happiness

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible in which the Psalmist gives incredible insight into God’s Word and how much His Word can affect the totality of a person’s life, especially one who trusts in Him.  The Psalm is an acrostic of eight verse sections arranged according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet.  The preeminence of God’s word is conveyed throughout the 172 verses and focuses on the essentials of knowing and obeying God’s Word.  The following is the first section of verses from Psalm 119 as found in the HCSB translation of the Bible.
“How happy are those whose way is blameless
who live according to the Lord’s instruction!
Happy are those who seek His decrees
and seek Him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they follow His ways.
You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept.
If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed 
when I think about all your commands.
I will praise You with a sincere heart
when I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes; never abandon me.”
                                                                                                               – Psalm 119:1-8
Did you note the different words used to refer to God’s Word?  “Instruction”, “decrees”, “ways”, “precepts”, “statutes”, “commands”, “righteous judgments” are seven words used to convey God’s revealed written Word to man.  We should know how important God’s Word is for the believer, but do we acknowledge how essential it is to be able to know and love God, and grow in relationship with Him, while not forgetting His Word teaches us how to love others just as we love ourselves.
But what I like about the beginning of this Psalm is that it teaches that the way of happiness is through living the way God instructs believers to live.  There is a meaningful and blessed path to walk in pursuing God and His truth with everything we are; “with all their heart.” The Psalmist says those that do so “do nothing wrong, they follow His ways.” That is done by “diligently”, that is with intentional effort, obeying or following His precepts in living.  Precepts refer to God’s general rules for guiding behavior.  God not only calls for those who trust in Him to follow, but He instructs them how to do so.  The Psalmist understands his frailty and lack of commitment to keeping God’s statutes (laws made by our sovereign God) which if He did understand  and committed to would keep him from being ashamed of not following and obeying God’s statutes as he should.  He also recognizes he would be a much happier and contented person following God’s commands.  With that thought in mind, he turns to praise of his loving God, rededicating himself to learning God’s Word and keeping them.  He ends this section with what would be understood as, don’t give up on me!
How much do believers today need to find happiness in God’s Word and a relationship with our loving Creator.  The good news is that God has provided in His Word everything we need to find genuine happiness. Believers in the Word also have the joy of serving through worship the God of our Salvation.  Maybe a re-dedication is needed in your life.  Start with praise and find the path of Godly happiness in His Word!

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how are you doing…seriously?

Has anybody asked lately, “how are you doing?” And you give a standard reply from “fine”, “making a living” or the often facetious, “living the dream.”  But then to your discomfort they ask again, “seriously how are you doing?”  Sometimes we can affirm our previous response, but many times we truly don’t want to answer because even though we are okay in one sense, we are struggling with things in life.  Many times, the struggle has to do with mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that are constantly being stressed, challenged, overwhelmed, and discouraged.  But that is life, right?

Life can be a challenge for sure, but the believer should deal with turmoil, stresses, challenges, and discouragement in a spiritual Jesus-oriented manner, which doesn’t change the reality of various adversities, rather just the manner in which they affect our daily lives.  A Jesus-oriented manner has to do with how we process what happens around us, it is either I see life thought the lens of the Spirit or I see life through man’s lens, either I react to adversity in my own wisdom, or I respond to adversity in Jesus’ wisdom, do I trust myself or do I trust God?  You can see there is a difference.

How we function in the challenges of life today truly depends on what we genuinely believe.  The adversity we experience in life reveals what we genuinely believe.  The walk for believers is not going to be void of challenges or adversity, but our walk can be filled with His joy, His love, and His peace if we approach every day in total awareness that our life in Jesus.  He is not a sidekick, not a quick fix, not a religious icon, not a spiritual concept for when things go wrong or get tough, Jesus is Savior and Lord.  Philippians 1:21 tells us, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” and Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified in Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” You may say great but how does that change my circumstance, or how does that help deal with adversities?  It doesn’t change circumstances, adversities or challenges, it changes you!  If your life is centered in Jesus then what do these trials in life truly mean, it means they cannot separate the One who lives in you and cannot take away your value as a child of God, nor the ability to overcome in and through His Spirit, actually adversity, challenges, and pressing circumstances becomes opportunities to see Jesus work in your life, which becomes a blessing, so that we can “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) It is a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to shape the way you see and think about life so that it aligns with Jesus and His Word. Keep your mind set on Jesus and life will be a beautiful thing even in adversity. However, a disclaimer is to be added, if you are walking in disobedience to Jesus, practicing sin that you know is not right, then you will be miserable as a believer.  Good news for you, though.  Repent, meaning get right with Jesus, turning away from sin and disobedience and He will forgive you and restore your fellowship with Him.  Then you’ll be back on track, and when someone asks, “seriously how are you doing?”  You can answer, “I am doing great and blessed in Jesus” regardless of the adversity, challenges, or circumstances.


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whatever you do

The last several weeks have presented challenges to getting devotionals done for the blog, but I think I have reached a point where I can once again try to bring encouragement with insights from God’s Word, thank you for your patience!

Normally we have a midweek review of the previous week’s message, but this is Thursday so this will not be a review per se, but there is a thought from last week’s message that calls for more emphasis in my mind. There was a scripture that I referred to that is an important principle for the believer seeking to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

In context, Paul finished a discussion about Christian liberty with this verse.  The reference to food came from the debate as to whether a believer should eat food from a sacrifice.  Paul prefaced the conversation with, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (10:23)  In other words there are a lot of things a believer can do, but some things don’t build up a person, in particular other people who may or may not have the same frame of thinking as you do as a believer.  This applied to what believers ate or drank when out in the marketplace or people’s homes. Paul wrote “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (10:26) to establish the truth that the food itself was not the issue. Paul admonished that a person should eat whatever is sold in the market or whatever is set before them unless the person specifically tells them this food is from a sacrifice.  Paul then says not to eat it for consideration and conscience sake of the one who told them.  Probably because they were conscientious about serving such food to the believer.

Paul was getting to a point, if in Christian freedom I can eat anything God has given for food, offered in sacrifice or not, and receive it with thanksgiving for its provision, then why am I criticized?  Verse 32 gives Paul’s reason, “Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church of God.” There is a greater reason for exercising thoughtfulness and even restraint in our Christian liberty and that is, so we do not present a stumbling block to non-believers or place obstacles for growth in front of young believers.  As a result we have this principle to follow in our Christian freedom: Whatever you do as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ do not let the use of your freedom cause others to doubt the truth of God so that you can faithfully bring glory to God in everything you do!

So, keep this principle in mind when deciding what you do and why you do it, so that whatever you do you do it for it for the glory of God!


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free?

“For freedom, Christ set us free.

Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

                                                                   – Galatians 5:1

On the day our nation celebrates Independence Day, we reflect on freedom as we have come to enjoy it and to some degree, take it for granted.  We experience the turmoil in our nation and wonder who truly appreciates the freedom every citizen has in this country.  It could be a disappearing privilege slowly evaporating under the guise of progress.  We should thank God for what He gave to this nation upon its founding and pray for a renewal of men hearts to the Creator God.

A more encouraging word is to the reference of the verse above.  We have been given spiritual freedom from the control and dominion of sin and the wrath it will bring as citizens of the Kingdom of God.  There is nothing on this earth, nor any evil power or principality can take that away.  Only the complacent and inattentive believer can fall prey to sin’s schemes if they are not always looking to Jesus and His Lordship.  Even though the nation may be drenched in sin’s demoralizing grasp, believers are free in Christ and do not have to fear or despair.  However, believers need to take seriously the spiritual warfare that is taking place and recognize the essential need of being in right relationship with God through His written Word.  Because remember, His Word is truth and the truth will set you free.  The truth will also keep you free.  But the believer must remain in the Word.  Read this passage from Psalm 19:7-11:

“The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad;

the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold— than an abundance of pure gold;

and sweeter than honey, which comes from a honeycomb.

In addition, Your servant is warned by them;

and in keeping them there is an abundant reward.”

The key to remaining free from the dominion of sin in your life is to keep the Word in your heart and life; it is instruction, God ‘s Word is trustworthy, His general rules for living are right, His commands enable us to see in through the darkness, there is no deception in the believer’s relationship with God, God’s laws are reliable and righteous, they’re better than gold and sweeter than honey, and His word warns of dangers and pitfalls that believers will face.  But the freedom that comes from His Word renews, makes one wise, fills with joy, gives “aha!” moments, is eternal, and when obeyed and trusted brings abundant reward.  That reward is freedom in Christ, from the world, from condemnation, and to living growing relationship with Jesus, and eternal life in heaven.  Now that is freedom to have and to hold on to at any cost.  Celebrate freedom in our country today, but celebrate freedom in Christ eternally!


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bigger concerns?

 The world is well informed of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is a major concern for people all over the world.  We are reminded regularly of all the guidelines and precautions that must be taken to help minimize the impact of the virus on people.  It has already taken its toll on many families who have seen loved ones die from the virus.  It is serious and I do my best to observe the precautions.

But there is something else going on right now here in Rock Springs that is an issue all in itself.  It is not seen as serious as the pandemic, but it is extremely annoying.  We have a “mothdemic” taking place.  They are everywhere and getting into everything, places that make you scratch your head in wonder of how did they get in there?  They are not life threatening, nor detrimental to the economy, but they are annoying.  You might think that I have lost my mind, and there could be a valid argument for that.  However, there is a reason for this crazy comparison.  Read the following scripture:

“Who perceives his unintentional sins?

Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

Moreover, keep your servant from willful sins;

do not let them rule me.

Then I will be blameless

and cleansed from blatant rebellion.”

Psalm 19:12-13

The Psalmist David got real with God.  He knew that there were willful sins that he committed things that were visible by others when committed.  There was no hiding them from others or from God.  David calls it blatant rebellion.  Hopefully, as you grow in Christ and understand more of God’s instructions and commands for living righteously any willful sin diminishes so that you do not walk in blatant rebellion to God and His Holiness.  The pandemic is obvious, and it is visible by all people of the world.  The world in response seeks to minimize its affect and harm to people by taking action against it and seeking a vaccine to protect against the disease.  Since it is so obvious, it must be dealt with, just like willful sin in a believer.  It must be dealt with to be in right relationship with the Father.

But then, there is the unintentional and hidden sin.  This is not obvious to the world, or even a significant number of other people, but the believer and God the Father knows all about it and it is as rebellious as the willful sin.  To be pure in heart and truly holy as believer and follower of Jesus, all sin matters and must be dealt with to keep those hidden sins from eating away at your relationship to God.  The moths are more than annoying they can eat holes in and destroy garments causing frustration and money.  So, even though the world knows nothing about our “mothdemic” we know about it here and have to pay attention to the problem to keep from replacing our wardrobes.  This certainly comes across as an exaggeration, but it is not an exaggeration to say the believer must not ignore or cover up hidden sin because it can eat away at your relationship with God causing you to be out of fellowship with the Father, Jesus and the Spirit.  The challenge then is to daily ask God to check your heart and reveal any sin, willful or hidden, that can hinder your relationship with Jesus.   


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Midweek Review 9

What is truly awesome about following Jesus is that God has made it simple, maybe not easy because of our contrary and sinful nature that must be put to death.  But the beautiful thing is that the longer you meditate on and examine the scriptures the more the Holy Spirit unveils how great and magnificent God and His love truly is. Beyond that the scripture reveals how Jesus lived a life that models the life we can live when obediently following His commands.  Free in Christ, to love God and love other people.  The joy that we can experience in following Jesus depends on our desire to walk in that relationship with Jesus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in living right.  Of course, that does require the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the continuous fueling of the Word of God in our mind and soul.  Living right was last Sunday’s sermon from 1 Peter.  There were three primary instructions Peter gave for living right in order to live differently!  Can you recall the three instructions?

It was simple and to the point although remembering them may not be quite that way. Maybe some clues would help you remember.  Believers are encouraged to “be”, to reflect characteristics that would be strengths for living right.  They are to be like -minded, centering their lives on the things above, focusing on the centrality of Jesus in everything they do. They are to be sympathetic, caring deeply about the needs, joys and sorrows of others.  They are to love other believers with brotherly love, the mark of being followers of Jesus.  They are to be compassionate demonstrating mercy grace and forgiveness. They are to wrap all of these things in humility that says others are more important and that God is the only source of the characteristics they may practice. Did that help you remember?

There was another way for believers to live right and that was in how they respond to adversity.  They are never to pay back evil for evil treatment like the world would do.  They are not to rebut insults to those who insult them even if they may deserve such rebuttal.  Believers do the unexpected, they return a blessing, asking God to show favor to the one or ones casting the insults or doing the evil. The believer does so because we are blessed with mercy and grace that God will bring to completion in the last day. Did that help at all?

The believer is to live right by living with God’s standards always in mind.  Whether it is in our speech, our behavior, or our relationship with God we should seek to be consistent in our obedience to God and His commands, so that our testimony is never compromised, because God is always watching over His own in fellowship through hearing our prayer and encouraging our life in Christ.  Are you still trying to remember?

Maybe this will help, three things we do as believers to live differently are:

Live right with fellow believers, live right with unbelievers, and live right with integrity.  Now that you remember, go out and do it!


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everything is changing, almost

It seems that every time I see a news blurb or another headline it is introducing information of something else that is changing.  So, it seems with the COVID-19, world politics, our country’s history, protests, policing, even the weather gets into the news, there is constant change.  It is like starting a game of some kind only to have the rules changing so much you end up not sure of the goal of the game.  However, in all the change that is taking place there is one thing that does not change. Read Psalm 9:7-10,

 

“But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established His throne for judgement.

And He judges the world with righteousness;

He executes judgement on nations with fairness.

The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted, a refuge in times of trouble.

Those who know Your name trust in you because you have not abandoned

those who seek you, Lord.”

 

Followers of Jesus Christ have a blessing in these changing times, and it is the fact that our God is consistently the same.  God, the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Sits on His eternal throne and has established His framework for judging the world.  The Bible, God’s Word, has not changed and gives the follower of Jesus the guidelines by which our God will judge with righteousness.  We know from His Word the criteria of His judgement and it will not change so that the judgement of the nations and all mankind will be done in fairness.  No one will be able to stand before God’s throne and cry out unjust or unfair, because He has given the guidelines and they have not changed.

We also see that God remains a refuge, a safe shelter for those who are persecuted or face a time of trouble.  He is still the solid rock to anchor to when the storms become harsh and violent.  Even when the times are changing with unrest and turmoil, God remains faithfully true to who He is and will always be.  This is the God we know from His Word, His mercy and grace, and from His eternal love. Followers who know the name of God as Father trust Him in His faithfulness because He has not left us alone in the chaos of change but has spread His protective wings to welcome us in when we seek to find shelter and peace.

The older I get the less I appreciate change, so the fact that my God does not and will not change gives me encouragement to keep on, keeping on!

 

“But the Lord sits enthroned forever;”


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signs? part 2

“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25-28

 

As a part of the things that have happened and will happen that cause men to fear and wonder at the signs that Jesus discussed in awaiting His return are things that we observe now.  Whether it is climate change, eclipses, space phenomenon, oceanic activity, earthquakes there is always something that causes man to be dismayed as if there is no hope of any encouragement beyond what man thinks He can solve.  Funny thing is that man won’t be able to solve the signs that will take place because they are initiated and directed by the power of God.

I don’t know that God has provided any to the final signs of Jesus return, primarily because of the reaction man will have to those signs. “…men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world.” Jesus did not say specifically what these things would be, but I feel certain they will not be brushed off to the side as menial or insignificant. For those who do not know Christ it will bring terror and for those who hold on to Jesus it will be encouragement of Jesus return.  I can’t imagine what it will be like to see the powers of the heavens shaken or to see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.”  But I would think a recognizing glance would put me flat on the ground in worship.  However, Jesus says to do something different, He says be a testimony of the truth standing straight and lifting up my head because the final work of redemption is taking place and about to be completed by the Lord Jesus Christ!  From this passage and the corresponding passage in Matthew 24:29-31, which gives a little more detail, we should note two things, the signs that take place at His return will be amazingly terrifying and indisputable and that Jesus will affirm He is the victorious Son of God, Savior and Redeemer, Lord of All, and glorious eternal King!  Don’t fear, don’t worry, don’t lose faith, for our God is an awesome God!


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signs?

“And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.””

Luke 21:8-19

As believers we need to be familiar with the scriptural truths of the end times, so that we are not overtaken by fear.  Jesus taught this to his disciples and I believe He also teaches all believers who follow, that before He returned to this earth in His glory to complete the fulfillment of all things that the earth and the peoples of the earth would experience trials, challenges, wars, plagues, famines and persecution of believers.  We see so much that is happening in the world now, in our own country and wonder if we are nearing the return of Jesus?  Certainly we are in the last times, there has been famines, plagues, earthquakes, pestilence, wars, rumors of war, various phenomenon in space and on the earth that keeps people of all nations trying in their own understanding to figure it all out.  I don’t think they will.  Believers don’t need all the answers we simply and faithfully trust God because He knows all the events and times, and most significantly the time of Jesus’ return.  Here in the U.S. we have not experienced persecution for our faith…yet.  The time may come, but now we must know of and pray for brothers and sisters across the world who are being persecuted, even martyred for the cause of Christ.  We cannot get lost in the unknown but rather “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and He will provide what we need.  Yes, there are signs, but we can observe them and be encouraged that Jesus could be returning soon.

In the meantime, verse 19 gives us encouragement in what to do and in what it will result in.  “By your endurance”, brothers and sisters in Christ keep holding on to Jesus, persevere in your belief in God, endure through the difficult times because God is faithful, “and you will gain your lives.”  Lives is better understood as souls and the reference is to eternal life the promise of God.  It is encouraging but it is also a command for genuine believers to persevere in their faith in God, come what may, because God is in control.  Be attentive, don’t be overcome with uncertainty, and keep your trust in God!


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fear?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in a very tumultuous time.  There are so many things happening in our world and in our nation that are hard to understand.  Covid-19 is here and will remain.  One day there may be a vaccine, but there is none in the present.  Our nation is torn with racial tensions.  No authentic believer desires inequality or prejudice of any kind in our nation or even in the world.  How do we make a difference in dispelling the hatred and strife?  The economy has been thrown into an uncertainty, with jobs continuing to be lost because of Covid-19, decline in the natural resource industries like coal, oil and gas and even the potash mining.  The demonstrations of anarchy cause a restlessness in the human spirit, could civil unrest lead to another civil war?  All these things plus the duress on families, the development of “new norms” can cause a person to fear, even one who has a relationship with God.

But my brother and sister in Christ, that is exactly what the enemy, the devil and his ilk desires to do through these times, cause fear.  Fear can steal joy, hope, and encouragement.  Our enemy desires to destroy the testimony of the Gospel through deceptive fear.  Are there tough things happening, are the tensions, hatred, and financial uncertainties real?  Yes, they are, but believer our God, the great Creator of all things, the One who is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent has all these things in the palm of His hand.  God is not surprised by the wickedness of man, so we should not be surprised by it either.  God knows the darkness of sin and its domain, yet He has given us the Light in Jesus Christ His Son to stand firm amidst the darkness. 

During this time, it seems a lot darker.  But I think it is because the church is not meeting as it was.  When the light of Jesus in me, is with the light of Jesus in you, and the light in believers gather together, the light is brighter, and darkness does not threaten to overcome.  Remember, although we are apart more often than we are together, His light in us shines on, it is not alone. Hear the encouragement from Romans 8:31-37:

“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us who can be against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all.  How will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?  God is the One who justifies.  Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more has been raised; He is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.  Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Can affliction or distress or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, ‘Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

If God be for us…we are more than conquerors.  Does that mean there will not be peril and uncertainty in the world, or suffering that we may face and endure?  No that is still there, but we do not have to fear any of it because our awesome and powerful God is for us, and we are more than conquerors.  When fear grips your heart, grip Jesus and His Word tighter, He is the source of light and will overcome the fear.


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midweek review 8

Last Sunday’s message did not have an outline, rather just the simple instruction for believing wives and husbands to have and experience a growing marriage relationship in Christ.  There could be different things for different people that God could have spoken to you from the text.  Hopefully you were encouraged as you heard the word and made application to your own situation.

Believing wives were instructed to submit to their own husbands, most notably as they would submit themselves to Jesus Lordship. In the scope of God-centered marriage there is nothing more wonderful than two believers seeking to live out God’s purpose for marriage.  When a marriage is Christ-centered it becomes a joy and blessing to outdo spouses in encouragement and affirmation of who God made them to be, and what God calls them to do in the God defined roles of husband and wife.

However, Peter instructed the believing wives to submit to unbelieving husbands even when a little challenging, for the purpose of being a godly testimony of the relationship she has with Jesus as Lord.  By doing so the Word says a believing wife may be the very instrument God would use to draw her husband to a relationship with Jesus.  This is a powerful challenge to believing wives who do not have a believing husband.  But it can also be a very rewarding testimony of God’s amazing grace.  What is it that draws an unbelieving husband to seek out Christ?  It is the “imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.”  This not only a testimony of God’s work in the heart and life of the believing wife but it is also of great worth in God’s sight.  It is a settled spirit regardless of circumstances because the spirit completely trusts God’s presence and promises in each day of life.  The true beauty of a believing wife is found in this internal work of God rather than all the outward adornment that could be fixated on to bring beauty that doesn’t come close to the inward beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

Believing husbands need to take seriously their responsibility to know and understand God’s Word and His ways so that he can love His wife and encourage her to be everything God desires for her to be.  It is seeing her value as his God-given helpmate that enables them as a couple to fully honor God in their marriage, their family, their service to God and in their worship.  The mindset of the man should be one attentive protector and guardian of the beautiful gift of his wife and of the sacred covenant relationship he has with his wife.  If he neglects this responsibility, then his prayers will not be heard by God and his spiritual growth will be impaired.

Honoring God in marriage is accomplished through intentionally obeying God’s instruction for submission, love, and responsibility in both the husband and wife.

Do you want a blessed marriage? Then do marriage God’s way!


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don’t vacillate

In today’s society, there is so much happening on a daily basis and there is so much information and misinformation that a person often doesn’t know what to think.  Believers are not immune from the constant bombardment of the enemies attack to make what is right appear to be wrong and what is wrong appear to be right.  This should not take us by surprise because that is the tactic of our spiritual enemy.  Yet, it does wear on a person often bringing distress and weariness.  At that point as a believer we have a place to turn to and find encouragement.  Listen to God’s Word in
2 Thessalonians 2:13-15:
 
“But we must always thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because as a firstfruit
God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 
He called you to this through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Therefore brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught,
either by our message or by our letter.”
 
When life seems chaotic we have a place to stand firm and not be blown about by the storms that come our way.  We should remember “we are loved by the Lord”.  God loves us and holds us in His hands.  We should also keep in our mind “God has chosen you for salvation”.  In Christ Jesus has called you to a new life in Him, one with the promise of eternal life with Him.  We should know when the world seems amiss God is still working His salvation in us “through sanctification by the Spirit through belief in the truth.”  We can be encouraged that our faith is not in vain, God’s Spirit is guiding and protecting our growth in holiness.  As a result we can stand firm to the truth of God’s Word that we have been taught.  So don’t vacillate, don’t give the devil any place to discourage, or distress you about the world.  We stand firm in His Word and His work.  Let’s finish with 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17:
 
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us
and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.”
 
Amen and amen! Don’t vacillate, stand firm!

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truth

“‘My Kingdom is not of this world,’ said Jesus.  ‘If My kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, My kingdom is not from here.’

‘You are a king then?’ Pilate asked.

‘You say that I am a king,’ Jesus replied. ‘I was born for this, and have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’

‘What is truth?’ said Pilate.”

John 18:36-38

An important conversation took place between Pilate and Jesus when the Jews took Jesus to Pilate.  The conversation was not long at all and was an inquiry by Pilate to who and what Jesus was.  Several important things were revealed in the conversation.

Jesus was accused by the Jews of usurping Pilate’s authority in being a self-proclaimed king of the Jews.  Pilate asked Jesus about this and Jesus clearly stated that His kingdom is not of this world and did not originate in the world.  It is essential to understand that Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that originates in God. Yet Jesus’ kingdom is active in this world through the citizens of His kingdom, the believers who follow Jesus in obedience.  But His kingdom is not like any worldly kingdom.

Pilate hears that Jesus is a king, so he responds with a question to affirm what he heard Jesus say, he just missed the significance of His kingdom.  We can often hear God’s Word and derive what we want to hear in our context as opposed to what God may be saying from His context to us.  We must always do our best to hear God’s Word from Him as he desires for it to be heard.  Otherwise we might hear incorrectly.

Yes, Jesus was a King, but over a different kind of kingdom.  Jesus came to the earth for this, to be a different kind of king, not in authority to be served but as a servant king to sacrifice himself for people to become a part of His kingdom. 

Jesus came to the world to testify to the truth.  Jesus is truth revealed and defined.  Truth can set one free from the bondage and reign of sin, truth brings life abundant and eternal, truth leads the way in Jesus’ kingdom.  Truth is absolute and established by God.  Truth is the basis for faith, hope, and love.  Truth enables peace.  Truth is Jesus Christ pure, holy and simple.  The Gospel is truth.  This truth is not and does not compromise.  Truth is authoritative and reliable.  Jesus is the truth.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are in relationship with the Truth and should never depart from the absolute truth in Jesus to the relevant truth man wants to use to deny it.

Pilate asked the question that so many people in our confused and volatile world ask, ‘what is truth?’

The answer is Jesus!  Follower of Jesus be strong and courageous and stand in the absolute truth of Jesus and His Word.  That is where victory is found.


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dealing with disappointment

Something we have all dealt with at some time in our life, or are dealing with now, or will encounter in the future is disappointment.  It can be something like cancelling an activity because the weather gets bad, or it can be the results of a health concern or issue that is unexpected, or it could be a rejection letter for a job or a promotion on a job.  Sometimes maybe it is disappointment with spiritual aspirations of doing something good like a specific ministry or outreach that God does not permit.  These things are most difficult to deal with in my estimation.  We as a church cannot get a building completed, it is disappointing, we are not able to hold VBS this summer, it is disappointing, things like this and even desires to share the Gospel to friends and family and not have a positive response is disappointing.  How do we deal with these things, transparently and honesty before God our Father, who could enable anything to happen?

In 2 Samuel 7, King David is inspired to build a temple for God that shows His majesty and splendor.  He asked the question about why he should live in an elaborate palace and the Ark of the covenant of the Lord is in a tent?  Nathan the prophet initially said to do what King David sought to do, but the Lord spoke to Nathan after that and said to tell David that he would not build a house, but that God Himself would build a house through one of David’s descendants.  What a disappointment to David, to hear God say no.  How did King David respond, how did he deal with the disappointment?  King David went in and sat in the Lord’s presence (2 Samuel 7:18) and he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.  I encourage you right now to take your Bible and find 2 Samuel 7:18-28 and read David’s prayer of thanksgiving.  It is an incredible demonstration of submission to God’s rule and reign in and over David’s heart and life.  He expressed deep gratitude for God’s provision in his life, for what God had done for Israel, God’s chosen people, David affirmed his trust in God’s Word and promises.  David turned disappointment into thanksgiving, that is how he dealt with it.  That speaks volumes to me about how I am to deal with disappointment as I walk through each day.  Everyday does not have disappointment, some days are fantastic and filled with encouragement which easily turns to praise.  But the next you experience disappointment, find a place where you can go before the Lord and count your blessings from Him and turn that disappointment into thanksgiving!  


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midweek review 7

As we continue to review the messages in the “Living Differently” series in 1 Peter we gain more insight in what it means to follow Jesus genuinely and intentionally in our daily routines.  The text of 1 Peter seems to address our current circumstances in our nation, which direly needs the grace of God, as much as it speaks to the believers the letter was initially written to.  Today I am going to give you a test.  What are the six guidelines that came out of the message on Sunday from 1 Peter 2:11-17?

  1. Living Righteously __________ ___________
  2. Living Righteously ___________ __________ ___________
  3. Living Righteously ___________ ___ ____________
  4. Living Righteously ___ ______ ______
  5. Living Righteously _____________ ___________
  6. Living Righteously ___ ________

Now we’ll find out how much you actually listened to the message last Sunday.  Hopefully a few of them stuck in your mind.  The need for believers to live righteously in our current culture is needed and to do so probably will not be appreciated by many people in the culture who do not know God or have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.  But the important thing about living righteously in our walk with Jesus in this world is that we glorify God and testify to His amazing mercy and grace.

Here is a quick review!  To live righteously begins within.  Our commitment to Christ must be demonstrated by abstaining from the fleshly desires, those things that are sinful, because they wage war against our redeemed soul.  Believers must be consecrated to Jesus’ Lordship in their lives.  To live righteously involves right behavior.Believers must live out the conviction of truth that indwells them.  Talk can be very cheap if it is not confirmed by the walk of Biblical principles in the believer’s behavior.  This can also include attitudes we have as go through daily routines.  Jesus should be seen in the believer’s attitudes and behavior.  To live righteously submits to authority.  Believers arrange their lives under earthly human authority to honor God and His ultimate authority.  Believers acknowledge God’s work in placing or allowing human leaders to have such authority for the benefit to the people.  Their responsibility is to punish evil doers and praise those who do good.  Believers do so as long as the human authority does not call for believers to act or do in disobedience to God’ authority. Living righteously is God’s will.  God calls for believers to do what is right and what is good in obedience to His purposes and will.  When believers are obedient, they close the door for ridicule and reviling by people who do not know or understand God’s will. To live righteously understands freedom.  The Bible tells us it is for freedom that Christ has set believers free.  Believers understand that our freedom is by the grace of God and that we have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ so that we are slaves of God blessed with freedom to do what is right, never using that freedom for evil. Finally, living righteously is right.  It glorifies God when we treat people respectfully, sincerely love our brothers and sisters in Christ, correctly and reverentially fear God, and honor human authority.  Great guidelines for believers to glorify God by living righteously!


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