A Line-Up of Gods

Jonah 1:5-6  Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

In the Law Enforcement world line-ups are used to identify who was responsible for some sort of trouble. They bring in several people that look like the suspect. Consider the ‘line-up’ of gods in this text. In this text Jonah was not the least bit interested in taking the saving knowledge of Jehovah to his enemies in Nineveh. He knew that God was gracious and would end up delivering them from His judgment should they repent, and he simply could not live with that. The thought of him carrying that reputation back to Israel was simply too much. He tried to flee, and placed some heathen mariners in danger of their lives. When they realized the circumstances were beyond their control they called for a ‘Line Up of Gods’ (5) and then demanded Jonah get involved and bring his God to the line up. Notice how Jonah describes Jehovah when backed into a corner and required to give testimony to those that faced death with forgiveness. In v9 twice he tells them that his God does not belong in a line up by describing God as “the LORD” and “the God.” There simply is no God like our God. He is peerless and therefore is never a candidate for a line up. Today, live for the One and Only King of Kings and Lord of Lords for there is none like Him!

Do Not Go Back Through That Again

Hos 12:9  And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.

It has been said, “I would not take a million dollars for that experience and what I learned from it but I would not take a million dollars to go back through it again!” The events in our life are allowed by God to bring us closer to Him and to be fashioned more into the image of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. In this scripture we find Ephraim being judged by God. They had been very blessed financially but used that blessing to build altars to false gods and idols to carry around with them like many do with a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot’ today. As a consequence for their actions toward God’s blessings God promises them something. He promises the memorials evidenced in the Feast of Tabernacles will once again become a reality. They are going to go back through the burdens of oppressions through which they had previously passed. Now, is that something that sounds palatable to you? Think of the worst times of your life when there seemed to be no hope. God graciously delivered you and you were so very thankful. Time however has passed and the humility and gratitude has been replaced with expectation and pride. Realize there’s nothing that prohibits God from taking you back through that experience. Today, determine to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that you do not have to walk that valley again!

The Believer’s “Safe Space”

Hos 8:3  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.

In the age in which we find ourselves no one wants to live with confrontation or restriction. The old landmarks are challenged and discarded before it is discovered as to why the former generation set those posts. In this text we find a solemn warning to Israel and those that would come later, such as you and I. Israel had been chosen by God – we call this grace. Why was it grace? Because there was nothing in Israel that merited God’s favor (Deut 7:7). Israel found a ‘safe place’ in the love and grace of God but time and again they became discontent with their lot in life. As a result the judgment of God becomes an all-too-frequent visitor to their life. Mind your “Safe Space” today and be humbled that God would allow you access to His will and His protection. Remember, God doeth all things well including providing you a “SAFE SPACE.”

Keeping a Proper Perspective

Dan 9:18  O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.

In this text Daniel is pleading and confessing on behalf of his people Israel. They had neglected their responsibilities toward grace and are suffering captivity because of it. As Daniel seeks to minister to them and intercede for them he states his position clearly before God. He is coming to God with his petitions and those of the nation Israel, not based on their favored status as God’s chosen people nor because of their perceived righteousness but solely because of God’s mercy. It is essential that we remember our place in the relationship we have with our Prayer-Answering God. The Psalmist reminds us that “…it is he that hath made us and not we are ourselves, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” A humble spirit is the very pavement that makes smooth our journey to answered prayer. Today, let it be ever before you that you are unworthy of the least of God’s blessings nevertheless you enjoy them continually. Not because of who you are but because, having placed your faith in Christ, you are the child of an ever merciful and thereby gracious Heavenly Father. Walk with Him today because you will need Him every moment. To God be the glory!

The Gathering of the Redeemed

Acts 2:42-47

In this text we are introduced to the dynamic and exploding local church. The Holy Spirit has just empowered the witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and thousands are turning from their sin to salvation. For centuries they had been taught to look for the coming Messiah and now many are seeing that He has come and set them at liberty from their sins. Before their salvation they were commanded to attend the synagogue as the meeting place for those living in expectation of the coming Messiah. Now that they have believed that He has come they must have a new group with whom to meet. This new group is called the local church. All who have faith in Christ as their only hope for forgiveness are expected to submit themselves to the authority of the NT local church. In doing so the local church then becomes the central processing and distribution point for all their Christian walk. Any believer that does not join themselves to a local NT church is not in right standing with God. The Bible tells us that Jesus died for the local church and then informs us we are to make it an habitual practice of attending it. Of course the church is not a building but a gathering. When God’s people meet together God expects all those members to be in attendance. When the church has something going on, the church members are all expected to make that event a priority in their life. How different might things have been had not Joseph and Mary been devoted followers of the Lord? Had they not frequented the Temple? How different might Zacharias’ had been had he not performed his duties in the temple that day? God has a plan for all believers in the Saviour and it begins, continues, and ends with the local church. Honor the local church.  Support it with your attendance, finances, and prayers. Thank God for the local church!

The Great Cost of Carnal Living

Jer 8:18-21  When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

When you read the book of Jeremiah remember what gave birth to its writing. The southern kingdom has followed the lead of her northern sibling and turned from God. Little by little they moved away from the holy and moral foundations that exemplified their walk with God. God is a Holy God and therefore demands holy living from His children in order to maintain a sweet fellowship with them. While God doesn’t turn away from them He does turn on them. They had chosen to let the moral and holy standards that had been established by their forefathers and honored by their God to slip. Little by little they drifted from the once safe harbor of sweet fellowship. As they looked at the world and the temporal enjoyment that fleshly living brought them they began to question the standards that kept their fellowship with God open. Satan got them considering their present desire to satisfy their flesh. The only thing that stood between them and enjoying life like the heathens did was those wretched standards of holiness. They ultimately cast them aside in favor of idols and lust. Anyone who stood in the path of their carnal desires were beaten (Jer 20:2; 31:19), ridiculed (26:11) and incarcerated (38:4-6). Now, in the NT, Paul tells us that in the last days these events will be repeated (2Ti 4:3). Paul spent much of his time trying to reign in the carnal believers from the judgment of God which would come upon them. God’s first desire is to bless us (Garden of Eden) but our sinfulness moves Him to judge us. Would you rather have the blessings of uninterrupted fellowship with God or the constant gnawing of guilt as to the coming judgment brought about by your wandering from His holiness? Ask yourself, “Have I spoken with God about the movies I watch? What about the clothes I wear? The choices of entertainment I make?” When the world becomes the major influencer in these decisions know that you’re drifting from the safe harbor of holiness.

Why It Is Important to Continually Grow as a Believer

Isa 28:9-10   Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

God is looking for those to whom He may impart greater wisdom. Those whom He can trust with great revelation, knowledge, and wisdom. In this text He tells us plainly who those people are, or, rather what those people have done with what He has already given them. God expects us to exercise our responsibility toward His saving Grace. When a person places their faith in the grace of God that has revealed their need of forgiveness through Christ, God then expects those people to grow. At first we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby (1Pe 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:). Once we have allowed the basic rudiments of the Word of God to sustain and grow us, God then presents to us the strong meat (the deeper teachings) of the Word of God. While God does not hold a baby Christian to the same standard as a mature believer, He does expect baby believers to grow and become mature so that God can entrust more wisdom to them. Are you growing in the Word of God? Are you ready to be entrusted by God with more Biblical truth? Are you prepared to deepen your intimacy with the Father? Do you want to know more of God? Each time you read the Word of God meditate upon what it is teaching you and then employ those truths in your daily life. When God reveals to you that you are wrong then do not let pride and personal prejudices prevent you from correcting your error. Take Apollos for your example: Act 18:26  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. If you will not make the effort to grow in the Word of God you will never advance from Baby stage. Babies are cute but a 20 year old that still acts like a baby is a pathetic site. Grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!

A Wrong Decision from Your Spouse

1Ki 21:7  And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

1Ki 21:16  And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Job 2:9-10  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

In this text we see that the dangers of turning on God are as available to the lost as they are to the follower of God. Ahab and Jezebel are the poster children of the ungodly. However, even among the ungodly there is a position to be occupied in the home.  When Jezebel took the lead and made satanically motivated decisions Ahab should have stood in her way. Instead he remained curled up in his bed facing the wall and pouting. His inaction resulted in the murder of a good man and the subsequent judgment of God upon both him and his wife. Now we look at Job and his wife. Having witnessed one tragedy after another, not the least of which was the death of her 10 children, Job’s wife could take it no longer. She spoke up for her husband to curse God knowing it would bring his death and ultimately the end of his suffering.  Job, however, looked beyond the grave to see the consequence of leaving his wife behind with him having taught her it was alright to curse God during times of tragedy. Tragedy is the very time we must run to God, not curse God.  Job took his position as a godly man and leader of his home and immediately corrected his hurting. He did this with a heart of love toward his wife and reverence toward his God. Here are two different couples that give us two options on how to handle an ungodly decision made by a spouse. Will you curl up in your bed facing the wall or will you rise up from the ashes and spare your loved ones further heartache?

God’s Control Over Trials

Psa 105:16  Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.

Here is a verse that causes us to take note of the difficult times that visit every life. God has just revealed both His love and ownership of Israel. He had let it be known that no one was to touch Israel. The enemies of God cursed Israel at their own peril. But then something happens. God, Himself, brings about a famine upon the very people He would not allow others to harm. We find here a wonderful truth that, as with Job (Job 1), God does not prevent trials from visiting His people but He does control those trials. We are therefore taught that all that comes into our life has first passed through the loving and protective grace of God. When you are facing seemingly indescribable events and circumstances that simply cannot be explained, know that God has protected you from the Wicked One but has allowed this valley to help you at length. Be encouraged and know that God both sees and hears you and therefore is working on your behalf. God is for you!

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

If the reader will take in the teaching through verse 17 of this passage he will without fail discover the importance of peace to our Lord and Saviour. Christ taught us in His Sermon on the Mount that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The reason behind that is that they are taking on them the ministry of our Lord. In this season of Christmas we will do well to remember that God became flesh as the Christ child because of a division between God and man. God was right, man was wrong, and because man could not reconcile himself to God a mediator was employed. There is but one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Jesus came to mend the rift between God and man and in doing so brought about peace. I ask you, “Is there a rift between you and another? A spouse perhaps? A friend? Co-worker? Boss, peer, or subordinate?” When tension or division is found there is need for a peacemaker after the example of our Lord. Paul identified himself as the ‘prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ’ and as a prisoner he must conduct himself in a fashion pleasing to his master. Determine now to take upon you the ministry of the Lord Jesus and seek to make peace where contention is found. Do not run away from it, sweep it aside, or try to ignore it. Tackle it head on and if your personal efforts fail find a neutral third party and ask them to help bring about peace. You will never regret the effort invested in bringing peace to any relationship.

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