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?

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?

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?

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.

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

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?

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.