Archive for the 'Bible' Category

25
Jan
10

Six Questions

 

Any English or Journalism major will tell you there are six important questions you need to ask when writing or investigating a story. They consist of five W’s and one H:

  • Who (was involved)?

  • What (happened)?

  • When (did it happen)?

  • Where (did it happen)?

  • Why (did it happen)?

  • How (did it happen)?

These six questions, whether in news style, research, or any investigation, form the basics tools of information-gathering. They represent a formula for getting the “full” story on something. For a report to be considered complete it should answer all six questions. So, if we’re going to give the full story, if we’re to be able to relate what we believe to others, we must be able to answer the five W’s and one H of the Gospel.

 The first of the six questions is:

 

“Who?”

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  

Acts 9:4-5

Who are the main characters involved in the above passage? Jesus Christ and Saul of Tarsus. Saul was on his way to Damascus, on orders from the High Priest to arrest some followers of a new Jewish cult, when he is stricken by a bright appearance, causing him to fall to the ground and hear a voice call out to him. Saul is confused and asks an important question (the same question we must answer if we are to understand the full story of the Gospel): “Who are you, Lord?”

If we are to have any success in sharing our faith with others, we must answer that same question for ourselves. Who is Jesus Christ to you? Your answer to that question colors your clear understanding of the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ. Well, you might say, “Jesus is my Savior”. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” He is God’s only begotten Son.” He is the Lamb of God, who takes away my sins.” All of those are accurate enough, but it’s not enough to just say words, you must know, in your heart that He is exactly Who Scripture says He is, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. He was fully man, so He completely understands everything you struggle with as a person. He understands hunger, fatigue, lust, temptation, etc. But unless this is a settled matter in your heart; unless your knowledge of this comes from an unshakable conviction of the truth it contains, than you do not truly know who Jesus Christ is. So, I again ask the question: Who is Jesus Christ to you?

Now we move on to the next question we must answer to understand the full story of the Gospel:

 “What?”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 

Acts 9:6

Saul next question is, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” We must answer this question too, if we’re ever to fully understand the Gospel fully. What does Jesus Christ want you do with your life? He sent Saul on into Damascus, blinded. Jesus may want you to stop seeing things as the world does (blindness) and see things, perhaps for the first time, as He sees them. See the sin in your life, as He sees it. Feel the pain it causes, as He feels it. Speak out about the lifestyles you see around you, regardless of what it may cost you.

An example of this kind of courageous behavior was displayed when on a recent panel discussion on Fox News, commentator, Brit Hume made the following statement regarding the predicament pro-golfer, Tiger Woods, finds himself in:

“The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

A great many people immediately declared this the most outrageous thing they’d ever heard and denounced it as evidence of everything from chauvinism and bigotry to outright stupidity.

  • Jon Stewart used Hume’s words on the Daily Show, to mock and demean Hume’s convictions.
  • News commentator Keith Olbermann condemned Hume for trying to “threaten Tiger Woods into becoming a Christian.”
  • News commentator David Shuster suggested Hume had belittled his own religion by discussing it on a talk show.
  • A Washington Post TV critic mocked the idea that Christians should “run around trying to drum up new business” for their faith, unless of course “one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize.”

 

Mr. Hume simply shared what he thought Jesus Christ wanted him to do (i.e. testify to the truth of the Gospel). What does Jesus Christ want you to do?

Our next question to consider is:

 

“When?”

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Mark 13:3-4

Four of His disciples ask Jesus “When will these things be?” Jesus just described the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and they basically ask when it will happen and when will Jesus usher in the Kingdom they so long for. We must ask ourselves when we trusted Christ. It’s important to know when you yourself trusted our Lord, not to the day or hour, but that it happened. The Gospel tells us Jesus will destroy sin’s reign over our lives, but we must ask the question when. When will we start living like we’re dead to sin? When will we start acting as we should toward our family, friends, or the world? And if we’ve not trusted Christ as Savior, then we must ask ourselves when will we?

The fourth of our six questions is:

 

“Where?”

And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Luke 8:24-25

In this passage (and in the other Gospel accounts of this event) the disciples ask a couple of questions: Don’t you care that we are perishing? Who are you that you’re able to control the natural elements? The question we need to consider though is the one that Jesus asks: “Where is your faith?” The disciples had heard Jesus teach about the power of faith and even observed Him heal Peter’s mother-in-law. They walked so close to Him, yet didn’t understand what it meant to have faith. “Oh, ye of little faith,” is how it’s translated elsewhere. Jesus asks them (and us) where does your faith reside when you’re afraid, when you’re overwhelmed, when you’re pushed to your limit? Is your faith in Jesus (Philippians 4:13) or is still in yourself? You can’t begin to share your faith until you’re completely certain as to where is your faith resides.

The last of the five W’s is:

“Why?”

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  

Mark 10:17-18

Note the question Jesus asks of the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good?” The young man wanted to be sure he had eternal life, in case he’d left something out.  He comes to Christ and calls him “good teacher” (a formal greeting, not a true estimation on his part). He had an intellectual recognition of Christ as an instructor, but Jesus asks him if he recognizes the true Lord standing before him. He was underscoring that man’s goodness isn’t comparable to God’s absolute and undefiled goodness. Jesus was asking if he could see the Messiah, the Lord, standing before him. If we’re to be effective in sharing our faith, we must understand why Jesus Christ is the only One Who can save us from our deserved fate. Why do you call yourself a Christian? Have you truly, unreservedly, totally given your life over to Him as your Master, or are you still holding something back. Why is Jesus the only One capable of bringing you salvation?

Now we move to our final question:

“How?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 

John 3:3-4

Nicodemus asks “How can a man be born…a second time?” Jesus has told him he must be born from above to get into the Kingdom. In effect Nicodemus asks: “How can I be born again?” And that is the final question in our investigation of the full story of the Gospel that we must be able to answer. We must be able to explain that one must accept the fact that we deserve nothing more than death and eternal separation from God. We must be able to believe that God sent His only Son, out of His magnificent love, to die in our place. We must confess (agree with God) that we are sinners, and can do nothing, of ourselves, to escape our fate. It is Jesus who saves us.

GB&G2U

16
Jan
10

A RIGHT TO BE RIGHT?

AGREE? or DISAGREE? 

 

 

Have you ever been slapped into attention by a particular topic from the Bible? I have! The topic was forgiveness. In the short span of about two days, I heard two of the godliest men I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from teach on that very topic. You can’t ignore that kind of divine poke in the ribs! This all led me to begin considering forgiveness in light of a particular perspective.

Do we have a right to be right?

If we know in our heart that we are right (scripturally, morally and intuitively), what rights do we have? Consider some the answers I found:

I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

John 10:30-33

 

While ministering in Jerusalem, the Jewish authorities attempt for a third time to stone Jesus. He had just asserted that He and the Father were one; in effect, claiming His deity. What He’d said was most certainly the truth, but how did the authorities of the day respond to such truth? They sought to kill Him. Did Jesus remain and assert His right to be right?

Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

John 10:39-40

 

Jesus withdrew and went into a place beyond the Jordan River. Jesus understood God’s timing. He knew that standing toe-to-toe at this point in time, even with the certainty of His authority, would be manifestly unproductive. Sometimes, even when you are right, it’s better to withdraw rather than press your point. I didn’t like that as a solution. You see, when I am right, I can be so very good at being righteously indignant. However, I was compelled to consider these passages a little further.

Where did Jesus go? He withdrew to Perea, where John had preached and baptized Him before Jesus opened His public ministry. I found it ironic that Jesus went to a place identified with a special defining moment in His ministry. He returned to Perea, where His public ministry began, just before He would, for the last time, turn His face toward Jerusalem and His ultimate death. Like Elijah, Jesus went to a place of beginnings. Just beyond the Jordan was a place of descents or endings. How ironic, or was it? You see Jesus did nothing apart from the perfect Will of God.

If we name Christ as our Lord, we are to follow His example. Paul urges just that in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he challenges us to imitate him (Paul), as he also imitates Christ. In Matthew 16, Jesus calls us to follow His example in very dramatic terms.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24

 

What Jesus demands from His disciples, and from us, is total commitment. This was a call to full surrender, a call to life-or-death devotion to Christ. In light of this, I had to return to my initial question: Do we have a right to be right? What rights do we have? If God were to ask, would you give up your right to be right? Would God ever do that?

He does every time He calls us to forgive and reconcile with another brother or sister in the Lord. When it comes to forgiveness, we have no rights to stand on. We are not in ourselves worthy of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of us through Christ demands that we forgive others. End of argument. The right to be right collapses before the matchless power of grace, because grace brings responsibility and obligation. Jesus put no limitation on the scope to which we are to forgive each other. The reference to “seventy times seven” in Matthew 18:22 is not a limitation, but rather an illustration of going way beyond what we think is humanly possible.

To what lengths are you willing to go to forgive and be reconciled? Would you be willing to walk away from a situation before your right to be right led you to commit sin? Would you be willing to give up your right to be right? Which is more important: being right or being obedient to the gracious command of our Lord?

GB&G2U

08
Jan
10

The House

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Matthew 7:24-25

AGREE? or DISAGREE? 

 

You never know how well a house is built until it is tested by the weather. Rain reveals the character of a roof.

Friends of mine in Houston experienced this first hand as the remnants of a hurricane dumped sizable amounts of water on their homes and businesses. Wind and cold temperatures reveal how well a house is insulated. Anyone who has sat next to a drafty window in a windstorm knows this. Heat and sun reveal the quality of the paint and outer siding.

 All of these are external elements. What isn’t necessarily seen is the foundation. Whether it’s solid or insubstantial, it will ultimately reveal if you have a secure and lasting dwelling on your hands.

Similar arguments can be said to apply to our relationship with each other as members of the body of Christ. You never know how strong a relationship is until it is tested by the pressures of living. The seasonal rains of sorrow and pain can reveal how well a relationship will withstand conflict. The wind and cold of those times when you’re not speaking to each other reveal how well a relationship is insulated against the selfishness we are all capable of at times. The heat and sun of the day-to-day pressures of life reveal the quality of a relationship to the viewing public, who seem to always be looking for our Christian paint to start cracking and peeling off.

Then there are those little things that creep into a house or a relationship that reveal its security.

         

You may have the best Schlage or Kwikset locks on all the doors, but until the typical pests like ants, cockroaches, rodents, etc. challenge a house, you don’t know its true internal integrity. We’ve fought with ants before; they are a given where I live (the running joke is that the old Indian name for our community roughly translates to “built upon ant hills”). I look at them like the occasional irritations that come into our lives and friendships. You certainly don’t like them around, but aside from the inconvenience, they really are dealt with fairly easily and quickly. However cockroaches and rodents are something else. They multiply quickly. They do much of their damage in secret, but inevitably begin to drop evidence of their existence in the little messes they leave behind.

         

At one point we were attacked by cockroaches and rodents at the same time. We called the exterminator out and he set the traps and sprayed, but we share a common wall with our neighbor, so all we may have done was chase the little critters next door. The same situation can also occur in relationships, especially if as Christians we remember we share a common wall with brothers and sisters in the Lord.

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:26

 

If we let things into our lives that do not glorify the Lord, we obviously harm ourselves, but there is still great potential to damage our relationships within the Church. Each believer is a part of His body! Even upon confession and removal of a private sin from our lives, our previous actions may have succeeded in introducing our little pest into our friends’ lives. The Bible is specific in how we are to deal with sins in our lives (1 John 1:9). And there is no privacy with sin as far as God is concerned (Luke 12:2-3). Sin has significant consequences. And all sin is against God and the Church, Christ’s body. David understood this when he cried out after being confronted by Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba.

Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

Psalm 51:4

 

All our relationships, as believers, are to be examples of Christ-likeness. Do you really want to invite rats and cockroaches into your homes? Then why would we invite those things into our relationships that are just as secretive and just as destructive?

Take some time to examine the foundations of your relationships, especially with those you hold near and dear to your heart. Are they strong enough to the storms of weather life and all the natural assaults that will come along? How do we react when the trials come? Do we worry? Do we get angry? Do we take our lives into our own hands instead of committing them to Him, who should always be in control anyway? How do we handle sinful things that want to creep into our relationships? Are we hospitable to them or do we aggressively drive them out before they get a foothold? Christ uses these times in our relationships to help us recognize whether our foundations are upon sifting and changing sand or solid, immovable rock. 

GB&G2U

19
Dec
09

Hooking Up

In the summer of 2001, CNN reported on an Independent Women’s Forum study of college-aged women. The forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational group, conducted a nationwide study over an 18-month period of time, surveying the attitudes of 1000 young women. The results indicated that almost 40% of the women responding described themselves as “virgins.” At the time, the study cited an unspecified number of these young women preferred “hook-up” relationships to dating. Hook-ups were described as encounters that ranged from casual kissing all the way up to sexual intercourse, where neither participant expected any further commitment from the other party. The study also revealed that 53% of those responding thought it was a good idea to live with a person before deciding to marry them. Results from studies like these always disturb me, because they are a direct attack by the enemy, attempting to undermine God’s purposes for an entire generation. Today I am involved teaching a fellowship of Christian men and women from this generation who are now raising their own families and issues of purity are now important to them.

As I write this, the Christian world is caught up in the preparations for Christmas and focusing on Christ’s birth to a virgin. Whether in the Old Testament Hebrew or the New Testament Greek, the Bible defines a virgin as a person (either male or female) who has had no sexual intercourse. In today’s culture, staying sexually pure (in thought, word and deed) is looked upon as way outside the normal scope. Our world would have us believe that “everybody does it” and the study’s results (remember, not even four out of every ten young women asked describe themselves as virgins) supports that. We live in a society that believes casual sex is natural, healthy behavior. Over half the women questioned thought living with someone before you got married a good idea. When I read these things, I’m grieved by the spiritual ignorance exhibited. But then this has been the bane of Bible-thumping, Christians throughout time. Aren’t I over reacting, just a little bit? After all, this has been going on for a long time, and we’re no worse off as a people, right?

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

 

Paul expressed to the Corinthians his desire to see them presented as a wedding partner to Christ. As such, he wanted them to remain pure while waiting for the marriage day. To describe the passion of his feelings Paul uses a Greek term from which we get our word “zealous”. Paul had an intense fervor over them and their behavior. The responses of this study make me just as zealous for the purity and sanctification of the present generation! Studies, like the one above, remind me that I’m not doing enough.

In the passage above, Paul also uses the word chaste. This is an archaic word in today’s culture, but basically means inwardly pure, especially as it applies to conduct, how we act toward ourselves and others. It means untainted by sexual impurity, not just in action, but in desire and imagination as well. To be sure, sin has an external component, but purity and chastity have their inception internally. The Apostle John underscores this when he reminds us about the worldly enticements of the “lust or the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.”

2 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

One of our duties to this world is as defenders of what is pure and holy. Combating worldly attitudes and influences over things like casual attitudes about sex and relationships is our war. We cannot let the guard down for one moment. Yet, Peter calls on us who have accepted the name of Christ to be holy in our fundamental character and behavior as Christians so that we are peculiar, in contrast to the lifestyles of the unsaved. Not in a priggish, sanctimonious way, but in genuine distinction. We are to reflect the wholesome and winsome nature of holiness that causes the world to be genuinely attracted to us and the Lord and Savior we serve. We are to be holy, not just practice holiness, because we are now redeemed by God, the holy, just and pure creator of the universe!

GB&G2U 

12
Dec
09

Evolved or Created?

Hebrews 3:11

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

 

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

Time Magazine’s cover for the July 23, 2001 issue declared: “How Apes Became Human.” The opening paragraphs of the story, “One Giant Step for Mankind”, established Ethiopia as a harsh environment today, but a lush landscape some 6 million years ago, and went on to declare Ethiopia as the very cradle of the elusive “missing link,” all but completing the evolutionary chain: 

“…And it was here too that nature indulged in what was perhaps her greatest evolutionary experiment…” (emphasis is mine)

From that statement, some “higher authority” (nature in this case) conducted an evolutionary experiment that resulted in a new breed of ape that walked upright! Nearly 15 years after the term “intelligent design” came into the collective vocabulary of America (Edwards vs. Aguillard, 1987), everything I’ve heard since then in the great evolution vs. creation debate always rebukes we feeble-minded Christians for our staunch insistence that an intelligent being, out side of man (God, Almighty in our case), guided all of creation into existence. However Time Magazine was doing the same thing; giving nature anthropomorphic (or humanlike) characteristics (feminine in gender), with supernatural powers, in order to better depict the creation of human life. In this article, nature is described as giving into an unrestrained desire (to indulge) by exercising both will and intellect in performing a scientific activity designed to prove or discover a fact or law (an experiment).

This article, and many more since it was published, demonstrates even the secular mind is unable to escape the self-evident fact that all creation couldn’t just have happened through a trial-and-error happenstance of chance as proposed by the evolutionary theory. And let’s be clear right from the beginning, it is a theory; “an assumed hypothesis, unproven speculation, used to advance a set of principles for the sake of argument or investigation.” Nowhere in that definition do I see that theory is accepted, proven fact. It is, by definition, only assumed as true as to make an argument plausible.

This schizophrenic denial of God (an almost pathological hatred of anything that points to a creator, while acknowledging some external power at work in the creation of mankind) was brought back to me while I was channel surfing the other night. I paused on one of the CNN affiliated stations, where the Joy Behar show was airing (December 1, 2009). Ms. Behar, a comedian, writer, actress and now talk show host (thanks to her popularity on the ABC show, The View), was interviewing comedian Louis Black (careful, Mr. Black’s website IS NOT PG) when the topic of former 2008 Republican primary presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s stand on creation came up. Both judged Huckabee mentally unstable for his belief in creation over evolution. The attack was not only unwarranted, but in poor taste and left me profoundly saddened. Not for any affection on my part for Huckabee as a personality, but for the unequivocal rejection by these two souls of anyone who was deluded enough to believe in something as intellectually bankrupt as a literal, Biblical creation account.  

But it is that very account, in the first chapter of Genesis, which begins the entire salvation narrative, when it says that God created the heavens and the earth, the creatures of the sea, the land, the sky and mankind, male and female. How did God do it? Throughout the Biblical account, it states, “God said…” It was God’s word, His rhema, the spoken words of the Creator that declared creation into existence!

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Just look at everything around you. God constantly supports, upholds and nourishes the earth and all upon it. Creation itself boldly proclaims God’s awesome power and glory. Remember, God started with nothing. The author of Hebrews underscores that the earth, eternity and time itself were all part of creation, brought about by God to fulfill His perfect will. And, as certain as we are that He did indeed create the earth and all the universe, we are just as certain He will bring it all to His desired conclusion. Nothing can inhibit the completion of what God started in creation and in you (Philippians 1:6). We trust in God’s sovereign power, as He created the world and then, through the saving power of our Savior, Jesus Christ, redeemed us to further carry out His will.

When was the last time you gave God praise and glory for His creation? How often do you stop to appreciate the delicate yet complicated way you’ve been created? Consider how you play an important part in God’s will. If that doesn’t give you a reason to be excited about the faith that is within you, I don’t know what will. Then, think of those individuals blinded by this world and its system of lies and rejection. Think of the Joy Behars and Louis Blacks, who cannot accept that an almighty, compassionate, and holy God created them. You may have friends or family in the same frame of mind. Pray that God will continue to soften their hearts to the Gospel message and redeem them as well. As difficult as that may seem to you, it’s not a challenge too big for the Creator of all things!

GB&G2U

04
Dec
09

Know God

 Agree or Disagree?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace…

Hebrews 13:8-9a

The Sunday School teacher held up a copy of a  magazine from a local Sunday paper.  The cover story asked, “Is God All in Your Head?”

The article went on to tantalized readers with the suggestion that science may have the first ever snapshot of God (proof of the existence of, as the author put it, a “higher reality”). The article went on to chronicle the work of a contemporary scientist who had studied the functions of the human brain, and quoted other scholars, scientists, a few mystics and even some nominal Christians on what it was to experience a higher reality.  However, the single most authoritative source that could have been used to support God’s existence, the Bible, was nowhere to be found in the article.

Can we really know God?  Can we personally know Him?  Ask anyone who’s had a fervent prayer request answered and they’ll tell you, God exists!  As the title of one of Francis Schaeffer’s works proclaims He is “The God Who Is There.”  Perhaps a better question would be what might we know about God?  In Deuteronomy 33:27, we’re told that God is eternal, without beginning or end, infinite, and unlimited by time.  How awesome to think that the God Who Elijah knew, Who led Joseph into Egypt, and gave Daniel incredible wisdom is still working in our lives today.  And there’s no chance that He’ll be leaving any time soon.

Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:19 that we suffer according to God’s will and confirms God’s faithfulness by calling his readers to “commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” By “souls” Peter means our very breath of life, our living beings.  By committing our souls or lives to God, we put them into God’s hands, on deposit, for safekeeping. The incredible thing to me is that He is there, everyday, ready for me to come to Him in prayer or for quiet time, even when I forget.  God never forgets us. He knows us like the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16).

He’s is our faithful creator. Hymn writer Thomas Chisholm gets one of the lines for his hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” from James 1:17, telling us “there is no variation or shadow of turning” with God. From where we sit, everything changes. Nothing stays the same for long.  Friends become distant. Parents grow older. You’ve changed. You’re not the same as you were last year.  I’ve changed, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Everything on this planet changes, but God is constant: He is changeless.  He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow!

In Exodus 34:6 we find that God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth…” He shows us kindness without regard to our worth or merit.  Longsuffering means God is slow to anger.  God is patiently waiting for us to ask Him for His mercy, to partake of His grace, to be overwhelmed by His goodness and to be uplifted by His truth.

What may we know about God? Plenty! Have you open God’s Word lately just to consider that He has always been there and always will be there for us? Have you truly entrusted your life into His hands or do you constantly take it back, trying to do it all for yourself? Have you discovered, through His Word, the wonderful comfort that God does not change? Have you gone to Him in humble supplication to ask for His favor, even though you know you don’t deserve it? God wants you to know Him. He wants you to explore and discover the rich treasures of His perfect will. However you must be willing to take steps, daily, to meet and know Him better.

GB&G2U

28
Nov
09

Peaks and Valleys

AGREE or DISAGREE:

 

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him…

Luke 24:13-16

Have you ever gathered with fellow believers for some intense fellowship around God’s Word? Perhaps it was while you were at a camp or on retreat or some such excursion. And as your time together draws to a close you leave with high hopes and a resolve to live life differently. However as time goes by, those extraordinary feelings and high hopes that an experience like that can produce often beginning to dim. You might even begin asking yourself if everything you thought you’d committed to do was in reality just a lie. DON’T DO THAT!

The afterglow we experience after a spiritual “peak” is an important part of our lives. However, when it starts to fade and we begin to recede into a spiritual “valley,” it doesn’t mean our past resolve, convictions or decisions become any less real. We all must come done the mountain top, and continue our lives in the valley. Once we return to real life, we’re right in the middle of Satan’s element, the world. In the valley, Satan has plans designed to destroy the work God has achieved in our hearts. Satan wants to challenge our dreams of walking closer to God right out of existence. And he will use whatever he can to do just that.

That’s exactly what faced the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus had turned their world and lives upside down in a very short matter of time. Nothing would ever be the same again. He made them believe they were capable of doing much more than anyone had given them credit for in the past. But when the high priests and Romans had seemingly won the day, killing the very Son of God before their eyes, they were at a loss. They began to drift and doubt (John 20:24-25).

When we’re hit by a setback, we reel, we’re caught off-balance and we begin to doubt our stability. Often we long to go back to a time we could count on. As believers we need to be steadfast, constant and faithful to what Christ has done in our lives (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). We must keep our focus on Him, as the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). It is Christ alone Who can help us through the valleys we find our selves in so soon after the mountain top highs of the recent past.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.  

John 16:7-15

The lyrics of the song “Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman reminds us that Jesus is looking past the way things appear and in to our hearts. God’s will for our lives is to become more like Christ. As we make progress toward that goal, let God the Father, through His Holy Spirit, comfort you, guide you and strengthen you. He has an ultimate purpose even for the struggles you found as you returned home (Romans 8:28). He can take these challenges (here for a short season) and turn them into stunning victories for His glory.

GB&G2U




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