Daily Devotional; formerly Chaplains Corner

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

  1. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Driven to drink

    We all know 1 Peter 5 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

    It’s a great verse, a wonderful promise. Can we do it? Can we put it into practice?

    That term “anxiety” is potent. It means a whole lot more than just that vague uneasy feeling something’s not right. The Greek word means something that eats away at you over time. One dictionary says it is something that people lose sleep over, something that drives people to try to dull the worry through alcohol or other forms of escapism. After the hangover is gone, the problem is still there, and the anxiety is back with a vengeance.

    And take a look at one cause of anxiety. God said in the verses right before: 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

    You can just picture it because it happens today. This was in a church setting but it is also true in wider society. Young men have to be subject to the older men, the ones in charge, the elders in the church. That goes completely opposite to the instincts of many. You can just see the minds working: “That’s an old man. What does he know about real life today? Can I trust his instruction? Can I trust him to tell me what to do?”

    We see that being worked out in the unrest in cities around the world today. Young people want to reject the advice, the counsel, of their elders, and so are doomed to repeat the mistakes their elders made or learned from.

    Solomon pleaded with his son in Proverbs 1: 8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;

    He kept saying that throughout the book of Proverbs. Did Rehoboam listen? You know what happened. Rehoboam needed to tell the people what kind of a king he would be. Instead of listening to his father’s advisors who had a lifetime of experience and wisdom behind what they said, he listened to his friends’ advice. And lost the kingdom.

    So people have this innate dislike of someone telling them what to do, especially if they think they are better than the one telling them what to do.

    That’s why God makes a big deal of this. He says and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

    You see, submitting to someone else takes humility. It’s pride that says “I don’t need to listen to him. I know better.”

    It can also lead to anxiety. Can we really trust the advice of these others?

    The short answer is to check them out. 1 John 4: 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God;

    Listen to what they say. Do they have a real, living relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Are they proclaiming the real Gospel, or is it something they make up as they go along?

    And remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.

    Look at the fruit they produce. In their lives, in what they say, in what they do, and especially in the lives of those they work with. Are they producing the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23? Are they producing Godly disciples that God describes in 2 Timothy 2:2?

    Back to anxiety. We tend to get bent out of shape when we have to submit to someone else’s rules. It can lead to lost sleep, we may try to find ways to escape it or fight it.

    God says we should not try to carry that load ourselves. We need to cast all those problems, those things that we lose sleep over, onto Him.

    Any time that we start getting worried about something, just tell God “This is a problem I’m having, something I’m worried about. You have said You are in charge of all things and that You will work all things out for Your glory and for my good. I cast this anxiety onto You. I trust You to take care of it. I am putting it into Your hands.”

    Sure, satan will try to load it back onto us. He’s good at that. He wants us to feel that we are the masters of our lives. When that happens, we just need to treat it like we treat guilt over sins. We have confessed those, God has forgiven us, so we thank God for His forgiveness. Every time satan brings up that old guilt we turn it into a praise and thanksgiving fest. “God, I thank you for forgiving me for those sins and for taking the guilt away from me and putting it on Your Son when He died on that cross.”

    Whenever satan tries to throw that anxiety back on us, we turn it into a faith fest, trusting God to take care of it. “God, I know You are able to take care of me. This has me worried. Do they really know what they are doing? I commit myself to trust You to work through them.”

    Caveat: There are some things we need to deal with, and if we don’t take care of them, they will cause anxiety. Paying taxes, attending to that funny noise in the car, keeping the house maintained; there are some things we can and should take care of.

    Those anxiety attacks can drive us to sleepless nights and to drink and ultimately to suicide. Or they can drive us to Christ.

    Remember Psalm 4: Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer… 6 Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!
    7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.
    8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.


    Those anxiety attacks need to drive us to Christ, where we can drink deeply from His well of living water and find life. John 4 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

    Bottom line: We can let our anxieties drive us to try to deaden them and drown them in alcoholic stupor, or we can let them drive us to drink from Jesus’ living water.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Sowing Light

    Psalm 97: 11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart.

    A number of years ago a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She was pregnant at the time.

    The doctor explained that they could treat the cancer and save her life but it would kill the baby. Or she could carry on with the pregnancy and try to stop the cancer after the baby was born. She and her husband prayed, talked, thought a lot in the next few days and Doreen and Mike finally decided that in the same way Jesus had given His life for His people, she would, if necessary, give her life for her children. Dad, their pastor, prayed and talked with them, but the decision was entirely theirs.

    God said in John 15 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

    She lay down her life for her family, for her children. The baby was born, and by then the cancer was inoperable.

    She spent the remaining months of her life writing letters and journals for each of her children. Those letters and journals described her relationship with God, and her desires, that each of her children would know God as she does and as Mike does, and become Christians. She had individual desires for each of them that she wrote into those journals.

    She was planting seeds of light into their lives. And those seeds have sprouted and produced good fruit. Mike went on to rear those children as a single father, showing them through his love how God also loves them. All of those children have become Christians with a strong testimony for Christ.

    Jesus said in Matthew 16 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

    Her life lives on in the lives of her children. She has planted seeds of light in their lives.

    Now the question for us is, are we planting seeds of light in the lives of those around us? In our family, our wives, our children, our brothers and sisters? Are we planting seeds of light in the lives of others we come into contact with—associates at work, friends, neighbors, others?

    It doesn’t have to be a long elaborate letter or treatise. Dropping seeds of Scripture, dropping Bible verses into the conversation, offering to pray for them, just being their friend can sow the seeds of God’s Word that will grow into brilliant lights in their lives.

    Now, think about that from a different angle. It says 11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous.

    Passive. Someone has sown the seed for us, the righteous—the people God has made righteous through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross. God has sown His light directly, or through someone sowing the light of His Word into our lives.

    The light of God’s Word does a couple of things. It helps us understand things. Psalm 18: 28 For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.

    It helps us to know the right direction in life. Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

    The light of God’s Word shinning through our lives will either draw people to God, or it will drive them away. John 3: 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. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

    So the next question is, how are we what are we doing about the light that is sown into our lives? Are we responding to it, or reacting? Are we learning, following its direction, or trying to hide from it?
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Relative or Absolute?

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    When I learned that verse many years ago in the King James version, it concluded: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

    That has always stuck in my mind.

    Years ago I had some fun with a children’s message. I took a rubber band, cut it, laid it flat next to a ruler and marked off the inch and half inch lengths. Then I “proved” to the children that the post on the pulpit was exactly the same circumference as the length of the lectern, and the lectern was as long as it was wide. I measured a few other things, but they really enjoyed it when I “proved” that I had a 24 inch waist. Those elastic rulers are wonderful!!

    Then we began to speculate…what would happen if we tried to build a house with a ruler like that? Or a car, or anything else?

    Well, people try to measure their lives with a rubber band ruler. They compare themselves with themselves, and as God says, they are not wise. They say that society “knows” somehow what is right and what is wrong. Trouble is, people change over time and what’s popular, what is right today may be completely wrong tomorrow.

    You remember what the standard was during the time of the Judges. Last verse in the book, Judges 21, says 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

    People measure right and wrong, and other things that build society with the elastic ruler of their emotions, whatever is right in their own eyes. If it feels good it must be OK. How many times have you heard someone say as they ruefully survey some disaster, “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

    Or there is another elastic ruler we use—measuring ourselves against each other. I’m better than you because I can…, or because you cannot…, or because I have this heritage, or education or some other characteristic. Trouble is, when we look around, there will always be someone better than we are. If we can’t be happy until we’re at the top, we’ll never be happy. Someone will always be better than we are in one way or another.

    Now days, people look at others, decide that they are inferior to those they are looking at and demand that those “superior” people compensate them for being better than they are. There will always be someone worse off than they are, so to be fair, they should take some of the compensation they receive and distribute it to those less well off than they are. Never gonna happen.

    Now western civilization is using rubber bands to rule the various nations, and major problems are showing up, and will continue to show up.

    When I worked in the lab, I calibrated the instruments we used for daily testing. The standards I used were directly traceable back to internationally recognized standards. They were as close to absolute standards as we could get. The freezing point of pure water does not change. The boiling point of water changes with atmospheric pressure, so we had to add that correction factor in. The melting point of lead never changes, nor does the density of water at a particular temperature. Those are absolute standards God has set for physical things. Dad found out, as navigator on that aircraft carrier that the movement of the stars is constant, predictable, and can always be depended on.

    In the same way God has set out absolute standards on which to build our lives, and on which to build our civilization.

    Any society built on the rubber band standard of comparing ourselves against ourselves will fail, just like trying to build a house with a rubber band measuring tape.

    The Russians discovered that in the 1980’s when Communism collapsed. Dad was over talking with some of the leaders in the Dumas in the Russian White House, and they said “we need some absolute laws to rebuild our country.” Dad knew of 10 Absolute Laws—the 10 Commandments—and went on to share those and some other principles of Biblical government with them. They eagerly accepted it, and asked dad to pray for the government of Russia. Too bad greed got back in and overruled the good seed that was sown during those days.

    Guys, we’ll have to pick this up tomorrow.

    Meantime, we need to measure our lives against the absolute standard of God’s Word. We are excellent at rationalizing our actions so they sound good to us and others. We're great at saying "It sounded like a good idea at the time."

    Proverbs 16 says:
    2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives.
    3 Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established.
     
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  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Measuring up

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    Picking up from yesterday…

    Look at Amos 7: 7 Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. 9 “The high places of Isaac will be desolated And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste. Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

    God measures us with His absolute standard. A plumb line is a string with a weight at the end of it. Pin the string to a support, drop the weight, and gravity will pull the string straight toward the center of the earth. That’s an absolute vertical line. Gravity does not change. So God measures Israel against the absolute standard of His plumb line, and He will destroy anything that is out of line.

    The tendency for us is to compare ourselves against other people around us. We see what they do, and think “I am doing about the same, so I’m OK”, or “I’m doing this better than they are, so I’m good”, or “They are better than I am; I had better pull my socks up and improve”. Then our neighbor changes so we change. Or we go with the “I achieved a new personal best” line.

    Some of us remember 76Highboy. One of his reloading videos showed some rounds from a fictitious friend whose gun exploded. He had disassembled some of this guy’s reloads for the video. The powder from each cartridge was piled up neatly by the case, and it was obvious that the piles were vastly different sizes. When that “friend” had loaded those cartridges, he was simply adding powder until “It seemed right” or “It looked OK” instead of weighing the powder precisely within the safe tolerances set by the manufacturer. The results: a destroyed gun and a dead shooter. We reload our ammunition to external specifications, and keep to those measurements to keep ourselves safe and to have good ammunition to shoot.

    Yes, measuring our lives by the external absolute standard of God’s Word is a life and death decision. If we don’t live our lives within the tolerances our Maker prescribed, we will self-destruct.

    Let’s review the conversation Jesus had with Peter in John 21. Jesus gave Peter his assignment to “tend My Sheep” and to follow Him. 20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them... 21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

    Jesus’ assignment for Peter was different from His job for John. Peter was not to compare himself to John or anyone else. He was to compare himself against the task God gave him to do.

    Each of us needs to build our lives, measuring ourselves against the absolute standard of the plumb line of God’s Word that He has lined up for each of us.

    It’s right and proper for us to encourage one another, to challenge each other, as God prescribes in 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. And God says in Galatians 6 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

    But ultimately, God has given each one of us a particular task, and He will measure each of us against His standard of performance. How do we measure up?

    There is one more thing to think about from this verse. We’ll have to do that tomorrow.
     
  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Numbered, Numbered Weighed and Wanting

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    Something else to consider from this verse. That plumb line God was holding in Amos 7 was to measure the performance of the nation of Israel. God holds His plumb line up and measures entire nations, tribes and civilizations from all over the world, from all times, as well as individuals. He measures, destroys, and builds up as He sees necessary.

    He doesn’t hesitate to destroy. You remember what happened in Daniel 5.

    That writing on the wall said MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENĒ’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 ‘TEKĒL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 ‘PERĒS’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

    That empire did not measure up to His standards so He put an end to it. That was the night of the invasion that destroyed that emperor.

    God had measured that entire Babylonian Empire against His absolute standards. Even though Babylon wanted nothing to do with God, God still held Babylon accountable to His plumb line.

    God used Babylon to chastise Israel. He called Nebuchadnezzar his servant in Jeremiah 25. Pause a moment and try to get your head around that. Nations, peoples, races may not want to recognize God, but that does not keep God from using them for His purposes. Some nations are a little like the little boy who has been put to bed, but insisted on getting up and running through the living room with his hands over his eyes. If he can’t see anyone, nobody can see him. So he thinks. If the nations don’t acknowledge God, He won’t know what they are doing. So they would like to think.

    We need to pray that our governments would recognize that God is the Sovereign Ruler over all nations, and that they would pass laws based on God’s absolute standards of right and wrong, so that our nations are built strong, and will measure up to God’s criteria, and will withstand the storms of time and events.

    The world says “times have changed” and “we need to move on”. They are right. People do change. 2 Timothy 3, written 2000 years ago, describes how people degrade over time. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Given time, people inevitably change for the worse. Without God’s control there is an entropy of society. Society, people, nations will disintegrate, lose orderliness just as ice melts to water and water dissipates to vapor.

    Paul described this change, this moving on, this degradation, in Romans 1 when people are guided by their own “wisdom” and physical appetites. History is littered with the ruins of civilizations that have followed this trail of degradation.

    Our nations need to bring the laws they make into line with God’s absolute plumb-line standards of righteousness instead of being pushed around by popular pressures. We need to ask God to bring forward legislators who will make these right laws.

    Just check out what King David, ruler of the nation of Israel wrote in Psalm 33:
    10 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
    11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.


    12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

    Now, back to a personal level, God tells us in 2 Timothy 3 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

    We need to bring our lives into line with the absolute, plumb line standard of God’s Word, instead of measuring our lives by the rubber band ideas of what seems good to us and everyone else.

    Remember what God told Joshua in Joshua 1: 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

    Every step Joshua took, every decision he made, needed to be under the guidance of God’s Word.

    We need to live in such a way that when God measures us, when He numbers us and weighs us, we will not be found wanting in His sight.
     
  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Raising our sights

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    I thought I had said all I wanted to about this verse, but God brought a couple more areas of application to mind.

    In 1973 or so, dad was filling out a denominational questionnaire on the performance of the church he was pastoring. Dad was right in the middle of checking off “excellent…excellent…excellent…” for every question when he remembered this verse. He had memorized it in the King James version, so his thoughts were… 12 …but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

    He was doing exactly what the verse warned against. Compared to other churches in the area, compared to other churches in the denomination this congregation was doing excellently in terms of worship, giving, prayer meetings, growth, and many other things. But that was what stopped dad cold. He was comparing this congregation against other churches in the area. But what was God’s plan, blueprint, program for this particular church, and how was this congregation measuring up against God’s design?

    Did God have a larger context in which to measure this congregation’s performance? The upshot of it was that dad went to the session and asked for a sabbatical year in which to see what God was doing in other parts of the world.

    This was no political junket. Dad got an overview of things at the Lausanne World Congress on Evangelism in 1974. It was real work and God worked out many details and performed miracles as dad, mom, and my brother drove from Glasgow Scotland to India in a VW camper in 1974. There were a number of times when all dad could do was cry out to God for help and trust Him. There was no GPS or cell phones and dad navigated by the stars as they drove across trackless deserts. All along the way God organized places and times for dad to speak, preach, and minister to people, and learn what God is doing in other parts of the world, and how He is working.

    So what marks success in a church? It’s not numbers. It’s not a big budget. It’s not popularity or flashy high-tech services or merely extensive community outreach.

    I’m not going to even pretend to try to lay out an outline for what makes a church successful in God’s eyes. The leadership of each congregation needs to bow down before God and ask Him what His purpose is for that particular congregation, and how He wants to use that church.

    I am certain that the leadership of each congregation will be watching over the spiritual health of various members. The leadership will be shepherding the flock and making sure there is good solid spiritual food. That the congregation will be focused on making disciple-making disciples, following 2 Timothy 2:2. A growing congregation will never be happy with just maintaining the status quo, making people feel comfortable sitting in the pew each week for their weekly dose of “holiness”.


    I believe a successful church will also be involved in building families. Have you noticed how much of the Bible is occupied with families? Psalm 78 says 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments,

    God works through a father and a mother who rear their children to love God. That dates all the way back to Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, and you can follow families all the way through the Old Testament and into the New Testament. John‘s prayer in 3 John is 4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Maybe those were his physical children, maybe his spiritual children.

    Paul instructs families how to live together in his letters to various churches. God’s plan, God’s desire, is in Malachi 3: 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

    The church is Christ’s Bride, and God shows how family relationships are an illustration of that relationship. See how Ephesians 5 describes that. The next chapter describes God’s ideal for parents and children.

    Guys, there’s more here; we’ll have to pick it up again tomorrow, God willing.
     
  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Sighting higher

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    Yesterday we looked at a couple of things dad learned about how God wants to work in His Church. He learned something else from a congregation in India. They had questioned him very carefully about his relationship with God before inviting him to preach. Now, that was something dad learned long ago. Just because someone has a “Reverend” attached to his name, that does not guarantee he is a Christian.

    The people walked in from miles around Saturday night, slept there, and had breakfast Sunday morning. The people gathered in the church building, sat on the ground. The church consisted of a thatched roof supported by poles in the ground. No walls, no doors. Dad asked about the service. It started with a couple of hours of prayer, all praise and thanksgiving. No petitions were allowed during that time. Dad asked when the preaching began…around noon. When should he plan on finishing? Three or four would be OK. He could go on longer if he wanted. Dad was astounded. The elder saw that and challenged him: Why do you people make the worship of God revolve around your appetites?

    Dad talked with a young man in Singapore who was preparing to take the Gospel into Cambodia, where the lifespan of a missionary is measured in weeks. But this man saw this as being a mission much greater than trying to save his own life. We need a purpose in life that is greater than we are, that is so important we are willing to give our lives for it. That is the only kind of thing worth living for. He had picked up something of what Jesus was talking about in John 12: 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

    That man had needed the reassurance that God has all things under His control.

    One couple dad met with talked about evangelizing Turkey. Their thinking was that in order for Turkey to hear the Gospel, Christians might have to be in as many of the prisons as Paul was, BUT IT WOULD HAPPEN.

    Dad heard about the teenagers who were in prison in Turkey because they had been caught distributing Bibles. When someone brought blankets and food and supplies for them, they asked “Where are the Bibles? We are already in prison for giving these out. They can’t do anything else to us and we have a captive audience.”

    They met up with an organization that was determined to get the Gospel to as many people as possible around the world. Was the nation closed to US citizens? Then find people with passports that the country would accept and send them.

    That was just part of what dad learned as he and mom and my brother travelled, visiting Christians in countries where they were being persecuted, and visiting Christians where churches are deprived of many of the things we take for granted in the west.

    Jesus said in Matthew 16: 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

    In visiting these other countries, in seeing how God works in and through His people around the world, dad learned a little bit more of how God works, and how He is building His Church.

    Two things there. First, this is His church. It can never be my church or pastor XYZ’s church. The Church, and all the congregations, churches that make up the Church, are Christ’s Bride. God uses us to build her up.

    Second, He will build His church. It will happen, regardless of what is going on in the world around that congregation. We can be part of it and receive His reward, or we can sit by and watch things happen and be an “also ran”. That building needs to be God’s work done God’s way.

    Friends, these Christians in other countries had their focus on serving God. These churches had their focus on building people up for the work of the ministry. They were not looking to win popularity contests. They were not trying to gather a budget for an expensive ministry or church building and infrastructure. They were not comparing themselves against other churches. They were comparing themselves against God’s plumb line.

    Here’s something else to think about. This same principle for Christians, churches, denominations and governments also holds true for businesses, and any other endeavor man is involved in. How does a business get built on God’s principles? What standards does God measure a business against? God said in Psalm 127 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;

    Unless God builds the business, the corporation…unless the company is built on God’s principles, measuring itself against God’s plumb line, it will ultimately fail.

    Whatever we are involved in, we need to resist the temptation to compare ourselves with ourselves or against others and see how we are doing according to what God wants us to be doing.

    Hebrews 12 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.
     
  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Sizing up the opposition

    Question: When is majority rule wrong?

    Answer: When the majority of the people are wrong.

    Sounds obvious. Jesus said the majority of people would be wrong when He described the wide and the narrow ways in Matthew 7. 13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    There is a big illustration of this in Exodus. Do you remember what happened when the Israelites were standing on the threshold of the Promised Land? This was the land God promised to their forefather Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and He had renewed His promise, His covenant, to bring the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to this, their new home. With every step they took through the wilderness they were looking forward to this moment. They had the keys in their hand, they were putting those keys in the lock to open the door of their new home; they opened the door, had a look inside, and…balked. There was work to do to make their new home habitable and they didn’t think they were able to do it.

    God told them to send in some spies to check out the land. This they did. Numbers 13 has the account. Twelve men went into the Promised Land and spied it out. They cut down a single cluster of grapes that was so large they had to carry it on a pole between two men. It was a rich country. It was also dangerous. The descendants of the Anakim were there—giants.

    At this point Israel went into panic mode. Giants are too big to fight. We’ll all be killed. 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33 There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

    But two of the spies who went in were Joshua and Caleb. Caleb was the one who spoke up. 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”

    The majority report—ten of the spies, said the enemy is too big to hit and sent Israel into a blind panic. Caleb and Joshua said they are too big to miss. Of all the people in the nation of Israel who stood on the threshold of their new home that day, only two lived to enter it 40 years later. Those were Joshua and Caleb, who believed God’s promise. Joshua and Caleb had to go along with the punishment for the stupidity of these people. But God brought them through it.

    Remember that. There may be times when the righteous suffer the same punishment as the unrighteous, but God will be faithful to His promises. He will be true to those who are faithful to Him.

    Do you remember that passage we’ve been looking at the last few days?

    2 Corinthians 10: 12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

    The majority of the Israelite spies were doing just what this verse warns against. They got stuck on the size of the Anakim and saw the obvious—they looked like grasshoppers compared to the inhabitants of the land. They compared themselves against themselves. They looked at the enemy, compared the enemy with themselves, and did something very stupid and it cost them dearly.

    Caleb and Joshua compared the enemy against God’s promises and His might. Those giants couldn’t hold a match against God’s power, so there was no reason to hesitate. They said in effect, “Let’s Go. God has given us the land. We just need to take it. God will take care of the details.”

    Joshua and Caleb understood something that Elisha’s servant learned in 2 Kings 6: 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

    Now that was a dramatic situation. Elisha and his servant went to bed one night safe and secure and woke up the next morning to find that a king had encircled the city with his entire army to capture Elisha. All Elisha’s servant could see were enemy soldiers wherever he looked. But Elisha wasn’t fazed. He simply asked God to open his servant’s eyes, and to close the eyes of the enemy. And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

    What happened next makes the StarWars Jedi trick look lame. You’ll laugh at the sheer courage Elisha showed. I’ll leave you to read that—the last part of 2 Kings 6.

    The point of all this is, through whose eyes are you looking at a situation? If we look at what’s happening around us today from our eyes, comparing our puny strength against satan’s power on the earth, we’ll be like the nation of Israel. We’ll be shaking with fear, saying the enemy is too big to hit. We could be like the majority of Israel and lose out on the promises God has for us.

    Or we can look at the various situations around us today through God’s eyes, claim His promises, and know that the enemy is too big to miss. We need to see the way Joshua and Caleb and Elisha saw.

    We need to know what Paul knew in Romans 8: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
     
  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Disobedient Obedience

    Let’s pick up from yesterday.

    Israel had stood on the threshold of the Promised Land and balked when they saw what they were up against, and what had to be done to take the land.

    Let’s review the rest of that incident in Numbers 14. God became angry with the Israelites because they doubted Him and His ability to do what He said He would do. They did not trust His ability to fulfill His promises to them. In effect they called God a liar. God said He would do something, the Israelites said He wasn’t able to deliver.

    Unbelievable. They had seen God’s power in the plagues he let loose in Egypt. They saw His power when He brought Israel across the Red Sea on dry land and then destroyed the entire Egyptian army there. They saw His power and love and reliability in the way He provided food and water for them in the wilderness. And here they didn’t think they could trust God to take care of a few giants?

    So He just turned them back into the desert for 40 years until that entire generation of doubters died off and was replaced by a new generation of people who would trust Him. Some get upset at how many people this pandemic is killing off. Think about this: The conservative estimate is that around 600,000 people left Egypt. That means that on average, around 41 people had to die each day for that generation to be replaced. There were times when God took the lives of masses of people, like the incident of the snakes in Numbers 21.

    He took that new generation through a training program so that they would learn to obey Him. That included gathering their daily ration of manna, building the Tabernacle, and the close-order drill of following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The record of this sentence is in the first part of Numbers 14.

    But then come the last few verses of Numbers 14. Sure enough, some people were just rebellious enough that when God told them to go back into the wilderness, they insisted on trying to invade the land.

    We have a term for that over here: Thrawn. It means perverse, contrary. My uncle was that way. He was the type of person that if he fell in a creek and drowned, you’d have to look upstream for his body. God called the Israelites stiff-necked.

    That’s the problem with people all the time. They sin, God confronts them with it and gives them His plan of action. They try to show their repentance by doing some act of religion that looks good but in reality is disobeying God. They try to make themselves right with God and that will never work. God makes us right with Him. We cannot make ourselves right with God.

    In this case, rather than obey God, they decided they would try to go in to the land in their own strength.

    God had tested them with the spy episode and had shown that they were not ready to obey Him or trust Him to keep His promises. You know how it works. You give someone a task to do and watch how he does it. If he follows your instructions, you know you can trust him to do other things. God had just tested Israel and shown that they were not able to do His work His way so He sent them back into the wilderness for some more training. Jesus said that he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. They had been unfaithful in taking this first step. How would they be faithful to manage the entire Promised Land?

    When the Israelites saw the consequences of their sin, they decided they would try to make up for it and prove their loyalty to God...by disobeying him again. They mounted their own invasion force and got soundly thumped.

    Moses said 42 Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the Lord is not among you.

    44 But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses left the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.

    And that’s what happens when we try to do God’s work in our time and in our way. It results in tragedy and disaster. That’s what happened with Abraham and Hagar, with Saul when he jumped the gun sacrificing to God, and with many other people throughout the Bible.

    Hebrews 12: 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

    7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?... 1 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
     
  10. Grizzly2

    Grizzly2 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder sometimes, how many see the application of God's Word as discussed here in these last two daily devotions in their own lives? I am in awe of God as I read the account of God hearing the cries of His people and then how we leads them out of Egypt and to and then into the Promised Land and all that goes on in between. Do we see a parallel account of this in our own lives? I would think that if we consider ourselves "saved", we must. Our new life should be ripe with accounts of what the Lord has done in and around our new and old lives as we are drawn to His Son, convicted of our sin, brought to repentance, given a measure of faith, blessed with the gift of His Holy Spirit, transformed and then learn His Ways and begin to see good fruit produced. And, whether in the valleys or on the hill tops, we experience His correction, His pruning, His Hand at work in our lives as we are led; sometimes in obedience and sometimes we falter and fail. We should be able to look back on our lives and see "alters" that we have built all along the way when God moved in our lives. And were does this all lead? We may have many answers to that question, but one that is in my heart comes from the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20,
    “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

    There is nothing more precious then when at times, I realize that the "I", the "self" we are to deny daily, remains crucified and I experience Christ within me, doing what I know I could never do alone in my flesh.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Resisting God

    I was reading Jeremiah 27. God again had sentenced Israel to a hard punishment because they disobeyed Him. Babylon had already ravaged the land. But there were still some patriots who wanted to start a rebellion against Babylon. Certain prophets were inciting Israel to rebel against Babylon.

    God said through Jeremiah several times that Nebuchadnezzar was his servant and that Israel should submit to him. Not only should they submit to him, but they should make themselves at home in exile. That’s what Jeremiah said in a letter he sent to the Israelites. This is probably the letter Daniel was reading that drove him to prayer in Daniel 9.

    God said in Jeremiah 29 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare…

    Then God makes a precious promise to those exiled Israelites.

    10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord,

    This was God’s program, His plan for Israel.

    God specifically said that anyone who resisted Babylon resisted Him and would be destroyed. That’s the same kind of thing we looked at yesterday. The Israelites tried to resist God’s discipline for disobeying Him and they suffered the consequences—They were severely thumped when they tried to take the Promised Land on their own initiative. And they still had to wander for 40 more years wandering in the wilderness.

    Then God said in Jeremiah 27 that the nations around Israel should also submit to Babylon. These were the neighbors that Israel should have been a light to, a witness to. These were the nations Israel should have been leading to worship Jehovah. The influence should have gone from Israel to the nations. Instead the influence went from the nations to Israel and Israel started copying their worship using their idols. So because Israel was unfaithful to God, everyone was to receive the same punishment.

    It would have been so much easier on everyone all around if Israel had stayed faithful to God and made sure the influence, the witness, had gone from her to the nations around.

    How are we doing on that score? Are we being a witness to those around us? Which way is the influence going—from us to them, or from them to us? Do people see a difference between themselves and us? Sometimes I notice some people moderate their language when I’m around. I get the occasional “excuse my French” when someone swears. I don’t always get it said, but my response could be along the lines of “you need to apologize to God. He sees and hears you all the time.”

    Do we let other activities and interests become more important than our relationship with God? We try to make sure we get a good night’s sleep. We try to make sure we eat. Those are important to us.

    But spending time with God? Reading His Word, talking to Him, thinking about what He says? Where does that come in? Our lives should be a constant conversation with God. Sure operating equipment, driving, sorting some thorny problem at work, and other things will demand our full attention, but, like that elevator music or tinnitus, God’s Word should always be in the back of our minds. Of course, elevator music and tinnitus can be irritating. God’s Word is good for us in so many ways. If it’s irritating, it is convicting us of something we should do or of something we should not do.

    But God’s Word should be playing in the back of our minds all the time with something like Isaiah 30: 21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

    When we get involved in things that become more important than our relationship with God, we are doing the same thing that happened to Israel. As a nation, as individuals. God will do what it takes to bring us back to Himself as individuals and as a nation.

    Throughout the book of Judges He let the enemy control Israel until they came to their senses, repented, and came back to God. But they kept repeating history. They kept drifting off to try out other gods. Generations later God pressed a giant reset button. He sent Israel into exile in Babylon. He took away all the distractions of normal life and got them back to basics, to what is truly important to them—to their relationship with Him.

    What will it take for the US and the UK to realize what our true values should be? What will it take to bring us back to God’s standards for living? Will God need to press a giant reset button for us?

    Whatever happens, God has it all in hand. Always remember Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

    We need to remember that the majority vote among people is not always right. Listening to false prophets who raise false hopes is always wrong.

    Listening to God’s Word and obeying Him is always right, even if it takes us down roads we don’t want to travel.

    While it’s wrong to “go with the flow” of popular opinion, it’s absolutely right to go with the flow of God’s direction in our lives.
     
  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Suffering fools

    Hmmm…That could be taken a couple of ways.

    First, Proverbs includes many instances of how fools suffer the consequences for rejecting wisdom. The wisdom is there, ready for them to receive if they can get past their own huge egos and pride. There are places in Proverbs that say we should just let them fall flat on their faces because fools won’t accept instruction and will just fall back into their own folly. Just look at Proverbs 26 11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly.

    But there is another way we could take that. Some people “do not suffer fools gladly”. That’s fine as far as it goes. Proverbs 26: 8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. And that chapter has quite a list of reasons to not trust fools.

    But we have a tendency to overdo the “fool” bit. I don’t see it much on this forum, but it is out there. We all have this streak of pride in ourselves that causes us to look down on others, talk down about them because in one way or another they are not as good as we are. So we think.

    God loves us, forgives us, tolerates our failings as long as we come back to Him in repentance and confess those sins and learn to hate them. In God’s sight we are all fools but He loves us anyway. In the same way God treats us we need to treat our fellow fools.

    You have heard this passage where Isaiah was describing Jesus: Isaiah 42: 3 “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

    Jesus was rough on those who were proud and flouted God’s laws. He drove the money changers and other merchants out of the temple and He called the religious leaders whitewashed sepulchers. That’s how He dealt with proud people.

    But when people came to Him for help, it was an entirely different story. Remember that time they threw that woman caught in adultery in front of him in John 8? 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

    He said Peter would deny Him three times, but He prayed for Peter in Luke 22: 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

    These are the bruised reeds and smoking flaxes He does not break off or extinguish. They are struggling along, trying to shine a light to those around them to draw others to God but being human gets in the way. They want to serve God but fail. God keeps them going.

    Rather than cutting them down, cutting off people who mess up, we need to take God’s attitude. After all, He loves us in spite of all our shortcomings. We forgive others as God forgives us.

    And the converse is true. If we don’t forgive others God will not forgive us. Jesus made that abundantly clear when He told the parable of the debtors in Matthew 18. The slave who demanded repayment of a trivial debt from a fellow servant after his master had forgiven his insurmountable debt was summarily thrown into debtor’s prison.

    Galatians 6 describes the attitude we should have toward some people:
    Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

    Do you remember what happened with Apollos in Acts 18? He began preaching what he knew, but was missing something. He didn’t have the full story. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;

    So instead of cutting him off at the knees, it says 26…But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

    Apollos was humble enough to receive instruction. He became a brilliant teacher. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.

    Bottom line here is that we must not let our pride get in the way when we deal with other people. We need to be able to evaluate them, look at them through God’s eyes. There are some worth salvaging; others we should have nothing to do with. We need to ask God to help us discern whom to help and whom to leave well enough alone.

    And every step of the way, we need to remember that God suffers us fools gladly because we are His children. He will do what it takes to strain the foolishness out of our lives.

    Think Psalm 103: 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

    Only God can remove our sins from us, but we can learn to forgive the way Jesus told us to in Matthew 18:22. Seventy times seven.

    When we need to suffer fools, we need to learn this:
    13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
     
  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Come and See

    As I understand it, the best advertising method is word of mouth.

    If I need the house painted (it’s too high for me; I don’t like to risk falling off a ladder 30 feet to the ground), I’ll ask around for recommendations for painters and for paint.

    If I’m researching a new car or gun, or something else, I’ll read the literature, but I’ll also get advice from people who have used the product. Or some new restaurant or shop opens and people come back raving about it. That makes me want to go to that shop or restaurant.

    When I had my paper route, every so often I would grab some extra papers and drop them off at homes of people who didn’t subscribe to the paper. After a few days of this I’d go back and ask if they would like to subscribe to the paper. I enlarged my business by giving out free samples. Places selling food do that from time to time. Taste it, see if you like it, and buy some.

    That’s just what God wants us to do with others. Look at John 1 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

    Nathaniel’s answer was typical. Nazareth was not famous for anything. It was just another village in the midst of many villages and had no claim to fame.

    Phillip didn’t try to argue Nathaniel around. He didn’t try to lay out ten logical reasons why this Jesus was the one everyone was waiting for. He just said “come and see”. So Nathaniel went and saw. And what happened next bowled him over.

    47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

    Before Nathaniel could say anything, Jesus told him something about himself that nobody else could have known. Nathaniel was an Israelite in whom there was no deceit. That was almost a play on words. Jacob who became Israel was marked by deceit in his early life. So here was a descendent of a man full of deceit who somehow was not trying to deceive someone.

    We’ll have to wait until we can ask Nathaniel himself what he was doing under that fig tree, and even then he may not tell us. But it said a lot to Nathaniel because 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”

    A few chapters later, John 4 Jesus meets up with that woman at the well in Samaria. Their conversation is well worth looking into in detail, but the upshot of it was 28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

    There it was again. Jesus told the woman something about herself. She knew it; the gossips in the village would have known all about her, but how could this stranger who was a Jew know anything about her? How could he ever have known about her marital history? But He did, and that was the bait she used to draw others out to hear Jesus. They came out expecting to hear the latest gossip about this woman, and instead…41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

    Come and see. Word of mouth. Try it, see if you like it.

    That’s part of the message in Psalm 34: 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

    But first we have to take that first step of speaking up, getting people’s curiosity up. They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But you can salt his oats. People say this civilization is going post-Christian, meaning people are becoming resistant to “religion”. We all know that being a Christian is not mere religion, following rules and doing “acts of worship”. Being a Christian is having a living relationship with God.

    Can we figure out ways to get people’s curiosity up about Jesus?

    That’s how David started Psalm 34:

    I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice.
    3 O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.


    Then He began to say just why it’s worth praising the Lord:

    4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.

    He took care of my anxiety attacks. He gave me courage and confidence to face my demons. What demons has Jesus helped you face down? What would people around us give to have that same confidence?

    5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.

    When I focus my attention on the Lord, He replaces all those negative things in my life with joy and boldness. People around us are putting on forced smiles, finding artificial means to make themselves “happy”. What would they give to have real joy in their lives?

    6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.

    When I call out to Him for help He rescues me from whatever problems and troubles I have, even though I have nothing to repay Him with.

    7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.

    Each of us can put specific things from our lives into those verses. God has done those kinds of things for each of us who are Christians, and we should be able to describe them so that people would be drawn to Jesus.

    We should be able to day with David, 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

    Come and see what God has done in my life. Come and see what God can do for you.
     
  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    My Father’s Pleasure

    When was the last time someone did you a big favor, smiled at you, and said “I really enjoyed that. It made me feel good. I’d like to do that again. What else can I do for you?”

    It’s all very one-sided, with all the giving on their part, and all the receiving on our part. And we’re powerless to return the favor.

    That’s how it is between us and God. He does the favors and we’re powerless to return them.

    Look at Luke 14: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

    That’s how God has treated us. We are the poor who cannot return His favors to us, but we can pass them on to others around us so that they will see how God works, so they can see God’s goodness and kindness and love and grace through us.

    Think about what God was talking about in Luke 12: 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

    It makes God happy to do things for us. He has chosen gladly to give to us. He is not a grudging God, or a vengeful God. He doesn’t keep track of all the things we have done wrong and penalize us for them, so long as we repent, confess, and come back to Him. He’s not a spoil-sport that watches carefully to see if we’re having fun and then tries to destroy that fun.

    Jesus said in John 10: 10 …I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

    God wants us to enjoy life here on this earth. He wants us to have joy in life. So He has chosen to give us the kingdom. God talks about how He has adopted us as His children, so we can expect Him to treat us as His children.

    Think how a loving father treats his children. Jesus described a little of that in Luke 11: 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

    God provides good stuff for us. He also corrects us, disciplines us when necessary. He teaches us and protects us. He’s there to answer our questions, to comfort us and a whole lot more. He does all that because He loves us. And He wants us to be conduits of His love to those around us. Some people will respond to that love, become Christians, and become conduits of God’s love to others.

    Maybe we don’t have “stuff” to give to other people. Do you remember the incident in Acts 3? The lame beggar asked Peter and John for some money so he could get food for another day. He never got money from them. Instead they gave him something much better. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.

    We may not have “silver and gold” to give to charities or individuals, but we do have whatever other abilities God has blessed us with so that we can be a blessing to others.

    And as we are a blessing to others, God blesses us with joy, happiness. In the same way God is happy to help us, we are happy to help others out.

    When God gives us His kingdom, we get to pass it on to others. It makes Him happy to see us passing it on to others. We get to share in Our Father’s pleasure.
     
  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    17,996
    Location:
    UK
    No Fears

    That’s how people talk about being confident. “Can you do this?” “I’ll have it for you tomorrow. No fears, mate.”

    How many times has God said to us to not be afraid? Too many to count throughout the Bible. He said it to Joshua, He said it to Gideon, and to the prophets and kings. Jesus says it to us now. And Paul and others keep on saying it.

    Usually God says we should not fear because God is with us. But look at what Jesus said here:

    Luke 12: 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

    Jesus was talking to His disciples, the “little flock”. Well, if you look back at the start of that chapter, you see that many thousands had gathered, so many that they were stepping on each other. That crowd of thousands was a “little flock” to Jesus.

    But He was also talking to His disciples, the twelve He had chosen to be with Him. He had just gone through Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. He had just told them to not worry over things such as food and clothing. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

    Then Jesus revealed just how lavishly the Father would provide for us: 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

    God will take care of us while we are seeking His kingdom. I’ve seen that happen with our family as I was growing up and in the years since then.

    Dad was set for a career in the US Navy. After World War 2, he went on the GI bill and finished his college degree in Chemistry, intending to go back into the Navy. While at college he became a Christian. That changed his entire purpose in life. He couldn’t get enough of the Bible, so he went to Seminary so he could learn to study God’s Word better, and communicate it to other people. Dad dewscribed how he and mom decided to move from where they were to another place because that’s where there was more need for ministry that dad could meet. It would cost them financially, but they had taken on board God’s command to Seek His kingdom and God would take care of the expenses. And God did exactly that.

    After finishing Seminary, dad found God calling him to pursue more studies, and wound up in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is how I came to be born in Scotland. That was another stage in God’s training for dad. He was developing dad into a careful scholar.

    Dad and mom settled in Indiana where dad became pastor of a congregation for the next step of God’s training program. He didn’t go there for the money. He went because that was where God had ministry for him to do. While there, dad came into contact with LeRoy Eims of the Navigators and some other men, who introduced him to ministry with students, and to the whole idea of making disciples. Dad learned that God’s Kingdom extends beyond congregations and denominations.

    After several years there, we returned to Scotland for two years so dad could finish his doctoral studies. This was not a financially astute move, but God again provided the funding necessary to do this work. God used those studies to give dad some insights into Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion, and how it affects every area of life and every area of society. It encompasses all of nature, the individual, families, businesses, and government. Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion is there as a buffer and a conduit to bring God and man together.

    I suppose it could be summarized with Ephesians 1: 20 which He brought about in Christ, when 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,

    God made Christ head over all things to the church. The Greek could be translated “head over all things for the church”.

    When dad had finished his studies, we came back to Indiana where there was no paying job waiting, but there was ministry. Several people had said that they wanted dad to work with them as they ministered on various campuses around the state. Someone provided a house for us to live in. God provided for us as a family each step of the way as mom and dad obeyed God’s command to seek His kingdom first and God would take care of the needs. We didn’t have a lot of stuff other people had, but we did have the necessities.

    Dad did not come to start a church. He came to help people get to know God and to grow in their relationship with Christ. Through some home Bible Studies ministry began to develop, and after a time, people began talking about organizing this ministry into a church. So we met in various homes and other locations and as it said in Acts, God kept adding to the number until people started talking about a permanent home for this new congregation.

    We were faced with three options: buy a plot of land and build a church that would be used for church services; buy a “used church”, or buy a building that would house this work which was developing into a ministry with families, business men, and students. The congregation found a building that would house the ministry and bought it without borrowing from the bank. God has used that building for training students year-round, for conferences, for summer training programs with students and young professionals, and for a wide variety of other things, all centered on advancing Christ’s kingdom.

    Several families found God leading them to move to where they could more effectively minister, work with other people. Several families moved to a different part of the city where they believed God wanted to start new ministry. I left the church I had more or less grown up in, bought a house, and became part of that new work.

    Seeking God’s Kingdom first has had an effect on our family moves and other decisions I’ve made, like where I have worked over the years.

    What I’m trying to say is that when Jesus says do not be afraid because God has chosen to give us the kingdom, that means something a lot different than just taking possession of some real estate.

    Jesus sad that if we are faithful in little, He will give us lots to take care of. If we are faithful in the little bit He has given us here on this earth He will entrust us with bigger things, give us greater responsibilities.

    We don’t need to be afraid to do God’s Work God’s way because He will take care of us. No fears.