Monday, July 10, 2017

Responding To Christ

What is your relationship like with Christ? How do you truly view your Savior? It is one thing to say that you love the Lord Jesus, but how do you truly respond to Him? We live amongst an anemic Christianity. Worldliness abounds with many Christians! The world's allurements take precedence over church attendance and Christian fellowship. Many Christians think and live like the world; a system that is antagonistic to God's Word. Why are our churches and so many Christians so weak and ineffective for Christ? It all comes down to how we truly view our savior. 

Let us notice several responses to Christ from the Scriptures. We will notice several Old Testament responses to a preincarnate Christ, and then a few examples from the New Testament. I want you to pay particular attention to how these people responded to their encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Old Testament Encounters With The Preincarnate Christ:

Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua, while on a reconnaissance mission before the Battle of Jericho, was confronted with a man holding a sword in his hand.  Joshua asks if the man is for them or for their adversaries. And the mysterious man answers that he is none other than the "Captain of the host of the Lord." Joshua comes to realize that he is confronted with Deity. Notice carefully the two responses of Joshua. 1) he fell on his face! 2) He asks at the end of verse 14, "What saith my lord unto his servant?"  Joshua humbles himself and surrenders to the Lord's will. Joshua came to see that the preincarnate Lord would lead them to victory!

Isaiah 6

Isaiah had a vision where he saw the Lord high & lifted up in the Temple.  He saw a veiled yet glorious appearing of the preincarnate Jesus Christ. We know from John 12:37-43 that Isaiah saw Jesus. Notice that the hem or border of his royal garment filled the Temple (v.1). In v.4 "the house was filled with smoke." This smoke was the shekinah glory of God. We see this same image in heaven in Revelation 15:8, "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the Temple, till the seven plaques of the seven angels were fulfilled." Isaiah was overwhelmed by his vision.  Isaiah was reminded of who was the true King and Judge of Israel for King Uzziah has just died. And how did Isaiah respond to all of this? 

V.5, "Woe is me! for I am undone (ruined); because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 

Do you think Isaiah just thought to himself; "How nice, wow!, What a vision," and just went on like nothing really happened? Of course not! This vision changed and challenged him. We are then told in v.8 that he answered God's call by exclaiming, "Here am I, send me." He was called to a difficult mission for God, but he was equipped by God and energized by his greater understanding of who was leading him!

Ezekiel 1:26-28
At Ezekiel's calling, he saw a vision of the glorious Christ in all His brightness and glory. He was a captive in Babylon. And as he was by the river Chebar God gave him a great vision. He heard a voice from the heavenly throne and saw an amazing sight. The description of the preincarnate Christ here reminds us of John's vision of Christ in Revelation chapter one. What an amazing sight!  And how did Ezekiel respond in v.28? "And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake."  Again we see, when confronted by the glory of Christ, Ezekiel humbles himself and surrenders to the Lord's will! 

New Testament Encounters With Christ:

Luke 5:1-9
Early in Christ’s ministry he returns to Galilee after His "time of temptation" in the wilderness and he extends a call to Peter, James, and John. Jesus was teaching at the sea of Galilee and a large crowd gathered to hear Him speak causing him to enter into Peter’s boat. There, He could better speak to the crowd. When he was done with His teaching, he instructed Peter to launch out further into the lake and to drop their nets. Peter tells Jesus that they fished all night with no success. They were experienced fisherman! Jesus was not an experienced fisherman by trade, Yet, Peter obeyed and dropped the nets. You remember the rest of the story. They caught an unbelievable amount of fish. So much so that the weight of the great catch almost caused to fishing boats to sink. How did Peter respond? Luke 5:8  "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus' knees and said, "Leave me, Lord! I am a sinful man!"

John 1:19-30
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. His ministry was to prepare the way for Israel to accept Jesus as the Messiah. John the Baptist was a great man. This fact was proclaimed by Christ Himself. Yet, John understood his position under the greatness of Christ! Notice a few of his statements. V.27- "He it is (referring to Christ), who is coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose." V.29- "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."  John the Baptist clearly understood and regognized the greatness of Christ and responded appropriately!

Revelation 1:9-20
By this time, John is the only remaining Apostle. He is banished to the small Island of Patmos, a small barren Island found in the Aegean Sea. In v.10 Christ summons the aged Apostle with a great voice as of a trumpet! In v.12 John turns to see who is talking to him and what a sight he sees! He sees the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of the churches. But he also sees the Lord Jesus in a most spectacular way! Remember that John is the man who was apart of Jesus' "inner circle" along with James and Peter. John was also the one to relax in the lap of Jesus. John knew Jesus well, but he never saw Jesus like this in all His Glory! Read the passage to see this glorious sight. And how did John respond? V.17- He fell at Jesus' feet as dead! 

Do you notice a pattern yet? When confronted with the greatness of Christ, these men all fell on their faces with great humility! The only exception above is John the Baptist, but it is clear that he too responded with great humility! 

Friends, we cannot take Christ lightly! You and I can now understand the glory and greatness of Christ through  a completed Bible, a privilege that our above characters did not have! The responses of these men is quite instructive. Are you willing to learn from them?

We must see our majestic Lord as He really is! In all His Beauty, Majesty, Holiness, Power, Authority, and Sovereignty!  How could we ever take Him lightly? Or ignore His Instructions, or some how think that we know more than Him or think that we can run our lives better than He can!  We must remember who has full authority and right to our lives, and to remember that we will stand before Him in that future day to give an account, and that we all need to keep looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our Faith in order to keep us in the perfect will of God so that we will truly glorify Him in all that we do!    

May we have the heart of John the Baptist when he stated that "He (Christ) must increase and I must decrease." How do you view Christ? Are you revering Him? Surrendering to Him and His will? Obeying His Word? The greatest medicine for the soul is Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Peace of Mind"

Many things can distract our focus, comfort, and peace. These things might consist of health problems, financial problems, job problems, family problems, etc. What is bothering you? What is robbing you of your peace? Let me encourage you that God knows all about it and truly cares. If you know Christ as your personal Savior, then you can be assured that God cares about what is bothering you and can help you to again find peace of mind!

Let us consider today three verses from 1Peter 5. 1Peter 5:5-7 " Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." Let us examine these verses together in order to find peace of mind.

How Can We Receive This Peace?  

Background Information

We are told in 1Peter 1:1 that Peter is writing " the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." All of these cities belong to the northern Roman province of Asia Minor, known today as western Turkey. This letter was written to dispersed Jewish Christians. They were "strangers." They were living outside of Palestine. Persecution scattered them. They felt like a people without a home. In their minds they should be living in Palestine- the promised Land. As Christians, we are only passing through this world as pilgrims, until we attain our final residence with our wonderful Lord! Many times we can feel like strangers because the "World" does not understand us or our walk with complete submission to God and is ways! Peter's audience knew what persecution and misunderstanding was all about. They needed comforted and reminded of God's Word- just like us at times!

Humble Submission
Our first step in receiving peace of mind is humble submission. In v.5 Peter is telling the young to submit to the elders, but then adds that in a sense everyone ought to submit to each other. Peter is talking about a humility that considers others over self (Like Jesus modeled for us in Philippians 2:1-11). Peter goes on to state that God "gives grace to the humble." When we stop thinking about and exalting ourselves and submit to God's loving care and Sovereignty, then we are in a place for God to mature and truly care for us!
In v.6 Peter gives the command to humble ourselves. This means to submit to God's sovereign rule. In context, this means turn your problems and concerns over to God. Put your confidence in Him. He either allowed or brought these things into your life. God is in control! He can use these things to teach us, change us, strengthen us, and to mature us in our Christian life and experience. God has a purpose for all things and everything happens for a reason. Romans 8:28 " And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 
Also notice in v.6 that Peter says to humble ourselves "under the mighty hand of God." The "hand of God" can represent deliverance and discipline. Sometimes God will use trials and difficulties for a disciplinary measure- to get our attention that we are not walking rightly with Him. Now remember, this does not mean that all trials, sicknesses, and difficulties are meant as a disciplinary measure, but at times God will use these things that way. So it is always good to evaluate your life when trials and difficulties come your way! But we must also remember that God's "hand" is a "hand" that can deliver or see us through the difficulties of life. His "hand" is strong- nothing can hinder God from working on our behalf.
There is one more thing to notice in v.6. Humble yourselves by trusting and resting in God's strength, love, and care because in "due time" God "will exalt you." We must learn to be patient and wait on God's perfect timing. The "due time" is the appropriate or appointed time. God's timing is always perfect and He always knows what He is doing in our lives! In His timing, God will help us, free us, and strengthen us as He sees fit. Remember though, that God never promises to free us from all trials or sickness in this life, but He will help you through it and at times He does free and deliver us from our difficulties. This we do know as God's children; when He takes us unto Himself we will finally be free from those things! Full and complete freedom is coming! Be encouraged! Remember, Peters main emphasis here is that we must humble ourselves. Put your trust and confidence in God and turn everything over to Him!

Casting Your Cares On God
Secondly, in v.7a, we receive peace of mind by casting our concerns/problems upon the Lord. To cast something means to "through upon," to "get rid of" something, and then to leave it where you placed it. The word care means things that cause you anxiety, things that disrupt your mind or the peace of your mind. These "cares" draw you in different directions. you are robbed of stability and peace. These are the cares of this life that rob you of peace and rest. What is bothering you? What is causing you distress? Give it all over to the Lord! Go to God in prayer and tell God about it. Let Him do something about it.  You might say, "How do I do that?" You can only do it by understanding the truth about your God, His love for you, and His ability to do something about it.  You will only learn to do this well by spending much time with God cultivating your relationship to Him through Bible reading, praying, and sitting under the consistent teaching of His Word!  
Consider two Old Testament verses. Psalm 37:5 " Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it
to pass."  Submit all your problems to the Lord to deal with. The word commit means "to roll a heavy burden from yourself to another." We can't bear the thing, but some one else can- namely our all powerful and wonderful God! Trust Him- trust that God cares and is able to do something. And He shall bring it to pass- Albert Barnes says it well, "He will take care of your interests." God will do whatever is needed to secure the result that He wants for us. And God knows what is best for us!  Also consider, Psalm 55:22 " Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Notice God will sustain thee- the word means "to hold," to sustain," and also has the idea "to measure." God will measure out to us the perfect amount of strength and grace to endure and learn through our trials, difficulties, and concerns. You must believe it!! God does not lie!! We must learn to give to God our problems and concerns because He is the only one who can work all of these things out for our good. You are not strong enough to deal with the concerns of life on your own. Learn to give them to God- to leave them with Him- and you will start to experience real peace!
Understand God's Concern For You
Thirdly, to experience peace of mind, we must understand and believe the end of v.7- "...for He careth for you."
You could translate this "because you matter to Him." The word careth means "to be concerned," and has the idea of "watchful care." This verse tells us that we are the objects of God's watchful care. We DO Matter to God! God truly regards our needs and concerns.  Consider these verses
Psalm 27:10
"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up." The idea is that even if everyone forsakes you, including your closest of relatives, the Lord is there for us. He loves us!  also consider, Psalm 40:17 " But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God."  Why do we worry so? Why do we let things get to us so badly? If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you have a God who deeply cares about you!!
Friend, You can have peace of mind. Even through all the difficulties of this life! But we must learn to humble ourselves- place our trust and confidence fully in our wonderful, powerful God. We must learn to completely give our problems over to God, who is the only one that can do something about them in a way that is best for us! And we must learn to understand that God truly cares about us! Rest in this great truth. You can experience peace today! Will you?



Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Lord Almighty

Have you ever studied the Names of God? It can be a great exercise in maturing our knowledge of God; His attributes and works. The names of God can challenge, teach, and comfort us! Today we want to consider the name "Jehovah Sabaoth" (sah-bah-OATH). Often seen as "LORD of Hosts."

Do you ever find yourself in a hard, difficult situation? (financial problems, physical hardships, emotional problems, etc.) You don't know what to do? Ever feel distressed? In Despair? Overwhelmed? Well, we have a God who can deliver us, or at least, see us through our trials and difficulties!

I. The Definition:  When you find the word "LORD" (Jehovah or Yahweh) in all capitals in the Old Testament it emphasizes God's sovereignty, faithfulness, Covenant keeping God. He can always be trusted to be faithful to His people.

Sabaoth comes from ṣāḇā’ meaning to fight, to serve, war or army. Often used with the sense of fighting but in a wider sense includes rendering service. When used in the plural it is used in the sense of armies: Inhabitants of heaven, Angelic army, Israel as God's army, and heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, stars, etc. The hosts will do God's will!

As a personal name of God, the emphasis is on the sovereign power of God. Our God is a mighty God! He is the mightiest warrior and the all-powerful King! The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) often translates "The Lord of powers." Our God is not just a warrior God among other national warrior god's as the heathen saw it, but our God is the Supreme Warrior and Ruler. The ONLY true God!

II. Usages of Interest:

A. 1Samuel 1:1-20 Comfort & Hope for Hannah: We find our name "LORD of Hosts" in v.3. Elkanah was married to Hannah and Peninnah. Every year they made a pilgrimage to Shiloh in order to worship and offer sacrifices. Peninnah gave her husband children but Hannah was barren. In that day, to be childless was to be seen as cursed by God. So Hannah prayed at the temple for a child. V.19 tells us the LORD remembered her and took away her bareness and she gave birth to Samuel.
Our mighty God opened the womb of a barren women and provided her great joy!

B. 1Samuel 17:41-47 David's Great Trust: No one in Israel would stand up to Goliath. They were all greatly afraid (read the whole chapter). Then came along David! He could no longer take Goliath's ridicule of God. Especially take note of 1Samuel 17:45-  "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." David knew that he was not alone in this great fight. His all powerful, mighty God would fight with and empower him for the task at hand.

C. Psalm 46: Notice especially v.7. In a world of chaos and cruelty, our God is with us!!!

D. Malachi 1: Our great God deserves all respect! He deserves our very best for His glory. The  Priests of Israel were disrespecting their God by offering polluted and maimed sacrifices. Notice all the times the "Lord of Hosts" is used in the chapter.

E. Romans 9:29: In Chapters 9-11 Paul deals with the topic of Israel. He explains how God has set them aside for the time being, but He is not finished with them. God will fulfill all of His Covenant promises to Israel in the future Millennial Kingdom. In v.29 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah to show us that God always preserves a remnant of the Jewish people. How many times in history have people (And Satan) tried to destroy the Jewish people? Hitler and many others have tried but Almighty God preserves a remnant- Israel cannot be destroyed!

F. James 5:4: Here in our last example, God hears the cries of the oppressed. And the "LORD of Hosts" is able to take care of and help them.

III. Challenge For You: We have an all-powerful, sovereign God who is able to protect you, provide for you, and help you in any circumstance. We should never be afraid- 2Timothy 1:7  "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (also read Philippians 4:6, Romans 8:31-39) Our mighty God can do something about our trials and problems if it is within His will to do so.

What God desires of you is that you will come to Him in total dependence and trust. Cultivate a strong prayer life, read His word daily, and obey His Word and will for your life. He truly cares about you- 1Peter 5:7  "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Monday, September 2, 2013

God's Unlimited Power!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by certain tasks or things asked of you?  I often feel overwhelmed to the task of parenting.  You just feel like you can't do it.  Even in the Christian life it can be frustrating when you struggle with tasks of serving/witnessing.  Our challenge today is for Christians who recognize that our lives include a redemptive purpose- (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. We are to be guarding, living and sharing the gospel. We also have the responsibility of  service to God by using our God-given talents within the church for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ! There is always plenty of work to be done including discipling those around us such as our children, relatives, and co-workers who may be new believers. This can be overwhelming and challenging at times, but we cannot quit or fail to serve our Lord in these tasks. God is the one working in us and through us for the work He expects from us. We want to observe this in 1Timothy 1:12-17 as Paul encourages Timothy.

 Now imagine how Timothy must have felt. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus with a difficult task to deal with false doctrine and to set things straight in the church. As you study the Books of 1&2Timothy we get the impression that timothy might have been timid and that this task was stretching him. We need to be stretched at times for growth, spiritual maturity and to remind us of our limitations. Timothy might have been thinking of leaving or at least felt inadequate for the task.  Therefore, in our text today Paul is encouraging Timothy to keep going by using himself as an example/illustration of what God can do in people's lives!  We too need to remember this when we feel overwhelmed by the spiritual tasks before us!

Therefore, our focus needs to be that IN SERVING CHRIST, WE MUST TRUST & REST IN GOD'S POWER!  Don't grow weary or quit!  You can endure!  How?


Paul ends v.11 talking about the gospel entrusted to him. This same gospel saved and gloriously
transformed him from Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul!  Again, in this section Paul uses his own
testimony as an illustration on how God changes people! Paul can't help but to break out into Thanksgiving!  How thankful are we that Christ provided salvation for us?  A grateful person is someone whom God can use!  He thanks Christ because He has enabled him- It's a compound word εν- in & δυναμοω- to strengthen, to make vigorous, to become strong. This word is in the past tense. In other words, at the time of Paul's conversion, he was saved and called to be an Apostle initially by God's power, therefore he was equipped by God and enabled to do the work if he would obey and serve.

Now it is also good to know that the same Greek word "enabled" is used in a present tense in (Philippians 4:12-13)  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  This is the daily strengthening that enables us to do or endure whatever is expected of us!  Paul also reminds Timothy in v.12 that God appointed Paul to his task. Therefore God would enable!  Now remember Paul is encouraging Timothy, therefore he is reminding Timothy that God enables us to do His work. Timothy could trust in God for help and strength to oppose the false teachers. We have that same help and enabling from God to serve Him when He calls us to do so. The problem is that we fail to trust/believe God and fail to see God work through us! 


Notice Paul's life before salvation in v.13.  Blasphemer- To injure by words of slander, reviling sacred things, irreverence. He reviled the name of Christ & opposed Him because he did not know that Christ truly was the Messiah. Persecutor- against Christians. Consider verses such as: (Acts 22:19) And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: (Acts 26:11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.  Injurious- arrogance, a bully, malicious violence. (Acts 8:3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  (Acts 9:1) And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  (Acts 22:4) And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (Galatians 1:13) For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:  YET God showed mercy to Paul.  Why? Notice the end of v.13, Because done ignorantly in unbelief- He thought He was doing God a favor and honoring Him. He saw Jesus as a threat to Judaism. He did not know that He was the Messiah, the implication is, if he had known he would never had done those things. (No excuse, but there is a difference if something is done on purpose or ignorantly).

V.14 refers back to receiving mercy in v.13 and elaborates on that concept. God poured out grace upon Paul that completely changed him. The greater the sins, the greater the Grace. Sin could never hinder or overcome God's grace!!  The change grace made in Paul's life produced faith and love. Before he had unbelief and hatred.  Paul possess these characteristics because he is now In Christ.  Look what God has done with Paul and Timothy needed reminded that God can also do that in the lives of the false teachers and anybody else who hears God's Word. Therefore Timothy was to oppose the false teachers with the truth of the gospel that God can use to transform them!  God does the work we just need to be usable!

V.15 is a statement of special importance! Deserves full acceptance! Jesus came to save sinners. That's what He does! That is why He came to earth- to transform sinners!  Paul says "I am chief" of sinners- the word can mean 1st, foremost, or prominent.  His deeds were known far and wide and he thought that he was one of the worst sinners for what he did against God's church. But again the emphasis is that Paul was saved and transformed by God's power. This is why Timothy must guard the truth and purity of the gospel- because Jesus alone saves man. (Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  (John 14:6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. No one is too great a sinner that they cannot be saved!!

V.16- Paul was a great sinner, but God showed mercy and saved Him! If Jesus can be longsuffering- have the upmost patience with Paul who greatly opposed Him with such wicked acts of sin, then Jesus will do the same for others no matter how bad their sins were!  Paul's life was to be a pattern to others. Pattern- A.T. Robertson explains- "Paul is a sample of the kind of sinners that Jesus came to save."  Timothy was to observe what God did in Paul's life and realize that God can do this in anyone's life!
So the point to these verses is that God does the work in people's lives. God transforms lives through the working of the Holy Spirit and God's Word! Timothy was encouraged to confront false Doctrine with great courage and boldness understanding that God can change them and anyone else who hears God's truth! If the false teachers would not accept the word then they were to be cast out of the church so as not to pollute the purity of the gospel.  Now friend understand that as you serve God through teaching, discipling, sharing the gospel, and any other service, it is God that must work in the hearts of those we are ministering to. You simply are to be faithful in teaching/sharing God's truth! Be encouraged, because too many people become discouraged when they don't see people accepting the gospel or changing when they teach. You can't change them, God Must! It is not your responsibility to save or change anyone. 
You might be thinking, how does praising God help me to trust and rest in God's power for service?
Well, if we are praising Him, then we are focused on Him! Paul cannot help but to break out in exuberant praise!! Paul, like David of old, learned to focus on God's greatness and person to strengthen him in difficult times!  We are to honor- to recognize God. Robert Gromacki says it best when he states that we are to recognize God "as the most precious thing in the universe." We are also to Glorify God. We do that through obedience and submission to His will and by revealing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives! Notice Paul's description of God: King- ruling & reigning w/complete Sovereignty and power!  Eternal- of the ages- always existed & always will! Immortal- death cannot affect God because He is holy, incorruptible- not given to decay!  Invisible- Not completely knowable- holy, set apart! Only- true God, no companions, no other gods. other gods are the figment of man's imagination (see Romans 1:18-26)! Wise- some translations have and some do not. But we can always trust that God knows how to work all things for our good (Rom.8:28).
Focusing on our wonderful God ought to direct our attention to God's greatness encouraging us to trust in His working. We have a God who knows What He is doing. Simply allow God to use you! Rest and trust in His power! God will enable you! God does the saving and transformation in people's lives!  We serve an awesome God, so be encouraged! You are not alone in your service for Him!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strength For Every Trial

Have you ever noticed that after experiencing great spiritual victories, the valley of doubt is lurking near? As mere human beings we can often struggle with trusting the Lord as we should. One minute trusting in the Lord's strength and the next minute struggling with doubt and fear. Well, if you find yourself doing this at times, understand that you are not alone. There are many in the Bible that have done the same thing.

Today we want to consider the experience of Asa King of Judah (the southern Kingdom). Turn in your Bible to 1Kings 15:9ff.  Here we learn that Asa was a good King. (1 Kings 15:11) "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father."  In the next several verses we find Asa reforming Judah so that they will conform to God's will. Unfortunately, he was not able to completely reform Judah for in v.14 we learn that he was not able to remove all the "high places" which were places of pagan worship. Yet we are also told in v.14 that "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days."  The word "perfect" means undivided, whole. In other words Asa was devoted to the Lord- desired to serve and please the Lord. Yet we will see that Asa did struggle with trust and disobedience. Even though he did struggle some, he still is quite a contrast to many Kings of the Old Testament.

Now turn to and read 2 Chronicles 14:9-15. Here Zerah brings an army of Ethiopians and Lubims (or Libyans in Africa near Egypt- 2Chron.16:8) numbering around a million men and three hundred chariots (v.9) against Asa. Some have doubted the number of men yet there are historical records of even bigger armies of that time period.  This is by the way the biggest army mentioned in the Bible. Can you imagine being Asa and facing this GREAT threat? What will he do? His army is FAR less than the opponent's. Look what he does in vv.11-12(2 Chronicles 14:11-12) "And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. {man: or, mortal man} So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled."  WOW, what faith and trust seen in Asa!  God gave them the victory in a way that only He could. What a moral booster! what a faith building experience!

Now turn in your Bible to 2Chronicles 16 and read the chapter. Baasha King of Israel (The Northern Kingdom- remember that after Solomon Israel split into two Kingdoms) came to fight against Asa and the southern Kingdom of Judah.  But what an unfortunate turn of events that we read about here. Asa panics! He does not go to the LORD in prayer! Instead he turns to the King of Syria for help. He offers him great treasure from the "House of the Lord" (v.2). Ben-hadad agrees to help him. In vv.4ff. Ben-hadad fights against Israel the Northern Kingdom and cripples them. 

Asa got what he wanted. The threat from the North has been dealt with.  All is well, right? Well not quite!  Look at vv.7-8. (2 Chronicles 16:7-8) "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand."  (this last part of the verse referring to 14:9-15

What happened to Asa's trust in the Lord? He forgot what God did for him in the past. Less we be to hard on Asa, don't we also do the same thing at times?  God gives us great victories in our lives and we are on "cloud nine," then the next great trial comes and we forget what God can and wants to do for us. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior- trusting in Him alone for salvation, then we can have the confidence of a loving God watching over us.  (1 Peter 5:7) "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  Asa forgot this!

Now for the "golden nugget" to help you to press on through any trouble or difficulty. Notice very carefully v.9. (2 Chronicles 16:9) "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."  Our great God is looking for people "whose heart is perfect toward Him." Again, as mentioned earlier, the word "perfect" means whole or undivided. God is looking for devoted believers who will trust Him completely so that He can show Himself strong in their lives. God wants to work in our lives! He is the God of all strength and power! There is nothing that He can't do! And He wants to work in our lives! Are we looking to and trusting Him to work on our behalf?  "To shew Himself strong" means to strengthen us, support us, to supply our need (if it is with in His will), to protect us, to defend us!  How can we loose with God fighting for us?  We have no reason to worry or become depressed over difficult situations.  Asa should have remembered God's great victory in Chapter 14, but he forgot and paid a price for it!  Are you trusting God to help you? Are you resting in His strength, love, and care? Memorize this wonderful verse and believe it with all of your heart!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Clinging To The Lord

I was reading in 1 Kings 11 the other morning and one verse in particular jumped out at me. This is the continuing story of King Solomon. The text reads, (1 Kings 11:1-2) But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.  Solomon clave unto foreign women and soon to their gods as you read the rest of the verses. How sad!! 

The Hebrew word for clave means "to cling to, " "to adhere," "to join to something." It is often used with the idea of clinging to someone with affection, devotion, and loyalty.  What are you clinging to? What are you devoted to? Solomon use to be devoted to the Lord, but something happened to where God was no longer enough for him. That is especially amazing to us as we read many of his wonderful Proverbs. I'm afraid there are many Christians like Solomon who are clinging to the wrong things.

David wrote in (Psalms 101:3-4) I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. David said that he would not allow any wicked thing before him. The commentators explain that the wicked thing can also include wicked plans and purposes.  The word for "wicked" is a word that can mean "evil," or "worthless," or something with out profit." David said that no wicked thing shall cleave unto him. Why? Because he was clinging to God. Not perfectly, he made his share of mistakes, some even very big ones, but his heart was one that loved Jehovah. We must cling to God or sin will cling to us.

The Book of Deuteronomy stresses the importance of clinging to God. Observe a few verses:  (Deuteronomy 10:20) Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name(Deuteronomy 11:22) For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him(Deuteronomy 13:4) Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.  Take time to read the verses in context.

Also consider King Hezekiah, one of the good Kings of Judah.  (2 Kings 18:6) For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.  V.7 then tells us that he prospered by clinging to God. We will always prosper, at least spiritually, by clinging to God!!

Back to my opening text, Solomon struggled because he clung to the wrong thing.  We will pay a price too, if we cling to the wrong things.  We must cling to God! Stay devoted to Him! Then we know that we can expect answers to prayer, help in time of need, direction for life, comfort in trouble, and so forth!   James tells us in James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Let us purpose to draw very close to God and enjoy a life worth living. Everything else will leave us empty and unsatisfied!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Not Left To Ourselves

(1 Corinthians 10:13) "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

The context of 1Cor.10:1-10 is the example of OT Israel’s temptation and fall into idolatry. Therefore, Paul warns the Corinthian believer’s because of their own temptation and the failure of some in participating in pagan feats- eating of food offered to idols. They were really pushing the limits on the use of their Christian Liberty in regard to heathen feasts.   V.11 is Paul’s challenge, v.12 is the warning- take heed (present imperative) continually take heed & v.13 is the encouragement!  Understand that temptations will come, but we don’t have to fail!!  Victory is always available!
There hath no temptation taken you-  Temptation- this word can mean both testing or temptation. Testing from the outside- trials of any kind meant to strengthen us. If from God, the trials can be to prove/strengthen us!!  But there are also solicitations to sin- (1 Peter 5:8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  
In this context for the Corinthians it is the temptation to compromise!  There were allurements to idolatry and the threat of persecution for those abandoning idolatrous practices. Remember that idolatry was involved in all aspects of life, including at your job/trade. Once a person was saved in that time, they gave up a lot of things. Sometimes jobs, families, social status, economic advancement & so on!  (1 Peter 4:3-4) For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:  
Albert Barnes states that the temptations could be “Anything that would have a tendency to induce them to forsake their allegiance to their Lord & lead them to idolatry & sin.” 
Taken you- to get a hold of, to seize, overtake.  Trials sometimes catch us by surprise and can overwhelm us.  At other times sin will get a hold of us, especially if we are not consistently walking with God!  The threat is always there! (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  Just ask David when he saw Bathsheba bathing, or Peter when he denied his Lord, & so forth! 
But such as is common to man:- In talking about our trials and sins, there is nothing new in your experience that someone else hasn’t gone through. They are typical human experiences! 
But God is faithful, who will not suffer you…- God will not allow you to experience any test /temptation that you are not able to meet- to be victorious over!!  John MacArthur notes that “No Temptation is inherently stronger than our spiritual resources.”  God is on our side and He does not want us to fail! His goal for us is that we would be like His Son!!  For protection from failing in trials and temptations to sin, Jesus taught His disciples to pray- (Matthew 6:13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  The prayer is to save us from or deliver us out of trials, temptation, doing wrong. This is a prayer for protection and help.  We can pray this because our God is faithful- He is trustworthy and true to His word!!
Notice the last part of the verse- 2 Parts: 1) “but will with the temptation also make a way to escape,…” God has given us a way of escape.  Escape”, imagery of an army trapped in the mountains and then finding a little mountain pass to escape by. As Ellicott puts it “God makes an open road” and we have a choice to follow it or not!  Go provides a way out in each particular instance.  The problem is that usually we enjoy our sin to much and we are not looking for a way out!  2) “that ye may be able to bear it.” The verse does not say that He will always take away the trial, but He will see us through it- help us to endure it because they are a part of our growth!!   (James 1:12) “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”  Please understand that our temptations and trials can be met & endured by depending on God who is faithful!
Folks, we don’t have to sin- we can be victorious!! The means are there!!  But also remember that when the testing’s/trial’s also come, they are necessary to our spiritual maturity and God will help us to endure them so that we can mature through them! 
If we can grasp hold of this awesome verse, our faith will flourish!!  We won’t despair, we won’t be full of anxiety, but we will find peace in the storm and endure any trial or temptation with a right understanding. God is with us & wants to help us!!