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Hidden Blessings

Have you read through the account of Joseph in Genesis 37-50?   It is an account of young seventeen year old boy that was educated by his father, pampered and treated with favoritism by his father.  Then his brothers, jealous at Josephs dreams and treatment by their father, then plotted against him eventually selling Joseph into slavery where he was then sold to Potiphar  in Egypt.

Once in Egypt, Joseph served diligently and God blessed him.  Joseph’s faithfulness  was also tested through the advances of Potiphars wife, and through a variety of moral, ethical and character building trials and tests that only God would plan for Joseph.    What about those hidden blessings that would ONLY be viewed or experienced much later?

What about Jacob?  Did he go through hurt?  Yes,  Did he go through pain and suffering?  Yes!  Did he go through emotional trauma?  Yes!  Did he trust in the only one true God of the universe?  Yes, he did and guess what?  Was there hidden blessings for him as he heard that there was grain in Egypt?  Yes!   Little did Jacob know that Joseph was administrating over both his welfare but also all of Egypt as well.  Dont you think that God seeks to involve you in the very same way?   Let’s not reject nor run from the trials and circumstances that we are given as they pass through the very thoughts and hands of God almighty to mold and shape who to are to be in Him!

(Rom 8:28) And we know that all things work together for good to them

that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Do you know that you are called according to His purpose?  Have you presented yourself before Jesus, the maker of the universe and asked Him to reveal himself to you to involve you in His plan?  Have you been brought by God to the end of yourself?  Seek him diligently and you will find Him! Do you read His word and do His commandments?  Jesus said to and you would be counted as one that loves Him!

posted by:-reformed

A Ministers Praises

Do you take time, effort and energy to praise and exhort people and your own loved ones?  God is the source of all delight and praise unto us, may we be conduits that continue that flow of Gods graciousness, love, honor and praise.

O God, my exceeding Joy, Singing thy praises uplifts my heart, for thou art a fountain of delight, and dost bless the soul that joys in thee.

But because of my heart’s rebellion I cannot always praise thee as I ought; Yet I will at all times rest myself in thy excellences, goodness, and loving-kindness.

Thou art in Jesus the object of inexpressible joy, and I take exceeding pleasure in the thought of thee. But Lord, I am sometimes thy enemy; my nature revolts and wanders from thee.

Though thou hast renewed me, yet evil corruptions urge me still to oppose thee. Help me to extol thee with entire heart-submission, to be diligent in self-examination, to ask myself whether I am truly born again, whether my spirit is the spirit of thy children, whether my griefs are those that tear repenting hearts, whether my joys are the joys of faith, whether my confidence in Christ works by love and purifies the soul.

Give me the sweet results of faith, in my secret character, and in my public life. Cast cords of love around my heart, then hold me and never let me go. May the Saviour’s wounds sway me more than the sceptre of princes.

Let me love thee in a love that covers and swallows up all, that I may not violate my chaste union with the beloved; There is much unconquered territory in my nature, scourge out the buyers and sellers of my soul’s temple, and give me in return pure desires, and longings after perfect holiness.

posted by: -reformed

with my own comments added from puritan prayers, the valley of vision

Jonah finally goes to Nineveh after Gods second call.  Jonah has been transformed by God in the belly of that great fish and then vomited onto dry land. Yet we see in Jonah all too many similarities to Jonah’s prior condition whereby God both works with the Ninevites as well as with Jonah.

Jonah’s extent to his verbal rebuke and evangelism was eight words!  Yes in fact he said “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  This was the extent to his vocabulary.   The people of Nineveh including the king were so convicted by the presence of Jonah and his communication that everyone repented.

“And the people of Nineveh believed God.

They called for a fast and put on sackcloth,

from the greatest of them to the least of them”. (jonah 3:5)

As a result Jonah became severely angry!  Jonah did’nt want the Assyrians to receive any grace and mercy from God!  They were the enemies of the Israelites and he wanted God’s judgement upon them in the worst way!  This is why Jonah ran away from God in the first place!  He didn’t want God to bestow mercy upon any of Israels enemies!  He was so angry that Jonah wanted to die.   You see, Jonah needed to be taught something. There is always something greater than meets the eye with God!

You see, Nineveh’s cup of transgression was not yet full and God knew they did these things in ignorance!  How do I know this?  read Jonah 4:11.

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”  (Jonah 4:11)

God describes the Ninevites as those that don’t know their right hand from their left.  They are doing things in ignorance.  Now later on Gods judgement will certainly proceed against Nineveh and the Assyrians but not yet. This judgement occurs in the book of Nahum approximately in the year 660 BC approximately 100 years after Jonah proclaims his message and Nineveh repents.  They are given a chance to repent, and they do for a while.  But then they relent from their repentance and they seal their judgement from God.

GOD’S plan was to teach Israel, by the example of Nineveh, how inexcusable is their own impenitence, and how inevitable their ruin if they persevere in their disobedience. Repenting Nineveh has proved herself more worthy of God’s favor than apostate Israel; the children of the covenant have not only fallen down to, but actually below, the level of a heathen people; Israel, therefore, must go down, and the heathen rise above her.

For us Today:

-Are you a fair weather believer?  Do you believe only when it is going your way? when good is occurring to you? Do you only do Gods word when good will come to you?  RETHINK THAT!  We are told to trust and obey!  We are told to do His commandments! These are Jesus’ words!  Those that love Him will do what he says.

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:21-23)

-Are you selfish like Jonah desiring only those things that you want or perhaps envision that you ‘think’ God should do for you? Jonah was a prophet of God yet he was given a task to go unto a Gentile people to proclaim Gods coming judgement if they did not repent, and they repented; BECAUSE God desires to have mercy to those beyond our knowledge and capacity and He desires us to be tools which demonstrate His love, Mercy, and Glory!  Learn from this brethren that we may yet still be used as tools for God to those that don’t know or even trust in God, and even though our own world view of selfishness.  God has us learn how broad, how deep and how caring his love is, well beyond our own convictions and justifications of judgement.

posted by: -reformed

Bibliographies:

Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical

Jonah’s prayer should be considered and looked at with sincerity and understanding of where Jonah has come from.  Remember he is a very bigoted, head strong prophet of God that really didn’t wish to go to Nineveh and even give an opportunity for the Assyrians to be forgiven by God.

Jonah’s Prayer: Ch 2:1-10

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.  4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” 10 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Observations:

-Although Jonah fled from God, He is still called and considered by his God! You see, Jonah returns to God in his mind, heart and spirit.  Jonah spent three days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish, just as Christ spent three days and three nights in the the tomb; probably a type of Christ and His work and what time Christ spent in death before He rose in complete victory over death because death could not hold Him!   Like this, Jonah cries out of his God the source and the giver of life who give him life yet again on the third day and results in being vomited back onto dry land on the beach of the Mediterranean sea.

-notice that it doesnt relaly matter the place, nor position of where Jonah is nor us for that matter; we may pray as Jonah prayed in the belly of the dish and God will hear us.  What matters is the state of our heart and spirit towards him.  Is it proud or is it humble, and in a state of such flexible humility whereby we are able to hear His voice of restoration and direction.

-Jonah feels cast away and driven away from Gods sight.  Certainly of his office of being used by God.  He is in a fish’s belly, how may he possibly be used now?  He is past being useful to God.  But nothing is impossible for God.  God makes the fish vomit Jonah up.  It is not stated but it is ‘speculated’ there were significant ramifications of being in the fish’s belly to such an extent that it could have bleached his skin white to such as degree that it shocked the Assyrians which combined with the message convinced them of the need to turn from their wicked ways.

-Jonah realizes that he was dead, yet now he lives even in the fish’s belly, but not for himself but unto God and His Glory(v6-7)

For us Today:

Jonah was transformed.  Are we allowing ourselves to be transformed by God?  Do you know that you are not for yourself but for the Glory of God?  What is the state of your heart today?  Is it for yourself or is it directly pointed at the creator and almighty God and savior today?   Are you able to hear his voice through the pain of your life, ramifications of your sin, or situations that you are in?  Search for God today you will find Him!  He is here with you reach out to him wherever you are, give yourself to him, be his and He will be your God and bring you to Himself.

Posted by: -reformed

Have you ever rebelled against God?  Knowingly? I have!  All I can say is that after God brings you to the end of yourself and then there is only God left who is still willing to restore you and open your eyes.  After restoration, there is nothing more sweeter and peaceful.  Yes, unfortunately, there are yet still the lingerings of anguish from remorse that must be dealt with along with the ramifications, but God will give us strength in Him and through His spirit to press on and become who he designed us to be in Him.  Read these words from C. H. Spurgeon, especially the last sentence:

Even so the sinner who has for weeks and months been paralysed with despair, and has wearily sighed for salvation, is very conscious of the change when the Lord Jesus speaks the word of power, and gives joy and peace in believing. The evil removed is too great to be removed without our discerning it; the life imparted is too remarkable to be possessed and remain inoperative; and the change wrought is too marvellous not to be perceived. We must not hastily condemn men for lack of knowledge; but where we can see the faith which saves the soul, we must believe that salvation has been bestowed. The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before he makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes.  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Jonah’s name and his fathers name:

Jonah means ‘dove’ and his fathers name Amittai means ‘teller of truth’.  Interesting enough that it should not surprise us that Jonah is a prophet that comes from a family who tells the truth.  Fitting for a prophet.  yet also the dove flies away fleeing from God.   Not finding rest until the ‘dove’ returns, similar to the dove in Genesis account of Noah.

There is so much here in Jonah.  We’ll take it slow!

We covered Nineveh and a bit of its history last time.  Now recognize that Nineveh is land locked and it quite a distance from the Mediterranean sea whence the fish finally vomits Jonah  onto dry land.

Jonah’s Disobedience: (Jonah 1:1-17)

Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire at the time.  These to whom Jonah was called were heathen Gentiles. The ONLY case where a prophet was called to a gentile nation.  Jonah knew of Gods mercies and the Assyrian’s were merciless and long time enemies of Israel.  They were particularly brutal and vicious.  Jonah knew of Gods mercy and didn’t want nor desire God to have mercy on the Assyrians.  It is interesting to note that God send one prophet to the Assyrians and they repent the first time it occurs, and this flys in the face of Israel whom was sent many prophets in which after they decided to kill the prophets and not repent.  This is to be an example to us and also a rebuke to Israel.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of Israels enemy, land locked many miles away by foot.  Jonah, repulsed by the notion of mercy coming to Israel’s enemies flees directly opposite.  Instead of going east to Nineveh he proceeds west to Tarshish.  So he pays his way and leverages the skills and experience of others and pays for passage west as far as he could go away from his appointed task from God.

Can you really flee God?  The answer to this rhetorical question is no:

Pro 15:3 The eyes of the LORD [are] in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Act 17:27 “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

Gods professional development plan for Jonah: (Jonah 2)

God chose not to use someone else closer to Nineveh, nor to ignore Jonah’s rebellion because He still had a task to accomplish for both Nineveh as well as Jonah.  You see, God is efficient and uses many times ordinary and sometimes extra-ordinary situations to work together for His glory. Jonah had pride and a spirit of rebellion and was not heeding God and doing what He communicated.  The Nineveh were to be given a chance to repent of their evil.  Because God understood they did not know their right hand from their left.  They were ignorant of other, gentler, and more peaceable ways.

Therefore, God brings a storm unlike any other to even frighten hardened sailors and they discern that the cause of this un-natural storm is due to Jonah being on their vessel.  They finally relent and throw Jonah overboard and the sea storm calms.

Jonah, then gets swallowed up by a fish that was prepared by God and he spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish.

For us today:

Ask yourself these questions:

-Are you running from God or from a task that God desires you to do?

Relent brethren, relent unto God. He will have His glory with or without you!  It is an honor and a pleasure to serve almighty God.  You cannot run, nor hide from God.  You must either serve God or be an enemy of Him forever.  There is no middle ground.  I have tried!  God also like Jonah brought me to the end of myself, and I finally realized after my eyes were opened, unfortunately way too late, to see the immense damage I had accomplished.  I was blinded by my own lusts, desires and pursuits to consider others or even any ramifications.   God is teaching me slowly.   May God bring you to a full and complete knowledge of Him with all the fullness and blessing He desires for us!

Posted by:  -reformed

Biography:

Critical commentary to the entire Bible : Robert Jamieson

Nineveh (ninʹe-ve; from Assyrian Nina or Ninua), one of the oldest and greatest cities of Mesopotamia. It was founded  by Nimrod the great Grandson of Noah! (Gen 10:6-12)!  It is one of the oldest cities in the world, escavations date it at approximately 4500 B.C.  One of the most important discoveries is from its library of Ashurbanipal which contained over 16,000 cuneiform tablets that included topics such as the history of the flood and of creation along with other historical and religious texts.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria at its height from the time of Sennacherib, who assumed the throne in 705 B.C. to its fall in 612 B.C. and subsequently a symbol of Assyria’s utter collapse. The city was located on the east bank of the Tigris River opposite Mosul. Its ruins consist of a number of small mounds and two large tells in an 1800-acre enclosure surrounded by a brick wall almost eight miles in circumference. The main focus of excavations has been the larger of the tells, Quyunjik (‘little lamb’). The smaller tell, Nebi Yunus (‘the prophet Jonah’), marks the traditional site of the tomb of the prophet Jonah and is occupied by a modern settlement.

At the height of its prosperity Nineveh was enclosed by an inner wall of c. 12 km circuit within which, according to Felix Jones’ survey of 1834, more than 175,000 persons could have lived. The population of ‘this great city’ of Jonah’s history (1:2; 3:2) is given as 120,000, who did not know right from wrong.

Ashurbanipal (669–633 B.C.), made his residence at Nineveh, where he had been educated and trained in sports and military skills. He was somewhat of an antiquarian and mastered the reading of Akkadian and Sumerian. In his palace was housed the famous library of such importance for the study of Assyriology.

The temple of Nabu contained a library dating at least to the time of Sargon II, but the royal library of Ashurbanipal far surpassed it in size and importance. Sargon and his successors had collected many tablets, but Ashurbanipal sent scribes all over Assyria and Babylonia to gather and to copy tablets, so that tens of thousands of tablets accumulated.

Like the library of Nippur, the Nineveh collection covers a great range of materials: business accounts, letters, royal records, historical documents, lexicographical lists and bilingual texts, legends, myths and various other kinds of religious inscriptions, such as hymns, prayers, and lists of deities and temples. Among the tablets were 7 that preserved a Babylonian creation story and 12 which bore the epic of Gilgamesh, with a version of the flood. Other writings which sometimes are cited as parallels to Bible accounts include the story of Adapa, with the lost opportunity to achieve immortality, and the legend of Etana, a shepherd who ascended to heaven.

Ashurbanipal was also well known for his wars and for his cruelty. The palace relief showing a peaceful banquet scene also displays the severed head of an Elamite leader hanging in a tree.

In the later years of the aging king and after his demise, the vassal kingdoms rebelled. Babylon became independent and joined with the Medes to take Ashur and Calah in 614 B.C. Cyaxares the Mede, Nabopolassar of Babylon, and a Scythian force laid siege to Nineveh in 612 B.C.; the city fell and King Sinshariskun (Sardanapalus) perished in its flames.

Time and Place of Jonah:

Prophet of Israel; Amittai’s son (Jon 1:1) of the Zebulunite city of Gathhepher (2 Kgs 14:25). The historian who wrote 2 Kings recorded that Jonah had a major prophetic role in the reign of King Jeroboam II (793–753 b.c.). Jonah had conveyed a message encouraging expansion to the king of Israel, whose reign was marked by prosperity, expansion, and, unfortunately, moral decline.

In the midst of all the political corruption of Israel, Jonah remained a zealous patriot. His reluctance to go to Nineveh doubtless stemmed partially from his knowledge that the Assyrians would be used as God’s instrument for punishing Israel. The prophet, who had been sent to Jeroboam to assure him that his kingdom would prosper, was the same prophet God chose to send to Nineveh to forestall that city’s (and thus that nation’s) destruction until Assyria could be used to punish Israel in 722 b.c. It is no wonder that the prophet reacted emotionally to his commission.

No other prophet was so strongly Jewish (cf. his classic confession, Jon 1:9), yet no other prophet’s ministry was so strongly directed to a non-Jewish nation. Jonah’s writing is also unusual among the prophets. The book is primarily historical narrative. His actual preaching is recorded in only five words in the Hebrew; eight words in most English translations (Jon 3:4b). In the NT, Jonah is called Jonas (kjv).

Jonah’s challenge to us as believers:

Do you know the God of the Bible?  Is His spirit living within your heart?  Are you prepared at all times to be able to give an account of your faith to ANYONE,  in the name of our great God, the one and only creator of the universe.  Even to use ‘eight’ words to glorify His great name?  Read His word.  Do His commandments!

Posted by: -reformed

Biography

Harpers Bible Dictionary

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

New Bible Dictionary

Nelson Study Bible

We often think of idols as those images of carved wood or stone that heathen and uneducated people of the past worshiped in ignorance.  Today were so much more sophisticated, spiritual, and above all that idol worship to be caught up in something like that though eh?  Or are we?

Idolatry is indeed the spiritual worship of an idol.  Idols seemed to vary in size from corporate worship of the likes of Baal during the time of Elijah whereby Baal actually had priests, to those of household idols such as those that Rachael stole in gen 31.

Idols though involved more than just ignorance or simply bowing down unknowingly in front of a carved piece of stone.    This was a heart commitment that involved a spiritual part of the person to devote time and energy to the interest and pursuit of an attribute in which they at that time found value.  Many times families would include upon these idols, or within, the actual deeds to family inherent and land, so not only was it of spiritual worship and pursuit but of legal value as well.

Putting it another way as a form of example, do we today spend out energies and efforts and time to dode upon those in which we stand to inherent great fortune for the sake of that great fortune, and not simply the person and doing what is right for them?    We call people today that we esteem (like sports figures) idols that our children look up to.  We use the term today in a nature that communicates high esteem and not necessarily a spiritual form of worship.  et when that esteem becomes so passionate that it is consuming time and effort of this individual instead of having what God say are the right priorities.

Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.  (2Kings 23:24)

Just as Josiah put away his idols, we must revisit our priorities and seek out ourselves within and see if we have idols today in our lives in which take away our attention and pursuit of God and where He should be which is upon the only alter of our heart.  God seeks to be the only God in our life and free us from our Idols.  Be it a job, family, children, pursuit of pleasure, wealth, power,  or position, we need to keep a healthy perspective on our spiritual focus of our lives.

May God be on the one true alter of your heart this day.

The dearest idol I have known, what ‘er that idol be;

Help me to tear it from thy throne and worship only thee

posted by: -reformed

Who is Christ?  He is none other than the true lover of our souls.  He is the one true mediator between us and God almighty.  It is through His own personal sinless sacrifice that His righteousness is imputed (literally ‘assigned’-a legal term) to us and our sins imputed to Him.  Yes indeed, ALL OF THEM, not simply the past sins, but present and yet future sins.

We need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith.  Do you come to the Jesus’ cross daily, seeing the result of your sin, the result of your depravity the ramifications of what it cost God to redeem us?  Do you see all your sins literally hanging upon Christ, holding him to that very cross, bearing down upon Him; tearing his flesh, causing Him to lose consciousness, having to fight even to take another breath before another one of your sins is thrown carelessly upon His very being?

As you imagine and witness the travesty of your own sins upon the very precious person of Christ, Where oh where is your pride?   Where oh where is your self-righteousness?  Where oh where is your freedom to sin so that you can heap up more upon Christ’s ever-scared body and frame?  Where is your self-confidence?  I don’t know about you, but I have none and I’m humbled, empty and nothing without Christ as I witness my own sins displayed before all humanity yet Christ bearing and receiving the burden, the cajoling, the ridicule and the final penalty of my sins as I stand by watching the innocent one die and take the brunt of the ramifications of my own making.

Let us consider this prayer and meditate upon the wonder and the greatness of the Cross of Christ and the true meaning of His work of mediation between God and Man, collectively and personally.

Everlasting Creator-Father,
I have destroyed myself,
my nature is defiled,
the powers of my soul are degraded;
I am vile, miserable, strengthless,
but my hope is in thee.

If ever I am saved it will be by goodness
undeserved and astonishing,
not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy,
not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace;
And such thou hast revealed, promised, exemplified
in thoughts of peace, not of evil.

Thou hast devised means
to rescue me from sin’s perdition,
to restore me to happiness, honour, safety.
I bless thee for the everlasting covenant,
for the appointment of a Mediator.

I rejoice that he failed not, nor was discouraged,
but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do;
and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’

I exult in the thought that
thy justice is satisfied,
thy truth established,
thy law magnified,
and a foundation is laid for my hope.

I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say,
Surely he has borne my griefs,
carried my sorrows,
won my peace,
healed my soul.

Justified by his blood I am saved by his life,
Glorying in his cross I bow to his scepter,
Having his Spirit I possess his mind.

Lord, grant that my religion may not be
occasional and partial,
but universal, influential, effective,
and may I always continue in thy words
as well as thy works,
so that I may reach my end in peace.

posted by:-reformed
With my comments a Puritan Prayer from The Puritan Prayer book: Valley of vision

Friends, How much do you Love your Lord?    How much do you HATE your sin?   What makes for a true repentant of heart and soul?    This is the test and measure of how your treasure your Forgiveness by Christ.   Not by your circumstances.

I personally have done things that no person should ever be allowed to accomplish, this is why ‘i’m convinced’ why God has so many capital punishments in the Old Testament.  Many of these deeds are so pervasively evil, selfishly detestable and effect so many others that the anguish cannot be controlled that there must be death to the perpetrator.  I’ve seen the utter destruction that my sin created, both personally, professionally to those around as well as very close family members, sons, daughters, and my precious wife.  Lets not forget the hidden damage that is accomplishes along with the direct actions.  Many times this may be more than the physical such as emotional torture, lies, deceptions that results in a total destruction of a persons self-image, integrity, trust and subsequently destroying relationship.

There are times that I hurt so bad, and feel so bad for the things that I have done as I live through the ramifications that it is hard to see, feel, and sometimes even trust in Gods forgiveness of the sins themselves.  Have you ever felt like that?  Or perhaps you still do?

Mourning

Brethren Please read Luke 7:36-50.  Jesus is invited to a dinner by a man named Simon that is a Pharisee.  He doesn’t really like Jesus, and you find that throughout these passages he tries to embarrass and discredit Jesus.  Yet Jesus uses the time and opportunity to send a clear message to Simon.   First and foremost you find that the typical greeting afforded as a gesture of respect is not given to Jesus coming to the meal, which was a foot washing or oil for the head.  This is reminded to Simon during the course of this conversation.  Simon was a inhospitable meal host to Jesus.  In Simon’s heart laid envy and jealousy, and he put Jesus in a position of dis-respect and dishonor by both not affording him a typical greeting of honor and his own intern dis-respect of condemning Jesus as a ‘non-prophet’ and allowing the woman to anoint Jesus’ feet with scented oil.  He was condemning in his own heart the fact that Jesus was allowing this woman to be morally open with him which was frowned upon in that day.  You see she let down her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair and wept upon his feet.   She was demonstrating not only Godly sorrow and repentance for her own sins but she was attempting to rescue Jesus from open embarrassment of not being given appropriate honor for the gathering.

Christ forgives us but he does not keep us from the calamities that we create and the ramifications due to the sin that we pursue and commit against ourselves, the ones were supposed to be loving, others and against God.   He lets us take the full blow of those consequences.

Why does he let us have these consequences?  So that they have their work in our hearts and lives and are yet used as tools by God to transform us from the sinful worldly flesh that we once were into a tool to be used by Him for His Glory and His righteousness.

 

Swing God, at our souls and our lives, precious Lord with your hammer,

lets the blows fly as if to bend iron or break wood

for it is in this skillful manner

that your love is administered for our own good

-anonymous

Imagine

Brethren, please sit with your eyes closed and imagine yourself next to the cross witnessing Jesus being placed onto the cross, with the nails driven into his hands and the nail into his feet.  Then the cross lifts up and you see him bearing weight on that cross that no man should ever bear.  He did nothing worthy of torture let alone death.  You see more and more weight being pressed upon him seemingly physically but you then understand it is more emotional and spiritual.  You then come to realize that it is the weight of your sin on that cross that Jesus is bearing.   Then one by one you see all of your sins being placed upon Jesus for all in the world to witness, see, mock and cajole. Your own breath is taken away as you let Jesus die for what you did and have done.  Jesus looks at you, in almighty love, and says I see no stain, no sin upon you, you are forgiven.

Where, Oh where is your pride?  Where oh where is your confidence!  Where oh where is your love of self.  Is it not decimated by the Loveing actions of the one and only true and living almighty God?  He is the loving architect of our souls and know what we need more than we do. Let us run to him this day for only He may be our refuge!

Mourn people, Mourn for your retchedness that you have performed! The actions that result in death!  Those lies that create a harvest of internal plagues.  Mourn as the sinful woman mourned over the devastated lives that we live.   But just as Ezekiel prophesied that Israel out of its dry bones God can and does have interest at you living yet again, not for yourself, but for Him.  it is when you live for Him and give yourself away that you will truly find yourself!   Then when the mourning is finished [AND IT WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE].

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

Let us know embrace the consequence that we may taste the full cup of our sin, that we might understand and do it no more and live to Christ, the redeemer and the very bearer of our sin, shame and guilt before the entire world and almighty God.  It may be involving more mourning over the sins committed as your see the ramifications and consequences occur.  Listen and read the following hymn and remember how Jesus bore your own personal sins on that cross to redeem you.  How much do you love Jesus Now?   He is Precious! So very Precious!  Let us mourn over what we’ve done to Him.  What I have done to Him!

Come and Mourn with me awhile -by Jars of Clay


O come and mourn with me awhile
O come near to the Savior’s side
O come together, let us mourn
Jesus our Lord is crucified

Seven times He spoke
Seven words of love
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O love of God, O sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O break, O break hard heart of mine
My weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were
Jesus our Lord is Crucified

O love of God, O sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with Love
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O come and mourn with awhile

A broken heart, a fount of tears
Ask and they will not be denied
A broken heart love’s cradle is
Jesus our Lord is crucified
Jesus our Lord is crucified
Jesus our Lord is crucified

Our Lord is crucified
And victory remains with love
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O love of God, O sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our Lord is crucified

posted by:-reformed

Song by: Jars of Clay – Thank you for this version [I wish I knew how to play this as it speaks to me so very much]

Posts on forgiveness : https://morningknight.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/forgiveness-what-is-it-day-4/

International News

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Archeology

Could lead codices prove ‘the major discovery of Christian history’?

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A Positive, Testable Case for Intelligent Design – Evolution News & Views

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For Darwin Day: False Facts & Dawkins’ Whopper

Has someone done something to you that has caused you extreme trauma?  Do you feel overwhelmed by the feeling of resentment?  Has someone done something to you as a result of you doing something to them, but you just never figured their feelings into your equation of factors and now they are retaliating which results in equal resentment back upon them?    I have experienced all of these, and even still!  I was for many years a sociopath and never really cared about the feelings of others so it came natural to me to simply do things that benefited me without taking into account the needs, or feelings of others as a result.  A healthy person cannot function in such a manner!

With that said, how do we overcome the resentment?   The feeling of personal betrayal especially when we ourselves are perpetrators of actions that cause resentment and possibly retaliation towards us.  It can be a seemingly vicious cycle.

Overcoming the Resentment

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but let me offer you some perspectives that have worked for me. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful as well. First, if the pain has come because you’ve been vulnerable and shared yourself, my “solution” is simple but certainly not easy. The only alternative to becoming cold and distant is to continually ask God to keep you warm to the needs of those you’re trying to help, even though you know you could be hurt badly again. It’s tough—almost a kind of crucifixion of your feelings.

But it’s part of what it means to be a Christian. It’s part of what the apostles meant when they wrote of our need to share the sufferings of our Lord. Every day we face a crossroads. We have to make a conscious, intelligent choice not to let ourselves slip into indifference towards others or in fact ones we inter-operate with daily.

We must once again put our lives and our reputations into the hands of our heavenly Father.  No matter what happens, no matter what mistake I make or what’s done to me, I can learn a lot from it. The most experienced and wisest people in the world are the ones who have made a lot of mistakes and faced a lot of adversity, but who have learned from each of those experiences.But perhaps the most important attitude in handling resentments, I’ve discovered, is to remember that ultimately, my life is not my own.

I’ve been bought with a price. If I start to think I’ve earned something—more freedom, a bigger salary, or greater respect—I’ll become resentful.

But I can only be resentful if I “think” someone has kept from me something I deserve. If, however, I see myself as a servant, a slave to God who deserves nothing, I have nothing to resent.I’ll admit the idea of being a slave, even to God, is somewhat repulsive. We live in a democracy, after all, and we’re jealous of our rights. When we talk of servant leadership, we would rather think of it as a method for accomplishing more, the way we perceive Japanese management perhaps, rather than as a condition of the soul. But that’s not what Jesus had in mind.

To be a servant is to give over all rights to your life to God. Then there’s nothing left for anybody else to take away.  The pain is always there, filling you with resentment, anger, and envy. The pain of the crucified self, on the other hand, is a deep, terrible, surgical pain. But once it’s over, it’s over. It doesn’t make you cry out anymore.

May God do that surgery in each of our lives. I’m convinced that when we come to that place, most of our resentments will disappear like fog in a morning sun. But even when our motivations and inner perspectives are healthy, there remain some key human issues that threaten our holy calling.

posted by:-reformed

my words and formations with quotes from Jay Kesler, vol. 13, Being Holy, Being Human

SOME time ago, in America, there were a gentleman and his wife who had a very happy home. The man was prosperous in business in the city of Cleveland, but there came a reverse in business, and the man lost everything he had in the world. The home was broken up; his eldest daughter had to go out to work for a living. His two boys were too young to work. His wife had to leave him and take the two boys and go away to one of the southern states to the home of a sister, and act as housekeeper to make a living for herself and boys. The father went to Chicago, to see if he could not retrieve his fortunes. He met with success and cheering letters full of promise of a brighter day were sent to the wife in the south. But one day she received a telegraphic dispatch saying that her husband was very ill, and that she had better come on to Chicago at once. She took the train.

It was a long journey. She reached Chicago at night and went to the hospital to which her husband had been taken.By some mistake, the authorities of the hospital said to her, “You cannot see your husband to-night; come at nine o’clock to-morrow morning, and you can see him.” With a heavy heart she went to the place where she stopped, and went back to the hospital at nine the next morning. As she rang the bell, they met her at the door and said, “Your husband died last night.”

She took him out and buried him, and so great was her loneliness and her sorrow, and so frequent her weeping, that it affected her eyesight. She went to a physician. The physician told her that it was not very serious, that she could go back to Mississippi and her eyes would soon be well. She supposed that he was a regular practitioner but she found out too late that he was a Christian Science physician, and was trying to cure her by making her think she was not ill.She went back to Mississippi. Her eyes got worse and worse. She went to a regular physician. He said, “Madam, your case is hopeless. If you had come to me a few weeks ago, I could have helped you. Your trouble has gone so far now that there is absolutely no hope for you. You will be totally blind.” In a few days she was totally blind—home broken up, husband buried, eyesight gone. She came on to Chicago.

She dropped into our church; she heard the gospel, she heard about Jesus. She came to Jesus with all her overwhelming sorrow, and Jesus gave her rest.If you come to the prayer-meeting at our church any Friday night, you will see sitting there a woman with a refined, beautiful face, dressed in black, eyes closed, perfectly sightless, but in that face you will see a serener and profounder joy than you have ever seen in many faces. Very likely, you will see her rise to her feet in the course of the meeting with a face radiant with the sunshine of heaven, and tell how wonderfully God has blessed her; and you may hear her say (what she often says) that she thanks God she has lost her sight, for out of her great trouble she was brought to Christ and found a joy that she never knew before. There is a place where there is a cure for every sorrow. That place is at the feet of Jesus.

How does this apply to us today?  Do you have sorrow, beyond that which you can muster strength?  I do.. Are you sorrowful to the point of despair?  I am… You see friends, I write on this blog as a method of preaching and teaching to myself and along with that perchance some may feel some association and glean comfort along with me.

Friends, we need to remind ourselves that the strength that we have is not our own and that which we seek to conquer our sorrows should not be from ourselves but from clinging to the true vine of Christ who will be the only one to wipe away our tears.  Stay at the feet of Jesus, pour your tears and tragedies to Him.  He will hear us, for He bore our guilt, our shame, and our very sorrow of soul and spirit.  Let Him break you apart, so that He may transform you into His very vessel of Love and comfort by which others may be comforted.

Posted by: -reformed

comments by me with direct quotation from R. A. Torrey, Anecdotes and Illustrations (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1907)

What is this thing that we call Easter?  What is it about?   Is it about a little bunny with eggs flitting about every year or is it more than that?  Is it getting a recieving chocolate and celebrating with your family time off of work or school with good behavior?  These are just traditions and days that have come from the corruption from what we have known as Easter.

It all begins and ends with Christ on the cross and the cross now being empty because He Has Risen!

EASTER, a word used in the Germanic languages to denote the festival of the vernal equinox, and subsequently, with the coming of Christianity, to denote the anniversary of the resurrection of Christ (which in Gk. and Romance tongues is denoted by pascha, ‘Passover’, and its derivatives). Tyndale, Coverdale and others give ‘Easter’ as a rendering of pascha, and one example survives in AV, at Acts 12:4 (‘after Easter’, where RV and RSV have ‘after the Passover’; similarly NEB).In the 2nd century AD and later there was considerable diversity and debate over the dating of the Christian Easter; the churches of Asia Minor for long followed the ‘quartodeciman’ reckoning, by which it was observed regularly on the 14th of Nisan, while those of Rome and elsewhere followed a calendar which commemorated the passion year by year on a Friday and the resurrection on a Sunday. The latter mode prevailed.  (1)

Easter is an ancient and important Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Originally called Pascha due to its association with the Jewish Passover, Easter is preceded by the 40-day season of Lent, typically a time of penitence and preparation. The early Church used the Lenten season as a time of preparation for baptism, administered at sunrise on Easter Sunday. The name “Easter” is derived from a spring festival honoring the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.The Quartodeciman Controversy emerged in the late 2nd century regarding the appropriate day for Easter observance. Rome observed the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. However, some Eastern communions, more keenly attuned to the calendar of Judaism, observed the Resurrection on the third day following the 14th of Nisan, the Passover. Since 14 Nisan, based on a lunar calendar, could come any day of the week, there was no guarantee that Easter would always be observed on Sunday. The Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.) finally determined that the Roman practice would prevail. (2)

Easter is the special celebration of the resurrection and is the oldest Christian festival, except for the weekly Sunday celebration. Although the exact date was in dispute and the specific observances of the festival developed over the centuries, it is clear that Easter had special significance to the early generations of Christians. Since Christ’s passion and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, the first Jewish Christians probably transformed their Passover observance into a celebration of the central events of their new faith. In the early centuries the annual observance was called the pascha, the Greek word for Passover, and focused on Christ as the paschal Lamb.Although the NT does not give any account of a special observance of Easter and evidence from before A.D. 200 is scarce, the celebrations were probably well established in most churches by A.D. 100. The earliest observance probably consisted of a vigil beginning on Saturday evening and ending on Sunday morning and included remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion as well as the resurrection. Evidence from shortly after A.D. 200 shows that the climax of the vigil was the baptism of new Christians and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. By about A.D. 300 most churches divided the original observance, devoting Good Friday to the crucifixion and Easter Sunday to the resurrection.(3)

Empty tomb and risen Lord

Matt (28:1–10)

The sabbath is over. It is the first day of the week. Mary of Magdala and ‘the other Mary’ go to look at Jesus’ tomb. The ‘other Mary’ is the mother of James and Joseph (27:56). Matthew has already told us that they are two women who watched as Jesus died and also saw where he was buried (27:61).There is a violent earthquake — as there was when Jesus died. An angel of the Lord appears, rolls back the stone from the entrance to the tomb and sits on it. The guards are paralysed with fear. Matthew attempts an imaginative description of the actual event — something from which the other Gospel writers hold back.The angel explains to the women that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. He shows them the place where his body had been laid — as they well remember. He urges them to tell the other disciples that Jesus is risen from death and will see them in Galilee.None of the Gospels describes the actual resurrection of Jesus. Matthew gives the most dramatic account of the events surrounding it, with a violent earthquake and dazzling angel. The angel’s appearance is like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. This is how some of the Bible writers describe the indescribable — the glory of heaven appearing on earth. This angel is God at work.As time goes by, there will be more sensational versions of this story, as people strive to convey a unique and world-changing event. Compared with these, Matthew’s account is relatively simple and restrained. Even so, he conveys the earth-shaking power and stunned bewilderment of the first Easter morning.As the women hurry from the tomb, Jesus meets them. Matthew doesn’t describe his appearance, but says that the women worship him and are able to hold his feet. He is present with them, alive and tangible.Jesus’ greeting is downbeat and informal, like saying, ‘Hello.’ He tells the women not to be afraid, and sends a message to his disciples, whom he calls ‘my brothers’. The denials and desertions of the last few days have done nothing to dim his love for them or change their relationship. He promises to meet them in Galilee.It is exciting that Jesus asks women to be his witnesses. Their evidence would not be allowed in a Jewish court. It is also striking that he prefers to appear in Galilee, rather than Jerusalem. The risen Christ is challenging assumptions about people and places.Matthew has already quoted Isaiah’s words about Galilee, which is regarded by strict Jews as cosmopolitan and corrupt:

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).

While Jerusalem rejects and kills God’s Messiah, Galilee is a place of new beginnings. (4)

What it means for us today?

Is Jesus the place for your new beginnings?  Are you at the end of your own self-importance and self-seeking to allow Jesus, the creator of all things to create in your a new direction for your life?  Trust Him and only Him for that today as you seek to prepare a time of celebration during this upcoming easter celebration.  Always remember, Jesus is no longer on the cross, He has risen and yet lives to be our ever loving, ever living savior.  He had strength and will enough to bear our sins to the point of his own voluntary death.  He has strength for you today!

Posted by: -reformed

Bibliography:
(1) D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed.

(2)David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers and Astrid B. Beck, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible

(3)Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

(4) Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed.

Conversion

As we approach lent do we understand what it is and what it means today for us as believers in Christ?    Lent is the English word (stemming from an Anglo-Saxon word for “spring” and related to the English word “lengthen”) that refers to the penitential period preceding Easter.

Early Christians felt that the magnitude of the Easter celebration called for special preparation. As early as the second century, many Christians observed several days of fasting as part of that preparation. Over the next few centuries, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–2), 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten season. Since, from the earliest years of Christianity, it had been considered inappropriate to fast on the day of the resurrection, Sundays were not counted in the 40 days.

Thus, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.In the early centuries the season before Easter was also the usual period of intense training for new Christians. During this period, the catechumens (those learning what it meant to be Christians) went through the final stages of preparation for baptism, which usually occurred at dawn on Easter Sunday. As the practice of infant baptism increased, the emphasis on Lent as a training period decreased.(2)

The conversion of Paul

In light of lent and the rapid approach of easter, are we preparing ourselves, both in our hearts and mind to understand the magnitude of our Lords sacrifice and resurrection?  Are we truly ‘converted’?  Do we know and understand what conversion really is?

What is Conversion?

Conversion is what man is called upon to do when confronted by the reality of our individual selves as we stand before almighty God.   It has two distinguishable but inseparable aspects which are like the positive and negative poles of a magnet.   The negative is “repentance” and the positive is “faith”.

Repentance is defined as a change of mind which will result in a turning to God. In order to come to God there must be a change of mind leading to a change of direction. Godly sorrow over sin leads us to abandon or repudiate our sin. In the OT, sj”n: (nacham) is used with respect to repentance. The word means “to pant, sigh, or groan.” From usage it developed the meaning “to lament or to grieve.” Usually used with God as its subject (Gen 6.6; Ex 32.14), but can have a human subject (Job 42.5-6). When someone else’s plight is considered it can have the sense of compassion or sympathy. When one considers his own actions, it can mean to rue or repent. In the New Testament, meta>noia is used and means to think differently about something; to have a change of mind. (Matt 3.2; 4.17; Luke 24.46-47; Acts 2.38) Metanoia includes the idea of not only turning away from sin, but a regret over one’s wrong doings and a resolve to abandon that sin.

Faith is defined as putting the full weight of your confidence in the Lord. A couple of words which demonstrate are used with respect to faith are aman (OT) and pisteuo. (NT). Aman in the Hiphal form of the verb means “to regard as firm, or trustworthy, to place trust in or confidence in.” It signifies one who has fastened his heart upon the Divine word of promise. One who leans upon the power and faithfulness of God knowing that He will bring to pass what He has said. PisteuÇ (piste>uw) means to believe what someone says, to accept a statement as true (1 Jn 4.1; Matt 8.13, cf. Mark 5.36 and Lk 8.50; Matt 9.28; Heb 11.6). This involves personal trust as distinct form mere credence or belief. This sense is usually distinguished by the use of the preposition “in” (eijs or ejn). (Mk 1.15; Acts 10.43; Matt 18.6; Jn 1.12; 2.11; 3.18; Acts 19.4; Gal 2.16; Phil 1.29; 1 Pet 1.8; 1 Jn 5.10, 13). The construction had special significance to the Jews, who regarded one’s name as virtually equivalent to the person. Thus, to believe on or in the name of Jesus was to place one’s personal trust in him. (3)

What it means to us today?

Have you given personal thought and consideration on how you are to prepare yourself in mind and heart before our God almighty as easter approaches?  This is the time of celebration of our Lords resurrection and conquering of death that graphically illustrates our new life in him that should be lived unto him.  Not in the death, mourning and decay of the debauchery of this world and what it esteems, rather in purity and all that is called truth and lovely from God Himself.  Let us think and do those things that would glorify Him.

posted by: -reformed

Bibliography:

(1) Erickson: Systematic Theology

(2) Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al., Holman Bible Dictionary

(3) Dr. Mapes: Luther Rice Seminary

http://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Songs-Jars-Clay/dp/B0007TFHHA

What is useless in your life today that is holding you back?   Back from what you ask….   Back from the most valuable thing you could ever possess.   A closeness to the one true and Holy God almighty.  Or perhaps a closeness to the one true gift, companion and helper that God has given to you?   Are there ‘things’ or even ‘valuables’ that have become useless or even encumbrances and barriers to those most valuable in your life?

There was a time in Israels span before their captivity when they found wealth and prosperity in Gold and Silver, and then came the judgement of God and they were thrust into captivity through the tool of Babylon.   Ezekiel record this in his account as he laments over the judgement and prophesies over Israel in their day of judgement.

19 They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing. Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity. 20 His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them.  (Eze 7:19-20)

Israel came to a point where they understood their folly, but all too late!  They understood it and threw their Gold, their Silver away as refuse because it is what kept them from the Lord Their God by forming it into their Idols and fostered their pride.  So it is with many things in our life.  It could be a job, position, power, wealth, activities, even the pursuit of wealth.  It all winds up as being part of the roots of all sin:

16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16) (ESV)

This day, ask yourself what is most important and then examine your day in the life and get focused and toss the noise, clatter and the encumbrances away so that you make progress towards valuing and pursuing those things that are important in your life.  Be careful to judge importance rightly along the way.  May our hearts and minds be unencumbered to see clearly what is of value in our lives and be free in mind and conscience to rejoice and pursue them to the fullest.

posted by: -reformed

Every day we have cares and anxious thoughts about life and personal challenges.  Does God mean for us to carry them around?

You know those things weigh us down each and every day and if you hang on to them all as if they were literally stones they

will simply keep you from moving freely about and moving forward with ease.  They will simply weigh you down until

your completely ineffective at moving forward.

God does not intend for us to be burdened and held ineffective with daily troubles.  Rather since He cares of us He gives us the key to what were to do with those anieties.  ‘Cast them unto Him’.

Read some of the following:

-25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt6:25-34)

-33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt 6:33-34)

– 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.   (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Have you really thought about 1 Peter 5:7?

Casting is not simply taking those thoughts nor those cares and setting them on your bedstand and then taking them up again the very next moment or day when you have the opportunity.

Casting is a word used to denote an active hurling of stones, to such an extent that you dont expect to get them back.  Let me ask you a question,”When you throw a stone into a lake, do you expect to get them back?”   I dont.

You see it is like this with our cares.  God knows they hurt and hold us back or down because of the pressure it emotionally places upon us.

Let us take our cares and hurl them to God, and not expect them back, because God understand and cares of us and He will in those things that we truly give unto him as well. How do we do this? How may we separate ourselves form our cares. We need to be convinced that God is who He says He is, one that cares for us and has ever interest in us that we should NOT care but for Him.

I’m learning slowly that holding onto them is due to pride, “is cause we think we can do a better job and we haven’t given those things to God, or that we just dont trust God as being Himself who has demonstrated his trustworthiness”. He wants and desires us to believe in Him because He is who He said He is. Trustworthy to care for us. Dont even think that I think ‘I’ve arrived’ just because I’m communicating these things! I’m seriously preaching to myself! I’m still learning and trying to even come to grips with really understanding how great God really is, but I thought to share my discoveries.

posted by: -reformed

What is faith?  Have you ever considered it?  Is it blind? Or should we have reason about it? Does it mean we blindly trust in something we do not know or cannot be known?  I’ve often thought this a very confusing thing in my life.

Gods word says,”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)   The Bible speaks about having a sincere trust and assurance in God because great strength comes from or emanates from God. (Read Zech 12:5 about how Israel were great because they knew that the Almighty Lord was their God).

 

Is the Lord God Almighty Your God today?   Look at all and reason all that He has done.

It si this trust and confident assurance that God is who He said He is.  He is great, He is almighty the maker of heaven and earth and that He indeed cares for each and every one of us!

Jesus, God incarnate, saw the little faith that people had and admonished them about their little faith (Matt 6:30,8:26,14:31,16:8). Then there was another that was not part of Israel whom Jesus ascribed great faith such that He had not even seen or witnessed in all of Israel.  (Matt 8:10) Read it for yourselves!  A centurion comes to Jesus for his servant that is paralyzed.  Jesus offers to go to him, but the centurion stops him and say that he is not worth for Jesus to come under his roof, yet just speak the word and he will be healed.

This Roman gentile got it!  He understood who Jesus was, the Lord, the maker and giver of all life.  He understood that Jesus has all authority on this earth and beyond because He is the creator of all.  Because of Jesus’ position He has authority to command and all of creation will obey just like that of a soldier under authority which the centurion knew so well.

The centurion command somewhere between 83-100 men.  he was not a wimpy milk toast that allowed himself to be walked over.  He commanded by respect and strength.  Yet in this situation he came to Jesus, humble not as a commanding officer in the Roman legion but as a humbled human seeking deliverance for his servant from the one authority that he could seek, the creator of all life.

There are times where we are ‘out of control’, in other words we don’t have control of the situation because were unable to influence it.  Thus we seek others for help because we are at our wits end or even perhaps the end of our will.  This is exactly where God wishes us to be so that He is able to show us who He is in our lives.

You see, that centurion had conviction that Jesus did have the authority to heal regardless of his geographical location because of Jesus authority.  Who is your trust in today?  Who do you trust your eternal authority to?  Darwin?  Perhaps nothing but pure chase?  The Bible was written as a document that is able to supply evidence and support detailed scrutiny of incredible detail.  The reason is so that we have both the evidence and information that we may be able to have that strength of will to believe God at His written accounts of His works. The written account are not mere fables as some might want you to believe, rather they are convictions from eye witnesses and written accounts to bring strength to those that follow.

Have great faith in God!  Seek him and His will in your life today! Read His word and listen to what He says to you though it.  Do what God says in his word.  Seek truth. Do justly. Live humbly before God and all men.  You will then have great strength to draw upon since the strength will not depend and reside within you but rather God!

posted by: -reformed

Do you feel abandoned when you go through trials. Do you know in your heart that you are His and He is yours?   Have you read  Isaiah 48 and how God talked to Israel and how Israel is His and He tries Israel through the fire to prove their worth for His sake and for His glory. Not for ours but for His.  I was touch in my heart to read this from C.H. Spurgeon.  Take a read and understand that when you are Gods he wishes to bring the finest out of you thus He tries you in the fiery furnace to prove your worth!  Do not think it is for your hurt that you suffer trials, but rather for Gods glory.

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”          — Isaiah 48:10

Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready—God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say—

“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,         I’ll follow where he goes.”

Quoted from Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged

 

Posted by: -reformed

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do Good things happen to Bad People?  Why such a dichotomy? Have you ever wondered? I have! For certain!  There have been many a day where i have been quite literally down in the dumps swimming in my own tears.  What should be our perspective?

Several years back, I was on a airplane flight for a business trip overseas.  I sat down and then just after I was joined in the same row right next to me by a Hasidic Jewish Rabbi.  He was an elderly gentleman advanced in age and had a soft gentle manner about himself.  When we took off I was prodded to ask him a question and that question ate at me internally until we just about landed 13 hours later.  What was that question that I was prompted to ask that I was so hesitant?  About 1/2 hour prior to landing I finally got up enough courage to ask this question, but only after we had several nice conversations about the Torah and things common to both Christianity and Judaism.  The question I was deeply yearning to ask was the following: “Why did 6 million Jews have to die in World War II?”.

This kindly older gentleman sat there stroking his beard for 15 minutes while he mused the question.  At this time it was about 15 minutes prior to our landing and I had thought I had totally made this man mad at me for asking such a question.  This man then shared with me his perspective along with his answer which simply amazed me and does so to this day.   You see He could have been bitter, angry or even hateful that someone could or would even ask such a sensitive question.   This man firstly thanked me for asking him that question as it has been one that he has hesitated to ask himself for many years surviving the holocaust himself from Europe.  He then went on to tell me about the miracle of the regathering of the Jewish people into the nation of Israel that occurred in May 1948.  He then went on to tell me that he believes that the Jewish people have been obstinate and disobedient to God over many years and thus dispersed across many nations and throughout the entire world.

He continued to reply that the Jewish people have never been able to be safe from hatred and have a boarder around them until May 1948.  The reason why this occurred is directly because (This is what the Rabbi stated) those 6 million Jewish people died in WWII.  The Jewish people needed  a safe haven of their own and thus Israel was re-born and a once dead language was revived into a major world language. These are simply one of the few things that helps us understand the miraculous nature of this event.

In my life I never expected an answer like this, especially from a Rabbi.

Over, the many years since I talked with this man, I have mused his answer and it exhibits a compelling humbleness about it.  Was it wrong for those people to due in WWII?  Absolutely!  Yet what we dont see are the results from it that are indeed for the good.

I have come to reason that things occur in our lives that are indeed allowed by God.  Now notice that I am NOT saying that they are made to occur by God, this is another topic unto itself we’ll take up later.  Rather these things that occur are allowed by God and they are allowed in our life to produce within us some type of result that will grow and manifest itself later.  Much like in Gods word in John 12:24 when it is spoken about a kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying it will not produce much fruit.

I dont really know what the ‘right’ answer is to my question I asked the Rabbi, but I received an answer that got me thinking hard about why bad things happen both to me and other people and then when I experience these things or see them occur, I then ask, “Lord what is it that you want me/them to understand or do as a result”?

Remember the disciples when they saw the man born blind.  John 9:1-5: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. {2} His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” {3} “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. {4} As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. {5} While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

We live in a world that is indeed influenced by Satan and evil.  God I do not believe is the originator or creator of evil or even of these bad things, but has allowed for their existence and allowed them to come into and touch our lives.  We are told that trials produce endurance. They bring a spiritual toughness to us.  (James 1:1-5 NIV)  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. {2} Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, {3} because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. {4} Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. {5} If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  Persecution causes us to turn to God many times.  (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV)  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. {12} Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We are encouraged in 2 Corin 4:16-18 “16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Let us NOT focus upon ourselves but rather focus upon God and the tasks by which He desire us to achieve to bring Him Glory.

posted by: -reformed

 

 

If the public eye should peer deeply into your life what would it reveal?  Would it reveal a good wholesome and completely moral character that a country could be proud to flaunt within the halls of the world leader scene?  Or would it reveal an unscrupulous conniver, and power hungry person that is seeking his own selfish ends?   Such was the public life of William Gladstone, yet with a heart, mind and will towards being wholly moral.

William Gladstone

“My political or public life is the best part of my life: it is that part in which I am conscious of the greatest effort to do and avoid as the Lord Christ would have me do and avoid.”  -William Gladstone

For William Gladstone, service in political life was a “most blessed calling.” He once said to Queen Victoria, “My political or public life is the best part of my life: it is that part in which I am conscious of the greatest effort to do and avoid as the Lord Christ would have me do and avoid.”

He was raised in an evangelical home, and as a young man, he dedicated his life to Christ. Before embarking on a political career, he seriously considered taking holy orders. But when he entered Parliament in 1832, he never looked back. His political career lasted over 60 years.He served as president of the board of trade, secretary for the colonies, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and for four different terms, the prime minister. Among his many achievements, he disestablished the Church of Ireland to free Roman Catholics from having to pay taxes to the Anglican church, supported an Irish land act that protected the peasantry, and achieved important reforms—competitive admission to the civil service, vote by secret ballot, abolition of sales commissions in the army, educational expansion, and court reorganization.

In spite of such success, he was a controversial figure. He was disliked by Queen Victoria and had many political rivals, including the great Benjamin Disraeli. Over many years, Gladstone gradually abandoned the traditional Tory beliefs on the importance of rank and privilege—beliefs Disraeli ardently championed. As their differences widened, Disraeli’s antipathy for Gladstone increased.When Gladstone became Chancellor of the Exchequer, Disraeli (the previous chancellor) refused to give him the traditional robes of office. Gladstone repeatedly asked for them, and Disraeli repeatedly sent evasive responses. (The robes never were sent, and today they are displayed in Disraeli’s home at Hughenden Manor.)

The ideals that informed Gladstone’s public philosophy were rooted in Judeo-Christian morality. Among them, he believed:• “The duties of governors [political officials] are strictly and peculiarly religious.… Individuals … are bound to carry throughout their acts the spirit of the high truths they have acknowledged.”• Politics was a “most blessed calling,” and Parliament a place where Christian principles could be applied to the “numerous measures of the time.”• “The value of liberty [is] an essential condition of excellence in human things.”• “Christianity [has] established the duty of relieving the poor, the sick, [and] the afflicted.”

Gladstone’s interests and gifts ranged beyond politics. He was a superb linguist and classical scholar. He was also a prolific author, frequently contributing to reviews and magazines. Articles on a variety of topics, including poetry, constitutional politics, economics, and church history, flowed from his pen.He loved the outdoors and believed in vigorous exercise. Moreover, though great demands were placed upon him, he often made time for personal philanthropy. In later years, he wrote several works in defense of the Christian faith. He once publicly debated the famous agnostic T. H. Huxley over the creation narrative in the Book of Genesis.“The grand old man” retired from political life in early 1894. He traveled widely and continued to write on a variety of subjects. Following his death in 1898, he was buried in Westminster Abbey. Of all of the many tributes offered in his memory, perhaps the shortest and simplest was the most eloquent.  He was, Lord Salisbury stated, “a great Christian man.”

Could this be said of you? Or do you have private and public haunts that will taint the legacy of what you leave behind?  Give all to the Glory of God including your legacy!
posted by:-reformed with personal comments with direct references from Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000)