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What do you See?

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Scripture:


Psalm 107

23Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.


Observation:


The Psalmist recognized that everyone had an opportunity to get to know God in a personal level.  N…

"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"

Scripture Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
(John 1:46 NASB)
Observation
Nazareth was a small village in the southern part of Israel. it was a village of no consequence -- there were no great schools in the area -- and really, there wasn't much to do. You worked with your hands and continued on with an existence that had been there for generations. Who cared about Nazareth?
Application
For some reason we often think that God can only use the extraordinary to make a difference in this world. Over and over again God, through Jesus, demonstrated that he could take ordinary people and they could do the extraordinary, but only through the infilling and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
Today people may look at us and wonder whether anything good can come out of our lives! Why -- she's just a single mother! He's a truck driver! She's a girl -- trying to do things guys do! He's not v…

Young Love

Scripture “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.
(Isaiah 54:5 NASB)
Observation
Over and over again the theme of marriage is seen in the Bible. The whole story starts with a couple in the Garden of Eden -- a married couple. It also begins with the covenant of a Holy God who wants to have a relationship of fidelity between he and his people. In the middle of the Bible we find the love story in the Song of Solomon, and at the end we find the marriage supper of the lamb. In the intimacy of our relationship with God -- male and female alike -- are becoming the Bride of Christ. Here the wording is very clear -- God, our maker, is also our husband. Who is he? He is the LORD! And he is also our Redeemer -- the one who will save us.
Application
This morning I'm heading over to the wedding of my niece. Last evening we enjoyed the rehearsal and dinner and a…

Cleverly Devised Tales

Scripture For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
(2 Peter 1:16 NASB)
Observation
Peter was letting the people know the value of his testimony. He lived in a day and age where there were people who were trained as great speakers of rhetoric. They would entertain crowds with their amazing speaking abilities and debate with other people with similar skills. But Peter was saying that this was not the case with his own personal life. He was not following after people who had a great ability and/or charisma to speak, but instead he had personally known Jesus Christ. He was an eyewitness to the majesty and power of Christ in the world and there was nothing that would sway him otherwise.
Application
Today we have television which is filled with numerous preachers who are trying to sway people to their way of thought. They have cleverly devised tales …

For the sake of prayer!

Scripture The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
(1 Peter 4:7 NASB)
Observation
Peter is talking to followers of Christ and encouraging them in the spiritual walk. Prayer is to be a central focus for one who desires to know Christ. However, prayer doesn't just "happen" on its own. Instead, there are choices which must be made for the sake, or purpose of prayer. Followers of Christ must have sound judgment and a sober spirit.
Application
What does sound judgment and a sober spirit look like. Actually it seems that if one has sound judgment and a sober spirit they will spend time in prayer, and if they spend time in prayer the result will be sound judgment and a sober spirit. Too often we equate prayer with simply bringing requests before God and we fail to realize that it is in the time of prayer, in times of intimacy with Christ, that we ourselves are shaped and formed.

Therefore, …

Real Strength

Scripture
He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.
(Isaiah 40:29 NASB)
Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,
(Isaiah 40:30 NASB)
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
(Isaiah 40:31 NASB)
Observation
God is the one who can provide us with real, genuine strength for the journey of life. Young people are full of life and energy compared to us older folks, and yet, they get tired. They become completely exhausted and need a few days in which they sleep-in until noon or so just to get their batteries recharged. And vigorous young men -- like the athletes who will be competing in the Olympics -- when they fall, they fall badly. It's a terrible experience.

God is promising a different kind of strength for life; one that is experienced through the LORD and through him …

A Royal Priesthood

Scripture 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Observation We are nothing apart from God. Without him we have no identity because the very stamp or imprint of who we are comes from him. We are God's people. As such, he has extended great mercy toward us so that now, as we respond to him, we have become his chosen people. As his people we are called into the service of the King, and we are a part of his royal priesthood. All who are believers are called to serve the King, and therefore we affirm the "Priesthood of all believers." As such we declare to the world the wonderful and mighty acts of God. Application If serving in the Royal Priesthood is the responsibility of a…

The Reach of God's Power

Scripture Psalms 76:10-12 Human wrath serves only to praise you, when you bind the last bit of [your] wrath around you. 11 Make vows to the Lord your God, and perform them; let all who are around him bring gifts to the one who is awesome, 12 who cuts off the spirit of princes, who inspires fear in the kings of the earth. Observation When humans begin to trust in their own power and reach, God has an amazing way of putting them in their place.  Even the most vile of humans end up bowing at the knee of God.  I think of the incredible wrath of people like Hitler and Stalin.  These men were truly evil and yet at the end of the day, they lost...and they lost miserably.  I think of the beautiful Church of Christ the Saviour which Stalin destroyed and yet the very ground fought back and would not hold the foundation for Stalin's palace of communism.  The action of Stalin,  wanting to express his own wrath resulted in God being glorified.  Hitler committed a cowardly act of suicide…

The sin of omission

Scripture Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(James 4:17 NASB)
Observation
So often we think of sin as the wrong things that we do. This is an interesting statement helping us to understand that sin is also the right things that we don't do! Why is this important? Because the follower of Christ is transformed into the image of Christ. The responses of life are to be the responses of Christ. When we refuse to be Christ to our world, then we are sinning.
Application
What does this look like on a daily basis? I believe that it means that we pray every single day that Christ will be reflected in us -- whether we are at work, at the grocery store, or on an air plane! Every time I get on a plane I pray that God will help me to be sensitive to the person next to me and have the conversations with them that the Lord would want me to have. There are times when people will suddenly want to talk -- but there are oth…

The Highway of Holiness

Scripture A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.
(Isaiah 35:8 NASB)
No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there,
(Isaiah 35:9 NASB)
And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10 NASB)
Observation
The Highway of Holiness was the path that would lead the children of Israel back home -- the road to Jerusalem. Only those who had remained faithful to God, clean and pure would be allowed to walk on that road. The fools who had paid no attention would not be able to find the road. Even in their wanderings they wouldn't even stumble upon it. Why? Because the road was only for those…

Relying on Horses?

Scripture Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!
(Isaiah 31:1 NASB)
Observation
The military strength of the day was found in horses and chariots. How was any country expected to succeed in battle if they did not have horses and chariots? Of course it was also necessary to have men who could handle the horses and the chariots and so a leader wanted numerous horsemen as well. The problem was that the Israelites had gone to other nations to get these instruments of war. God had promised that he would take care of them and yet, they did not have enough faith to believe and trust in him. Instead they made alliances with other lands so that they would be strong in human eyes. Not only did they make alliances with other countries, they specifically went to Egypt to get horses and chariots.…

Imitating the Faith

Scripture Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
(Hebrews 13:7 NASB)
Observation
There were those who had paid a great price to share the faith of Jesus Christ with these believers. Many had given up everything that they had to spread the gospel around the world and as a result many had come to faith in Christ. There was to be appreciation for those who had gone before, and not just appreciation, but those who came after them were to learn from them and to live lives in which their faith was imitated. Those who had gone before provided a pattern for those who lived today.
Application
I'm afraid that we live in a day when we don't place a lot of value on those who have gone before. We often act as if it doesn't matter that there are those who have paid the price for what we have. In recent conversations with a group of friends they noted that young African-Americans…

What are We Seeking?

Scripture Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NASB)
For by it the men of old gained approval.
(Hebrews 11:2 NASB)
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
(Hebrews 11:3 NASB)
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
(Hebrews 11:13 NASB)
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.
(Hebrews 11:14 NASB)
And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
(Hebrews 11:15 NASB)
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:16 NASB…

Copies of the Things in Heaven

Scripture Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
(Hebrews 9:23 NASB)
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
(Hebrews 9:24 NASB)
Observation
The writer of Hebrews continues to make this comparison of the old covenant vs. the new. The old covenant is represented by the Temple -- which is referred to as a copy "of the things in the heavens." The outer and inner chambers of the Temple represented how humanity was able to enter into an intimate relationship with God. It was difficult because only the High Priest could enter into the very intimate chamber, the Holy of Holies once a year, and a sacrifice had to be made. However, when Christ came and made his own personal sacrifice he didn't pass into the human copy of …

The old is disappearing

Scripture When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
(Hebrews 8:13 NASB)
Observation
We continue to read about Christ who is now our new High Priest. The manner in which he does his work is completely different from anything that anyone had previously experienced. He sits at the right hand of the Father and he is constantly interceding for us who are a part of the new covenant. The law has now been written on our minds and in our hearts because we have been united with Christ. But there were those who continued to practice the old law and the more they practiced the old ways, the more they became obsolete and began to disappear. God's presence was no longer in the house.
Application
Most Christians would vehemently deny that they would be attracted to or living within the old covenant, and yet -- here is where we find many of us. The church is filled with those who ar…

Why Melchizedek?

Scripture

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.

17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”[a]
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed…

God's Unchanging Purpose

Scripture In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
(Hebrews 6:17 NASB)
so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
(Hebrews 6:18 NASB)
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
(Hebrews 6:19 NASB)
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:20 NASB)
Observation In a world in which there seem to be many variables on a daily basis there is one who does not change, and that is God. God has promised faithful humanity that there is a purpose -- and that his purpose for us is unchangeable and therefore we press on in our relationship with him. The hope, he says, is within the veil -- and…

Why Pray?

Scripture He has regarded the prayer of the destitute And has not despised their prayer.
(Psalms 102:17 NASB)
This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.
(Psalms 102:18 NASB)
Observation
The Psalmist was well schooled in prayer. He had a deeply intimate relationship with God and knew that he was highly dependent on that relationship. God had answered his prayers in his times of deepest need. He would cry out when he was destitute and God responded. Not only did God respond to his prayers for the here and now, but also for the future generations, for the ones that the Psalmist himself would not see. However, the Psalmist already had in his heart a desire for those who would come after him to know the Lord just as intimately as he did and so he prayed for his children and their children and their children that they might all praise the Lord!
Application
We may be able to identify many reasons to pray -- but t…

Whose earnings?

Scripture Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.
(Hosea 9:1 NASB)
Observation
In 1 Timothy we are reminded that the "love of money is the root of all evil." Sadly when it comes to money, or to the material, it becomes easy for us to be drawn away from our "first love." God had promised the Israelites everything and yet they were willing to throw it all away for the lust of earnings. They were willing to sacrifice to foreign idols in the hopes of getting something in return. Most every home had a threshing floor, the place in which they would bring in the crops and prepare them for use. The people remained unfaithful to their faithful God and instead of worshiping him where he required, or fulfilling the sacrifices as he desired -- they began to worship the foreign gods right in their own homes -- on their own thresh…

The Sanctified

Scripture For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
(Hebrews 2:11 NASB)
Observation
The word sanctification seems to create a sense of fear in many because it is a word that brings to mind the concept of the "holy." Obviously we understand and accept that God is holy, but over and over again we read in the Bible that it is God's desire that we take on his nature, which means that is desire is for us also to be holy. In this short statement we see this brought to light again; the very One who does the sanctifying (the One who is already by nature holy) -- sanctifies those who are called his brethren.
Application
Those who are children of God take on the nature and character of the Father. If the Father's entire nature is holy, then the children, through the Father's nature also become holy. Sanctification is nothing to be feared, nor is it somethi…

Infidelity

Scripture
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.”
(Hosea 1:2 NASB)
Observation
How many times did God try to call his bride -- Israel -- back to him? Over and over there were pleas for Israel to be faithful to God. Now, God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute so that his relationship with his wife can be a living example of the infidelity of God's people. And God's heart, as well as that of Hosea, is broken!
Application
We have seen the devastating effects of infidelity on relationships. The pain and the damage which ensues is much worse than most people ever imagine. It all begins so simply -- a simply flirtation -- or simply hanging out or spending time with someone other than the one to whom you have committed your life. The Israelites did not plan to go after foreign gods. However, Solomon flirted with …

Interceding on behalf of others

Scripture Philemon 1 4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you,  8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. Observation Paul had gotten to know a runaway slave, Onesimus, while in prison.  This slave had come to know Paul who had led him to faith in Jesus Christ.  He was a changed man and had become very precious to Paul.  However, Paul knew that the right thing to do was to send Onesimus home, and this was rather disconcerting.  How would Onesimus' master respond?  Paul saw it as his duty to intercede for Onesimus.  Paul's responsibility, or duty did not end with brining this one to Christ, but included a support system that would allow Onesimus to return to life as a follower of Chr…

Responding to Others

Scripture keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NASB)
And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
(Jude 1:22 NASB)
save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
(Jude 1:23 NASB)
Observation
Primarily all are to remain in the love of God. That small word, "in" becomes crucial in our understanding of the remainder of the text. This does not mean that we are around or near, but that we remain in such a centrally focused relationship with God that his love is "in" us. Therefore, everything we do in life is motivated by his love because it is "in" us. The result of having his love "in" us is that our relationship and response to others is modified by that love. There are those around us who are doubting their faith. What are we to do? We are to have mercy on them. Tha…