Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blessed Christmas!

(I am publishing my weekly post a couple days early this week because of the Christmas season.  I also will not be posting next week.  The next post will be on or around January 7.  Use this time to read some of the older posts.)  

Friday will be Christmas.  It is a day when we celebrate the birthday of our Savior.  It is a day when we worship Him as our Lord and King.  It is a day when we remember that He left the glories of heaven to come to this earth to live a perfect life for us and then to die on the cross to pay for our sins!

In my blog I am slowly working through passages of both the Old and New Testament alternating between the two of them.  Since it is Christmas week, however, I am going to direct you to a post that I already published in October.  It is based on the passage in Matthew 2 about the Wise Men coming to seek the new born child, Jesus, the Savior.  You can either scroll done to the October 22 post or click the link below to read this.  May the Lord bless you with a blessed Christmas and new year, dear reader.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Numbers 13 and 14

"We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes." Numbers 13:3b
"If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us-The Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them."  Numbers 14:8-9

If we put our trust in the Lord and follow His leading for our lives, we need to fear nothing.  He will protect us, and He will be with us at all times.  The Lord has a perfect plan for our lives, and we can rest unafraid and at peace in our Lord.

In Numbers thirteen and fourteen God's Old Testament people, the Israelites, were at the border of the land of Canaan.  It was God's will for His Old Testament people that Canaan would become their new homeland.  Before they were to go in and possess the land, however, God said, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.  From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders." (Numbers 13:2)  Because of God's command twelve spies were sent out to search out the land of Canaan,

The spies found the land of Canaan to be a very fruitful land.  In fact, at one point in their explorations of the land "they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs." (Numbers 13:23) The size of this grape cluster alone should have indicated to the spies the goodness and trustworthiness of the Lord who had promised to give them this new land.  What an exciting and encouraging report about God's provision and goodness these spies could have brought back to God's people.

Sadly, this is not what happened, however.  Two of the spies did bring back an encouraging report, but ten of the spies returned defeated and fearful.  These spies said, "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it did flow with milk and honey!  Here is the fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large." (Numbers 13:27-28)

Caleb, one of the good spies, tried to encourage the people; but the ten spies continued to insist that God's people could not go in and possess the land.  They said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are---- All the people we saw there are of great size---We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:31,32b-33)

The two faithful spies continued to try to encourage the people and said, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and He will give it to us---The Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them." (Numbers 14:7b-9)  The people chose to heed the words of the ten spies and to ignore the words of the two spies, however.  Hence, because they lacked faith in the Lord's provision; God's people had to wander around in the wilderness for forty years.  It was not until that generation died and their children were grown that God's people were able to enter and possess the land of Canaan.

Are you and I looking at the giants in our lives, or are we looking at our Lord who can overcome the giants in our lives?  Ten of the Old Testament spies looked at the giants of the land and were overcome with fear.  Two of the Old Testament spies saw the same giants of that land, but they looked to their God in faith.  They knew the giants of the land were large, but they also knew they served a God who was far greater than any giant.  They also knew they served a God who was faithful to His promises to always be with His people.  Relying on our own resources causes us to see the giants in our lives.  If we are looking to the Lord in faith and resting in Him, however; we have certain victory over the giants of our lives.  Our God is faithful!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Numbers 9:15-23

God was leading His Old Testament people to a new land which He was providing for them.  In order to reach this new land they had to go through the wilderness.  While God's people were in the wilderness the way was unknown to them, and the Lord had to guide and direct their steps. God had promised His people that He would always be with them, and God kept His promise. God gave them daily food from the sky in the form of a kind of bread called manna.  God also directed them and guided their every movement.  God directed them with a cloud by day and a pillar of light at night. The cloud was always above their tabernacle, and it was a symbol of the Lord's presence.  The tabernacle was their tent church which could be picked up and moved when they were directed by the Lord to move.

"Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.  At the Lord's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped.  As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in the camp.  When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord's order and did not set out." (Numbers 9:17-19)  God's people had to depend on the Lord day by day  and moment by moment for His direction and guidance.

We too as God's people are walking through the wilderness of this life.  We are headed for our eternal home!  The Lord knows and has planned every detail of our lives, and He is directing and guiding our every step along the way.  We can be absolutely certain of His guidance each and every day of our lives.  He says to us in Hebrews 13:5b, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."  He also promises us in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you and watch over you."

It is important that we follow and wait for the Lord's direction, and we must not seek to solve a problem situation in our lives in our own way.  We also must not lag behind the Lord, and we must not delay to act when He has made His will clear to us.  We will have a greater sense of the Lord's guidance, as we spiritually grow in Him.  Hence, we need to spend time in prayer and reading God's Word.

There are times in the wilderness of this life when we will be asked to wait.  The Israelites must have become impatient at times, when God made them just wait.  Numbers 9:22 tells us that "whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out."  The wilderness was obviously a less than desirable place for the Israelites to be, but in spite of their impatience they needed to wait for the Lord's direction to move on.

Sometimes we are kept waiting by the Lord also.  We may be in the midst of a very difficult situation or trial in our life.  Perhaps with every fiber of our being we desire that difficult situation to be resolved.  We must not run ahead of the Lord, however, and seek to resolve the situation with our own resources.  We must wait in submission on the Lord.  Sometimes this waiting on the Lord is a short period of time.  Sometimes it can be years in duration.

The Lord knows what He is doing by sometimes allowing certain difficult situations and circumstances in our lives.  Through those difficult times we often grow the most spiritually.  We must be submissive to the Lord's will and rest in Him.  We also must move out in obedience when the Lord clearly directs us to do so.  Sometimes this involves leaving our comfort zones for other areas of service.  God's will is always best, and we must follow it.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Matthew 5:13-16

"You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Salt was a precious and very valuable commodity in Jesus' day.  Especially at that time in history salt was valuable as a preservative against decay.  It was also valuable as an antiseptic or a healing agent.  Even today salt is considered valuable as a seasoning.  Salt adds flavor and zest to our food.

Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth.  Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:13a. "You are the salt of the earth."  As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are a valuable preservative against evil in this world. We also need to be an agent of healing in this world.  Our Christ-like influence should be making an impact for Jesus Christ on those who do not know the Lord.  As salt adds flavoring and zest to food, our lives should radiate our joy and zest for serving the Lord and for bringing glory to His name.

Yet another quality of salt is that it makes one thirsty.  Are we making others thirsty for a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Finally, salt is poured out of a container.  We also need to pour out our lives in service to God and others.  If we lose our "saltiness" we will become worthless, however.  Matthew 5:13b reminds us "if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." If we seek to blend in with the world and to become just like the world in our values, attitudes, and life styles; we lose our "saltiness" or influence for God in the world.

Jesus also says to us in Matthew 5:14a, "You are the light of the world."  We must shine like bright lights for Jesus Christ in this dark world of sin.  In fact, the darker the world becomes in sin; the brighter the lights of our lives must be in comparison.  There are many different kinds of lights used for many different purposes.  We must shine for Jesus Christ wherever we have been placed in our small corner of the world.  We must not seek to hide our lights.  Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  We must not seek to adopt the world's standards and values.  You and I must let the joy, purpose, and light of our personal relationship with the Lord shine before others.  Others must see Jesus Christ in us through our words, actions, and our character.

May it become our passion to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world."  May we never lose our "saltiness" or seek to hide our lights for Jesus Christ.  May others truly see Jesus Christ in us!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Matthew 5:1-12 Part Two

(I am posting this week's blog post earlier in the week this week, because I will be away from my computer for a few days this week, Lord willing.  Next week's post will hopefully be on December 3.  Be sure to read last week's post on the Beatitudes as well.)

The word "blessed" in the Bible means joyful.  Blessed or joyful are those who are serving the Lord and walking in His paths.  Blessed and joyful are those who are showing Christ-like attitudes in their characters.

Jesus says to us, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7)  Joyful are those people who show kindness and concern for others.  God will show His mercy back to them. Merciful people are unselfish and try to help others in every possible way.  They are willing to forgive others.  Mercy is shown in kind deeds and in humble and patient attitudes.  Mercy is shown in concern for other people's physical and spiritual needs.  Merciful people are able to be merciful to others, because God has shown mercy to them.  God sent His own Son, Jesus, to redeem them from their sins.  Hence, they have a desire to show mercy to others.  In the measure they show mercy to others, God will show even more mercy to them!

Jesus says to us, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)  Joyful are those who are one hundred percent sold out for the Lord, "for they will see God."  They will see and understand God's glory and His love.  They will experience the joy of a deep fellowship with the Lord.  Those who are "pure in heart" seek to be holy, and they deeply desire to serve God alone in their lives.  They understand that the Lord has cleansed them from their sins by His grace, and they now want to live for Him.  They want to serve the Lord with their whole heart, soul, and mind. Those who desire to be "pure in heart" know they are dependent on the Holy Spirit's help.  They also seek to immerse themselves in God's Word and in prayer.  Such people truly "see God" and experience the joys of belonging to the Lord!

Jesus says to us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9) Joyful are those who are living holy and righteous lives and who are telling others about Jesus.  They will be called God's children in His forever kingdom!  Peacemakers have themselves made peace with God.  Their sins are forgiven, and the Holy Spirit helps them each day in their struggle against sin.  Peacemakers also seek to lead others to make peace with God. They do this with their words and with their humble Christ-like attitudes in their lives.  Finally, peacemakers seek to maintain peace with others; and they seek to help others make peace with their fellow human beings.  Peacemakers understand that Jesus is the only source of peace. They understand that Jesus died to give us peace.

Jesus says to us, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)  Joyful are those people who are mistreated, ridiculed, criticized, rejected, or treated even worse; because they are living for God.  They can be joyful in even these circumstances, because such people are part of God's forever kingdom!  God says to those people who are willing to suffer for Him, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven," (Matthew 5:12a)

Joyful are those people who seek to live for the Lord's glory and reflect His character in their lives. Joy is not found in worldly possessions of fame.  Joy is found only in a personal relationship with the Lord.  Joy is found in becoming more and more like Jesus in our attitudes and characters.  May this be our passion and desire!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Matthew 5:1-12

One of the most beautiful sermons that Jesus ever preached is called the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is recorded for us in Matthew chapters five through seven.  A particularly beautiful section of the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes all begin with the word "blessed." Blessed means joyful.  The Beatitudes portray a picture of the attitudes which need to be in the heart and life of a believer.  These attitudes are also a source of joy which the world can not comprehend. The world thinks happiness comes from power, position, or material gain.  The Beatitudes point out that true joy comes only from the Lord and from serving Him.  The Beatitudes show us that true joy comes from showing Christ-like attitudes in our lives.  These are attitudes which are also pleasing to the Lord.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) Joyful are those who know they are sinners and who know they need Jesus for their salvation and well-being.  Those who are poor in spirit do not imagine themselves to be spiritually self-sufficient. They know they deserve nothing except hell, and they know they are hopeless and helpless without the Lord.  Those who are poor in spirit have recognized their own insufficiency and have cast themselves on the the Lord and His all-sufficiency.  In Christ they have found everything they need for time and eternity.  Hence, they are spiritually rich and "theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)  Joyful are those people who are deeply sorry and sad about their sins.  Joyful are those who turn from their sins and run to the Lord for forgiveness.  To those people God will bring His forgiveness, comfort, and joy!

Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5) Joyful are those who see how holy and righteous and worthy God is in His character.  Hence, they are humble and meek before the the Lord.  Meek people are not proud.  They are humble, because they know God is holy. They also know they are sinful in themselves.  Meek people do not want their own selfish way, but they desire to follow God's will for their lives.  Meek people are willing to be taught and corrected by the Lord, so they can better live for God's glory.  Meek people are also gentle and patient in their relationships with others.  Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is being strong with God's help and under His control.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)  Joyful are they who continually and fervently desire God's way in their lives.  They fervently want and desire to become more and more like Jesus in their characters.  They have a deep desire in their hearts to serve Jesus in all they do.  Those who deeply desire righteousness in their lives "will be filled."  God will wash away their sins.  God will also help them to grow spiritually and to become more and more like Jesus every day.  Those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" will find their joy in pleasing the Lord and not in other things.

Joyful are those who recognize their sins and mourn over their sins.  Such people when they run to the Lord in repentance for their sins will find His forgiveness, joy, and comfort.  Joyful are those who forget about themselves and are filled with an earnest desire to and please the Lord.  Such people will be filled with God's joy and peace.

(We will continue with our study of the Beatitudes in my next post.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Exodus 3

God had assigned Moses an important task.  That task was to lead God's Old Testament people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.  To be able to accomplish this Moses first needed to confront the great king or Pharaoh of Egypt.  That would be a huge undertaking for Moses, and Moses was afraid.  Moses began to make excuses for not being able to do the job which God had given him to do.  Have you or I ever found ourselves making excuses for not following the clear leading of the Lord in our lives? When God gives us a clear command or assignment we must obey.

The first question that Moses asked God when God gave him his new assignment was "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"(Exodus 3:11).  One can understand Moses' hesitancy to undertake this assignment which God had assigned him. Pharaoh was a cruel, heartless, and dangerous man.  The task of confronting the great Pharaoh of Egypt must have been a frightening thought.  Also the thought of leading the huge nation of Israel out of Egypt must have seemed like an overwhelmingly daunting task to Moses.  But Moses was asking the Lord the wrong question.  Moses should not have asked, "Who am I?" The real question should have been, "Who is God?"

Earlier in the chapter in Exodus three God had already demonstrated His holiness and power to Moses.  God had already told Moses, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." (Exodus 3:6a)  Moses should not have been focusing on his own inadequacies, but he should have been focusing on the holy power of the Lord to help him. Moses should have been focusing on the faithfulness of the great God who had been faithful to His people in the past and who promised to be with Him in the future.

When Moses said to God, "Who am I?" the Lord replied, "I will be with you." (Exodus 3:12a)   When the Lord calls us to a certain job, He promises us the ability to do the job.  The Lord also promises us His presence.  The presence of the Lord with us each step of the way throughout this life is a very sure reality!

But Moses continued to resist God's call.  Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them,'the God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me 'What is His name?' Then what shall I tell them?" (Exodus 3:13).  Moses was really asking God, "What kind of God are you?"  God's answer to Moses was "I AM WHO I AM." (Exodus 3:14a)

"I AM WHO I AM" is and was the name for the Lord God.  This name demonstrated the Lord's character as a faithful and dependable God.  It was a name that revealed the Lord God's desire for His people's complete trust in Him to always be with them and strengthen them.  God is not just a God of glory and power.  He is a faithful God who completely gives Himself to His people.  The Lord is an unchangeable God in His faithfulness and sovereignty.  As He was with His people in the past, He will continue to be with them in the future.

Moses did become the leader of God's people.  Moses learned that his strength had nothing to do with himself.  Moses learned that his strength was wholly dependent on the Lord and His faithfulness.  He learned the secret of bringing His burdens to the Lord and leaving them there. Moses learned the secret of the Lord's equipping power for anything the Lord asked Him to do. Today God says to us also, "I will be with you." (Exodus 3:12a)  He will be with us wherever He asks us to go and in whatever He asks us to do.  Are we willing to follow the Lord's leading in obedience and trust?    

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Psalm 8

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth."  Psalm 8:1 & 9
"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of Him, the son of man that You care for Him?"  Psalm 8:3-4

What a great and awesome God we serve!  David said in Psalm 8:1, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"  We see God's glory and majesty in His provision of salvation for us. We also see God's glory in the awesomeness of His creation all around us.  We see God's glory in the vastness of outer space and in the perfect alignment of all the planets.  We see God's glory in the multitude of galaxies in the universe and in the multitude and glory of the stars.  When we think of the majesty and awesomeness of our God, we should burst out in song and praise to Him.  Psalm 8:2 says that God has "ordained praise" even "from the lips of children and infants."  God does this to "silence the foe and avenger."  Because of God's glory shown in His creation, the Lord evokes the praise of even little children.  Hence, Satan's powers are silenced!

The psalmist, David, goes on to say in Psalm 8:3-4, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of Him, the son of man that You care for Him?"  Meditate on the wonder of God's love  for us.  The great God of this awesome universe is "mindful" of us, His children!  We are but a speck in the vastness of of God's creation.  In spite of this, the Lord is "mindful"  of us!

Being mindful of us doesn't just entail the Lord being aware of our existence.  Rather, the Lord loves us with an eternal love and cares about all our needs.  He loves us so much, that He even knows us each individually by name!  John 10:3b says, "He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out." God, the Father, loves us more than anything else in all His creation; and He proved that love by coming to this earth in the person of His Son, Jesus.  He loved us so much  that He was willing to give His very Son as a sacrifice for our sins, so we might have eternal life!

What is even more astonishing is that the great God of the universe has crowned us, His children, with glory and honor and dominion over everything else in His creation!  We were created to rule over God's creation and to bring glory and honor to the Lord in the process.  Nothing else in all God's creation was created to consciously bring glory and praise to God.  Only humans were created in God's image.  Only humans were placed on this earth to  reflect the Lord in our character, attitudes, and actions.

Sin temporarily spoiled our ability to do this.  However, because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins and the Holy Spirit living in us, we can once again begin to live holy lives for the Lord's glory!  We alone of all God's creation have eternal souls which can and must be lived for the Lord's glory.  This is our purpose and reason for being on this earth.  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  (I Corinthians 10:31)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Matthew 3:1-12

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."  Matthew 3:8

In our world today which emphasizes a "You're okay and I'm okay" mentality, sin and repentance is not a popular topic.  God's Holy Word is the final source of truth, however, and it tells us that we are desperate sinners in the need of God's grace.  It also tells us that we need to turn from our sins to repentance.

In our Scripture passage today John the Baptist was preaching in the desert.  It was John the Baptist's job to prepare the way for the soon coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  John's message was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."  (Matthew 3:2)  Many people came out to John the Baptist in the desert.  These people came to John confessing their sins, and they came with a repentant heart.

There were two groups of people who came out to John the Baptist in the desert, however, who did not have a repentant heart.  These two groups of people were called the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were legalistic and religious leaders who thought they could earn their own way into God's favor.  They also felt that they had a good standing with God, because they were part of the established religious order of the day.

The Sadducees were a more politically minded and worldly group.  Both groups were smug and content in their own self-will, self-efforts, and self-importance. Neither group saw their own sins, and the need for repentance from their sins.  John the Baptist perceived that the Pharisees and Sadducees had unrepentant hearts.  John said to them, "You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:7b-8)  In effect John was saying "Turn from your sins, and show by your lives that you are truly repentant!"

We also must show repentance from sin in our lives.  Repentance from our sins involves turning from sin and going in the opposite direction in our lives.  True repentance involves a change in our hearts which in turn results in changed lives.  Repentance involves deep sorrow for our sins. True repentance also involves turning our lives around and following God's paths and will for our lives. We must show in our lives that we belong to the Lord.  Our life styles must match our professions. We must truly show the fruit of God's Holy Spirit in our lives.  Our lives must exhibit "fruit in keeping with repentance."  (Matthew 3:8)

John the Baptist warned the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:9-10 about the need for repentance.  Their status as religious leaders and descendants of the Old Testament saint, Abraham, did not automatically entitle them to God's favor.  The only basis for salvation is the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  The only basis for our salvation is our throwing ourselves at the feet of the Lord and relying on His grace.  We need to turn from our sins in repentance and turn to the Lord.

Church membership and the fact that our parents were Christians will not bring us favor with God. Our own perceived "good works" certainly will not win us favor with God.  Only if we see the depths of and depravity of our sins and sorrowfully run to the Lord in repentance can we experience favor with the Lord.  Only when we turn our lives around and go down the Lord's path can we experience the Lord's eternal favor and blessings.  This life is not about portraying an image like the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to do.  It is about daily turning from our sins in repentance and living a life that is consistent with the will of God.  Is our lives producing "fruit in keeping with repentance?" (Matthew 3:8)  May this be our passion and desire!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Matthew 2:1-12

"They bowed down and worshipped Him."  Matthew 2:11b

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, magi or wise men came from the east seeking the Christ child. When they arrived in Jerusalem they asked, "Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."  (Matthew 2:2)  The Magi were not part of the religious order of God's people of that day by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, God's people at that time would have considered the Magi to be pagans.  Notice, however, the Magi were coming from a long distance to worship and bow down before Jesus Christ, the Son of God!  The Magi recognized Jesus Christ as worthy of their worship.  Meanwhile, the religious people of that day were basically ignoring the birth of our Lord.

Where is Jesus Christ in our lives?  Are we daily seeking a deeper relationship with Him?  Do we have the zeal and desire of the Magi to bow down and worship Him?  "Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2a)  What would be the answer to that question in our lives?  Is Jesus both the Savior and Lord of all areas of our lives?  Is He Lord and King over our careers, families, and our daily pursuits and habits?  Has He made a difference in our character and attitudes?  Is Jesus Christ and our desire for Him our consuming passion?

When the Magi came to Jerusalem asking about the Lord Jesus, King Herod and all the people of Jerusalem were upset and in an uproar.  Herod and the people did not want their prized security disturbed.  They prized the security of their daily routines and pleasures above the Lord Jesus. They were seeking and not finding peace in this world.

Peace, however, is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ!  We must be on guard against making the world's pleasures and securities more important to us than our relationship with the Lord.  We must be daily seeking to grow in our love relationship with the Lord through the reading and obeying of His Holy Word.  We must also daily seek the Lord in prayer.

The Magi came to worship the Lord Jesus.  This caused them a great deal of effort, time and sacrifice on their part.  Apparently, however, the Magi felt it was essential to come and worship the Lord Jesus.  We also must daily take time to commune with Him and be occupied with the Lord.  We may and must go to Him with our needs.

We must also thank Him for our blessings.  We, however, must further be occupied with the worship of the Lord Jesus.  Our entire lives must be a sacrifice of praise, thanks, and worship. Notice the Magi brought no gifts to the reigning King Herod.  They brought their gifts to the Lord Jesus.  More importantly, they brought their worship and their lives as a sacrifice of praise to the Lord.  It must be our passion also that our lives will be a sacrifice of praise to the Lord.  "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of Gods' mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship."  (Romans 12:1)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Psalm 1

Blessed and joyful are we who love and revere the Lord!  Blessed and full of joy are we who obey the Lord and seek to do His will.  Living in a loving and obedient relationship with the Lord is the secret to an abundant and purposeful life.  Joyful and fulfilled are we if we do "not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers."  Psalm 1:1b)

Blessed are we if we do "not walk" or order our lives in the "counsel" or so-called wisdom of the world.  Sometimes the wisdom of the world can sound so logical at first glance.  That's why we need to immerse ourselves in God's Word and in His wisdom alone, and we must not fall for the "wisdom" of the world.  We must not "stand" or station ourselves with those who do not love the Lord.  We must not "sit" or settle ourselves with those who reject the things of the Lord.  This does not mean we shouldn't ever associate with non-believers, because God wants us to be a witness to those who do not know Him.  We, however, must not be caught up with sinful life styles and philosophies.

Blessed and full of joy and purpose are we, if we delight in God's Word.  Blessed are we if we meditate on God's Word.  Meditating on God's Holy Word involves thinking about God's Word with the intention of obeying God's Word.  We must be seeking the guidance of God's Word, so that we can live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Our study of God's Word must involve more than an intellectual understanding of God's Word.  Our study of God's Word must lead to convictions and wisdom in the things of God.  Our study and meditation of God's Word should lead us to become more like Jesus in our attitudes, thoughts, and actions.

If we are truly seeking the Lord's Holy Word for His wisdom and guidance, our lives will flourish and be successful in God's definition of these things.  Our lives will be spiritually fruitful. Psalm 1:3 says of of the person who delights in and obeys God's Word, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither.  Whatever He does prospers."  If our lives are ordered by the Lord; we have joy, peace, stability, and spiritual growth in our lives.  We also experience true Godly success in our lives, because our lives have purpose and meaning in the Lord!

As the Lord's children, we are like trees each uniquely planted where He wants us to be planted. God has a purpose and plan for planting us where He has planted us in this life.  Maybe we would wish to be planted elsewhere than where the Lord planted us, but we must be content and fruitful where God has chosen to plant us.

God provides for us His "trees."  He plants us "by streams of waters."  He provides us the strength and nourishment we need to grow and flourish spiritually in Him.  We must drink from His Word regularly, so that we become all that the Lord wants us to be in His kingdom.  We must be trees that are spiritually fruitful.  Our "leaves" must "not whither," but they must show forth the beauty of our Lord Jesus!

Those who do not know the Lord Jesus are "like chaff that the wind blows away." (Psalm 1:4b) There is no stability or purpose in their lives.  God's children, however, have stability, security, purpose, and peace.  "For the Lord watches over the the way of the righteous." (Psalm 1:6a)  We need not fear what tomorrow will bring.  The Lord has a purpose and plan for our lives today, tomorrow, and next year.  Even if we go through difficult times, the Lord will be with us.  We can trust His perfect leading and will for our lives.  We can and must rest in the Lord's will and promises in His Holy Word.  Praise His name!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Psalm 119:1-16

Welcome to this new blog!  I originally had the devotional blog "Moments With God" at another place online.  Because of some changes there, I have decided to move it here.  This blog will be mostly from some devotional writings I did for my children and grandchildren some years back.  I hope you will find this post and future posts a blessing.  Find the first post below:

"I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sing against you."Psalm 119:11

Reading, studying, and meditating on God's Holy Word is basic to our Christian walk.  We would not think of neglecting food for our bodies, and yet it is sometimes so easy to neglect our Bible reading and prayer life.  It is necessary to read God's Word, however, so that we are able to live our lives for the Lord as we ought.

Meditating on and obedience to God's Word is necessary for our emotional and spiritual well-being. "Blessed are those who whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord,  Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart." (Psalm 119:1-2

Blessed means joyful.  It is the happy condition of those who love the Lord and really want to serve Him.  The world will not give lasting joy.  Material possessions will not give us lasting joy.  Our love relationship with the Lord, however, will give us lasting joy.  As we grow in our love for the Lord, our joy also increases.  This is a joy that one can have even in the midst of of problems, disappointments, challenges, and sorrow.  Only in fellowship with the Lord and in our love relationship with the Lord can we have that joy.

We cannot grow in our love relationship with the Lord, however, without studying and reading His Word.  We need to hide God's Word in our hearts.  God's Holy Word keeps us from unnecessary sins. God's Word keeps us on God's path.  The Lord's path is not always the easiest, but it is always the best and most joyful path for us.  God is infinitely wiser than we are.

Furthermore, by hiding God's Word in our hearts we begin to understand the vastness of His love for us.  We begin to understand the number of promises that He has made to us.  We begin to see that He is a faithful God, and we begin to see that His will and timing in our lives is always best.  Psalm 119:14-16 says, "I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word."

There are so many beautiful promises and truths in God's Holy Word that are so directly applicable to our lives!  Some parts of Scripture are more difficult to understand than others, but the writer of this devotional has found some wonderful promises in places of the Bible where one would least expect them.  There is always something new and fresh to be found in the Bible, as we read and seek to apply its truths to our lives each day.  The Lord is so good!

The writer of this devotional has also found it helpful to pray Scripture in her prayers to the Lord. What better way to approach the Lord?  Hiding God's Word in our hearts adds joy and peace to our lives.  God's Word also helps to direct our steps.  We can absolutely count on the truth of every word in Scripture.  Luke in Luke 1:4 said that he wrote the book of Luke and Acts "so that you may know the certainty of things you have been taught."

Let us take our quiet time with the Lord seriously.  Let us dig into God's Word and apply its truths to our lives.  Let us grow in our love of the Lord through our study of His Holy Word.