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Showing posts from 2014

Guard Duty

What is one of the most boring but necessary jobs in the military? That would fall to the assignment to watch over or protect a person or a place. It is a defensive rather than offensive duty needing vigilance and watchfulness. It is a solitary job happening in day and night. Yet, this job is an absolute necessity to the protection of the people behind the sentry. His post allows them to rest and have a time of peace as they put their faith and trust in the guard's ability to watch against surprise attack. Malachi, the last prophet in the Old Testament, spoke of a situation among the men of Israel as they returned from captivity to the promise land that required them to, in a sense, take up guard duty. Many were divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying women of the nations around them. He challenged the men to "guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." (Malachi 2:15) One translation of "breaking faith," was the activity…

Strong Words

What pearls of wisdom has your mother taught you? Solomon shares much in Proverbs of what his father David taught him. So in Proverbs 31 we see the positive influence of a mother's words on her son. King Lemuel is taught an oracle by his mother to keep him on the right path. His name, Lemuel, means "for God" and suggests that he was consecrated to God by his mother and this chapter helps us see that her words were intended to keep him loyal to that consecration. Two forbidden gratifications were warned against first. One, that he should not "spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings." (31:3) Solomon also shares the end of a wrong woman on a man in Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:3-10; 7:5-27. He remarked, "Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng." (7:26)  Here are warnings of what can happen when the wrong woman gets into the life of a powerful man. Solomon was a testament to that with 300 wives and 700 concu…

Singing Praise

In just a couple of days we will hear, and possibly sing ourselves, Auld Lang Syne, a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. It is well known around the world as a tradition to sing as we bid the old year goodbye at midnight on December 31st. It feels good to sing it and although most of us don't know all the words, we sing on or just hum the tune. It is a way to pause and remember longstanding friendships and good times. What songs are special for you to sing to God? The Psalmist expressed the joy of singing praises to God by saying, "How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" "Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp." (Psalm 147:1, 7) We don't have to reserve this for the end of the year; it can be a daily occurrence. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesian Church said, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the…

Enemies

What is the best thing you could do to your enemies? Well, you might say you don't want to do anything good toward them. You might say the best way to deal with your enemies is to give them back exactly what they are giving you. However, that would not be beneficial to the true "end game." As the Psalmist lifts his prayer to God to guard his mouth, he also requests that his heart be not drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds. Further he prays for an accountability partner to rebuke him if he is going in the way of evil. Then, he says it, something so heavenly that it seems unattainable. "My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers;" (Psalm 141:5b) He is praying against the deeds, the actions of a wicked person; praying that they will do less or no damage to their intended prey. This may seem odd but even Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, "You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Lov…

Postlude - Christmas Series 2014 #9

The tree stands bare as the presents that so long lingered below it are now distributed and opened. Surprise has turned to empty boxes and torn wrapping paper. New clothes, toys, and gifts of all kinds are scattered around the house.   So, what do we do after the main event? Reflect for one more moment as you read portions from the poem, One Solitary Life, by Dr James Allan Francis, to understand the significance of Christ, and then move forward and keep sharing that life with others. "He never wrote a book, He never held an office, He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred milesfrom the place where he was born
He did none of the thingsusually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself, He was only thirty-three Nineteen centuries [Twenty now] have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies tha…

A Body to Live - Christmas Series 2014 #8

Eyes were focused on the birth of Christ for it brings hope of a different future. His coming and dying was the crossroads of life; the focal point of human existence. Christ comes into the world and so begins his journey toward the cross. He was not born to live but born to die. His life can be divided into three distinct emphases. First, he was an obedient son, doing what his parents told him to do (fulfilling the Law, even commandment five, "honor your father and your mother." Exodus 20:12) We hear about these years only briefly in his infancy and at age twelve. It is summed up by Luke, "he went down to Nazareth with them [parents] and was obedient to them. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:51,52) He was an example in those years. Second, he entered his ministry years after being baptized by John the Baptizer. At that time he appeared from Galilee to the Jerusalem area, speaking, healing, challenging and feeding the p…

A Body Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #7B

What circumstances surrounded your conception and birth? Maybe you don't know but you were specially made in a unique moment. Your DNA began to bark out orders to your body including the color of your hair and eyes, facial features, height and weight, and many more. For nine months you developed until it was best for you to exit your sublime environment and encounter the world. The Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, illustrative of the Shekinah glory coming over the Ark of the Covenant inside the Temple, and the power of God overshadows her child. The God of creation creates a person, unique, perfect and complete in the womb of Mary without the aid of a man. This was promised by the angel in Luke 1:35 "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." But there would be another who would want to destroy this process. It is spoken of in Revelation 12:4b when John said, "The dragon [devil, Satan, ancient serpent] stood in front of th…

A Body Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #7A

Why was it necessary to have Christmas, or why did Jesus Christ have to come to earth? Seems like if he was a regular person, with a regular birth, like you and I, he would have no control over coming into the world, either who were his parents or what would be the place of his birth. But Jesus was not regular, he was God and man tied up in a bundle of joy and he made the decision to come to earth. He did not become God after he was man, he was God in eternity past and at the conception of his humanity, and in his death, resurrection and ascension he was God and even now is God. There is no time when he was not God. So we see these words, spoken as Jesus, the Son of God, was about to step into our world from heaven and become the baby born of Mary, "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O G…

A Family Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #6

What makes your heritage special? Are there great events that color your family's life? For most of us the answer would be, "No." Most of the over seven billion on the earth live out their lives with much regularity and not much speciality. Joseph and Mary were not popular stars in Nazareth, but just two young people living out their lives in an unassuming way. Mary was just a teenager when an angel came to her with this strong statement, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Her response was that, "she was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be." (Luke 1:28-29) That is an understatement. There had been over 500 years since an angel had appeared to anyone, and then within a short time, Zechariah and Mary both speak with an angel. Mary was aware of the prophecies that the Messiah would be born of a Jewish woman, and for a girl growing up, this would be a wonderful experience to carry th…

A Nation Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #4

The nation of Israel had been a world leader through King David and King Solomon. But the generation after Solomon became divided about whom they should follow and split the Kingdom of Israel into North and South. In the years to come, both kingdoms were destroyed and the best of the people taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. The Medes/Persians Empire allowed Israel to return to their homeland, explained in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The returning captives rebuilt their capital, Jerusalem, and the Temple and began again to offer sacrifices. They instigated the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the people, even though, as a nation, they were subjugated under world empires. The people of Israel went about their lives as Jews, most not aware that God's plan was being unfolded right before them. The one act they were not able to do was to sentence individuals to death. The Romans were required for this and they used the cross as their implement of death. So, Jesus would be …

A World Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #3

Was the world ready for Jesus in the first century? Why did he come then? These are very good questions leading us to investigate the world at the time of his birth. There is perfect planning in the coming of Christ to the first century. Paul in writing to the Galatian church said, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:4)  He also wrote these words to the Roman church saying, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6) The four world governments played key roles in preparing the world for Christ. Babylon gathered many nations under one kingdom. Then, it was overcome by the Medes/Persians Empire adding more nations to this massive conglomerate and releasing the Jews to go back to Israel. The Grecians then conquered them and added a twist to it. They sent philosophers, w…

A God Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #2

It's always fun to catch someone off guard and surprise them. You yell, "Surprise!" and see them catch up to the trick right before your eyes. Maybe it's for their birthday or anniversary, or maybe it's an unexpected guest at Christmas time. Do you think God was surprised when Adam took a bite out of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Was He caught off guard by the possible destruction of His plan by man? Did He have to quickly revise to a new plan? NO, not…at…all. For if the will of man could trump the plan of God by just one action then God is truly weak. The truth is that God's plan was not ruffled one little bit by Adam and Eve's action in the Garden of Eden because His plan to save the world was created in eternity past. Peter spoke of this when he said, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as  silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, …

Chance or Plan - Christmas Series 2014 #1

Vibrant series like Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Star Trek, Matrix, The Hobbit, Spiderman, Batman, and Ironman draw us into wonderful stories with twists and turns we could not predict. We learn about the characters.  We slowly identify the plot lines. We enjoy the key sequences. Today's Word is going to tell you a story, not of Middle Earth or out at the edges of space, but at a pinpoint moment in human history. Join me as we journey into the lives of those surrounding the birth of Jesus. Starting tomorrow 12/18 in Today's Word. Read each day as we surround the birth of the earthly life of Jesus. What people, plots and purposes will be present? As a prelude let's consider that this story is true. Predictive prophecy, concerning Christ and other events and people make up 27% of the Bible's verses. 737 separate matters are predicted in a total of 1,817 predictions. 60 major Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus. …

Friends Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #5

Have you ever felt like your path crossed with someone else just at the right time? Well, such was the case all around Joseph and Mary and their son, Jesus. "Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot….to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense." (Luke 1:8) While there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and promised that Elizabeth, his wife, would bear a son, and that he was to name him John. This John would become John the Baptizer who would be the cousin of Jesus. Six months later, Mary was also visited by an angel and was promised a son by virgin birth. She travels to Elizabeth's home to share this news and when she enters the room Elizabeth's baby jumps in her womb. (Luke 1:41) Three months later, John the Baptizer is born and goes on to become "a voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord," (Luke 3:4) Jesus was born of Mary six months later in Beth…

Wisdom

How wise do you think you are? How do you display this? Wisdom is acquired knowledge and experience being applied at the right time. It is wonderful to have it and wonderful to use it but there is one important element that keeps it from being spoiled and that is that the truly wise are humble. Wise Agur was a prophet who wrote Proverbs 30. He had either two sons, two protégés, or two friends to which he expressed himself about the wisdom he had obtained. He said to Ithiel and Ucal, "I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man's understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One." (Proverbs 30:1-3) He did not declare himself wise but downplayed his state of being. He expressed the limitedness of his ability. Agur understood as did the Apostle Paul who debased himself, Isaiah, in the presence of God, Job in his descent into physical and emotional pain, and David as he spoke of his own folly, that the closer you get to God and to communi…

Bulking Up

We are constantly barraged by promotions to make our physical body more fit. Diets and gyms are wooing us to join. There are promises of joy and better self-image when we do. It is especially true at the end of the year that these challenge us to make a New Year's resolution to get it started. Jude is a book of just twenty-five verses written to believers during the first century. The author speaks of false prophets who "secretly slipped in among" (4) the assembly of believers. For eighteen verses, seventy-two percent of the book, Jude describes these persons alluding to others like them as early as Cain, pictures in nature that illustrate what they are like, and descriptions of their heart. It is a picturesque portrayal of people who do all they do for "for their own advantage." (16) Jude's purpose in sharing this is to give the believers an understanding of how detestable these persons are and to help believers do the right thing to protect themselves f…

Unspeakable Joy

When was the last time that you were ecstatic about a turn of events in your life? Possibly you received a check for a large sum of money, totally unexpected. Possibly it was your wedding day. Maybe it was recognition by many of what you had done for another. In that moment, life was incredibly good. Your heart was bursting with joy and your soul was ready to dance and sing. The prophets had told the people of Israel that God was going to allow them to be taken into captivity. It was a punishment for their disobedience to Him. It was going to be harsh and disruptive to their present way of life. But, it was for the purpose of purifying them from their wandering heart. So, it happened. The captivity of Judah came true and the best of their people were herded to Babylon. They were extracted from the Promise Land and became captives of brutal empires. They were disappointed and discouraged. They were in a haze. Now remember your ecstatic feeling above. Pair it to the feelings of small b…

Demise of a Nation

What causes the demise of a nation? Is it a fragile money system, the inability to protect themselves, or the loss of a vision for what they can be? All of these and much more are symptoms of a deeper problem among its leaders and people. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet sent by God to communicate His message to His people. God is seen as the husband and the people of Israel as His wife in a marriage relationship. Hosea illustrated this by marrying a woman that was unfaithful to their vows. He was then told to use his troubled marriage as an illustration before the people of what was happening in their "marriage" to God. Hosea said, "Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: 'There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.'" (Hosea 4:1) God revealed the deeper problem with the nation of Israel. Key ingredients to any marriage would be faithfulness (sometime…

Mobs

Violence has erupted in the streets of cities across America in the last month. Ferguson, Missouri has been destroyed by the protests. Livelihoods have been devastated at the hands of people not necessarily even representative of their community but intruders from as far away as Los Angeles and Chicago. Is this the way to obtain justice? Absolutely not. It is a sad commentary on certain kinds of leadership that seek financial gain and personal notoriety in stirring the pot. Does the Bible speak to mob violence, supposedly in the name of justice? Yes it does. The wise Solomon said, "Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger." (Proverbs 29:8) It is translated another way, "Scornful men bring a city into a snare: But wise men turn away wrath." The note in Barnes Notes on Proverbs on the words "bring a city" actually is translated "set a city on fire." Now that is what we have been viewing. Luke tells the story in Acts 19 about mob viole…

Rest and Rise

Daniel is an Old Testament teenager who was taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire when they swarmed over the land of Israel in 605 B.C.  He became an Administrator under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar of that empire and of Darius when the Media-Persian Empire subdued the Babylonian Empire. He grew into a mature man under captivity and was protected by God, given the ability to interpret dreams, and one who had great influence and integrity. He never returned to Israel to see his native land because God used him to communicate truth to many foreign leaders. His book of twelve chapters shares much of his life and ministry to others. At the end, he is receiving from God important information about the future which from our view point ties into the events presented to us in the book of Revelation. At one point, his curiosity causes him to ask "what will the outcome of all this be?" (Daniel 12:8) God's answer to him is that he is to "Go your way, because the words a…

Persecution

Should believers expect the world to love us? The simple answer is, "No." We live in a world that is bent on our destruction because we represent God to them and our actions of love are 180 degrees out of phase with them. John writes at the end of the first century, "Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." (1 John 3:12-13) Cain and Abel were brothers, the first two children of Adam and Eve. John states that Cain "belonged to the evil one" (three times in 3:8 called the devil). Think about this. Adam and Eve were walked out of the Garden of Eden by God because the devil used Eve to convince Adam to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One generation later the devil captures the heart of one of the boys, Cain, who murders his brother, …

Lavish

Under trees during the Christmas season parents will place many presents for their children. They will lavish on their children gifts as a show of their love. It will produce joy in both the parents and the children and the unwrapping will be a wonderful time. Even more beautiful than this picture is God lavishing His love on us. John writes, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!" (1 John 3:1) We are caused to wonder at this great love so freely given. The type of love is of a foreign kind. Foreign to the human race, that is. It is not common or natural to humanity. We can only give it to others through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. This love so lavished on us is also given by the Father as a permanent possession. It cannot be taken away. It is lavish because it is excessive and we know that because it took the death of the Son of God to procure it for us. For the believer in possession of this gift of lo…

Fighting Corruption

In today's world, whether it be an organization in business, government or the church, there are those who want to get ahead and those who desire to prevent others from getting ahead of them. What can you do to protect yourself from these people? Daniel lived in such a world and he gives us relevant direction in this effort. Daniel had risen in the Babylonian Kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. Then, when the Media-Persian Empire overthrew Babylon, King Darius made Daniel one of the three Administrators that controlled the 120 Governors over the provinces. His exceptional qualities caused the King to plan to set him over the entire kingdom but when the other 122 leaders found out about this they sought to destroy him. Daniel's conduct of government affairs was spotless. "They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." (Daniel 6:4b) So, they had to lie to get a law passed to worship only King Darius a…

Pride in a Life

King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on the planet and ruled over a great portion of it until God stepped into his life. A dream was given to him by God and Daniel, a young Jew who had been taken into captivity at the downfall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, was asked to interpret it for the King. It forecast a difficult time for Nebuchadnezzar because of his pride, so Daniel encourage him to renounce his sins, do what was right and be kind to the oppressed, but he did not accept Daniel's advice. "Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, 'Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?'" (Daniel 4:29-30)  At that moment, God removed his royal authority, drove him away from people, and he lived as the wild animals do. He ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven. His hair grew like the feathers of an e…

The Goal

A "goal" can be seen at each end of a football field. It is the objective of every team to get the ball into the goal. A "goal" can be a sought after physical thing, a feeling, a location; an end one strives to obtain. We all have them, some are written down and others are mentally acknowledged, they are what drive us forward. Peter wrote to people who were "scattered" throughout several provinces in Asia Minor, known today as Turkey, about the security of their salvation daily and connected it to the work of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. He said they were given a new birth "into a living hope" (1 Peter 1:3) and "into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." (1:4) He wrote that they were "shielded by God's power," (1:5) until the end, and they were locked in even as they suffered "grief in all kinds of trials." (1:6) This is what we call the perseverance of the saints. It i…

Upright Heart

The goal of God is helping each of us come to an understand of what it means to be upright in our heart. The heart is the center of a person's being and for it to be upright means that the heart is pure of evil motives, free from strong and selfish desires and focused on God's ways and will. To make a table "upright" assumes it is not presently in that condition but is fallen on its side or is upside down. It needs to be lifted up so it can stand on its own feet; to place it in its most usable position; the position for which it was designed. Each of us is changed in heart when Christ is recognized as Savior and Lord. We are set upon our feet and enabled then to accomplish what God has for us. The Psalmist said, "I will praise you [God] with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." (Psalm 119:7) God's ways, shown to us throughout scripture, teach us how to have an upright heart. So, we must be daily about the task of learning through reading, me…

Practical Atheism

It is fascinating to see how much you and I depend on things being the same day after day. We sit with our calendar and plan out a vacation several months away, a business plan for the next year, a trip here and a meeting there, all the time, assuming upon the consistency of our future. The Apostle James wrote to fellow believers about faith and actions. He said of some believers "you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow." (James 4:13-14) There are several missteps by these persons. One, they assume they have tomorrow or even the rest of today. Second, they are whimsical about where they are going by saying, "this or that city." Third, they determine how long they will "spend" there. Fourth, what they will do there, "carry on business." And fifth, the largest presumption was the positive result of their time an…

Bad Talk

What is your natural way in conversations at work, home and with friends. Do you often speak to quickly? Is your speech sprinkled with anger so that you end up saying things you later regret? Is there any guiding rule that can keep you from making mistakes in speech? Yes! There is a guideline that if embraced can give you on opportunity to halt bad talk. It is "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (James 1:19) One quick and two slows. Look at the one quick, first. "Quick to listen" is paramount. It has been said when you open your mouth to talk it closes your ears to listen. Telling yourself in the middle of a discussion, "I need to keep listening and stop talking," can make a huge difference in the final outcome. Those who listen are noted as being wise, pleasant to talk with, good conversationalists. Everyone likes to hear themselves talk but a person who listens is deferring to the other and the other likes them fo…

Persevere

To continue doing something in spite of difficulty and opposition is a challenge which rewards us in the present and in the future. Runners have to get up every day (or almost every day) and run. Teachers have to teach. Sales people have to present items for sale. Leaders have to lead. Preachers have to preach. Believers have to live by faith. Some have portrayed the Christian life as being void of the daily pressures of life and as being a retreat from reality but that is not what the Bible says. In Hebrews 11 there is listed a host of people who experienced difficult situations and died for their very faith. James recognized that living the Christian life was not easy. He also expressed the advantage of persevering in it. James said, "Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4) To…

The Danger of Praise

Recently there have been discussions on TV about the danger of giving your children too much praise. Did they really deserve praise for what they did or should they just have been encouraged to continue to do better. If a child receives nothing but praise, does it fill him with an inaccurate view of himself and lead him to destructive pride? I spent the summer of 1968 working in an aluminum, brass and bronze foundry. It was a dirty job as fine black dirt was used to make molds so that liquid metal could be poured into them, cooled and revealed as newly formed tools or parts. I watched the men in asbestos suits drop bricks of metal into white hot caldrons and then as it melted saw them scoop off dross from the top of the caldron. One man has said, "for put even the finest gold into the furnace, how humbling is the spectacle of the dross that yet cleaves to it." There are advertisements about gold being 99% pure, recognizing its inability to get it to 100%. Solomon applied th…

Character

How would you equate your character to your actions and words? It seems that some people feel like they have very good character but when you examine their actions and words you come to a different conclusion. Character is not something you pick up at the 7-11 store or download from the internet. It is something that takes time to develop and is influenced by your parents, teachers, books we read and leaders that influence our lives. The Psalmist equates the character of God to His works in Psalm 111. The character of God is righteous, enduring forever (vs. 3), gracious and compassionate (vs. 4), a provider(vs. 5a), redeemer, holy, awesome (vs. 9) and remembered (vs. 5b). So, this flows out in His works which are great and pondered by men (vs. 2), glorious and majestic (vs. 3), memorable (vs. 4), powerful (vs. 6), faithful and just and trustworthy (vs. 7). God's character is aligned with His works or deeds and words. There is no incongruity, no dissonance, and no misalignment bet…

Prayer

David faced Saul and others who were in opposition to him. He had to run sometimes but always had a heart for those who troubled him. Once hiding in a cave where Saul came in to relieve himself, David was urged to take him out but refused, respecting the position of King even if he could not respect the man in the position. So, what other example do we have of his kindliness in Scripture? There is one statement in Psalm 109 that clearly shows a different way he addressed opposition. It seems there were those who had "opened their mouths against" him (109:2); they had lied about him; their words were bathed in hate; and all of their attacks were done "without cause." (109:3) They had not been abused by David, neither had they been defamed. Their choice to speak evil of him came out of their own wickedness and deceitfulness. So, how did David respond? He did not try to defend himself or fight back. He refused to slander or maliciously attack them. He said, "bu…

Thanks

What is your response to your circumstances and those of your family and friends? It can be anger, desire for revenge, sorrow, disillusionment, and a host of other negative emotions but what normally does not come up as a response is thanks. The Psalmist in Psalm 107 for forty-three verses creates a pattern of thanks throughout a litany of all sorts of good and terrible events including the exodus from Egypt, wandering in the desert, hunger and thirst, darkness, gloom, slavery, rebellion, labor, distress, captivity, affliction and nearness to death. Four times in the midst of these descriptions he pauses to say, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." (107:8, 15, 21, 31) He starts the Psalm by saying, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever." (107:1) And, ends it by saying, "consider the great love of the Lord." (107:43) The message is clear; God has His own purpose for us in …

Miracle

What about God's ability to overpower the natural elements of our world? Can He do this? Will we believe it when He does? The psalmist said, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron." This may seem like merely poetic license but let's check it out. "So Peter was kept in prison…Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. Peter followed him out of the prison…and came to the iron gate…It opened for them by itself and they went through it. When they had walked the length of the street, suddenly the angel left him." (Acts 12:5-10) "After they [Paul and Silas] had been severely flogged, they wer…

Friends

Family relationships ought to be the closest of bonds yet often they are only contentious. How often have you heard of children facing off in law suits to gain the inheritance of their parents? Unless a higher principle exists in their lives, selfishness dominates them. It has been said, "man without principle is the creature of caprice." Look at the trouble Joseph of the Bible found when dealing with his eleven brothers. One the other hand, how wonderful is a friend that you can confide in and trust completely. They are a joy to be with and in them you find solace. Note Jonathan's (son of King Saul) relationship with David. He was like a brother but of different parents. Solomon recognized this reality when he said, "better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." (Proverbs 27:10) The development of good friends that can be trusted and that know your circumstances can be of great aid to your emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. Just one friend who…

Advocate

When God established the Levites as the tribe that would work in and around the Sanctuary He also established the position of the High Priest. This was originally filled by Aaron, Moses's brother, and continued to be filled by a Levite priest. It was the responsibility of the High Priest to enter into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle once per year to sprinkle blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant, the place where God abode, for the forgiveness of the sins of the people of Israel and to offer gifts to God from the people. The book of Hebrews shows that God established for the nation of Israel the Tabernacle on earth which was a "copy and shadow of what is in heaven." (Hebrews 8:5) Hebrews also repeatedly reminds us that Jesus Christ was better than Moses, Joshua, and any human High Priest. It says, "We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacl…

Milk or Meat?

Can you exist on a liquid diet? It may help you lose some weight and it may purge your system but at some point it would be important to again introduce solid food to strengthen you. The writer of Hebrews used the terms "milk" and "meat" to illustrate growth spiritually.  He said, "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good and evil." (Hebrews 5:13-14) The word "infant" is not speaking of a birth relationship in a family context. Rather, it is a different word which means "immature." It is important to note that the writer is not using it in the context of an immature believer but just any person who is spiritually immature. We grow toward maturity in several areas. We physically become mature in the early twenties of our life. We mentally become mature at a much later date a…

Illusion

On many days of the year you are presented with a Today's Word that is developed out of a word, phrase or verse of the Bible. Why is this set before you? It can be summed up by the challenge given to the Jewish believers in the book of Hebrews. Here the writer, who is earnest about his love for believers, tells them all to "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13) There was a well-founded fear on the part of the writer that if these first century believers isolated themselves they would fall prey to the illusion that there was greater benefit in the Old Testament sacrificial system than in the recent sacrifice of Christ. Isolation would cause them to compromise their faith and witness, rationalize their sinful thoughts and actions, and worldly wisdom would again reign in their hearts. So he wrote to them to "encourage one another daily" as a prescription to spiri…