The Faithfulness of God – Micah 7:18-20

God ALWAYS Keeps His Word

18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.

Perfect Pardon

Unlike men, God is perfect in all His ways.  When God pardon’s our sin, He pardons it completely.  It is as if it had never happened:

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

God no longer holds our sin against us.  We who are in Christ, who have believed upon the name of the One and Only Son of God, have been cleared of all charges – past, present, and future.  God greatly desires that as former criminals we be reformed and act as He would desire, just as man wants former criminals to be reintegrated into society in a lawful and peaceful way.  Sanctification is the tool that allows that to occur.

Faithful Forgiveness

God is not a liar.  He is incapable of lying, for God IS truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God is completely faithful to forgive anything that we have done, anything we bring before Him.  We must, however, turn from our sin and turn towards God.  When we ask for forgiveness and then immediately (and WILLFULLY) go back to what we were doing, we are basically like the child who says to dad and mom “I’m sorry (that I got caught, please spare me the consequences of my actions, I’ll be more careful to hide what I am doing from you going forward).”

God greatly desires to see us walk in His ways.  His faithfulness to forgive frees us from the fear of punishment that the un-Godly will encounter.  God is faithful in all things, for His very nature – His character – allows Him no other course of action when we approach Him in good faith, no matter how many times we stumble and fall.  Will a loving parent reject a child who falls down and skins their knee when trying diligently to walk carefully and cautiously?  If we would not, why would God?

Abated Anger

We are created in the image of God.  God has emotions.  He gets angry.  But God’s anger only lasts a little while.  God will not turn His face away from us forever in His anger.  God will not turn His face away from those who are faithful to Him.  He delights in His children.  God tells us to be angry and do not sin.  He also tells us that we should not let the sun go down on our anger.  God is NOT a hypocrite like men.  If God tells us to do something, will He then not model it for us?

Moved to Mercy

God’s heart is a heart of mercy.  Knowing that we are unable to do what He commands us to do, He took it upon Himself to pay our debt.  In His great mercy and compassion, He sacrificed His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our iniquity and to receive our just and due punishment upon the cross.  He now has legal authority to show us mercy.  God greatly desires for all of us to come to Him.  But without His mercy, we are unable to do so.

God’s mercies renew every morning:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

We fail to remember the mercy and compassion of God because the enemy of our souls, when we transgress God’s law, tries to convince us that God will not forgive us.  It is that much more important that we seek out God and his mercy that we may be free from the bondage of sin – our guilt.

Fully Faithful

God is faithful in all that He does.  He cannot be unfaithful, for His very nature relies upon it.  Imagine that God’s faithfulness wavered.  Would not everything that He did be tainted by that?  Imagine if gravity only worked some of the time, and it was completely unreliable, working and not working randomly.  What would happen?

In the same way that we can trust that the Sun will rise every morning, that the Moon will rise every night, that the stars will cross the sky, that God is faithful in each and every thing He does, and in each and every promise that He makes.  God has made many promises to Jacob about his inheritance and descendants.  God will keep each and every one of these promises faithfully in just the right time and in just the right way so that God will be praised and glorified to the utmost degree.

Profound Pledge

God has pledged to Abraham millennia ago that He would love his offspring, care for them, and make them so numerous that they would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky:

17 “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

God does not lie, and He does not make promises that He cannot keep nor will not keep.  God keeps every pledge He makes, no matter how long He takes to fulfill it.  Since He has prophesied through His prophets about these things, He fulfills them at just the right time.  And the time has come when God is calling all men to Himself.  His angel has gone out into the world and proclaimed the Gospel to all nations. He is gathering His people as He promised to the land He gave to their ancestors, and He is bringing all things to a close.  Seek Him while you may find Him, for time as we know it is about to end.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I relying on the faithfulness of God through my trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are completely faithful and trustworthy.  Nothing and no one can cause Your plans to fail.  You have carefully engineered through millennia the circumstances that have brought about each and every prophesy that You have given to us.  Your word will stand now and forevermore.  Help me to trust You completely in my pain through my trials.  It is very hard to do so because of the lies of the enemy.  Stand strong for me and with me as I overcome all things in Your strength.  Give me everything I need to grow through my trials, and comfort me as I fend off the stinging rebukes of my enemies.  Holy Spirit, plead my case before the Father, and pray for me, for I don’t know how to pray through these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Provision From God – Psalm 146:6-10

God Is The One Who Supplies All Of Our Needs And The Needs Of Others

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them-
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Capable Creator

God is a most wonderful creator.  He created the heavens and the Earth.  Every day he paints the sky with clouds and the light of the Sun.  He continually creates as life abounds of every type, knitting together children in their mother’s wombs, causing seeds to burst forth from the ground to grow into plants, and eggs hatching to become other creatures.  There is no aspect of life that God is not intimately involved.

Faithful Forever

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And He has shown Himself faithful in every aspect of His character.  Because God is love, He cannot be unfaithful in anything.  God’s love always seeks out the betterment of others, and His word will never pass away.  His faithfulness is a sign that He can be trusted, and that His character is rooted in goodness and righteousness.

Compassionate Caregiver

As creator, God is also compassionate towards His creation.  He especially shows this aspect of His character in how He upholds the cause of the oppressed.  When men (and women) seemingly abandon others, God rises up to defend their cause.  God created ALL men and women in HIS image, and He assists the oppressed among us, as well as feeds the hungry.

Freedom Fighter

God desires that no one be a prisoner to sin.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and free the captives.  Even those who have been wrongfully imprisoned by men can have their souls freed by God.  Physical imprisonment cannot stop God from freeing men for eternal relationship with Him.  God will go to great lengths to set the captives free, bending Heaven and Earth to do so when someone seeks Him out with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  And if God so chooses, He can free them physically as well.

Rejoicing in Righteousness

Part of God’s very nature is righteousness.  He is greatly pleased when He sees it, because His very existence is bathed in it.  It resonates true with Him, and He rejoices when He sees His children walking in righteousness.  Just as a parent is proud of their child when they are being polite towards others and living a life of serving others in joy, so does God when we do the same.

Helpful Hospitality

The Psalmist reminds us that God has a special place in His heart for the foreigner among us.  To be sure, God is referring to the foreigners who are among us lawfully.  God gives the sword to rulers to punish those who refuse to obey the law.  Civil disobedience is only tolerated by God when the rulers of a nation are using laws to oppress the people, obfuscate the truth, and deny lawful image-bearers of God their freedom.

God provides great hospitality towards the foreigners among us, as well as the fatherless and widows.  God does not forget those people who are unable to provide for themselves.  He fully expects the righteous among us, whom He has blessed with plenty, to help those in need.  And while He expects this of us, He does not expect us to give out free food and cash to lazy, indignant, self-righteous, and discontent people purveying a victim mentality:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.

Just Judge

God is not indifferent to the suffering of people.  Neither will He put up with wickedness:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

God is righteous, and although wicked people may be allowed to continue on in their wickedness for what appears to humans to be an eternity, God is giving them every opportunity to change their mind and be saved.  Although it is a burden upon us when wicked people oppress us, and may even cost us our livelihoods, the material possessions that God has provided to us to manage, and perhaps our very lives, we are sheep being led to the slaughter, witness for God, so that the wicked might turn towards God.

And if they do not, let your heart be at rest.  For in death, they will surely pay in full for what they have done here on Earth.  Jesus came to pay our fine, but in refusing payment, they will endure for all eternity the punishment that is justly received since they cannot pay the price to redeem themselves.

Righteous Ruler

The Lord God Almighty reigns forevermore in Heaven upon His throne, rightfully in His play of power and glory, overseeing all that He created and ruling in righteousness as He pleases.  Let us not forget the sovereignty of God, and the wonderfully good implications that His righteous rule entail.  For nothing can happen in the universe without the express prior knowledge and permission of Almighty God, who is righteous, protector, provider, overseer, and master over all.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Where do I go first when I am in need?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show Yourself to be righteous in all that You do, even in allowing the wicked to prosper.  Help me to have a perspective that places You in Your proper role in all things.  Give me the wisdom to recognize in my darkest situations that You are right in the center of them.  Help me to be Your eyes, ears, hands, and mouth as other struggle in their daily lives.  May Your light show through me that people will be drawn to the light and seek freedom from darkness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Compromising in Fear – 1 Samuel 21:10-15

Fear Drives People To Do Crazy Things

10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

Calamitous Compromise

Compromise has a tendency to lead to our ruination.  In David’s case, it saw him descend into such low depths that he went and camped out in enemy territory, even acting insane because he feared for his life.  It didn’t help that Saul was looking to kill him.  But it bears looking at the life of David to remember why compromise can ruin our lives.

Sometimes difficultly will find its way into our lives.  Saul had sent out the equivalent of the Airborne Rangers and the Navy Seals to go find and eliminate David.  When the best of the best is out to kill you, it can drive a person to fear.  And when we act in fear, we begin to compromise.

Embedded in the Enemy

In an effort to be free of the constant hounding by Saul, the king of Israel, David went to Gath.  The first sign that you are “off the rails” in compromise is when you believe that it is safer in enemy territory than where God has planted you (apart from direct revelation from God that it is time to flee).  Any time we begin to compromise, we set ourselves up to be placed in a situation that will require even GREATER compromise.  Upon hearing that he was recognized, and rightly so for his prowess in battle, David begins to act counter to his heroic nature.  Instead of hiding in caves, he does something worse – he hides in plain sight.

Distasteful Deceit

David begins to act insane.  He knows that he will most likely be left alone if he appears to be a non-threatening, drooling idiot.  Rather than inquire of God for what he should do, David takes it upon himself to try to provide his own protection through compromise.  And while it surely saddened God that David was acting this way, David looked to himself first and took matters into his own hands.

We compromise any and every time that we believe we have a better chance at success than God does.  And while most of us are certainly are in no position to criticize David, God was gracious enough to give us his example so that we could learn from it.  God had successfully hid other people from harm many times in the past:

Careful Consideration

Every time that we take a step in compromise, it leads us down a dark path.  As we walk farther away from the truth, it becomes more murky, and we find that it becomes easier to do things that, under normal circumstances, we would never even consider doing.  People in desperate times have eaten their own children during sieges to stay alive.

So what can we do when we are faced with compromise?

  • Turn our eyes upon Jesus.  He is the one who is our strength and shield.  Not every encounter with the enemy allowed the righteous to live (read the second half of Hebrews Chapter Eleven), but they faced death with dignity and brought great glory and honor to God in how they handled themselves.
  • Pray to God for wisdom.  Oftentimes, we are blind-sided with great difficulty that demands swift and immediate action.  Sometimes, we are so emotionally overwhelmed, that our first instinct is to act and not to ask.  That is when it is most dangerous.  There is certainly a time to act before asking (YES, pull the little girl out of the burning car first…)
  • Pray to God, asking for strength to do what is right.  There will be times when our enemies have backed us into a corner.  They have maneuvered us into what appears to be a no-win situation.  But when we hold steadfast to God, and refuse to compromise, God may yet deliver us from our difficulties.  And when we refuse to compromise (do what is evil in the sight of The Lord God Almighty), no matter the consequences, God is greatly honored and glorified.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When faced with compromise, and possibly terrible consequences, what is my first reaction?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, there is no evil in You.  You do not compromise Your goodness in any way for any reason.  Give me strength as I face the consequences for doing what is right in Your eyes.  Uphold me before my enemies, and let them know that I fear and revere You more than I do anything that they can do to me.  Give me a steadfast heart that always seeks You, Lord God.  Help me to overcome any fear that the enemy is trying to place in my heart, and to boldly step out in faith.  I may not survive, Lord, but I know in my heart that You will be honored and glorified in this.  Help me to have great peace as I face difficulty, and I know, Father, that You will reward faithfulness to You, if not in this life, in the next.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Called to Suffering – Acts 9:16

Can God Trust You With Suffering?

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Carefully Called

We can rejoice that God does not do things at random:

Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

God, omniscient, knows all things, and has a plan that is coming to fruition.  He carefully selects people for what He wants them to do.  He said the following of King David:

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'”

Many people were called by God for different purposes.  Some were to lead God’s people as judges, prophets, or kings.  Others were called to be intercessors, such as Esther.  Still others were called to discipline the Israelites through conquering them and enslaving them.  In every case, it was God who called them for His specific purpose, in His specific timing, for His greater glory.

Providential Purpose

God has purpose in everything that He does.  God does not waste any opportunity.  What appears to us to be random sequences of events are actually the carefully placed trellis that leads those who climb up it to where God wants and needs them to be.  We are but a mist, here today, and gone tomorrow.  We do not have the luxury of divine perspective with regards to long periods of time, because the average life span of a human being is seventy years, eighty if God is gracious.  We are unable to see the intertwining connectivity of timing and events, and to see the tendrils of connectedness between seemingly unrelated events and how and where they will intersect with one another in a tsunami of repercussions.

In all things, God has specific purposes for what He has called us.  Each of us are to play a part in it.  Paul likens this to being parts in a body, each one with unique features but that are part of a greater whole, contributing to or inhibiting the growth and health of the whole.  In everything, there is purpose.  God places purpose in His creation to reveal to us that He is full of purpose, and that we are to play a part in the purposes of God.

Heavenly Hardship

One of the most difficult, yet needed, purposes for God’s plan is people who have been chosen to be examples.  Some have been chosen by God to be examples of what is good.  Others have been chosen to be examples of what is not good.

For example, Able, the son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should do because he made the right offering before God.  Conversely, Cain, another son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should not do because of his offering before God, and his subsequent actions in regards to his offering’s rejection by God.

We need to keep in mind that the student is not above the teacher.  And Jesus Christ, the very best example that the Lord God Almighty could have sent to us experienced divine hardship on a scale that none of us can even comprehend.  He suffered and experienced great hardship throughout His life, but always with the attitude that God the Father had purpose in His hardship, and that in being yielded to the Holy Spirit, His life would glorify God.

One of the most difficult hardships to be given by God is the hardship of suffering.

Severe Suffering

No one likes to suffer (unless they are mentally deranged).  Suffering produces pain in our lives, and makes our lives so difficult that we can barely function.  At times, suffering can be so severe that we are incapacitated by it, and truly cannot even function.  Ask a person who is recovering from ninety percent of their skin being burned off in a fire if they are able to function.  The answer is obvious – until they are healed, they cannot.

God called His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to ultimate suffering for us.  As payment for our sins, not only was the burden of our sins – every sin that every human being ever committed past, present, and future – laid upon his shoulders as He hung on the cross at Calvary, God withdrew His presence from Him, and He experienced complete and total separation from the presence, provision, and protection of God in complete and total isolation with that burden placed upon Him in ultimate pain and agony.  Let it never be said that our salvation is free; it is freely given to us, but the cost was unimaginable.

Sometimes people are called to severe emotional suffering.  They have survived rape, torture, abuse, war, and other unspeakable circumstances.  The scars of these events will affect them for ages to come.  But they have been called as witnesses to the power, grace and glory of God as He leads them out of the bondage that such devastation has caused.

Sometimes people are called to severe physical affliction.  Most people have experienced some type of physical affliction, whether it is sickness or a broken bone.  But God has called some to suffer, not for days, months, or even years, but DECADES of life with pain that would cause the average person to curl up into a fetal position in the corner and bemoan their life (take a look at the life of Job for better clarification on this).  Ask people who have trigeminal neuralgia what it is like to live where, possibly every few seconds, or every second, it feels like someone is striking your face with the full swing of a baseball bat.  This particular affliction is also called “the suicide disease” because people would rather take their own life than live with the consequences of it.

In some cases, such as Lyme’s disease, it can not only be a painful, life-sucking, energy-draining, body-wasting disease, it can cause great misery.  Pain can be medicated away, even with morphine drips.  But misery is in an entirely different category.  Being in a state of extreme misery for any extended period of time will have a person begging God to take their life.  And when the pain and the misery go on day after day, year after year, DECADE AFTER DECADE, and the person is a disciple of Jesus Christ, whom it appears God has forsaken in their disease and time of need, what are they to do?

Total Trust

God has called these particular people to suffering as example to others.  Suffering (and the hardship that comes with it) produces character, and character produces hope.  Hope, in the sense that the Bible uses the word, is not wishful thinking, but rather a reasoned and sound expectation that some future event will occur.  In this, disciples of Christ have hope that God will work all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  The purpose is to trust that Almighty God is sovereign, that He has a plan, that He has not forsaken those who suffer hardship, and be an example to others that in their pain and hardship, God is real and is able to get them through their trials as well.

When these great saints of God are called to severe suffering, and show complete and total trust through it, it is a powerful message to those who do not believe in God that there must be something that is helping those who are suffering to believe.  It is evident to most people who, in light of this type of suffering, there is no circumstance in the world that can force a person to believe that their suffering has purpose and is worth enduring apart from the sovereign grace and power of Almighty God.

Total trust in God yields great fruit, both in the life of the one suffering, and in the example provided to those who need an example to continue on in their own difficulties.  God loves it when we trust Him through these difficulties.  David spoke of this in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The trust goes two ways.  We are to trust God, because He and He alone is completely trustworthy.  But God also trusts us.  To those whom He has placed the terrible burden of suffering, He trusts them to properly display that trust right back at Him.  The more hardship God brings into your life – and that which is NOT caused by your own sin, actions, or as consequences of your life choices – the more that he is trusting you for something great.

There is a story that goes something like this:

A man was at a lumberyard watching the lumberjacks move mighty trees from the forest down the river to where they would be sawn for wood.  At a junction in the river, there was a lumberjack who, every now and then, would direct one of the large trees floating in the water down a smaller path of the river.  There appeared to be no difference in the appearance of the trees, so this seemed odd to the man.  The man then asked the lumberjack directing these trees down the river what he was doing.

The lumberjack told the man the trees he was directing down the smaller path were from the very top of the mountain.  They received the most abuse from the weather, and they were constantly buffeted by the wind, rain, and snow.  These mighty trees looked like the others, but because of the abuse they took, along with the fact that they had not broken in the process, were of exceptional quality.  The wood had a much finer grain, and when used by carpenters, made the very finest furniture and brought the highest price on the market.  They were destined to be used by the most skilled artisans in the land for the most sought after projects, and were to be displayed in the most coveted of places because of the beauty that grew in them due to the hardship of the weather.

And just as the trees in this story brought praise to the artisans that used them with their great skill, so will the hardship in our lives be used by God to bring Him the maximum amount of glory, and be useful for displaying His craftsmanship and character.

Glorifying God

The end result of everything that God has done in the past, is doing now, and will do in the future, is to bring glory to Himself.  He and He alone is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, power, dominion, and strength.  He alone is The Great I AM, providing for our every need, displaying His love and infinite power to all who would take notice.

When a person is willing to be used by God for this purpose, God will use them mightily in ministry and to display His glory.  There is no greater honor than to be used by God in this way, as Jesus Christ demonstrated to us on the cross at Calvary.  But are we willing to go through the difficulty and hardship that is required to bring about the changes necessary to properly display what God has planned in His heart for us to show the world?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to allow God to bring hardship and suffering in my life to fulfill His plans and purposes for me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word is perfect, and Your will and character are perfect as well.  You have shown throughout Your word that You can be trusted with everything, for You are perfect in every way.  Father, help me to endure suffering and hardship as discipline.  Help me to gain Your perspective on my circumstances so that I may be willing to be used by You for the calling that You have placed upon my life.  Help me to be faithful to You throughout the process so that during the trials, and when I come out on the other side, You will be shown rightly to all who watch.  Guard my heart against bitterness through the process, and fill me with Your peace and power that all things You have planned would come to pass.  This I ask in the precious name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

 

 

Travel by the Spirit – Acts 8:39

God Is Sovereign And May Take You Where You Need To Be

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

Virtually Vanished

Twice in the Bible, an interesting method of travel is mentioned by God concerning His people.  The first appearance of this is in 1 Kings 18:12 when Obadiah, a faithful servant of the Lord, is told by Elijah to announce to King Ahaz that he can be found where he stood.  Obadiah’s response is interesting:

11 “But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth.”

Obadiah is very concerned that Elijah won’t be there when Ahaz comes to take him away.  But there is a sense of the suddenness of Elijah’s departure that is interesting.  After all, Elijah on foot could only go so far.  King Ahaz’s men should surely be able to find him.  Yet Obadiah was concerned that the Spirit of the Lord would carry him off somewhere, implying that it would be very far away, and that no one would be able to find him.  We see the very exact same situation documented in Acts 8:39 where the Spirit of the Lord seizes (hErpasen, from the root word harpazo, from the same root word used to describe the effects of the taking of disciples during the rapture) Philip from the Ethiopian to be somewhere else.

This is amazing!  In God’s sovereign timing and will, prophets of old would be hErpasen by the Holy Spirit and taken where God wanted and needed them to be!  Who needs airplanes, cars, boats, rocket ships, or “Star Trek style” transporters when the Holy Spirit of God provides this as He desires?

Amazing Appearance

But while the seizing of someone was amazing, the appearing of someone was just as amazing.  In several scriptures we are shown where, suddenly, people appeared from nowhere.  They were most likely hErpasen by the Spirit of God and placed where they needed to be.  Acts 8:40 seems to indicate this:

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

This method of transportation appears to be used when it is needed, rather than all of the time.  When Peter was chained in prison, an angel of the Lord freed him, walked him out of the prison, and sent him on his way.  God could easily have hErpasen him to where He wanted Peter to be, but chose an angel to free him instead.

Other instances of people suddenly appearing include, but are not limited to:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Tremendous Timing

In each case, it was the sovereign will of God in His timing that each of the people appeared where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.  God’s timing in His word is impeccable, and further confirms that He is sovereign by showing that everything that He says will come about does come about exactly when it is supposed to happen.

God’s timing is crucial in every aspect of life.  There are times when a delay in our day seems like Satan is trying to impede our progress.  If you believe this, seek out and find all of the people who found themselves delayed on September 11, 2oo1 2001 as they were headed to their jobs at the Twin Towers in New York City.  God spared each and every one of them.  God’s warnings and discipline are timed exactly when they need to occur in order to get the job done right.

God’s blessing and provision are also timed exactly right to ensure that God receives the maximum glory and honor that He so richly deserves.  And God’s timing, in the act of taking people from one place and (with an apparent instantaneous action of) moving people from to another place, fulfills His plan to ensure that every resource that He has available is being used to their fullest capacity while giving God the maximum glory.

Forever Faithful

Our God is an amazing God.  He does things that seem impossible, but for Him, are not only possible but done to increase our faith and our effectiveness.  We can be assured that God is faithful in all that He does, and that no one can thwart His plans, no matter how egregious the enemy rages against God.  In the end, God is the one who will ensure that everything that He has planned in His heart will come to fruition.  Nothing on Earth, under the Earth, or in the heavens above are able to keep The Lord God Almighty from being faithful to His word, His plan, and His people.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to be used by God in such a way that I would accept, without reservation, if He suddenly seized me and placed me elsewhere?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a most glorious and wonderful God.  There is none like You.  Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Give my heart encouragement that no one and nothing can stop You in executing Your perfect will in Your perfect plan.  Help me to accept my circumstances as being sovereignly permitted by You for Your will and my sanctification.  Give me encouragement as I see the enemy do everything in his power to try to thwart Your plans.  And help me to humbly rest in joy as I watch You exert Your sovereign will in all of these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

 

 

Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

God Will Provide A Way For You To Honor Him When You Are Tempted/Tested

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Proper Precautions

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Paul warns us that we should take a careful look at how we are walking.  When we think that we are doing well, and we are standing, BEWARE!  It is very likely that we will fall.  Pride has a tendency to distract us from having a proper perception of our circumstances.  While there are many who are walking properly, when we think we are walking, pay careful and close attention to your walk;  that is usually when you are about to step into a large pit of slimy quicksand up to your ears.

Common Causes

Paul tells us that there are common temptations that assail us.  The Apostle John lists them in three categories:

  1. The lust of the eyes
  2. The lust of the flesh
  3. The pride of life

These are the same methods that Satan tried to use to when he was testing Jesus after his forty day fast.  James reiterates that temptation is caused by our own evil desires:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

There is no temptation that is unique to you; it just feels that way.  You will find, if you talk to other people whom you can trust will hold what you say in confidence, that everyone faces similar temptations.  The source may be different, but the temptation is the same.  Everyone has different triggers, and it is up to us to ask God to remove those triggers so that we can start to react differently to temptation.  Removing a trigger in you life doesn’t mean that the evil desire is removed; it means that we have more than a microsecond to remember that we can say “NO!” to the temptation rather than giving in to it.

Royal Relief

It is terrible when we feel helpless to say “NO” to temptation.  But the reason that we say “YES” is that we are not saying “NO” in the first place!  God is faithful, and He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear up under it.  We may not believe that, because we have been yielding to temptation for so long that, like Pavlov’s dogs, we automatically say “YES!” when the opportunity is presented to us.  But God is not cruel, and He will provide a way for us to honor Him when we face our temptations.

Difficult Door

The way to honor God during temptation is not easy.  And we need His help to overcome all temptation.  The good news is that the blood of Jesus Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin, so we now have the CAPABILITY to say “NO!” to temptation.  But how can we do that when our bodies are weak, and fail us each and every time we are presented with a challenge?

God is faithful to provide us with many examples in the Bible on how to deal with temptation.  The very first mention of temptation was when God approached Cain, and told him that if he did what was wrong, sin was crouching at his door, but he needed to rule over it:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Joseph was placed into a precarious situation with Potiphar’s wife.  She desired to know him physically, and even engineered a situation where they would be alone so there would be no witnesses.  When Joseph realized the situation that he was in, he escaped sin by performing the ultimate Houdini act – he escaped by running as fast as he could from the temptation.  This is not always possible, but it can be very effective.

When Nehemiah was faced with the temptation to hide in the temple from his enemies, he perceived that this was a ruse to get him to sin.  Nehemiah refused to give in to the ploy, and did not cower in the temple.  Temptation can come from may places.  It is important to remember to be vigilant in guarding ourselves against the wiles of the enemy as he tries to get us to do what is not right in the eyes of Almighty God.

Jesus Himself gave us a wonderful way to face temptation.  He used scripture to refute it.  God will give us the ability and the way to escape temptation.  However, we must remember that there may be consequences for saying “NO!”  Joseph was placed in jail after Potiphar’s wife lied about her seductress encounter with him. The fate of many of the saints in the second half of Hebrews 11 tells of their woes.

We too may face social, career, financial, and possibly many other types of loss, ruination, or troubles because we have chosen to say “NO!” to temptation.  These consequences may have lasting repercussions in our lives here on Earth, as well as our family’s lives.  Count the cost – God desires obedience in the face of opposition.  But God is faithful, and as we are obedient to Him, He will provide a way for us.  Even if that way is to be reunited with Him in glory.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: What is my tendency when I am presented with a temptation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Thank You for providing a way to say “NO!” to temptation.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity to honor and glorify You with my mind, my words, and my body.  Help me to be faithful, even unto death, so that You may be praised, honored and glorified.  Strengthen me during my trials, and show me the way to resist them so that I would honor You.  And when I have been backed into a corner, whether through my own fault, or the evil, sadistic, hateful plots of others to discredit and destroy me, give me the strength to do what is right, even in the face of death.  I pray that You would help me when the fallout from these encounters causes my circumstances to be grim and dire.  I know, Father, that You are sovereign over all things.  Help me to endure so that I would not lose my reward.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

The Calling of God – Exodus 3:1-10

God First Calls You, And THEN He Equips You For Your Calling

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Anointed Announcement

Many times when God calls someone in the Bible, He either makes a personal appearance, or sends an angel to announce the calling.  One notable exception is Esther.  Yet, even in her calling to be the Queen so that she could save her people from the evil schemes of Haman, God’s call upon her life was very evident. Other examples of people who were called by God include (but are not limited to) Gideon, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Sign of Selection

In the case of Moses, God used a sign to draw Moses closer so that he could learn the fuller message.  A burning bush that was not consumed by fire drew Moses closer to God.  Moses had been chosen long ago, as evidenced through his birth and upbringing among the Egyptians.  God will make His calling evident by three things:

  1. God will first call you
  2. God will then equip you
  3. God will then use you

Calling Confirmation

Most people are under the assumption that God will give them the capability to do what He wants for them to do, and THEN He will call them to do it.  However, God does the opposite.  He first calls us, THEN he equips us.

In the case of Moses, God had to get forty years of Egypt out of him so that Moses would be ready for the calling God had prepared for His life.  We must remember that everything is dependent upon God’s timing, and not ours.  Patience is the key to ensuring that we are not jumping ahead of God, but rather walking alongside God in His time and in His way.

Gideon was a prime example of this.  God found Gideon threshing grain in a wine-press to keep it from being seized by the Midianites.  God hails Gideon with, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  How ironic!  God calls Gideon a mighty warrior, yet he is found cowering in a wine-press threshing his grain!  Gideon, greatly desiring to see the deliverance of his people, cautiously and humbly asked God to verify his calling with three signs.  He was willing to submit to the will of God, and wanted to make absolutely sure that it was God who was calling him.

The angel Gabriel appeared to both Elizabeth and Mary to announce the unlikely births of two of the most important people in the Bible – John the Baptist, and his cousin, The Lord Jesus Christ.  In both cases, biology would normally dictate that their pregnancies are unlikely.  Yet they believed God, and He honored them first through their calling, and then equipping them for the calling.  It is wise when approached with a calling from God to accept it.  Elizabeth’s husband, possibly discouraged by circumstances, did not accept Gabriel’s announcement and asked for sign.  Gabriel, in response to his uncharacteristic reproof of the announcement, struck Zechariah speechless until his child was born.

Powerful Provision

After God calls us, and we accept the call in faith, God THEN prepares us for the calling that He has chosen for us.  In the case of Moses, a murderer hiding from the Egyptian authorities, God then prepares him to shepherd His people.  Moses had a speech impediment.  But God told him that He would speak through Him.  Moses did not fully trust that God could use him in that way because of his circumstances, so God appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.  Imaging how much more effective Moses would have been he trusted the Lord God Almighty to speak through him!

Gideon was first given a simple act of obedience – tear down his father’s altar to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it.  In that simple act of faith, God was preparing him for the next big challenge – defeating the enemies of Israel.  God then equipped Gideon with three hundred men who would be used in the attack against their enemies.  To help Gideon have courage, God then gave Gideon the opportunity to go down and listen at the tents of his enemies, where he learned that they already knew his name, and were in great fear, for the dread of the Lord had come upon them.

In the case of Elizabeth and Mary, the barren woman well outside of the age of childbirth and the virgin both became pregnant.  As simple as this was, it was the supernatural provision of the Lord God Almighty to make possible the impossible.

Mighty Manifestation

Once Moses was equipped with Aaron as his spokesperson, a staff that could turn into a snake, and other signs, He was ready for his confrontation with the Pharaoh of Egypt.  God used Moses in a mighty way.  He delivered the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea, and led them for forty years in the desert.  Moses had the opportunity to get so close with God for so long, his face glowed.  And Moses, along with Elijah, appeared with Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration.

Gideon successfully led the attack on his enemies, giving his three hundred warriors torches that were simultaneously made visible using pottery, invoking God’s name and his own.  And God Himself routed the enemies of the Israelites.  God used Gideon mightily after preparing him.

With the birth of John the Baptist and The Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching, nurturing, education, and encouragement of these women helped these two men to achieve their God-given roles.  Of John the Baptist, it is said of those born by women, no greater man was born than him.  And Jesus Christ fulfilled His preordained life, fulfilling all scripture about Him and providing the way that men might be reconciled to the Father through His shed blood and resurrection.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What has God called me to do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You call each and every one of us according to Your plan and purpose.  Help me to accept Your calling, even if it seems impossible, for You will equip me to do all that You have called me to do.  Help me to yield myself to You so that You can properly prepare me for what is to come.  And I ask, Father, that You do as You please with me, that everything You desire to be done is accomplished in order that Your name would be glorified, magnified, and exalted for all eternity.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

 

Hope in God -2 Kings 4:11-17

Even When It Seems Most Bleak, God Can Find A Way

11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?'”

She replied, “I have a home among my own people.”

14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.

Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.”

“No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”

17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

A Hospitable Host

The Shunammite woman was a hospitable host.  Every time Elijah the prophet and Gehazi  his servant stopped by, she encouraged them to eat at her house.  Hospitality was encouraged at that time, and she had the gift.  Eventually, she convinced her husband to build a room on her roof so that when Elijah and Gehazi stopped by, they would have a place to stay.  Elijah, after a period of time, summoned the Shunammite woman before him and asked her if there was something that could be done for her.  She was very humble, and indicated that she had a home among her people.  Although scripture doesn’t directly say so, it would appear that she was then dismissed.

A Particular Problem

Then Elisha probed further, and asked his servant Gehazi what could be done for her.  Gehazi indicated that she had no son.  Elijah would have known this, being a prophet of God.  With her husband being old, and with no son (a male heir to inherit the property of her husband), she would not have had any protection as a widow once her husband died.  This is a very serious issue for her in the culture during her life.

The Prophet Pronounces

Elijah then summoned the Shunammite woman back, and pronounced that she would, by this time next year, have a son in her arms.  Elijah’s walk with God was so close, that he was able to make this pronouncement, and be assured that it would come to pass.  What appears to be impossible to us is very possible to God.  He is able to do anything He desires to bring about His plans and bring glory to his name.

Distraught in Disbelief

One of the most difficult things to behold is a person, who has gone for so long without something that they desperately need, has given up hope on ever having that need fulfilled.  Whether it is healing from a sickness that has plagued us for decades, finding a spouse, being barren, or any other number of difficult circumstances, it is still hard to watch when the person who has given up hope is given that hope again.  They will often enter into denial.  They fear that if they allow this hope into their hearts, and for some reason it fails, it may finally break their spirit.  They have prepared themselves for their current circumstances, and are unwilling to change, because they are certain in their hearts that God has sovereignly appointed them to suffer with this continual need without the possibility of fulfillment.

The Shunammite woman was no exception.  When told she would have a son, she became distraught and reproved Elijah, a prophet of God, urging him passionately that it is wrong for him to mislead (LIE to) her about this.  She had already prepared herself for the coming trials of being an abandoned widow once her husband died.  She was also concerned for Elijah, for she certainly did not want to see him defile himself with what she believed to be something that was impossible in her own mind to occur – the opportunity to have a son and heir.

The Father is Faithful

But God is faithful.  And at the appointed time, just as Elijah predicted, the Shunammite woman gave birth to a son an heir.  For it is God who opens wombs and closes wombs.  No matter how difficult, God is able to make His will done.  The sun has stopped in its tracks; storms have arisen on the seasearthquakes have opened jails – Nothing is impossible with God.  And God, being perfect and complete in His nature, will ensure that everything He has purposed will come to pass.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to have hope again after terrible loss or disappointment?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for the hope that You have given me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me, Father, to have my heart prepared for anything that You may be willing to do in my life.  Help me to be open to hope again where it has been dashed on the jagged rocks of life repeatedly and with great pain, loss, and sorrow.  Give me strength to trust again, and to allow myself to believe that You may want to bless me in that great pit of anger, despair, and pain.  Guard my heart against bitterness for shattered dreams and expectations, and place within me the seeds of hope and trust that You desire to heal these areas of my life.  Please, Lord God, do not ask me to have hope where You have no interest or desire to fulfill some desire that I may have.  Desire that is put off for too long grows into disappointment.  But when You tell me directly that You will do something, regardless of my past circumstances, give me to the courage to believe Your word and to endure all that is necessary to bring it about, for You cannot lie.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Witnessing for God – Matthew 20:21-25

And They Really ARE Out To Get You…

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

Betrayed by Brothers

Jesus warns His disciples that when they are obedient to His word, they will be betrayed by their very own siblings.  And they won’t just be betrayed – they will be betrayed unto death.  Following Christ as a Disciple, especially witnessing for Christ, carries with it inherent risks.  In Western culture, these risks have been avoided for centuries because the tolerance for others religiously was greatly permitted.  However, since the fulfillment of Scripture of both the reformation of the nation of Israel (1948) and their subsequent independence of gentile control through the Six-Day War (in 1967), there has been an all-out assault on Christianity in the last haven on Earth for them.

It is common in the Middle East nations that have embraced Islam as their core tenet of society (whether overtly or covertly) to ensure that anyone who is caught believing in YHWH and His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, is put to death in a most immediate, public, and brutal way:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Persecuted by Parents

Parents love their children.  Most parents would place themselves in harm’s way to protect their children, even to the point of death.  But once a person becomes a disciple of Christ, that protection is forfeited.  The hatred of God by His enemies is so strong, that parents would betray their children, even allowing them to be arrested and put to death.  In many cultures, especially ones where they strictly adhere to the teachings of Muhammed and the Quran, there is a duty to reveal anyone who does not believe as they do.

Parents turn their backs on their children, and betray them even to death when they are strict adherents to the “religion of peace.”  But even two thousand years ago, Jewish parents would do the same, believing that their children were apostate, believing in false gods.  And the penalty for that was death.

Children will Cross

This was not a one-way street.  If children found out that there parents were apostate, they also had a duty to report them for the very same reason to receive the very same punishment.  The one that is worshiped in the Jewish culture will not tolerate worship of false Gods.  Neither will the fundamentalist adherents of Islam allow anyone who was declared to be Muslim worship anyone other than Al iLah.  Love that would normally bind together families and smooth out differences is not tolerated when it comes to whom or what a person worships.

Jesus warns that this will happen, so be prepared for the consequences of following Him as His disciple.  It very well may mean the difference between physical life and death.  But thanks be to God that He, through the blood of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, has given His disciples eternal life found in Him.  Regardless of whether we live or die in the flesh, we are spiritually alive in Christ, and will be so for all eternity, starting from when we believe upon His name.  Worry not about whether you are going to be persecuted or even put to death.  You are alive in Christ!

Depart before Destruction

Jesus instructs his disciples to flee persecution.  He does not require His disciples to be doormats for His enemies.  When persecuted, feel free to flee somewhere else where you will not face persecution.

It is truly a sad day for the disciples of Christ that the United States of America, once the bastion of liberty and a nation that permitted the free exercise of religion now openly persecutes and prosecutes those who adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  No longer is their protection to freely worship in public and private.  The state-mandated religion of Secular Humanism is now the religion du jour and the only one fully tolerated by the government (with the exception of Islam being preferred in the background).  Be prepared to lose everything if you decide, as a disciple of Christ, to live by your beliefs in public as well as private.  And now that the last bastion of freedom has vanished, there is no place on Earth where it is safe for disciples of Christ to go and practice their faith without fear of governmental reprisal.

Assault for Association

Jesus warns His disciples that they are not above Him, meaning that whatever mistreatment that He experienced living His life for the glory of God and to His honor, His disciples would endure the same as well.  The student is not above the teacher, receiving preferential treatment and avoiding the costs associated with the learning and practice of that learning in public.

Fully expect that for your identity in Christ that you will be singled out and persecuted if you live your life in the same manner as your Savior.  It is inevitable.  However, in the same way, your identity in Christ brings with it great rewards as well for you are not above your teacher, and will be rewarded for your obedience and submission to Him when God has appointed you to give an accounting for your life.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I fully prepared to suffer the same way that Jesus suffered and for the same reasons?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, please prepare me for what is to come.  For your Son has said that because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of most will grow cold.  Help me to endure to the end that I may be found in Christ.  Give me hope, strength, courage, wisdom, and boldness in life that regardless of what my enemies do to me that I will not flinch but rather be emboldened to speak what I have heard and seen.  Give me courage like a lion that when I am called to account by men I will not shrink back, but rather submit to Your Spirit and thus be used as You intend me to be used.  This I ask in the faithful and precious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

Cries for Justice – Psalm 74:18-23

God Is A God Of Justice As Well As Compassion, Grace, And Mercy.

18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the
land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
may the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Remembering Rancor

God is a God of justice.  He will not forget His holiness or righteousness.  When faced with people who hate God and seek the ruination of His people, it is alright to ask God to remember their rancorous actions.  God knows everything, but when we cry out to Him for help, we confirm His righteousness and agree with it.  God is also a God of mercy and grace.  We need to keep everything in balance.

Appeal for Assistance

God hears our cries for assistance and intervenes on our behalf.  He is not deaf to our appeals for intervention nor does He wish us undue harm.  We must also remember that in everything God is a God of timing.  And the difficult situations we find ourselves in at the moment may be necessary for some greater part of His plan.  More than once God has used the suffering of His people to bring about the conversion of an unbeliever through their dedication and faithfulness to God, regardless of their circumstances.  Be faithful in praying for help from the unrighteous, and be prepared to wait for His timing.

Completing the Covenant

God has not forgotten His covenant with us.  He is unable to forget it.  It is not wrong, however, to ask Him to remember it.  We appeal to God’s character as we ask for His help.  When we do so, we are magnifying and confirming His character and our faith in God’s righteousness.  We should never give up hope while waiting for God’s timing, and continually remind ourselves of His faithfulness by appealing to His character – that God is unable to break His covenants.

Remembering Righteousness

In times when it seems that God will not defend Himself against the attacks of the enemy, we must remind ourselves of God’s righteousness.  And while in the present time the pain and suffering seem unbearable, it is for our sanctification that God permits these trials in our lives.

God has not forgotten about His righteousness, nor has He shed it.  He is waiting for us to grow and believe in His character regardless of our circumstances.  God will mete out justice for the ones who reject Him continually, regardless of the opportunities that they have been provided.  And many times, the destruction of the righteous are used as an opportunity for the unrighteous to repent.

God is a just God, and justice will prevail.  Let us never cease to remember His character, nor fail to appeal to it in times of trouble or even our own destruction.  In all things, may God be given glory, praise, and honor, even in our cries for His justice.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: When faced with difficulties that overwhelm us, am I being patient, waiting upon God’s timing, and appealing to His character as faithfully as He is faithful?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have said that You will never leave us nor forsake us.  In this time of great injustice, remember me.  The oppression of the righteous is overwhelming me.  I am being crushed on all sides.  Remember the evil of my enemies, O God.  In righteousness, deliver me from their injustice, for You are a just and holy God.  Do not let their actions crush my spirit, but renew my spirit within me.  Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, and be merciful to all who oppress me, for they know not what they are doing.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

The Compassion of God – 2 Chronicles 30:6-9

The Lord Is A Compassionate God

6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

Reciprocating Return

Hezekiah pleaded for the Israelites to return to God.  He urged them to do this so that God would return to them as well.  The people had become stiff-necked, refusing to do what the Lord God Almighty had commanded them to do – to yield themselves to Him.  They had refused to repent, and continued in their sin, and God allowed their enemies to overcome them and remove them from the land that God had given to them.  Even in disciplining them, God anxiously awaited their return to Him, so that He could return to them.

Terror to Traitors

When they had refused to repent of their unfaithfulness, God made them an object of horror to all who seen them.  Through their continued unfaithfulness, they were acting in a way that men would call treason.  They no longer held God to be of the highest regard, and began to follow someone or something else.  Treason in many countries is punishable by immediate public execution.  The fact that God does not immediately do so shows His unfailing love and compassion towards us.

Submit in the Sanctuary

Hezekiah implored the people to submit to Almighty God, and to come to His holy sanctuary.  The sanctuary was the place where God dwelt.  We have the great benefit of being the sanctuary of God, our very bodies being the naos, the holy of holies, with the embodiment of God within us – the Holy Spirit has already taken residence.  Today, disciples cannot avoid God, for He is with us even when we may not want Him to be.  Because of this great honor, we should constantly remember His presence and power, His glory and honor, and submit in holy reverence to Him always.

Service avoids Soreness

Hezekiah goes on to say that we should serve the Lord so that His anger would be turned away.  We have been created to serve God.  We seem to flip things around, and desire that God serve us.  When we pray and ask God for help, but don’t bother to make ourselves available to serve God, is that not what we are doing?  God promises to give us strength and resources to do whatever He calls us to do.  And while it may not seem pleasant at the time (see Jonah), it is what God requires, and brings Him great glory.

God has planned before the foundation of the world the deeds that He wishes to accomplish through us.  We can submit in service to Him, and be part of His plan, or we can selfishly do what we want to do.  It is the terrible two-edged nature of free will.  But God believes that the rewards outweigh the risks, and knowing we would fail, provided His Son to die for our sins to get us back on track in our relationship with Him.  Or, do we tell our best friend, who just asked us to help Him, that He can go pound salt?

Compassion by Captors

When we return to the Lord, He returns and restores us.  He makes our enemies be at peace with us, and causes our captors to show us compassion.  Throughout the Bible, those who were captured and enslaved were shown mercy and compassion by their captors when they submitted themselves to God.

We are told that the Just shall Live by Faith.  We should do exactly that, and God will see us through all of the terrible difficulties He has allowed in our lives.  This is how we can be at peace with others.  When a people submit themselves to God, He is faithful.

Compassionate Creator

God takes compassion upon us when we return to Him.  It is part of His nature, a character feature that He cannot change or hide.  God will ALWAYS show compassion on those who humble themselves before Him, submit to Him, obey His commands, and show compassion to others.  God will not turn His face from those who do these things.  No matter what the devil tells you, God’s character is immutable – it will never change.  Heed the word of the Living God, and return in repentance to Him who loves You with an everlasting love.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show compassion to others in the same way that God shows me compassion?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, blessed be Your name, for You are a compassionate and merciful God.  You seek and save the lost, and when I stray, You come after me to restore me to the flock.  Forgive me for my many sins.  Help me to overcome that which so easily trips me up.  Give me strength, guidance, and desire to follow You in every way.  Help me to show others the same compassion that You show to me each and every day.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Identity in Christ – Acts 9:3-6

Be Found In Christ

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Proliferate Persecution

For nearly two thousand years, the disciples of Christ have been facing persecution of unimaginable nature.  Beaten, tortured, dismembered, crucified, impaled while covered in tar and set on fire while still alive, the list of brutal physical measures taken against the disciples of Jesus go on and on (for a better look, read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs“).

Even two thousand years ago, the public ruination of disciples occurred.  They were called cannibals (because of the unfounded belief of transubstantiation with the communion bread and wine), and often had their property seized.  One of the most effective ways to punish someone was to remove their economic ability to flourish.  It caused them to be far less effective in ministry (now having to work doubly hard just to get food let alone shelter), as well as sending a message to others that if they were found that way, they too would receive the same punishment.

Additionally, with the seizure of assets, the people persecuting the disciples became richer, and had better resources at their disposal to persecute others.  In the United States of America, it has been found that some police departments would profile people who had property and assets that they coveted in order to use the drug laws as a hammer to defraud victims of their property.  It made them very rich, and very feared.

Coupled in Christ

The good news is that we are IN CHRIST.  There is something subtle here.  Notice that Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting HIM.  He doesn’t ask why Saul is persecuting disciples, or Christians, or followers of the way.  Jesus asks why Saul is persecuting Him.  In the eyes of God, for all intents and purposes, we are joined to God in a way that is like marriage, where the two become one flesh.

Jesus views His disciples as part of Him.  There is no distinction between us and Him.  We ARE Him, in His eyes.  As the image-bearers of Christ, we are joined to Him in such a way that what we do and say is as if He said and did it.  It is imperative that we live our lives in such a way that God is glorified.

Found Faithful

God gives Saul a command – to go into the city where he will be told what to do.  Notice that God doesn’t say “repent!”.  He gave a command to be obeyed.  As followers of Christ, we have been told by Jesus that if we love Him, we will obey His commands.  Since we are found to be in Christ, we must live and act as Christ did while on Earth.  He was completely submitted to God, and obedient to all of His word.  In order to be found faithful, we too must be obedient to the word of the Living God.  For it is in obedience that we are found faithful, and then properly displaying the character of God.

Always remember that you are His image-bearer, His ambassador to the world.  An ambassador has the trust to act in the name of the one who sent him, as well as the authority of him as well.  We would do well to remember the awesome privilege and responsibility we have been graciously given so that we won’t abuse it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being a proper ambassador for Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have been more than gracious and merciful to send Your Son to be crucified for our sins.  You have joined us to You, and have given us great privilege and responsibility.  Father, help me to do all that You have planned for me to do.  Help me to remember that I am in Christ, and that I have the authority in Christ to do what You have commanded.  Help me to remember that when I am persecuted, it is not because of me, but because of Jesus whom they hate and despise.  Help me to remember that I was once like them, and to have compassion and mercy upon them for the sake of Your Holy name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Character of God – Matthew 28:11-15

God Does Not Deceive

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Honor in Honesty

The guards who had witnessed the angels opening the tomb that held our savior first did the right thing: they told the truth to the chief priests.  This is interesting, insofar as they were Roman soldiers, and should have reported this to their commanding officer.  While the Bible doesn’t say why they went to the chief priests first, it is a fairly goo assumption that the presence and power of angels at the tomb both enthralled and frightened them. It is most likely that they sought to understand what they had experienced, and sought out the experts in this area, the chief priests.  God does not like deception, but honors those who tell the truth.  The guards, fearing for their lives, went to the priests first and did what was right: they told the truth.  And what an interesting story came out of that meeting.

Paid to Perjure

Imagine the surprise of the guards who went to the chief priests of the Jews with their story.  Imagine being told that you were believed, but that you needed to cover up the truth.  Not only that, but a large bribe was provided to ensure that you perjured yourself.  And not only were you asked to perjure yourself, you were told that you needed to admit that you had failed to complete your duties (in this case, sleeping on the job)?  This was unconscionable, and could have caused the soldiers to lose their lives.

Not only were they asked to falsify their account, they were asked to say that they were incompetent, and that a bunch of unarmed fishermen were able to somehow overcome them to be able to steal away the body.  Although corruption may have been occurring, it was coming from the very highest ranked people who were charged with teaching and modelling God’s law – the chief priests.  Jesus rightly called them a brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs with dead men’s bones inside.

Corrupted Collusion

The soldiers were promised that if the report of their false story were to come up to the governor, they would satisfy him as well.  Imagine being a soldier and being told that your Commander-in-Chief would be bought off.  Perhaps it was the money or the disgrace, but the soldiers did what was asked of them.  And Paul rightly condemned this type of behavior:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness

Jesus said that these people were of their father, the devil, and that they spoke his native tongue – lying:

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.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I honoring God with my speech?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Your character is perfect through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to remember this when I am placed in difficult circumstances and asked to do what is wrong.  Give me the courage to stand up for the truth, and to accept whatever consequences come from it.  Guard my heart as I stand for You.  Prepare me to be a holy vessel, set apart from sin and dedicated to You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Combat Training with God – 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Remember These Things

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
if we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Trustworthy Truism

Paul provides us with a wonderful understanding of the truth of God.  He first states that if we have dies with Christ, we are alive with Him.  For in the association with His death, we are likewise spiritually raised from the dead in Christ.  He was the first, and we are reborn as a result.  Our identity in Christ is not only in His is death but also in his resurrection.  And although the resurrection of our bodies has yet to take place, the resurrection of our spirits has already taken place.

Sovereign State

God has promised that if we endure, we will reign with Him.  We are told to allow perseverance to finish its work so that we will be complete.  This requires endurance through our trials, as this provides us with the necessary perseverance.  God has provided for us the ability to overcome just as Jesus has overcome through yielding ourselves to His Spirit.  It is through His power, strength, patience, and endurance that we will be trained to endure with Him.  This is a necessary part of our training, as it helps us to be prepared for ruling with Him.

Don’t Disown

God says that we should not disown His Son, or we will be disowned.  If we are to properly identify with Christ, we must identify fully with Him through every trial.  Regardless of the pressures and difficulties we face, we must stand strong in our identification with Jesus Christ.  Jesus never recanted nor disowned the Father, even through torture, beatings, false witness against Him, and even through crucifixion.  In a like manner, we too must trust ourselves to God and endure through whatever difficulties await us as we publicly identify with Christ.

Forever Faithful

The good news is, even if we are faithless, God is faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.  As the image-bearers of God, it is our duty – our responsibility – to completely identify with God in thought, word, and actions.  It is through obedience to His word that we show ourselves as being faithful to God.  Jesus did everything that the Father told Him to do.  We need to follow His example if we are to identify with Him.

But even should we fail in this, we cannot through our failure show that Jesus is not faithful, for in His very nature He is God, and cannot be unfaithful nor disown Himself.  We can be assured that Jesus will forever be in identify with the Father, so that any failure on our part doesn’t reflect upon His perfect identity with God.  And it is in that identity that God the Father sees us as righteous.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I living out my identity in Christ in complete faithfulness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, thank You for the faithfulness of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  As Your image-bearer, it is my duty and privilege to identify with Him in all things.  Grant me the strength, endurance, and perseverance to overcome all of the challenges that face me today.  In this world, I face many trials.  But I know that You and You alone are able to get me through them all.  Remember me as the world, the flesh, and the devil place their soul-crushing pressures upon me through physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties that I may overcome them all.  I know that I can do this in the power and strength of Your Holy Spirit because Jesus has overcome the world.  Thank You for all that You do in my life and in the lives of everyone, for You are not a respecter of persons.  Help me to continue on in humility this day in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Character of God – Psalm 18:25-27

God Reveals Himself When We Partake In His Character

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Fully Faithful

God reveals His character as we participate in it.  He has shown that He is faithful in His word.  He has ensured that all of the promises that He has made in through His prophets have or will come to pass.  Prophecies made over twenty-five hundred years ago have only recently come to pass.  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, but does so on His timetable in order to bring glory to Himself.

When we are faithful to Him and others, God shows us His faithfulness.  He manifests this aspect of His character in His dealings with us.  He will bring about circumstances in our lives that will cause us to rely upon Him for His help, and then He will show Himself faithful in extricating us from those circumstances.

Beyond Blameless

When we are blameless before God, He shows us that He is blameless as well.  This does not mean that no difficulties will be encountered, but that God does not fail to keep His promises.  God will show the blameless that He is blameless.  In every aspect of God’s character, He shows us more of Himself when we participate in it.  To the merciful He shows mercy.  In every way, God is faithful to reveal His character.

Perfectly Pure

And when we are pure in heart, He reveals even more: for we will see God.  God delights in revealing His character to us.  He greatly desires to be known as He knows us.  And although we will only see in part in this life, He will fully reveal Himself in the coming eternity.  God is greatly desiring us to know Him better in this life.  We should take every opportunity to experience His character through our actions and words to others.  For it is only in the experiential knowledge of His character do we truly begin to know and see His character more fully.

Helping the Humble

Jesus said that he was gentle and humble in heart.  God helped Jesus through every trial and tribulation that He faced.  He provided Jesus with food and other provisions as were required.  God provided Jesus with power and wisdom.  In all things, God helps the humble in heart.  He even lifts us up when we humble ourselves.  Humility is the correct and appropriate manner of behavior before Almighty God.  Jesus has shown us how to behave before God, and being God, revealed the Father to us fully.  If you are having difficulties, humble yourself before God.

Shrewdly Subdue

And for the proud and devious, God has a different aspect of character to reveal – His holy righteous judgement and, eventually, wrath.  God gives us every opportunity to humble ourselves before Him.  Whether that was a prophet declaring the coming wrath of God, His holy word speaking to us, and/or the occasional terror that comes through our enemies overcoming us, God gives us the opportunity.  And when we do not heed His merciful and gracious promptings,  He is forced by His character to do what is necessary.

And while mercy and grace triumph over justice, it is justice that must be meted out when we refuse to obey.  God will be shrewd with those who are devious, and eventually thwart their plans.  For some He will allow them to greatly prosper and literally get away with murder here on Earth.  But they will be lulled into a false security, for when they are required to give an accounting of themselves before His great throne of justice on that final and terrible day, they will only then realize the terrible end that they have reaped according to what they have sown.  Remember that God is faithful in all things, even if His timing is not our own.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I participating in God’s character through experiential knowledge of it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Yourself to us both through Your word and Your character.  You always seek to help us so that we would know You better.  Remember me this day, and help me to participate in Your character in a greater way.  Help me to experience Your character as I put it into practice in my daily life.  Help me to be faithful, blameless, pure, merciful, gentle, and humble in heart.  May each of these qualities be found in my character as I interact with others.  Forgive me for my many sins, and show me how to live this way.  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?

Character of God – Psalm 119:89-91

God’s Word Endures Forever

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.

Wonderful Word

God’s word endures forever.  His word guides us in our ways.  We can rely on God’s word not changing, for God is truth, and there is no deception in Him.  The steadfast nature of God’s Word helps us to remember that He is faithful as well.  We can depend upon His word to guide us in the way we should go.

The counsel of men is fallible, and can change over time.  God’s word has the perspective of eternity, providing us with a more full understanding of the character and nature of God, as well as understand His righteousness and man’s evil.  The permanence of truth is should be a great comfort to all who seek it and learn from it.

Fully Faithful

God is always faithful.  His faithfulness spans generations, and is eternal.  And even though Heaven and Earth will pass away, God’s faithfulness will not.  God will always keep His word.  When we are tempted to believe that God is not being faithful, we only need to look at the endurance of our planet to remember that God does not change.

Loving Laws

Since God’s word will not pass away, we can always be assured that He will be fulfilling His promises.  God has made us many wonderful promises that He has fulfilled and continues to fulfill today.  His laws guide us in truth and righteousness.  It is only through the law that we recognize our true condition and can turn from sin towards God.  Permanence seems to be forsaken in the world today for the less permanent wants and desires of man.  Nothing in God’s word will pass away until everything is accomplished.  We ignore God’s Holy word at our own peril.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I delight in the character of God when I am going through trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You do not change like shifting shadows, but are the same yesterday, today, and for eternity.  Help me to remember Your steadfast love as I encounter the many trials I face today.  Strengthen me in the knowledge of Your character and desire to fulfill in Your time all that You have promised.  Keep my heart continually pointed towards Yours as the difficulties of life pull at me, and help me to cry out to You for my every need.  Surround me with Your peace, and guard me in my ways.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

 

Faithfulness to God – Acts 14:19-20

Never Stop Doing What Is Right In The Eyes Of God

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

Difficult Days

Most people have a really bad day every now and again.  But Paul had it a little harder than most people.  Even God said (about Paul’s life):

15 …”Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Paul had some interesting trials to undergo:

23 …I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

Most of us have not had to face the threat of death even once for the cause of Christ.  We do not yet know the difficulties that Paul encountered.  But even if that should change, we should take heart; Paul has shown us the way to overcome.  He was stoned near to death at least once.

Faithful Friends

Paul had very good friends.  After he was nearly stoned to death, they surrounded him.  They too could have faced stoning as well.  When a mob begins to act in emotion, it is difficult to dissuade them from their course of action.  Look at the recent mob activity in the United States of America.  Once the mob engages in violence, then comes the fires, and the looting, the beatings of innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It takes faithful friends to join you when the mob turns its full wrath upon you.

Continue to Contend

Most people, facing a near-death experience at the hands of an angry, murderous mob, would “take a hint” and go elsewhere.  Scripture shows us Paul’s reaction: he went right back into the city to preach.  That takes great faith and trust in God.  In speaking about hardship, Paul said:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Regardless of our circumstances, we should continue to contend for the faith.  God will provide our strength as we are faithful in His service.  We have no fear of this: whatever God calls you to, he will provide the means and resources for you to complete your tasks.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being faithful even when I experience great trial?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are faithful in all that You do.  You keep every promise that You make, and do so in perfect timing and in Your methods.  We know that we can count upon You to always be faithful.  Strengthen me this day, Father, that I would show that same faithfulness to You, regardless of my circumstances.  Help me to rely upon You totally and without reservation as trials come into my life.  Help me in my weakness that You would be strong for me.  Carry me when I cannot walk, and protect me from my adversaries.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Combat Training With God – John 16:1-4

Be Faithful To The Very End

1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.”

Misled Motives

Many throughout the last two thousand years have been murdering disciples of Christ, believing that they are offering a service to God.  From Saul of Tarsus – who later because Paul – to fundamentalist adherents to the greatest of all deceivers, many believe that ridding the world of the disciples of Christ is the right thing to do.  There are two main reasons why they want to do this:

  • They think that they are offering a service to God (heresy)
  • They greatly disagree with holiness and righteousness, and seek to silence anyone who reminds them that their actions are evil (self-centeredness)

In China, it is open season on believers.  Disciples are being hunted down through genocide in Middle Eastern and African countries.  This is now spreading throughout Europe, and will soon come to the Americas.

Ironic Ignorance

The sad and ironic end of this is that many believe that they are following the one true God, YHWH.  Instead, they show by their actions that they don’t know Him, and never knew Him, since if they knew Him, they would accept what His disciples have to say.  In this, it is necessary to love them with the same love that God loves you.  Pray for them, that the blindness that they have is removed, so that they may see the One True God.

Well Warned

When they come door-to-door looking for disciples of Christ, do not be alarmed, and do not be caught unawares.  Jesus has warned us that this would happen.  Even as the fundamentalist adherents to the greatest of deceivers presses towards the eradication of Jews, the disciples of Christ, and any who would dare not convert to barbarism, remember to keep the faith until death:

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show fear when I am threatened?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You that You have provided for all my needs.  You give me Your peace that surpasses all understanding.  Help me to stand strong that it would be a witness that You are real.  Strengthen me in my weakness.  Help me to overcome my fears, that should I ever need to stand strong, that I would be able to stand on the solid rock of Christ.  Remember those who falsely accuse me, and persecute me for the sake of the name of Jesus.  This I ask in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

Loyalty of God – Ruth 1:16-17

God Will Never Leave Us Nor Forsake Us

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Lasting Loyalty

There is something very special about loyalty.  It can’t be bought, and it is highly sought after by most people.  We may have good friends, but when our circumstances become bleak, will they scatter?  Ruth, a Moabite,  was different from most people.  She clung to Naomi and loved her dearly.  She pledged herself to Naomi in a way most of us would not do.  Even the disciples (with the exception of John, and possibly Peter) scattered when Jesus was arrested.

Ruth displayed for us the loyalty that God has for us.  God has said numerous times in His word that He was with us:

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Long-suffering Love

It takes great patience to persist in a friendship.  Ruth had this patience with Naomi.  She stood by Naomi through good and bad.  Even when Naomi changed her name to Mara (which means bitter), Naomi never left her and was her constant companion.

God has unimaginable patience with us.  We have been given a down-deposit when we accepted Christ of the continual companionship of the Holy Spirit.  He is very loyal.  We have also been told not to grieve Him.  The Holy Spirit stays with us regardless of where we go, what we do, or how we think.  We should always remember His love for us as we stumble through life, tripping over sin and falling flat on our face.  The good news that this is the perfect position from which to humbly seek God in repentance.

Faithful Friend

But it isn’t duty that Ruth felt that bound her to Naomi.  It was friendship.  Ruth saw the Godliness of Naomi and wanted to be her friend.  Her friendship with Naomi was so powerful that she pledged herself as Naomi’s companion.  God has been treating us like a friend even before we come to His Son.  Through the lens of eternity, God sees us as we will be, not as we are, and treats us that way now.

Jesus died on the cross for sinners who hadn’t even been born yet by our reckoning of time.  But to Jesus, He sees the end from the beginning, and treated us as His most precious friends, dying for us on the cross.  And just like Ruth, who said that even death could not separate her from Naomi, Jesus conquered death so that we could be with Him.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we being as faithful and loyal to God as He is to us in our friendship with Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me through Your word just how faithful and loyal You are.  You have never broken any of Your promises.  I thank You for Your patience in my life as I seek to honor and obey You.  Forgive me of my sins, and help me to turn to You and Your ways as You reveal them to me.  Help me to be loyal and faithful to You in all that I think, say, and do, that Your character would be on display as a light on hill.  Remember me as I walk in the world, for my feet keep getting dirty with the attitudes, thoughts, desires, and ways of those who do not know You.  Wash me in Your Word and in the precious perfect blood of Your Son, that I may be washed clean and renewed.  This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

Walking with God – Revelation 3:7-13

Let us be like the Church of Philadelphia, that God may have nothing against us

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Amazing Author

God confirms in the title of this author that it is Jesus Christ Himself who is speaking the words that John wrote and heard.  We can be sure that He has a proper grasp of all things, for Jesus is The Truth.

There are two churches that God does not reprimand for something – Smyrna and Philadelphia.  However, the church of Smyrna would have to go through the trials that were coming, and the church of Philadelphia would be spared them.  The Philadelphia church was the only one that was commended and found worthy.  It was highly commended by their Savior.  We should be aware of what Jesus had against the other churches so that we can avoid those pitfalls:

  • Ephesus: 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
  • Smyrna: [Based on the praise of the Philadelphia church, they may have not held to the command to endure patiently, and would have to go through the fiery trials.]
  • Pergamum: 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
  • Thyatira: 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
  • Sardis: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
  • Laodicea: 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Terrible Trials

The church has suffered greatly throughout the last 2000 years or so (read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” for more details).  Hebrews 11 tells of some of the sufferings they had to face.  The church throughout the world is undergoing trials right now, and even places that were safe for it fifty years ago are hotbeds of hostility.  Jesus gave us a warning about this:

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.

Faithful Foundation

We are exhorted to be faithful.  We can do so, for Jesus, our example and mentor, was faithful, even unto death, and death on a cross!  How much more so should we be faithful who only have to suffer a little bit.

It is not my intention to minimize the pain that people experience in their trials – it is very painful.  Some people are more able to cope with types of suffering that others find unbearable.  So we should be empathetic to the suffering of others.  And never discount the suffering of those who have had the trial of unending physical pain through incurable disease.  Just because you cannot see someone else’s pain doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing it.

Let us be found faithful so that we may endure patiently and  persevere through suffering by leaning on our rock of salvation, experiencing His peace through the trial.  It is only then that we are able to overcome.  Prolonged suffering, whether physical or emotional without any relief for an extended time (think decades…) can drive a person to become depressed, angry, confused, withdrawn, and if not tended to properly, despondent.

Valorous Victory

Our reward for obedience and patience through suffering is victory over death in Jesus Christ.  No amount of works that we do commends us to God, but God is pleased as we display His character to the world.  Remember that the thief on the cross next to Jesus was admitted into the kingdom of heaven.  He believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.

Let us rejoice in victory, for Christ has already procured that for us in His victory over death.  And it is in Christ that we were crucified and raised from the dead in Him.  Therefore, the second death – eternal spiritual separation from God – has been overcome already.  That is our light at the end of the tunnel of suffering.  Gaze upon it, have your eyes fixed upon Jesus, and regardless of the struggle, He will get you through it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we keeping God’s command to endure patiently through trial?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Your Son, Jesus Christ, to us through the Book of Revelation.  I think You Lord for the warnings that You have given me in your letters to the churches.  Help me to be like the church in Philadelphia that you would find nothing against me.  Forgive me of all my sins, and show me where I am lacking, that I may grow.  Provide me with the strength and wisdom to walk in Your ways.  Help me to overcome.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Commission of God – Luke 10:8-12

Proclaim The Gospel!

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Contented Consumption

During the time of Christ’s ministry about two thousand years ago, people often sacrificed their foods to idols and false gods.  Jesus, aware of the Jewish dietary concerns of His disciples, indicated to them that it was OK to eat the food that was offered to them.  Paul later gave more insight into this area.  By accepting the food offered, they were able to not offend their hosts and receive the blessings that God had provided to fulfill their needs.

Move in Miracles

It has been said that miracles should follow believers, and that believers should not follow miracles.  God gave these specific men special grace to heal the sick, cast out demons, and perform other miracles.  This verified their calling from God, and opened the hearts of the people to believe the Word of God when preached to them.  When we merely follow miracles, we are not ourselves the bearer of miracles.  When we focus on the mission of God, He will validate His calling upon His people so that the unsaved would recognize the power and glory of God upon His servants, and that His servants would recognize God’s calling upon them as well.

Prudently Proclaim

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, believed in the Soup -> Soap -> Salvation principle.  He believed that it was very difficult to preach a loving saviors to a person that was starving to death.  Once a person was out of pain and suffering, they were in a better position to be able to listen.  Tending to a person’s physical needs enabled that person to hear the Gospel with more open ears.  And after healing the sick, the disciples mightily proclaimed it.

Witness the Warning

Just a reminder to all of us, as well as them, Jesus implied that we are merely the mail carrier.  Whether or not the person desires their mail, opens it, or even likes it, is up to them.  It is our responsibility to deliver the message, nothing more.  The Holy Spirit is responsible for the preparation of the soil of people’s heart – we merely cast the seed.

And when people refuse the mail, we merely remind them that we delivered the message, and that they have heard the message – “The kingdom of God is near.”  Then they shook the dust from their feet.  This was a symbolic message equivalent to today’s phrase, “I wash my hands of this.”  The disciples had done everything that they could, and even the dust would be a witness against them.  Paul put this into practice when he and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet at Pisidian Antioch.

The Day of Destruction

Jesus gave us something to think about.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God for their sin.  Yet the areas that were given the Gospel and refused it will be judged harsher than them, for they have heard the message of salvation and rejected it.  Woe be to any who hear and harden their hearts; for they don’t reject you, they have rejected the One who sent you.  And when the ones who rejected You come before the White Throne Seat of Judgement, God can say, “Did not my faithful servants bring you my message?  Did you not reject it?”  They will have no excuse.  Paul says that even creation itself shows them that they have no excuse.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: Are we faithfully delivering the message?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it should grieve us to know that many will refuse to acknowledge Your Son as Lord and Savior.  Help me to remember that one reason that You have saved me is to do Your perfect will.  Transform my mind with Your perfect Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that I may be positioned to test and approve Your Good, Perfect, and Pleasing Will.  Strengthen me today and remove any hindrances that are keeping me from doing what You have called me to do.  May I be like Abraham and immediately attend to and obey Your commands.  Help me as I transition to being a better message bearer.  Father, all I desire to hear when I am called home is to hear Your Son say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  May my heart so greatly desire to hear those words that anything else I have been doing in my life will seem as insignificant as dust blowing in the wind.  Help me Lord God Almighty to focus on the tasks at hand and to not be distracted by anything.  Guard and guide my heart, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Trusting in God – Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Fear is an interesting emotion.  Just about everyone has experienced the heart wrenching, gut kicking, grip of fear in their lives.  When we experience that level of emotion, it has a tendency to so overpower us that we are unable to see things clearly – it effectively incapacitates us.  Fear is a natural response that God gave us to help us to survive.  Without fear, we would most probably do things that no level-headed person would ever consider doing.

The Bible indicates that fear has to do with punishment.  Yet we are told to fear God.  In the latter case, this is a reverent trust in God; not a gripping, emotional aversion.  How we respond in circumstances is a witness to the power and glory of God.  When we show fear, we are in effect saying that we cannot trust God to deliver us from our circumstances.  While this may seem odd, you may want to take a look at the life of King Hezekiah when Assyria was threatening the kingdom of Judah.

When we trust in the Lord, even when there seems to be no way to victory, it brings glory to God, and strengthens our faith.  The reason we trust is because God is faithful.  And in that, we are able to be faithful, regardless of the issues that plague us.  We trust in God for the big stuff – Salvation, Resurrection, Eternal Life, etc.  But we are told to have faith like little children.  They don’t question – they have complete, unwavering faith in their parents, especially when they don’t understand something.

So let’s ask the question:  Are we trusting God in the little stuff?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, in my times of need, please drive all fear out of my heart so that I may be able to trust you more.  My fear gets in the way of trusting that You are who You say You are.  Deepen my faith in these times, Lord God, and help me to respond in a way that glorifies Your name.  You have revealed Yourself as faithful so that others may see Your faithfulness and trust in You.  Do not let my emotions instruct my will to direct my intellect; rather, help my intellect to instruct my will so that it can direct my emotions.  You are able to do this and far more than we can ever imagine, Lord God.  Help me to be faithful to You in childlike faith and trust.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ name, Amen

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