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Showing posts from May, 2012

A Living Sacrifice

Scripture Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
(Romans 12:1 NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 NASB)
Observation
The Christian walk is not one which is to be taken lightly. We are asked to literally offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. That means that our physical life, the things that we do on a daily basis are to be offered to God as a sacrifice to him. Not only are we to be living sacrifices, but we are to be holy as well. A holy sacrifice, meaning that every nook and cranny of our being has been made holy by the presence of God's Holy Spirit. Our daily offering of ourselves becomes our spiritual worship. The result is that we don't conform to the w…

He is the source of all things.

Scripture Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
(Romans 11:33 NASB)
For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, ORWHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?
(Romans 11:34 NASB)
Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIMTHAT ITMIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?
(Romans 11:35 NASB)
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:36 NASB)
Observation
Human wisdom is nothing compared to God. God is the source of all wisdom and all knowledge and therefore his judgements are always right. It's why we really cannot understand or fathom what he is doing from time to time, and too often we spend too much time and energy speculating on what God is up to. I'm guessing that Paul may be speaking rhetorically here -- because how many of us have questioned God, or tried to tell him what to do? There are times when we try to play the role of God's counselor…

Who will find Him?

Scripture And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.”
(Romans 10:20 NASB)
But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATEPEOPLE.”
(Romans 10:21 NASB)
Observation
There have always been those who have felt that they were privileged, or that they were God's special people and God has reached out to them. Sadly, as God has stretched out his hands to his people, so often they have not responded. Then, there have been those who have not had the privileges and yet, they seek God out and respond to him. They are able to find him, when those who should know him seem to wander off lost.
Application
We may be surprised in the last day when we discover who really has found God. So often those of us who are a part of the established church take for granted that we are God's people. I am wondering whether God looks at us and say…

The Lure of Temptation

Scripture
With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him.
(Proverbs 7:21 NASB)
Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,
(Proverbs 7:22 NASB)
Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
(Proverbs 7:23 NASB)
Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, And pay attention to the words of my mouth.
(Proverbs 7:24 NASB)
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths.
(Proverbs 7:25 NASB)
For many are the victims she has cast down, And numerous are all her slain.
(Proverbs 7:26 NASB)
Her house is the way to Sheol, Descending to the chambers of death.
(Proverbs 7:27 NASB)
Observation
Solomon in his wisdom understood the lure of the temptress, the one who could deceive a good man and bring about his destruction. Temptation flatters people and makes them believe things about t…

Walking according to the Spirit

Scripture Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 NASB)
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
(Romans 8:2 NASB)
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
(Romans 8:3 NASB)
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(Romans 8:4 NASB)
Observation
Jesus Christ had come to change the paradigm for those who were wanting to walk with God. Christ also knew that he would have to leave so that he could send the Holy Spirit. By sending the Holy Spirit it became possible for people to be united with Christ, to be "in" him. This meant that by being united with Christ there would be an internal desire to follow the law. No longer would …

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

Scripture
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:7 NASB)
Observation
As Solomon's proverbs unfold we are given some opening instructions. These proverbs are only useful if they are utilized within a particular framework. This includes knowing that there is a difference between pure knowledge and wisdom. To gain knowledge, one must begin by fearing the Lord.
Application
There is a balance which must exist between wisdom and knowledge. Pure knowledge in and of itself is useless if it is not offset by wisdom, and all of this must begin by having a healthy fear of the Lord. If we don't fear the Lord, then we begin to believe that we we can become wise by simply gaining knowledge. However, knowledge in and of itself becomes useless and leads to arrogance.
On the other hand, we are encouraged to seek as much instruction as possible. When we humble ourselves before those who can teach us, then we …

Love can lead you astray.

Scripture Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,
(1 Kings 11:1 NASB)
from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love.
(1 Kings 11:2 NASB)
Observation
Solomon was the wisest man the world had ever seen, and yet, he was dumb when it came to love. He allowed his power to go to his head and instead of listening to God's instructions regarding marriage, he allowed himself to be seduced by women. Between his wives and his concubines, Solomon had about 1000 women, and they were from all over the world. This was indicative of the fact that Solomon had made alliances with other kings in the area and would reveal that he did not rely upon God, but upon his human skill to make those allian…

To Him who made the great lights!

Scripture To Him who made the great lights, For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
(Psalms 136:7 NASB)
The sun to rule by day, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
(Psalms 136:8 NASB)
The moon and stars to rule by night, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
(Psalms 136:9 NASB)
Observation
This is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving for what God has done in the life of his people. There are times when God does things that leave us rather speechless. Here the Psalmist thanks God for creating the great lights! What are they? The sun, the moon and the stars which are in the sky. These are the great lights of God which are a daily reminder of the everlasting lovingkindness of God.
Application
Does God ever leave us speechless? When we stop to think about the things that God has done for us, are we left wondering how in the world we can even express his love to others. This phrase, "the great lights" is fascinating. Even today, when we have amazing te…

That which does not exist...

Scripture For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
(Romans 4:16 NASB)
(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
(Romans 4:17 NASB)
Observation
Abraham was a man who exercised incredible faith in God and recognized that while other gods were worshiped, there was only one God! Our God and Father, the loving Creator of all things is beyond our imaginations. Abraham understood a very profound fact about Yahweh -- and that was His ability to create from what does not exist.
Application
There are times when I simply want to sit back in awe of God and worship Him. We live in a period of history in which there is…

May the peoples of the earth know that the Lord is God!

Scripture “And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires,
(1 Kings 8:59 NASB)
so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.
(1 Kings 8:60 NASB)
“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”
(1 Kings 8:61 NASB)
Observation
Solomon has completed the work on the Temple and the time of dedication has come. After the ark is placed in the holy chamber of the Temple, the presence of God fills the place. His presence is visible as the cloud envelopes the Temple and God resides in his new home. The people carry on an elaborate ceremony in their worship of God. You can sense their excitement as the story is recounted. Solomon's desire is that the whole world wo…

Remember the Pomegranate!

Scripture He also made two pillars for the front of the house, thirty-five cubits high, and the capital on the top of each was five cubits.
(2 Chronicles 3:15 NASB)
He made chains in the inner sanctuary and placed them on the tops of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates and placed them on the chains.
(2 Chronicles 3:16 NASB)
Observation
The pomegranate appears several times in the old testament and its placement is interesting. Why include pomegranates hanging off the hem of a priests garment and now, while building the temple, why are there pomegranates as a part of the decoration?
Application One of my favorite places in all the world is Armenia and I have been privileged to visit there on numerous occasions. I've always been curious about their attraction to the pomegranate. While there I am often served pomegranate, we drink pomegranate juice and the pomegranate is found decorating everything from china to fabrics. I was told that the pomegr…

On Peace and Leadership

Scripture Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters, and 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains,
(1 Kings 5:15 NASB)
besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief deputies who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work.
(1 Kings 5:16 NASB)
Now Solomon decided to build a house for the name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself.
(2 Chronicles 2:1 NASB)
So Solomon assigned 70,000 men to carry loads and 80,000 men to quarry stone in the mountains and 3,600 to supervise them.
(2 Chronicles 2:2 NASB)
“Now behold, I will give to your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, 20,000 kors of crushed wheat and 20,000 kors of barley, and 20,000 baths of wine and 20,000 baths of oil.”
(2 Chronicles 2:10 NASB)
Then Huram, king of Tyre, answered in a letter sent to Solomon: “Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them.”
(2 Chronicles 2:11 NASB)
Then Huram continued, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has made heaven and earth, who…

Discernment to Understand Justice

Scripture It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.
(1 Kings 3:10 NASB)
God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,
(1 Kings 3:11 NASB)
behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
(1 Kings 3:12 NASB)
Observation
Solomon was a new and young king and he had the opportunity to ask God for anything. He didn't ask for "things" for himself but instead asked that he might have wisdom, or discernment to understand justice. This was a pleasing answer in God's sight. God gave him what he requested and Solomon became known as a very wise man.
Application Often we simply read that …

What's your attitude?

Scripture We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;
(2 Thessalonians 1:3 NASB)
therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.
(2 Thessalonians 1:4 NASB)
Observation
This letter is written to a new, small church that is struggling to be faithful in the midst of a hostile environment. While they are being persecuted, they continue to have a good attitude. They are having tough days and yet they are allowing God to work in them and their faith grows, and the love they have for one another is visible to those around them. Therefore, it's easy to brag on these folks, who are allowing God to give them a good attitude, despite their circumstances.
Application
There are times when we feel absolutely sl…

Human Manipulation

Scripture
Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him.
(1 Kings 1:5 NASB)
“For he has gone down today and has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons and the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest, and behold, they are eating and drinking before him; and they say, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’
(1 Kings 1:25 NASB)
The king vowed and said, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress,
(1 Kings 1:29 NASB)
surely as I vowed to you by the LORD the God of Israel, saying, ‘Your son Solomon shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place’; I will indeed do so this day.”
(1 Kings 1:30 NASB)
“Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’
(1 Kings 1:34 NASB)
Zadok the priest then took th…

God has called us in Sanctification

Scripture For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
(1 Thessalonians 4:7 NASB)
So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
(1 Thessalonians 4:8 NASB)
Observation
The purpose of the Christian life is to become like Christ and this is the result of sanctification. It is not the work of humans, but the work of the Holy Spirit within each and every single one of us. Therefore, we are not called to be impure people, but to be God's holy people. If we refuse to listen to this message, we are not rejecting the one who brings the message, but instead, we are rejecting God who has called us all to be pure and sanctified through the Holy Spirit whom he sent to us.
Application
Too many people don't like that word sanctification, and nor do they like the idea of living a life of purity. Why? One reason seems to be because sanctification was, at one point and time, associated with a leg…

Trying too hard to Compensate

Scripture

Matt. 27:6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”
Matt. 27:7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners.
Matt. 27:8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Matt. 27:9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price,
Matt. 27:10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Observation

Judas had betrayed Jesus Christ and suddenly he was overcome with what he had done.  Maybe he had thought that Jesus would be able to save himself.  Surely Jesus wouldn't really be crucified and die on a cross?!  And yet, that was the path on which he had placed Jesus.  He comes to the chief priests and he confesses hi…

Sacraments of Significance

Scripture
“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 26:29 NASB)
Observation
On the night that Jesus shared the cup and the bread with his disciples, he ushered in a new practice for those who would be his followers. The early church practiced communion frequently because Jesus had told them to do so. Interestingly, Jesus was telling them that he would have this last meal with them but then would not share this ceremony with them again until all would be joined with him in his Father's kingdom.
Application
I'm afraid that too often we don't recognize the significance in sharing together at the Lord's table. For those early disciples every time they ate and drank this together it was a very visible reminder of something they had personally shared with Jesus Christ. It was a reminder that Jesus Christ was waiting until they all arrived to be with…

What did we do to you?

Scripture “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
(Matthew 25:34 NASB)
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
(Matthew 25:35 NASB)
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
(Matthew 25:36 NASB)
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
(Matthew 25:37 NASB)
‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
(Matthew 25:38 NASB)
‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
(Matthew 25:39 NASB)
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
(Mat…

You do not know....

Scripture “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
(Matthew 24:42 NASB)
“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
(Matthew 24:43 NASB)
“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
(Matthew 24:44 NASB)
Observation Jesus was speaking of the fact that someday he would return again. He made one thing perfectly clear over and over again and that was that no one would know when he would be returning! His message was one of preparation. He said to be ready -- and interestingly, made the point to say that he would come when we don't think he will.....
Application
I am amazed at how many people spend time speculating about the second coming of Christ. Inordinate amounts of time are spent on trying to decipher da…

Don't Be Called a Leader

Scripture

Matt. 23:10 “And do not be called 1leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
Matt. 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
Matt. 23:12 “And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Observation

Jesus was addressing the Pharisees who thought far too much of themselves.  They saw themselves as the spiritual leaders of their people and yet they were leading their people to spiritual destruction.  The word here used for leader can also be translated "teacher."  Whichever one you use, he was warning them to recognize that the only true leader or teacher for them was the Messiah -- or the Christ!  They had been holding themselves up as honored individuals above all others and Jesus was reminding them that there was One greater.  We are to lift up the One who is greater because if someone exalts themselves, they will be humbled. 

Application

We are called to live lives of humility in this world and everyth…

Stupidity with Eternal Consequences

Scripture

Matt. 22:1 ¶ Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:
Matt. 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
Matt. 22:3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
Matt. 22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,
Matt. 22:6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.
Matt. 22:7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Matt. 22:8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
Matt. 22:9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:10 Those s…

Don't Do Anything Stupid!

Scripture Now it came about after this, that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon died, and his son became king in his place.
(1 Chronicles 19:1 NASB)
Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the sons of Ammon to Hanun to console him.
(1 Chronicles 19:2 NASB)
But the princes of the sons of Ammon said to Hanun, “Do you think that David is honoring your father, in that he has sent comforters to you? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?”
(1 Chronicles 19:3 NASB)
So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away.
(1 Chronicles 19:4 NASB)
When the sons of Ammon saw that the Arameans fled, they also fled before Abshai his brother and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jer…