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1/27/16: Keep your mind focused on God

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

This world loves to get you confused, distracted, and frustrated.  Your mind cannot be “steadfast” if you don’t stop, remove yourself from worldly influences, and focus on trusting God.  Don’t we all desire something that is not temporary, fast food oriented, here today and gone tomorrow, rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off?  I know I do.  When I watch my grandchildren text messages by typing with their thumbs, I go crazy.  I ask them how they can type so fast with only their two thumbs.  All I get back is a technologically ignorant look.  Do you know what I mean?

1/20/16 - God intentionally tests your faith through suffering

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.   1 Peter 1:6-7

Do you see two great spiritual truths in these Bible verses?

1. You will have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

2.  When you are suffering, you are to greatly rejoice.

      These two spiritual truths beg the question, “How can I rejoice greatly when suffering?”  Jesus rejoiced greatly at the death of Lazarus because His father was to be glorified after the resurrection of Lazarus.  The angels rejoiced at the birth of Christ although His life would lead to the cross.  As human beings, we have limited insight into the spiritual things that impact us.  Maybe this is why spiritual growth seems so slow and difficult? 

God’s spiritual insight is complete and without error.  He sees the future end product of His children who are mature in the faith and can actually encourage others during the most difficult of times.  Personally, I know that God has provided encouragement to me through the growth in faith that occurred while others were growing through suffering.  At the same time, I have been told about my encouragement to others with my personal suffering.  What is interesting about this encouragement is that it must come from the Holy Spirit, because I am praying and suffering during my own suffering.  Even Jesus knew that He must suffer so that we might be encouraged through His suffering.  If you can see this, then you are probably experiencing the word “encouragement”, and your faith is being tested to strengthen it.

1/13/16 - God planned for Christ to be in the Old Testament to help today’s Believers grow spiritually

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.  Luke 24:27

Jesus said this to two men after His resurrection to explain who He is as the Messiah.  He used the Old Testament (OT) to validate what He said about Himself.  The New Testament (NT) had not been written.  This means that Jesus Christ used the Scriptures (OT) to support His claims. This is phenomenal and crucial to healthy spiritual growth. 

There is a tremendously large spiritual link that God intended between the Old and New Testament. It is imperative for a Believer to obtain the true and complete meaning of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through using both the OT and NT.  I believe that God looks on the Old and New as one Testament.  This may be a difficult truth to accept and make a part of your active, obedient, and living life for Christ. 

1/5/16 – God: Praise and worship to a God who never changes

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.  Nehemiah 9:5-6

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.  Nehemiah 9:17

These two passages are from the book of Nehemiah.  This is one of the last books in the chronology of events in the Old Testament.  All of Israel had been dispersed by Assyria and Babylon.  The Temple and the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed.  The Temple was rebuilt first, but the people grew tired and complacent in rebuilding the walls for protection.  Nehemiah had come from Babylon to encourage the people to rebuild the walls.  The walls were completed around 445BC.  After the walls were rebuilt, Ezra led a great revival of the reading of the Word of God.  The people stood for days listening to Ezra read.  Eventually, the people recognized their sins against God.  I share this passage with you to help you in your praise of God.

They first lifted the name of God above everything that existed and everything that they knew: “may your name be exalted above all blessing and praise.  There are many names used to refer to God in the Old Testament.  Make it a goal that you will learn some of the names of God and what they mean. 

The priests spoke of God’s Creation and its completeness.  They included everything that they could physically see: you made the heavens, even the highest heavens and all their starry host.  This is interesting because it implies that there are many heavens.  Spiritually speaking, we are very ignorant of all of space and the spiritual realms.  There is much more than we can see.  God created the earth and all that is in it.  God gives life to everything meaning that all of life is in the hands of God.  This is why it is so meaningful to realize that Jesus defeated death and was resurrected, as all Believers will experience.  It is for this reason that death has no hold on Believers, and we do not fear death.  The final statement in the first passage references all the multitudes of the heaven as worshipping God.  This is what we should think on when we are praising God.

I included the last passage as a rebuttal to those who believe that the God of the Old Testament was a harsh, wrathful, judgmental, and different from the God is love in the New Testament.  The passage clearly describes the forgiveness of God.  It describes the grace and compassion of God toward the people who were repeatedly disobedient to Him.  Finally, it describes His patience (slow to anger) and His love.  I do not know how anyone can conclude that there are two different Gods in the Old and New Testament.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Praise His name above everything that you and I know.

1/28/15 – God wants your life to be full of joy

Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. Psalm 86:1-4

These words come from the book of Psalms that is sometimes referred to as “the heart of God”. I recommend that you read through the Psalms in a month. There are 150 Psalms; that would mean to read five Psalms per day. To make it interesting, read every 30th Psalm. For example, 1st day of the month, read Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, and 121. On the 2nd day of the month, read Psalms 2, 32, 62, 92, and 122. And so on. You will find your life will be different by the end of the month.

1/21/15 – When Christians stop witnessing, God judges

And the Word of God says,

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?  Genesis 18:16-17

The setting for the above Bible passage is the visit of three men to Abraham and Sarah.  You can discover later in the story that two of the men are angels and the third is God or the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; therefore, I conclude that this is Jesus Christ appearing on earth.  This happens numerous times in the Old Testament.

1/14/15 - Revenge is God’s and His alone

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  Romans 12:19

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.  Leviticus 19:18

I can get so mad at other people for what they do.  When someone abuses a child, I go ballistic and want to teach that person a lesson in the same way they are mistreating a child.  Speeding hogs that drive on your bumper can cause road rage in you. (BTW: never reach the “road rage” level, and never ever get out of your car to confront someone else.  You don’t know what they have in their glove compartment.)  There are numerous times in most of humanity where revenge is all we can think about toward another person.  We want to take the law into our own hands.  We plot how we can be avenged.  We want to be the police, the judge, the jury, and the executioner.  BUT, this is not what God wants for you.

1/7/15 - Keep your hands clean and your heart pure

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.  Psalm 24:3-4

I equate the first two questions of the above Bible passage to a Believer’s growth in Christ.  God does not wish for anyone to perish; i.e., experience eternal death or eternal separation from God.  At the same time, He is strongly adamant that those who become Believers should make it their life purpose to change their behavior to be more Christ-like.  As a Believer, I like the idea of ascending to God and standing in His holy place.  Eastern religions have a similar idea with the exception that you may only find a wise man at the top of the mountain.  In the case of a Believer, you will find God as you actively seek Him.