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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    Yesterday we looked at the peace of God, and how we can get it. How do we maintain that "peace of God" in our hearts and minds? The first step is by constantly letting God know all about what is worrying us, and knowing that He will answer our prayers in His good time and in His good way.

    God goes on to tell us how to keep that peace active in our hearts and minds in the next verse:

    Philippians 4:6-8 "6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

    What kinds of things do we let our minds dwell on? When we go to sleep at night, what are we mulling over in our heads? When we wake up, what kinds of things do our minds automatically start working on? Is it politics? Work worries? Family problems? Finances? Sure, all these and many other problems rightfully demand our attention, but what God is saying here is that the underlying foundation of what's in our minds needs to be built of things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and so on. These kinds of things are what our minds should automatically start thinking about.

    That is in stark contrast to the way the world thinks. Psalm 36 starts out "Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes...3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; He has ceased to be wise and to do good. 4 He plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not despise evil."

    Proverbs 6 says " 12 A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth...14 Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife."

    The minds of these people automatically revert to things that are completely opposite to what our minds should dwell on.

    We need to replace the tendency for our minds to revert to dwelling on wrong things, with the predisposition to think God's thoughts. We need to displace the world's ideas with God's thoughts.

    One man nailed it: "When the motor of my mind is in neutral, the hum of the gears is the sound of Isaiah 41:10. fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

    When our minds are not actively engaged in things needing our immediate attention, they should automatically revert to things that are of excellence and worthy of praise, things that are true, honorable, right, lovely, etc.

    May God grant us His peace as we learn to fill our minds with His thoughts.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Whom does God choose?

    When you read through these verses of 1 Corinthians 1, it looks as if Paul is insulting his readers.

    1 Corinthians 1 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;

    They sound like a bunch of losers, by the world’s standards. They weren’t the brightest, or strongest, or noblest of people. They were foolish, weak, and despised by the rest of the world.

    BUT

    God chose them. They responded to God’s call on their lives. God called them, they said “Here I am. What do you want me to do?”

    27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not,

    God has a couple of reasons for calling “nobodies” to Himself.

    First, so that He may nullify the things that are,

    He uses the weak and despised and “foolish” to nullify the things that are.

    He called Moses, the man on the run from Pharaoh and the Egyptian police, wanted for murder. Moses’ first reaction was “who, me? I don’t have the speaking ability. I can’t lead Israel. I don’t have the authority or standing to lead them.” But God used him to nullify Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

    He called Gideon, the least man in the lowest family in Israel to beat the Midianites to pieces.

    He called David, a lowly shepherd boy, to be king of Israel. And David kept his humble attitude throughout his life. When God promised to establish his kingdom forever, his response was (2 Samuel 7) 18 “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?

    Even Solomon, the crown prince newly elevated to being king of Israel, said to God (1 Kings 3) 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Solomon ushered in the golden age of Israel.

    Mary, when God chose her to be the mother of Jesus, could do nothing but praise God in Luke 1:46-54 in what has become known as the Magnificat. … 48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed …

    Second, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    All those people…Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon, and Mary and countless others throughout the Bible whom God used to do mighty deeds were humble. In effect they said time and again “I didn’t do it. God did it. Praise be to God.” When people praised them, they deflected that praise to glorify God.

    These people all had the same thing in common. They didn’t think they were anything special. Even Solomon. They all said to God in one way or another, “I need Your help if I’m to do the thing You have chosen me to do.” They all said to the people in one way or another, “God alone has made me able to do this.”

    Jesus was talking with the Jewish leaders one time. They had taken Him to task for socializing with sinners in Luke 5. Jesus’ response? 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

    The people who see themselves as righteous, upstanding, important, holy types, cannot see themselves as being spiritually “sick” and don’t see the need for salvation. They don’t think they have anything to repent of. They see themselves as being better than those poor sinners over there.

    The “sick” are the ones who are ready to admit they need help, that they need a physician. Those who are humble enough to see that they are spiritually sick are the ones who are ready to admit that they need help, that they need salvation. These are the ones God chooses. These are the ones God uses for His purposes, to do His work here on this earth. These are the people who will boast not in their own wisdom, intellectual ability, prowess, strength, or position in society, but in God, and what He had done for them and through them.

    May God bless us richly as we see ourselves as God sees us, as we really are, and call on Him for help.

    May God bless us richly as we respond to His call on our lives and say “God, Here I am, what do you want me to do? How do you want to use me?” Then may God bless us richly as we draw glory to Him.
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I am starting into Exodus in my personal reading, and suddenly wondered “Why did God let Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years?” He could have just marched them straight across in a matter of a few months at most. People travelled that distance on a regular basis. I’m sure the slave drivers who bought Joseph never took that long. Joseph’s brothers never took that long to go down to get food for their starving families. Jacob/Israel never took that long when he went down at Joseph’s invitation to be a guest of Egypt.

    I am sure there are many reasons, but I was struck by this passage in Deuteronomy 8.

    2 You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

    He led them through the wilderness to humble them. Sure they had been slaves in Egypt, but there was still a lot of pride, stubbornness, and rebellion in that lot of people. So God took them on a long trip through the wilderness to break that rebellious and proud streak in them.

    It reminds me of the time I spent in stress camp in Colorado. The staff talked about watching for those teachable moments. The campers would get into a quandary, start getting worried about what to do next. Something as simple as using a map and compass or starting a campfire. We would watch, and when the time was right, step in with “would you like some help with that?” After all their ideas failed, this was the teachable moment, when they were ready to listen to instruction. They were out of pride and stubbornness. God brought Israel many teachable moments out there in the wilderness.

    He was also testing them, to know what was in their heart, whether they would obey Him or not. They showed time and again that, given the chance, they would go off their own way and disregard God’s commands. I don’t do too much with animals, but visions of training a dog come to mind. The trainer takes the dog, watches him as he leads him around the training area. He’s evaluating this dog. Is it teachable, will it learn to obey commands?

    Because of Israel’s disposition to go off the rails God had to “break them”. He humbled them, let them get hungry, then fed them. And He fed them in such a way that they learned that they must lead their lives by God’s Word.

    3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord,

    God was also showing them how He takes care of them. He provided them food; He kept their clothing from wearing out. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.

    I don’t know about you, but my shirts need to be replaced every few years, if not more often. Jeans? Quite often. Shoes? Socks? Underwear? But these Israelites managed to pass their clothing on from one generation to the next for forty years of hard wear and tear.

    Then there were the health and transportation issues. nor did your foot swell these forty years. They were able to keep walking when it was time to walk.

    Why all that? Well, God tried them, tested them, and found them wanting. So next came the training. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.

    God was testing, training His people so they would live by His laws and commands when they got into the Promised Land. He was using that time in the wilderness to build them into His people, who would know they could depend on Him to feed them, take care of their needs and health, no matter what came up.

    That’s a nice story. So what?

    Well, it occurred to me that God leads us through a wilderness of life in this world for however many years we live. He is testing, evaluating us, to see what we’re made of. He wants to see if we’ll obey Him, be His people. He takes us through hard times, just as He let Israel get hungry, so that when we come to those teachable moments we are ready to listen to His instruction, to learn from Him. He is using this lifetime on earth to train us. We learn we can trust Him to provide for our needs, and to protect us.

    I’m thinking He is leading us through this wilderness of life in this world to prepare us for what He has in store for us in the life to come.

    Remember how Jesus talked about the master who entrusted talents to his servants while he went away on a journey? It’s in Matthew 25.

    When he came back he rewarded the ones who invested wisely and punished the one who just buried his talent in the back yard. 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’…30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    I kind of think God has things planned for us when we get to Heaven. It will be a whole lot more than just sitting on clouds twanging away on harps. He’s using this lifetime to let us set our track record so that when we “enter into the joy of our Master” he will have reason to give us whatever responsibilities He has lined up for us.

    Jesus talked about building up treasure in Heaven. Paul talked about looking forward to receiving his crown.

    May God grant that we would be learners and be getting prepared for what’s to come. May God bless us as we build up treasure in Heaven, and work toward whatever crown He has stored up for each of us.
     
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  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    God moves kingdoms for His people

    It’s mind boggling. Think about it.

    We’ve all read Romans 8:28. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

    God wanted Jonah to go preach the Good News to the people of Nineveh, and when he balked, ran the opposite direction, God sent that storm to drive the sailors and Jonah to the point of throwing Jonah overboard. Then God appointed that great fish to swallow Jonah, carry him three days and nights and vomit him onto the shores of the land he should have been going to in the first place.

    God worked it so that Joseph wound up in Egypt at the precise time he needed to be there to rescue his family from starvation. He drove the budding Israelite family/nation down to Egypt so they could “incubate” until the Promised Land was ready for them to come and take it.

    Then He put it into the mind of Caesar, the emperor of the entire Roman Empire, to call for a census/tax on his entire empire, so every single person had to go to their hometown to be registered. That was a major upheaval for everyone, including Joseph and Mary. But God orchestrated that massive inconvenience on everyone in the empire in order to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so Jesus could be born there, to fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5: 2 “ But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

    You can imagine Joseph grumbling at the sheer enormity of the inconvenience of having to pack up his carpentry work and leave his livelihood behind in Nazareth to hike nearly 100 miles to Bethlehem just because some dumb Caesar took a whim to count all the people in his kingdom. And Mary was “great with child”. It would have been desperately uncomfortable for her. He may have considered a little civil disobedience…stay at home in Nazareth. But he obeyed the Emperor’s command.

    God had His plan, and He was working it, whether Caesar and Joseph and Mary knew it or not. Caesar thought it was his clever idea to take that census. He figured he dreamed it up all by himself.

    But remember what Proverbs 21:1 says: The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

    Caesar, as powerful as he was, was just a pawn in God’s hands. God used him to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so Jesus could be born there.

    God moved an entire empire to work out His plan, so that two insignificant people would be forced to travel all that way to an insignificant village so that the greatest event in the history of the world could take place in God’s time, in God’s way, at the place of God’s choosing.

    And God keeps doing that kind of thing for us. See what God says in Isaiah 43:

    4 “Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you,
    I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
    5 “Do not fear, for I am with you;


    God will go to the extent of giving other people in our place, and other peoples, other nations, for our lives. He will move heaven and earth for our sakes. That is mind boggling. We will do a lot for our children, our loved ones, but we can never go so far as to expend the lives of others for our own precious ones. But God can and does do that.

    He moved an entire empire so that a baby would be born in Bethlehem, so that Jesus could be with us, live among us; so that Jesus could endure everything we endure, yet without sin, and then give His life as a ransom for us so that we can be His people, so we can have eternal life.

    Then He says, 5 “Do not fear, for I am with you;

    With God who manipulates emperors and world changing events watching out for us like that, and being with us, what do we have to be afraid of?

    I just shake my head in wonder, and thank God and praise Him for what He has done, and what He keeps doing for me, and for all His people.
     
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  5. 2A-Jay

    2A-Jay Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Amen to that BlackEagle.
     
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  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    One of the buzzwords in the news these days is climate change. It seems that you can’t go five minutes into a broadcast without hearing those words. While President Trump has reversed some of the previous administration’s action to try to control the climate, the rest of the world seems fixated on trying to control emissions.

    One of the royal family over here went so far as to say that families should be limited in size because over their lifetime a human being produces so much greenhouse gas. The government has declared that the internal combustion engine will no longer power cars by 2040. Everything will be electric. Great Britain and especially Scotland are trying to lead the way to keep earth’s temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees in the next so many years.

    People travel from all over the world to get to climate change summits. I marvel at the hypocrisy of these people. How do they get there? They certainly do not walk, ride bicycles or horses or sail there in boats. No, they fly in to these meetings, on the very aircraft they condemn for producing “greenhouse gasses”. One very vocal POTUS not only flew in to the Paris conference two years ago on gas guzzling Air Force 1, but he had a retinue of others accompanying him, along with a fleet of gas guzzling vehicles. And they call Christians hypocrites!! I marvel at how they can keep a straight face when they make all these grandiose pronouncements about cutting back on fossil fuel use to stop climate change. Some are delusional, others are skillful, experienced liars.

    The goal of their meetings is ostensibly to preserve the earth so people can continue to live as they always have lived.

    God must be laughing fit to burst at these goings on. Every time I hear about this and other things the world thinks are so important I think of the opening lines of Psalm 2:

    Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?
    2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together
    Against the Lord and against His Anointed,…

    I can’t get over the sheer arrogance of these people. They think they can control climate, that they can control God’s creation. They don’t know the Bible; they don’t know God’s power and control over creation.

    Well, here’s what God thinks of that…

    4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.
    5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying,
    6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

    A single volcanic eruption, a single wildfire or forest fire, will undo years of energy austerity these people are imposing on us by spewing CO2 and methane in unlimited quantities into the atmosphere. And then there’s water vapor, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.

    There are so many times throughout the Bible that God shows His control over weather and over climate, sending famines and floods and storms. Remember what the disciples said in that boat in Mark 4? 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

    God has His own plans not only for the climate, but for the entire earth. See what He says in 2 Peter 3. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

    Are they in for a shock. They will discover the power of God cannot be stopped by any kind of human intervention. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, suddenly, without warning, unexpectedly, devastatingly and inevitably. The day of the Lord will take away all the petty defenses and preparations these people have been making. It will strike down in an instant all the rules and laws they have passed to try to preserve the world. All their work will have been for nothing because man does not control the earth, God does.

    God actually says a few verses before, 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    God is actually preserving the earth, delaying His judgment in order to give people just one more chance to turn to Him.

    I keep getting emails from people wanting to sell me things, and they all say “This is your last chance. This great magnificent offer is about to be taken away. Buy it now before it’s gone.” Eventually, the offer is withdrawn and I no longer get the emails. If I click on the link, the web page says “offer expired”.

    That’s what God is doing for mankind. He is giving us all one more chance to turn to Him. He wants us all to come to repentance. But those who refuse, well, that day is coming; it has been set for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. When God’s offer expires, those who have rejected it will lose out on much more than what might be a good bargain. They lose out on eternal life. They lose everything they ever gathered together, they lose all their future hope, their plans are completely destroyed and their worst fears are realized.

    So the bottom line is this: 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness… 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

    What sort of people should we be? We should live lives not the way the rest of the world lives, but the way God wants us to live. Our focus must be not on the things and people around us, but on what is to come: new heavens and a new earth. The old world with all its corrupt values and destructive ways of life will be gone, replaced with God’s incorruptible new heaven and new earth.

    And we don’t need to try to change the climate. God has that under His control. And He is laughing at man’s puny efforts to try to control His creation.
     
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  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Blindsided

    That’s what happened to those soldiers and sailors in Pearl Harbor, and to the US as a whole on this day back in 1941. Sure there were warnings, but they never got through to the people who needed them. What preparations that were made against a possible attack were all the wrong ones, if we can go by the Pearl Harbor movie Tora! Tora! Tora! made back in 1970. The Japanese attacked in force without warning, partly through treachery and partly through ineptitude of the Japanese embassy in Washington and our own intelligence people.

    So today, on Pearl Harbor Day, we remember those brave men and women who died in that attack 76 years ago, and we thank God for how He brought us through the ensuing war to victory.

    You know, satan loves to blind side us as Christians, and has been doing it since the beginning of time.

    Back in Genesis 4, when Cain and Abel offered their sacrifices and God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s sacrifice, God warned Cain of an attack. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

    Sin is crouching at the door…Think of a cat sitting at a mouse hole waiting to pounce, or a lion lying in wait for its prey to walk by. Cain didn’t take the warning, disregarded the intelligence report, and fell into the trap, got pounced on by sin, and killed his brother.

    Then there was Job, living a peaceful prosperous life, enjoying his family, life, friends, and his fellowship with God. Then from out of nowhere satan struck, taking his possessions, his children, even his physical health. He had no idea what drama was being played out behind the scenes in Heaven between God and satan. All he knew was he had been healthy and wealthy, but now he was poor and hurting.

    David fell into satan’s trap. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed.

    Peter was blindsided even though he knew the attack was coming. In Luke 22 Jesus said 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”… 34 And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”

    Peter knew the attack was coming, but in the end, satan slipped up behind him and Peter fell for it. He did deny Jesus three times.

    And it happens to us. We’ll be going along enjoying life, our families, our relationship with God, and satan sneaks up and knocks us on the head. He blindsides us. Something will happen. It may be something like what happened to Job, it may be what happened to David, or Peter. We’re human. We don’t have the wisdom and knowledge and all-seeing eyes that God has.

    It’s what happens after we get blindsided, it’s what we do afterwards that’s important.

    The US gathered itself together after the Pearl Harbor attack and united to fight the enemy.

    David, when confronted with what he had done, did not try to excuse himself or cover it up. He made a clean breast of it to God. He repented. He asked God’s forgiveness. You can read that repentance and confession in Psalm 51.

    Peter, when he heard that cock crow, went out and wept in repentance. Matthew 26 says 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

    But he came back. Remember what Jesus prayed for him? 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

    Job, when he was hit so hard, came back with solid unshakeable faith. Job 1 says 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

    So the bottom line is that we can expect to be blindsided from time to time. When that happens, it’s not the end of the world or of our relationship with God. Two things come into play when we get hit by satan.

    David and Peter failed miserably, but repented. I’m sure that they kicked themselves hard mentally, but that wasn’t the important thing.

    First, they did what God says to do in 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    They didn’t give up and say “What’s the use. I’m a total failure. I can’t do anything right. I give up.” They recognized they had messed up badly, repented, confessed to God, and got back into the fight.

    Second, Peter’s faith and David’s faith in God’s love for them and in His forgiveness caused them to hang in there. Job’s faith in God caused him to say what he said, and he didn’t budge from that faith through all his trials.

    You remember what Hebrews 7 says? 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.

    I think part of that intercession Jesus is making for us is just what He prayed for Peter…that our faith would not fail and that when we have turned again (repented) we would strengthen our brothers.

    May God bless us richly as we confess our sins to Him and rely on God to keep our faith strong when we get blindsided by satan.
     
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  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Blessing all the families of the earth

    We are looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus. As one email I received said, “Only 13 more sleeps…”

    Well for us, celebrating the birth of Jesus should not just happen on one day of the year, but every day of every year because He gives us eternal life, abundant life every day of every year.

    An interesting thing to notice. Each of the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) was written from a different perspective, a different point of view with a different emphasis. The Gospel according to Matthew was written primarily to the Jews, from a Jewish perspective. You would think this account would only focus on Jesus’ interaction with the Jews. But that is not so.

    Matthew is the only account that records the visit of the Magi, kings or wise men, from a distant land. They were gentiles who came on a long journey just to see the infant and bring him gifts. Then in the last words of the book in Matthew 28 are Jesus’ command to 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…

    Should we be surprised at this international flavor God gives us of Jesus’ ministry? I don’t think so.

    Remember way back in Genesis, when God was blessing Abraham, making His covenant with him, God said in Genesis 12 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

    God expands that promise a few chapters later in Genesis 28 to include Abraham’s descendants. 14 …and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

    Abraham’s seed includes Jesus. And as Jesus was walking and talking and living and ministering among us, He constantly crossed the nationality barrier. You remember how He crossed all kinds of cultural lines when He talked to that Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The upshot of that conversation was that all the men of that Samaritan city came running to hear what Jesus could tell them.

    Then he healed a Roman Centurion’s servant in Matthew 8. He healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter in Matthew 15.

    In Abraham’s seed, Jesus, all the families of the earth will be blessed. Jesus did not limit His ministry to just the Jews, and His disciples learned that first hand. But when it came to doing their own cross-cultural missionary work, that was a bit of a hurdle for them to cross. God went to some trouble to convince Peter that it was OK to share the Gospel with gentiles. Do you remember the vivid message God gave Peter in Acts 10?

    Peter was on the rooftop praying, got hungry and started to fix lunch. He saw that vision of the sheet with all kinds of unclean things in it, and 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”

    Peter being a good Jew, said in effect, “No way. These are unclean and I can’t eat them.” The response? 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

    At that very instant, messengers from Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, came knocking on the door. As we say in the UK, the penny dropped. Peter went with the messengers and presented the Gospel to them, and the whole household became Christians.

    Then God sent Philip clear out into the middle of nowhere to meet up with that Eunuch from Ethiopia. He was treasurer of Ethiopia, and Philip presented the Gospel to him and he became a Christian, and took that Good News back to Ethiopia with him.

    Then there was Paul. At some point (Acts 13) he declared that he was going to work with the Gentiles. 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’”

    You know, it’s a good thing Paul picked up on that message from Isaiah 49. The verse he was quoting says 6 …“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

    If God hadn’t sent the Gospel out to all the families of the earth, we wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. We wouldn’t know the blessings of having Jesus in our lives. We wouldn’t know His peace, His forgiveness, His love for us.

    But it took people obeying Jesus when He said we should go out and make disciples of all nations to bring the light of the Gospel to the world. And that torch has been passed on to us.

    We can use this time of the year in particular to shine the light of the Gospel into people’s lives. We have a mission field right here at home. Let me stick my neck out a little here now. Refugees are coming into our countries from all over the world. God is bringing the mission field right to our doorsteps.

    We can see that as a threat to our way of life if they are allowed to impose their culture on us, or we can see that as an opportunity to introduce them to Jesus. They are in a strange land, with a strange language and customs, and some may be open to learning about why we celebrate Christmas. Some of them are out from under the iron thumb of their theocratic lands for the first time and are curious about the customs of this land.

    From what I hear, they don’t object to Christmas. It’s the PC Christophobes who want to blot out Christ from Christmas using the excuse that we might offend the newcomers to our countries. So just as Philip did with that Ethiopian eunuch, watch, listen, and be ready to share the reason for Christmas with these newcomers.

    Then we will be, along with Abraham, a light to the nations, a blessing to all the families of the earth.
     
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  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Garbage in, Garbage out. That's true for computers, lab reports, and a lot of other things, including minds. If we put garbage into our minds, garbage comes out our mouths.

    That's what Jesus was driving at when He was talking with the disciples in Matthew15. "10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man... 17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

    The remedy for a defiled heart that spews garbage out the mouth is doing what God says in Philippians 4 "8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

    The end result: Proverbs 16 "21 The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the discipline of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." We want to have healing words, not wounding words. We want to persuade people, win them over, not bully them.

    Proverbs 25 :11 tops it off: " Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances."

    And there’s another angle to this. If we fill our minds with the right things, then what we say glorifies God. John 15 says 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing…8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

    May God fill our mouths with golden apples as we learn to fill our minds and hearts with excellent and praiseworthy things.
     
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  10. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Phobia or indifference?

    These are a couple of reasons people refuse to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, and you can see them both in Matthew 2. We see that phobia and indifference in spades during the Christmas Season, as people use a shortened version of Christmas, as they go back to pagan language to describe the celebrations using terms like “Winter Festival”, “Festival of Lights”, or “Festival of Trees” or some other verbiage. They demand that Nativity scenes be banned from public places.

    3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

    Some people don’t want to acknowledge Jesus because as John 3 says, 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

    They are afraid of Jesus. He is a threat to their way of life. He is a threat to whatever they are basing their security on. They are afraid that if His light shines on them, they won’t look as good to themselves or others as they would like to look. They are afraid He will expose the evil in them.

    That was Herod’s motivation. He was afraid because Jesus was the Messiah, a threat to his position as chief muck-a-muck of Israel. His fear of Jesus led to wholesale infanticide. He planned to kill that infant if he found him. When the Magi didn’t return to him with news of Jesus’ whereabouts, well, Matthew 2 says 16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

    So people today are afraid of Jesus. They are Christophobes and resort to the same kind of hateful and brutal and spiteful acts against Christians today that Herod resorted to when he tried to kill the infant Jesus. So we see Christian businesses being ruined. We see Christian street preachers and business owners being hauled into court, being denied their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They are afraid of Jesus because He will expose their deeds, show them up for what they are. They put up an active resistance to Jesus.

    Then there is the passive resistance to Jesus. These are people who are indifferent. The chief priests and scribes, when asked by Herod about the Messiah, could tell him all about Him. They quoted chapter and verse. Without hesitation they quoted Micah 5:2 to answer Herod’s question. 2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

    Then they went back home or back to work and didn’t think another thing about it. “So what? What’s the big deal?”

    The big deal was that the birth of Jesus was the culmination of all that prophecy down through the ages. They were shutting their eyes to the greatest thing to happen in the history of mankind. But they just couldn’t be bothered. They had a headful of Biblical knowledge. They were the experts, the professors of theology, the attorneys who practiced the Biblical Law.

    But that’s where it ended. Their knowledge was just in their heads. They were like the person James talks about in James 1: 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

    They were looking at the word, but not doing it. They did their duty and obeyed the letter of the law, and made up many other laws to go along with God’s Law, but they missed the fact that God’s Law is a living letter to us and that God speaks to us through His Word. Theirs was a dead religion.

    So they heard about the birth of the Messiah, but the penny didn’t drop. And a lot of people today know some things about the Bible, think that is enough, and don’t care about the real significance of the Gospel message. They “go with the flow”, agree happily to go along with the demands of the Christophobes because it keeps the peace and they don’t have to argue. They don’t have any reason or motivation to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Christmas is just another seasonal celebration, so call it whatever you want to. It makes no difference to them.

    They offer a passive resistance to the idea that Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, was born. They haven’t really considered the implications of Jesus’ birth for their lives, or for society as a whole and don’t want to think about it. Just go with the flow, have a good time. It shows up in the frenetic parties and crazy “Christmas” music and other activities that come to the surface at this time of year.

    Well, maybe God can use us to prick their curiosity, get them to think about what Christmas is all about.

    May God bless us richly as we find ways to share the real meaning of Christmas with people around us, that Jesus the Messiah, the Savior of the world was born. We are celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    A house that lasts

    My house is a good house. The architect who designed and built it did some careful thinking and planning. The walls are well insulated, which keeps the heating bills down during the winter. It has windows that let the breezes blow through during the summer.

    But it won’t last forever. It is built of wood. There will come a time (hopefully in the distant future) when it will be replaced with another house. There are houses near me that were built well over a century ago. They were built of granite and will last centuries as long as they are maintained well.

    Check out what Proverbs 24 says: By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;
    4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.


    Wisdom…that character in Proverbs that goes around calling in the streets for people to come to her and listen, to learn, also seems to be an architect and builder.

    Only wisdom doesn’t merely build buildings. When you look at the Hebrew word for “house” it means much more than a place with four walls and a roof to live in. It also means a family, a clan. Think about how God dealt with David, establishing his house, his family, in 2 Samuel 7: The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”

    By God’s wisdom a family is built into a dynasty that will last for generations, and whose heritage will go on for centuries.

    I don’t know if it was before or after this conversation with God that David wrote Psalm 127. It starts out: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;

    We see how flimsy shacks blow away in storms. Badly built buildings cannot stand the wear and tear of weather. We see how families that have been built without God’s wisdom as their foundation fall apart. There seems to be an overwhelming number of broken families around the world today, families, houses, that have been built on man’s foolishness rather than God’s wisdom. A lot of the homeless kids around are fragments of these broken families.

    In contrast, Psalm 128 says

    How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.
    2 When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.
    3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house,
    Your children like olive plants Around your table.
    4 Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord.

    5 The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
    6 Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
    Peace be upon Israel!

    Isn’t this a picture of what we would like to see around the Christmas dinner table?

    This family, built on God’s wisdom, built on the fear of the Lord, lasts for generations, it prospers, and enjoys peace and happiness.

    Psalm 111 says 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;

    Fear of the Lord…we’ve talked about that before. It means to be afraid of God, but it also means to honor Him, to reverence Him, to place a high value on Him and what He says. It means to listen to what He says, and act on what He says, to do His commandments.

    So the man who fears the Lord has the beginnings of wisdom in him. This is the man whom God will use to build a house, a family line, a heritage that lasts. David feared God; see how God built his house, his family, his heritage.

    We will be gathering with family and friends over the coming weeks. Think how God will use you to help build your house in wisdom. How can you help teach your family members during these gatherings to fear God? How will God use you to build your house into a lasting heritage?
     
  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Peace, or a sword?

    At this time of year we start hearing and singing Christmas Carols left right and center. One of my favorites (I have several) is the one written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that starts out

    I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
    Their old familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet the words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good will to men.

    Many Christmas cards proclaim “Peace on Earth”. And at this time of year the world looks for peace. During World War 1 the Germans and Allies joined together in a football game on no man’s land on Christmas Day, 1914; enemies enjoyed a day of peace and friendship, only to return to their trenches and rifles and start shooting each other the next day. Peace on Earth existed in the midst of war, if only for a day, because of Christmas. In a way, those opposing sides honored the birth of the Messiah with their unofficial truce. But it was not a lasting peace. The war went on for three more years, with many thousands of soldiers killed.

    Peace on earth, good will to men. That phrase comes from the Bible, from Luke 2:

    The King James Version renders the Greek 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

    Other translations say 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

    God gives His peace to those with whom He is pleased. Jesus said in Matthew 10 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

    And that’s what we see happening today around us. Jesus has made a sharp dividing line in society. That was true in Abraham’s time, in Daniel’s time, when Jesus was walking the earth; it was true for the Christians living in the seven cities Jesus wrote letters to in Revelation, and it is true today. We see that in the persecution of Christians around the world. ISIS and Hindus and Buddhists and the PC brigade are anything but peaceful toward Christians.

    The world in Jesus’ day enjoyed a peace of sorts, under the iron boot of the Roman Empire. So long as people submitted to the conquering legions, they were left to get on with life. Keeping that peace often required people to compromise their relationship with God. In Daniel’s day keeping the peace would have meant putting the king before God by praying to the king, rather than to God. In Smyrna the Christians were faced with the same problem. Disobey God and live in external peace, or obey God and be persecuted, but have His peace internally.

    Christians in the US and around the world face the same problem. We can compromise God’s standards and go with the politically correct flow of compromise on marriage and homosexuality and abortion and other things, and enjoy a temporary peace, or face persecution for standing by our convictions that are grounded in God’s Word and have His permanent peace because we live to please Him. Compromise your conscience, or be sued or lose your job or go to jail.

    In other parts of the world Christians are faced with the awful choice: Convert to islam and live physically for a while on earth but die for eternity, or be beheaded and live for eternity with Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 10 32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

    If we live to please God, God is pleased with us, and gives us His peace.

    Jesus was talking to His disciples, not the world in general, when He said in John 14 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

    The world’s peace is never a lasting peace, and all too often it is the peace of a straight jacket, imposed from the outside by man’s laws. God’s peace is a peace that frees us, growing from the inside out, from God being in us. Immanuel, God with us.

    His peace gives us calm in the midst of external conflict, and it lasts for eternity. It brings truly peaceful relationships among Christians and even with others around us. Proverbs 16 says 7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

    Peace among men with whom He is pleased.

    May God bless us with His peace in us not only at this season, but throughout the entire year and on into eternity.
     
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  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    We all know the passage in Isaiah 40: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

    Centuries before the birth of Christ God told Isaiah to pass the word to His people that the Messiah was coming, and that God would prepare the way. God would level the mountains and valleys and straighten the way so the road for the Messiah would be smooth and straight, easy to navigate; no mistakes.

    Over the years the Scribes and Pharisees had added hundreds of rules and regulations to the Law God had given Moses in the wilderness. Some of these laws made life complicated for the Jews; some circumvented the law God gave to Moses. They all made salvation for the Israelites a complex puzzle of what to do and not to do to be right with God. The religious leaders made the road to salvation a crooked maze through mountains and valleys of regulations.

    Then when the time was right, God used a man named John to prepare the way. His task was to smooth that road and straighten the curves by cutting through all the hundreds of laws and regulations the Scribes and Pharisees had imposed on the Jews. He came, preaching a baptism of repentance. Did the Jews want to be right with God? Repent of your sins. Turn your back on the old lifestyle and show it by being baptised. Salvation--forgiveness of sin--doesn't come by obeying all these man-made rules and regulations. It comes from rejecting sin. That's what John was preaching, and he was baptising those who listened and took his message on board.

    When the Jewish leaders questioned him about it in John 1 he answered them this way:"19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

    He was just the humble messenger, making the way between Jesus and the people smooth and straight so that it would be easy, straightforward, for the people to hear the message of salvation from Jesus.

    Now it's our turn. God gave us the Great Commission; it's our task to prepare the way of the Lord for the people around us. We do that by cutting through all the ecclesiastical trappings and theological mumbo-jumbo that too many religious leaders have laid down in the years since Christ walked on this earth. All that religiosity tends to trip people up as they seek forgiveness and salvation.

    The message Jesus gave was straightforward and simple. 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, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

    It's our task to communicate that message, to prepare the way of the Lord...for ourselves, in our own hearts; ...for others, by our attitudes, actions, words; by our lives. Make the way straight, smooth, uncomplicated for them, and for ourselves.

    That's the message of Christmas. May God enable us to communicate that message simply and effectively.
     
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  14. RAE Industries

    RAE Industries Well-Known Member

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    Thank you ! I needed a reminder of this one today!
     
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  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thank you, RAE. I pray each day that God would make these devotionals a blessing, a challenge, a help to those who read them. I pray that God would use them to help mold us into what He wants us to be. This is an answer to prayer.
     
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