Daily Devotional; formerly Chaplains Corner

Discussion in 'Religious Discussions' started by ampaterry, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    If it walks like a duck…

    We all know the rest of that line. But what about being a Christian? There are a lot of people out there who claim to be Christians; they can talk a pretty good line about religion, and are considered to be authorities. So when the BBC, for example, wants to get a “religious expert” they go find someone who agrees with their PC line who has the right credentials or pieces of paper hanging on his wall, and coo all over him as he tickles their ears with what they want to hear.

    Sorry, folks. Just because you are in a garage, that doesn’t make you a car. Just because you are in a church or do religious things that doesn’t make you a Christian. A lot of people say things like “I hope I’m a Christian. I try to live right. I’m not a muslim or an atheist or a communist”, or a lot of other things. I don't kill people or rob banks. So therefore if I’m not any of these things I must, by process of elimination, be a Christian.

    God says in His Letters to us, that’s the Bible, that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are Christians. There is no “I hope” about it. Instead there is an absolute knowledge that I am a Christian.

    Where does this unshakable knowledge come from in the Bible?

    Start with Peter, when he had that conversation with Jesus in Matthew 16. He had just asked the disciples who everyone thought He is. They said that some said this person, some said that person, or someone else, all good people. Then Jesus asked them, “15 …“But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church;”

    It was on that rock solid confession, that absolute assurance, that unshakable profession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, that forms an unyielding foundation for our confidence, our sure knowledge that we are Christians. Jesus is the Christ. He is the one God sent into the world to take the penalty for our sins on Himself when He died on the Cross. He opened the way for us to come to God.

    Words are cheap. Anyone can say “Jesus is Lord” and think they mean it. Jesus knew that and said in Matthew 7 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

    And therein lies the key. He who does the will of My Father is the one who is a Christian. People may do a lot of things, claiming to be Christians, but if their life does not back their words and actions, they are making their own rules up about what a Christian is. Jesus goes on to say…

    22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

    So how can we know for sure? Remember the Pharisee and the sinner who were praying in the temple in Luke 18? The Pharisee who made a great show of his religion was that fake Christian. The publican who couldn’t even look up while he whispered ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ was the real Christian.

    We have to walk the walk. Jesus said in John 14 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

    John must have been thinking about that in the following years. He came back to it when He was writing to encourage some Christians he knew. He said in 1 John 2 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    By this we know. The Greek word for know is the word we get “recognize” from. It’s not the head knowledge that you get from reading or hearing about something. It’s life knowledge from having experienced it firsthand. Someone is viewing a police line-up and they immediately, unhesitatingly, point to the perpetrator and say “It’s him. He did it. I know because I recognize him. I’ll never forget that face as long as I live.” Someone says “Yes, I know that road; I’ve driven it many times.” Or “I know that neighborhood. I live there.”

    How do we know? If we are walking the walk. We keep His commandments. Jesus said “By their fruit you will know them.” And that word for "keep" is the same word we get "terrier" from. Just think of a dog that has a good strong hold of something with his teeth. He won't let go. You can lift him up with whatever he has gotten his teeth into. We get our teeth into God's Word and won't let go for anything.

    First we have to know what His commandments are. That only comes by spending time in God’s Word, reading it, studying it, thinking on it, then doing what it tells us to do. We keep His Word. When we have God’s Word so ingrained in us that it becomes part of our very being, then we begin thinking the way God wants us to think; we begin feeling the way God wants us to feel; we begin talking the way God wants us to talk; we begin acting the way God wants us to act. We walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.

    May God bless us richly as we get His Word into our lives so that we walk the walk, and know beyond any kind of doubt, that we are Christians.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    OK guys, politics is really dominating the news, and it’s not good news either. We could get extremely depressed, bent out of shape, angry at the shenanigans and criminal activity that are being pulled off in broad daylight and nobody is willing to do anything about it. We could feel totally frustrated.

    Or, and I hope this isn’t some pie in the sky kind of idea, we can turn our focus onto the glory of God for a while, let that recharge us, and go back into the fray heartened, strengthened, encouraged, and with a new appreciation that whatever is happening here on earth, our God is in His Heaven and He does whatever He pleases—in Heaven, and here on earth.

    So let’s look at Psalm 48 for a few minutes.

    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain.
    2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north,
    The city of the great King.
    3 God, in her palaces, Has made Himself known as a stronghold.


    Our Lord is great, and greatly to be praised, unlike many of the current politicians. Jerusalem and Mount Zion in the Middle East is one geographical location, and in God’s eyes it is special. But when did God ever limit Himself to just one place? The whole earth is His, and as Jesus said in Matthew 18 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” He is where His people are, any place in the world, whether it be the top of Mount Everest, the depths of Death Valley, the frozen north or south poles, or on the burning deserts. There is no place He is not. Remember what the angels said in Isaiah 6? “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”

    And wherever He is, He has made Himself known as a stronghold. There is no place we can’t get out from under God’s care. Oh sure, we can reject Him, run away from Him the way Israel did so many times, but if we want to stay under His care and live by His commands, He is with us wherever we are, protecting us, shielding us, loving us, caring for us, providing for us.

    4 For, lo, the kings assembled themselves, They passed by together.
    5 They saw it, then they were amazed; They were terrified, they fled in alarm.
    6 Panic seized them there, Anguish, as of a woman in childbirth.

    We see kings and leaders assembling themselves to oppose God. They make laws that restrict our freedom of speech, our freedom to worship God, our freedom to tell others about Jesus and even to raise our own children the way God wants us to. They do this for the same reason I kill wasps and yellow jackets. I’m kind of afraid of them, don’t want to get stung. These kings, these political leaders, these people who lead movements and organizations that hate God are trying to stamp Christianity out because they are terrified of Him. Do you remember what God said in John 3? 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

    But that darkness could not understand or overcome or extinguish the light.

    7 With the east wind You break the ships of Tarshish. Just picture a mighty military force sailing to invade a country being battered to pieces in a storm. No man had a hand in defeating them. The hand of God blew them to bits. Think about the ways and times God has fought the battle for individuals, for nations. The Bible and History are littered with those events. So…

    8 As we have heard, so have we seen In the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God;
    God will establish her forever.


    Selah. Pause and think about that for a while. And then…

    9 We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, In the midst of Your temple.

    Church is a good place to think on God’s lovingkindness, and it’s a great place to encourage each other. It’s a time to get our minds focused on how great and powerful and wise and just and glorious our God is. There is no place on this earth that does not reflect His glory in some way or another. But God’s glory is not limited to church, to a geographical location.

    10 As is Your name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
    Your right hand is full of righteousness.
    11 Let Mount Zion be glad, Let the daughters of Judah rejoice Because of Your judgments.


    Don’t you just wish the judges in our courts had a sense of God’s justice? Don’t you just wish the politicians had a sense of God’s righteousness?

    12 Walk about Zion and go around her; Count her towers;
    13 Consider her ramparts; Go through her palaces, That you may tell it to the next generation.


    14 For such is God, Our God forever and ever;
    He will guide us until
    [through] death.

    God’s glory is not limited to time, to a particular century or era. People last a lifetime. They live, then they die and they are gone. For people bent on trying to do away with God, that’s the end of their plans, schemes, and activities. Political leaders come and go. Business leaders come and go. Other kinds of leaders come and go.

    But our God is eternal, and He is our guide all the way through life, and beyond life. Yes, our bodies will last us a lifetime, but God will guide us even beyond the end of our physical lives here on earth. Just think of Him giving us a guided tour of Heaven, where we can count the towers, consider Heaven’s ramparts, count Heaven’s palaces. Think of Him guiding us on through whatever things He has for us to do in Heaven.

    Our God is great and greatly to be praised. When things start looking dark, look to the Light; turn His light on the problem.
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    There are many things going on in the US (and in the UK) just now that are just plain trying to stamp out freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We just got word over here that a Christian Bakery in Ireland has lost their appeal in the Court of Appeal in Belfast about a judgment against them because they would not bake a cake decorated with the banner “support gay marriage”. Another bakery in Washington State has been forced to close for the same reason.

    Some religions react to this kind of thing with violence, rioting and killing people who do not bow down to their gods.

    Richard Wurmbrand, in his book Tortured for Christ saw this same thing happening in his own land as the Communists took over and imposed their iron boot heel of “peace” on the people. His response was not to hate his enemies, but to love them. He makes a big distinction between what some people call love and God's love. Religious leaders assimilated themselves into Communism, adopted the Communist ideals in the name of “love” and ecumenism. In effect they became traitors to Christ and to Christians. His understanding of God’s love for people was to share the Gospel with them. Everyone has a God-shaped vacuum in his life, and the best way to love people is to show them how God will fill that vacuum. The only way to stop the persecution of Christians is to win the persecutors over to Christ, as Paul was won over to Christ.

    The same thing is happening in the US today as Christians are being prosecuted and persecuted for standing by their convictions, obeying their consciences, obeying God rather than man. And they are paying a heavy price for that. It could be very discouraging.

    But…

    2 Corinthians 4 says Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. Paul and those with him have grabbed hold of God’s promise in Joshua 1: 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” They know for certain that Jesus meant what He said in Matthew 28: 20 … And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” A higher authority than any king, any president, any court the world has to offer has commissioned, commanded, them, and us, to tell people about Jesus. So we should not lose heart.

    It would be easy to stoop to satan’s tactics, to do things the world’s way by twisting truth, by swaying opinion with innuendo and half truths. But that’s not God’s way. See 2 Corinthians 4 again:

    2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. There are too many churches, too many politicians, who try to twist God’s Truth to make their message seem to come from God, or to try to justify their ideas. Instead they pick and choose which verses and passages of the Bible they can use to cobble together some sort of nice sounding message that will make people feel good, that somehow they have it within themselves to be good enough to merit salvation, life in heaven with God for eternity. In this day and age people twist information, invent “facts”, and use every dirty trick in the book to foist their lies on us.

    For them the Gospel is an inconvenient truth. They can’t stomach the idea that all people are sinners with no innate hope of salvation, of eternal life. They can’t bear to have to say that some people will spend eternity in hell because they didn’t receive the free gift of salvation, of forgiveness of their sins from God because Jesus took the penalty for their sins on Himself when He died on the cross. That penalty for our sins has been paid in full, and in proof of that, Jesus was resurrected. The tomb is empty.

    The message of the Gospel is unpopular because people don't like being told they are sinners, that they can't make heaven on their own steam. So they preach something that will make them popular.

    Our task is to make the Gospel as clear as we can to whoever we can. God’s task is to open their eyes, their minds, their hearts, to make them able to understand it. Some people just flat out won’t be able to understand God’s Good News. Some people have given themselves over to “the god of this world” so completely that they will never be able to grasp the Gospel.

    3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    We can write letters to our representatives and to the newspapers, we can join mass protests, we can sign petitions, we can expose corruption and lies at every level of government; we can do our best to counter the anti constitutional, anti Christian propaganda coming at us from all sides, and these things are all good, but until these people become Christians we are fighting a losing battle to try to turn our nations around and get them back on a Christian footing. These people need to be given a chance to hear and either respond or reject the Gospel. And we are that chance. Each of us has a unique circle of people we can talk with about Jesus.

    May God bless us richly as He uses us to shine the light of His Gospel into this dark world.
     
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  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Have you ever read something and it kind of jumps out at you? You are going along and all of a sudden you see something that makes you say, “I know what he’s talking about”.

    The first verse of 1 Peter 1 kind of jumped out at me like that. It says To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

    To those who reside as aliens. Several thoughts jumped out at me all at once.

    First, the news has been full of reports about the destruction of “The Jungle”, that tent city full of refugees in Calais. All those refugees are trying to get away from their homeland for various reasons, one of which is the wars. It’s too bad they don’t have the mentality the US does with the Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. If they did, they would have the means to protect their own homeland and not be driven out by terrorists.

    But some of these refugees do manage to get settled in the UK, and other countries over here. Some are making it across to the US. They reside as aliens, scattered throughout various countries around the world. Some of them are Christians, most that are being resettled are muslims. Just an aside, the Christian refugees are being persecuted by the muslim refugees. The Christian refugees are all too often the last to be selected for resettlement. That’s the PC world for you, and it just falls in line with what Jesus said about being persecuted for His name’s sake.

    But back on topic now. Those who reside as aliens. When we lived in the US my wife had to get a “green card”—a resident alien card that told anyone who needed to know that she was in the country legally and that she had certain rights. She could get a driver’s license. She could work. She could pay taxes and earn Social Security. She could do many of the things a citizen of the US could because she had that green card. However, she was still an alien—someone who did not have US citizenship, but was citizen of a foreign land.

    In some ways, I’m now in the same boat, but I do have dual nationality. I was born in the UK, but my parents are US citizens, and that makes me a citizen of both the US and the UK. Because I grew up in the US, people think of me as “American”, so in some ways I’m an “alien” in the UK. I’m part of the community, but I’m still a little different.

    As an “alien” in the UK or in the US, we settled down, made friends, are part of our community, are gainfully employed. But, because of my US background, I have some values that people over here don’t. When we were living in the US, some of my wife’s values and approaches to life had a distinctly British flavor.

    Another thought crossed my mind when I read "Those who reside as aliens" was of Abraham. God told him what to do in Genesis 12: “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

    God directed Abraham to a foreign land, where he took up residence and lived as an alien among those people. He had good relationships with these people; He had friends; he made a positive contribution to the community, but he did not assimilate into their way of life. He didn’t adopt the lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was God’s man in a foreign land.

    When Israel was about to be carted off to Babylon, God told them not to worry. They should settle down, build homes, grow crops, and make this their new long term temporary home. In due course, in God’s time, they would be going back to their homeland. Again, even as they settled down and became a positive part of their communities they maintained their Jewishness and didn’t assimilate into their new countries completely. The Jews had been dispersed, and the Greek word that they used for that back in Peter’s time was “diaspora”.

    So Peter is writing to these new Christians who are living as aliens, scattered around the various countries. The Greek word Peter uses for scattered is “diaspora”—the same thing that had happened to the Jews.

    Now the punch line, friends. Peter was writing to Christians. These Christians were probably full citizens of the countries where they lived--Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But they were living as Christians in their countries that were governed by pagan rulers, laws, and customs and society. They were living as part of their community, but they are there as aliens. Their approach to life as Christians was completely different to that of the people they were living next door to, or with whom they worked.

    So do we. God has scattered us around the world in our various communities, and we can be a constructive part of our communities, but we are still aliens because as Christians we have a new citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, first and foremost. Then we happen to also be citizens of the US, or the UK, or Germany, or Poland, or Canada, or whatever other country we happened to be born in. We can be part of our community, but because we have Jesus living in us, we can never completely assimilate into our society.

    You know, that’s the norm for Christians. We come from a long line of “non assimilators”. Check out Hebrews 11: 13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

    Strangers and exiles here on earth. By the way, “exiles” is the same Greek word as the phrase “reside as aliens”. We need to be part of our communities, to have positive input into the places where we live. But we also need to remember this is only our temporary home, and that we are strangers and aliens. Our real home and citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, and God will gather His “diaspora” into His Home for us when He is ready for us to be there.
     
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  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    In the world

    Yesterday we looked a little at how we are strangers and exiles in this world. We live in it, but we are not to completely assimilate ourselves into this world. Let’s think a little more about that.

    We glanced at how the Israelites had been exiled to Babylon. That had been a heartbreaking experience for them. Psalm 137 describes the utter grief they felt, their total hopelessness, and the furious rage against their captors. Here is the Psalm:

    By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.
    2 Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps.
    3 For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”


    4 How can we sing the Lord’s song In a foreign land?
    5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill.
    6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you,
    If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.


    7 Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem,
    Who said, “Raze it, raze it To its very foundation.”
    8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you
    With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
    9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock.


    These exiled Israelites were being forced to live in a foreign land, where the natives mocked them, saw them as a source of entertainment. The Israelites were determined to keep their “Jewishness” and remember their homeland. They were powerless to take revenge, so they called on God to avenge them. He might use human means: “How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.”

    Then Jeremiah sent a message to the Israelites who had been exiled to Babylon. He was not telling them to melt into the Babylonian society, but he was telling them to get settled in because it would be a long stay. Jeremiah 29 has that message:

    4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’… 10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope…

    Israel was to settle in as exiles, as strangers into this strange land. They were to 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’

    That was then. This is now. Jesus said to His disciples in John 15 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

    Then again He prayed this for us in John 17: 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

    We are not of the world. We are in the world, but not of it because we are citizens of God’s Kingdom now, not citizens of this world. But God has sent us into the world

    There was a time when we were of the world. That’s what God reminds us of in Ephesians 2: 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    Now, we who are Christians have been given citizenship in Heaven, in God’s Kingdom, and that takes precedence over all other nationalities. We have been brought near by the blood of Christ. .

    In a sense, we are like the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon. The big difference is that they knew what they had lost. We don’t know fully what we are gaining when we “come home”.

    In the meantime, we are living in this world, part of it, but not of it, just as the Jews were living in Babylon, part of it, but not of it. One of the things Jeremiah said to them in his letter was to 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’

    We love our countries, and are grieved to see so many evil things that are happening in them. We fear for the way the leadership seems to be bending our countries away from God. Every step away from God that our countries take is a step that drives us deeper into exile. Part of that “seeking the welfare of the country” is to do what we can to bring our countries back to a Godly foundation.

    We’ll look into this more tomorrow, God willing.
     
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  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Still in this world

    When God made Abraham a stranger in the strange (to him) land of Canaan, God had him move physically from one location, Haran, to another, which He promised to give to Abraham’s offspring forever.

    Jesus said in John 17 that we are in this world, but not of the world. God moved Abraham from one location to another. We have been moved not physically, but spiritually from the old comfortable world where we were strangers to God, to being God’s children and strangers to the world. We are in the same place, but we have changed. God has come into our lives and made some changes. The things we once wanted and did and talked about we no longer want and do and talk about. They are being replaced with the things God wants us to want, and to do and to talk about.

    Some of these changes are things the people in the world value, but cannot achieve, because God is not working in them. The world values honesty, fidelity, steadfastness, honor, and other good character traits, but cannot consistently realize them because God is not working in their lives. People like the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 but can never produce it because they do not have God’s Spirit working in them.

    We fail to consistently achieve them because of the constant struggle between our “old self” and our “new self”. Paul describes that struggle in Romans 7; 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

    That’s why God gave us His promise in 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    But God is working in us to change us from what we were to what He wants us to be, to make us able to do the things He wants us to do, to want the things He wants, to say the things He wants us to say. God talkied about that clear back in Ezekiel 36: 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

    Philippians 1 says this heart transplant will take a while, but it will happen. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

    God is putting a new heart in us and that new heart will love Him. He is putting His Spirit in us to make us want to do the things He wants us to do.

    Now, check this out. How does He want us to live in this world with His new heart and with His spirit?

    Here are a few selections.

    1 John 2 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

    1 Peter 5 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    James 1 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

    Philippians 2 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

    1 Timothy 6 17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

    Yes, friends, we are different from the rest of the world because God is working in us. It’s an ongoing process that will take the rest of our lives, and sometimes for every three steps forward we’ll fall two steps back, but He has started His good work in us and He won’t give up on us. For that we can thank God.
     
  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    October 31. Everyone knows this as Halloween, the day kids dress up and go door to door to get candy from their neighbors. It's a day that occult groups and Satanists look forward to. But look at the origins of the day.

    I received this as an email from Breakpoint and want to pass it on to you. It’s the transcript from a podcast a couple of days ago. It turns the secular view of Halloween on its head. It follows on to some of the things we’ve been looking into about how we as Christians should live in today’s world.

    Honoring the Witnesses: All Saints’ Day

    For Christians, there is no more controversial day on the calendar than Halloween. So what did Chuck Colson have to say about it?

    This is Eric Metaxas.
    What’s the Halloween equivalent of a “scrooge?” While I wouldn’t quite put myself in that category, I’ve gotta admit I’ve never been a huge fan of trick or treating. Especially nowadays, with most kids dressing up as ghouls, goblins, demons, witches and what not.

    In any case, it’s safe to say that what began as a night to mark the eve of All Saint’s day has turned into a commercialized celebration of, well, darkness.

    Back in 2007 on this program, Chuck Colson took us back to the profoundly Christian roots of this holiday. So let’s listen to Chuck’s broadcast, “Honoring the Witnesses.”

    It is Halloween again, and to be frank, I really don’t look forward to talking about it on “BreakPoint” every year. At best, Halloween has become an excuse to ask total strangers for candy. At worst, it's a celebration of the mindless paganism our ancestors wisely turned their backs on.

    So this year, I'd like to turn your attention to the often-overlooked celebration that Halloween calls to mind. In case you've missed it before, the name Halloween is a shortening of All Hallow’s Eve and signifies the night before All Saints’ Day.

    For centuries on All Saints’ Day the Church celebrated the lives of Christians who went before us. And rightly so: We can learn so much from those whom the author of Hebrews calls that great cloud of witnesses.

    The tradition of remembering the Church triumphant dates back to the time of the first Christian martyrs. When soldiers of Marcus Aurelius Verus came to arrest Polycarp, a beloved church leader, Polycarp greeted them kindly. According to the third century historian Eusebius, Polycarp “ordered a table to be laid for them immediately, invited them to eat as much as they liked, asking in return a single hour in which he could pray.”

    When Polycarp later stood in the coliseum, accused and surrounded by the jeering crowds, the governor pressed him to recant his faith. Instead, this man, who himself had been discipled by the Apostle John, said this: “For eighty-six years, I have been [Christ’s] servant, and He has never done me wrong: How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” As they were preparing to burn him alive, Polycarp offered up prayers of faith and praise.

    In the years following Polycarp’s death, Christians would gather annually to take communion beside his grave. There they would remember his brave witness and take courage from his example.

    As the years passed, the day shifted in focusing from remembering Polycarp to honoring all martyrs. By the seventh century, the Church created a holiday to honor all of God’s saints—heroes of the faith.

    One of my favorite heroes was a woman named Monica, who lived during the fourth century. She would never face flames or jeering crowds, as did Polycarp, but she did face testing. That testing came in the form of her own longing for the return of her prodigal son, Augustine. His licentious lifestyle made this Christian mother weep. Later, when Augustine, who is now known as one of the foremost theologians of Christianity and scholars of Western civilization, did come to Christ, he wrote this prayer: “My mother, Your faithful servant, wept to You for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than others shed for the bodily death of a son. You heard her.”

    I could tell you story after story like this, from Justin Martyr to Martin Luther to Amy Carmichael. But let me encourage you to do something this All Saints’ Day. Take the lead in your church to honor the great saints who set examples for us. Reacquaint your children with Halloween’s Christian origins. Research together and talk about the lives of Christian heroes.

    Sure, go ahead and let the kids dress up like Batman and hit up your neighbors for candy. But when the hoopla of modern Halloween is over, encourage your kids to imitate some real heroes—not in what they put on, but in how they live their lives.

    (This commentary originally aired October 31, 2007.)

    http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/30041

    Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

    1 Peter 5 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
     
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  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    We the people

    The Constitution of the United States starts out with “We the People”. People are notorious for changing. Values that our grandparents had have been lost. Israel is a vivid illustration of how quickly people can change. As they were taking over the Promised Land Joshua gave them the challenge in Joshua 24 14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living...

    The people responded: 16 The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods;…We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.” Three times in that conversation the people solemnly promised that they would listen to God and serve Him only.

    Guess what? A generation or two down the line, in the book of Judges, it says (Judges 17) 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. They had failed to serve God only. They were worshipping idols, they were failing to keep the feasts and fasts God had prescribed in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and had drifted away.

    God had told them how to stay on track, back in Deuteronomy 6. He said 4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

    God’s plan to keep His people on track was to, first of all, love Him totally. Then they were to teach their children God’s commands, passing them on when they were sitting around the dinner table, walking around outside; these were to be their bedtime stories, and part of their breakfast activities. Then they were to post Bible verses everywhere; on the gateposts of their front yards, on the doorposts of their houses, even wear them on their foreheads and on their hands. You would not be able to move around or talk to anyone or do anything without finding God’s Word right in front of you.

    But Israel didn’t do that. Maybe they did it in such a way that it became ceremonial, something to pay lip service to, but they fell away from loving God with all their hearts and souls and might and keeping His Word in fron of them. The inevitable happened. God had said that if they stayed true to Him He would protect them from the bad guys—the enemies in the surrounding lands. If they drifted away He would remove His shield of protection and let the enemies overrun their lands, and that is just what happened, time after time, throughout the book of Judges, and all the way through the Old Testament.

    God’s plan was that the parents would teach the children His laws and statutes and rules for living. God’s plan was that His Word would always be in front of the people so they couldn’t forget it. But they didn’t do that.

    If you check back in Deuteronomy 17 you’ll see that the king was to make his own hand-written copy of God’s Word and keep it with him at all times. 8 “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.

    The Law of God was to be the constitution of the Kingdom of Israel, and God Himself was to be the authority backing it up. That didn’t happen.

    Now that is what has been happening in the US and in the UK. “We the people” have changed, have drifted away from the standards God set up for our forefathers. Our political leaders have rejected God’s Law in favor of whatever will get them more votes.

    Public prayer has been removed from the schools, from government, from the military, and many other places in the public eye. Exhibits of the Ten Commandments and other Bible references have been removed from public places such as schools and court houses.

    The main reason for this? I would suggest this: we as a nation have failed to do what the Israelites failed to do. Parents have neglected teaching their children. We have removed God’s Law from public sight as much as possible. We now have at least one prominent politician calling for Christians to keep their religion in their churches, and not show it publicly.

    The only way to turn this around is not from the top down but from the bottom up. The people themselves need to turn around. It needs to be a grassroots movement. God needs to be recognized as the primary source of authority in our countries, not “We the People” because God never changes, is eternal, is just, is Holy, and has an unfailing view for our best interests. People change. They live and then they die. Their sense of justice can be tempered by outside and inside pressures and influences. Just note the FBI probe into the Clinton email scandal. People are by nature unholy, and generally selfish, seeking their own interests over those of the people they are supposed to be serving.

    That national turn around that we so desperately need has to start from the bottom up, from “We the People” acknowledging Jesus as Lord, first in our own personal lives, then in our work and community, and on into government.

    Think about this: Matthew 13 33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”

    God has scattered us around society so we are much like that yeast that gets scattered around those three pecks of flour, and He means for us to have a similar influence on our society.

    May God bless us as we “leaven” the society around us.
     
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  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Fear of God, or Fear of man?

    King Saul had just completed the conquest of the Amalekites. God had given very specific instructions through Samuel: the Israelites were to take no loot, and no prisoners. So when Samuel came along to the victory celebration in 1 Samuel 15, he could hear and see that Israel had taken the best animals as loot. When he confronted Saul, Saul admitted it freely. He said he had obeyed God completely. He blamed the people for taking the animals. The animals were for a good cause--they would be used for sacrifices. He had taken the king of Amalek prisoner. Samuel squashed those good intentions by reminding Saul that "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king."

    So Saul 'fessed up, and 24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

    Saul was more concerned about his public image than his obedience to God. It would look really good to be seen making lots of animal sacrifices, turning the loot from the pagan kingdom into a kind of worship to God. Perhaps the people wanted new breeding stock and demanded that they be allowed to keep the best sheep and cattle. And King Saul capitulated to the demands of the common people, rather than lead them to obey God. He feared man more than he feared God.

    God hits this "fear of man" syndrome head on in Isaiah 51 12 “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor?

    God Himself is the one who comforts us. A few verses later on He says He will wipe the floor with those oppressing His people. So, God says, "Who are you to be afraid of mere mortal people when you have Me on your side? I comfort you. I made you. I made all you see around you. And still you are afraid of mere people that persecute you? Huh. See what I can do to them. Where is their power when I'm finished with them?"

    The disciples got hold of that principle there in Jerusalem. They were thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel there in Acts 5; during the night an angel released them and they went right back to the temple and started preaching again. So the Council had them re-arrested. Here's what happened next:

    27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    Peter and those with him were flogged and ordered not to teach Jesus and released. And... 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

    These disciples knew what it was to obey God rather than man.

    There is another side to this that we'll look at tomorrow, God willing. Think about what Peter himself wrote in 1 Peter 2:17.

    Meantime, may God bless us with a new freedom as we realize what it means to obey God instead of being afraid of people.
     
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  10. drymag

    drymag Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    1 Peter 2:17 is an interesting verse when taken w/ Rom 12:10. Looking forward of tomorrow. Thanks for the postings.
     
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  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks, drymag. Our reltionships with other Christians are vital, and we need to be watching each other's backs, caring for each other, and helping each other because as Christians we are God's children, brothers and sisters of Jesus, and siblings ourselves; all part of Christ's body here on earth. God says in another place that when one hurts, we all hurt.

    I'm thankful to God that these are useful to you, and I pray that these postings would be an encouragement, a challenge as necessary; and that God would use them to build up and strengthen His people. Jesus told Peter "feed my sheep" and that's what I'm trying to do through these Daily Devotionals.
     
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  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yesterday we saw how Saul, king of Israel, was more afraid of his people than he was of God. The consequence: God took the kingdom away from him. God told him, through Samuel in 1 Samuel 15, that 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. It is no coincidence that the evening before Saul killed himself he went to visit the witch of Endor for a séance with Samuel.

    Peter said we need to obey God rather than man, including the Jewish rulers. You remember that incident in Acts 5. Peter and some others had been preaching in Jerusalem. The authorities had them arrested, thrown in jail, and an angel released them and told them to go back out and do some more preaching. The authorities found them again, brought them back into court. The chief justice, the high priest, read the charges, that they had breached a court order not to preach in Jesus’ name. Here’s part of the transcript: 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    Does that mean we can thumb our noses at authority when we don’t like it? Not really.

    Romans 13 starts out Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. The chapter goes on to describe how government is meant to be a minister of God for good. We’ll maybe look into that some more another time. Keep in mind that Paul was writing this when Nero was emperor.

    Then check out what God said about Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 25 9 …declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about;
    In other places He gave strict instructions for the Israelite to cooperate as God sent them into exile through His servant Nebuchadnezzar. God was using this king to do what He wanted done.

    Kings, no matter how powerful they think they are, are putty in God’s hands. Check out Proverbs 21: The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

    On the one hand Peter said we must obey God rather than man, but then he wrote this: 1 Peter 2 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

    The Greek word he uses for "honor" is "timao", which means to value, honor, revere. We are to honor people, and we are to honor the king. The king is just another human being that deserves the same honor or respect that we would give to any other human being as someone who is created in God's image.

    But we are to "fear" God. Greek word here is "Phobeo": be afraid. Be very afraid. Reverence God. Be in awe of Him, because He is God.

    One of the Scottish martyrs during the 1600’s was Andrew Melville. He bearded King James in his own den. He was honoring the man as king, because this discussion was in private, and he was calling him to account for his actions, trying to get him to pull in his horns so he wouldn't make a serious mistake in public. He was fearing God because he was acting as God's mouthpiece delivering this warning.

    Joseph honored his master, then his jailer, then Pharaoh. And he feared God. See for example what he said to Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” He resisted her advances for two reasons. He was honoring the trust his master had placed in him, and it would mean sinning against God.

    Later he showed respect for the chief jailer by carrying out his duties conscientiously. When it came time to see Pharaoh, he took time to clean himself up and change clothes. Then when he told Pharaoh the meaning of his dream, he started out by saying (Genesis 41) 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

    Nehemiah honored the king of Babylon and feared God when he made his request to go rebuild Jerusalem and agreed to the king's request for accountability. He had a great working relationship with the king. Daniel showed respect, honor, for the kings he served under, and feared God.

    In Acts 23 Paul was on trial. He showed respect for the office of the chief priest, but not fear. Here's what went down: And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God's high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

    Romans 12 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” God expects us to treat the people around us with respect but fear God, and leave the revenge to Him, so far as it depends on us, so we can live peaceably, have good relationships with those around us. That is part of letting our light as Christians shine into the community around us, in order to draw people to Christ. One caveat: self defense is not revenge.

    Balance: Elijah mocked the priests of Baal; David did his fair share of mocking people who rejected God and fought against Israel; he even took on King Saul. Jesus made no bones about telling the shopkeepers where to get off when he cleared the temple.

    When it comes to fearing God, we don't grovel to people.

    May God bless us with the discernment to fear Him, while honoring those around us, including those in political office.
     
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  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Our anxiety level can be pretty high right now. Tensions are rising all around. The voting deadline is looming, and there are reports that a lot of dirty tricks are being performed to try to get one particular candidate elected…by hook or by crook and we feel powerless to do anything about it. The media probably won’t say anything about it. In many ways the future of the United States is riding on this election. So of course we’re worried. Will the election be stolen as it was last time around?

    And that’s just one source of anxiety. There is also job security, health, family relationships, finances, and the list goes on and on. There is no end of things we can worry about. Will rioters come to my neighborhood? What will be the effect of all these refugees coming into our areas?

    Well, God has a few things to say to reassure us, and we need to grab hold of them and hold on like a drowning man grabs hold of a life belt and hangs on to it.

    Check out these passages. They and many others are our lifebelts in these turbulent times.

    Matthew 6 25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?... 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    Hidden away in this passage is an important key to handling anxiety. Look again at verse 30. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! You of little faith.

    Do you remember what happened the night they were crossing the sea and a storm blew up and threatened to capsize the boat? Mark 4 Jesus was asleep in the stern sheets and the terrified disciples woke him up. With just a word He calmed the storm then… 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

    Philippians 4: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… That thanksgiving…it means that we are thankful to God for how He will answer our prayers and supplications.

    Pride gets in the way of peace. If I think the answer to life’s problems lies with me, then I worry over how a situation will turn out when things are beyond my control. So God says in 1 Peter 5 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

    And remember that God has the last word every time.

    Isaiah 35 4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not.
    Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come,
    But He will save you.”


    Psalm 37 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
    2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.
    3 Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
    4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
    5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
    6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.


    He even controls kings and political leaders.

    Proverbs 21 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

    We can have confidence that doing things God’s way He will cause us to win out. And as long as we are doing things God’s way, He is with us, protecting us and guarding us.

    1 Chronicles 22: 12 Only the Lord give you discretion and understanding, and give you charge over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed.

    Joshua 1 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

    Psalm 94 17 If the Lord had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
    18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
    19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
    20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree?
    21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death.
    22 But the Lord has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
    23 He has brought back their wickedness upon them
    And will destroy them in their evil; The Lord our God will destroy them.


    Isaiah 41
    10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’


    May God bless us with His peace in the midst of these turbulent times. Regardless of how the election turns out, grab these passages and others like them and hang on to them with all your strength and concentration. He knows what He is doing and He has our backs.
     
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  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    In the very early days of the colonies, the villages maintained bands of men who could be called out and be ready to march to protect their people at a minute’s notice. They trained hard and fought hard, and made a very definite contribution to the history of the United States. These men became known as the Minute Men.

    For a number of years I was on call to a hospital lab several nights a week, and I had to be ready to drop everything and go when the phone rang, when I was called out. The Air Force and Navy keep planes and crews on standby, so that they are ready to take off at a moment’s notice should they be called out. These crews must work flawlessly to get the planes airborne in a minimum amount of time so they can get into position to protect us from enemy attack.

    The Royal National Lifeboat Institute has crews of people dotted around the coasts of the UK who are equipped with pagers. The instant those pagers go off they down tools and make a bee line for the lifeboat to go to the rescue of some boat or ship in distress. They are usually away within five minutes of the alarm being sent out.

    Volunteer firefighters, Special Forces, and countless others also are ready to drop everything to go out on a mission at a moment’s notice. These people are a special group, with finely honed skills to do special jobs. Some are paid, many are volunteers. They give up many things so they can be ready to serve, to help, to rescue any time anywhere. They have a special identity, a team spirit, with the other members of their teams. These people are elite, part of a special group.

    They are ready to be called out.

    Did you know that we as Christians are also in that same category? The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia which literally means “called out”. Every time in the New Testament that God uses the word “church” He is using this word “called out”. We as Christians are the “Called Out Ones”. We are different from the rest of the world. Check out what God says about us in 1 Peter 2:
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

    God has called us out from the rest of the world. He chose us and made us into His special people. Romans 8 describes some of the selection process God used in picking us from the rest of the people in the world: 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

    We have a new identity, as God’s chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. He has made us part of a much larger, very special body of people. We are the people who have received God’s mercy. 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    He has pulled us together into His Kingdom from all kinds of nationalities, backgrounds, socio-economic groups, races, countries, cultures, physical and mental abilities and ages. That’s part of what Jesus meant when He said to the disciples there in John 10 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

    Diverse as we are, we all have one thing in common. We are all recipients of His mercy. The rest of the world has not received His mercy, but we have. God foreknew us. He knew us, picked us out before we were born, even before the world was created. He gave us His mercy. God told us about that in Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    God called us out, set us apart from the rest of the world, for a purpose: to do good things, to fulfill a purpose that God prepared for us to do way back when He foreknew us. And those good things, that purpose, involves our lifestyle. “that we would walk in them”.

    So Peter goes on to say that since we have been called out, pulled, from the rest of the world to be part of God’s Royal Priesthood, that should make a difference in how we live. Just as those minutemen, volunteer firefighters, and others who are can be called out to duty at a moment’s notice have to moderate their lifestyles, so do we, because we are part of God’s called out people. He says

    11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    Someone once said a Christian needs to be ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment’s notice. And throughout history that has been true. In Scotland, during the “Killing Times”, when the government was bent on exterminating a group of people known as the Covenanters, many a man, woman, and child were summarily executed because they were suspected of having a Bible in their possession. If they failed to attend the state sponsored church they could be arrested, heavily fined, imprisoned, and tortured. These people were “called out” because of their relationship with God.

    That kind of thing is happening around the world even as you read this. Christians around the world are being kidnapped, tortured, killed at a moment’s notice. They are being called out.

    God willing, that won’t happen to us. But we need to be ready to be called out, ready to talk about Jesus with people at a moment’s notice. 1 Peter 3: 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

    May God bless us with a new sense of readiness as His Minute Men, His Called Out people, His Church.
     
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  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    David was crushed. Think of it. You come home from a long, difficult trip hoping for a good meal, a shower, and bed. When you turn that last corner to go up your driveway you are greeted not with the welcome sight of home, but the smoldering ruin of what had once been your house. Someone had broken in, ransacked the place, and then torched it.

    That’s what happened to David and his men. They had been out on a hard, difficult and disappointing campaign and were returning to their homes in Ziklag expecting to find their families waiting for them, warm hugs from wives and kids, dinner on the stove, and warm comfortable beds to sleep in that night.

    Instead they found the smoldering ruins of their ransacked town. The Amalekite raiding party had been going around the region, killing and plundering the area all around, and they had raided Ziklag while David and his men were away and taken all their possessions, their wives and families and livestock.

    Rumbles of complaint and rebellion started coming from the men because they blamed David for this raid on their homes. 1 Samuel 30 has the record of their grief. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. They cried until they couldn’t cry any more.

    David especially felt the pain: 5 Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. Not only had his two wives been taken prisoner, but his own men were talking about stoning him because he was the one in charge. He should have foreseen the possibility of this calamity and left a garrison in town to protect it from raiders. He was suffering from his personal loss, and he was under pressure from his angry men.

    It was a terrible fix to be in. So what did he do? But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

    It seemed David’s whole world had turned inside out, upside down, and everyone was against him. He didn’t fly off the handle and throw a tantrum. He didn’t argue with his men and make matters worse. He didn’t go into a blue funk of dispair. He pulled himself aside, sat down and “strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

    What do you think that means…strengthening yourself in God?

    I guess first of all, he talked to God. “Father, the whole world seems to be against me. I don’t see any clear way out just now. I know you have pulled me through bad fixes before, but this seems to be the worst that I have ever come into. I’m all alone. My men want to kill me. Right now, it’s just You and me, God. Just You and me.”

    Then he probably went back remembered how God had pulled him through past predicaments. He probably also went back over promises God had made to him. He reviewed God’s work in his life and in the lives of others. He didn’t have Romans 8:28 in front of him but he knew the truth of that verse: 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

    Somehow, God was not only going to pull him through, but he knew God would work it out for good.

    He may have written Psalm 6 at a time like this. O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath.
    2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed.
    3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord—how long?


    4 Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
    5 For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks?


    6 I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim,
    I dissolve my couch with my tears.
    7 My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.


    Yes, it seems like everyone, even God has turned against him. All we can do is fall at God’s feet and plead for His mercy and help, claim His promise of lovingkindness. For us, even an hour of this kind of mental, emotional, and even physical agony seems like an eternity. How long will God let this go on?

    We ask God to save us not because we are so good and have done such wonderful things for Him, but because He loves us. We are His own dear children, whom He loved enough to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins. He has big shoulders for us to cry on. Psalm 56 talks about how God collects our tears in His bottle. He doesn’t just brush us off, hang us out to dry. He listens, and acts because we are important to Him.

    David let it all out. He told God just how he was feeling. Remember Philippians 4? 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    David knew that peace, that reassurance and came back in full confidence in the last verses of that Psalm. He knew God had listened to Him, and that God would act.

    8 Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
    9 The Lord has heard my supplication, The Lord receives my prayer.
    10 All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed;
    They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.


    You can read the rest of 1 Samuel 30 to see what David did next, after he had strengthened himself in the Lord.

    May God bless us richly as we learn to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God and then go to the next step with confidence, knowing God is for us.
     
    reflex1 likes this.
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