Psalm 30–God is With us in all Circumstances

Our faith is often stretched in times of trials. So when the circumstances of life turn dark–while we are unhappy, miserable or grief stricken–we are also focused upon God. We seek his provision, we beg for his restoration. We evaluate our choices and confess anything that may have come between us and the Lord.  We stand truly focused upon our dependence upon him.

Then, when life turns around and we see his favor; we start out very grateful–but soon we become confident in our own abilities, and set God on the shelf; ready to captain our own ship again.  God makes it clear that he is Lord in all circumstances.  It is never God that changes focus. He is always leading us toward becoming free people.  He never wants us to try to run our own show–that invariably ends poorly.  He wants us to enjoy the times of peace and prosperity with the same intensity we focus on him in times of struggle.  He simply wants us to trust him and allow him to be the lead, in all circumstances.  

If we can follow David’s lead and make our journey focused upon God and not our circumstances–then, we will be joyful. We will be at peace in the good times and bad–knowing God is with us in both.  We will never be surprised or feel abandoned.  We will simply live grateful, focused lives; with our end goal to be like him, and join him for eternity! He is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever!!!

God Bless You

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave,[a] O Lord.
    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
    Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to you, O Lord.
    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will you gain if I die,
    if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
    Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
    Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Psalm 23–The Master Shepherd

One Psalm has comforted God’s people for thousands of years–Psalm 23.  In this Psalm, David captured the essence of God’s relationship with the people that he loves. The relationship between a shepherd and his sheep was like none other.  David knew that–he was a shepherd. Like Moses before him, David was primarily trained in the art of leadership by herding sheep.

Sheep were stubborn, not so bright, completely dependent on the shepherd for food, safety and direction; but, always tried to do things on their own–and, the result would be awful.  Shepherds had to be brave, alert and focused on their flock.  It was critical that they keep close watch, be selfless and be ready to lay their life down for the sheep.

God was and is the ultimate shepherd. All we, like sheep, have gone astray–Isaiah 53:6. God has cared for us and directed us.  He has put himself between us and the enemy.  He leads us, provides for us and protects us despite our stubborn and independent nature.  He is the one that stands in the breach between us and our enemy–ever vigilant, always ready and always committed to our safety and well being. God Shepherds us simply because he loves us…no other strings attached! We are so blessed to be loved by the Master Shepherd.

God Bless You

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 22–Our Blessed Savior

Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm.  In short, it is a prophetical psalm of the sacrifice our Savior made for our lives. No one can truly understand the depth of sacrifice our Savior must have endured; until we realize that Christ did not dread the torture of his sacrifice.  Christ did not dread the actual physical death–no, he dreaded being separated from the Father! After an eternity of constant fellowship, Christ endured the spiritual separation from God that epitomizes hell.  In that separation–there was no rest, no end to suffering and no hope.  It was the truest emptiness anyone could endure.   

In that reality, our hope lies–we now need not live separated from God.  God demonstrated his love for us–in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8. He endured the cross and the spiritual separation, so that we would not have to.  David articulated the emotional side of the sacrifice. But we can express the true joy of knowing he is our Savior. In this season where we celebrate his birth, only those who know him and understand why he was born that Christmas day; can truly embrace this gift as the real and greatest Christmas gift of all.

God Bless You

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[c]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Elohay Selichot – God Of Forgiveness: Nehemiah 9:17, Ephesians 1:7, I John 1:9

God wanted nothing more than to be in fellowship with men.  Men’s stubborn need to sin and to be independent from God became a recurring theme throughout human history.  As a result, since men did not reach out to God, He had to reach out to us.  To make that a reality, God had to forgive us of our sins.  The name “Elohay Selichot” means Our God forgives! What a beautiful description of the truest symbol of love he has demonstrated in the history of man.  

Men have sinned and worshiped any and all manner of created things to avoid the submission to God. the Bible records time after time when God reached out; and men simply turned away. Still, despite our continued inability to grasp God’s Love, He still forgives us.  He demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ deed for us. (Romans 5:8). His forgiveness is not a goal or treasure to be earned–it is a gift, simply to be received.(Ephesians 2:8-9) (Romans 6:23)

In our lives, the treasure of simply trusting God, and allowing Elohay Selichot; (the God who forgives) to restore that relationship in our lives; is freeing and transforming.  We are no longer in bondage to sin, but are free to walk faithfully and humbly in our Father’s shadow and allow him to make us the people he intended us to be. Behold, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation–the old is gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5 :17)

God Bless You

Nehemiah 9

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.

Ephesians 1

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

I John 1

9 If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness

El Elyon-(God Most High)–Genesis 14

The study of the names of God ultimately brings one back to the most glorious truth–God is most high.  There is no authority greater.  While it is easy to say, grasping the concept that God literally controls everything is nearly unfathomable. When one approaches God in prayer, there is not an option to speak to a supervisor.  He is the most powerful, the most knowledgeable, the singly most important being in the universe.

When Abraham saved his nephew from the battling kings in the valley of Jordan, he was met by the King of Salem and the king of Sodom. When he met the King of Salem (Melchizedek)-the king was also the high priest of El Elyon–God Most High! In humility, Abraham gave as an offering–1/10th of the treasure he recovered, to say thank you.  Abraham knew the victory was won at the direction, and with the help of the God who was large, and in charge.

Conversely, he was offered treasure by the King of Sodom, and he flatly turned it down. Abraham knew–1. the treasure was not his to give, and 2.  It would come with a price. The latter king had no authority or power–and would later be destroyed–due to his sin and evil. 

This scenario continues to play out in our lives still today.  We face trials and tests and are confronted with the opportunity to trust El Elyon, or, we can trust the world leadership.  Without doubt, It is El Elyon that carries all the authority and power.  We should, as Abraham, humbly bow to the God Most High.  

But we are chased by the world and promised untold riches and power.   Those promises ring very hollow.  The world powers are as unstable as the world itself. They possess no real authority, nor do they have any real power other than that granted by God.  We are, therefore, reminded, like Abraham, to seek God–El Elyon.  Jesus said it best in his Sermon on the Mount, “Seek first the Kingdom of El Elyon and his righteousness; and, all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33. If we will seek God first, then, we will be going to the top and receiving all from the only true authority, God Most High!

God Bless You

When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household. Then he pursued Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them at Dan. 15 There he divided his men and attacked during the night. Kedorlaomer’s army fled, but Abram chased them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Abram recovered all the goods that had been taken, and he brought back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives.

Melchizedek Blesses Abram

17 After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High,[d] brought Abram some bread and wine. 19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who has defeated your enemies for you.”

Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.

My Brothers Keeper–Genesis 4 Part 2

When selfishness hits its apex, only ones own life and interest still matter.  Cain had become so jealous and cynical that he killed his brother.  He did not like the competition and he did not like how Abel and God aligned.  So rather than change his own attitude and heart, Cain simply killed his brother–the height of selfishness.  It was e precursor of the attitude of a world without God.  If our needs become the only thing that matters–then life, family and God become expendable.  Throughout History, civilizations that forsake God follow a similar track.  Godless communities quit valuing the importance of marriage, of the lives of the unborn, the lives of the elderly and finally the lives of anyone other than themselves.
 
Such a view of the world traces back to Cain.  He was only sad that God called him out.  He was not regretful that he killed his brother, he regretted only that it was cramping his life.  No remorse, no regret; he only felt self pity. Nothing has changed.  We live in a world where the only lives that matter are the ones that scream the loudest and raise the biggest commotion.  Family, marriage, authorities, veterans the unborn and the elderly have all been marginalized by the culture.  We live in an age where our desire for personal gain has completely replaced our sense of community and grace.  Only the church can stem the tide and become the people that make life a treasure once again.  It has t become the community that restores value to marriage, family and authority.  God promised Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
 
God Bless You
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

You Never Conquer Sin–Acts 15 Part 2

So it was finally agreed, the Gentile Christians would follow the Lord and Him only.  They would not be held to the standards of Jewish law or tradition.  It was one of the great moments of the early church.  They figured out early in their development that it was never about their actions or traditions–instead it was about the God they served. Yet, as the grace of God was brought to the forefront of the Church–its star teacher parted ways with the one man that taught him that very principle.
 
It was Barnabas that tracked Paul down in his hometown.  He brought him back to Antioch where he disciple and trained  him for over a year.  They were sent out and faced all types of opposition to spread the Gospel–death, dishonor and torture.  They made great strides and literally facilitated a true doctrinal milestone. What could possibly go wrong…well, Paul and Barnabas allowed their pride to split their team.
 
John Mark, of  the Gospel of Mark fame–had failed and left for home on the first trip.  So when Barnabas wanted to give him another chance–Paul said no way.  Ironic, if you consider this was the main teacher of grace.  He was the primary persecutor of the early church–one would think he would be the KING of second chance.  Call it pride, call it vanity–but for some reason Paul would not give Mark another shot.  But, thank goodness–Barnabas did.  Meanwhile, Paul and Silas started another journey, “all things work together for Good…”
 
As we grow in our faith, it does not mean we are not still human.  On any given day, we can still exhibit fear, pride, unforgiveness, or a critical nature.  That is why our relationship  with God needs to be fed daily.  We need to start our day in his word and on our knees. Even then, get ready, Satan will do anything to take you off your game and send you back to square one–Then, Like Paul, You can admit your pride and arrogance and say you were wrong.  It is a bitter pill, but it is often the best medicine. In his last words before his death, Paul said, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
 
God Bless You
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell…36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

From Deity to Dead guys–Acts 14 Part 2

People are fickle. Paul and Barnabas moved on to Lystra to continue to spread the gospel. Once there, They met a lame beggar. Paul healed the beggar. The crowd was amazed and proclaimed that Paul and Barnabas were gods. Paul and Barnabas sought to convince the crowd that they were just normal men. 

Immediately, the crowd turned from adoring fans to angry mob. They dragged Paul and Barnabas out of the city and stoned them to death. 

Once the crowd left, other disciples prayed for Paul and Barnabas and they were healed. They rose, reentered the city and continued to preach the gospel. In our current culture, men remain fickle. While they may admire a Christian’s honesty, empathy and kindness–once God receives the glory, their admiration quickly turns to anger and hatred.

Christians are in enemy territory. The best I can hope for, is tolerance and indifference. Only by faith, can we continue to share the gospel and allow God to complete his mission. If we do so in faith, he will do great things. We on the other hand, are always subject to death and persecution. It may not seem so dangerous in our time, but, like Paul and Barnabas, we can go from hero to zero in minutes. We must, therefore, trusting God to deliver us, prepare us, and protect us from the enemy, and from evil men. 

God Bless You.

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked.

He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed

and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”

Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.

The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:

“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

In the past, he let all nations go their own way.Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.

man jumped up and began to walk.

Sins of the Father–Genesis 38 Part 1

Judah’s intentions were obvious.  After the trauma of Joseph and the impact it had on his Dad, Judah was done.  He packed up and left his brothers.  He did exactly what he knew not to do and married a Canaanite woman.  Once married, he had a number of kids his oldest—Er married and his wife was named Tamar.  But, Er was evil in God’s sight so God took him out.  The problem was is and will always be—God’s people when they are rebelling against God produce some pretty Godless kids.  All through Bible history we see God’s folk with Kids that all know are horrific—Samuel, Eli, David and Solomon all had rebellious awful kids.  It is most difficult to raise kids in the Lord anyway, but, when the parents are not seeking God, chances are, the kids will totally denounce him.

In our generation, we can see the culture doing the same thing that happened at Judah’s house.  When we as a nation started distancing ourselves from God, the children of that generation walked away. Now less than 100 years later, we as a nation are barely even recognizing God, and our kids laugh at the sin that horrified our parents,  The Good news is God still promises that if his people will humble themselves and follow him, he will forgive them, restore them and heal their land.  When that happens, We will see our kids and their kids come back and honor the God our generation has forsaken.

God Bless You

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death

Real Faith Testing–Genesis 22 part1

Most of us will find a way to accept the cards we are dealt. Illness, financial reversal, problems in relationships all are sources of anxiety and pain, but with time can be endured. BUT, when you start messing with our kids–that is a different story!

God told Abraham to take his son and kill him as a sacrifice. What’s more, Abraham got up the next day and set out to do what God said…HOLD the phone. Abraham trusted God not only with his life and his stuff–But with the son God promised him for nearly a century!

That is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness. We have to be willing to trust God with our lives, our stuff and yes…our kids. He will do what he has planned. We must pray for them, love them, be a Godly example, BUT, ultimately release them into his care. Uuuugh that is the hard part–that is real faith.

God bless you

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.