Psalm 15–God’s Kind of Folks

 

So many times, we focus on what we should not do as God’s chosen people. We should not adopt the culture’s mentality. We should not chase the things of this world…In Psalm 15, David takes a moment to look at what the people God thinks are important, do each day. God is transforming us into his image. While we will never be perfect, until He returns and takes us home, he does highlight traits that set us apart.

God loves folks who are innocent and living a life that honors him. Those folks naturally speak the truth–about themselves, about others and are the helpful, selfless ones. They neither attack, nor defame those they call friends. While they do not have anything to do with the rough crowd, they keep good friends, and do what they say they will–no matter the cost. finally, they help, without keeping tabs and they are honest to a fault. In short, God loves people that seek him and desire to honor and become like him–no matter what it costs or what it takes. Help me, Lord to be one of those people!

God Bless You

Lord
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

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.

Jehovah Nissi (I AM the Banner)–Exodus 17:15

It is a great comfort to know that God battles for us. In the midst of the spiritual war we face on a daily basis, we can stand confidently–knowing, that it is God who is at work in and through us to win the battle. God, as our father, acts as our banner of victory against our enemies.  As  the Israelites were marching to freedom, the Amalekites decided to attack and raid God’s people.  Moses, with hands raised to Heaven, saw God defeat the Amalekites and promise their ultimate destruction.  God became the banner of victory for Israel.

Moses built an alter to God at the site of the battle and he called it Jehovah Nissi–God is our banner of victory.  We carry the same banner of victory in our hearts. Jesus’s death and resurrection defeated the hold sin and death had over us and restored our relationship with God.  As we march along on this journey, our very lives display God’s banner of victory.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul reminds us that if we are in Christ, we are new creations, the old is gone and the new has come. Our new lives in Christ remind us of the banner of victory we have through our Lord.  Each day, each prayer, each time we see his hand in our lives; we see God as that banner of victory we wave; knowing, we are a part of the army of God.

God Bless You
Exodus 17

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against[c] the throne of the Lord,[d] the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Jehovah Rapha–The God That Heals–Exodus 15, 1Chronicles 7, Matthew 9

As we learn the many names and attributes of our Lord, we realize that the names simply reinforce the fact that God is complete in every way and meets all of our needs. In our lives, it is a great thing that God is a God of healing. Since the fall of man, we lost the ability to be immortal.  Then, after the flood, people’s bodies became more and more frail and limited in life.  From the time of Noah when Methuselah lived almost a thousand years, peoples lives have diminished to the point that they now average 80 years.

In the midst of the reality of our mortality, God reminds us that he is available to heal us.  The  healing of our bodies, our souls and our spirits become a wonderful gift from a wonderful God.  In our lives, we can never underestimate the great healing and restorative power of God.  In James 5, James tells us to pray and anoint the sick, so that God will heal them. 

Jesus, in his ministry to show men the character of God, went village to village healing the sick and raising the dead.  He brought hope to the hopeless  and peace to those living in chaos.  That aspect of Jesus ministry–literally changed the live of many and established Jesus authority as God. (Matthew 9:5).  Our God heals and restores us physically, spiritually and mentally and emotionally–not simply because he can…but, because that is who he is.

God Bless You

Exodus 15

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

 

1 Chronicles 7

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.
 
Matthew 9
 
But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you harbor evil in your hearts? 5Which iseasier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”…

Jehovah Jireh (I AM Provides)–Genesis 22:14

One of God’s names that brings the most comfort to his chosen is the name Jehovah Jireh (I AM Provides). In one of the most heart rending stories of the Bible, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the alter.  Isaac, the son Abraham waited a century to receive–Abraham’s heir to the kingdom God promised. Now God was calling for Abraham to sacrifice him. Abraham obeyed God, he took Isaac to the alter to carry out the sacrifice–But, when Isaac asked–Abraham told him, “God will provide!” And God did. At the last moment, the angel stopped Abraham and pointed out a ram to sacrifice instead.

God always provides.  It is rarely in the manner or timing that we expect, but, he always brings us through–in his time and in his way.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells his people, “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This God, Jehovah Jireh, wants nothing more than to see us, his chosen live an abundant and fulfilling life.  In Luke 11, Jesus reminds us, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish–give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

It is our duty to trust God and allow him to provide–in his time, and in his way.  Then, when he does, we simply acknowledge his provision and continue to follow his plan. Like Abraham, we do not always get to know the when, how or why; we simply get to acknowledge that he is the God “I AM” and that “I AM Provides!”

God Bless You

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;[b] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”[c]

The Names of God–Exodus 3

Names are amazing things–they identify, they individualize and they start a process for folks to know one another.  As his chosen, we want more than anything to know our God. What better way to start to get to know him–than to know his name.  

Moses, was born, raised and trained by God to lead Israel from slavery to freedom. When God called Moses to start his mission, Moses was rightfully concerned about how he would be received by the people of Israel.  So, Moses asked God–When the people ask me; what shall I tell them your name is? “I Am Who I Am!” God responded. (Exodus 3:14)

God’s name speaks volumes! First, God IS! He has always been around and will always be around…BUT-God is OMNI-present–He is unaffected by time or place. he is in all places and times at once.  So, God always IS! He is neither surprised nor affected by the things we consider history or unknowns.  He knew them from the start.  In any time or in any place, God has a complete understanding and grasp on circumstances and has them well in hand.

God IS.  So when life throws us curves–He IS aware and He will meet our needs.  We may not know how he is going to do it, but, we know I AM is who he is and will do what his plan calls for him to do in our lives and the lives of others. What a great way to introduce the one force in our lives that loves us, and will always care for our well being.

God Bless You

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?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.

 

Faith or Works? Yes! James 2 Part 2

One complex spiritual principle is the fine line between grace and action.  Clearly our lives will never be good enough to win us a restored relationship with God.  He has made it abundantly clear that we are saved by grace.  Still, the temptation for believers–is to take the truth of salvation and turn it one of two ways…either, use our salvation as a crutch to continue to live like the world; and believe that one day when we are tired of being in charge,then we will surrender to God.  

James is calling folks out on that misapplication of grace.  We cannot be saved by Christ–without becoming a new person.  We desire God’s desires and not our own.  We become like him and live and behave like him–not to earn salvation, but because of his salvation. Our actions will simply reflect our faith. 

The other derivation says that I believe in God’s grace, but while I confess it, I am going to check my series of boxes just to be sure.  I will keep close score and when I stand before God–well, he will be impressed by my spiritual resume. That life is equally off base.  

Our faith is what saves us. There will be folks that work there heads off for the church that have no relationship with God.  They will lay out the list of accomplishments and God will tearfully say, depart from me, I never knew you…It is NEVER going to be the boxes (our actions)that save us–It will always be our faith in his sacrifice.  

Still, our faith will guide our steps and we will live a life that honors our  Heavenly Father–we will not do that to attain salvation; but, simply out of a grateful heart for our salvation and a life that is being transformed into his image!

God Bless You

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e]and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Real Faith Is Seen and Not Heard–James 1 Part 4

We are learning, as life goes on, that the labels we are given or that we stick to ourselves–do not define us nearly as much as what we do with our lives, our actions and our mouths.  This week has brought almost unbearable tragedy to families across the greater Houston area; and many are left literally with only the clothing on their backs.  But, the community, and people from across the country have, dived in and taken the opportunity to assist in any and every way possible.

As a part of the community of believers–it is clear, that we need to do more than be spiritual.  We need to provide assistance to the ones in need. We must get over our own frustration regarding the inconvenience of devastation to our lives, and focus on trying to relieve the pain and troubles of others. We need to listen intently to those who are hurting and say as little as possible. The church needs to quietly and humbly press forward to encourage, restore and release folks–to start fresh and follow God’s leading.

The most effective way to honor God is simply laying our personal baggage on the alter, and then living selflessly.  As we do–petty gossip, harsh language and tired grudges from past wrongs; all become obsolete and inappropriate.  The tireless, selfless and kind words and deeds–ring louder than a 500 person gospel choir and orchestra–in spotlighting the Lord and his impact on the world. 

 Pastor James knew that the best way to sustain the life of the church was for its people to live like Christ. He was wise to see that the words from our mouth and the behaviors of the day–act as the gauges to measure our true worth to those around us. Please help me, Lord–to honor you with my mouth and with my actions. Help me to keep you at center stage of my life.

God Bless You

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger[g] does not produce the righteousness[h] God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows.

Sacrifice of Praise–Hebrews 13 Final

Final thoughts…the writer was wrapping up–he already went through the basics of discipleship.  In closing, he had a great final thought for the Hebrew people–while the traditions that have stood since Egypt defined us, it is time to let them go and move on. Christ was the final sacrifice.  So, now if you feel so compelled to offer such a sacrifice–offer a sacrifice of praise to God.  He loves you and wants your freedom from sin and death–that is all.  Still, follow the truth, submit to authority and pray continually–that will do it!

As a body of believers, we can see amazing things by keeping it as simple as that.  If we stop worrying about being good enough or doing enough Christian stuff; and, simply love and honor our Heavenly Father; then, we will be free to enjoy the amazing life he sets before us. Still, we need to live a life honoring to God–no wacky traditions, submission to authority and fellowship and prayer for each other.  If we do that, then God will bless us beyond what we could ever hope or imagine.

God Bless You

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods,which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holythrough his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

The Message is Consistent–Hebrews 13

Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecc 1:9. As the writer of Hebrews concludes his treatise, his final thoughts go back to the very pragmatic basics of life.  Love each other, be hospitable, show compassion to those imprisoned, tortured, alone or in dire straits–as if it were you! Be a faithful spouse, be content with what you have–mostly, understand God will never fail you or abandon you. Finally, Jesus is the same-yesterday, today and forever.  It has always been those principles that have set God’s people apart.

In our lives, the transformation we experience in our walk with God–changes us from selfish sinful wretches to selfless, humble stewards of the vast wealth of knowing God personally.  We need to show others the value of knowing him.  By simply being the person God has called you to be–you cannot help but incorporate hospitality, compassion, faithfulness, contentment and faith in Christ’s promise. Those traits make us stand out in any crowd, and cause others to desire the same relationship that we enjoy.

We make a difference every day.  The enemy would have us believe it is insignificant, but–rest assured, the faithfulness we display will impact generations to come.  We need only trust God and follow him closely.

God Bless You

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.[a] Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.”[b]

So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper,
    so I will have no fear.
    What can mere people do to me?”[c]

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas.