Monthly Archives: September 2019

The Holy Spirit Is The Comforter

 

Image result for pictures of verses on the Holy SpiritImage result for pictures of verses on the Holy Spirit

Image result for pictures of verses on the Holy Spirit Image result for pictures of verses on the Holy Spirit Image result for pictures of verses on the Holy SpiritImage result for pictures of verses on the Holy Spirit

Image result for pictures of verses on the Holy SpiritImage result for pictures of verses on the Holy Spirit

 

The Work of the Holy Spirit

by Inspiration Ministries

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 NASB

Luke described two ways that the Holy Spirit would change Mary’s life. First, the angel told her that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you.” She would experience the presence of the Spirit in new ways.

Second, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The Greek word here literally means to throw a shadow. To be enveloped as by a cloud. This was the same word that Luke used when describing the experience Jesus had during the transfiguration, when “a cloud formed and began to overshadow them.”

These examples help us see how the Spirit envelopes our lives, overtaking us in ways so overwhelming that we are capable of doing extraordinary things. These changes can take place at any time, in any place. As happened to Mary, we suddenly can be overwhelmed by His presence. Caught up into a spiritual dimension, empowered, changed.

The human mind can find it difficult to comprehend the dimension of the Spirit. But everything changes for those who understand the realm of the Spirit. Who realize that the Spirit operates in a different dimension. How He can change circumstances and enable “normal” people to do extraordinary things.

As a result of this kind of transformation, God’s Spirit can give us insights that are not our own. We can be inspired or supernaturally receive revelations about our own lives, or world conditions. At times like this, others may be tempted to think that we are special. But the fact is that we simply are vessels of His Spirit.

Ask God to help you be sensitive to the work of the Spirit in your life. Be ready for His transforming power anytime, day or night. And remember that through Him, there are no limits.

The Holy Spirit – A Heart Changer

 

Scripture Reading — Ezekiel 36:24-32

“I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” — Ezekiel 36:27

Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, God’s prophet Ezekiel addressed the exiles of Israel with promises of change and improvement. The Lord would replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. The giving of God’s Spirit would move the people to live obediently, careful to do things God’s way. The gift of God’s Spirit would lead to repentance.

Four hundred years ago, church leaders gathered at the Synod of Dort to describe the Holy Spirit’s work in our conversion, from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ. Their words echo the passage we have read in Ezekiel today. “The regenerating Spirit,” they wrote, “… penetrates into the inmost being, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart … God activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.”

The Spirit of God helps people to discern and understand the truth of the good news of salvation. The closed, hardened heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh. And even though “in this life believers cannot fully understand the way this work occurs,” we can be assured that by God’s grace we do believe with our hearts and love our Savior.

Is God’s promise alive and well in your heart?

 

Living with a Christlike Heart

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

“The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’” Acts 16:27-28 (NIV)

It was a rare retreat I really wanted to attend. Healthy meals and exercise, plus chapel services

and morning devotions. Focused on healthy living, nutrition and studying God’s Word, it

sounded like a reset I needed. But there was a problem: It was five days long.

That would be five days my husband James would need to watch our three kids and work, while I was relaxing (and occasionally sweating) in retreat mode. It seemed a lot to ask, but I decided to ask anyway. James said he would; he made the sacrifice so I could go refuel at the retreat.

He chose to put me first and allow his calendar to be rearranged for my benefit.

In the Bible, we find many stories of men and women sacrificing for someone else’s good, like Paul and Silas and the radically sacrificial choice they made in Acts 16. Ministering in the city of Philippi, Paul commanded a spirit of divination to depart from a fortune-telling slave. This woman brought tremendous profit, so her outraged masters seized Paul and Silas and reported them to the authorities. Paul and Silas were hastily beaten without a hearing, lashed with many stripes, and thrown in the inner prison.

Yet in that stinky, filthy prison, with bruised and bloodied bodies, Paul and Silas sang praise to God at midnight. Praise! Acts 16:26 says suddenly there was a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. The prison doors flung open and every prisoner’s chains came loose. Can you imagine such a dramatic scene?

Our key verse says, The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’”

Under Roman law, any guard who allowed a prisoner to escape was liable for the same penalty the prisoner received. If the prisoners escaped, the guard would be executed. When the jailer saw every person in the prison free from their chains, he figured his best option was to take his own life.

As a prisoner, what would you have done?

I might have interpreted that whole “earthquake, prison-doors-open” miracle as my cue to escape. But Paul doesn’t think about his own safety. He thinks of the jailer, and he shouts, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

This Christlike attitude stuns the jailer, who goes from trying to take his own life one moment to finding eternal life through Jesus Christ the next.

The jailer immediately called for lights and rushed in, confirming none of the prisoners escaped. Then he fell trembling before Paul and Silas. Verse 30 says the jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas put the needs of the jailer ahead of their own. They didn’t run and escape to save their own skin; they stayed and shared the good news of Jesus Christ. God used them to bring salvation to the jailer and his whole household.

When we put other people ahead of ourselves, considering their needs, hopes and dreams, we become more like Christ. It might be as small as watching someone’s kids or as big as giving money sacrificially or forgiving a spouse. In this selfie-driven, social media culture, life can easily revolve around me, myself and I. But in God’s Kingdom, the focus is “What can I do for you?” That’s exactly what Paul demonstrated when he chose to save the jailer’s life in Philippi.

 

The Need for a Comforter

From: ligonier.org

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (v. 9).

– Joshua 1

When He commissioned Joshua to conquer the land of promise, God repeatedly told him not be afraid (Joshua 1). Joshua did not need to fear because God was going to be with him every step of the way. It is significant that the command most frequently found on the lips of Jesus Christ was “Fear not.” Men are prone to fear because they live under the shadow of death. Even more, because Christians are called to bear witness to their Lord, knowing that such witness will bring them the disfavor of men, there is reason to fear.

In our affluent society we have too many who will neither take a stand nor expose themselves to situations which cause one to be afraid. We do not often experience fear because we have insulated ourselves from the distresses of life by our prosperity. We are not afraid because we fail quite often to stand up for Christ, and thus don’t frequently encounter opposition. If we are going to see any kind of reformation and revival in our day, we need to become a people who understand reality, who know what fear is, and who have learned true courage in the face of that fear. The greatest gift Jesus sent to His church was the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus described the Spirit as “another Comforter.” Jesus Himself is our first Comforter, and the Spirit is another. If we are really involved in the battle, we know we need all the comfort and reassurance we can get. If we are truly involved in the work we shall know discouragement, and we shall need all the encouragement we can get.

What is comfort? In modern English, comfort means consolation. The idea would be that God comes to console us and bind up our wounds after the battle. While this is true enough, it is not the meaning of the Greek term found in John 14:16Comfort is derived from the Latin cum and forte, meaning “with strength.” The Comforter comes not to console us after the battle, but with strength and power to fortify us before and in the midst of the battle.

Because Jesus has already overcome the world (John 16:33), we can be of good cheer, and we can fight fearlessly as those who are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

 

Who Am I?

Image result for pictures of biblical answer who am iImage result for pictures of biblical answer who am i

Image result for pictures of biblical answer who am iImage result for pictures of biblical answer who am i 

Image result for pictures of biblical answer who am i Image result for pictures of biblical answer who am i

 Image result for pictures of biblical answer who am iImage result for pictures of biblical answer who am i

Who Am I?

By: Kimberly Cash Tate, 1.cbn.com

“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

“Who am I?” That’s the question we’re seeking to answer. Admittedly this is my passion, that people know who they truly are. Everything flows from that—your mindset, your choices, your outlook, your mood, and yes, your eternity. A great many go through life believing a lie. They only know the deceiver’s version of who they are. But when you know the truth—God’s version—and you walk in it, you’re set free to live the abundant life He intended for you.

God called Abraham out of Ur. He left behind his native land, family, and his very identity to follow God and the promise of a new land, a new family, and a new identity. In fact, God promised to make an entirely new nation through Abraham—the nation of Israel.

Abraham had a son, Isaac, and Isaac had Jacob (also known as Israel). Jacob had twelve sons, and the entire clan ended up in Egypt due to a famine, where they multiplied in number and then were subjected to slavery for four hundred years. God had told Abraham this would happen, but He also promised that He would bring them out (Genesis 15:13).

Through Moses, God did deliver them from Egypt by a strong hand. But four hundred years was a long time. Generations had lived and died. For those living at the time of the exodus, Egypt was all they had known. Egyptian culture had become ingrained, from the food to the form of worship, which encompassed all manner of gods. God not only had to get them out of Egypt; He needed to get Egypt out of them. What’s more, they were headed to Canaan, another land filled with people whose practices were sinful to God. God told them through Moses, “‘I am the LORD your God. You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you…’” (Leviticus 18:3).

The Israelites needed to know that they weren’t like other people. They’d been set apart unto God. They were different. As God’s people, they had their own identity, their own customs and practices, and their own form of worship—true worship. Much of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy is about grounding them in their new identity as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, where they were to be a light and an example of holiness and righteousness to the world.

You probably know the story. As a people, they never quite settled into the higher identity to which God had called them. Instead, they kept identifying with the cultures around them, aligning themselves with people who didn’t know the true God, adopting their ways. There were bright lights among them, such as Joshua, who declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). But the people as a whole drifted from God. Worse, their spiritual leaders led the way. Instead of speaking God’s words, they spoke their own (Jeremiah 23Ezekiel 34).

God had promised blessing for obedience, but because of their unfaithfulness, God allowed His people to be conquered and led into captivity (2 Kings 17:24-25).

Is any of this relevant to us? Absolutely! If you’ve been saved, God has brought you out of slavery too—slavery to sin (Romans 6:17-18). But although God has delivered us “out of Egypt,” there’s still a need to get “Egypt” out of us. All we’ve ever known and believed about ourselves and the world has been filtered through the evil one (Ephesians 2:1-2). But just as God taught the Israelites, He teaches us through His Word so that we can renew our minds to the truth of who we are and whose we are. We have been set apart unto God, and the more we walk in our divine identity and in His divine ways, the more we will enjoy God’s blessings…and shine the light of Jesus to a lost world.

Heavenly Father, thank You for delivering me from being a slave to sin. May I no longer walk or think as I used to. Renew my mind, O God. Make me know Your ways, teach me Your paths. I desire to walk in truth, for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Perils of Supernatural Appeal

By: Tim Bishop, 1.cbn.com

Our walk began innocently enough but soon took a dark turn. “In this building the night before she was to marry a much older man, a 17-year-old woman hung herself.”

Our tour guide then embellished some phenomena cited by later inhabitants: a slamming door, a shimmering light, and eerie sounds in an otherwise empty dwelling. Her captivating stories enchanted eager tour participants and compensated them for their money.

Throughout the tour, Debbie and I heard similar stories with words such as spirit, energy, paranormal, and psychic. This wasn’t what we’d signed up for. We learned some intriguing history of the city, but our first “ghost tour” left us disillusioned.

My disappointment had nothing to do with the warm and knowledgeable attendant, the comfortable evening, or the respectful group. Instead, I was disenchanted with the monetization of our God-given appetite for spiritual connection. Furthermore, the experience reminded me that spirituality without God infiltrates every fabric of society.

I coach youth on an Internet chat service where I’ve witnessed firsthand how counterfeit religion has deceived the unsuspecting. People are thirsty for truth but don’t know where to find it. Several teenagers with whom I chatted were entangled in Wicca. Despite their cries for help, they resisted learning about the only truth that could set them free: a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

“All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved” (Ephesians 2:3-5 TLB).

It pays to have a “healthy disrespect” for the occult. Dabbling in it only invites trouble. Its intrigue and its practices are Satan’s cauldron in which he brews chaos and confusion while erecting barriers to the Light. The Bible is clear on such matters.

Isaiah 7-8 contrasts divine revelation with seeking to know the future through other means. Ahaz, king of Judah, feared nearby foes and considered aligning with Assyria to protect his kingdom. God sent Isaiah to tell him his fears were unfounded and he should stand firm in the faith. Isaiah’s second communiqué was the prophecy of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 7:14). If God were to deliver the Messiah through the nation of Judah, then surely He would protect them.

When God silently tested His people, the uncertainty tempted them to seek guidance from the occult. Knowing this, Isaiah offered this admonition in Isaiah 8:19-20 (TLB):

“So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting witches and mediums? Don’t listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God? ‘Check these witches’ words against the Word of God!’ he says. ‘If their messages are different than mine, it is because I have not sent them; for they have no light or truth in them.’”

It’s wise to stay alert because deception abounds even in what seems harmless. We have an enemy who seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Let’s thwart his schemes by taking up spiritual armor and surrendering no ground, for our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).

 

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”— Genesis iv. 9.

 

To what a shameful pitch of presumptuous impudence had Cain arrived when he could thus insult the Lord God. If it had not been on record in the page of inspiration, we might almost have doubted whether a man could speak so impudently when actually conscious that God himself was addressing him. Men blaspheme frightfully, but it is usually because they forget God, and ignore his presence; but Cain was conscious that God was speaking to him. He heard him say, “Where is Abel thy brother?” and yet he dared, with the coolest impertinence, to reply to God, “I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?” As much as to say— “Do you think that I have to keep him as he keeps his sheep? Am I also a shepherd as he was, and am I to take as much care of him as he did of a lame lamb?”

The cool impudence of Cain is an indication of the state of heart which led up to his murdering his brother; and it was also a part of the result of his having committed that terrible crime. He would not have proceeded to the cruel deed of bloodshed if he had not first cast off the fear of God and been ready to defy his Maker. Having committed murder, the hardening influence of sin upon Cain’s mind must have been intense, and so at last he was able to speak out to God’s face what he felt within his heart, and to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This goes a long way to explain what has puzzled some persons, namely, the wonderful calmness with which great criminals will appear in the dock. I remember to have heard it said of one who had undoubtedly committed a very foul murder, that he looked like an innocent man. He stood up before his accusers as calmly and quietly, they said, as an innocent man could do. I remember feeling at the time that an innocent man would probably not have been calm. The distress of mind occasioned to an innocent man by being under such a charge would have prevented his having the coolness which was displayed by the guilty individual. Instead of its being any evidence of innocence that a man wears a brazen front when charged with a great crime, it should by wise men be considered to be evidence against him. Well may he seem dispassionate and unmoved who has already been so unfeeling as to dip his hand in blood. If he was so hardened as to do the deed, it is not likely he will display much softness when the deed is brought home to him. Oh, dear friends, let us shun sin, if it were only for the evil effect which it has upon our minds. It is poison to the heart. It stultifies the conscience, drugs it, sends it to sleep; it intoxicates the judgment, and puts all the faculties as it were into a state of drunkenness, so that we become capable of a monstrous bravery, and a blind impertinence, which makes us mad enough to dare insult God to his face. Save us, O God, from having our hearts hammered to the hardness of steel by sin; and daily keep us by thy grace sensible and tender before thee, trembling at thy word.

 

Peace In The Eye Of The Storm

Image result for pictures scripture on peaceImage result for pictures scripture on peace

 Image result for pictures scripture on peaceImage result for pictures scripture on peace

Image result for pictures scripture on peaceImage result for pictures scripture on peace 

Image result for pictures scripture on peaceImage result for pictures scripture on peace

Image result for pictures scripture on peace

Peace in the Eye of the Storm

Peace in the Eye of the Storm | In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh

I woke up and reached over to the bedside table for my phone to see what time it was. It was just three o’clock in the morning. I groaned. I slipped out of bed as quietly as I could. I didn’t want to wake my husband or our three little dogs stretched out at the bottom of the bed. I opened the bedroom door and thought to myself, one more time, “I need to put some oil on that squeak.”

I crept downstairs, lit two of my favorite candles, boiled the kettle and made myself a cup of tea.

Why on earth am I wide awake in the middle of the night?” I wondered.

I settled into my favorite chair in the den as Maggie, our Yorkie decided to join me. I scratched behind her ears and she fell back to sleep on my lap.

There had been a lot of bad news on television the previous few days. Hurricanes, devastation, wildfires, a mass shooting. It felt as if the world was getting more out of control by the minute. Closer to home, two of my dearest friends had recently been diagnosed with cancer. No warning. Out of the blue, life had changed for them and their loved ones.

In the quiet, I lifted them up to the Lord. I asked for healing, for grace, for strength and for hope. I prayed for those I didn’t know, for those who had lost loved ones, who had lost their homes, for those struggling to find a reason to hope as they faced the reality of what their lives now looked like. Nothing can prepare you to lose everything in a matter of moments.

Sometimes we get a warning when a storm is about to hit. The national weather service issues storm watches and warnings but not everyone has the time or means to get away from danger. Often the poorest of the poor are the most vulnerable and pay the greatest price but truth is, storms hit us all.

Personal storms can move in with lightning speed and devastate the landscape of our hearts and we never saw them coming.

As I sat in the quiet that morning with a gently snoring dog on my lap I thought about you. I thought about the vast numbers of people that I may never meet on this earth but who are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I thought about those of you who are hurting, who feel broken and crushed right now. Although I may not know your name, Jesus does and I lifted you up. The question pounding inside my heart was this,

Lord, how do we live in the peace You promised when there are storms all around us?”

I picked up the well-worn Bible that I keep beside my chair and opened it to the conversation Christ had with his best friends on the night when He knew He was about to be betrayed. He would have to endure a mockery of a trial and then take that long walk up a hill to face a barbaric execution. John records those profound hours in chapters 13-17 but as I sat in my chair that night, I turned to the verses I had underlined that speak of peace.

I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. — John 14:27 NLT

Peace of mind and heart. Peace that is only found in Christ.

Then Jesus told them that hard times were coming. He tried to prepare them for the persecution that was ahead, for the unprecedented storms on the horizon. And then He said this,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. — John 16:33 NLT

Christ had just shared some very difficult truth with His dearest friends and yet He said that the very reason He was telling them was so that they could know peace when the storms hit.

What is this peace that Christ speaks of? It’s clearly not circumstantial as He promises it in the middle of trouble. Perhaps it’s easier for you to believe that for others than for yourself but if it’s a promise from Christ then it is true in the best days of life and the worst, for the richest and the poorest among us.

If you find yourself in the middle of a mess right now Christ wants to speak peace to you. Many things in life are a mystery to me but this one thing I know for sure,

God is for you.

He sees you, knows you and loves you. This is what I know about peace,

Peace is not the absence of trouble. It is the presence of Christ.

That is my prayer for you.

Father,

Right now, I pray for my brothers and sisters. You know what each one is facing. I ask that Your peace would flood their hearts and minds. In the quiet of this moment Lord, we receive Your peace.

 

Your Heavenly Vision

by Inspiration Ministries

I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring … that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. – Acts 26:19-20 NASB

Paul’s life was changed by a vision. When Jesus appeared to him as he approached Damascus on a mission to persecute Christians, Paul was transformed from a persecutor to an apostle.

To help Paul understand this vision, Jesus sent Ananias so that Paul could understand that he was “a chosen instrument” who would “bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul also needed to be prepared for the difficulties he would face.

Paul never forgot this vision. Wherever he went, its message was a constant reminder of God’s call and his personal ministry.

By focusing on this vision, Paul showed the consistency of his message. He was not motivated by the reactions of people but His obedience to God. He spent his life fulfilling that call, going wherever God called him to go. By staying faithful to this vision, he had boldness, confidence, and clarity.

This message applies to all who have made Jesus their Lord. All believers, through this relationship, have been given a personal assignment that may include particular places to go and special things to do. We are prepared, trained, and equipped in special ways to accomplish these assignments.

Today, remember God’s call on your life. Do not be disobedient to your “heavenly vision.” Dedicate yourself to finishing your task, running your race, and winning the prize set before you (Hebrews 12:1-2).

 

The great Supreme

“Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” Deuteronomy 32:3

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

In Protestant countries there is a very strong tendency to priestcraft still. Though we do not bow down and worship images, and do not professedly put our souls into the hands of priests, yet, I am sorry to say it, there is scarce a congregation that is free from that error of ascribing greatness to their minister. If souls are converted, how very prone we are to think there is something marvellous in the man; and if saints are fed and satisfied with marrow and fatness, how prone we are to suppose that the preacher has something about him by which these wondrous things are done; and if a revival takes place in any part of the vineyard, it matters not in what denomination, there is an aptness in the human mind to ascribe some part of the glory and the praise to the mere human agency. Oh, beloved, I am sure that every right-minded minister will scorn the thought. We are but your servants for Christ’s sake. We speak to you, as God helps us, what we believe to be God’s truth; but ascribe not to us any honour or any glory. If a soul is saved, God from first to last has done it. If your souls are fed, thank the Master; be respectful and grateful to the servant as you will be, but most of all thank him who puts the word into the mouths of his servants, and who applies it to your heart. “Oh, down with priestcraft!” even I myself must down with it. “Down with it!” I cry. If I myself like Samson fall beneath its roof, let me fall myself and be crushed, well content in having pulled down or contributed to remove one solitary brick in that colossal house of Satan. Take care, friends, that you put no honour upon any man that you ought to have ascribed unto his Sovereign. “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.”

For meditation: Why are you using these daily readings? We should thank God for Spurgeon, but many go too far and venerate Spurgeon himself. He reminds us that he too was a man (Acts 10:26) and that the glory belongs not to him but to his and our God (Psalm 115:1).

Jesus’ Second Coming

 

 

Image result for pictures of Christs second comingImage result for pictures of Christs second coming

Image result for pictures of Christs second comingImage result for pictures of Christs second coming 

Image result for pictures of Christs second comingImage result for pictures of Christs second coming 

Image result for pictures of Christs second comingImage result for pictures of Christs second coming

 

Jesus’ Second Coming

Author: J. Stephen Lang, 1.cbn.com

hands-reaching-sky

You don’t hear so much talk about heaven anymore or about when Jesus will return in glory. Too many believers nowadays forget how much the Bible has to say about the end of this present life.

In the past Christians took great comfort from the Lord’s promise that he would return in glory. We can still find such comfort in this belief today. Billy Graham summarized it well: “Our world is filled with fear, hate, lust, greed, war, and utter despair. Surely the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the only hope of replacing these depressing features with trust, love, universal peace, and prosperity.”

“I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of my Father with his angels and will judge all people according to their deeds.” Matthew 16:27

“If a person is ashamed of me and my message, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in my glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

“No one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:36-42

In the Gospels, Jesus promises his return but names no specific time. The promise is intended to give people hope, but Jesus makes it clear that it should do more than that. It should cause us to live in such a way that constantly reflects our readiness to meet our Lord.

“The coming of the Son of Man can be compared with that of a man who left home to go on a trip. He gave each of his employees instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. So keep a sharp lookout! For you do not know when the homeowner will return — at evening, midnight, early dawn, or late daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning.” Mark 13:34-36

“Watch out! Don’t let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep a constant watch. And pray that, if possible, you may escape these horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

You know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “All is well; everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall upon them as suddenly as a woman’s birth pains begin when her child is about to be born. And there will be no escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

The Bible ends, appropriately, with both a prayer and a promise: Jesus is coming.

“See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds.” He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:12, 20

 

Christ’s Second Coming

 By: Charles Spurgeon

But who may abide the day of his coming?”
— Malachi 3:2

“His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.”

 

Second Coming Of Christ

From: Allaboutjesuschrist.org

Second Coming of Christ – No One Knows When
The Second Coming of Christ is plagued by many false teachings. Prediction books have even been written picking the exact day of Jesus’ return. These books may sell many copies, but they mislead their readers. There’s one guarantee: As soon as someone predicts the day or time of Jesus Christ’s second coming, that prediction is wrong. Why? Simply, only God the Father knows when it will be — Jesus doesn’t even know. Jesus told His disciples:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father… Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with the hand mill; one will be taken and the other left… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:36, 40, 42).

 

Second Coming of Christ – Signs for Keeping Watch
We could just shrug our shoulders and casually wait for the Second Coming of Christ. However, Jesus wants us to “keep watch.” A great way to keep watch is to know what the Bible reveals about upcoming events and compare those to what we see happening today. There are nearly 100 biblical passages discussing the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The key events can be summarized with the acrostic: S – E – C – O – N – D.

S…Sudden. As we saw above, no one but the Father knows when. However, we do know it will take place “as lightning.” Matthew 24:27 says, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

E…Essential. One of the foundations of the Christian faith is Jesus’ second coming. It is spoken of by Jesus and many others in the Bible. Jesus will physically come again for all His believers and for His final judgment. Unfortunately, some Christian cults teach that Christ “secretly” returned already. As you read what the Bible says about the Second Coming of Jesus, it will be obvious that it hasn’t happened yet.

C…Christ’s Final Judgment. The Bible declares that Jesus will be the final judge of the world (John 5:22, Acts 10:42 and 2 Timothy 4:1). Some of the additional verses describing the second coming, resurrection of the dead, millennium, and final judgment are located in Acts 17:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 and Hebrews 10:27.

O…Obvious. There are over 6 billion people on the planet. God only knows what percentage are truly Christians, but let’s use a conservative number like 10%. If this is true, over 600,000,000 people will vanish from the earth simultaneously according to Matthew 24:40. There will be no mistaking when Christ comes back for His Church!

N…No One Knows When. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus said only God the Father knows when. God is outside time. God already knows every prediction regarding Jesus’ return that has ever been or will ever be made. Since Jesus said that no one knows about that day but the Father, NO ONE KNOWS!

 

Second Coming of Christ – The “D” is for “Doubters”
As we get closer and closer to the Second Coming of Christ, there will be increasing and widespread doubt about whether Jesus even existed. People will also start wondering if God really exists and believers will leave the Christian faith (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-2, and 2 Peter 2:1-3). Do you think we’re already seeing these signs?

 

Stand Firm In The Faith

..
Image result for picture verses on standing firm in the faithImage result for picture verses on standing firm in the faith
Image result for picture verses on standing firm in the faithImage result for picture verses on standing firm in the faith

Image result for picture verses on standing firm in the faithImage result for picture verses on standing firm in the faith

Image result for picture verses on standing firm in the faithImage result for picture verses on standing firm in the faith

What to Do When You Are in Need of Peace

By: Jack Countryman, Author: faithgateway.com

2 Corinthians 13:11

Editor’s note: These are stressful times. Everywhere you look you can find people in political strife, marital struggle, financial distress, difficulty with kids, loved ones struggling with suicidal thoughts, and troubles beyond bearing. How, as Christians, do we respond? First and foremost, we turn to God our Father who loves us and is in control. Then, we dig into His Word wherein we can find peace. Let’s pick one or two of these verses to memorize and one or two to send to friends and family who need peace, too!

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. — Isaiah 26:3

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” — John 14:27

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6-7

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1

Lord, You will establish peace for us, For You have also done all our works in us. — Isaiah 26:12

“For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” — Isaiah 55:12

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace. — Psalm 37:37

He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness. — Isaiah 57:2

For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

— Romans 14:17-19

Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble. — Psalm 119:165

But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. — Psalm 37:11

I will hear what God the Lord will speak, For He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. — Psalm 85:8

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. — 2 Corinthians 13:11

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. — Colossians 3:15

Lord, place within my heart the hunger to trust You. I depend on Your wisdom to guide my life so that I might know You.

Choose Where You Will Stand

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

Several years ago, I began playing tennis and became a member of a competitive team. Each week the team attends a practice clinic with our tennis professional to learn new techniques and strategies. He is always full of great tips and advice to help us improve our game, but one particular week he said something that really stuck in my mind.

He discussed the importance of court position; where we stand on the court could determine whether or not we keep the ball in play and if we win the point. Then he said that although we could not control what was going on in the court, we could always control where we stand.

I thought about how that statement is applicable not only to tennis, but to life. You see, even though we can’t control what happens in the world, we can always control where we stand on issues of righteousness and integrity. Where we choose to stand will be evidence of the role that we are allowing God to play in our lives.

For example, we have no power over the sex, drugs, language and violence on TV, but we can choose whether we watch it or not. We have no power over the content of the movies coming out in the theatres, or how lenient the ratings are, but we can choose what we allow ourselves or our children to see. We can stand for purity.

We have no power to control the beliefs and actions of other people. We cannot control the downfall of morals in our society. We cannot control the decisions that Congress makes, which new laws are put into place, escalating gas prices, politics in the workplace, questionable practices in corporations, liberal tolerance, foreign affairs, war, or the state of the economy.

In fact, sometimes it may seem that we have no control over certain situations in our own lives, much less the things happening in the world. But there is good news – we always have the choice to choose where we will stand in the game of life.

Proverbs 20:5 says, “Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within” (The Message). That is really where court position begins – in the heart. If our faith is strong and grounded, then we will be able to pull from that wisdom when faced with opportunities to choose where to stand, knowing that the power of God within us will empower us to make good decisions.

Our only hope in fighting this battle of good versus evil, in our hearts and in this broken world, is to be prepared to stand tall and firm for Christ, despite what the opposition may bring.

You know, life is a lot like a tennis court. We each have our side. We try to stay on the right side, but sometimes the balls that get thrown at us pull us in the wrong direction. Other times they are difficult to defend, cause us to stumble, or throw us off track. But if we choose the right court position to begin with, that is, to stay on God’s side and choose Him as our partner, we are much more likely to exercise the power we have within us. Drawing deep from the well of God’s wisdom in our hearts, we can do the right thing.

There are times when standing up for our faith may cause us to lose the popularity contest, but it will allow others to see God in us. And, there may even be times when our court position speaks louder than words ever could.

Where will you stand today?

Dear Lord, help me have the strength and faith to stand up for what is right when I am faced with opposition, and not be swayed by the pressures in a fallen world. Help me live a life that glorifies You, instead of just taking the easy road and going along with the crowd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Standing Firm

Scott Hoezee, Author, reframemedia.com

 

Scripture Reading — Philippians 1:27-30

Stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. — Philippians 1:27-28

Sometimes Christians appear a little shaky. Some lash out at critics. In some cases, because of fears that a “culture war” might cause trouble for the church, some Christians urge people to engage in hardball politics to try to get their way.

Make no mistake: Paul tells the Philippians to stand firm and not to compromise the gospel. We have enemies to face. But we have to face them in a way that is consistent with the gospel and with Jesus, who willingly suffered rather than lash out in anger. “Don’t be scared of those who oppose you,” Paul says, in effect; “fear is for uncertain people. But if we are certain that we have already won the victory in Jesus, then we have nothing to fear, and our confidence proves to our enemies that they have already lost!”

These verses from Philippians deliver a daunting challenge. For Paul’s first readers, this was not easy to do in the Roman Empire, where hostility toward the church became state policy. Nobody would want to suffer. Yet Paul says that suffering was “granted” to the Philippians, as though it was a gift.

That’s the way Paul saw it. To suffer for Jesus and like Jesus— well, that’s a gift. And it helps the world see Jesus more clearly than if we try to inflict suffering on others because of our fears.

Prayer

Increase our confidence in you, O God, so that we can stand firm in adversity and display to the world the certainty of our faith in you. In Christ, Amen.

God Is My Safe Place

Image result for pictures of safety with God Image result for pictures of safety with GodImage result for pictures of safety with God Image result for pictures of safety with God

 

Image result for pictures of safety with GodImage result for pictures of safety with God 

Image result for pictures of safety with GodImage result for pictures of safety with God

 

 

The Safest Place to Be

The disciples could hardly believe their ears. Had Jesus forgotten how the Jews in Jerusalem recently tried to kill him? Why in the world would he want to put his life in danger by going back to Judea? (See John 11:1-16) But Jesus had just announced his intention to go to Bethany in response to a message that his friend Lazarus was sick. This news alarmed the disciples since Bethany was a mere two miles from Jerusalem; they tried to change his mind. “Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone you to death,” they reminded him. “Do you really want to go back there?”

Jesus answered their questions with a metaphor that contrasted walking in the light versus walking in darkness. He explained that people who walk during the “day” don’t have to worry about stumbling because they have the knowledge of God’s will to guide them, but those who walk in the darkness of their own understanding and self-reliance are likely to fall. Jesus understood what his well-intentioned disciples did not: as long as he submitted to God’s plan for his life, no harm could come to him until the appointed time of his crucifixion. Jesus had no need to fear his enemies.

God has given each one of us a purpose and specific work to accomplish for him. As long as we’re doing our best to follow his plan for our life, we don’t need to worry about our safety. Nothing and no one on the earth can successfully interfere with God’s purposes. But it’s dangerous to leave the light of God’s truth and walk down a path of disobedience. It’s foolish to let ourselves be guided by the world’s standards and advice or by our own understanding if those things contradict God’s Word. That would be like traveling down a rocky road on a dark night with no source of light to guide us; we can expect to stumble and fall.

Any time we stray from God’s will, we make ourselves vulnerable to temptations, Satan’s traps, and spiritual deceptions, leading us to make unwise choices that can bring serious consequences. The only truly safe place to be is in the center of God’s will for our life. As long as we follow where he leads, we’ll be protected—even in situations that appear threatening or dangerous to human eyes. Letting our decisions and movements be shaped by obedience to God will set us free from fear concerning our welfare and safety. We may have to walk through some dark valleys on our life journey, but even in the shadow of death we have the security of knowing that we are never walking alone. The Light of the world is always right there with us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)

 

In God’s Hands

APRIL 22, 2009

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

As I aroused from sleep, my first thought was, “Uggg. It is going to be cold outside.” But to be honest, my anxiety wasn’t so much about the cold mountain weather, but about my teenage daughter’s safety that day.

We had been planning the trip for weeks and the girls were so excited that their snowboarding day had finally arrived. The wind was cold and the snow was slippery, but the sun was shining, the mountains were beautiful, and the enthusiasm of three teenage girls outweighed their shivers. We had arranged for them to take a one-hour snowboarding lesson that morning, as this was their first time on the slopes. Once we got them bundled up in their coats, scarves and protective gear, we parted ways as they walked off with the rest of the group to begin their lesson.

Suddenly, I felt this little rush of panic come over me. It was a familiar feeling, because for the past 15 years I have mastered the art of worrying about the safety of my children. When there is even the most remote possibility one of them could be hurt, my mind floods with irrational thoughts about what could happen in the worst of circumstances.

What if she has trouble getting onto the ski lift properly, and slips and hits her head? What if she can’t get off the lift quick enough at the top of the mountain, and falls off and gets hurt? What if she falls off the lift seat while hoisted five stories up in the air? What if she gets too close to the edge of the slope and falls off the side of the mountain? What if she gets separated from her friends and panics all alone? What if she breaks her arm/leg/neck? What if …

As I said, irrational thoughts. Unwarranted panic.

Since I could not run up the ski slope after her, looking like a crazed, over-protective mother, I headed back to the lodge. There I found myself praying a simple prayer something like this: Oh, Lord, I cannot be with her today. I cannot protect her. I cannot watch after her. She will be out of my sight, at the top of a mountain, far from my reach. Only You can see her. Only You can protect her now. Please keep her safe. Instantly I felt God’s reassurance, and heard Him quietly speak to my heart, “Put her in My arms Tracie. Entrust her to Me.”

Although I secretly preferred to hold her in my own arms and keep her safe, just like when she was a little girl, I knew I had to entrust her fully to God – just not on the ski slope, but every day of her life. I am a mere human, but God is a sovereign and powerful God. Any physical protection I could offer her pales in comparison to the spiritual protection given from our Savior.

As each of my children grow and live, I know they will face new dangers. Peer pressure will be heavy, temptations will prowl, people will hurt their feelings, dangers may cross their path and life may be hard. Our modern culture will cause them to face challenges and decisions that I did not have to deal with as a child. My comfort must come from believing that they will be in God’s hands, and that He will always be with them, no matter where they go. Not just on the top of a mountain, but every minute of every day in every circumstance.

Do you know that the word “children” appears over 450 times in the Bible? Our children matter to God, and He loves them, even more than we love them. Being a parent allows us a window to see God’s amazing perspective of that love.

 

Let us turn to Psalm 91. Psalm 91, and this is our third study – it may be, hopefully, our final study in this Psalm as we look at it together. Let’s take time to read the Psalm, Psalm 91: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord”, of Jehovah, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God”, Elohim, “in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation”. 

Does God shelter you under His wing? Do you find that God brings you His protection and His
peace when you are faced with the trouble? Does it work?

We looked in our first study at the safest place to be in all the world. Last week we looked at some more verses of this Psalm, and we looked at how you survive, how you get through life, with all that life throws at you. This week we’re going to look at ‘God’s Guardians With Their Guarantees’, the guardians of God with their guarantees.

It’s true, isn’t it, that travelling from theory to reality is a long journey. Travelling from theory to reality is a long journey. As one preacher put it, it is a 16 inch journey from your head to your heart, actually appropriating the truths of God into your everyday life – that when you face the problems that we’ve been talking about in recent days, you face them and that theory becomes your practice. That’s what we’ve been studying in the book of Ephesians for the past year and a half or so, and we’ve seen in the first three chapters of Ephesians the theory, the doctrine, then the second half is the practice: how this doctrine affects your life.

As we look at this Psalm it’s exactly the same, it’s a long journey travelling from theory to the reality of how you face these problems in life. That was illustrated to me after I preached the last two weeks, and discussing these truths with some people – even in the foyer after the meeting – they were saying to me, and I was concurring with them and agreeing with them, it’s so hard, isn’t it? It’s alright standing up here pontificating about the theory, but it’s a different thing when you’re in the reality, actually appropriating these truths and living by them. It’s a different thing when you’re faced, staring eyeball to eyeball, with these troubles. We might be able to say that, in that instance, talk is cheap! It’s alright preaching on Psalm 91, but what do you do when that trouble is facing you? Do you really remember these things? I mean, let’s be practical: do these eternal truths really kick in and do they come to your aid? Does God shelter you under His wing? Do you find that God brings you His protection and His peace when you are faced with the trouble? Does it work?

You might say: ‘Well, I don’t want to wait until I’m in a problem to find out whether this works or not. I want to know it works. I want some kind of guarantee, some kind of assurance, that this will work. I don’t want to realise it doesn’t work when it’s too late!’. How do we answer that? Because that’s a fair assumption that people will take when they hear these truths and go away and say: ‘Well, it’s alright for him, he’s not experiencing what I’m experiencing. When you’re in it, it’s a different matter altogether!’.

Francis Schaffer, who you might term as a Christian theologian – or perhaps more correctly a Christian philosopher, in his last few months of life was lecturing in a Christian Bible College. He was asked the question by some of these highbrow students: ‘Why are you a Christian?’. Why are you a Christian? They were all sitting with pen and paper waiting for a great philosophical or theological explanation, an apologetic renunciation of everything else, and a defence of Christendom. Do you know what he said? ‘I am a Christian because it is the truth’. Now, isn’t that it? I am a Christian because it is the truth. The person I heard telling this story was in the gathering, as he heard it he said it just enthused him. It was like an electric bolt to his head, he felt: ‘That’s it! It’s the truth! Let’s go and tell them! It’s the truth, let’s go into the world, we’ve got the truth!’.

The Blessing Of Full Assurance In Christ

Image result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessingsImage result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessings

 Image result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessingsImage result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessings

Image result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessingsImage result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessings 

Image result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessings 

Image result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessingsImage result for pictures of verses on spiritual blessings

 

 

The Blessing

By: Gene Markland, 1.cbn.com

Mr. Spock, of Star Trek fame, would raise his hand and say “Live long and prosper.”

This “Vulcan salute,” as it has come to be called, was invented on the set of Star Trek by actor Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the second-season opener, “Amok Time.” What the people didn’t know was that the Vulcan greeting came from Leonard Nimoy’s real-life Jewish heritage. He took it from the ancient blessing the Jewish Priests would bestow upon the Israelites.

The Bible says,

“Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27 NLT)

The actual blessing is done with both arms held horizontally in front, at shoulder level, with hands touching, to form the Hebrew letter “shin.” This stands for the Hebrew word for “Shaddai”, meaning “Almighty [God].”

With the hand symbol, the priest was putting the name of God on the people, sealing it upon them.

This is a special blessing God wants all of us to receive. This blessing is so important because it covers us completely in every area of our life, spiritually and materially.

This blessing is so specific that God commanded the Priests to bless the people not using their own words, but rather using an exact formulation for the blessing, prefacing the instruction with the words: “Thus shall you bless.”

This reveals that the blessing comes from the LORD Himself; the priests were a means for transmitting His gracious will. Now that we have Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, we know that He is The High Priest and that His sacrifice has made it possible for us to enter boldly before God.

So today we can pray, petition, and speak blessings knowing that our voice will be heard, and our words will be fruitful before the Lord our Creator, because of Jesus.

As we continue to study the Priestly Blessing we learn that the people accepted the blessing and responded. So how do we receive and respond to a blessing from our Heavenly Father? We anticipate His blessing with a thankful heart and declare that His Word is so. Here is the blessing that the priests recited, along with the response of the people.

PRIEST: May the LORD bless you and protect you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD shine His face to you and be gracious to you.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

PRIEST: May the LORD turn (or lift up) His face to you and give to you peace.

PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.

You may ask, what does a Jewish blessing have to do with me?

The Bible says,

“And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:29NLT).

So that means that all of God’s blessings are for us to obtain because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Everything he promised pertains to all of His children.

So let us expect the blessings from God and enjoy His goodness. Be thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus, which is His greatest blessing to us each day of our lives.

What Makes Heaven Heavenly?

 

You will be you at your best forever! And you’ll enjoy everyone else at their prime! As it is, one of us is always a step behind. Bad moods infect the best of families. Complaints shadow the clearest days. Bad apples spoil bunches of us, but rotten fruit doesn’t qualify for the produce section of heaven. Christ will have completed his redemptive work. All gossip excised and jealousy extracted. He will suction the last drop of orneriness from the most remote corners of our souls.

You’ll love the result. No one will doubt your word, question your motives, or speak evil behind your back. God’s sin purging discontinues all strife.

Dare we imagine heaven’s dramatic reunions?

  • A soldier embracing the sharpshooter who killed him
  • A daughter seeing her abusive but repentant father and holding him
  • A son encountering the mother who aborted him? No doubt some will. And when they do, forgiveness will flow like water over Iguaça Falls.

The wolf will live with the lamb. – Isaiah 11:6

God will wipe away every tear… there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying… for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

No sin means no thieves, divorce, heartbreak, and no boredom. You won’t be bored in heaven, because you won’t be the same you in heaven. Boredom emerges from soils that heaven disallows. The soil of weariness: our eyes tire. Mental limitations: information overload dulls us. Self-centeredness: we grow disinterested when the spotlight shifts to others. Tedium: meaningless activity siphons vigor. But Satan will take these weedy soils to hell with him, leaving you with a keen mind, endless focus, and God-honoring assignments.

Yes, you will have assignments in heaven. God gave Adam and Eve garden responsibilities. “Let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26). He mantled the couple with leadership over “the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). Adam was placed in the garden “to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).

Adam and his descendants will do it again.

[God’s] servants shall serve Him. – Revelation 22:3

What is service if not responsible activity? Those who are faithful over a few things will rule over many. – Matthew 25:21

You might oversee the orbit of a distant planetary system… design a mural in the new city… monitor the expansion of a new species of plants or animals.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. – Isaiah 9:7

God’s new world will be marked by increase. Increased planets? Colors? Music? Seems likely. What does a creator do but create? What do his happy children do but serve Him? We might serve in the capacity we serve now. Couldn’t earthly assignments hint at heavenly ones? Architects of Moscow might draw blueprints in the new Liverpool. We will feast in heaven; you may be a cook on Saturn. God filled His first garden with plants and animals. He’ll surely do the same in heaven.

If so, He may entrust you with the care and feeding of an Africa or two.

One thing is for sure: you’ll love it. Never weary, selfish, or defeated. Clear mind, tireless muscles, unhindered joy. Heaven is a perfect place of perfected people with our perfect Lord.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! – Romans 11:33

Don’t assume we will exhaust our study of God. Endless attributes await us. His grace will increasingly stun, wisdom progressively astound, and perfection ever more sharpen into focus. We serve a God so rapt with wonders that their viewing requires an eternity. A God whose beauty enhances with proximity. And this is the invitation He gives:

When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. – John 14:3

 

 

The Blessing of Full Assurance

By; Charles Spurgeon

 

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”—1 John 5:13.

OHN wrote to believers—”These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” It is worthy of note that all the epistles are so written. They are not letters to everybody, they are letters to those who are called to be saints. It ought to strike some of you with awe when you open the Bible and think how large a part of it is not directed at you. You may read it, and God’s Holy Spirit may graciously bless it to you, but it is not directed to you. You are reading another man’s letter: thank God that you are permitted to read it, but long to be numbered with those to whom it is directed. Thank God much more if any part of it should be used of the Holy Ghost for your salvation. The fact that the Holy Spirit speaks to the churches and to believers in Christ should make you bow the knee and cry to God to put you among the children, that this Book may become your Book from beginning to end, that you may read its precious promises as made to you. This solemn thought may not have struck some of you: let it impress you now.
 We do not wonder that certain men do not receive the epistles, for they were not written to them. Why should they cavil at words which are addressed to men of another sort from themselves? Yet we do not marvel, for we knew it would be so. Here is a will, and you begin to read it; but you do not find it interesting: it is full of words and terms which you do not take the trouble to understand, because they have no relation to yourself; but should you, in reading that will, come upon a clause in which an estate is left to you, I warrant you that the nature of the whole document will seem changed to you. You will be anxious now to understand the terms, and to make sure of the clauses, and you will even wish to remember every word of the clause which refers to yourself. O dear friends, may you read the Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ as a testament of love to yourselves, and then you will prize it beyond all the writings of the sages.
 This leads me to make the second remark, that as these things are written to believers, believers ought especially to make themselves acquainted with them, and to search into their meaning and intent. John says, “These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” Do not, I beseech you, neglect to read what the Holy Ghost has taken care to write to you. It is not merely John that writes. John is inspired of the Lord, and these things are written to you by the Spirit of God. Give earnest heed to every single word of what God has sent as his own epistle to your hearts. Value the Scriptures. Luther said that “he would not be in paradise, if he might, without the Word of the Lord; but with the Word he could live in hell itself.” He said at another time that “he would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible.” The Scriptures are everything to the Christian—his meat and his drink. The saint can say, “O how I love thy law!” If we cannot say so, something is wrong with us. If we have lost our relish for Holy Scripture, we are out of condition, and need to pray for spiritual health.
 This much is the porch of my sermon, let us now enter more fully into our subject, noticing, first, that John wrote with a special purpose; and then going on to assert, secondly, that this purpose we ought to follow up.
 I. First, JOHN WROTE WITH A SPECIAL PURPOSE. Men do not write well unless they have some end in writing. To sit down with paper and ink before you, and so much space to fill up, will ensure very poor writing. John knew what he was at. His intent and aim were clear to his own mind, and he tells us what they were.
 According to the text the beloved apostle had one clear purpose which branched out into three.
 To begin with, John wrote that we might enjoy the full assurance of our salvation. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.”
 Many who believe on the name of Jesus are not sure that they have eternal life; they only hope so. Occasionally they have assurance, but the joy is not abiding. They are like a minister I have heard of, who said he felt assured of his salvation, “except when the wind was in the east.” It is a wretched thing to be so subject to circumstances as many are. What is true when the wind is in the soft south or the reviving west is equally true when the wind is neither good for man nor beast. John would not have our assurance vary with the weather-glass, nor turn with the vane. He says, “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” He would have us certain that we are partakers of the new life, and so know it as to reap the golden fruit of such knowledge, and be filled with joy and peace through believing.
I speak affectionately to the weaker ones, who cannot yet say that they know they have believed. I speak not to your condemnation, but to your consolation. Full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction. May you get—may you get it at once; at any rate may you never be satisfied to live without it. You may have full assurance. You may have it without personal revelations: it is wrought in us by the Word of God. These things are written that you may have it; and we ma y be sure that the means used by the Spirit are equal to the effect which he desires. Under the guidance of the Spirit of God, John so wrote as to attain his end in writing. What, then, has he written with the design of making us know that we have eternal life? Go through the whole Epistle, and you will see that it all presses in that direction; but we shall not at this present have time to do more than glance through this chapter.

God Is My Shield

Image result for pictures of spiritual shieldImage result for pictures of spiritual shield 

Image result for pictures of spiritual shieldImage result for pictures of spiritual shield 

Image result for pictures of spiritual shieldImage result for pictures of spiritual shield

Image result for pictures of spiritual shieldImage result for pictures of spiritual shield

 

Where’s Your Shield?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks… And ABOVE ALL, take the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.” Ephesians 6:10-11,16

When it comes to spiritual warfare, this passage of scripture in Ephesians is the most instructive. And although we could dissect each verse and look at the individual pieces of our spiritual armor in great detail, I want to focus on the “shield of faith.”

Paul used the wording “above all,” causing us to think he meant “more important than all.” But I recently heard a teaching by Rick Renner, a Greek scholar who has a wonderful gift of breaking down New Testament words in their original language. He asked: “Could [the shield of faith] really be more important than all? Could it really be more important than the sword of the Spirit? Or the breastplate of righteousness?” The answer is no.

In the Greek, the phrase “above all” is translated from two words. The first means over or out in front. The second word means all or everything. Putting these two words together, they do not describe the importance of the shield of faith, but instead describe its POSITION. So a better translation would be “out in front of all” or “covering all.”

Shields aren’t designed to be held next to your side or behind your back. They are to be used in a forward position. Your shield of faith is a weapon against the devil, to cover and protect you from his onslaughts.

Renner suggested Paul was using Roman soldiers as his example. They always kept their shields out in front to defend themselves from attack. If they marched into battle without their shield in its proper position, they would be slaughtered. It would’ve been pure foolishness for a Roman soldier to forget his shield, or leave it at his side.

In the same way, God wants us to grab our shield of faith and carry it out in front “…with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

Paul also said we must take the shield of faith. Many Christians either forget to pick up faith or don’t know how to use this vital weapon. The word “take” describes a repetitive action. In other words, not only are we to pick up our shield of faith and use it out front, carrying it high as a covering at all times, but we are to do this repeatedly! Every hour of every day… Never, ever, ever, are we to lay our shield down. When we are faithful to awake every day, picking up our shield, God will be faithful to empower us with it.

Apparently, the Ephesians had laid theirs down; therefore, the Apostle Paul was commanding them to pick it up again. He was not only reminding them of the spiritual armor God has given us, but he was also advising them to use them!

So where is your shield of faith? Can you say your faith is active, alive, and out front? Or is it lagging behind? Have you allowed your shield of faith to drop to your side, instead of maintaining it in the forward position where it once was?

Make a choice today to take your shield in hand and put it in the position it is supposed to be in—because it will not get there by itself. YOU will have to take action. It’s as simple as a decision. By an act of your will and by your confession, you can pick up your shield of faith.

Put your trust in God and the authority He has given YOU to thwart all the attacks of your enemy. The Bible says, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper…” Isaiah 54:17 It doesn’t say weapons will not be formed against you—it says the weapons formed do not have to prosper (or make contact). In other words, the devil can misfire, or better yet, YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH can stop his ammunition altogether!

 

God is our Shield! Spurgeon on Psalm 3

From C.H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David:

“Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.” The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh! what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast. Thou art “my glory.” David knew that though he was driven from his capital in contempt and scorn, he should yet return in triumph, and by faith he looks upon God as honouring and glorifying him. O for grace to see our future glory amid present shame! Indeed, there is a present glory in our afflictions, if we could but discern it; for it is no mean thing to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. David was honoured when he made the ascent of Olivet, weeping, with his head covered; for he was in all this made like unto his Lord. May we learn, in this respect, to glory in tribulations also! “And the lifter up of mine head”—thou shalt yet exalt me. Though I hang my head in sorrow, I shall very soon lift it up in joy and thanksgiving. What a divine trio of mercies is contained in this verse!—defence for the defenceless, glory for the despised, and joy for the comfortless. Verily we may well say, “there is none like the God of Jeshurun.”

Streams in the Desert – September 23

By: L. B. Cowman

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his inner being shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).

Some of us are shivering and wondering why the Holy Spirit does not fill us. We have plenty coming in, but we do not give it out. Give out the blessing that you have, start larger plans for service and blessing, and you will soon find that the Holy Ghost is before you, and He will present you with blessings for service, and give you all that He can trust you to give away to others.

There is a beautiful fact in nature which has its spiritual parallels. There is no music so heavenly as an Aeolian harp, and the Aeolian harp is nothing but a set of musical chords arranged in harmony, and then left to be touched by the unseen fingers of the wandering winds. And as the breath of heaven floats over the chords, it is said that notes almost Divine float out upon the air, as if a choir of angels were wandering around and touching the strings.

And so it is possible to keep our hearts so open to the touch of the Holy Spirit that He can play upon them at will, as we quietly wait in the pathway of His service.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

When the apostles received the baptism with the Holy Ghost they did not rent the upper room and stay there to hold holiness meetings, but went everywhere preaching the gospel.
–Will Huff

“If I have eaten my morsel alone,”
The patriarch spoke with scorn;
What would he think of the Church were he shown
Heathendom-huge, forlorn,
Godless, Christless, with soul unfed,
While the Church’s ailment is fullness of bread,
Eating her morsel alone?
“Freely ye have received, so give,”
He bade, who hath given us all.
How shall the soul in us longer live
Deaf to their starving call,
For whom the blood of the Lord was shed,
And His body broken to give them. bread,
If we eat our morsel alone!”

–Archbishop Alexander

“Where is Abel thy brother?” (Gen. 4:9).

Growing In The Knowledge Of God

 

Image result for pictures of the knowing of GodImage result for pictures of the knowing of God 

Image result for pictures of the knowing of GodImage result for pictures of the knowing of God

Image result for pictures of the knowing of GodImage result for pictures of the knowing of God
Image result for pictures of the knowing of GodImage result for pictures of the knowing of God

 

Grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of Our Lord

 

The final section of 2 Peter to look at is 3:15–18. Let me sum up the main points that I see and then look at them one at a time. First, from verse 15, we should regard the time in which we live as a time of salvation. Second, from verses 15 and 16, this is also what Paul taught, and his letters have the same authority as the inspired Old Testament Scriptures. Third, from verse 16, the inspiration of Paul’s letters, nevertheless, does not mean they are all easy to understand. Fourth, from verse 16, the misinterpretation of Scripture can lead to destruction. Fifth, from verses 17 and 18, therefore, guard yourself from error and destruction by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Finally, from the last sentence of the book, remember that the great goal of God in your life is that Jesus Christ be glorified. Everything else is designed to that end.

The Age of Salvation

First, then, verse 15: “Count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation.” This is a continuation of the thought of verse 9 where Peter said that the reason Christ has not yet returned is to give time for the full number of God’s people to be saved. Therefore, when Peter says, “Count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation,” he is telling us how to think about the time of delay in which we live before the second coming.

The human mind desires to see meaning and direction and coherence in history. And so we describe periods of history as Dark Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, the Industrial Age, etc. And in general, in trying to understand history, we key off of man—how man has progressed, what man has achieved determines the meaning of history.

But there is one group of people in the world, the Church of Jesus Christ, who should always key off of God, and as they look at the world, see things the way he does. Verse 15 is God’s Word on how to interpret the time in which we live. The history of the world between the first and second coming of Christ is, above all, an age of salvation. One thing marks this time as utterly unique, and it is more important than the renaissance of classical learning, the emergence of science, the rise of industry: namely, it is the time of salvation. The Savior has come and opened the way to God. While he forbears, the way is still open. When he comes, the way will be closed and the time of salvation will be past.

From the perspective of eternity we will look back on these brief 2,000 years or so, and the relative conditions of human life from the Dark Ages to the age of moon-landing and wrist-watch televisions will be utterly insignificant in comparison to the all-important distinguishing mark of this period between the first and second comings of Christ—this was the time when people could be saved by trusting Christ. The only history of eternal significance is the history of missions and its off-shoots in sound doctrine and holy living. The only biographies that will be cherished in the age to come are the lives of the saints—the people who knew that these were times for salvation. Let’s be a people who key off of God and see the times in which we live from his perspective. “Count the forbearance of the Lord as salvation.”

Paul’s Letters as Scripture

Second, notice that this is also what Paul taught and that Peter puts Paul’s letters in the same category as inspired Old Testament Scripture. Verses 15 and 16: “So also our beloved brother, Paul, wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” Peter says: “Count the forbearance of the Lord as salvation.” Paul says, in Romans 2:4: “Do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Both teach that God’s withholding judgment is an act of forbearance that should be regarded as giving added time for repentance and salvation. And in 2 Corinthians 6:2 Paul said, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

So by calling in Paul’s support, Peter shows that there is agreement among the apostles. The false teachers may reject the second coming of Christ. But the apostles of Jesus are united: Christ is coming, and the time while he delays is for our salvation.

When Peter lumps Paul’s letters together with “the other scriptures” (in verse 16), we gain an insight which is of terrific importance. Jesus himself viewed the Old Testament Scriptures as fully authoritative and binding when properly interpreted and applied (Matthew 5:17). They were the Word of God (cf. Mark 7:13). Peter taught in 1:20, 21 that prophetic Scripture (and I think he would include all of the Old Testament) was inspired by God as men were moved by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when he puts Paul’s letters in this same category, he is, I believe, claiming an equal inspiration and authority for Paul. He confirms what Paul claimed for himself. Paul said of his own teaching in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.”

This is why the Bible stands at the center of Christian life. It is why this pulpit is at the center of the front and is lifted up. For we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God—that it stands before us as our guide, and over us as our judge, and under us as the rock of our hope. John Wesley wrote in the preface of his Standard Sermons: “I am a spirit come from God and returning to God; just hovering over a great gulf; ’til a few moments hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing—the way to heaven . . . He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri (a man of one book).” O that we might be a people of the book. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1). The apostles are united with each other and with the Old Testament in one great inspired book of God. The more you read it, the more you will see with the eyes of God.

 

Growing in the Knowledge of God – Wholly Loved – April 1

Growing in the Knowledge of God
By Kristen Terret

“… so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God …” Colossians 1:10

The textbook-sized amounts of information my sister, a fourth-year med student, has to memorize leaves my head spinning. Her journey reminds me of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day—the religious leaders who demanded Pilate crucify Jesus. They were experts in Old Testament Law and could recite scrolls of it. Since they didn’t recognize Jesus as their long awaited Savior, it’s safe to say that they knew the words but didn’t understand them.

My sister’s professors know what the Pharisees didn’t understand—that gaining information is solidified through action. They ask their medical students to complete up to eighty hours of clinical rotations in hospitals each week.

In this verse, Paul prays for believers to live a life worthy of Christ by “bearing fruit”—staying close to Jesus and demonstrating His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22)—and by “growing in the knowledge of God.

Knowing God certainly means reading, studying, and even memorizing Scripture, but it’s more than this. We come to know Him personally, through experience, as we apply what He teaches and live life with Him. As we do, we’ll begin to see God everywhere—in His glorious creation, our children and loved ones, and miracles that unfold before us. Each time we use biblical truth to impact humanity, we grow in our wisdom and understanding of Him.

Let’s avoid the Pharisee’s mistake and allow biblical living to open our eyes to the wondrous knowledge of God. 

 

Streams In The Desert

By: L.B. Cowman

“And the Lord said . . . Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31-32).

Our faith is the center of the target at which God doth shoot when He tries us; and if any other grace shall escape untried, certainly faith shall not. There is no way of piercing faith to its very marrow like the sticking of the arrow of desertion into it; this finds it out whether it be of the immortals or no. Strip it of its armor of conscious enjoyment, and suffer the terrors of the Lord to set themselves in array against it; and that is faith indeed which can escape unhurt from the midst of the attack.

Faith must be tried, and seeming desertion is the furnace, heated seven times, into which it might be thrust. Blest the man who can endure the ordeal!
–C. H. Spurgeon.

Paul said, “I have kept the faith,” but he lost his head! They cut that off, but it didn’t touch his faith. He rejoiced in three things–this great Apostle to the Gentiles; he had “fought a good fight,” he had “finished his course,” he had “kept the faith.” What did all the rest amount to? St. Paul won the race; he gained the prize, and he has not only the admiration of earth today, but the admiration of Heaven. Why do we not act as if it paid to lose all to win Christ? Why are we not loyal to truth as he was? Ah, we haven’t his arithmetic. He counted differently from us; we count the things gain that he counted loss. We must have his faith, and keep it if we would wear the same crown.

Dancing For Joy Before God

 

Image result for pictures of biblical dancing for joyImage result for pictures of biblical dancing for joy 

Image result for pictures of biblical dancing for joyImage result for pictures of biblical dancing for joy

 Image result for pictures of biblical dancing for joy Image result for pictures of biblical dancing for joy

Image result for pictures of biblical dancing for joyImage result for pictures of biblical dancing for joy

The Divine Dance

By: Jennifer Slattery, 1.cbn.com

When my husband and I were first married, we took up country dancing. Well, we tried, anyway. A local club offered free lessons one afternoon a week, so each week we’d go and do our best to scurry across the dance floor, preferably in time to the music. We weren’t very good. Actually, we stunk, so I decided to practice at home. I went to our local library and checked out dance instruction videos; and while my husband was at work, I practiced. Then I met him at the door with arms positioned, ready to dance.

The more I “learned” the worse I got. I stepped on his feet, jerked left when he wanted to go right; and combined, we created a robotic display that was anything but romantic. You see, the problem was I was so convinced I knew how to dance, I lost sight of my dance partner.

Often, I’m like that with God. I’m so focused on what I know to do, whether that be reading my Bible, teaching a Sunday school class, or fulfilling various responsibilities, it’s easy to take my eyes off the dancer. It’s easy to turn what should be an act of intimate surrender into rote behavior which ultimately leads to burn-out and ineffectiveness. But when I surrender to the dancer, forsaking my ideas and agendas, clearing my vision of everything but my Lead Dancer, everything flows.

Have you ever watched professional ballroom dancers or skating partners? There’s an intimate dynamic that occurs between them. The crowd can scream and holler, cameras can flash, but they don’t see it. They are focused 100 percent on their partner, attuned to the slightest signal, responding instantly, beautifully, effortlessly.

What if we knew God that intimately? What if we were so focused on Him, so in tune with Him, like Jesus we could say, “I do only what my Father wills.”? And what keeps us from that? What keeps us angsting, striving, and experiencing burn-out?

One Sunday, I spent the afternoon studying the Holy Spirit. Throughout Scripture, we are told the Holy Spirit guides us, has fellowship with us, teaches us, fills us, prays for us, and overshadows us.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NASB) ~ Fellowship–intimate interaction.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63 NASB) ~ Life-giving.

Apart from Him, apart from full submission to Him, our efforts lead to futility. No matter how great our ministry, how in-depth our Bible study time, or how devoted our service, if it’s not ignited, guided and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it will be nothing but the effort of man operating on the wisdom of man to do the things of man. But we were called to more!

“The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2 NIV)

Our ultimate goal as Christians should be to be cleansed and open vessels, ready to do God’s will. Like funnels, conduits of God’s power and grace.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV)

To be filled, we must first be emptied — of ourselves, our sin, our wants, our desires. I believe anytime we cling to anything – even good things – other than God, they become a hindrance to the working of the Holy Spirit. That job we fear losing, the ministry we can’t let fail, whatever it is … when we begin to strive for it, hold tight to it, we begin to operate in our own will. To be overshadowed, we need to stay surrendered completely, focused on our Dancer, not the dance. Otherwise, I believe, our actions lack power. Why? Because we’ve left our dancer behind.

Lord, may we so driven by Your Spirit, so infused by Your presence, that Your love compels us. Remove all expectations and obligations except that of drawing near to You in full surrender, listening to Your voice, and obeying. Draw us into Your Dance, Oh, Lord.

 

2031. David Dancing Before The Ark Because Of His Election

by Charles H. Spurgeon on August 26, 2016

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me before your father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore I will play before the Lord. And I will be even more vile than this, and will be base in my own sight: and concerning the maidservants whom you have spoken of, of them I shall be held in honour.” {2Sa 6:20-22}

1. David had been soaring up on eagle’s wings. Perhaps never in his life before had he so enjoyed the public worship of God. He had forgotten everything in the delight of bringing the ark of the Lord home to his own city, where he had prepared a tabernacle for its resting-place. He had thrown himself into the glad service of the Lord that day. Nor had he been alone in joyful adoration; for all the people had been unanimously with him in honouring Jehovah, the God of their forefathers. It had been a high day, a day of days, such a day as the nation had not enjoyed in all its history before.

2. The king came home to bless his household, wishing that all his family might share in his joy. Exactly at that moment his wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, who had felt disgusted at seeing her husband dressed like a common Levite, and leading the way in the midst of the common people, came out to meet him, full of furious scorn. Her language to him must have acted as if a man had thrown a pail of cold water into his face. With sarcastic words, villainously exaggerating what he had done, and imputing to him what he had never done, she scolded the man she had scorned. How he must have felt it for the moment! We need not wonder if some have thought that his answer was somewhat bitter. Remember that David was not Jesus, but only David.

3. Always suspect some danger near when you perceive too much delight. It may sound like a paradox, but it is true, and experience proves it, that we never seem to be so near meeting the devil as when we have just met our God. When our Saviour had been on the Mount of Transfiguration with his disciples, he met, at the foot of the hill, a father with a child possessed by a demon! Whenever you enjoy a season of particularly close communion with God, and are full of very high joy, be on your guard. The very worst side of the world will be turned towards you when you have been nearest to the eternal throne. Pirates look out for loaded vessels. Probably Michal had never spoken to David before like this; but then David had never before danced before the ark of the Lord. Here stood the man of God confronted by one whose feelings were the very opposite of his own. Like an iceberg, she crossed the path of this great vessel, and chilled it like an Arctic winter.

4. This led David to reaffirm and yet more plainly state his faith in God. As many of the choicest words of our Lord Jesus were brought out of him by the Pharisees, so one of the choicest statements of electing love that David had made was brought out by this ill-tempered daughter of Saul. I hope it will be for our profit this morning to consider it. David justified what he had done by God’s choice of him. If he had arrayed himself like a Levite, and danced with all his might before the ark in the presence of the common people, he said, “It was before the Lord, who chose me before your father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore I will play before the Lord.”

5. Dear brethren, there is a great power in the truth of election when a man can grasp it. When he knows for himself truthfully, and by indisputable evidence, that the Lord has chosen him, then he breaks forth in songs of divine adoration and praise: then his heart is lifted up, and he pays homage to God which others would not think of paying. The Lord Jesus has revealed himself to him as he does not to the world; and therefore he acts towards the Lord Jesus as the world can never act, and does what the world can never understand. I am going to speak to those of you who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, for you are chosen: faith is the sure mark of election. If you believe in Jesus, and are resting in him, this is the sign that God has chosen you from before the foundation of the world; for no man ever yet had a true faith in Christ without receiving it from God, and that gift from God is the sign that he will give all other saving gifts, and that he has chosen that man to eternal salvation. The effect upon you of your knowing your election of God will be similar to the effect which it had upon David wh