“If…then…but”

Simple: obey and be blessed, disobey and be cursed

Lev 26 God desires that His people to be light among the nations. He desires that we obey Him and receive blessings but just like an errant child who has been warned, God will bring about cursings to correct His children. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” [Num 32:23] This is as true today as it was then: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” [Prov 22:15] Like the Israelites of old, today we too face fallow land and fallow hearts.

We foolishly say this was OT; not for us who live under grace and in the NT. A principle is a principle, and God is God. He is does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15:29] God desires that we obey Him now and forever so that He may bless us.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1Jn 1:9] Then He will return and heal our land and our people.

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Last Words in the Tapestry

WE are God's workmanship

Genesis 48 to 50 The covenantal blessing precedes the deaths of Jacob and Joseph as well as their last words. Abraham blessed Isaac and Ishmael, and now Jacob follows that tradition by blessing his 12 sons. In forward sight, Jacob blessed Judah noting that the Lion of Judah/the Messiah would come from his line. Judah’s is the longest, followed by Joseph’s. Moses continued that tradition in Deut 33 for all the tribes of Israel, minus Simeon, because of his sin of murdering the Shechemites.

As Jacob was nearing death, he blessed Joseph’s sons by placing his hands on their heads and symbolically passed on the gifts of heritage and inheritance. Jacob blessed the younger over the eldest just as has been seen throughout the book of Genesis: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh. Later Moses would continue that. Jacob thus passed on the privileges and blessing of land and peoples to Joseph’s sons just as he had received.

Jacob’s and Joseph’s last words are like the finishing threads of a tapestry. The underside threads may be scattered, but the top reveals God’s hand upon their life. Truly “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them,” [Eph 2:10].

What will your tapestry reveal? What are you passing on to your children and your children’s children?

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“Family Dynamics”

Pray for the parents

Gen 35 to 37 It all began with Abraham, who fathered Ishmael and begged God to make him his legacy, but God said no. Isaac fathered Jacob and Esau, heard the prophecy that the younger would serve the elder but because he favored Esau, the eldest, he conveniently chose to forget God’s words. Jacob, favored by Rebekah, ignored his inner ear and deceived Isaac. Jacob, like his grandfather and father, played favorites. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened.” [Col 3:21] Jacob’s behavior caused three heart behaviors to erupt amongst his sons: jealousy, envy, and hatred for Joseph.

The Proverbs author lists 7 character qualities God hates:

“haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.”[Prov 6]

If we walk down that list, we see all 7 of these qualities in Jacob’s sons. Later Joseph would note: “you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose so that he could preserve the lives of many people.”  Amazingly, God can and will use our wickedness to accomplish his purposes because He can see the end from the beginning.

Fathers have a unique responsibility to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Today take time to pray for the fathers ( and the mothers) of our children.  

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“Prayers of Righteous Men/Women”

Prayer is effective

Genesis 25 & 26 What is the value of prayer? Why should I pray? What should I pray for? Over and over, the scriptures teach the value of prayer. As we follow the men and women in the pages of this sacred book, we see those who followed the Lord believed in prayer. Prayer is the answer to that which is upon our hearts. O Lord, hear my prayer!” [Ps 86:6] “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4:6]

After many years, Isaac and Rebekah were still childless, yet Isaac did not seek other women to fill his quiver as others had done. Instead, Isaac “prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless.” [Gen 25:21] God remembered Rebekah and opened her womb, a direct response that God was pleased and answered his prayer. Isaac’s example led Rebekah also to seek the face of the Lord when she was wondering what was going on in her womb once she conceived. 

In the NT, we find Zechariah offering prayers at the altar of incense at his time of chosen duty. An angel appears and tells him that his prayers for a son have been heard and answered. Truly, “The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous has great effectiveness.”[James 5:16] 

Prayer is the divine path to receiving answers from the Lord. What prayer need is on your heart today? 

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Stand Firm!

Stand firm, remain faithful

Advent #13 Hebrews 1 to 4 “Remain Faithful!”

The author of Hebrews, who may be unknown to us, is not unknown to the Father. He extols the virtues of our Savior to those who were facing persecution. He reminded them that Jesus is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Priesthood, better than Joshua, better than the Law so stand firm! Therefore, take heed lest you lose heart and fall irreparably. Stand firm is our admonition; stand firm in the midst of persecution; stand firm in the midst of accolades. Remind yourself of the children of Israel who sold their faith because of fear and wandered around the desert wilderness for 40 years.

We must follow the admonition of the author to review the blessings of God that He has bestowed upon us and cling to them and the message of hope. God’s lovingkindness was poured upon them and yet they refused to obey. May we not be so but rather be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord.

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“The God of All Comfort”

God is the God of all comfort

2Cor 1 Teddy Bears are given to foster children and those facing surgery as a way of comforting them when the future is an unknown. God has given us others to comfort us as we face times of difficulty. Paul noted that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Do you trust that He can comfort you in all of your troubles? Do you see your troubles as God’s open door for you to minister to others? Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to know that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” [2Cor 1:5]

 Are you confident and able to trust that God is involved in your circumstances? Paul’s testimony was that he was steadfast and immovable in whatever circumstance he found himself in because his hope was set on God alone.

Lastly, Paul reminded the Corinthians to pray without ceasing so that many people may give thanks to God. John Bunyan wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

What adversity are you facing today, and how may we pray for you in this time?  

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Living Righteously in an Unrighteous World

The BIBLE that's the book for me

1Cor 10 “God’s Instructional Manual.”

There is a children’s song that goes like this:

The B-I-B-L-E. yes that’s the book for me, the B-I-B-L-E

Days come and days go, and in those times, we are faced with decisions that are rewarded in blessings or consequences. We would be wise to learn from the past. If we don’t heed what is written for our instruction, we will repeat the same mistakes. To help each one of us, here are three principles which we should heed and be true to:

  1. God is faithful. He will not let us be tempted or tried beyond what we can bear. But, we must seek his way to escape out of that temptation. The Israelites faced a test and failed because they had a way of escape but failed to seek God and His plan.
  2. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable, nor do all things edify. Ask: Will what I eat or drink glorify God? If not, walk away from it.
  3. Temptations will come, not if they come, they will certainly come. Do not put the Lord to the test. Rather, when tempted, listen to the Holy Spirit who has been given to convict and instruct us.

May we be wise and discerning as we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit’s counsel. Start with the B-I-B-L-E. That’s God’s instructional manual!

The B-I-B-L-E, yeah that’s the book for me
I stand alone on the word of God
The B-I-B-L-E

Here’s the link to that children’s song https://tinyurl.com/y3g47gqg

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Who is Jesus to you?

Who is Jesus to you?

Matt 20 to 22: Jesus asked his disciples: who do men say I am? [Matt 16:15] They skirted the issue by saying that some say you are John the Baptist, others Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets just as we see in these chapters. It was Peter alone who said, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. [Matt 21:11]

Twice Jesus is noted that the crowds in Jerusalem said, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” On the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, two blind men called him “the Son of David.”  [Matt 20:39] While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them pointedly: What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? [Matt 22: 41-43] They answered, just like the two blind men: The son of David.

Even though the crowds, the Apostle Peter, and even the religious leaders knew Jesus was not just an ordinary man, they would not commit to following Him. Instead, as they saw His ability to heal and heard the children crying out: Hosanna to the Son of David, they sought to kill him. 

From Genesis to Revelation that same question is asked of men. Jesus comes to each one with the same question; Who do you say I am. What would be your response?

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What Do You Want to Hear from Jesus?

The words of Jesus

Jeremiah 50 to 52 The tale of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin reveals a pointed lesson for us.  When God tells us what to do, there is a choice; surrender and live or reject and die. God says, surrender your life to me, and you will have everlasting life. But, just as then, many still think they can save themselves or wait or do many works in God’s Name. 

Both kings sought Jeremiah’s advice as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep.   Jehoiachin believed Jeremiah; surrendered and saved his family. Zedekiah tried to escape through a tunnel at night time but was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Riblah, he lost his family, the royal household, and his eyes. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison. But, after 37 yrs., Jehoiachin was released to sit at the king’s table. Blind Zedekiah would die in his bronze chains with the vision of his children’s faces as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.

What are the takeaways from these two men and their end?  One accepted God’s way and was released. The other rejected God’s way, and these words will ring in his ears: “I never knew you.” Remember these words from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [Jn 14:6]

The lesson is clear: Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.

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Snail Mail

Snail ,mail

Jeremiah 29 Do you miss home; the familiar sounds and smells? Do you often reminisce about that time? Put yourself in the shoes of those taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. You are longing to return to your homeland, but it seems like there is no hope; the days drag on and on and on. You are trying to discern from the news what is really happening. Whose words are true?  One the one hand, you hear the exiled priests saying, “Don’t worry, it will end soon! Our wealth will be returned to the Temple, and our kings will rise again.” On other days you hear:  get busy; build houses, have big families. And to add to that you hear: PRAY FOR BABYLON AND THE BABYLONIANS!

PRAY for the Babylonians who took me captive?  Are you kidding me?

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Whose words are right? Because God knows they need assurance, He empowers Jeremiah to pen a letter to them:

Dear Exiles, know this; God loves you. He has put you here so you will not have to experience the calamity in Jerusalem. Don’t listen to the false reports of returning; God has not sent those who spout those words. Instead, remain faithful. Live and be productive. When 70yrs has passed, God will send you back to rebuild His city!

The Lord has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

Lovingly, Jeremiah

PS This God’s plan if you will accept it. Remember, you are a child of the Highest God.  Don’t forget who you are and don’t forget whose you are.

God has a plan for you in 2020 if you will accept it. He loves you and He has put you right where you are to do His work. Even though it is hard, God is asking;

Will you accept My plan for you even if you don’t understand it?

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