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.

Marriage Boundary

2Ch 8:11  And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come.

Here we have the importance of marrying the person God has chosen for you. Solomon, the son of David, has married the daughter of Pharaoh. Pharaoh (devil) was King of Egypt which is a type of the world. Due to her lineage Solomon knew she could not live in his father’s house so he built her a separate home. One should never consider marrying someone that must be brought into your heavenly Father’s home. They must already be a part of your Father’s House (2Cor 6:14). If you want to ensure in-law issues then marry one whose spiritual father is Pharaoh, King of Egypt.

Sin: Recognize it and Repent

Here are two verses that teach a vital truth regarding our relationship to the sin in our life:

1Ki 8:33  When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:

1Ki 8:35  When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:

God desires fellowship with us each day of our lives. However, this fellowship will only occur on His terms. Therefore God presented to us a clear and ready way to maintain a daily walk with Him in spite of the fact we sin every day of our lives. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come instantly humble yourself under the mighty and merciful hand of God and repent of your conduct. Instantly you will be restored to a sweet fellowship with God. You will go from darkness to light in an instant! As quickly as you were forgiven when you received Christ that very same swiftness will restore you to a right standing with the Lord.

Be Sensitive for Answers to Prayer

2Sa 15:31  And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.

2Sa 15:32  And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:

2Sa 17:7  And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.

God stands ready to hear and answer our prayers and to meet our needs. Here is one of many examples from the inspired Word of God to validate this truth. David, continuing to suffer for his sin with Bathsheba, has been informed that one of his confidants and spiritual leaders has betrayed him and is now working for his adversary. David is ascending the Mt of Olives when he receives the news. He instantly sends a prayer to the Lord to confound his former confidant’s counsel. By the time he reaches the summit of his climb a man comes from out of the crowd to express his devotion to David during this time of great trouble. David, ever tender to the Lord, realizes this to be a possible answer to his prayer and seizes the opportunity. His prayer would be answered as a result. I wonder how many of our prayers we assume are not answered when in reality God was answering them through circumstance and situation. Today, when you pray for a need, be sure to remain sensitive to the people and places God brings into your life as vehicles God is using to deliver the answer to your request.