Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Perfect and Sufficient Word of God

Photo Credit: Flickr/jalbertganier

פ Pe

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
132 Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
133 Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes,
Because men do not keep Your law.
(Psalm 119:129-136 NKJV)

This morning I woke up with my mind totally upon what I had planned for the day. As part of my normal daily routine, I come before the Lord in prayer and Bible reading. However, this morning my mind was too engulfed with the things I had on my agenda. I started praying, but could not concentrate. I opened the Word, it was far from my mind. So I decide to lay down my Bible and go ahead trying to accomplish what I had planned. Everything was just amiss. Frustration was sitting in. Do you ever feel like that when you do not put God's Word first? Then I said to myself, "I must go before the Lord in prayer, then spend some precious time in His Word. That was like night and day in the difference it made.

Recently I committed to memorizing the wonderful verses from Psalm 119, which I started this post off with. I want so much to have the attitude and love for God's Word as this Psalmist had. Such wonderful words here to let sink deep down into our souls; then let this truth be lived out in our lives. Today, I would just like to encourage you to spend some time meditating on these verses above and then answer these two questions below.

1. Are there any areas in my life which are off limits to God's Word?

2. Am I heartbroken over the sin I see everyday in the world? (See verse 136)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Christ Died In My Place

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For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 NKJV)

I do not know about you, but as I look back at my life before I was saved, I've done many things to be ashamed of. I lived a vile and sinful lifestyle. Because I loved my sin, I wanted nothing to do with God. I use to laugh at those who followed Jesus. To further that, I thought I was being "cool" using His holy name to express disgust. Today it blows me away that while I was an enemy of God, Jesus died for me so I could be reconciled to God. WOW! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in His should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) What an amazing thing, that even though I was His enemy, He still loved me and died for me. He wanted me to be in a right relationship with Him. He came from heaven to earth to save sinners. Not just me, but Jesus is in the business of saving sinners.

In light of that, why is it that when someone does something which offends me, I want retaliation? The first thing which comes to my mind is, "how can I get back this person?" In stead of seeking revengeance, why not look at the situation as an opportunity to display the love of Christ toward this individual and those who are watching?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Such Harsh Words, Jesus?

Credit:   Beagle Pup by Bobby Mikul

A Gentile Shows Her Faith

21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
23 But He answered her not a word.
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28 NKJV)

I know when I first read this passage above I was confused. However, what I first took as a harsh statement, it fact was not. God shares with us a beautiful picture of something most important in all of our lives, which is a humble faith. 

Do you know people, or have spoken with someone who has said the sinners prayer many times over, yet they still are not saved? I have. We wonder why this is. Does not the Bible say, "all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved?" So what is going on here? Well, I would like to propose one thing. Could it be often times we are coming to God on our own terms, and not His? At first this woman comes to the Lord saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!" Was she coming to Him in a way she should not? Let me explain. God's plan of salvation was that through the Jew's, salvation would come to the world. Remember God's promise to Abraham, "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18 NKJV) Also remember the Apostle Paul saying, "...for the Jew first, and also the Greek." (See Romans 1:16) It was God's plan to give the message of salvation to the Jew's first, and they would take it to the world. When the woman came to the Lord saying, "O Lord, Son of David," she was speaking as a Jew. It would be like me going to my friends father saying, "Dad, give me $10." His son could go to him calling him dad, but I could not. If I came to him properly, he may be pleased to give me the money. Today Jesus give all who believe upon His name the right to become children of God. (See John 1:12) But until we are a child of God, we cannot come to Him as though we are. It is important to note that Jesus did not close the door to this woman and her daughters healing, but opened it. In the corresponding passage in Mark we read; “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Notice, "let the children be filled FIRST." He was not saying the gentiles could not be filled, because it was God's plan that salvation go out to the world. Remember, salvation comes to the world through the Jews.

It is also important to note that when He is speaking of "little dog's," He is not speaking in negative terms. Often times one may misread this thinking "scavenger dogs." Being called a "dog" is not always bad. Think of sayings such as, "every DOG has his day." I believe here Jesus is referring to a family pet. I remember when I was dating the woman who became my wife, sometimes I would go to her house for dinner. Her roommate had a little chihuahua for a pet. We loved this little dog. As we set at the dinner table, this little dog would come to the table begging for food. We were happy to share a little with her. See, this little dog had no right to our food, nor set at our table and eat. But we were most happy in sharing our food with her. This little dog was also thrilled to receive our crumbs.

In this is a beautiful picture of humility which the woman picked up on. Often times we come to the Lord thinking He owes us. Because He is good, He has to give to me. I have spoken to many people who say, "God would not throw someone like me into hell." See, God is God and He is holy. I am a sinner. We all are sinners. If God gave us what we deserve, we would be cast in hell. When we come to God and beg for His mercy humbly with nothing to offer, He hears us and is pleased to be merciful toward us. All we can do is cry out to God begging for His mercy.

13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14 NKJV)

Let me ask you of this,"Are you willing to take just the crumbs from the masters table and be satisfied?" This is the kind of faith which brings salvation. Could this be why so many who profess to believe in Jesus, yet are not saved? They have not humbled themselves before the Lord. I am a firm believer that our pride is the number one reason which keeps people from receiving salvation. Also, could it by why us believers are not receiving all the blessings the Lord would love to give us?

A couple of quick points for us believers. If you are praying for someones salvation, keep praying. This woman was persistent and  the Lord answered her prayer. If you have a loved one who is sick and your prayers do not bring healing and their end has come, take the humble position. Instead of being mad at God, be thankful for the time He has blessed you with to spend with this loved one. It is sad, but we all have a time of departing. If we humble ourselves before the Lord during this, He will go through the grieving process with us, comfort us and give us healing. But if we exalt ourselves, we will bring much distress upon ourselves.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:1-5 NKJV)