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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    The Rim

    Over the last few days we have been looking at some basic skills in our lives as Christians. As I said at the outset, these skills could be summarized as a picture of a wheel with four spokes. At the center of the wheel, the hub, is Christ. The hub controls the motion of the wheel. If it moves forward, the whole wheel moves forward. If it goes backward, the wheel goes backward; turns left or right, the wheel turns left or right and if it stops, the wheel stops. Jesus needs to be the central force in our lives, controlling what we do, when, at what speed, with whom we do it.

    I like to think that two of the spokes are vertical, representing our relationship with God--the bottom spoke is the Word, God speaking to us as we Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, and Meditate on God’s Word. The top spoke is prayer--us responding to God through Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication and intercession. The two horizontal spokes deal with our relationships with people—fellowship made possible by a Common relationship with God, Our mutual love for God, keeping our relationships open and free through Forgiving and Being forgiven and having a mutual Purpose. The other spoke is evangelism that comes as a result of our own deep abiding Relationship with God, our Lifestyle including our attitudes and actions, Prayer for people who are not yet Christians, telling people what God has done for me or others, our Testimony, and actually telling someone how to becoming a Christian, sharing the Gospel.

    Those spokes transmit the energy of the hub (Christ) to the rim of the wheel. The rim is the other part of the wheel...it's where the "rubber meets the road", where the wheel comes into contact with the ground, or where we come into contact with the world.

    As a wheel rolls down the road, it leaves an impression in the dust and that impression can be used to identify the type of wheel. A bicycle wheel, a motorcycle, a cart, a Michelin or Goodyear tire can all be identified by the kind of mark it leaves in the dust.

    People should be able to see the marks we leave behind us and know that a Christian has passed this way. Those marks should say "The Obedient Christian in Action". Those marks show up through our entire lives--our external actions and words, and our internal attitudes, habits, motives, sense of values, and every-day thoughts. A lot of the impression we leave is as much from non-verbal cues as from what we say and do.

    We need to let our "light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."

    John 15 is one passage that summarizes this illustration, and I strongly encourage you to read it again. It starts out with Jesus at the hub of our lives 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

    Matthew 5 shows one way we leave our mark behind as we roll down the road of life: 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

    We are salt in the world. Like salt, we act as a preserving agent to society around us. We act as a purifying agent as we bring God’s ways of doing things to bear on our surroundings; God’s attitudes toward those around us and toward our circumstances. We add flavor to life as we show the world a better way, as Paul says in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 12, before he launches into the description of God’s Love in the next chapter.

    Jesus talks about how we know a tree by its fruit in Luke 6: 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

    The world around us will know us to be Christians by the “fruit” we bear, as Paul says in Colossians 1: 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. We increase in the knowledge of God through the “spoke” of God’s Word, and through fellowship with other Christians as we encourage each other, challenge each other, and build each other up.

    God describes that fruit He wants us to bear in Galatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    What a difference that is from the “fruit of the world” listed in the verses right before: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…

    You could say producing God’s fruit brings order and harmony to life and to society. Producing the world’s fruit brings disorder, tension, dissention and deterioration into life and into society.

    The world can’t help but notice a difference between our lives and itself. It will commend us or condemn us, respect us or revile us, but it will notice that we belong to God as we live our lives in obedience to God.

    Acts 4 says people were watching, observing Peter and John. They saw that the lives of these two men were different from their own lives, and they saw why. 13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. Another translation says and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

    How do people remember you? How do you want to be remembered by people? What will be the lasting impression they have of you? Will they remember you as a Christian?

    May God bless us as we leave our mark as Christians in this world, and in the lives of the people with whom we come into contact. Obedient Christians in Action.

    And just one other thing. Just as the wheel leaves its imprint in the road, so we leave our imprint on the world. The world does not leave its imprint on us.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Pierced Ears

    That wheel illustration we’ve been looking at over the last few days describes how we should be living under God’s control, with Jesus at the hub, the heart, of our lives, energizing, motivating, directing our lives.

    I was visiting my brother a few years back and did a double take when I saw him. He was wearing a small stud in his ear. He explained why he had his ear pierced. Me...I already have enough holes in my head and I don't need any more, but his reason was special. It was much more than just a fashion statement.

    But then I realized that God talks about piercing ears in the Bible, and it is done for a very special reason.

    The welfare system in God's economy is completely different from what we see around us today. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3 10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. He was merely reflecting the work ethic God had put in place in Israel centuries before.

    If an Israelite became hard up he could "sell" himself to a relative and work six years as a servant. Then God said he should be released the seventh year. However, a lot can happen in six years. If the man decided he was better off as a servant to his relative than he would be living out on his own, he could ask to be that man's servant permanently. Maybe he couldn't manage finances but his master could and he could see himself falling into the same poverty trap he had been in seven years ago. Maybe life with his master was better than anything he could manage on his own. Maybe he genuinely liked working for this man. If his master gave him a wife, he could go but the wife and any kids would have to stay. Whatever the reason, he decides he wants to stay. His needs are being provided for and he is doing satisfying work while he is with this master.

    So God made provision for that. God explained it a couple of times. He said in Exodus 21 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

    In Deuteronomy 15 God said 16 It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant. When this man got his ear pierced he became a willing life-long servant to his master.

    David had an interesting take on this in Psalm 40: 6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” The Hebrew word for “opened” here can mean to dig the ear wax out so he can hear properly. So Jesus said time and again, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”, and we need to ask God to open our ears daily to His word, and we need to ask God to open the ears of people around us so they can hear the Gospel from us and others.

    That word also means "pierce".

    Although all three passages use different Hebrew words for "pierce" they all carry the same meaning. They are synonyms. The man now has a hole in his ear. That hole signifies he is now a permanent servant. David, a king, declared that God had opened, or pierced his ears. He is now a willing permanent servant of God. God doesn't want us to do things like make sacrifices or punish ourselves to try to appease Him. He wants us to be His willing servants, who want nothing more than to do what God wants.

    When God's Law is in our hearts two things happen. One: we know what God wants us to do, so we can do it. Two: we come to want to do what God wants us to do.

    And, you know, that's not just an Old Testament idea. Paul picked up on this when he wrote to the Christians in Rome. He starts out Romans 1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. The disciples were in the habit of calling themselves Christ's bond-servants. They, like David and those Old Testament bond servants, were much happier and better off being permanent servants of God than being off on their own. However, as bond servants to Christ they had a new freedom. And just as the Old Testament masters provided for the needs of their servants, so God provides for our needs.

    We come to God and ask Him to pierce our ears, so that we are His servants for life. We can’t find a better life trying to fend for ourselves and we need Him to manage our lives.

    May God bless us with new freedom as we learn what it means to be His bond-servants, under His control. We may not be able to see the holes in our ears, but if we are serving God, they are there!!
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    God’s Treat

    One of the great things we can do on this forum is visit another member. Usually someone is “just passing through”, or maybe it’s a planned get-together like the Tennessee BBQ or the South Dakota gathering. When people get together at a restaurant, someone says “my treat” and they buy the meals for everyone there. And they really want to do that.

    Same with taking someone out to the range. We like to show off our guns, to let a neophyte take his first shot with a real gun, to let someone else try our guns out. And we provide the ammo. I occasionally get the “can I pay for the ammunition?” from someone, and I just laugh it off. It’s my pleasure to let someone shoot my gun, using my ammunition. I get a kick out of it. It’s my treat.

    Guess what. God does the same thing, only it’s a lot more than a meal or some range time with a few guns and ammo.

    He says in Luke 12 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

    That verse packs a lot for us into a few words.

    First of all, our Father is looking out for our good. God is our Father in Heaven, and He is the pattern we fathers should mold ourselves to. He loves us with perfect love, He listens to us, He provides what we need materially, emotionally, morally, and in all kinds of other ways. He loves to spend time with us. If we misbehave, He pulls us back in line. He sets goals for us to achieve. He disciplines us, and helps us develop self-discipline. He protects us.

    God is very happy to do something for us. It is our Father’s good pleasure. God is not a grudging God that tries to make us earn His good will. He’s not a spoil-sport, leaning out over the parapet of Heaven watching for a chance to squash any kind of enjoyment we might be getting out of life.

    He watches us so that He can drop something else into our laps that will give us something new, fun, to do, perhaps a new challenge to keep us from becoming bored with life. Because He is happy, He makes us happy. It makes Him feel good when He makes us feel good. And we know about feeling good. Sometimes it’s a nice relaxing soak in a bath or a cool dip in the pool or lake or ocean; sometimes it’s the refreshed feeling we get after a good workout. God knows how to pamper us, and how to give us challenges that will make us grow.

    Most astounding of all is what God has planned for us. It’s not just a good life. God has plans for us. Big plans that go way beyond the scope of our lives here on earth. He will not only provide our needs here and now, He will give us He plans to give us an entire kingdom!!

    It makes me think of what Jesus said about the servants who were given talents—sums of money –to work with while their master was off on a journey. The servants who made the best return on their master’s investment received the greatest rewards when their master called in the accounts.

    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.

    If God is planning on giving us His kingdom, we have security. He won’t let His kingdom be wasted. He will do what’s necessary to make us good stewards of His kingdom and He will make sure we have all the resources, power, authority, and ability to take care of whatever part of His kingdom we receive.

    So Jesus says that above everything else, we do not need to be afraid. Fear not, little flock

    We don’t need to fret over storms happening in our countries, over political threats, social threats, or any other threats. As part of being stewards of His kingdom, we may have to deal with some of those threats, but we’ll have God’s authority and resources backing us.

    Remember, it’s always been God’s people who were at the forefront of the fight for social justice, for freedom of all kinds. Christians led the fight to abolish slavery. Christians led the work to educate people out of the slums and give them hope. God may have something like that for us to do as stewards of His kingdom.

    When God promises us His kingdom, well, He gets a kick out of keeping His promises.

    Luke 12 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
     
  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Wasted space?

    My computer gets regular changes of pictures when I first start up. These are usually beautiful panoramic views of picturesque places from all over the world. I look at vast areas of wilderness, of steep mountains, of cliffs and gorges and lakes and rivers and deserts and ice. I look at these in awe, thinking how our Creator has such a great imagination to make such a wide variety of landscapes. Then I see pictures we post here on TFF that are just as beautiful, of rainbows and sunsets and landscapes so we can all enjoy the view.

    When I see those vast uninhabited regions, I wonder at something. God said to Adam and Eve, then to Noah and his family after the flood, “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” How can someone live in the middle of a desert? I’ve flown over Greenland and the inhabited places are all around the coast. The interior is relatively untouched, covered in ice and snow.

    How can we subdue the polar ice caps? What about the swamps? The precipitous mountain sides? Did God intend us to live in these areas? Areas covered in tundra? What about the vast caves. We have found and explored a relative few of the caves around the world. And again, could we live in them? Inhabiting the ocean is only a dream.

    I enjoy the wilderness views my computer brings me, and the ones I’ve seen for myself, but could I live in some of these places?

    What about the vast emptiness of space? Untold billions of stars occupy the infinite reaches of the universe. We get pictures of those stars. The light from those stars has taken, even at the speed of light, thousands of years to reach earth.

    God put all those wonderful sights and places in place for a couple of reasons.

    He shows His power and creativity, even in sunrises and sunsets, every one of which is different; He shows His creativity even in such tiny things as snowflakes, no two of which are the same.

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

    What infinite power creation shows us. Those stars, so many light years away, put out an incomprehensible amount of energy each second. The volcanos, the tornados and cyclones and hurricanes that can be so devastating because they unleash so much energy on the earth, the tidal waves are all just a drop in the bucked when it comes to God’s infinite power and energy.

    And all these things were created by God, for Himself, for His pleasure. He likes looking at His creation. When He sat back after bringing everything into being it says in Genesis 1 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

    And Jesus keeps all things in their proper places. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

    Science has discovered entropy. That’s the idea that things go from an orderly state to disorder. Ice melts, becomes water and the water evaporates. The orderly arrangement of water molecules in ice breaks down over time to become water. The close association of water molecules gradually breaks down and those molecules break away into the atmosphere to become water vapor. Iodine crystals and dry ice, under normal conditions, sublime, go directly from the orderly arrangement of a solid into the chaotic disorder of iodine gas atoms and carbon dioxide molecules.

    Without Christ’s mighty hand in control, the earth and the universe would do the same kind of thing.

    No wonder David, looking up at the landscape in Palestine, and at the stars in the universe, possibly while watching his sheep, wrote this in Psalm 19 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

    Then David thinks about the kind of God who did all this creating, and the fact that He even bothers with insignificant creatures called human beings. But God does talk to us.

    7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
    The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
    8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
    10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

    God created all the vastness and variety of the universe so He could enjoy it with us, and so that it would draw our attention to Him.

    That’s what God says in Romans 1 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    Is so much of the earth wasted space? Do all those uninhabitable regions have a purpose? God has a purpose in all He does. God put those places we cannot inhabit for reasons that we haven’t begun to discover, partly because we are blinded by our sinful nature, and partly because we don’t have God’s understanding.

    One thing to keep in mind. What God has created, He can uncreate, and He will. Revelation describes how the heavens and earth will be destroyed, to be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. And those who are God’s children, Christians, will inhabit this new heavens and new earth.

    Meantime, every time we see these beautiful, grand panoramas here on earth, let it draw our minds to the Creator of these things and praise Him for making them and thank Him for letting us enjoy them with Him.

    Psalm 8 O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
    Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!...
    3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
    4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
    5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!
     
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  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Dealing with the train

    We took some time to look at evangelism, and what is involved in carrying out the commission Jesus gave us as He was leaving us after the resurrection. His final wishes. No not that. His final command to us was not to make lots of Christians but to make disciples.

    We would like it if God used us to see people become Christians. That’s a good thing. Some of us have prayed with another person as he received Jesus into his life. But what happened with that person after he became a Christian

    Did you hear about that little dog? Every day the train would go past his house and the dog would jump the fence and chase that train, trying to catch it. He ran just as hard as he could, barking his head off, but the train always got away. One day just as the train went past the dog’s house the engine broke down and the train stopped. The dog finally got his lifelong, most heartfelt wish…he caught that train. But now all of a sudden, a new problem presented itself. What should he do now that he caught that train?

    That’s the way it is with us….we catch the train. We see someone become a Christian, or come across someone who is a new Christian and now is looking around wondering what to do next. ? Jesus described becoming a Christian as being “born again”. If we see someone become a Christian, we have a newborn baby on our hands.

    That was something Billy Graham ran into in his crusades. He would present the Gospel, and people would come forward by the hundreds to pray to receive Christ. Then…what? Billy Graham did some checking and found that the vast majority of those new converts had gone right back to their former lifestyle and showed no evidence of having become Christians.

    These new Christians needed someone to help them. They were like the different soils Jesus talked about in Matthew 13, where in some cases weeds choked out the Gospel; in others birds got to it before it could germinate; in others the roots were shallow and the plant died when things got hot. Only in the rich prepared soil did the seed take root and grow to become a mature plant bearing fruit.

    Billy Graham discovered the principle of follow up: What to do with a new Christian so he doesn’t fall prey to the weeds and the birds—the things of this world that would kill off the Gospel, how to make sure his roots go down deep into God’s Word so he won’t die off at the first trials.

    Paul caught what Jesus was talking about in that Great Commission. He wanted to pass it on to Timothy. He said in 2 Timothy 2 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    Now, remember how Timothy would have learned and heard these things from Paul. They were travelling companions; they worked together, prayed together. Becoming a disciple is not a process of sitting down to a weekly lecture or even a daily lesson. You can’t just “teach discipleship”. Becoming a disciple is as much caught as taught. Remember how, out of all that crowd of people, Jesus chose only twelve to be with him in Luke 6: 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

    Jesus wasn’t going for crowds of followers. He wanted a few faithful men to learn from Him. These in turn would pass what He taught them, and what they caught from how He lived, on to others in such a way that these others would make disciples of others also. In other words, Jesus, and Paul, were talking about becoming not just Christians, and more than merely disciples, but makers of disciple makers.

    Paul didn’t go for a host of Facebook followers. Sure he worked with new congregations and wrote letters to them and prayed for them and got back to visit them whenever he could. But he went for a few faithful men who would learn from him, catch his lifestyle, grow to have the same heart for others that Paul had. These would be the ones to carry on the work after Paul was no longer able to do it.

    That was God’s plan for Israel. Back in Deuteronomy 6 God told parents to pass the things they had learned from God on to their children, to make it a part of family life, and that is still God’s ideal way of doing things today. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

    These children weren’t just being taught ideas and facts in a class. They were not just learning a set of rules to follow and things to do. They learning a lifestyle, God’s way of living.

    We all want to see people become Christians. We want to see people base their lives on God’s Word, having God’s Law controlling their lives. We want to see our countries turning around, getting back to God’s standards. We can pray for the polls, that the right people are elected to office.

    The real problem is with the people who are doing the voting. Unless the voters have God’s standards in their lives, they will vote for the wrong people. The grass roots population needs, as they said in the past, a revival. In the 1400’s through the 1600’s it was called a Reformation.

    If God gave you the privilege of helping someone become a Christian, how would you make sure the weeds and birds, the things of this world, didn’t take the Gospel out of their lives? How would you make sure their roots grew deep into the rich soil of God’s Word so they don’t give up at the first heat?

    What would you do if you caught the train?
     
  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Follow up-

    Jesus told us in Matthew 28:18-20 that in whatever line of life we find ourselves in, we must make disciples.

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that if I’m going to do a job, I need the right tools. For God to use us to do His work on this earth we need to become the right tools. You know how it is. Our reloading dies need to be in excellent condition, otherwise they score the brass and potentially damage the gun. Problems in our lives will reappear in people we are working with if we don’t give those areas over to God to deal with.

    When Jesus commissioned those men 2000 years ago, He was talking to imperfect people who still had a lot to learn. You might say He had a lot of round holes and He had square pegs to fill them with. But He went to work making those pegs round. The pegs also had to cooperate with the shaping process.

    When He was arrested all his followers ran off. Peter, that stalwart supporter who swore he would stick with Jesus through thick and thin, swore three times that he never knew Jesus the night Jesus was on trial. But Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22 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.”

    And that’s exactly what happened. Peter turned again. He made a U-turn in his life. He went out and wept bitter tears over the sin in his life. He came to depend on Christ entirely. He had to keep learning what Jesus told him back in Matthew 16 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 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.

    Peter made that rock solid confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus said that on that confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, He would build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And that is happening literally today. People are staking their lives on that. People are being imprisoned, tortured, killed because they make that rock-solid confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

    Then Jesus said that we are not completely prepared to do the job He has for us to do. But He also went on to say that God would prepare us as we go on. He said in John 16 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak;

    And in John 14: 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

    It reminds me of those little ear pieces the agents on TV wear that keep them in contact with headquarters while out on a mission. Headquarters gives them immediate instructions or answers to questions the bad guys put to them, and they pass on the answers. God, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the answers to people we are talking with. He brings to mind the things we need to say. But we need to have that reservoir of information of God’s Word stored away in our lives; we need to be clean, clear conduits to communicate from God through us to people.

    In other words, we may not be perfect, but God will still use us if we will do our part and deal with the sin in our lives. Peter repented of his sin. God forgave him and did great things through him. God says in Philippians 2: 12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    We need to work out our salvation. We need to make our lives fall in line with our profession of faith. That’s a conscious decision. I will obey God. I will not cave into my body’s lusts; I will not cave in to social, peer, political pressure. 2 Corinthians 10 takes us into the active, not passive phase of resisting evil in our lives: 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

    We have a checkpoint in our minds. Every thought that goes through our heads needs to pass inspection, and anything not glorifying to God is put into handcuffs and either kicked right back out again or destroyed on the spot.

    God knows we can’t keep that commitment all the time. So He puts in a couple of helping things. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Fear and awe of the mighty holy God we serve. We really do not want to mess up.

    We don’t want to fall into that warning He gives in Hebrews 10: 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

    God says in Philippians 2 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. God promises to help us out. We can’t do it ourselves. We want to be God’s instruments, God’s tools; we want to make disciples here on earth.

    Bottom line: If we are going to obey Christ’s command to make disciples wherever we are, we need to be fit tools for Him to use, fit conduits to communicate His message to the world. And that comes one decision at a time, each time we are faced with the choice to obey or disobey God.

    We make the decision. We work out our salvation. God will help us to stick to the right decision to obey Him. Our will, our decision, backed by God’s power in our lives to stick to that decision makes us the right tools for God to do His work on this earth.
     
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  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    The right tool

    We have people on this forum who like to do specialty work, and are skilled enough so that if they can’t buy the right tool for the job, they will make their own tool to do the job. That’s what God does with us. He takes the raw materials, us as we are, and shapes us into the specialty tool for a particular job.

    Can you imagine what was going through Peter’s mind in the days following Christ’s resurrection? The disciples and other followers were cooped up, waiting for the next thing to happen. Peter, big outdoorsman, fisherman that he was, probably grew restless. Pacing the floor, muttering to himself, upset that he had denied His Lord, not knowing what God had for them next, he finally had enough and in John 21 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

    Peter couldn’t figure out what to do next but he was restless and needed to do something so he went back to the thing he knew—fishing. And he and those with him fished all night and drew a blank. Didn’t catch one single fish. Next morning Jesus told them to put their net out the other side of the boat and they made such a big haul it threatened to sink the boat.

    That was the second time Jesus called Peter away from his profession. First time Peter and his brother had been casting their nets into the sea and Jesus called them, (Mark 1) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

    Now, a second time Jesus called Peter away from his nets to “feed my sheep…, tend my lambs…, tend my sheep. Jesus’ plan was to turn that fisherman into a shepherd.

    That was God shaping Peter’s life. He took that rough peg and began carving away at his life to make him fit the task God had for him. And God will do the same with us if we will make the decision that Jesus demanded of Peter—You follow Me.

    God does the shaping. Remember the potter and the clay God talks about in Isaiah? We can have one of two attitudes toward how God shapes our lives.

    We can think we know better than God. Isaiah 29: 16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

    Or we can sit back, relax under God’s hands and watch to see what He will make of us. We need to cooperate with how God shapes our lives. Isaiah 64: 8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

    God does all this so He can make us into the kind of disciple and disciple-maker, and maker of disciple-makers that He wants us to be. He forms us into the shape and kind of tool He wants us to be, and it will be the exact tool for the particular task He has for us.

    Now…when I was working, one of my tasks was to distil crude oil. It is a complex operation, with its controlled dangers. From time to time we would need to get another distiller. We needed a seasoned worker, someone with a proven track record of dependability at work, and attention to detail, and several other qualities. Then we trained them in how to run the stills. We showed them each step in the distillation process, what things to watch out for, and what to do if things went wrong. We had them do things while we watched; we showed and told them why things worked the way they did—some of the theory behind the process. We stayed with the new distiller until we felt sure he had the ability to run the stills on his own. We would check back and were always ready to answer questions and help out. We were passing on skills we had learned.

    Some of that same thing goes into this idea of “follow up” with a new Christian. Discipling a new Christian is simply passing on things God has taught me. Discipling is training a person in the things God has taught me.

    Remember Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28? 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;

    Or what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2? 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    A great change has happened in the life of a new Christian. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    We have some idea how to take care of a newborn baby. How do we take care of a newborn Christian?

    God willing we’ll start looking into that tomorrow.
     
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  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Neonatal Care

    God calls a new Christian a newborn baby. He told Nicodemus in John 3 that he must be “born again” to receive eternal life. 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

    God says that with salvation a dramatic change happens in our lives. 2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

    Old things have passed away, and now is the time for a new beginning.

    Do you remember the story Jesus told about the man who cleaned up his life in Matthew 12?

    He got rid of an evil spirit that was messing with him. He now had a nice clean life. That spirit wandered around, got homesick for his old place, and gathered a gang of seven other spirits, went back, found the house nice and clean, and invaded that man’s life again. That poor guy was worse off at the end than when he started. That man had not replaced the evil spirit with God’s Word and His Holy Spirit, so the home was unoccupied, undefended.

    Hmmm…that’s what happens when people try to clean up their own lives without God. They may do a nice job getting rid of vices, only to have more serious vices and problems take their place all too often. That’s the difference between transcendental meditation and God’s kind of meditation. TM tells you to empty your mind, have it completely blank, and make some kind of meaningless noise. God’s meditation says take a piece of God’s Word and chew on it, get the flavor and nourishment out of it the same way we enjoy chewing a nice juicy piece of steak done just right.

    Following up a new Christian is a couple of things.

    First, we are teaching him the same basic skills we have ourselves, the things we went over a few days ago. Learn to have Christ at the center of our lives, as the motivational force. Getting God’s Word into us and us into God’s Word. Learning to talk with God in prayer. Being built up and building up other Christians in fellowship. And learning how to talk about God to people around him as a witness. Finally, learning to leave a mark in the world wherever he goes that says “I am an obedient Christian in action”.

    We need to help that new Christian learn to feed from God’s Word, how to claim God’s promises, how to hear Him, how to obey Him, how to, as 1 Peter 2 says 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation

    We don’t want that person’s life to stay empty to be reinfested with evil. We need to help that person learn to fill his life with God’s Word so he can resist the old temptations. God has a purpose for his life. Help him to figure out what that purpose is.

    Going back to yesterday, I said it took time and effort to train someone up in distillation. In the same way it takes time and effort and answering questions and being with the new Christian to disciple him, to help him become established in his relationship with God.

    That’s what God was calling Peter to do when He told him to “tend my lambs”.

    Look at how Paul discipled the people in Thessalonica. He talks about being like mothers and fathers to these new Christians.

    1 Thessalonians 2: 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us….

    Paul was just like a doting mother over her newborn infant, feeding her baby, caring for the infant. And then he is just like a new father. Dads have great ideas about how they would like their children to grow up. 1 Thessalonians 2 again:

    10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

    That’s right in line with what God says parents should do. Proverbs 22: 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

    Psalm 127 describes how children are like arrows, carefully aimed and released. 3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

    I think Paul and those with him thought of the new Christians they worked with as children, as arrows to be fired out at targets. He talks about how happy he is to hear of how a church’s witness is spreading in a region. The arrows he has shot are hitting home.

    Just as a newborn infant needs lots of TLC, so a new Christian needs TLC, or follow up. A newborn infant needs to be fed, and eventually learn to feed itself. And there are a host of other things a new child needs to learn.

    God willing, we’ll get into some of that tomorrow.

    Meantime, how would you start a newborn Christian feeding? What would you feed him? How?
     
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  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Tending God’s Lambs

    Over here we have sheep. Lots of sheep. Every spring they produce more lambs and every so often the ewe is unable to care for her lamb, so the shepherd literally takes that lamb under his wing and tends it, bottle feeding it, and tending to all the other needs that lamb has. Those lambs have an appetite. They will empty the bottle of milk as quickly as they can. The shepherd’s job is to make sure the lamb gets a good start in life and learns to feed itself. The shepherd never wants the lamb to become totally dependent on him for food.

    That was what Jesus was telling Peter to do in John 21 when He said “tend my lambs”. Help this new life get a good start. And God tells these new lambs to guzzle their food. 1 Peter 2 says 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

    A newborn Christian will need to be fed, to be taught. They will need someone to help them learn to read and understand God’s Word.

    I have met with new Christians in Bible Study; I’ve used a series of Bible Study books put out by the Navigators or by CBMC that take us through the basic skills of being a Christian that we looked at a few days ago. The book asks a question, provides a verse to look up and find the answer, and a place to write down the answer.

    The most important thing we can do is help new Christians learn to feed from God’s Word for themselves. We won’t always be there to answer their questions or help them with their problems.

    I remember dad talking about how he met with a man over a period of months. The guy would have a question or a problem and dad would show him the answer from the Bible. But one week, the man told dad about a problem he had and what God showed him out of the Bible to help him with that problem. He had begun to feed himself.

    You see, our instruction must never be to make people depend on us or gather a large following for ourselves. We need to be training people to feed themselves from God’s Word because, again, we will not always be around.

    I like to help people get into what some call a daily “quiet time”—time each day to meet and talk with God. Remember how God used to meet with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3? It seems they had a regular time to walk and talk together. That died when they sinned and died spiritually. But now, when we become Christians, we can go back to having that fellowship with God.

    People talk about having a “reading plan”, which means someone lays out a set number of chapters or verses of the Bible for us to read, usually so we can get through the Bible in a year. That’s a nice idea, but personally I prefer to not put myself under that kind of pressure. I get to the point of thinking things like “Only one more chapter to read, then I’m done for the day. Will I make it in time?”

    Instead I’ll read a chapter or a passage, listen to what God is telling me, and respond in prayer and maybe write down a note or two.

    I do read another small book that has been a tremendous blessing to me—Daily Light On The Daily Path by Jonathan Andrew Bagster. There is a morning and an evening reading for each day, and the readings are collections verses around some particular topic. I like it because there are so many times I get taken up with getting a “macro” picture as I’m reading passages and chapters of the Bible that I miss some of the gems in the verses. This devotional calls my attention to some of the gems in God’s Word.

    But the important thing with a new Christian is to help him get started drinking the milk of God’s Word and learning to digest it. We help him to learn to apply it to his life; help him to learn to do what God says to do.

    Often I’ll recommend that a new Christian start reading the book of John. I’ll make it a point to be back in contact with him for a while on a daily basis if it’s possible to hear what God is telling him. Then we’ll try to have a weekly Bible Study, again either with the books I mentioned above, or in a simple study outline called ABC.

    We’ll have a look at that ABC Bible Study method tomorrow, God willing. It’s simple, versatile, good for any passage or chapter in the Bible, and doesn’t depend on someone preparing a study booklet for us.

    Meantime, remember how you looked at your parents or someone else you respected and made them an example to imitate. Paul did his best to imitate Christ, and he didn’t hesitate to put himself out as an example for people to imitate. Philippians 3 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.

    Paul expected the people he worked with to learn from him and go on to set the pace for others. 1 Timothy 4 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

    Then see what God says to a group of Christians in 1 Thessalonians 1 : they now become the examples for others to emulate: 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.

    We need to pray this for us and for the new Christians God brings us into contact with.

    Psalm 42: As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
     
  10. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    The ABC’s of Success. God promises it to people who will put His Word into action in their lives.

    Ezra accomplished a tremendous amount of work in rebuilding Jerusalem, and he lets us in on his secret in Ezra 7:10. " For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel."

    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.

    I've studied the Bible in various ways over the years, and helped others to learn how to study it. I have discovered that some people know a lot about the Bible, but don't really know its power in their lives. They have never known its life-changing work, because they only read it for its content, without actually putting it into their lives. To some people the Bible is a book about God. For Christians, the Bible is the communication hotline from God to us. It is like the difference between touching an insulated wire and touching a bare live wire. The live wire produces results!! Some people insulate themselves from God's Word; others come into contact with the Living Word and have life changing experiences.

    James 1 describes it this way:"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. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

    The Bible is a mirror. We look into it. We can see our imperfections. We can either follow God’s instructions on how to correct those things that are wrong with our lives, or we can ignore them.

    As I was growing up, we would sit around the breakfast table and read through a few verses of Proverbs. Those verses contained pithy descriptions of people. Dad would ask us "who does that remind you of?" and we would talk about people who were wise or diligent, or fools, mockers, lazy or whatever other characteristic the verse described. In this way I began to read the Bible in terms of people around me, and read people around me in terms of the Bible. I began comparing myself against the standard of Scripture and working, with God's help, to bring my life into line with His standards.

    We can buy Bible Study books at any Christian bookstore or from Christian organizations and they are good. But they are like buying off-the-shelf ammunition. You get what the manufacturer prepares for you, and you depend on the store to have the study on hand.

    But when we reload, we have the materials on hand and can make our own ammunition to suit our guns, and we no longer depend on having to go to the store.

    I have found a method of studying the Bible that is like reloading my own ammo. It’s called the ABC Bible Study method. It has been around in one way or another for hundreds of years. The Scottish Covenanters used something like this when they were under persecution during the 1600’s. The basic raw materials are a Bible, a pen, and a piece of paper.

    Take a passage--a chapter--and read through it. Have a conversation with God about it. Write the conversation out on a piece of paper. A study a week is about right, and having someone to keep you accountable is vital. Those Christians during the 1600’s did get together in clandestine meetings to share their Bible Studies. People in China and North Korea do the same today. I have met with a small group of good friends and we have shared our ABC Bible Studies together. We would study through a book of the Bible together a chapter at a time and hold each other accountable, check on each other to make sure we were doing what God told us to do.

    A is the Analysis. I write down what God is saying to me through that chapter in my own words. What are the facts, the thoughts and ideas He is communicating?

    B is the Best Verse. When I was taking English in school, my teacher hammered into my head that every good paragraph has a sentence in it somewhere that summarizes that paragraph. There will be a verse in that chapter that summarizes the content of the chapter, or it may be a verse that sort of "jumps out" at me with particular meaning about something that is going on in my life at the time.

    C is the Contract. What will I do about what God is saying to me. That needs to be personal, specific, measurable, and achievable and accountable. It’s easy to say something like “I should read the Bible more”. That needs to be nailed down to be as specific as possible. “I will read one chapter of John a day starting tomorrow at 0600. I will do this at my desk. I’ll ask Dean to check with me every other day to see what I’ve learned from my reading.” I know God will hold me accountable, but if I know Dean will ask me, that kind of makes the accountability more immediate.

    For example, my conversation with God went something like this when I was studying Joshua 1 a number of years ago. This is a shortened version of the A part, but B and C are about what I wrote.

    A. God, you are telling me about how you gave Joshua the huge job of leading Israel into the Promised Land. You have given me a new responsibility and I will need your help to carry it out. You promised Joshua success if he would follow your commands.

    B. Joshua 1:8 was the key verse: "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."

    C. God, You are telling me, that if I am to succeed in this responsibility I need to keep your Word in mind all the time. I need to meditate on it day and night. And I need to put the things I learn into action. To that end I will memorize Joshua 1:8 by this time next week and ask my friend to check that I've done it.

    My friend made sure I had memorized that verse!!

    It's a simple study method; not the only one of course, but it gets us into God's Word and gets God's Word into our lives.

    Back to Psalm 1. May God bless us as we put our roots down into God's Word and drink His life giving living water.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    How do you read the Bible?

    We touched on one method of studying the Bible yesterday. If you remember from those basic skills, we looked at five methods of getting us into God’s Word, and getting God’s Word into us—hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate.

    Some people read the Bible as a theological treatise. Some read it as a collection of nice stories, as good literature. Some read it as a supplemental history book. When I read it, I hear God speaking to me. He has written this letter to me to let me know He loves me. He gives me promises through it; He tells me about things I need to change in my life; He warns me about people and things; He encourages and comforts me through His Word. He teaches me about how He works in history, in the world; how He uses even bad people and things to work out His good will and purpose. I look at a single verse and find a promise or warning. I look at a passage or chapter and learn how He used a person to do something; how God worked through a particular situation to work His will. I read a book of the Bible and discover something of God’s ways of working in the world; I get a broader perspective.

    Daniel was reading God’s Word with his mind on the world situation, and particularly on the situation of Israel in captivity in Babylon. In Daniel 9 he says he was reading what Jeremiah had written years before. Somehow he managed to get his hands on a scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies clear down there in Babylon. Here is what he read:

    Jeremiah 29 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, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

    Daniel knew God’s clock was ticking. I don’t know how many of those seventy years had passed, but it sure set Daniel into action.

    Daniel 9 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

    First there was that promise in Jeremiah. 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. What a great promise. I dearly love that promise because it means God has good plans for me. But it also applies to the bigger picture. For God’s people God has a future and a hope planned out. He’s not going to throw us out completely, leave us abandoned like an old pair of worn out shoes or yesterday’s newspaper. He has plans for our well-being. Daniel wasn’t just claiming that promise for himself. He was claiming it for the nation of Israel, for God’s people.

    The next part of that Jeremiah passage was what sent Daniel into action. Jeremiah wrote 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,

    So Daniel went into full “search for God mode”. 3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He wasn’t bragging or showing off how religious he could be with the prayer, fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He was just stating fact. This is how earnestly he was seeking God. And God answered. It says later in that chapter 21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me instruction and talked with me

    Daniel says Gabriel came to him in his extreme weariness. Seeking God with all our hearts can take a lot of mental and spiritual energy. Daniel was doing like Jacob back there in Genesis 32, wrestling with God, not letting go until God had blessed him.

    God did indeed fulfill His promise. In Ezra 1 it says 1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

    In the pattern Jesus gave us for praying, He includes petitions—for our daily bread, for personal protection from temptation; and it also includes petitions for the bigger picture—Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is what Daniel was praying for, and it’s what we need to be praying for—for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done here on earth, just the same way God’s will is done in Heaven.

    Daniel had his eye on the world situation as well as on his own life as he was reading Jeremiah that day. As we read God’s Word we need to have the same dual focus. I like what 1 Chronicles 12 says about one group of people: 32 Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.

    We need to be people who understand the times as we read God’s Word, see how it applies not only to us, but to the world around us. Reading God's Word will help us understand the times in which we live.

    Just as in Daniel’s day, God’s Word has a lot to say about the world around us, and about us. We need to read it and wrestle with it and understand it. We need to learn to look at the world around us with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, and pray, and claim God’s promises as we see world situations unfolding.

    We need to keep seeking God. He said that if we seek Him we will find Him.
     
  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    The Ultimate Concealed Carry

    A few years ago we were over in the US, spending some time with family and friends, and went to visit my cousins in dad’s old stomping grounds in central Ohio.

    We had dinner at a restaurant one evening and I noticed a number of men going into the back room. They were the kind that it is better to have for friends, hard working and tough. One of them stopped to talk with my cousin’s daughter. She later said he went to her church. I thought I could almost see one of them printing; I saw the tip of one man’s holster peeping out from under his vest—he was open carrying, just not advertising it. Just out of curiosity I asked how many of them carried, and she said probably more than 90%. I felt safer already!!

    Carrying is legal in that state, and that restaurant was not a “criminal safe zone”.

    Now that got me thinking…we have a weapon we can carry concealed every day, and it’s legal no matter what state we are in, no matter what the rules or regulations or signs in front of the building. That weapon is what Ephesians 6 refers to as 17 …sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

    Revelation 2 describes how Jesus uses this sword against His enemies: 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

    Remember how Jesus used scripture to refute satan in Luke 4? Every time satan threw a temptation Jesus’ way Jesus responded with scripture, even when satan misused scripture to try to tempt Him.

    Psalm 119 says 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word...
    11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.


    Joshua 1:8 says 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.

    Hebrews 4 says 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

    So we have this powerful weapon with which to fight satan’s temptations, with which to talk to people about Jesus. Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators talked about how he would “fit an arrow of scripture to my lips and send it flying into the heart of the person I’m talking to”.

    That means he had to have the ammunition stored up. We talk about how many spare magazines is enough to carry. Dawson decided at an early stage to memorize scripture to use when he was talking about Jesus with people. He discovered he could talk a long time with people using his own words and ideas, or he could cut straight to the chase and use a verse or two of God’s Word to answer their questions. Whenever someone asked him a question he would answer it with something from God’s Word. When he ran out of ammunition, he went back and memorized some more. The thing is, we can reuse these verses time and again without having to reload them—no depriming and resizing, no powder and bullets to put in them. They are always ready to go. As Hebrews says, God’s Word has a way of going straight to the heart of the matter. We just need to release it.

    And it will hit its mark. God said in Isaiah 55: 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
    11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.


    We can always add to our arsenal the way Dawson Trotman did…he memorized more verses and passages from God’s Word. And we need to practice with it. It’s called “reviewing” the verses. In the past I have gotten someone to help me with that. They give me a reference and I quote the verse. Another way would be a “combat training” situation, where they give me a situation or a question, and I have to come up with a verse to respond to it.

    When I memorize and review verses I do it by saying the reference “fore and aft”, so it goes something like

    “Joshua 1:8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua1:8.”

    Do we “print”? Yes and no. Nobody can see what’s in your head or heart. Even if they could, there’s nothing wrong with what God’s Word does or says. Remember what Galatians 5 says? 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    As we memorize and meditate on God’s Word, we will bear the fruit of the spirit. What's in our hearts and minds will “print” in our lives, in our words, in our actions, in our attitudes. People will see it. But they will see a good thing and be attracted to it.

    Now, it is a great thing to see our kids and grandkids getting out on the range and putting lead downrange. We like to teach the coming generations how to shoot and see them come to enjoy this sport, so they can defend themselves and hunt for food. Think of learning to use the sword of God’s Word the same way, and teaching younger Christians how to do the same thing—self-defense against satan’s attacks, and to use as a weapon in talking with people, as Dawson Trotman did.

    May God bless us richly as we arm ourselves with God’s Word and learn to use it effectively.
     
  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Memory

    Psalm 119 says 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
    10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
    11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.

    There we have it again. I have to decide that I’m going to seek God. Once I’m under God’s control, He will keep me straight. It’s a two way thing. I seek God; He keeps me in His commandments.

    And we need to come to the point of saying what David said there in Psalm 119, 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.

    Treasuring God’s Word in our hearts…You could say it’s a two-step thing. First we have to get it into our hearts. Then we have to treasure it.

    Getting God’s Word into our hearts means we have to get it into our heads. We have to become familiar with it. You get a new gun. It comes with a user manual. Some people will read through the entire manual, others will go to the part that talks about field stripping it for cleaning. We need to be familiar, aware, of the contents of that manual. Either way, in one way or another we commit that passage to memory so we won’t have to get the book out every time we want to clean the gun. We remember the steps to clean the gun through repetition, after we have read the manual.

    God has given us a manual on how to live. It’s called the Bible. We need to become familiar with the entire manual, and we need to memorize parts of that manual.

    Now, when I was in high school, the school would put on plays. I never went in for any of that…I didn’t think I could memorize the lines of the script. I dreaded memorizing poetry in school…it meant having to spend time memorizing the words, getting them in the right order, and then, horror of horrors, having to stand in front of the class to recite the poem. And what good would memorizing those verses do me? I couldn’t see any particular good. They would just take up space in my head that could be used for something else.

    But memorizing verses, even passages, of the Bible…that’s a different story. Getting God’s Word into my mind, into my head, into my thinking patterns, makes a big difference in how I see people, my circumstances, and life in general. It affects the way I speak, what I say, and what I do. God says in Proverbs 4 23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

    I realize memorizing verses is not a high priority with many of us, because it takes effort and time. It’s something satan really does not want us to start doing because it will change our lives. It will equip us, arm us, to fight against his temptations. It will give us the promises from God we need to pull us through rough times in life. It will transform our thinking, our words, our actions, bringing them into line with God’s way of thinking, God’s words, God’s actions. Memorizing God’s Word will give us that concealed carry weapon we looked at yesterday.

    Sure we can make excuses…Too busy, Too old, Can’t memorize. Stop and think about that a second. Remember Jesus described a guy who was out walking one day and stumbled on a vast treasure in a field? He dropped everything, sold everything, bought that field and got the treasure. If you stumbled on a treasure like that, you’d probably go for it in the same way. We make time to get out to the range. We find money to buy guns and ammo. We need to make time to get God’s Word into our minds, our lives.

    Proverbs talks about getting wisdom and understanding, and how those are wealth far above rubies or gold. God’s Word gives wisdom and understanding.

    Practical. How do you start memorizing God’s Word? This is one way. There are others just as good or better.

    1. Find the verse. In your daily reading (you do that, don’t you?) there may be a verse that stands out to you. I started out with the Navigators’ Topical Memory System.

    2. Write the entire verse out on a card (not paper, it’s too flimsy) that you can keep with you, including the reference at the start and at the end.

    3. Grab a piece of paper and start memorizing. Write as much of the verse, starting with the reference, as you can from memory, go back, check it, and then write the first and second phrases from memory. Keep adding phrases, checking to make sure you have it word perfect, and finish with the reference at the end of the verse.

    4. Keep it word perfect. We demand precision of ourselves in reloading, in keeping our guns clean, in shooting; don’t let the standards slip with God’s Word. Satan has ways of twisting God’s Word to say what he wants, not what God says.

    5. Keep the reference “fore and aft”, at the start and end of the verse. That way, when you are talking with someone about the verse, you can be sure you know and can find the verse to show it to him in the Bible. That way, unlike some politicians and activists, we can show solid evidence for what we are saying.

    6. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Once you have memorized the verse, go back and review it frequently that first day, then a couple of times a day, then on a weekly basis. Think developing muscle memory in shooting. You only get that through practice, repetition. You only get God’s Word stored up in your mind through repetition.

    That’s partly why God had the Israelites put verses on their doorways, their gates, on headbands, and on their hands. It’s partly why God told them to talk about His Word with their kids wherever they were going, whatever they were doing. Check out Deuteronomy 6:4-9.


    Review that verse as you are going to sleep. And keep reviewing it. You know how long it takes to acquire muscle memory and how quickly we can lose it if we don’t keep practicing. Same with memorizing God’s Word. After a week or so of regular review that verse should come to mind easily. Then it’s time to start on the next verse.

    That’s the first step—acquiring the treasure. We’ll look at treasuring God’s Word tomorrow.
     
  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Meditation: treasuring God’s Word

    I don’t know about you, but if I get something I really like I spend time thinking about it. I go back over what it looks like, how it works, what it can do.

    We should be that way with God’s Word. It’s a treasure trove of insights into how people think and act; it gives me insights into how and why I behave the way I do, it has a lot of things to say about the world around us; and of course, the Bible talks about God, and my relationship with Him, and what He does for me.

    Do you want to outsmart your enemies? Be wiser than your teachers?

    Check out Psalm 119: 97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
    98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine.
    99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.

    In other words, God’s Word will give us the drop on the rest of the world.

    It’s one thing to know the Bible. Chairman Mao knew reams of Scripture. It didn’t do him or the Chinese much good. Satan knows Scripture. Wolves in sheep’s clothing know Scripture.

    But it doesn’t do them any good. They know the words, but the words haven’t connected with their lives. It has got stuck in their heads and not made it to their hearts. Paying God lipservice is hypocritical. Jesus said in Matthew 15 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

    David wants his life to be sincere, without hypocrisy when he concludes Psalm 19 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

    God’s Word makes it to our hearts through meditation, and what’s in our hearts is what we live out in our lives. It’s one thing to “eat” God’s Word by hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing it; but we need to digest it, absorb it into our lives, meditate on it. Basically, we need to take a mouthful of God’s Word, chew it up, extract and enjoy the flavor and nourishment it has to give, and absorb that into our lives.

    Remember 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.

    Meditation means thinking about what we have been reading, hearing, studying, and memorizing. It means going over the words of the passage a phrase at a time, even a word at a time, asking things like why God said it this way; what other places in the Bible does this remind me of; who are some people in the Bible or in the world around me that this passage reminds me of.

    And most importantly, what does it mean to me? How does my life measure up? What is God saying in this passage that’s important in my life? It's the kind of thing we can think about while waiting in line, waiting in traffic, especially trying to get to sleep at night, whenever your mind has a free moment. That's how we drink nourishment from His Word into our lives like a tree drinks moisture out of the soil to produce fruit.

    For a while I was struggling with a feeling that I was being bullied. Then I came across 1 John 4 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. As I meditated on this I realized that God living in me made me stronger than this intimidation, and that I didn’t need to be afraid of it. It gave me a new perspective, a new boldness, and I could look at this bully through God’s eyes, and begin to pray for him.

    Just as an idea of how to get started meditating on God’s Word, look at Psalm 19:7-11

    7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
    The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
    8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
    10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
    In keeping them there is great reward.


    Consider the six aspects of God’s Word listed there. For example, ask yourself “What does it mean that The law of the Lord is perfect? What is the Law, why is it perfect? How does it restore the soul?”

    Colossians 3:16 says Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

    May God bless us with His success as we learn to grasp His Word and absorb it into our lives, and produce His fruit in due season...as we let the Word of God dwell in us richly. God’s Word has treasures for our lives, waiting to be discovered if we look for them by meditating on it.
     
  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Never Give Up

    That’s what Winston Churchill said to the British people when things looked so bleak at the beginning of World War II. He was appealing to the people to stand resolute, to keep putting out 110% to keep Great Britain free from German rule. At times it must have looked hopeless, but the people rallied fought valiantly on the battle front and at home.

    Now, go back about 3000 years to the scene of another battle. God took Ezekiel out to a valley in Ezekiel 37. That valley was full of bones. Dry bones. It says they were very dry. No life in those bones at all. No possibility of life. They had lain in that valley exposed to the elements for years, baking and bleaching under the hot sun, being soaked by the rain, frozen in winter. God had him go on an inspection tour to see for himself just how dead those bones were.

    Then God asks Ezekiel a question: 3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

    Now, the obvious answer to that question is “No. Absolutely not. No way.” If Ezekiel had been talking to another man, he might have asked “Why do you ask such a stupid question?”

    But Ezekiel was talking with God, the God Who said in Isaiah 55: 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

    Ezekiel knew that God thinks on a different plane from us, and he knew that God is capable of doing the unexpected. So And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

    Then see what happened. It must have been awe inspiring, and maybe a little frightening. The closest I can think of was the time I had a large pile of dry brush out in the back. I took some dandelion fluff, some dry grass, twigs and piled them at the base of the brush pile. Then I took my flint and steel, struck a spark that caught the fluff on fire, which started the grass, which ignited the twigs, and within 5 minutes had a raging fire at least 20 feet high.

    God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones—to speak to them. 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’”

    Human instinct would have said this was a snipe hunt mission. Old dry bones don’t just reassemble themselves into living human beings.

    Ezekiel obeyed God. And it’s spooky the way there was a rattling among those dry bones as they began to link up, then grow into human bodies from the inside out—sinews, muscle, skin…and they just lay there. Then God said “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”

    Ezekiel did, and those bodies came to life. 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

    Just as an aside, I’m tempted to wonder “whose army was this? Were they killed in battle? When? Whose kingdom was at stake here?” Then I wonder, “What happened when that huge army marched off? Where did they go? What did they do? Who fed them?”

    God is absolutely silent on that. Those things don’t matter. Those soldiers were there to teach Ezekiel a lesson. So lesson one: don’t get side tracked on things that are non-issues to God.

    Actually there are a few other things to learn.

    No matter how dry or dead looking the field is, speaking God’s Word at His command can bring life back to something that looks way beyond dead. If God decides to bring someone or something back to life, that’s what He will do. Nothing can stop Him. It will happen. But it will happen when God is ready to make it happen. Ezekiel could have stood there for years talking to those bones and nothing would have happened until God was good and ready to make it happen. Ezekiel was doing God’s work in God’s way in God’s time.

    Second, the infrastructure was there. The bones had reassembled into bodies, but they were still dead, until God blew His breath of life into them. Then they came to life. A body is not spiritually alive until God inhabits it. The temple in Jerusalem was completed and Solomon dedicated it to God in 2 Chronicles 5. When Solomon dedicated that temple to God, it says then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

    The building was just a building until God filled it, then it became the House of God. It came alive.

    We have a bunch of bodies around us—friends, neighbors, associates—who need to come alive. God needs to breathe into them His breath of spiritual life.

    There is a third thing. God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones to come together to form bodies, then to speak to the breath to give those bodies life.

    God used little old Ezekiel to be the spark to set that big pile of brush on fire. God used Jonah to be the spark that brought Nineveh that was dead to God to spiritual life.

    We look around us these days and see a terrific amount of antagonism against God. We are in the middle of a huge valley of very dry bones. When God gives us the word that it’s time to speak, we need to be ready to be His mouthpiece to speak His message, to call these spiritually dead people to life.

    It may look like a hopeless prospect to us, but when God is working, big things will happen.

    John 4: 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
     
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