplains Corner

Discussion in 'Religious Discussions' started by ampaterry, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Today is Good Friday. What’s so good about it?

    My best friend was betrayed by one of his friends, arrested and hauled up before a kangaroo court. The witnesses against him couldn’t get their stories straight. The religious judges there couldn’t make a capital punishment verdict, so they sent him to the civil court, where they dragged the judge out to try to force him to sentence him to death. When Pilate questioned Jesus, he couldn’t see anything deserving in that kind of harsh punishment, so he tried to bargain with the Jewish leaders, but they would have none of it. Their only charge? He’s bad. If he weren’t bad, we would not have brought him to you asking for execution.

    Pilate was a relatively weak man, and wanted to keep the peace at all costs so he caved in to the demands and there in the dead of night Jesus was condemned to death. He was beaten, humiliated, and tortured and then executed in an extremely painful way.

    He had been extremely popular a few days before, making his way into town in what today would have been a ticker tape parade. Everyone was cheering for him, praising him, wanting to be his best friend.

    But He knew it would not last. He had dinner with his closest followers, one of whom he knew was the traitor who would hand him over to the authorities for execution. That was the first “Last Supper” that we commemorate today as Communion.

    Before that meal he insisted on doing something only a lowly servant would do, even though he was so highly acclaimed just a few hours before. He washed His disciples’ feet. He knew who would betray Him, and He even washed Judas’ feet.

    That was typical of Him. Even though He was a popular leader, He never lorded it over His followers. He set the example of how He wanted them to lead…by serving.

    There was something else significant in that foot-washing ceremony, and Peter, one of His followers, stumbled into it. When Jesus came to do Peter’s feet there in John 13 Peter said something like “No way. I can’t have you bending down to wash my feet. It’s too undignified for you.” Jesus responded “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Well, Peter wanted to be as close to Jesus as he could get, so he said “Then wash me all over.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

    I think Jesus was talking about how, when we become Christians, we are “bathed”. All our past sins are washed off. But we need to keep letting Jesus “wash our feet”. Our feet are where we come in contact with the world. We pick up the dirt of the world; we sin and we need to keep coming to Jesus to get that sin washed off. That’s the point of 1 John 1: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

    If we insist that we are good enough, clean enough, we lie to ourselves and make God out to be a liar as well. So we need to keep coming back to let Jesus wash our feet, wash off the day-to-day sin that accumulates in our lives.

    He went on to have that meal with His disciples. It was the traditional Jewish Passover feast, but He modified it. Luke 22 shows how. 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

    He was teaching us how to remember what was about to happen. His blood would be poured out, his body broken for us there on that cross. He was introducing a new covenant. The old covenant had meant lots of ongoing sacrifices there at the temple. The high priest would slam his hand down on the animal and hold it there, as if all the sin of Israel for that year were draining down through him into that animal. Then they would take it out of the city, kill it, and burn it. That old covenant was just an illustration of what Jesus, the Lamb of God, would do when He took the sin of not only Israel, but of the whole world, on Himself. He would be killed, making atonement for our sins there on that cross.

    And friends, that’s why this is called “Good Friday”. Even though my best friend was murdered, executed in a most horrible way, He opened up a way for me, and for you, to come to God directly. We no longer have to go through priests and daily and annual animal sacrifices to make up for our sins. He has made Himself the sacrifice that atones for our sins. His blood, shed on that cross, washes us clean of our sins.

    While He was suffering there on that cross, there was an earthquake. His work there was truly earth-shaking. The heavy curtain that closed off the Holy of Holies in the temple to keep people out of God’s presence was torn from top to bottom, opening a way for us to have immediate, personal access to God.

    Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One of them made fun of Him. The other said, there in Luke 23 42 … “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

    Those two thieves summarize the way we can respond to Jesus’ death for our sins on that Cross. Some people make fun of Him; others look to Him for salvation. “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom”.

    The choice is there for each of us. Make it your prayer to ask Jesus to remember you when He comes into His kingdom. Go through the way He opened up for us to come before God directly.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Easter Saturday. The day between Good Friday and Resurrection Day, Easter. It was the Jewish Sabbath. It was the day Jesus’ body lay in that tomb, undisturbed, under guard. We could spend time speculating what Jesus was doing on this day, but I think this was also His Sabbath and He was resting from the toil he had gone through Friday.

    God created the world in six days and rested the seventh. The last thing God created on that sixth day of creation was man there in Genesis 1. 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 2 says He did something special to man. 7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. God breathed life into him on that sixth day. Then God rested from all His work on the seventh day.

    Man died spiritually when he disobeyed God’s command. That breath of life was gone.
    He was shut out of the Garden of Eden, cut off from being able to talk directly with God.

    Now, we could say that Jesus created new life for us that sixth day, when He died on the cross, and rested the seventh. God is re-creating that breath of life He breathed into man at the creation.

    Let’s look again at those things that happened while Jesus was on the cross. He had been going nonstop, without rest, for well over 24 hours.

    He refused medication to ease the pain. Matthew 27 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. Psalm 69 says 21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. The gall, or myrrh, was often used by the Romans to deaden the pain of crucifixion. Jesus refused that, at that time, because He was going to go through an eternity of hell for us while He was on that cross.

    Prophecy was fulfilled as the soldiers gambled for His clothes. Matthew 27 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. See what David said in Psalm 22 16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

    He was the object of derision by the crowd of onlookers. Matthew 27 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

    Darkness came over the land from noon until about 3. The sun just simply ceased to shine. I think that during those three hours Jesus was going through the eternity of hell that we should have gone through. He was atoning for our sins. Matthew 27 again: 45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

    Jesus was forsaken by God. The excruciating pain was not just physical. He went through spiritual and emotional anguish as well. In His agony He cried out the opening words of Psalm 22 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? We glanced yesterday at how a lamb was made to bear the sins of Israel each year and was killed. Now Jesus had become a lightning rod for not just the sins of Israel, but for all the world, and not just for that year, but for all time. So God had to turn His back on Jesus because Jesus had in a way of speaking, absorbed all of our sin into Himself, become sin for us, on our behalf. He was taking the penalty we should have suffered for our sins onto Himself. Infinite suffering for us by an infinite Messiah.

    He gave up His spirit. They didn't kill Him. He gave up His life for us. At the end of those three hours of darkness John 19 says 28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    It is finished. Done. All has been accomplished. He has crossed the finish line of the race God had set before Him. The atonement for our sins has been completed. It's a once for all thing. It doesn't keep happening, and we can't add to it. Only after He had accomplished the thing God gave Him to do did He accept that painkiller. Then He gave up His spirit.

    We noted yesterday that at that time the curtain between the public area of the Temple and the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. Matthew 27 says 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split... This was truly an earth shaking event. That curtain had separated the public from the presence of God. Now, the public (you and me and everyone else who receives Christ) has direct access to God. The curtain was torn from top to bottom. God has opened the way for us to come to Him directly.

    It's easy to say "Jesus died on the Cross for our sins" and just gloss over it. But this event is the focus of God's dealings with man. We have spent a little time here thinking into what Jesus went through in the final moments of His life as He took an eternity of punishment for us. Only an infinite God could do such a thing.

    May God bless us with a new understanding of what He did for us. No other religion has this at its base. No other religion can claim to have a Lamb of God who takes away our sins. John 1:12 says 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. May God grant that each one of us receives Him, believes on His name.
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Rejoice because He is risen!!!

    Psalm 118 says 24 This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Why? Because of the previous two verses.

    22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.
    23 This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.


    On a Friday, Jesus was crucified. He took the penalty for our sins on Himself and atoned for them. He gave up His life for us. They buried him, and sealed his tomb with a stone, and set a guard over it. Nobody did anything on Saturday because that is the Jewish Sabbath. But on Sunday two women went to the tomb. There they discovered the guards in disarray and the rock had been removed. They went in and found an empty tomb. They saw a man whom they assumed to be the gardener and asked him where he had put Jesus. The "gardener" looked at one of the women and called her by name..."Mary". At the sound of his voice she looked again and recognized Jesus. Her exclamation "Rabboni", (my teacher) said it all. Her grieving was turned to joy. She and Martha went back to pass the word that Jesus, whom they had seen die three days before, was alive and well.

    The Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus like a builder rejects a stone he doesn't like. But God made Him the chief corner stone, the foundational stone against which all the other stones are laid, for His Church. (See the last verses of Ephesians 2)

    1 Corinthians 15 describes what has happened. It's a long chapter, but one of the things he says is 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. But since Christ came back to life, that is proof our sins have been forgiven. The Check has gone through. Our debt of sin and guilt to God has been paid in full.

    20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive... “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Because God has given us victory over death and sin, we can sing with David in Psalm 30

    I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
    2 O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
    3 O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit...


    5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime;
    Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.


    The weeping lasted from Friday night until Sunday morning. Then the shout of joy...Rabboni!!! on that Sunday morning when they discovered He is not dead, but He is risen.

    All over the world people are remembering the resurrection of Christ on this day. They are echoing the words of Psalm 22 (do you remember that Psalm--the one that starts out with Jesus' anguished cry from the cross My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? It finishes with these triumphant words.
    27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
    And all the families of the nations will worship before You.
    28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s And He rules over the nations.


    God did not desert Jesus. He will not desert us.

    There is one other thing. Jesus has come into His Kingdom. Ephesians 1 says ...He(The Father) raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.

    So we can rejoice on this day, and every day, because remembering and celebrating the resurrection of Christ is not for one day only, but for every day of our lives. We know our sins have been forgiven. We know that this life is only a foretaste of what is to come and that our physical death is nothing to be afraid of. It is only a door we go through as we walk into God’s presence. We know that we have a King who is greater than anything this world can put together.
     
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  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Have you ever watched a movie where the BG has a plan to destroy the hero, but when he presses the button to set the explosions going, he suddenly realizes his mistake and howls "NOOOooooo" as he gets caught in the ensuing explosion while the hero races out of the inferno just in time?

    That is what happened to satan when Jesus died on the cross. Satan had Jesus in his crosshairs, and squeezed the trigger. Jesus' body did die, but He came back to life. Satan's ultimate plan, to kill the Son of God, backfired and he was shot down in flames, not Jesus. That was God’s plan from the beginning. God had been saying that would happen ever since man fell in the Garden of Eden. God told satan in Genesis 3 15"...I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

    On the cross Jesus sustained injury, His heel was bruised. but it did not end his life. On the other hand, satan sustained a fatal blow to his head. Satan is in his death throes now. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). And Jesus not only destroyed his works, but his power of fear over us. Hebrews 2 says 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

    He frees us from the fear of death. So a couple of things here. 1 Corinthians 15 says the sting of death is sin, but Jesus took that sting away when He nullified the penalty for our sin, so physical death for us is not something to fear. We see that being lived out in the last words of those martyrs in the Middle East, proclaiming Jesus with their last breath. Then secondly, Jesus said in Matthew 10 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Therefore, Romans 8 holds wonderful promises for us. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 John 4 says 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

    Yes, satan does what he can to create havoc in this world. He is still in his death throes. I have read about people who have been fatally injured in a shootout, who were still able to shoot back, even while dying. Satan whispers in the ears of people in high places, some in government, some in places to control immense amounts of money, some in control of business empires, some in control of media, and some in high places in churches or religions. His minions do what they can to stop Christianity. But remember this: Jesus, on the cross, bruised His heel while delivering a death stomp to satan's head. And if Jesus is in us, well, "Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world".

    Archbishop Beaton thought he would stop Christianity from spreading by burning Patrick Hamilton at the stake in St. Andrews, Scotland back in 1527. He was the first of many martyrs in the years to come. But far from crushing the message of the Gospel in Scotland, ‘the reek [smoke] of Mister Patrick Hamilton has infected as many as it blew upon’. Christianity spread like wildfire throughout Scotland as a result of Patrick Hamilton’s martyrdom.

    May God grant us new courage to "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). So we celebrated Resurrection Day yesterday, and today, and every day because it means Jesus has conquered sin, He has taken the sting out of death, and He has stomped satan into the ground.
     
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  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Resurrection: The aftermath.

    What a roller coaster of emotions those disciples must have gone through in the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and then in the days following. First there was the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where Jesus was at the center of attention, crowds cheering and waving. Then the serious time alone with Jesus there around that table at the Passover feast, the first Last Supper. That was followed by the fatigue when they couldn’t keep their eyes open as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. They would have been outraged, then terrified when Jesus was betrayed by Judas with a kiss. Dread would have been building during that long night when they were waiting, watching to see what would happen next while Jesus was on trial.

    They would have been devastated as they saw the Roman soldiers leading Jesus out with his cross to be crucified at Golgotha. Then numbness may have set in as they watched Him cry out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabthacthani” (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me) and then with a great cry gave up his spirit. They went back to their quarters, overcome with grief because the One who had taught them, led them, been their constant companion, the One who had revealed Himself to them as God incarnate, had died. They had seen the soldier pierce His side and blood and water came out.

    Then that first day of the week, the women came back from the tomb with the unbelievable news that He had come back to life. Sure they would have doubted that news. But then He came into their room; didn’t even have to open the door. He was just there. He met a couple of the disciples on the road, went to their house, stayed for dinner, and there they recognized Him as Jesus.

    From being in the depths of despair, they were suddenly catapulted to all kinds of joy and happiness. They suddenly understood what He had been talking about when He had told them that He must die, but that He would come back to life.

    Then as He prayed for them, they saw Him ascend into Heaven. They would have watched with wonder, awe, and probably some concern because He was leaving them again.

    Where was He going? To the place God had appointed for Him. He had told them to follow Him.

    So where is Jesus now?

    Hebrews 12 says Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Jesus ran a course while He was here on earth. God gave him a task to do that He described in John 17. His task was to glorify the Father (v 4), make God's name known to the disciples (v6), to make the disciples know that God made Jesus everything he was and gave him everything He had to say (v8) so that they would know absolutely that the Father sent the Son. He guarded them, protected them (v12). He had accomplished this. When He questioned the disciples in Matthew 16 about who He is, they had gotten the message. They knew that He is the Son of God; that God had sent Him, and everything He was and said and did was from God. Jesus had accomplished that part of His task with the disciples.

    But in order to complete the course He had to go through the most difficult obstacle of all--the Cross. There was no way Jesus could get around the obstacle of crucifixion if He was going to accomplish the task God sent Him to earth to do. And He did. Jesus endured the cross, despised the shame for the joy set before Him. What was that joy that was set before Him? Let's see where He is now, and what He is doing.

    He ascended. The disciples watched in Luke 24 as He ascended into Heaven. God has placed him at His right hand. Hebrews 10 says 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.

    Even though He is at the right hand of God, He is with us. He promised in Matthew 28:20 that He would be with us to the end.

    He is in our lives if we invite Him in, according to Revelation 3 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

    What is He doing? Interceding for us. It says in Hebrews 7 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

    He is keeping His promises. He asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit...John 14 16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, And He did in Acts 2.

    He is preparing a place for us. John 14 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

    He is watching over us, keeping an eye on us as He walks among the lampstands representing His church in Revelation 1.

    What is His position? Ephesians 1 puts it in a nutshell. He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,

    Now it’s our turn. Paul ran the race God had set before him. He said in 2 Timothy 4 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. He anticipated with joy receiving that crown of righteousness, his prize, for completing the course.

    Paul had his eyes firmly set on Jesus there at the finishing line. Now it's our turn. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus,

    May God bless us with the courage, endurance, and faith to run the course He has set before us. And let's get rid of the baggage that would slow us down and sap our energy.
     
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  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    When the roof falls in

    Get the picture. 1 Samuel 30 David and his men returned to their home village to find it had been sacked by the Amalekites. The raiders had looted the village, burned it, and taken the women and children prisoner, and high tailed it out of town. Think how you would feel if you came home to find home invaders had broken into your house, stolen your guns and other prized possessions, violated whoever they found there, and set fire to your home.

    The grief these men felt was understandable and intense. The tragedy hit David just as hard as it hit his men. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. 5 Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.

    Just a side note here. In our political world, the legislators exempt themselves from the laws they make. They insulate themselves from things like gun control laws and Obama care. They don’t live on the same level that the people they make laws for live on. But David, the leader, was right there with his men. He ate the same food they ate, led the way when they were marching, got rained on and got cold or hot or thirsty just as his men did. He was not insulated from his men, and when this tragedy struck he was hit just as hard as his followers.

    In fact, he was hit harder than they were. His men were angry, wanted something to hit out at, and their leader, David, was their first choice. He had taken them out of town, away from their families on what turned out to be a wild goose chase. So, it says 6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters.

    Greatly distressed? I think so. He was grieving over the loss of his wives, and his stuff.

    Then he probably felt guilty because he had led his men out of town, leaving it unguarded, and he was kicking himself about that. He had failed his people.

    On top of that grief and guilt, he had to deal with what was developing into an angry mob scene. His men were in an angry mutinous mood and were getting ready to eliminate him and get a new leader. It was David’s fault they had not been there to protect their families against the raiders.

    So what does he do? Does he run away, go into hiding, retreat into self-pity, or try to brazen his way out, or bully his men into submission?

    I really like what the last half of that verse says: 1 Samuel 30 6…But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

    The roof had caved in on David. He was looking at utter ruin and destruction. His men wanted to kill him. So...he strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

    How do you think he did that?

    I can think of a few things he might have done.

    One thing would have been to think back to all the times God had pulled him through tight places in the past. While he was tending the sheep, he killed that lion and that bear. Then there was the episode with Goliath. God had protected him when Saul was chasing him around the wilderness. He had personal experience of God’s faithfulness. If God did it then, He could still do it now.

    Then he might well have gone back to God’s promises and how God had worked with others in the past. Check out Joshua 1 5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

    He only had the first few books of the Bible—what’s known as the Pentateuch to read. He had the records of how God had led Israel through the wilderness and protected them and provided for them all those years. He had the record of how God had guided Joshua to victory. He had the records of people like Gideon and others, and how God had kept them. If God had pulled them out of the fire, He could pull David out now.

    He knew he had kept God’s Laws as best he could. He had nothing on his conscience. He had a clean relationship with God, and knew that God would listen to his prayer.

    He had faith that God is faithful. He will not throw us under the bus. Today we have the benefit of the Psalms David wrote after going through experiences like this. See for example Psalm 40:
    I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
    2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
    And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.


    Or look at Psalm 18:
    “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
    2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
    3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.
    4 The cords of death encompassed me, And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me.

    5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me.
    6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help;
    He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

    Think of rock climbing, with ropes. Your life depends on that rope and how well it’s attached to that anchor. If there is a problem, the first thing you check is that rope and its anchor. David’s relationship with God was that rope and anchor. When he was starting to go into freefall, when he was confronted with overwhelming problems, the first thing he did was check that rope and anchor—his relationship with God.

    After that he could say with Paul in Romans 8 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

    And that’s what we need to do when faced with overwhelming problems. Strengthen ourselves in the Lord. We need to make sure we have a firm foundation in Jesus Christ. Then we can start dealing with whatever problems the world has to throw at us.
     
  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Hang Tough

    There is a teaching in Christian circles called “Perseverance of the Saints”. A brief, but inadequate summary of this doctrine says that once a person has truly become a Christian, there is no power on earth or outside the earth that can take us away from God.

    The last part of Romans 8 sums it up nicely. So does Philippians 1 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

    But that’s half the story. God’s grace in our lives is a two way street. When God selected the Israelites from all the peoples of the world to be His people, He blessed them, He put His hand of protection on them, and He provided for them.

    But He also said “This do and live”. Leviticus 18 says 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord. He expected His people to live by the laws He had given them. As long as they did that, God could continue to bless them.

    That’s basically what Jesus said in John 8:31: 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

    That teaching bleeds over into the New Testament, and right down through time into our own lives. God has selected each of us who are truly Christians, and He wants us to live as His people. It’s an uphill struggle, going against the flow of what the world wants to do.

    God says in Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. Picture a rock in a river. The water swirls around it, sometimes washing over it, trying to push it downstream, trying to make it “go with the flow”, but that rock stays firmly anchored in place, resisting the push of the current. It is standing firm, just as God wants us to stand firm against the tide of human pressure to compromise the convictions God has given us out of His Word.

    Look at what He says in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: 13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. Short, sweet, and to the point.

    There are two types of people who call themselves Christians. Those who hang in there, the ones who are anchored firmly in Jesus, are the ones Jesus was talking about in John 15. They abide in Him and He abides in them. Then there are those who, when the going gets tough, get up and walk away. Guess which ones God likes and blesses?

    Hebrews 10:36-39 says 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

    I really like what God says in 1 Corinthians 15. God throws out a challenge to us, and a promise of reward if we stick with it. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. We can keep on “doing the work of the Lord”, or we can bail out and fall to destruction.

    Jesus said it this way in Matthew 24:13: 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

    1 John 2:19 says that the phony Christians will disappear when things become difficult. They compromise, they go with the flow, they give way to the pressure the world throws at them. Instead of being that rock firmly anchored to the riverbed, they get washed away like some piece of flotsam and jetsam, pushed around by the world’s current ideas. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

    The letters Jesus wrote to the Christians in Revelation are full of promises for those who hang tough, and full of warnings for those who go with the flow, who cave in to the pressures and temptations of the world. For example, Jesus says in Revelation 3:11,5 11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

    God does promise that if we hang tough, He will guard us, protect us, be with us.

    Psalm 37:28 28 For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones;

    Psalm 121:7 7 The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.

    May God bless us richly as we learn to be stubborn, steadfast, unmovable as we go about doing God’s work and not give up and “go with the flow” of the world. That perseverance is a two-way street. God will preserve us as long as we persevere after Him.
     
  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Calling in the air strike.

    David was in trouble. Saul was chasing him, almost had him, but God delivered him when David cried out to God. Psalm 18 is David’s thanksgiving and praise to God for that deliverance. Reading through it reminds me of how troops in the field get pinned down by enemy fire and call in an air strike.

    The first thing out of David’s mouth is gratitude, adoration for his deliverer.

    “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
    2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
    3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.


    Who else but God is worthy to be called all these things?

    God is my strength. He is the source of any energy and ability and strength I have. 1 John 4 says 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

    Because God is in us, we have His unlimited strength to overcome the bad guys. Sure they may hurt us physically. We’ve seen the pictures of Christians being beheaded, burned alive, and so on, but these Christians didn’t give up. They stayed the course to the end because God gave them the strength; God’s strength in them enabled them to resist even to the point of physical death so that even in death they overcame their enemies.

    But God also said He would help us stay alive to answer our accusers. Mathew 10 says 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

    God is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…in whom I take refuge. He is a secure place to take refuge in and on. When everything is falling in pieces around us we can still be confident that not only is God in control, but that He is holding us in His hands, caring for us, protecting us (as long as we don’t try to jump out of His care). The Psalms are full of references to how we can take refuge in God. Zechariah 2 says He guards us like the apple of His eye. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.

    And God is there, listening, ready to send in the airstrike when we call it in. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.

    That airstrike is spectacular. That Mother Of All Bombs airstrike is feeble compared to what God does when He lets loose. Here’s a glimpse: 7 Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry.

    I guess you don’t want to get God angry with you, and pity the people who do get God angry at them.

    He comes in in stealth mode.
    9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet.
    10 He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind.
    11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
    Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.


    And then God cuts loose:

    12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire.
    13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice,
    Hailstones and coals of fire.
    14 He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
    15 Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare
    At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.


    Lightning, hailstones, coals of fire, thunderous noise, blasting everything down to the bedrock…sounds like a bombing and strafing run to me. It had the desired effect. His airstrike routed the enemy.

    He rescued David. 19 He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

    David tells why God delighted in him: 20 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
    21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God.

    David could have caved in to the pressure, compromised, wickedly departed from my God, but he didn’t and God loves those who stay loyal to Him, and will pull out all the stops to protect us if we stick with God.

    There’s a lot more in that Psalm. God helps David turn the tables on his enemies. They thought they had him but he says 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. 38 I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet.

    But David knows that it wasn’t his own skill that got him through. God made him able to do this.
    33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places.
    34 He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
    35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me;


    David was going through physical battles with physical enemies. There was blood on his sword and corpses on the ground when he was finished.

    We don’t have those kinds of battles today, or at least not very often. We have another kind of struggle. Ephesians 6 says 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    Jesus warned us that we might get hauled into court, prosecuted, persecuted because of our relationship with Him, because He has given us convictions we can’t bend. He said in Matthew 5 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    The same God David called on for his air strike when he was pinned down is still there, ready to come to our rescue when we get pinned down.
     
  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    The foolishness of man's wisdom.

    Romans 1 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

    Wow. Paul wrote this nearly two thousand years ago and it is just as true today as it was then, if not more so.

    People suppress the truth. They did it then, they do it now. We see it in the proponents of evolution, human sexuality, global warming, and socialism, to name a few things. Fake news abounds, and it is aimed at furthering these fake ideas. People have their idea, then “adjust facts” to validate their idea of reality. They wilfully turn their backs on the truth to justify the lies they want to force on the rest of humanity.

    And the trouble is, they know they are doing it, if not consciously, then subconsciously because of two things. First, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

    God creates us with a conscience, with an innate knowledge that He exists, and that He has the key to right and wrong. All humans know that right from wrong. We inherited it from Adam and Eve. It has come down the gene pool ever since they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there in the Garden of Eden.

    That conscience gives off a warning siren in our heads and hearts when we do something wrong. But people have muted that warning siren; they have blunted their consciences.

    Second. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    Psalm 19 starts out The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Jesus said in Luke 19 40 …“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” Nature, Creation, screams at us that God is the Creator, and anyone with a lick of common sense, if he opens his eyes and looks and thinks, will see God’s hand at work not only in setting creation going in the first place, but in how He keeps it going.

    No. Instead, they refuse to see what is plain as the noses on their faces and make up other stories. They can’t prove them so they call them theories. Of evolution, of climate change, of human sexuality, and so on. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    The trouble with making up lies is that they get so complicated. Nobody has ever come up with a coherent “theory of evolution” that will answer all the questions of how things came into existence, of how all the species of living things came to be, or of how solar systems and galaxies and the atoms that make them up came to be.

    Climate change is just as incoherent. So called wise, intelligent people have worked hard to make the evidence justify their theories, and have even “cooked the books”. Now for a real scientist, that is anathema, a terrible crime, but they have killed their consciences and swallowed this lie and are doing their best to force the rest of the world to agree with them.

    Then there is the fiasco of “gender identity”. Genesis 1 says 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Humans (and plants and animals and fish) are either male or female by God’s design. But man, in his continuing rebellion against God’s design, has thrown that simple “Male and Female” under the bus. Now Facebook recognizes 58 “gender identities”. New York City has a list of 31 “gender identities” for people to select from. Funny thing. Neither list has “male” or “female” in it. Some countries have enacted legislation that a person can change his “gender identity” on the spur of the moment and when someone refers to that person using the wrong pronoun, they can have him arrested and prosecuted for anything from hate speech to harassment. Talk about promoting confusion.

    People have become futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts are darkened because they refuse to acknowledge God and His work of creation. I suppose there is an unconscious acknowledgment of one aspect of how God created man in His own image. God is creative; man has that same capacity, only he is using his creativity to create all kinds of wild and wonderful ideas of how man doesn’t need God. The farther away from God people get, the wilder and weirder the speculations become. So it’s no wonder 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

    God says later in that chapter 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

    People have become completely bound up in the lies they have concocted to try to say there is no God. They are prisoners of their own lies.

    What a contrast then, when Jesus came along and said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in John 14. He said in John 8 “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

    The world is totally confused right now, tied up in a Gorgon’s knot of lies about all kinds of things. The world needs to get a dose of God’s Truth to cut its way out of that labyrinth of lies. They are blundering around in darkness. Jesus said in John 8 2 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

    May God richly bless us as we would abide in His truth and light and enjoy the freedom that brings. May God bless us with opportunities to help others see His light and know His freedom from lies.
     
  10. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Waiting on the Lord.

    Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses. I memorized it years ago in the King James version and it goes like this: 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

    The verse starts out with “but”. God is putting in a contrast here.
    30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly.
    Brash youth, people who think they have it all together, that nothing bad can ever happen to them, can and do get worn out. They reach the end of their strength. Accidents happen to cause vigorous, active, strong people to fall down, to fail. These people depend on themselves, not God to advance themselves, to succeed, to overcome hard times. They sing with Frank Sinatra “I did it my way”, or rather “I tried to do it my way”…and fell flat on my face. The self-made man finds his workmanship is severely lacking when things get really tough.

    So God says

    28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
    29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.


    The everlasting God. Revelation 1 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

    The Creator of the ends of the earth. John 1 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

    Colossians 1 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

    Does not become weary or tired. Psalm 121 3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.

    His understanding is inscrutable. Isaiah 55 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

    John 1 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. This God, who created everything we see and don’t see, who keeps it running without taking a rest, has all kinds of energy and strength. And He can put that strength into weary people. He puts power into us 90 pound weaklings.

    But there is that caveat. In verse 31. Those that wait on the Lord get the benefit of His strength and power.

    Waiting on the Lord? That waiting means looking forward to something, knowing it will happen. It means God made a promise, and I can take it to the bank that He will keep that promise. It may not be in the time frame I would like it to happen or the way I want it to happen, but, hey. His understanding is inscrutable. He doesn’t work to our timescale, or in the way we think.

    Waiting on the Lord means doing things God’s way, not my way. Proverbs 20 says 22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. I think Solomon may have been remembering the incident between his dad and an unsavory character named Nabal. Nabal had deeply insulted David in 1 Samuel 25 and David was all set to take his revenge and said in effect “May God do so to him if I don’t get to him first.” God intervened and kept David from committing murder, from taking his own vengeance.

    Waiting on the Lord means trying to get His perspective on things. Isaiah 26 said it this way: 8 Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.

    Psalm 37 34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

    Follow that up with Zephaniah 3 8 “Therefore wait for Me,” declares the Lord, “For the day when I rise up as a witness. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal.

    Waiting for the Lord means we aren’t wasting mental, emotional, physical energy or effort on getting our own back. It means we aren’t wearing ourselves out by trying to get ahead on our own steam. We take time to ask God how He wants a thing done.

    Waiting on God means learning to see a thing from His perspective. That’s part of what it means to mount up with wings as eagles. We get a bird’s eye perspective on things.

    Have you ever watched an eagle soar on the wind? It just spreads its wings and lets the thermals carry it up. It floats high above the earth seemingly effortlessly, looking down on all that’s going on, untroubled by turmoil on the surface of the earth.

    It means we are high up, beyond the reach of the surface turmoil. We are resting on our wings which are buoyed up by the updrafts of God’s promises.

    We will run and not be weary, we will walk and not faint. It’s true that we can’t always be completely detached from the rest of the world. We have to come back down to earth some time. But when we do, the same God who has all that energy and power and authority to run the universe puts some of His energy into us. He gives us energy to run the race He has set before us, incentive to run that race (Paul’s crown), a direction to run, a goal to aim for (fixing our eyes on Jesus).

    So when things start bothering me too much, I get back to this verse, and try to work out how to wait on the Lord in this or that situation, get God’s perspective on it (an eagle’s eye point of view), then run or plod along through the situation remembering God’s perspective as I’m going along. I know that God will renew my energy, my strength to enable me to rise above that problem.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Psalm 119 Gimmel

    This is the third section of Psalm 119, and it’s called Gimmel because every line begins with the Hebrew letter Gimmel, which is pronounced like our letter “g”.

    If you were to ask God for something, anything, what would it be?

    We ask God for forgiveness, for provisions, for health, for healed family relationships, for help. And that’s part of what David asks God for in the first verse of this section…17 Deal bountifully with Your servant,

    Time and again God has promised to grant our petitions bountifully, plentifully. He loves to give us good things, things that are good for us. It makes Him happy to do that. Here are just a few…

    Deuteronomy 28 12 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

    Matthew 7 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    Ephesians 3 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

    The reason David wants God to deal so bountifully with him? That I may live and keep Your word.

    He wants to keep living so that he can keep getting to know God better, and live the lifestyle God wants him to live. Paul said it this way in Philippians 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. If God lets him live, that will be just more time on this earth to do more for God.

    But here’s one thing we don’t always ask God for, but we should…
    18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.

    We need to ask God, every time we open the Bible, that He would open our eyes, our physical eyes, our mental eyes, our spiritual eyes, our “heart” eyes. We need to ask God to show us wonderful things out of His Law. Ask Him to give us new insights into Himself, who He is. Ask for fresh promises for ourselves. Ask for new ideas about how to deal with people. Ask Him for open eyes to see His handiwork in the world around us from the perspective of His Law, His Word.

    Proverbs says time and again to prize wisdom above all else; and with all our getting, get understanding, and God’s Law is the key to gaining wisdom and understanding. If we can see the world from His point of view, we’ll have a new perspective on life, on work, on our neighbors and family, on government and political happenings.

    And most importantly, we need to ask God to open our eyes as we look into the mirror of His Word to see ourselves as we are, and what God wants us to change in our lives.

    Looking at the world through God’s eyes, as it were, is a completely foreign idea to the way everyone else looks at life and at the world. It helps us to get the perspective that we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. This is not our permanent home. Heaven is, and we are living on earth as a citizen of heaven. So David says 19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.

    We need to get to know God’s Word because that’s the law of the land where we are going to live forever. That’s the law of the land of our first citizenship.

    20 My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times.

    Well, how many times have we cursed the stupid laws our governments pass? They want to cramp our style, take away our freedoms in the name of giving more security. They crush us under loads of red tape. And they have the gall to exempt themselves from these laws. Right now there are so many laws on the books that if we keep some we are bound to be breaking others that contradict them.

    Jesus was tough on the lawmakers in Luke 11 46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

    In stark contrast, Hes says in Matthew 11 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

    Jesus’ laws bring freedom, not bondage, so of course we should be longing after His ordinances.


    21 You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments.
    22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies.

    How many times does God say He hates pride? A major part of that pride is man deciding that he knows better than God and can set up his own set of laws that he thinks will be better than God’s commands; they wander away from God’s commandments and start making up their own sets of right and wrong. So we see the injustices being carried out in so many nations and countries that have rejected God, are actively trying to exterminate Him and His people. We see the shambles that comes from laws passed in our countries because people have rejected God’s standards of morality and right and wrong. God’s judgment, His rebuke, can be seen in the train wreck these politicians and leaders are making of their countries.

    So we need to beg God to not let us fall into that trap, and do all we can to keep it from happening by observing His testimonies. We learn not just from others’ mistakes; we also learn from watching what happens when they deliberately kick over God’s traces and God turns His judgment on them.

    Finally, it boils down to “who are you going to listen to?” Does it matter that God’s statutes, His Word isn’t popular and living by them makes us unpopular?
    23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

    Those “princes”—the popular, the arrogant, the powerful, the ones who dump God’s ways in favor of their own ideas of how to live life, gossip among themselves about me and you because we have these old fashioned ideas that God’s ways are better than man’s ways.

    But in the long run, who wins out? Those “princes” will die. Their trendy ideas will die with them and be overtaken by other new crazy ideas. God is the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He and His testimonies will be here long after those “princes” are gone.

    So it’s better to listen to God than to worry about what they are saying…24 Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.
     
  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Psalm 117

    Praise the Lord, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!
    2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting.
    Praise the Lord!


    This is the shortest chapter in the Bible, but its message is every bit as great as the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119.

    Praise the Lord. That’s what Jesus told us to do as we start out praying. He said in Matthew 6 9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. We praise God by honoring Him, by setting Him apart from all the other things in the world. He is holy, and part of our praise to Him is to recognize that fact.

    That’s what all creation does. Psalm 19 starts out The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Jesus said in Luke 19 that even if we are silent the very stones will cry out His praise.

    So when we praise God we are merely joining the rest of creation, adding our voices to those of the stars and the stones and everything else in between.

    Laud Him, all peoples. Everyone knows Psalm 100. It starts out Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. The metrical version starts out “All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with joyful voice.”

    We want to get a world-wide chorus of people singing and praising God. It will happen, voluntarily or involuntarily.

    God said in Isaiah 45And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. 22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. 23 “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.

    Paul picked up on that in Romans 14: 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

    We want the world to join the angels singing praise to God. Remember Isaiah 6? 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”

    Those angels are still at it, and will continue to do so. See Revelation 4 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

    Why praise God? Two reasons in this Psalm, and they cover a lot of ground.

    First, 2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us,
    God’s lovingkindness covers how He protects us, forgives us, provides for us, gives us His salvation. His lovingkindness includes all the good things He does for us, and the judgment he meets out to His enemies. It includes the way He chastises us when we do wrong so that we ask His forgiveness and get back on the right track. It includes everything Jesus and the Holy Spirit do for us as our Parakletos…comforting us, pushing us harder, challenging us, helping us, pleading our case for us.

    You can probably add to that short list instances from your own lives of God’s lovingkindness toward you.

    Second, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting.

    God’s truth is everlasting because He is everlasting. God’s truth never changes. People change, but God does not change. He is constant and consistent. Numbers 23 says 19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

    Jesus said in Luke 16 7 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

    A few chapters later He said in Luke 21 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

    So, let’s join the heavenly throng; let’s join the rest of creation and let’s join all of God’s people in praising the Lord.

    23 Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!
    Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;
    Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it;
    For the Lord has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory.
    Isaiah 44
     
  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    The doorway…that is always open.

    Hebrews 7 23The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

    The Old Testament had priests to help people worship God. Lots of priests. The Book of Leviticus describes how these priests were set aside, consecrated, washed, dressed in special clothing, and had to make sacrifices, lots of sacrifices, for the sins of not only Israel, but for themselves. The blood of hundreds of thousands of animals: sheep, goats, cattle, oxen, birds, was shed to atone for the sin of all these people.

    The priests would die and have to be replaced because they were mortal. They were all from the same tribe of Israel because that was the priestly tribe. They had to make sacrifices for their own sin on a daily basis because they were human.

    But Jesus came along. He was not from that priestly tribe. Hebrews 7 says 17 For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

    Jesus was an “outsider”, but God put him into the office of Priest. The Old Testament Priests inherited their office for their lifetime; Jesus was installed in office by God’s oath…for eternity. 21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’”);

    The priests sacrificed animals many times on behalf of themselves and the Israelites. Jesus sacrificed Himself once, and once only, on behalf of us. He said in John 10 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

    Jesus did just that when He died on the cross. He gave up His spirit on our behalf. He made the final sacrifice. All those animal sacrifices had merely been symbolic of His sacrifice, looking forward to what He did on that cross.

    Then He came back to life, and God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name and power and authority far above all the principalities and powers on earth and in heaven. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He always lives. And He always lives to intercede for us, to pray for us, to represent our case to God. God looks at our record of sin, failure, short-coming, and says “guilty as charged” and Jesus says “Yes, but I have taken his penalty on myself. My blood has covered his sentence because he came to Me.”

    25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

    Forever. The Greek word is panteles. It means quality…completely, thoroughly, entirely. It also means time…forever. That is something the Old Testament sacrifices could never hope to accomplish. They were temporary and incomplete.

    He alone is capable of doing this because He lives forever. He always lives. Those Old Testament priests, and the religious leaders of today, live out their lifetimes and die, just like any other human being and they are incapable of saving anyone in and of themselves.

    But the condition is there…He only saves panteles, forever, completely, those who draw near to God through Him. He is the only door, the only way. Jesus said in John 14 6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. There is no other way, no back door, no alternative route to God, to salvation, to a clear conscience before God, to eternal life except through Jesus.

    And friends, that door is always open for anyone to go through. John 1 says 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

    If you haven’t gone through that door, I would urge you to go ahead and go through it now. Don’t put it off. You never know what will happen tomorrow, or even in the next few minutes that could put you out of action.

    You don’t feel worthy to go through that door? No problem. Remember Paul? He was bent on destroying as much of Jesus’ work as he could when God stopped him dead in his tracks and turned him around. Jesus specialized in dealing with sinners. He said to the “holier than thou” religious leaders that He came to heal the sick, not those who thought they were well. That thief on the cross next to him, that woman caught in adultery, the crooked tax collector all came to God through the door of Jesus. It’s only by going through Jesus’ door that we become clean, worthy to be in God’s presence.

    You think you’re good enough? Remember Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It shouldn’t take you long to remember where you’ve fallen down, sinned, at least once in the last week, or more likely in the last day or hour. Because we are human, we all sin. It’s part of our nature, our genetic make-up.

    Whatever your hesitation, it doesn’t matter. Go ahead and go through the door of Jesus, receive His forgiveness and eternal life. It’s open for you.
     
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  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Rebranded

    The last month or so at work have been interesting. The international corporation that owns the company I work for has been going through a “rebranding” process.

    We have changed our logo, company colors, even type font and document style, and of course our email signatures have all needed to change to match the new company design. All of our documents have to carry the new branding. Along with my regular work, I edit the local company newsletter and now it has a new template and style. I have been writing procedures for the tests we do, and now these also have to be “rebranded”.

    Company signage is changing, as are the logos on the company vehicles. Shipping boxes, sealing tape, anything that the public sees and is being sent out to customers must have the company’s new logo and colors. The public will notice a difference in our appearance.

    But the rebranding goes deeper than that. The company is using this as an opportunity to change our emphasis, our company goals, our relationship with clients and customers. Internal changes are happening that will change some of the way we do our work and interact with customers.

    I was thinking about this today, and it occurred to me that this is what happens when a person becomes a Christian. God rebrands him.

    One of the most startling examples of the “rebranding” God does on us is what happened to that Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5. You remember the story. That man could not be restrained. Every time the people tried to chain him up he broke loose. He ran wild among the tombs, cutting himself, screaming. His name was Legion because he had a legion of demons living in him. Then Jesus said the word, the evil spirits left the man and went to a herd of about 2000 pigs which immediately ran into the water and drowned themselves. Later the people from the nearby town came and found this crazy wild man sitting quietly, talking with Jesus and the disciples, “clothed and in his right mind”. Just like in our company, the rebranding affected not only his outward appearance, but also his inward being.

    And that is God’s constant work in us when we become Christians. He is rebranding us, making us fit for His purposes. He rescues us from whatever pit we are in, cleans us up, and gives us a new message for the world. See what David says in Psalm 40: 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.

    He has designs for each one of us. Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter? John 1 42 …Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

    God looks at each of us and says “You are…You shall be…”

    Then check out 1 Corinthians 6. God gives us a whole laundry list of the kind of degradation people can get themselves into and then He says 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    It’s an ongoing project. God takes a lot of time and effort to make His changes in our lives. But He does make those changes happen. See what He says in Philippians 1: 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

    It’s a complete, radical change. 2 Corinthians 5 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

    Psalm 40 says God gives us a new message for the world, and He also gives us a new purpose in life. Ephesians 2 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Revelation 21 talks about the new heaven and the new earth, but it also kind of sums up nicely the work God is doing in us: 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

    He makes us new from the inside out. As God works in us; as we allow God to work in us, He will make changes in the way we talk, in the way we think, in the things we do, in the way we behave, in the ways we feel and respond to people and events and things. He may even make changes in our appearance.

    May God richly bless us as we cooperate with the changes He makes in our lives, as He rebrands us from the inside out, and from serving the world to serving Him.
     
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  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    An anchor that will not drag

    Anywhere in the UK is relatively close to the sea, and I live a 30 minute drive from the sea. From time to time we have storms. And by storms, I mean winds, not just gusts, but sustained winds over 70 mph. That’s big trouble for those at sea. With today’s weather forecasting ability, boats and ships can get into sheltered coves and harbors to ride out the storm. From time to time we hear about ships who have dragged their anchors. The wind blows so hard that the anchor holding them in place can no longer grip the seabed and the boat moves, often toward a cliff or submerged rocks.

    The trick is to get the anchor wedged into the sea bottom so it won’t break, so the anchor chain won’t break, and the boat be cast adrift to the mercy of the wind and waves.

    People have anchors. They have belief systems, philosophies, mantras, physical disciplines, other people they go to for support, bug out plans. Snowflakes want their “safe places”. As long as everything is calm and peaceful those “anchors” hold them well enough. But when some SHFT scenario hits them, they find out to their cost that their trust was in the wrong thing. Those anchors will not hold them.

    Do you remember the movie “Independence Day”? One guy was trying to call his psychiatrist for help and his shrink was not there to take his call and he was going into a major flap. The alien craft zapped him and everyone in the vicinity. His anchor, his shrink, did not help at all.

    The Bible says there is an anchor that will not shift regardless of the kind of storm or upheaval we encounter. Hebrews 6 says. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,

    We have an anchor of the soul. It’s not a physical piece of metal tied onto a line that we throw out and hope it catches on something. It’s not a lucky rabbit’s foot or charm we hang around our necks on a necklace. It is something much more substantial but it cannot be seen. It’s an anchor of the soul. It holds us steady from the inside out.

    It is a hope both sure and steadfast. Hope? Jump forward a few chapters to Hebrews 11 It starts out Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. The chapter then goes into a long list of people who had this anchor, this hope in their lives and it held them steady through all kinds of crises.

    A hope that is sure? It is firm, steady, immovable, certain.

    A hope that is steadfast? It means something which does not fail or waver, immovable, and on which one may rely.

    It’s a hope that enters within the veil. That’s talking about how the temple was built, with a certain section that was curtained off with a veil. That was the holy of holies, and it was the very presence of God. Nobody was allowed behind that veil except the High Priest once a year when he went in to make atonement for the sins of Israel. Now for us this anchor goes right through that veil and lodges in the presence of God Himself. Our hope, our anchor, is lodged in God Himself, and you can’t get any better anchorage than that.

    God tells us why this hope is so sure, so steadfast. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

    Two unchangeable things: The first is God’s purpose which never changes. If He says it, it will happen. It may not happen when we would like it to happen, maybe not even how we would like it to happen, but it will happen.

    The second is His oath. Now, if we are giving testimony in court we take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we go into certain public office or into the military or even law enforcement, we take an oath to uphold the law. We make marriage vows to stick to our spouses until God should separate us by death. Being human, all too many people break those oaths, those vows, on a regular basis. Bent politicians, bent cops, deserters, perjury, divorce happens on a tragically regular basis.

    But God…it’s impossible for Him to break His word. He didn’t need to make that oath, but He did, just to seal His promise.

    Remember Numbers 23 19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

    When you are out in a storm and someone throws you a lifeline, you want to make sure it will hold you. You don’t want a rotten rope; you don’t want a piece of twine; you don’t want a rotten piece of wood that will crumble the first time you grab it. You want something substantial that you can really get your hands around and hold onto with all your strength because your life depends on it. And you want the other end of that lifeline firmly fixed to something that won’t give way.

    So when storms hit us in life we need to grab hold with all our strength to 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,

    It will hold us steady on the still summer evenings of our lives, and it will hold us steady in flying winter gales of our lives.
     
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