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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uncertainty is certain

Last week, the weather was warm and windy, the weekend had rainstorms and strong wind, Monday brought low temperatures and snow and all in June.  Most people were not surprised or taken back by the drastic changes.  Most people would say, “you don’t like the weather, hang around a bit and it will change.”  Meteorologist try to predict the weather and have a 50/50 chance of predicting it right.  You might say there is an element of uncertainty in the weather and that is certain.

Right now, with the pandemic continuing to work its way through cultural practices we sense the very same idea, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.  The buzz that we hear is about a new normal, yet nobody can define a new normal.  There are plenty of ideas about what it means but there is no certainty about how the reactions to the corona-virus will permanently affect the way we live.

Caught in the wave of all of this is the church and what it means to God’s people as a community.  How are people viewing the gathering of believers together for worship?  It seems to be another plight of uncertainty.  Sanitizer, social distancing, group limitations and protocols are set forth and one can barely get the protocols in place and oops, they change again.  There is just so much uncertainty.  The problem with uncertainty is it tends to prompt fear in people, and fear in people can be detrimental to their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Here is the good news:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

What that means for you and me is spiritual certainty.  What happens on this earth, what happens in nations, what happens in cultures and in communities and with the uncertainties they provide we can be confident that there is certainty in our unchanging Savior and Lord.  His truth, principles, and promises are not constantly changing like the weather.  Pandemics and diseases do not rearrange His rule or dominion or make His sovereignty questionable.  We can, with confidence, continue to trust Jesus in every area of our lives, day in and day out.  Be encouraged that you can be certain about Jesus never changing.   


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a tale of two aspens

I have two favorite trees, the blue spruce and the quaking aspen.  As you may note they are both trees found predominantly in the mountains.  It probably is the real reason I try to hunt each autumn.  I enjoy the aspen so much that I have planted several of them in the yard around my house.  The soil isn’t the best for aspens to do as well as on the side of a mountain in a sizable grove, but they somehow survive with lots of water.  I would like to talk about two of those trees.

This weekend and the few days prior have seen some very strong wind come blowing through, on Saturday it was accompanied by driving rain.  The two trees in my tale were planted at the same time four years ago.  One tree grew to about 6 feet tall with little growth in the trunk, the other tree is about 13 or 14 feet tall with good growth in the trunk.  The strong winds revealed some things about the two trees.  The wind that blew through earlier in the week took its toll on the smaller tree, it snapped off about two feet of its growth off the top.  It is still alive and has leaves and will make a slow comeback, but it has been stunted by the windstorm.  On Saturday, the storm that brought the strong wind and rain battered against the taller aspen, as I watched the tree bend under the strength of the wind, I just knew it was going to break.  But the tree moved with the strong wind but stayed intact throughout the storm.  What made the difference?

I didn’t tell you earlier but in examining the part of the smaller aspen tree I discovered that some of its stem/trunk was dead probably from disease making it more susceptible to break in the wind, plus its very slow growth did not allow for it to be strong in the wind.  The taller aspen that had grown exponentially compared to the smaller tree is healthy with no disease present.  The larger tree has a couple of small new tree shoots coming from its base, which also means its root system is healthy too, which allowed the tree to be very flexible and withstand the strong wind.  I tell you this tale of the two aspens to make a point about being a genuine follower of Jesus.  If you are not in the Word of God, or interconnected with other believers, you don’t grow well and are much more susceptible to sin and its effect on your life that could cause damaging setbacks in becoming a strong growing believer.  On the other hand, if you are in God’s Word consistently, involved with other believers, and making disciples by sharing the Gospel, you will grow in God’s grace and be able to bend, flex and yet remain firm in the strong storms that otherwise might be destructive to you in your walk with Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t reference aspen trees specifically that I know of, but it does reference healthy trees:

“Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,

and he meditates on it day and night.

He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams

that bears fruit in its season and whose leaf it does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.”

Psalm 1:2-3


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finding strength

It seems that as each day passes by there is greater taxing and vexing of the human spirit.  Every human is affected by it regardless of who they are, even believers are sensing a weariness of what appears to be growing tension between men and their fellow man, men and their authorities, degradation of morality and integrity.  This is sin’s effect on men and the world we live in.  Sin ravages the thinking and rationale of people, and many become victims of the evil and wickedness that seems to prevail.

As a follower of Jesus, a genuine disciple of the Son of God how do we have strength to face it all and remain over-comers amidst the challenges of a hurting and seeking society?  We must remember that God is in control and that we must always keep our eyes looking to Him through His Word and through prayer, trusting Him to sustain us through each day as His perfect will permits.  Some days are filled with joy and hope other days are filled with despair and fear.  The believer who can stay close to the Father through each day is the one who experiences the peace and presence of God’s Holy Spirit reminding them to cast their “cares on Him because He cares about you.”  This the faithful believer does every day, yet the world is tenacious in demanding that the believer respond to its turmoil and to do so the way it prescribes.  It is draining and causes the believer among others to hide away from it all till it passes over.  The problem is that it may not pass over, but linger continuous days sapping the strength of those whose hope is not in this world.

The good news is that God knows our hearts and He knows our need.  He knows the battle that we face, and He loves us and by His grace He desires to strengthen us to stand firm on the solid rock of Jesus.  Let the following scripture sink into your mind and heart:

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God the Creator of the whole earth.

He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.

He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless.

Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall,

But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength;

They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not become weary,

They will walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

We seek to live each day one day at a time as God grants us each new day.  We must also seek to fully trust in Him for the strength we need each day to be filled with courage, hope, joy, grace, love and strength to soar on wings like eagles.  We do not persevere from our own strength we overcome in His.  Be encouraged friend, the world may seem very unsettled and draining, but the God who Created it has it in His hands!

Find your perseverance in the perfect strength of Lord by trusting in Him.


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Midweek Review 6

What an encouraging word we received from 1 Peter last week.  The fact that we are God’s people chosen through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Looking back to the Old Testament we see that Israel was God’s chosen people, a people that he established a covenant with as He called them to Himself.  However, time and time again Israel left their covenant relationship with God to pursue the false gods of other nations. But, God had a plan that included a new covenant through the blood of Jesus to bring a new people to Himself.  That is what Peter affirms as He calls believers living stones.  That was the message title, but can you remember the key truths the text made about being living stones?  It may be a little more challenging this week, but here they are: Jesus The Living Stone, Believers the LIVING Stones, The Living Stone – the Cornerstone, and The purpose for Living Stones.  How did you do?

Jesus is important in every part of our new covenant with God.  Jesus is the One who died by crucifixion, shedding His blood to pay the price for the sin of men, then arose from the grave victorious over death to remain alive forevermore.  The result is He is the living stone, which God set forth as the cornerstone.  The very stone that would set the foundation for His Kingdom people.  The stone that was prophesied about in the Old Testament.  The cornerstone that men would either believe in and be built upon, or men would reject, and the cornerstone would become a stumbling block.  For all who believe the cornerstone, the living Christ would enable men to become spiritual living stones, a spiritual house in which God would indwell and build up into a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.  The spiritual sacrifices offered through Jesus that are acceptable to God is the Spirit-led obedience of the believer to do God’s will in worship, in service, in ministry, and in loving Him and loving brothers and sisters in Christ. But we learn more about the purpose God has chosen those who believe in His Son Jesus to be His people.  They are described as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession…God’s people are a special covenant people because of Jesus and their priority task is to proclaim the praise of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  We are to be proclaimers of God’s work of salvation in our lives, which means we must continuously recall God’s amazing mercy, grace, and love that led to our new birth into a new life in Christ.  When we remember we are then to share the Good News, because as Peter wraps up the text, we once we not a people, we were without mercy, but in Jesus we are His chosen people, a people blessed in His mercy.

What an encouragement to understand and remember as we struggle through our daily lives.  Even though we will struggle and will suffer in this life on this earth, it is not our final destination, our permanent home is heaven as God’s chosen people for eternity!  Praise Him and proclaim Him today!


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a nation in need

“Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord –

the people He has chosen to be His own possession.”

Psalm 33:12

 

“Righteousness exalts a nation,

But sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Proverbs 14:34

 

“and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves,

pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven,

forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

 

The United States of America does not seem to be united at this critical point in history.  There are struggles in every facet of life as we know it.  We are a nation of people leaving a moral base that is the fabric of our society and pursuing the magnification of human secularism, which basically means we are rebelling against and rejecting God.

Genuine believers should be broken over the sin ridden condition of our country and should drop humbly to our knees and seek God’s loving intervention into the hearts of the people of our nation.

Today,  simply  pray, that is, cry out to God in repentance and confession of the sin of our nation, seeking His forgiveness and restoration of truth and righteousness.  That truth and righteousness can only come through God’s mercy and grace.    Jesus truly is our only hope, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Pray for all people, all races, all ethnicities, pray for the subsiding of anger, violence, and destruction, pray for justice and peace.  For it can only be found in the God of justice and peace. 

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a healer who is always found in times of trouble.  Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil.  There is a river – its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High.  God is within her, she will not be toppled.  God will help her when the morning dawns.  Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts at the sound of His voice.  The Lord of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold…

’Stop your fighting, and know that I am God,

exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.’”

Psalm 46:1-7, 10


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can’t use

We continue today in 1 Samuel.  Yesterday we saw how the Israelites found defeat when they tried to manipulate and misuse and abuse the ark of the Covenant of the Lord to achieve their battle challenges.  Not only did they suffer a great defeat they also saw the ark captured by the Philistines.  It was a humbling lesson to learn, that the God of Israel cannot be manipulated by or for man’s own plans. 

Now the Philistines have the ark of the covenant of God and they see the God of Israel as one of many gods.  They take the ark and place it in the temple of Dagon their own pagan god.  They place the ark beside a statue of Dagon.  The next morning, they find the statue of Dagon face down on the floor in front of the ark.  They put the statue back in place and come back to the temple the next morning to find the statue’s head and hands broken from the standing torso and place on a nearby threshold.  This was not an accident, something else was going on.  Something else indeed, the Septuagint adds that mice invade the city bringing about a plague, that included tumors.  The Bible says it was heavy on the people.  Their city rulers got together and said what should we do with the ark and they agreed, send it to Gath, another Philistine city.  Guess what went with the ark, the tumors and all included with them.  Gath had enough and sent the ark on to Ekron and yes, the Hand of the Lord was against them as well, tumors, mice invasions, and death followed to each city. After 7 months of dealing with God’s judgement on the Philistines because they were trying to use the ark as an access to the God of Israel, the Philistines summoned their priests and diviners to find out how to get the ark back to the place it belongs. They are given directions of how to send the ark of the covenant of the Lord back to Israel and it included a “guilt offering” with it.  Even the first recipients of the ark among the Israelites lots 70 people who looked inside the ark. Finally, the ark reached a designation where it was taken care of properly by a consecrated priest named Eleazar.

If there is anything, we can learn from this story about our God is that you cannot use God for your own purposes.  You can only submit yourself to God’s purposes.  God cannot be invited into your life to sit among other idols you may hold onto and think it is good or think it will grant you spiritual blessing.  That will not work.  You must yield yourself to the Lordship of Jesus alone, there should only be room for Him in your heart.  Anything else is simply trying to use God as one among many.  It helps us hear the first commandment a little more clearly,

“Do not have other gods besides me.”

Exodus 20:3


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