Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Joshua 1

"Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful."
Joshua 1:8

Moses had been God's Old Testament people's leader for forty years.  Moses had now died, and Joshua was to be the new leader of God's people.  God's people were finally ready to cross the Jordan River and to enter the new land that God had promised them.

At his point in time God made a promise to Joshua in Joshua 1:5.  God said, "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."  God promised Joshua that He would always be with him each step of his life.  This might not necessarily be success in the way the world would define success, but Joshua would experience the bountiful blessings of the Lord's presence in his life. Everything in Joshua's future wasn't perfectly laid out and made clear to him, but Joshua was assured that he simply had to trust and follow the Lord.  The Lord would always be with Joshua, and the Lord would give Joshua His protection and love.

The Lord promises to always be with His children today also.  The Lord promises to never forsake His children.  He will always be there to guide and direct His children.  We simply need to follow Him in trust and obedience.  We need to fear nothing in this life, because the great and powerful God of the universe is our God!  God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:6a and He says to us today, "Be strong and courageous."

As children of God we have the assurance of the Lord's blessing on our lives, if we stay in the center of His will.  The best way that we can stay in the center of God's will is by immersing ourselves in God's Word.  We need to read God's Word, study God's Word, and meditate on God's Word.  Then we need to apply God's Word to the specific areas of our lives.  When we read and meditate on God's Word we need to individually ask ourselves three questions: What does this Scripture passage teach concerning God's perfect will for my life?  Where and how do I not measure up to God's standard for holiness in specific areas of my life?  What are the definite steps of action I need to undertake to be a more obedient and holy child of God?

God told Joshua and He tells His children today that we must be careful to heed and obey God's Word.  In Joshua 1:7b-8 God says, "Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful."

God's success and blessings in our lives does not include the lack of obstacles in our lives.  God has promised that His children will face some trials and difficulties, but God will bring good things out of even the deep trials of life.  Through these times we grow in our love and dependence on the Lord. Hence, God's children are commanded to walk unafraid through life, because the Lord is on their side.  God said to to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1:29 and He says to His children today, "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Matthew 11:25-30

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

The world today speaks of freedom and "doing your own thing."  The truth of the matter is that we are servants of someone or something.  We are servants of what or whom is most important to us in our lives.  Being a servant to anyone or anything but the Lord is a heavy burden to bear. Chasing after the things of the world is exhausting and lacking in fulfillment.  Those who love the Lord have learned the secret of freedom in the Lord.  They have learned that true freedom comes from being "yoked" to the Lord!  They have learned that true freedom comes from being a servant of the Lord!

Matthew eleven tells us that the Lord has chosen to hide His wisdom from those of the world who reject Him.  Such people may be "wise" according to the world's standards, but they do not have God's wisdom.  God chooses to reveal His wisdom to us, if we approach Him in humility as little children.  We can know the Father and be His child only through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It is all of grace!

Only a child of God is invited to come to the Lord with all his or her burdens.  The Lord says to His children in Matthew 11:28, however, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  We can come with our burdens of sin, and He will forgive us.  He gives us rest from the guilt and penalty of our sins.  The Lord also gives us rest from the worries and concerns of our lives.  He wants us to give those worries and concerns to Him and leave them with Him.  The Lord wants us to rest in Him.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 11:29. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Just as oxen in Biblical times were often yoked together to plow the fields, so we need to be yoked with the Lord.  Jesus is saying to us that He wants us to come to Him and be united in a personal relationship with Him. We need to be yoked to the Lord.

The Lord then will be right beside us, and He will walk the field of life with us.  Being yoked with the Lord involves becoming His child and servant and not doing our own thing,  It involves being submissive to the Lord's will.  This is the secret, however, to joy and peace.  Our Lord is "gentle and humble in heart," and He will provide for all our needs even when it seems that our world is falling apart.  This is true even when we cannot understand the Lord's working in our lives at the moment. The Lord wants to deliver us from the unrest of self-will and self-effort.  He wants us to find rest and peace for our souls by being yoked to Him.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:30, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  There is total commitment and servanthood involved in being a child of God, but the Lord's yoke on us is easy and light.  This is because even though our lives are filled with service for the Lord, this service involves lives of restful activity.  He is carrying the heavy end of our load.  The Lord is carrying us through this life.  He is directing and guiding us every step of the way.  He carries our burdens. He teaches us what we need to know about living for Him.  In spite of problems in our lives we need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and stay yoked to Him.  He is in control!  Praise His name!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Psalm 16

"You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing."  Psalm 16:2b

There is  nothing this world has to offer that can begin to compare to the joy of knowing the Lord Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  The Lord is our place of safety and refuge.  The Lord is our security. The Lord is our joy and peace.  The Lord is our all.  The Lord is our one and only good thing.  There is nothing meaningful outside of the Lord.

In Psalm 16:2 David said to the Lord God, "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing." In Psalm 73:25 the psalmist, Asaph, said to God "Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You."  Paul expressed a similar sentiment in Philippians 3:8a, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him." There is absolutely nothing in this world that can compare to the joy of our relationship with the Lord.

Those who seek joy, peace, and security outside of the Lord run into sorrow, frustration, and dead-ends.  Psalm 16:4 tells us that "The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods."  If we put anything or anyone ahead of the Lord in our lives, that person or thing becomes our god.  If we put anything or anyone ahead of the Lord in our lives; we will lose our joy, peace, and security.  Our lives will then consist of nothing but sorrow and frustration.  True joy can only be found in the Lord!

The Lord, however, has assigned His children a wonderful inheritance or portion in Him!  David said in Psalm 16:5-6, "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."  The Lord alone is our "delightful inheritance"  and "portion."

Those who do not know the Lord are running around madly looking for joy and security in the useless things of this world.  Joy, peace, and security are only the rightful inheritance and portion of those who are in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord God is all that we need, and He must ultimately become all that we desire.  The Lord alone fulfills. delights, and satisfies.

The Lord is also our help and counselor in the dark and difficult times of life.  David said in Psalm 16:7, "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."  The Lord is our help, and He instructs us especially during the difficult times of life.  There is joy and peace in Him during those challenging and dark times of life.  Therefore we can say with David, "I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 16:8) Our security  and sense of well-being need never be unsettled or disturbed, because we belong to the Lord!

As a child of God our hearts can be glad and full of joy.  Our tongues can sing the Lord's praises, and our very beings can be at peace and resting securely in the Lord.  Further, we have an eternal future with our Lord!  There is no security or joy like this found anywhere else but in the Lord. Only in the presence of the Lord and in our relationship with the Lord can we find this kind of joy, peace, and security.  May our prayer to God be, "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."  (Psalm 16:11)  Living in the Lord's will and presence is the secret to joy, peace, and "eternal pleasures!"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Matthew 6:25-34

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns; and yet your heavenly father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin."  Matthew 6:26-28

Outside of my living room window I have a bird feeder.  It is a joy to watch the birds come and feed at the feeder during the warm months of the year.  They seem to be very busy and industrious but free and unencumbered by fear or worry.  The Lord commands us in Matthew chapter six to be more like the birds that He has created.

In verse twenty-five the Lord tells us not to worry about our lives.  We are told not to worry about the day to day necessities and needs of our lives.  The Lord tells us to look at the birds.  The birds do not do all the anxious things that we do to protect our security.  The birds work diligently, but they are not anxious and worrying in the midst of their activity.  In spite of this fact, the Lord takes care of even the birds of the air!  He says to us, "Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26b)  If God takes care of the birds, we can be assured He will take care of our needs also.

We can not always see the end from the beginning in the circumstances and events of our lives, but the Lord has our entire lives planned out from beginning to end.  What is there to worry about when He is in control?  We simply have to trust His goodness and leading.  The Lord goes on to say, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)  Worrying accomplishes nothing.  It does not add a single minute to our lives.  In fact, anxiety and worry may subtract from our lives.

Worry is not good for us physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  Worry is also sin.  If we are worrying we are making something else more important in our lives than the Lord.  What we are worrying about has become our idol and more important than God in our lives.  When we worry it is sin, because we are not trusting God's promises to always be with us.

In this Scripture passage the Lord goes on to tell us to look at the flowers of the field.  The flowers are not worried or anxious, but "not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." (Matthew 6:29b)  If God takes care of all these things in His creation, will He not much more take care of our needs?  We are commanded not to worry about our daily needs.  The world is anxious about these things.  We, however, have a Heavenly Father who cares for our needs. The Lord knows what we need better than what we do ourselves!  The Lord's command to us is "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day had enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)

We need to trust out Heavenly Father, as a child trusts his or her earthly father.  We need to cling in trust to our Heavenly Father.  His grace and strength for us will never run dry.  We need not worry about tomorrow, for the Lord has today and tomorrow in His control!  We need to throw all of our worries on the Lord, and we need to leave them there.  There is great freedom and joy in serving the Lord, if we are not engaging in needless worry.  We can trust the Lord even if our lives are going through a time of upheaval.  He is leading us and has the master plan for our lives. We serve and awesome God!  Praise His name!