The Blessing of Protection – Psalm 147:13-14

God Blesses Through Protection As Well As Provision

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

Sovereign Safety

God delights in sovereignly protecting His people.  He is greatly concerned with and involved in securing the national borders of Israel, and considers national borders to be of vital importance to a nation.  It is God who watches over the city (and, by inference, the nations):

Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God is very involved in the raising up of leaders and nations (for His sovereign purposes):

5 “Look at the nations and watch-
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.”

Bountiful Blessing

God is the author of all provision and blessing.  He provides for our physical blessings as well as our spiritual blessings.  God provides us with great blessings, as well as plentiful blessings:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

God desires to bless us in abundance with everything that we could every need or desire.  He greatly desires that we desire Him; for when we desire Him, He will provide Himself in even greater measure:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Protected in Peace

The traditional greeting in Hebrew is “shalom“.  This is a blessing upon either an individual or a group of people.  It is a blessing of peace to another.  God greatly desires to protect us in peace:

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Here is another translation:

When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

God desires is that we live in peace with everyone.  When we are being obedient to Him, and pleasing Him with our ways, even our foulest, most despicable, war-like, offensive, murderous, odious, and otherwise ill-willed enemies will be forced to be at peace with us.  How great a blessing is that!

Finest Food

God provides richly for his children, and greatly desires to provide the finest goods for them.  This is not a “name it and claim it” blessing, but rather an indication that when God’s favor is upon us, we will have the opportunity to partake of the finest goods that the land has to offer.

The United States of America, in previous years, had been greatly blessed by God.  The standard of living of the people in her borders was far and above that of just about every other nation on Earth.  The finest goods and services were both produced and consumed in her by her citizens.  God’s blessing upon her was abundantly apparent, and she was the envy of the nations.  People willingly forsook their countries of birth for the mere chance at the opportunity to come to her shores and partake in the opportunity and blessing afforded in righteousness before God.

But as her people turned their hearts away from God, banishing Him from her schools, government, businesses, laws, and every other nook and cranny within her, God, being the gentleman that He is, politely nodded His head in acknowledgement of her people’s collective decision, and has withdrawn both Himself and His blessing from her people.  And as her people indulge themselves in wickedness and self-centeredness, they are reaping what they have sown.  For although her people still have a significantly higher standard of living than most of the world, her people are now, in comparison, poor and living in wretchedness as a result of their wickedness.

Providential Protection

God greatly desires to protect and provide for those who would seek Him out in righteousness.  This is not a bribe to people, but rather the way that He seeks to display His mercy and glory.  Not everyone who seeks the Lord will become well-off financially.  Rather, they will reap a reward of abundance in righteousness.  And God, who is sovereign, will secure their future with Him in salvation purchased through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, as it washes those who have sought Him clean of their stain of sin.  Being reconciled to God, they can now live in freedom from sin and in peace with God and man.  Regardless of whether monetary and/or Earthly riches are provided in this life, God has abundantly provided riches in spiritual blessings for all eternity to those who would kiss the Son.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I partaking of the abundant blessing that God offers in His Son?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your protection and blessing.  Thank You for watching over my household, my city, and my nation.  Thank You for your abundant provision through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.  I know, Father that you know of my needs, and I confess them to you now.  Help me that I may seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness that all of these may be added unto me.  Help me to treasure my inheritance, and to look forward to the future when my present circumstances appear bleak.  Reveal to me Your glory, power, presence and peace so that I may have the strength to endure the trials that I face.  Forgive my nation for its many sins.  I confess them to you now, for we have forsaken You, My Lord and My God.  Help change the hearts of those who have indulged in the pleasures of this world so that they would seek the beauty and peace that only You can provide in relationship with You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Priests of God – Malachi 2:1-9

A Warning To Priests To Be Holy Before The Lord

1 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.

3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.

7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

Coming Curse

The prophet Malachi gave a warning to the Levitical priests.  Because of their unrighteousness, God would turn their blessings into curses.  This would be the sign that God used to show the people that He would not tolerate their immoral behavior.  It is a terrible thing when the people who are responsible for administering the law do so in such a way that God’s name is disgraced.  With great privilege comes great responsibility, and God assured the people that He wouldn’t turn a blind eye to what was going on.

Regal Reverence

God expected His priests – the people who administered the law and provided instruction to the people – to be holy before Him, righteous and blameless (not sinless, for everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).  God would reassure the people that He took his covenant with Levi seriously, and that He would not allow the corrupt priests to dishonor His holy name nor their position.

Tell the Truth

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”  Jesus was the embodiment of the word of the living God.  He was truth personified.  Everything that He said was truth, and their was no deceit on His lips.  The priests were to act as the spokespersons for God, and they needed to tell the truth to the people.  When the priests were deceitful, and warped the word of God towards their own ends, they were in effect marring the image of God.

God does not take this lightly.  Jesus has had the harshest words of criticism for those who have been entrusted with guiding the people who follow Satan as their father:

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

What a terrible thing it was then when the priests of God, the descendants of Levi, turned from God and turned towards Satan, and allowed falsehood to come to their lips.  This should be a wake-up call to all who are called by God to be priests, even of the order of Melchizedek, to speak only the truth.  God is truth, and there is no falsehood in Him.  The priests of Melchizedek must also walk a life where truth is their native tongue, that they may honor God in their speech and actions

Honorable and Holy

The covenant that God had with Levi and his progeny was a covenant of reverence towards God.  The Levitical priests were to be honorable and holy before God.  They were required to keep themselves from unclean things, and to wash and prepare in special ways before they would offer the sacrifices of the people to God.

Although everyone is held to the same standard for what they do, the priests were held more accountable before God because of their position and influence that God had provided to them.  God expected much more from them, for they understood the law and what God required.  Their knowledge and position demanded a higher standard of adherence to God’s requirements to be holy before Him.

Partiality in Precept

And one of the worst things that the priests did was to subvert the justice of God.  They showed partiality in the law.  It is very similar to allowing the Former Secretary of State of the United States of America to disseminate classified information through unlawful means to be exonerated from the penalties associated with that crime, while people of lesser stature were jailed and fined for far less serious crimes of a similar nature.

When partiality of the law is encountered, the faith of the people in justice dwindles, and the holiness of God is tarnished.  The people may attribute false characteristics to God, because the very people God has chosen to display his righteousness and justice have, in treason to God, perverted justice and dishonored His name.  And their blessing will be turned into curses.  God may be so greatly offended that He would divinely intervene in the election of officials of a nation to show His displeasure and place people who would fear Him and restore faith of the people in His good name, even through people who have sinned greatly against Him.  For God is able to forgive and use people who are willing to serve Him and yield to Him.

And to those who hate and despise the God of the Bible, and refuse to acknowledge His name and character by profaning His name through their actions and speech?  God will turn their blessings into curses, and bring ruination upon their families for generations.  Learn, therefore, you leaders of the world, that God will not tolerate your injustice and hatred forever.  God is being gracious, and giving all of you the opportunity to come to Him.  You are cordially invited by Almighty God to participate in His gracious offer to repent of your sins, and to be cleansed by the precious shed blood of the Son of God.  Avail yourselves of this opportunity while you still have it.  Do not delay, lest you find yourselves one day in that dire situation where you no longer have the opportunity to voluntarily do so, and face the white throne judgement of God, rather than the grace and mercy that God extents to you now.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I properly reflecting the holiness of God in word and in deed?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You call out to us day and night, and woo us to You with your kindness, compassion, grace and mercy.  Help me to turn from all of my wicked ways so that I would instead embrace Your holiness and righteousness.  Grant me the ability to desire with my whole heart to honor and glorify Your name.  And help me to submit myself to Your Holy Spirit, that in the same way that Christ yielded Himself to You, that I would yield myself to You as well.  Forgive me of my sin, and be Lord of my life, for You are perfect, and everything that You do is right.  You know what must need to be done, and I pray that You would give my every thought, word, and deed in Your righteousness, for You and You alone deserve all of the glory and honor that comes from what You do through me.  This I ask in Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Star of Jacob – Numbers 24:17-19

And A Prophesied Star Arose In The Sky

17 “I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls of all the people of Sheth.
18 Edom will be conquered;
Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,
but Israel will grow strong.
19 A ruler will come out of Jacob
and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Royal Ruler

It is ironic that Balaam, a man of divination sought out by Balak, would be used by God to bless, rather than curse, the people he was told to curse.  Not only did he bless Israel (much to the consternation of Balak, who was paying him good money to pronounce a curse), he prophesied about the coming King of kings and Lord of lords.  His reference to The Lord Jesus Christ was to name Him as a star, and as a scepter.  The wise men took star as a literal star, indicating that a sign in heaven would precede his birth.

In Genesis 1:14-15, God declared that the lights in the sky (sun, moon, and stars) would serve as signs to mark sacred times as well as days and years:

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.

How fitting then that a star would rise in the night to point to the most blessed of events – the arrival of the Son of God, beautiful and perfect, in the most humble and ignoble of circumstances.  And not only did the star stay in the sky for his birth, but it led the wise men to Jesus:

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

(Just an interesting aside – note that the Magi (wise men) arrived at a HOUSE to find Jesus, not a stable/barn/cave.  They were led to the home of Joseph and Mary, where they worshiped the King of kings and Lord of lords, and gave their gifts.  These gifts were of special significance, not only for their symbolic value, but possibly necessary to enable Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt to escape the murderous hatred of Herod after Joseph was warned by an angel in a dream.)

Lamb and Lion

The prophecy shows that the coming ruler would destroy His enemies.  And Christ did exactly that – for the last two thousand years, The Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, has been destroying His enemies by turning them into His friends.  Every time that a person gives their life to Christ, they have been destroyed as an enemy, and received as a child of God, a brother or sister, princes and princesses.

The reference to crushing their foreheads is interesting.  While grisly in detail, the forehead has been used elsewhere in scripture to indicate thought:

“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

“And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

The use is these cases are that our thoughts (foreheads) and actions (hands) are to be governed by the law.  And when we give our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us, and through sanctification He aligns our thoughts and our actions with the express will of God through His word.We are thus now governed by a greater power than the law (which only points our our sin) – The Lord God Almighty Himself.  What better way to destroy your enemies than to lead them in such a way that they become your willing subjects (let alone adopted family members!)?

But that was when Jesus came as a lamb.  He came as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and to win the hearts of men from Satan to God.  He will next be coming as the Lion of Judah, ready to destroy all who refuse to bend the knee after His gracious invitation to join Him as his friend and brother/sister.

Approaching Apantesis

The up and coming battle prophesied by Balaam will be a bit different.  In the Greek, apantesis is a term used to describe a very unique event.  When the conquering hero returns from war, the people of his city would rush out of the city gates and meet him far away.  Then, with the conquering hero, they would join him on his return to the city, with great fanfare and rejoicing:

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

It is imperative that we be like the wise men, ready for the journey, prepared for the sign, eagerly awaiting the time that is to come, rather than Herod, mass-murderer of children, ignorant of his Savior’s birth and hating His very existence.  Be prepared!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I taking the time and effort to make the necessary preparations for the imminent return of my Savior?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your mercy, compassion, grace, and love abound in all that You say and do.  You are a jealous God, insofar as You show Your loving desire to protect me from evil.  Help me to be prepared for the return of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  He will come like a thief in the night.  And You, Father God, have warned us that He is coming.  Help me to be prepared so that I will be like the virgins who brought oil with them, waiting for the bridegroom to return.  Sanctify me in Your word.  Help me to do all that You want me to do here on Earth.  Let my life be the beacon of light on a hill, and fill my mouth and thoughts with the desire to tell everyone I meet about You.  Remove the barriers in my heart that would prevent me from being the person that You desire me to be.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sign from God – Isaiah 7:10-16

God Himself Gave The Sign – The Virgin Bore A Child

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.

Select the Sign

In one of the most stunning passages of scripture, the Lord God Almighty asks king Ahab to choose a sign.  Anything the king desires will be done – nothing is off-limits.  What a wonderful opportunity!  Then, the most evil of all kings, confronted by the Lord God Almighty, quotes scripture at God:

Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.

If the Lord asks you to do something, you do it.  Isaiah confirms that this response tries the patience of God.  Ahaz just doesn’t get it.  But God, in a wonderful turn of events, provides the most impossible of signs – the virgin shall be with child.

The Perfect Prophecy

Simple biology would dictate, especially given the scientific methods at that time, that it would be impossible for the virgin to give birth to a child.  But this gave God the opportunity to do something wonderful – to prophesy about His Son, Jesus Christ, who was to be named Immanuel (which means “God with us”).  Not only is He born because the Holy Spirit came upon His mother, He would be without sin.  God provided the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and laid the groundwork for His miracle with the simple request that the evil king Ahab give Him a sign.

Although others in scripture have asked for signs (Gideon being among the most famous, but let us also not forget the request of Abraham’s servant when seeking a bride for Issac…), we are to trust in the Lord God Almighty.  He will certainly do all that He says He will do, because His character is such that He cannot lie.  And God will certainly fulfill any promise that He makes.

Notice the difference in the way that people respond to God when told news, in particular, Mary’s response to Gabriel versus Zechariah.  Mary responds:

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

and

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.

Zechariah responds quite differently:

How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Mary believes, and asks how it will be.  Zechariah questions whether it can be done at all.  Mary was rewarded, and Zechariah was struck mute.  These are fitting responses to each person’s response.  We can be assured that God will keep every promise that He makes.  He has said so, and even the angel Gabriel confirms it:

 For no word from God will ever fail.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we looking for signs from God that He will do what He says He will do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given us Your word that we may know that You have perfect character.  You have given us the heavens for signs, and continue to help us by using Your word to give us guidance.  Help me today to rely completely upon You, with complete abandon, for You have promised to provide anything I need to accomplish the purposes that You have assigned for me to do.  Remember me this day, Father, that I would have the courage to trust in You when all circumstances point elsewhere.  Give me the fortitude of character to believe, especially when the outcome of events does not match what I have preconceived in my mind.  Help me to trust when there is no visible reason to do so.  And may You be glorified by the faith that You are growing in me with this trust.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promise of God – Psalm 34:15-16

The Lord Watches Over The Righteous

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

Willfully Watching

God watches over the righteous.  He keeps his eyes upon them.  He knows our coming and going.  He delights in the righteous, and ensures that their needs are met.  God has said:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Just as a parent carefully keeps their eyes upon their children to ensure that they are OK and are behaving themselves, God keeps His eyes upon His children, the ones made righteous by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  We can be assured that He is watching us closely.

Longingly Listening

God is attentive to the cries of the righteous.  Just as a parent listens to the cries of a child who is in pain, or who is in need, God listens for them and helps them with their needs.  God loves us in a way that is so far beyond what human parents are able to do, and our parents helped us in our time of need.  We can be assured that God not only listens but has planned a response already for our cries:

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

And God’s answer may be delayed for various reasons.  Demonic activity may impede a response to prayer.  God may be also be waiting for the necessary spiritual development to occur before the answer is provided.  Whatever the reason, God has already provided the answer.  Be patient for its arrival.

Against Antagonists

God turns his face from those who do evil.  No one who does evil should expect assistance from God until they repent.  God is holy, and because of this, He cannot tolerate evil in His presence.  But thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, whose perfect blood provides the means through which God can see us as righteous.

One of the most gruelingly difficult questions for the oppressed is:  why does God allow the wicked to prosper?

You are always righteous, Lord,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?

And we should be consoled with God’s response:

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.

Delivering Destruction

God will blot the name of the wicked from the Earth.  Their name will not be found in the book of life on the final and terrible day of the return of our Lord.  They will be utterly destroyed.  Regardless of their prosperity here on Earth, their eternal reward will be destruction and eternal separation from God.  And not only will they be separated from God and His holiness, power, and purity, they will be placed in God’s prison, the lake of fire, where they will experience torment for all eternity.  We can be assured that God will mete out justice to those who refused to settle their debt before their case comes before Him, the perfect judge.  Fear not, for God’s anger and wrath will surely destroy the wicked at the appropriate time.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we trusting that God is watching over us and is answering our cries, even though it may take decades for His response?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, thank You for Your watchful gaze over me throughout this day and my entire life.  You have been faithful to watch over me and answer my cries for help.  Give me patient endurance when Your answers take an agonizingly long time to fulfill.  Strengthen me in Your silence, for silence feels like abandonment.  Help me to walk the straight and narrow path as my enemies seek to destroy me.  Protect me as demonic forces oppose me in all that I do.  Help me to live by faith and not sight, for You have justified me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promises of God – Psalm 145:14-16

The Lord Provides For His People

14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Helping Hands

God promises to never leave us nor forsake us.  And in doing so, He is the lifter of our heads.  He upholds us when we are weak, and carries us when we are weary.  God becomes our strength, and shows us His love.  He ensures that when we stumble, we are able to get back up.  God greatly desires to see us succeed in Him.

Proper Provision

God provides for the needs of the least and the greatest of all His creatures.  He feeds the sparrows in the morning, and feeds us as well.  We can depend upon the Lord God Almighty to provide for our needs in His timing and in His way.  Care should be taken when it seems that God is slow in providing, for it is often a test of trust.  And even should we faint, we can trust in God’s provision of righteousness, for this physical life is fleeting, and we will be in His presence in Eternity.

Desires Delighted

God fulfills the desires of every living creature.  He provides for our deepest desire.  And when we have filled ourselves with the things of this world, He still waits to fulfill the desire for Himself that He has placed in each and every heart.  God calls us to re-evaluate our desires and align them with His heart.  Unlike the instinct of creatures, we can choose what we desire.  And when we desire God and His word, He will fulfill our every desire.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I desiring God above all?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart cries out for You and greatly desires You.  I seek You with all of my heart and strength and soul and mind.  Help me to have more of You and to experience Your character in my everyday life experiences.  Help me to rely completely and solely upon You for all things, for You are the one who provides them all.  Teach me to be patient and to trust You more.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promise of God – Psalm 100

God’s Love Endures Forever

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wonderful Worship

One of the best opportunities that God has given us is to worship Him.  Human beings were made to worship.  We will always worship something or someone, whether it is God, ourselves, someone else, or something else.  There is a deep cry within the human heart to worship, and we will worship whether we realize it or not.

God has made us, and we can worship Him in song and praise.  It is only natural that we seek to give Him praise since He is the author of all good things.  Before Adam sinned, God declared that all He had made was good.  We should be grateful for that in song and praise.

Additionally, since God has redeemed us as His people, we can rejoice that we have fellowship with the one who created us.  Jesus has won back what Adam has lost, and in that, we can as children go before His throne with our petitions and praise.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to praise the One who has released us from prison and will gather us home with Him.  We can even reach out to God as Paul and Silas did after being stripped of their clothing and being severely beaten with rods and flogged.  Let nothing interfere with your praise of Almighty God.

God is Good

Regardless of the circumstances going on in the world, God is good.  Many times we question that when terrible circumstances such as loss, injustice, pain, and suffering occur.  However painful these are, they are merely the cost and effects of sin.  Yet still, God is good.  He is unable to be anything else but good.  His character endures forever, for God does not change like we do.  And when devastating circumstances appear in our lives, we can be assured that God has not changed, but merely is allowing us to develop perseverance.  And may it have its effect, that we would be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lasting Love

God’s love never fails, for God is love.  When we feel abandoned or afraid, we can remember that God is love.  When great and wonderful things are happening in our lives, let us remember that God is love.  For this is immutable – God loved so much He gave his only Son, and that since we have believed upon Him, we have eternal life.  We have been given this promise, and can rejoice in the one who made it for He is faithful.

Forever Faithful

In a world that is giving itself over to moral relativism and secular humanism, we can rejoice that God is faithful.  Every promise He has ever made God will fulfill.  We live such short lives that many times we don’t see the fruit of the promises that God has made.  But even in that, we can look back and see that God is faithfully keeping His promises, just as He promised, at the appointed time that He promised (when provided).  His faithfulness should bolster our faith in Him and give us reason to trust Him through all of the difficulties in life.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness as we go out into the world today and see so many people show their faithlessness in broken promises and outright evil.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Is my heart full of praise and worship for God when I am enduring crushing trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I praise and worship You for You are worthy of it and so much more.  May my heart cry out to You for You are good regardless of my circumstances.  In all things, may You be glorified and Your holy name praised.  Help me to praise You when I am downtrodden and it feels like You have forsaken me, for You have promised to never do that.  Help me to patiently wait for You and Your deliverance from my circumstances, for You are always faithful.  Strengthen me in my weakness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Return of Jesus – Matthew 24:4-14

The Time Of The End Is Imminent

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Diverse Deceivers

Since the time of Christ, there have been many who have claimed to be the Messiah.  Here is a partial list (and this only includes that last few hundred years!).  Even now, people are claiming to be the Messiah, and many are following them.  God’s word is truth, and this has come to pass…

Diverse Disasters

And while one or two signs don’t indicate anything, when all of them are occurring, it is indicative of the diagnosis:

  • Wars and rumors of wars – When are nations not at war with each other, even now?
  • Nation rising against nation – The precursor to wars
  • Kingdom against kingdom – More precursors to wars
  • Famines – Haiti, North Korea, and nations in Africa – The list goes on…
  • Earthquakes – We have better reporting on earthquakes today then ever before, so we are recording more accurately and completely than in the past.  Whether there are more earthquakes now than in the past may not be known, since we have incomplete records for even the recent past (the last century).

Religious Reversal

There is no nation in the (Biblical times) known world in which Christians are not persecuted.  We must recognize that when prophesy was given, that it was based on the knowledge of the  known world at the time that the prophesy was provided.  The hearers would have recognized that during the time of Christ, the known world was basically (in importance and distance from the epicenter, which is Israel-centric):

  • The Middle East
  • Northern Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia

With the proliferation of the “religion of peace” into all of these regions, there is now great persecution of Christians in each of these geographic areas.

Ample Apostasy

Paul indicated that the second coming of Jesus Christ would not occur until the great falling away.  In the known world at that time, there were many plantings by Paul and the early church.  In the Middle East, apart from the country of Israel, publicly declaring that you are a Christian will get you beheaded.  The Christian faith is very vibrant there, as those who chose to accept Christ know that it is only a matter of time before they will be martyred.  Elsewhere in the world, great persecution is occurring for Christians, including genocide in Africa.

But even in that, many are turning from their faith.  Churches in the once vibrant Christian nations in Europe are now being turned into Mosques as attendance dwindles and they are closed.  People are walking away from their faith in the face of post-modernism and secular humanism.  Culture is becoming the dominating change factor in people’s lives.

The moon is designed to reflect the light of the sun.  It has no light in and of itself.  In the same way, Christians reflect the light of Christ.  We are not light, but merely reflect it.  And as Christians turn from the light towards darkness, so the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.

Powerful Preaching

Darkness has arrived, and no one can work.  In the Middle East, in countries ruled by Islam, Christians are unable to reveal Christ to the population in general, because they will be beheaded if they do.  It is impossible to evangelize if you aren’t able to deliver the message of the cross due to immediate and very public death.  Because of this, Jesus has been revealing Himself to people in dreams and visions.  And this is not just in the Middle East – China is experiencing one of the greatest awakenings they have ever had.  There is a great revealing of Christ going on now in areas that traditionally have been kept in the dark about Jesus.  The final awakening is at hand.

Righteous Return

And after all of these occur, the Son of the Most High God will return.  Many have believed that they were in the end times even during the time of Paul.  We have been in the end times for almost two thousand years.  But the great falling away (rebellion) has only recently occurred.  Prophecy written over two millennia ago – predicting the gathering of the Israelites back into their own land – has come to fruition.  And it was only after this occurred that the great falling away truly began.  Prepare for His arrival, for it is nigh.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I prepared for the imminent return of my Lord and Savior?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us, through your word, the signs of the world before You send Your Son, Jesus Christ, back to the world.  He will come as a lion this time, for He has already come as the lamb.  Remember Your people, Father, that we would be faithful to the very end.  Help us to overcome the difficulties that we encounter as people fall away from the faith.  Keep us connected to the vine that is Your Son, that we may be nourished by him even during the most severe droughts and trials that come upon us.  Fill us with hope as we endure persecution and death.   Provide for us, and strengthen us for what is to come.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessings Of God – Psalm 25:12-15

The Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Wisdom

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Complete Counsel

The fear of the Lord will lead one to wisdom.  When we become wise, we follow the counsel of God, for we recognize that God’s counsel is superior to all of the counsel of man.  David said that God’s word was a lamp for his feet and a light to his path.  God instructs those who fear Him in the way that they should go.  Sometimes, that means waiting.  Elijah, after declaring that it would not rain, was sent away by God to a remote location to wait.  We too may need to wait for God’s timing.  In all of this, God provides us with His counsel through His word and His Spirit.  We can be assured that the counsel of God will lead us on the straight and narrow path.

Prosperous Proceedings

David indicates in this Psalm that those who fear the Lord will prosper, and that their descendants will inherit the land.  God not only prospers us spiritually, but also financially and with our relationships.  Children are a heritage from the Lord, and are a blessing from Him.  Regardless of our financial situation, God prospers us in many ways.  Those who are monetarily poor are often rich in faith. Regardless of how the Lord prospers us, He DOES prosper us, and we need to remember His many blessings

Wonderful Wisdom

We can be assured that God greatly desires us to follow Him.  And when we believe Jesus, He makes us His children.  God confides in His children, since we are His friends, rather than just tell the servants what to do.  He greatly desires us to be a part of His life, and part of that is His sovereign plan.  He reveals wonderful things in His word to us so that we can participate in His character.

Fully Free

God desires that we be free from the bondage of sin so that we can follow Him.  When we are free from bondage, we can operate in His light to glorify His name.  When the Son frees us, we are made free indeed!  This is an incredible blessing of God – that we would be free from the clutches of Satan and the bondage of sin.  We should never forget the sacrifice it took to free us.  May we remember God’s blessings and rejoice in them!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering the blessings of God in all my circumstances?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You bless us each and every day.  You pour out your grace and mercy upon us.  Help me, Father, to remember Your great generosity as I walk through my struggles today.  Lead me, guide me, and help me to walk beside You as the enemy seeks to destroy me.  Provide for my every need, and help me to count Your many blessings so that I would be encouraged when life seems bleak.  Blessed be Your Name Forever!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Psalm 5:11-12

The Lord Is A Shield About The Righteous

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Royal Refuge

God desires us to seek refuge in Him.  We are to go to God for all of our wants and desires.  It is God who is able to provide us with refuge from all things.  We can seek refuge from God in three ways:

Singing Songs

David was one of the most prolific song writers that we know of in the Bible.  Many of the Psalms were written by him.  David provided us with an example of joyful singing before God in praise and worship.  The Lord enjoys it when we worship Him in song.

Even for those who have not been blessed by God with a voice to sing, we are given a command to make a joyful noise to the Lord.  The Hebrew word eriou is a command and is literally translated “[raise a] shout you!”  Let your heart give praise to God in a shout for all He has done!

Bathed in Blessing

God blesses the righteous, and with the blood of Christ we are declared righteous before Him.  Oh, the many blessings of God!  We are blessed in that we are blessed!  If you ever want to see a short list of some of the most important blessings of God, read Ephesians chapters 1-3.

Sovereign Shield

God is a shield about us and the lifter of our heads.  He desires to gather us like chicks under His wings.  He is our refugeGod is our shieldNo one can snatch us out of His hand.  God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  Even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.  He shields us from the second death.

There is nothing that God cannot sovereignly shield his people.  Yet we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  God may use you as a witness to the unbelieving.  If this is the case, do not fear the tribulation that God has appointed you to bear.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Am I praising God as I seek refuge in Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful beyond description.  You shield us from so much more than we can possibly imagine.  Thank You for your vast and encompassing protection.  Help me, Father, to not forget all that You do in my life.  May my life be a blessing to You.  May Your praise be on my heart and my lips even as I suffer in this life, knowing that You will remove all pain and all tears in Your time.  Help me to endure and to faithful until You call me home.  This I ask and pray in the name of Your Perfect and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Psalm 24:3-6

We Need a Generation That Seeks After God

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Washed White

In order to stand before God, we need to have clean hands and a pure heart.  Only God can give those to us, and only because His One and Only Son delivered to Him who sits on the throne in Heaven His perfect, sinless blood as the atonement for our sin.  And when the blood of Jesus is applied to us, we are washed white as snow.

We have been greatly blessed that Jesus died for us.  Prior to Jesus being born in the flesh, all who were faithful to God waited with ‘bated breath in anticipation for the time when they would be see the fulfillment of their faith and be able to reap the benefit of it.  We have it now, and rejoice in it – hallelujah!

Tactical Trust

It is important to have trust, but even more important where we put that trust.  Many people trust in different things:

  • Money
  • Spouse
  • Government
  • Themselves
  • Familial Ancestry
  • Occupation
  • False gods
  • Lucky charms
  • The creation itself (or things found in it)
  • and the list goes on and on…

We have been blessed to be able to know God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is Him that we place our trust.  Trust in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is like building a house on sand next to the ocean.  When the waves come, it will erode the sand and wash the house away.  But Christ is the Rock of our Salvation, and any who build on Him builds upon a firm foundation that stands strong like a fortress when the day of trial comes.  Trusting in anyone or anything except God alone is idolatry.

Benevolent Blessing

When we are blessed by God, we receive His full blessing:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

God seeks to bless us, and desires for us to have His full blessing.  Just as good fathers seek the welfare of their children, God our Father seeks so much more our benefit, and blesses us.   He also provides for our requests:

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Victorious Vindication

It is only through Jesus Christ that we are vindicated before God.  No work, however mighty, will make us any more acceptable to God.  Because of our sin nature, everything that we touch and do is stained with the wretched reek of sin. It is the blood of Christ that makes us acceptable to God; nothing more, and nothing less.  And when we accept Christ’s victory as our own by accepting Christ into our heart through acknowledgement of our sin and asking God to forgive us by allowing Christ to have complete reign in our lives, we are vindicated in the eyes of God.

It is only when God, through His Holy Spirit, empowers us and guides us to do His work for His purposes that the stain of sin is removed, for it is God Himself who works through us and in us to complete the work.  Then it pleasing to God, because God Himself authored it and brought it to completion.  Since God has done this, all glory belongs to God.  Who then can claim credit for what God has done through us as their own?

Seek the Savior

When we seek the face of our Savior, we humble ourselves before Him.  We must come with clean hands and a pure heart.  So when we seek, we seek with repentance, throwing ourselves on the mercy of a tender-hearted God who is full of grace and whose mercies renew every morning.  And when we seek Him, we will find Him.  God rejoices in and blesses those who seek Him as He desires to be sought.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I seeking God’s face as He desires me to seek Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, let my heart rejoice in my salvation!  May I seek Your face with confidence, knowing that the blood of Christ has washed me clean.  Father, forgive me all of my sins.  Reveal to me anything that may impede me from approaching You, for I greatly desire to be in Your presence.  Father, please forgive our wicked generation of their sins.  I confess the sins of this nation to You, for I sin with them, and am in need of Your forgiveness.  Turn the hearts of our people to You.  Help us to greatly desire to come to You for help.  Remember – act divinely upon the behalf of – all who are in offices of leadership over us.  For when we have Godly leader, the people will follow.  And when we have evil leaders, people will follow as well.  Help us to have Godly men and women over us that we may rejoice in the direction that they lead us.  Help me to seek Your face every day, and sit at the feet of Jesus through prayer and Your Word.  Tune my heart to Yours, that my desires would be for what You desire.  And bless me now, Father, with all that I need to accomplish Your Gods as I completely submit to Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Psalm 91:14-15

Deliverance Comes from the Lord

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord,
“I will rescue him; I will protect him,
for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

Loving the Lord

The very first part of this passage is dependent upon us.  We are to love the Lord.  Jesus tells us:

23 … “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

No matter what we say, or how emotionally passionate we are for God, if we are not obeying His teaching, we are not loving Him.  Obedience to God and His Word is the key and cornerstone of love.  And we will see how love is manifested in our lives in these two ways:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Obedience also is seen in how we react when we are told by God that we are to do something.  God greatly desires immediate obedience (just as we do with our children):

10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.

Receiving Rescue

When we acknowledge God’s name – through the expression of His holy character in our lives – God says that He will protect and rescue us.  There are many people in the world who claim the name of Christ, yet live lives that are indistinguishable to the person who says that they hate God and embraces the world and its views.  The psalmists tell us:

The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

1 Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, 2 who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. 3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.

Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you.

 Providential Protection

When we call on God’s name, He promises to protect us.  Although He protects us, He does so:

  • Within His plan,
  • In His timing,
  • For His glory

Sometimes that may mean that we are martyred.  Sometimes that means that we are kept from the consequences of other people’s sin.  Sometimes that is the protection of our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  But we need to have an eternal perspective when looking at this promise.  For instance:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: When we are seeking God’s rescue and protection, are we loving God in the way that He asks us to love Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for your Word, and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for my sins.  Thank You for all that You provide, for every breath, all that I have, all that I can do, and even the ability to think is a gift from You.  Father, I am surrounded on all sides by situations and people who threaten me.  Rescue me from evil, Father, for I hate it as You do.  Display in me and through me Your love.  Help me to be immediately obedient when I see things in Your Word that I require adjustment in my life so that I will be in alignment with it.  Guard my heart, and protect me from my enemies, for I love You, and greatly desire to acknowledge Your name and character to all the world.  Remember me Lord – act divinely upon my behalf.  Cover me with Your protection, and may Your peace surround me and protect my thoughts and emotions as I cease striving and watch You work in these circumstances.  This I pray in the precious and mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promise of God – Psalm 1:1-3

God Delights in Those Who Delight in Him

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Powerful Prose

The author of this Psalm uses poetry to indicate that there a three-fold process to spiritual failure when we begin to engage in sin.  These steps will eventually derail any Christian from their walk with God.  But the Psalmist also gives us hope with a promise.

Walking the Walk

The first step in spiritual decline in walking with God is to begin to walk in step with the wicked.  When sin begins to creep into our lives, we veer off the path of righteousness.  The enemy is crafty – they know that if it is a sudden move, people will recognize it and turn from it.  Most people don’t wake up in the morning in agreement with the thought, “You know, I think I’ll just go out and rob a bank and kill everyone there.  It’ll be a load of laughs!”  But when it is slow and gradual, most people won’t even realize it is happening.  We begin to walk in step with the wicked.  Rather than fighting the flow of the world, we begin to turn and walk with it.

This is not to say that we don’t engage with unrepentant sinners – Jesus came to seek and save the lost!  However, we must be sure that when we do so, we don’t start doing the things that they do that we know are contrary to the Word of God.  We engage in humble, compassionate righteousness.  We don’t do what they do to be accepted by them.  We show them God’s way – a better way.

Stop Standing

After we walk with the world, it invites us to stop for a moment to smell the roses.  This second, and even more dangerous step, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect and enjoy the momentary pleasure (or false relief) that sin provides.  We are no longer walking but stationary in what we are doing.  We aren’t growing anymore, but rather have halted ourselves or have been halted by our circumstances.  And that’s when it becomes even more dangerous.

Sabotaged Sitting

After we have stood and participated, we are now in a sitting position.  We have fully embraced sin, and no longer even desire to move.  Sin has grabbed us and we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.  We don’t desire to stand up anymore; we are firmly rooted in our position, and may not even care.  The world, the flesh, and the devil have effectively ensnared us into despair or enslavement to desire, and we do not even think we can get up (or perhaps even want to get up).

Divine Delight

The Psalmist tells us that to avoid all of this, we need to delight in the Word of the Living God.  Delighting in the Word of God is:

  1. Reading the Word
  2. Praying over the Word
  3. Meditating over the Word (filling our mind with the Word of God, and thinking carefully about it with the deliberate intention of understanding its meaning and application in all aspects of our lives)
  4. Living the Word.

When we desire the Word of God more than life itself, the desire to walk, stand, or even sit with the ways of wickedness is overshadowed by the peace that transcends all understanding, and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we strive towards God.

Rooted Righteousness

When we delight in the Word of God, we become rooted like a tree.  The roots grow deep into the Earth, and being so close to the source of Living Water, the tree flourishes regardless of the conditions around it.  And as we flourish, we will bear fruit for God in Gods timing (in season).  We are also called “oaks of righteousness.”  The connotation here is that it is a sturdy, substantial tree that will not be easily moved or swayed from its convictions.  And if God declares it to be so, it must be so; for God cannot lie.

Provident Prosperity

As we become firmly rooted in the Word of God, the Psalmist indicates that we will prosper.  The Word of God is not a prosperity gospel – God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put in a prayer and out pops a blessing.  Rather, the prosperity is spiritual prosperity – experientially knowing the character of God.  We participate in His holy, perfect character, and in doing so, God is able to use us and draw even closer to us.  He will provide for our every need.  We need not worry, for God is sovereign over everything that He has created.   And that is promise that you can take to the bank :).

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we walking, standing, sitting, or delighting?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through it to me.  Father, guide my heart and my mind as I read Your Word that it would transform my mind to be more in alignment with Yours.  Help me to better understand and apply what You teach me in the Word so that I will be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer of it.  Forgive me of all my sin, Lord God.  Help me to turn from those things that so easily entangle me.  Father, I do not want to walk, stand, or sit in wickedness; help me to turn from any wickedness that I cherish in my heart and help me to walk in Your ways.  Guard my heart with Your peace as I suffer the consequences of sin so that I may continue to walk steadfast in righteousness, even and especially when it causes me great pain and loss.  Change is always painful, but discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness.  Help me to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that I will not faint along the way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Malachi 3:10-11

When We Are Obedient to God, He Blesses Us in Every Way

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

Talking Tithes

What is a tithe?

  • The tithe was one tenth of the of the increase of the crops of the land, as well as the firstborn male among the cattle.  It was only given by the landowners.  It was a portion of the increase that God gave to them.  The farmers planted the seed, and cared for the land, but God gave the increase.
  • Since the cattle grazed off of the land, and God gave the increase (birth of new cattle), the firstborn male was to be tithed as well.
  • The tithe was not required of the day laborer.  He was properly remunerated for his labor – equal pay for equal work.  There was no increase in his pay by God.
  • The value of day’s wages in Jesus’ time was a denarius.

Who received the tithe?

What was the purpose of the tithe?

  • God provided the tithe so that the priests could eat since they didn’t inherit land to farm.  Priests could buy (rent) land if it was for sale.  But under God’s law, the land should have been returned to the proper owners (those whose family inherited it) during the year of Jubilee.  Since the Israelites did not honor or obey the Jubilee decree, the sale was more or less final, rather than a rental.
  • God also wanted the tithe to be used to feed the widows, the orphans, and the strangers among them.
  • God provided the tithe to the priests so that they could focus on their priestly duties.
  • God wanted to install in His people that God is first in everything.  That is why He wanted the first-fruits of the labor of the land:
    • It was to show absolute trust in God that he would continue to provide for the people.
    • It was the best that the plants had to offer.  God ALWAYS wants our best.  He rightly deserves it!
  • Even the priests were to tithe.  They didn’t earn it in wages – God gave them this increase, so they needed to tithe as well.

Does God need a tithe?

  • No.  God says that everything is His, and He doesn’t need anything from us (Psalm 50:10-12).

Other Offerings

What is an offering?

  • An offering is a free-will gift to God to show honor to God in something.  There were several types of offerings:
    • Burnt offerings
    • Drink offerings
    • Fellowship offerings
    • Food offerings
    • Grain offerings
    • Sin offerings
    • Wave offering
  • Offerings are prompted by God in your heart.
  • Offerings are used to help us to depend upon God for everything.
  • Offerings help pay for ministries.
  • Jesus Christ was the final, complete, and absolute offering for our sin.

Should we tithe, give offerings, or both?

  • God wants us to keep Him FIRST in our lives.  During the time when the laws were given to Moses, there wasn’t a building that needed to be maintained.  They had the tent of meeting, and that didn’t require very much maintenance.  The first temple was built by David’s son, Solomon.  Upkeep of the temple was provided through offerings.
  • Unless you are a crop farmer and/or own livestock, TITHING is inappropriate.  If you DO give a tithe, see to it that whoever receives it uses it for the appropriate purposes:
    • Feeding of the Pastor(s)
    • Feeding of the Widows
    • Feeding of the Orphans
    • Feeding of the strangers among you (Homeless?)
  • Give OFFERINGS for the following:
    • If you like meeting in a church building as opposed to an open field, person’s home, or other gathering venue, give offerings for them.
    • Give offerings to support church-directed ministries, anything OTHER than support of the widows, orphans, and the strangers among you.
    • A worker is worthy of his wages. Since the Pastor(s) has/have given his/their full-time to ministering to the people, provide offerings to support his/their efforts.
    • ANYTHING God lays upon your heart to give.  God will pour out His blessing upon you.  This is not always a financial blessing, but every blessing from God is precious!

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I showing that God is first in my life with the Time, Talent, and TREASURE that He has provided in the offerings that I give?

A short Prayer of Preparation

Father in Heaven, I give thanks You for You are so generous towards me.  Father, help me to trust You more in every aspect of my life.  Help me to go over my finances, and see if there is anything that you want to change.  Provide guidance for everything that I spend Your money on and help me to find ways to increase my offerings to You.  Father, out of Your goodness and mercy, You continue to provide for my every need.  Help me to realign my goals and directives so that they align with Yours.  And please, Lord God, use the offerings that I have given back to You to Your glory.  May many lives be brought into the kingdom of God because of them.  May they honor and glorify Your Most Holy Name.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Deuteronomy 6:8

When God makes promises, circumstances change.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Not Just for Joshua

The author of Hebrews took to heart that this promise was not just for Joshua, son of Nun, but reiterated it in Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

A Promise Provided

This promise is fulfilled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He is a down-deposit for our inheritance.  He won’t just go away when we sin, or are in need, or feel lonely, or scared, or depressed.  He is ALWAYS there – comforting us, guiding us, leading us, empowering us, and encouraging us in our walk with God.

Light Leads through Love

Ephesians 5:18, showing us that the Holy Spirit leads us, saying:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

The word “filled” is plErousthe in the Greek.  It means “to be controlled by.”  Just as wine controls us in drunkenness (who can honestly say that they are in their right mind and in control when they are drunk?), we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.  It is an imperative command – not a suggestion!  We are expected to do this!

Since God is love, everything that The Holy Spirit does is in love – even if it is to refine our character and test our hearts through trialseven when we sleep!  We can be confident that when God is leading, we are in good hands.

Provision of Power

God doesn’t just give us an empty promise.  He promises not to forsake us.  To do that, He empowers us through The Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God provides us with the source of the power of the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t just dwell in us; He provides power for all that we are to do.  We can take comfort and strength knowing that He is not just accompanying us through our journey, but providing for us as well.

The Fear Factor

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for prey to devour.  Lions are not creatures that we should confront without appropriate protection or weaponry.  It is easy to be frightened when confronting a force that can easily overwhelm and destroy you.  Have you noticed that just about every time an angel visits someone in the Bible, the very first words out of their mouth is “do not fear”?  There is a very good reason for that.  When confronted with the power of angelic beings, we are immediately aware of our fragile nature.

But God has provided us with the Spiritual Armor of God.  And we have an offensive weapon as well – the Sword of the Spirit, which IS the scriptures.  And God’s Word says that there is no fear in perfect love.  Since God is love, and we are in Christ, we no longer need to fear.  Fear is predicated on consequences, and ALL of our sins – past, present and future – have been forgiven.  God has chosen not to forsake us, and even in our incapacity to live life perfectly because of our sin nature, God still provides for our future sins, having known about them from before time began.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question:  given this wonderful promise, are we allowing the Holy Spirit of God free rein to lead and empower our lives as we walk with God to the extent that we should?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made us this wonderful promise.  Give me the strength today to let go of those things that interfere in Your guidance of my life.  Rid me of my own evil desires, and place within me the desires of Your heart.  Help me to yield myself to you completely as a living sacrifice.  Remove the dross from my heart, and help me to submit completely to the Holy Spirit.  Father, I recognize that in submission to You there is freedom.  Set me free from myself that I may be free in You.  Bless Your Holy Name, for You give Your children wonderful gifts and promises.  Knowing that I am never alone, and always in Your care comforts me through my trials.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Perspective of God – Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is a form of Hebraic poetry.  It takes the form:

    B   –   B
  /               \
A                   A

Ellis Scolfield writes, “Hebrew poetry is parallel in nature. A Hebrew poet would say something one way and then repeat the same idea later on in different words. These repeats could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even several chapters long. So how can we identify repetitive prophecies when we see them? By recognizing the Hebrew poetic style in which it was written.  [Textual scholars call this type of repetition the bifidic form.]12  (Brackets added for quote reference clarification)

Isaiah reveals to us something that we should already know – God’s thoughts and ways are beyond ours.  We are so bound by time, that we generally don’t have an eternal perspective.  But there are other instances where this is apparent.  Isaiah shows us something unusual in Isaiah 57:1-2:

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

We generally think that it is a great tragedy when someone is taken home to be with the Lord, especially if they are young.  But communicating with us through Isaiah the prophet, God says this is a blessing; that the righteous and devout are taken away to be spared from evil.  Oh, how we long for the influence of evil to finally end!  The pain and suffering it causes; its ripple effects sweeping people into chaos like a tsunami rushing inland.  It leaves destruction and loss everywhere it touches.  Rather than having to resist that force, and pick up the broken pieces, they are taken away, where they are with the Lord now and for eternity.

Our perspective is focused on the loss of their companionship, wisdom, fellowship, giftedness, relationship, and other factors in which we are immediately affected.  From God’s perspective, it is for their benefit that they are now with God, and no longer subject to the trials and temptations that afflict us until the glorious second coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  In this, we can see our selfishness at our perceived loss rather than their great gain.  And in our grief, sorrow, and mourning, we can all too soon forget that God’s sovereignty and perfect plan are in action, and that we will, in the lens of Eternity, see them again soon enough.

If you are mourning and grieving, your pain is real;  Let God comfort you through it.  And when you emerge on the other side, rejoice!  For He has done a wonderful thing and has blessed your loved one with the privilege of being in His presence and in final rest and peace from the evils of this world, soon to be reunited with you in glory!

 A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart grieves the temporary loss of my friend and loved one.  Help me to work through the pain of loss.  Although I know that I will see them again when Your Beloved Son comes triumphantly in the sky, or possibly even sooner should You bless me with the opportunity to be in Your Presence before that great and terrible day, I am still in shock.  I am numb as I try to process this.  Please comfort me in my pain.  Uphold me, and restore normalcy to my daily routine.  Surround me with Your love as a mother hen gathers her chicks close to her under her wings.  Oh God, how it hurts!  Remember me this day, Lord, and give me the ability to just breathe.  This I ask and pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

[This post is dedicated to T. G., who recently lost his wife]

1 Packer-Tenny-White, The Bible Almanac, 1980, p349.

2 Ellis Scolfield, Bifids and Chiasms, [Unknown], p1.

Blessing of God – Ephesians 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

You are rich.  Rich beyond your wildest dreams.  God, in His wonderful grace, has blessed the disciples of Jesus with every spiritual blessing.  Not just one, or several; but every one.  We are princes and princesses, guaranteed to share in the inheritance:

who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

No matter what our financial position is here on Earth, we have a heavenly position of access to the royal treasury.  Jesus tells us:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The verb translated as “lay up” in the Greek is thEsairozete, which is an imperative command (not a suggestion), and means “be ye hoarding!”  You have unlimited resources from which to draw upon the moment you say “YES!” to Jesus!  Because of this, even in abject Earthly poverty, you can smile; you have such vast wealth stored for you that you cannot even imagine.  So much so that Paul asked God to show you how much because you probably wouldn’t believe it!

As human beings with sin natures, it is inherent within us to gripe and complain about our situation.  Even when people receive Earthly wealth, it just never seems to be enough;  we always seem to need just a little more.  Paul himself said he needed to learn how to be content.  Isn’t it ironic that we have all this wealth, but cannot seem to see it or access it?  It is because we are blinded by our own selfish desires.

So lets ask the question:  Given all of these things, are we truly content?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your mercies renew every morning, and I am thankful, for I am in need your your mercy and grace every moment of every day.  Father, show me where in my heart that I am not content.  Help me to bring these areas of the life You have loaned to me in stewardship into the light, where they can be recognized and addressed.  Remove any bitterness in me from past experiences that I may move forward.  Help me to recognize the extent of the treasure that You have for me in Your wonderful and glorious inheritance that you freely give to me.  Help me to always come to You first and ask in faith for the things that are needed, for You greatly desire to give Your children good gifts.  Wash me clean; sanctify me, and purge me of all unrighteousness.  Help me to worship You with clean hands and a pure heart, that my every thought, word, and deed would be pleasing to you, an act of worship, and bring glory to Your name.  This I ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Saved by God – Joel 2:32

And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.

For those who have questions:

What is being saved?

Being saved is a spiritual state where God has legally declared you righteous because of your acceptance of the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross as payment for your sins, as the final and only payment acceptable to God, and you have chosen to repent of those sins.  For it is by faith and faith alone, that we declare with our mouths that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead for our sins.  Because of this, God restores to us a spirit of life, for we are spiritually dead because of our sin nature.

What about works?

James says that faith without works is dead.  So what place does works have in our walk with God?  Works are the outpouring of our lives in gratitude for what God has done and is doing inside of us.  It is a visible manifestation of the change of heart we have towards God and sin.  Works do not make us any more acceptable to God than we already are – for it is Jesus’ righteousness that makes us acceptable.   God has prepared works in advance from before the foundation of the world for us to do in order to glorify His name, not to earn our way into Heaven.

Who can be saved? 

ANYONE who calls upon the name of the Lord.  And His name is The Lord Jesus Christ.  For all who would come to the Father must go through the Son.  Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw ALL men to Him.  The Greek word translated “all” means exactly that – “ALL.”  Just because you are drawn doesn’t mean you have arrived.  If you are drawn to go to the Superbowl, but instead go bowling, it doesn’t matter how much you wanted to go; YOU WEREN’T THERE.  God says that He does not want anyone to perish.  But the wages of sin is death, so respond if you feel God tugging at your heart today.  For God so loved the world, He sent His one and only Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

What does it cost to be saved?

EVERYTHING!  It is like a drug addict on the verge of overdose coming to a methadone clinic.  They want to be healed.  But the only way to do so is to GIVE UP THEIR WAY OF LIFE FOR A NEW ONE.  If the drug user gets clean but refuses to stay clean, what good was it to them?  God cleanses us of our unrighteousness, and give us the righteousness of Christ.  We can then, with the power and help of the Holy Spirit (think AA with a multi-billionaire as your sponsor) you are able to live a life free from being enslaved to sin.  Sin is a drug – once it gets its claws into you, it is very hard to break free of its grasp.  And what you thought you could control, now controls YOU.  But God is merciful and full of grace, and is faithful and just to forgive us when we sin if we repent.

The good news is, just like the drug addict, when you come to God, He gets rid of your addiction, and then gives you His wealth and strength to crawl out of the hole you dug for yourself.  God says He owns all the gold and all the silver.  And He is more than able to give you what you need, for He created everything, and can create some more if He wants.  Not only that, He gives you Himself.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in you to empower you, encourage you, direct you, and keep you clean and sober from sin. But because the world is like Bourbon Street, with bars lining both sides, it is hard to not walk in and have a drink.  When we do, the Holy Spirit becomes our advocate, and urges us to get sober, and gives us the strength to do so – no matter how embarrased we feel for falling off the wagon.  And as God helps us to grow in strength, it gets easier to say no to sin.  Whatever you feed inside you will grow.  Make sure you don’t intentially feed the monster by sinning…

When you come to God in intial repentance, you are basically saying that you are morally bankrupt.  God then fills your account with Christ’s righteousness until it is astronomically large (for you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing).  Who cares if you come to the table with 23 cents in your pocket?  God owns all the banks!  What’s 23 cents compared to immeasurable riches?  Change is never easy, is it?

How do I become saved?

Click here for more information.

Am I saved? 

Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead as payment for your sin by faith and faith alone?  Then you are saved!  Read the Bible.  Pray to God.  Beg God to help you to live righteously for Him and to get rid of all the things in your life that are displeasing to Him.  God is faithful and will joyfully answer those kind of prayers!  Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  Having put on the helmet of salvation, (experentially) know that you are saved!

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us in Your word how good You are.  For You are a just God, and must punish sin; yet being filled with mercy and grace, have given us a way to be reconciled to You.  Father, forgive me for my sins.  I deserve to go to Hell, but you have given me a way to be with You instead.  Help me to live this life in obedience to You.  Carry me when I cannot walk.  Strengthen me for the battles ahead.  Provide all that I need physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, that I may be equipped to do Your will.  Guide me in the way I should go.  This I ask in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

A Promise of God – Psalm 145:15-16

15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

God provides for our every need.  He tells us that whatever we ask in the name, the character, of His Son, Jesus Christ, we will receive.  Here, we see something even better – God satisfies the desires of every living thing.  In Psalm 37:4, we see that God is encouraging us to desire Him in our hearts:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

David, in a prayer to God in 1 Chronicles 29:17-19, asks God to keep the hearts of the people in wholehearted devotion to Him:

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”

But there is a caveat.  When our hearts are corrupted, and we refuse to come back to God, He will give us the desires of our heart even then (Romans 1:24):

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

It is important that we keep our eyes on the Giver of Good Gifts so that our desires would be in line with that of Jesus Christ.  This will ensure that when our Father in Heaven gives us the desires of our hearts, we will be satisfied in them.  If God hasn’t given you the desire of your heart, it may be for a number of reasons:

  •  The timing isn’t right
    • You aren’t ready to receive the gift (you don’t give the keys to the $1,000,000 Ferrari to your 14-year-old son who doesn’t know how to drive yet)
    • God’s not ready for it to be given (you wouldn’t give Christmas gifts to your children in July).
  • The desire might be harmful to you or your family. 
    • Not every good desire in our heart will end well.  God is perfect and sees the end from the beginning, and may withhold the blessing because it might cause you difficulty.
      • One man greatly desired to apply for a position in his company in another state.  Everything went well until the very end, and the transfer fell through.  The man did not understand why God would not allow the transfer.  After a year, the division of that company was closed.  Had he taken the job, it would have left him in a difficult place.
  • There is sin your life that needs to be addressed.
    • There are times when we have a sinful attitude that needs adjusted.  God may use the withholding of a desire of our heart to draw us closer to Him so that He can reveal it to us to be addressed.
      • You may withhold access to the car for your teenager that refuses to do his/her homework and has bad grades.
  • God may want to give you a better gift
    • When you were young, did you ever ask for something, like a bicycle, and your parents instead got you a car?  God may be trying to do the same thing.
  • God wants to bring greater glory to Himself

Our Father in Heaven (as do all good fathers) greatly desires to see His children prosper and provide for them.  He does not intentionally withhold giving us the desires of our heart without good and just cause.  And just because something may bless someone else doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be a blessing to us:

  • For someone who is used to managing large amounts of money, the windfall of a large inheritance would not be a burden.  But for someone who has been poor all of their life, it might be a great burden, for they don’t know how to manage it properly, and will most likely squander it rather quickly, perhaps even going deeply into debt, thus making the blessing a curse for them (look at the outcome of many of the lottery winners…).

So, let’s ask the question:  Are the desires of our heart of such a nature that God would joyfully give us what we want?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your mercies renew every morning, and we thank You that You know what is better for us more than we do.  Guide me this day, Lord, and remove the dross from my heart that as You purify it, it would be as pure silver.  Purge my heart of any wrongdoing and sinful desires, Father, that I would greatly desire You, and may my heart be tuned to Yours.  Grant me peace, mercy, and grace as I patiently await for the desires of my heart to come to fruition.  This I ask and pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessing of God – Galatians 3:14

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Everyone wants a blessing.  We seek it in approval from those we respect and love.  Who doesn’t want their parent’s blessing when they are going to be married?

A blessing in the Old Testament was more than just a physical inheritance; it was often a prophetic pronouncement over the life and future progeny of the children.  Isaac, when giving his blessing to Jacob (who was tricked into believing it was Esau), pronounced a prophetic future blessing for Jacob’s family.  When Jacob pronounced the blessing for his sons, he too pronounced a prophetic blessing on them.

We have been grafted in to the vine of Christ.  And in it, we receive the blessing given to Abraham.  This is not replacement theology – we are the wild vine grafted in, being sustained by the same root as the native plant.  And with it comes the blessing.  You have riches in Christ (read Ephesians 1-3).

But all of this is because of the relationship we have with the source.  A branch pulled from a live tree, left alone, will die if it doesn’t have another source of nourishment.  It is the relationship of the branch to the root that provides it.  We often come for the blessings, and stand on the blessings, and sing of the blessings, and praise the blessings.  But, as it was once said, God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put a prayer in and out pops the blessing you selected.

So let’s ask ourselves a question: do we desire the relationship with the giver – desire Him – more than we do the blessings?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have blessed us so much, for You have taken us out of darkness and brought us into the light.  You provide for our every need, and many of our wants.  Father, help us to look to You today, to gaze upon the beautiful face of Christ, to remember who our blessings came from, and to desire to be at the feet of Jesus more than all of the blessings you pour out upon us.  Prepare our hearts for the journey You have planned for us today.  This we ask in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

A Promise of God – Isaiah 54:17

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

The Bible contains many promises of God.  This one is very encouraging.  It is comforting to know that we are being protected by God against all of the weapons of the enemy.  It is also comforting that anyone who says anything against us will be refuted, for we have been forgiven all sin.  This is our HERITAGE!  God will VINDICATE us!

There only appears to be one qualifier – “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Who are the servants of the Lord?

Servants wait upon the master.  They are in His service to do His bidding whenever and wherever He directs them.  They direct their talents to complete the tasks assigned to them.  They are often given guidelines, and are expected to do the work when they see work to do.

There are many gifts given to believers once they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Here are just a few ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11):

  • Wisdom
    • The ability to understand the difference between wise and foolish things (think: King Solomon)
  • Knowledge
    • Are you able to absorb great amounts of information and then process it so that it is understandable by others?
  • Faith
    • Do you trust God to move mountains, trusting Him to do things when other people would normally give up?
  • Healing
    • When you pray, do people get well?
  • Prophecy
    • Do you know things about what is going on and things that will go on, when you have no reason to know them?
    • Does God often let you know something that you should share with a person or people He directs you to share with, even if you don’t understand the message?
  • Distinguishing between spirits
    • Do you know who’s who?
    • Do you sense the presence of angels and demons and their activity in this world?
    • Do you know when, if someone is speaking, whether or not what they are saying is Biblical, even though you don’t know why?
  • Speaking in tongues (languages)
    • Are you able to speak in a known (already existing) language but don’t understand what you are saying?
    • Are you able to speak in an unknown language and don’t know what you are saying?
  • Interpreting tongues (languages)
    • When people speak, do you know what they are saying, even if everyone else around you doesn’t because they don’t speak the language (and you may not know the language either)?

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are many others.  Here are eight more to think about:

  • Craftsmanship
    • Can you make a masterpiece out of nothing?
    • Or, can you take a box of parts and with a few simple tools, put the item back together without any instructions?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Hospitality
    • Are you driven to constantly feed and attend to guests at your home?
    • Do you enjoy throwing parties and events?
    • Are you the first one to get up to pour drinks at an event?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Music
    • Can you play a musical instrument in a way that inspires others to greatness?
    • or, are YOU an instrument (should you audition for “Stomp“)?  You may have this gift.
  • Leadership
    • Do people have a great tendency follow what you say and where you go?  You may have this gift.
  • Teaching
    • Can you take the most difficult subject and explain it to most people so that they have a clear understanding of it?  You may have this gift.
  • Pastoring
    • Do you constantly feel the need to guide and nurture people in their faith and walk with God?  You may have this gift.
  • Service
    • Are you the one who gets great joy from doing the jobs that no one else does, and is content that the job is done and done right, even if no one else notices?  You may have this gift.
  • Prayer
    • Does God wake you up in the middle of the night to pray about something that He then places on your heart?
    • Do you struggle (wrestle) in prayer for individuals, issues, leaders, and/or nations (or other things)?
    • Do you enjoy spending hours communicating with God in prayer about anything and everything?  You may have this gift.

There are over 30 implied and delineated gifts that the Spirit of God gives to us to use to glorify God and help the body.  Are you using the gifts that were provided to you in stewardship by the Spirit of God at the direction of the Spirit of God for God’s Glory?

If not, why do you call yourself a servant?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we all fall short of perfection.  You have saved us from this, and give us the wonderful opportunity to know You, the only One True God.  You have given us great privileges and responsibilities as well.  Show us what gifts the Holy Spirit has provided to us.  Empower us to act in these gifts, and guide us in the way that these gifts should be used.  Father, do not let me be afraid of these gifts, but help me to embrace them that Your kingdom would grow.  I am your servant, Lord God.  Speak to me that I may do Your Will, in Your Way, in Your Time, for Your purposes, that You may be glorified.  This I ask in the the precious name of your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Ephesians 1:13-14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

What a wonderful gift!  That the blessed Holy Spirit would take up residence within us!  He whose power raised our Lord Jesus Christ up from the grave abides in us.  We often can feel alone, but Christians should never say that – God is ever present within us, praying for us, comforting us, empowering us, and convicting us (among other things).

Paul indicates elsewhere that we should respond by being holy.  He exhorts us to consider that, because of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we ought to respond in a correct way.

I Corinthians 6:12-20 states

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

The word “temples” is especially interesting.  In Israel, the Solomon temple had four parts to it (from outside to inside):

In it was the Temple building itself:

  • The Holy Place.
    • This was also known as the Temple, and
  • The Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies).
    • This is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept behind the veil, which was the seat of God’s power and presence.  The only person permitted to enter here was the Jewish High Priest, and only once a year, in order to offer the sacrifice of the people to God.  God took this so seriously that if the High Priest didn’t perform the ceremony properly, God struck him dead.  It was a practice at that time for the High Priest to tie a rope around his waist, so that in the event something went wrong, they could pull his body out of the Holy of Holies.  Otherwise, they would have to wait a year for the next High Priest to remove it…

The Greek word for the Holy of Holies was naos.  This is the same word that Paul uses in this passage to refer to our bodies as temples.  We are not the entire temple, or any less-important part the the temple – we are the Holy of Holies!  Because we have the imputed righteousness of Christ, God Himself can reside within us.  Wow.

So, in light of God’s glory and grace, how are we treating our naos?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, you have done the unthinkable and prepared our bodies as Holy Temples for your presence.  You have cleansed us of all sin, and with the righteousness of Christ, provide us with the Holy Spirit.  Teach us the ways in which we should go.  Help your servants to remember not just who You are, but who we are supposed to be.  Strengthen us this day, Lord, that we would treat these bodies – our thoughts, words, and deeds – in a manner worthy of being a naos.  This we ask in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Psalm 34:17-19

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Not one, but three promises of God!

When we cry out, God hears our prayers and delivers us from (through) our troubles.  And look how many troubles we have today!  Cast your burdens upon the Lord; He is able to bear up under them.

Oh, toD know that God is close to us when our heart breaks!  A perfect picture of our kind, gentle, compassionate Father gathering his child into His arms comes to mind.  Only He can help us when we are crushed in spirit.

God is our rock, our refuge, our strength, our fortress.  He can move Heaven and Earth for us.  God’s promise to deliver us from ALL of our troubles should bolster our faith and solidify our hope – our sure belief – that God is not only able to do these things, but that He WILL do them.  God’s character is perfect, and He does not renege on His promises (conditional, unconditional, and implied).  Therefore, pray to God and ask Him to fulfill His promises.

A Short Prayer of Preparation

Father in Heaven, You are perfect in all your ways.  You love your children and give them good gifts.  And unlike us, You fulfill Your every promise.  Father, meet me where I am today.  Deliver me through my trials and troubles.  Stay near to me when my heart breaks.  Provide for all of my needs.  Help me through these most difficult times.  Strengthen me this day and give me confidence in what I am about to face.  You, O Lord, have seen all that is to come and know perfectly how to navigate through it.  Transform my pain into trust, and lead me in the way everlasting.  This I ask and pray in the precious name of your most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

What a marvelous promise!  That the ones that are called by His name God has purposed in His heart to prosper.  Oh, to prosper in the Lord!   Spiritual growth is so important in our lives.  How much time every day do we allocate to that most important goal?  Do we eagerly await our next challenge, and embrace it with outstretched arms?  Do we ambivalently await its arrival, knowing it is a necessity yet planning our lives around it when it arrives?  Or do we dread its appearance, knowing that difficulties await?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a great and glorious God.  I know that you work for good all things to those that love You and are called according to Your purpose.  Grant me Your peace this day as I prepare for what is to come.  Search my heart, O God, and see if there is any wrongdoing in me.  Address my weaknesses, and be merciful to me.  Strengthen me in my struggles, and make me victorious; for when I am weak, You are strong.  May the meditations of my heart and words of my mouth be pleasing to You always.  May I be a light on the hill that glorifies Your name.  You are worthy of all glory and power and strength and honor and praise.  Great is your grace and mercy!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?