Friday, February 20, 2015
Photo by: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Alvesgaspar
Jesus said these words as he spoke to his disciples about the dangers of spreading the Word of God throughout the world. He said many would be killed for their testimony. But he also said not to worry for God is with us and nothing will happen to us or anyone else in the world without God's permission.
This is a comfort for those who have lost a loved one. Not a little bird dies without God knowing, caring and being there. If he loves the birds that much, Jesus said, he loves us more.
"So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." verse 31
Here is a commentary on the verses:
And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: some copies add, "which is in heaven"; meaning, that one of them should not be shot, or be killed, without the knowledge, will, and pleasure of God.
The design of Christ is to assert the doctrine of providence, as reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute and worthless: he instances not in men, nor in the beasts of the field, but in the fowls of the air, and in those of the inferior sort, and more useless, in sparrows, yea in little sparrows; as the word may be rendered; whose price was so low, that two are obliged to be put together to fetch the least sum of money current: and yet the providence of God is concerned with each of these; so that not one of them is taken in a snare, or killed with a stone, or shot flying, or sitting, but by the will of God: from whence it may be strongly concluded, that nothing comes by chance; that there is no such thing as contingency with respect to God, though there is to men, with respect to second causes; that all things are firmly ordained by the purpose of God, and are wisely ordered by his providence.
Our Lord's further view is, from this consideration, to animate his disciples to a free, open, and constant preaching of his Gospel, not regarding their lives for his sake; for since their heavenly Father, in his providence, takes care of the meanest, even of the most irrational creatures, so that the life of one of them is not taken away without his will, much more will he take care of them; nor could their valuable lives be lost without his will and pleasure. Much such a way of arguing is used by the Jews, who (f) say, , "a bird without God does not perish, much less a man"; or, as it is elsewhere (g) expressed,
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible." Hebrews 11:24-27
"Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds." Acts 7:22
Moses could have been one of the richest men in the world; he could have been ruler in Egypt; but he chose to join the slaves of Egypt instead. He must have studied all the religious customs and gods of Egypt, but he chose to serve the God of the Hebrew slaves instead of the many gods whom Egyptians believed gave them their great power.
At some point in his early life, Moses must have prayed to God and God had entered his life. Moses knew God, and once he got to know him nothing and no one else would take his place in Moses' heart. He was "looking forward to his reward," which was seeing God in heaven one day and living with him forever.
The Choice of Lot: The Nephew of Abraham
Abraham and Lot, his nephew, owned many herds of cattle. Their herdsmen began quarreling over sharing the land. Moses said, "Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.
Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-- this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah-- like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.
Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram.
Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom." Genesis 13:12
Lot chose the land near Sodom; it was the best land because of its water. He should have given that land to Abraham but he didn't. He not only took the best land but he pitched his tents near Sodom, one of the most wicked cities in the area. Later on, he actually moved inside the city itself.
Dwight L. Moody writes this: "Lot's covetous eye looked upon the well-watered plains of the valley of Jordan that reached out towards Sodom and chose them. He was influenced by sight instead of faith. I think that is where a great many Christian people make their mistake - walking by sight instead of faith.
If he had stopped to think, Lot might have known that it would be disastrous to him and his family to go anywhere near Sodom."
We know what happened to Sodom and Lot. God saved Lot's life but couldn't save the rest of his family. His daughters had learned the ways of Sodom too well and their children became the founders of two evil nations.
Lot himself, even though he made terrible mistakes, was still a righteous man.
Peter tells us, "But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. (For by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds). 2 Peter 2:7,8
Perhaps Lot knew he shouldn't move to Sodom. We are weak; we make wrong choices. It doesn't mean God leaves us. If we get into trouble because of our choices God will still help us if we ask him and stay with him. We aren't saved by our works but through faith in the God of the universe who loves us and gave himself for us. "Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." Galatians 1:4
Our lives will be more beautiful and fruitful if we give our choices to God and ask for his guidance. Lot chose to live where he could thought he could gain more wealth. Moses chose to leave the prosperous country of Egypt. His choice was the beginning of a life God could use in a mighty way.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Photo by: Bernard Gagnon
I notice when I read comments on articles about religion that many non-believers bring up the subject of threats from God. They say, "Why should I love a God who threatens people with death if they don't believe in him?"
I believe God is warning people, not threatening them. In Ezekiel chapter 33, God likens his warnings to that of a soldier guarding a city. If a soldier on the wall sees the enemy coming and does nothing then the death of the people is on his shoulders. But, if the soldier warns the people an enemy is coming he has done his duty. It is now up to the people to get ready to fight or not. What they then do will be on their shoulders.
God says, "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die..." Ezekiel 33:11
When Israel joined with the other nations, sacrificing their children to the pagan god Baal and doing many wicked deeds, God said,"Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows." God loves people and wants them to have eternal life but if they choose to stay away from God he has to let them go.
The reason God says you will die if you don't come to him for life is because it is a simple fact. Not because he wants you to die - you just will. God is the source of all life. If you don't belong to him; if you don't want him in your life, he respects your decision. Therefore, when God raises the dead he will not take you to heaven. God knows you would not be happy in heaven anyway because in order to enjoy heaven you must be born again, as Jesus said in John 3:16.
People also seem to think that if a person is a "good person" then God will take them to heaven and he should take them to heaven. Well, first of all "good" is relative. Jesus said, "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone." Luke 18:19 You may think a person is good, and perhaps by the world's standards they are, but without God in their hearts they are not truly good. Someone I knew very well told me, "I think I'm a good person and will go to heaven." But everyone knew what kind of person he was. He had said and done some terrible things. He loved himself above all others.
Also, will people who don't know God enjoy worshiping him in heaven? Will they love to sing of his saving power? Will they love to hear his commands? No. If they think their goodness has gotten them to heaven, what is there to thank God for?
The reason true Christians love to praise God and sing about him is that they know where they have come from. They know they were definitely not good. They know they were saved from a life of giving in to their compulsions and passions. They know they were like a ship without a rudder drifting through life at the mercy of wind and wave. They know the joy living for God has given them. They know the peace God can give when a loved one dies, they become sick or don't have the rent. God is a person to go to in trouble and eventually a Christian learns that every time something bad happens; God brings good out of that something.
That's why we never tire of thinking about God, talking about God and praising God. He is our family, our Father. We will be at home with him in heaven. This earth, with all its violence, rebellion, and evil is not our home. It is not your home. We were created for a perfect home and none of us will ever feel at home here.
Jesus said about his followers, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:16
With the shape this world is in right now, I am glad I belong to a better world.
Monday, February 9, 2015
For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
I think the passage below is a good commentary on Psalm 42. When I am depressed I now realize I will come out of it by the power of the Holy Spirit if I give my feelings to Him and also fix my mind on positive things. I do this by music, reading, and training my mind to think good thoughts. I am also in therapy which helps tremendously.
There are many reasons we may feel sad, legitimate reasons. However, after we have recognized the sadness, we can then work to move to a happier place. There is a time for grief, we should not push it down. Give the grief to God and ask him to help you live your life in peace and joy. He will do this; he has promised in his Word.
"This is an earnest remonstrance addressed by himself to his own soul, as if there were really no occasion for this excessive depression; as if he cherished his grief improperly. There was a brighter side, and he ought to turn to that, and take a more cheerful view of the matter. He had allowed his mind to rest on the dark side, to look at the discouraging things in his condition. He now felt that this was in some measure voluntary, or had been indulged too freely, and that it was wrong: that it was proper for a man like him to seek for comfort in brighter views; that it was a duty which he owed to himself and to the cause of religion to take brighter views. We may remark,
(1) That there are two sides to the events which occur, and which seem so discouraging to us - a dark side and a bright side.
(2) That in certain states of mind, connected often with a diseased nervous system, we are prone to look only on the dark side, to see only what is gloomy and discouraging.
(3) That this often becomes in a sense voluntary, and that we find a melancholy satisfaction in being miserable, and in making ourselves more unhappy, as if we had been wronged, and as if there were a kind of virtue in dejection and gloom - in "refusing," like Rachel, "to be comforted" Jeremiah 31:15; perhaps also feeling as if by this we were deserving of the divine approbation, and laying the foundation for some claim to favor on the score of merit.
(4) That in this we are often eminently guilty, as putting away those consolations which God has provided for us; as if a man, under the influence of some morbid feeling, should find a kind of melancholy pleasure in starving himself to death in the midst of a garden full of fruit, or dying of thirst by, the side of a running fountain. And
(5) That it is the duty of the people of God to look at the bright side of things; to think of the past mercies of God; to SURVEY the blessings which surround us still; to look to the future, in this world and the next, with hope; and to come to God, and cast the burden on him. It is a part of religious duty to be cheerful; and a man may often do more real good by a cheerful and submissive mind in times of affliction, than he could by much active effort in the days of health, plenty, and prosperity. Every sad and desponding Christian ought to say to his soul, "Why art thou thus cast down?"
Hope thou in God - That is, trust in him, with the hope that he will interpose and restore thee to the privileges and comforts heretofore enjoyed. The soul turns to God when all other hope fails, and finds comfort in the belief that he can and will aid us.
For I shall yet praise him - Margin, give thanks. The idea is, that he would yet have occasion to give him thanks for his merciful interposition. This implies a strong assurance that these troubles would not last always."
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Jesus said, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
And since I'm going away to prepare a place for you, I'll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am.
And you know the way to where I am going."
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:1-6
Jesus didn't mean that people who had never heard of him could not be saved. He meant that the salvation of any person on earth will happen because of what he did on the cross. Without the death of the Son of God, no one can be saved.
I read once about a man in China who lived before Christian missionaries came to evangelize. He told his son that he knew there was something more to life than their own religion told them. He said he didn't know who or what God it was, but for his son to watch out for this God because he knew in his heart that knowledge of this God would come one day.
The son's father died and some years later missionaries came to his village. They told the people there about Jesus who died for them so they could live in heaven. This son recognized the God his father had spoken of and became a Christian. His father will be saved because he knew God; he just didn't know his name.
Paul writes in Romans 2, "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves. They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right."
God gave us all a conscience. It is written in our hearts. Those who do not have the written word are judged differently than those who do. We must all trust in our God, who loves everyone and longs to forgive everyone who comes to him, to save people whether they know his name or not.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!"
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
"And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And He said to him, "Truly I say to you today; you shall be with Me in Paradise."
Dwight L. Moody
The cross of Christ divides all mankind. There are only two sides, those for Christ, and those against Him.
Think of the two thieves; from the side of Christ one went down to death cursing God, and the other went to glory.
What a contrast! In the morning he is led out, a condemned criminal; in the evening he is saved from his sins. In the morning he is cursing; in the evening he is singing hallelujahs with a choir of angels. In the morning he is condemned by men as not fit to live on earth; in the evening he is reckoned good enough for heaven. In the morning nailed to the cross; in the evening in the Paradise of God, crowned with a crown he should wear through all the ages. In the morning not an eye to pity; in the evening washed and made clean in the blood of the Lamb. In the morning in the society of thieves and outcasts; in the evening Christ is not ashamed to walk arm-in-arm with him down the golden pavements of the eternal city.
And that, my friends, is just what Christ wants to do for you. That is the business on which He came down from heaven. That is why He died. And if He gave such a swift salvation to this poor thief on the cross, surely He will give you the same if, like the penitent thief, you repent, and confess, and trust in the Savior.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
I have fibromyalgia. I've had it for about 20 years. I've learned that for me the pain comes from histamines in food and of course in different plants. Exhaustion is the worst symptom because I take care of most of the pain by anti-histamines and with cold pills.
After these years of being sick, I sometimes get angry and close to bitter about it. If I eat the wrong food or go to a restaurant I get weaker and sicker. It is almost impossible for me to stay on an anti-histamine diet every day. I'm so weak now I need my husband's help to go grocery shopping.
Anyway, I was kind of upset yesterday because I'd been extra sick for a long time; just going from the bed to the sofa; needing a chair by the stove so I don't have to stand too long when I'm cooking. So, I was feeling angry, but I know that gets me nowhere so I had my morning reading and talking with God. I asked him for patience and joy, which he lovingly supplied. I felt really happy.
But again, I woke up this morning and immediately felt angry again about my illness. I reached for my Bible and the first verse I read said,
"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise.
For after a little while, he who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith. If anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." Hebrews 10:36-38
I smiled, because God always gives me verses at just the right time. Endurance - yeah, I'm not too good at that. I usually want to chuck everything in and give up. In fact, I have longed to leave this earth and be with God. But I have to wait until the time comes for that.
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5
I remember when I read that verse years ago when I was trying to understand why we suffer. I thought, "Who cares about endurance? I just want to get off this earth and finally feel good."
I've always known that being full of love for God and others was the most important fruit of the Spirit. I don't mind suffering in order to be loving; but I don't want to suffer in order to have endurance. It doesn't seem worth any amount of suffering to me.
But of course, I must be wrong because God is always right and so endurance must be important. Here is a definition: