1Chronicles 10 Was it God’s will for Saul to die is a question that comes to mind as we read this short but vivid chapter. In vs. 14, we learned that “the Lord killed him,” so the answer to that question is yes. God willed that Saul should die because he was unfaithful. He did not obey the Lord’s instructions. He tried to use a witch to determine his safety. These are hard words for us to swallow, and we would like Saul’s end to be like many of our fairy tales; they lived happily ever after. But, Saul chose his path and his destiny just as we do. God’s grace is ever-present because He is longsuffering even to the point of death.
Preparing for our entrance into eternity is as simple that a three old can understand it: Admit you are a sinner in need of redemption; Believe and trust in God. Confess your sin to a loving and holy God who will cleanse you in preparation for his glory. We stand on the threshold of eternity every day. The gospel is God’s power for salvation, and the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith. It is also true that since creation, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature – have been seen and understood through creation. Therefore men are without excuse for not knowing. Saul knew it, and men today know it.
What do you want on your tombstone? This: “well-done thou good and faithful servant” or this: “he/she was unfaithful.” It really is your choice.
Deut 10 to 12 Five Things God Requires
I am reading the book, Hearts Afire about women who sacrificed all to serve God. They willingly chose to surrender their lives to God — no matter the cost!
That challenges me to ask: am I?
Being set apart for God and His work took on a whole new meaning when they realized the cost. Jesus reminded the disciples to count the cost before you embark on a project, such as building a tower. He used that metaphor to help them realize that before you say you are willing to serve God full time, you must do as the builder does before he orders materials and hires workers. Moses told the Israelites that before they could follow God, they must count the cost, and it included five things.
10:12 Moses said God requires that you reverently fear Him. Secondly, you must choose to walk in all His ways. Thirdly, you must love Him totally and completely reminding us that He is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another. Fourthly, you must endeavor to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. And lastly, you must keep His commandments which the Apostle John said are not burdensome.
10:20 reiterates those same details with one added point; you must swear by His Name. Why would God add that? In vs. 21, the answer is that He is our praise, and He is our God. He alone has done these great and awesome things for you!
Are you willing to be set apart for His service?
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.
So where are you?
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Numbers 28-29 “What aroma are you spreading?”
We equate aromas with fresh coffee, cinnamon rolls, candy, and candles. That is because one of the gifts God has given to us is the olfactory system or the sense of smell. Nine times in these two chapters, we read that the sacrifices brought a soothing aroma to God, meaning it brought great pleasure. In the OT, Moses explains the offerings in great detail. They were to be from clean animals and were to an “olah” or wholly given over to honor God. It was a sign that the person offering this sacrifice was willing to be obedient. Jesus was an example of an “olah” because of his willingness to be given sacrificially as a way to bring peace between God and man.
“Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” [Eph 5] Paul reminded the Corinthians that Jesus was the perfect atoning sacrifice. When they and we accepted Christ’s sacrifice, it should produce a fragrant or sweet aroma that permeates or brings to mind the knowledge of the Messiah in every place. To the saved, we are a sweet aroma of Christ; but to the unsaved, we are an odor or a stench of death to death.
Practically speaking, John Piper lists four sweet aromas we can offer to God: our prayers, repentance, our witness as we spread His love to all, and lastly, our love to and for others.
Question for today: What aroma are you spreading?
Numbers 6: The word blessing has the idea of pronouncing a wish of happiness given by one to another for the divine favor upon them from God. Dr. Constable notes that it is a benediction to the priests to offer for the sanctification for the people. It is often used in our liturgical blessings for people as they prepare to leave a religious service. Within it, the word “you” is noted six times, making it personal and applicable.
God desires to bless His people for their provision but also their protection. God knew they would need this as they traveled on towards the Promised Land. God also desires that His countenance would reflect His care in their lives, as well as His grace. Lastly, God desired that His peace would be upon them as they faced foes within and without. God desired all of this for His people then and now.
As you listen to it this blessing, stop and ponder the words. What is the meaning for me personally? Is there a part of that blessing I can appropriate for me now? How can I share this with another?
May the Lord Bless you and keep you as you read and meditate upon it.
Exodus 11 to 13 As we have watched, there were two camps of people in Egypt; those who believed and obeyed. In the hail plague, those who believed took their animals and families in and were spared while those who did not lost animals and people alike. God was merciful nine times but this tenth time was God’s last and final call to Pharaoh.
God desired that Pharaoh and the Egyptians soften their hearts and turn to Him because He does not delight in the death of the wicked. Instead, He is long-suffering giving them many opportunities to turn to Him and not perish. [Ez 18 &33; 2Peter 3] The principle is given in Is 55; let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. God will have compassion on him and abundantly pardon. God offers the way to salvation but if men continually reject His mercy His plan will be executed.
The Israelites were led away from the hardened Pharaoh. God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.” [Ex 13] He covered them with a cloud from the searing heat of the sun by day and the pillar of fire by night to keep them warm. As we look at each step we see God’s faithfulness to His people, His grace and mercy.
Where have you seen that in your own life?
Genesis 16 to 19 I love the story of little Cinderella. By no fault of her own, she was treated unrighteously by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. Her life was one of drudgery day in and day out. Her fairy godmother came and gave her a reprieve for one night and in the end, she was loved by the prince who searched for her when she fled the ball at midnight. In our reading today, we find a true Cinderella named Hagar.
It all began when Abraham didn’t trust God; went to Egypt, and bought a slave girl for Sarah. Sarah, in many ways, resembles Cinderella’s wicked stepmother in attitude and character. Impatient Sarah decided it was too hard to wait for God to give her a child and convinced Abraham to impregnate Hagar according to the custom of the culture. We wonder how long Sarah had to nag before Abraham fulfilled that order.
When Hagar obeyed and then conceived, guess what? Sarah became disenchanted and despised her and began to treat her harshly. There was no fairy godmother, no pumpkin carriage, no glass slipper, no Prince Charming, and no ball to attend. Instead, day after day Hagar worked with no relief and so she ran away. This is where God steps in and the gospel is presented.
Hagar is a picture of us before salvation. God saw her condition, heard her plea and promised that He would multiply her descendants. She responded, “The God who sees–SEES me.” Yes, like Cinderella, she returned to the dust and ashes but now she knew that God cared for her and her unborn child.
At one time we were slaves of the unrighteous wicked Satan. We may have run away from the “wicked stepmother” but God sees beyond our circumstances to what will be. He sent His beloved Son to walk with us through those circumstances. Even though we might not be able to change those, we can trust that Jesus died that we might be saved from our sins and live a life that is full and rewarding.
Are you Cinderella? Trust God to be with you. Hagar’s story is the gospel message in a nutshell.
Welcome to 2020! We begin again at the beginning, Genesis 1 -2. I am thrilled you have chosen to follow my page and to read along with me. Let’s get started: Please take your Bible and read the first two chapters of Genesis 1 & 2.
Stop and ask: What stands out to you? What is God saying as He speaks through the Holy Spirit? What lessons does He want us to learn?
Know this; the purpose of Bible reading is to guide us into all truth so we can be mature discerning truth from error. As a base premise for this year memorize 2Tim 3:16 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
Genesis 1-2: The earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep BUT the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. Isn’t that just like the heart of the unbeliever? They are without spiritual shape and their heart is empty, void of the Holy Spirit and without the Light of God. It takes the movement of the Holy Spirit to bring light into the soul. The light was good in the beginning and it is good for the unbeliever because it illumines deficiencies and illumines understanding when we yield. “If then your whole body is full of light, with no part in the dark, it will be as full of light as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” [Luke 11] When that happens you no longer are in darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Therefore, live like children of light” [Eph 5 author paraphrase]
This leaves us with a challenge for 2020 and a question: Where are we spiritually and are we living as children of light?
Seeing Christ both now and in the future—Revelation 9-12
Scholars often remind us that Revelation is a book that is both confusing and yet enlightening. It drifts from the present to the future and back to the past. Some scholars see it as books of imagery and others see it as literal. The Holy Spirit speaks and John was a conduit of what God plans to do both now and in the future. Since John did not live in our century some of the images cause us to wonder what he really saw and heard. But, no matter what the truth is: God plans and executes his plans perfectly that we might understand.
But, we are left to ask: What is the most important truth that we can glean from these chapters? First that “The kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” John could write that because as he saw him who was and is and will be forever. He is the Lord God; the All-Powerful will judge those who refuse to believe and also to reward those who revere his name. These did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die and in so doing overcame by the word of their testimony.
May we be found faithful as the saints of old and one day hear well done thou good and faithful, enter into the joy of the Lord.
Looking into Heaven: Rev 4 to 8
A special friend just passed away and although we mourn her loss we can’t but think that she is now able to see. Her blindness has been removed and before her she sees what she had only heard each day as she listened to scripture. Just as John was called up to heaven so our dear friend was “called up” as well. What did John see and hear and what does our precious friend now see and hear?
Enter the throne room and seeing the God the Lord Almighty surrounded by 24 elders dressed in white robes and their heads adorned with golden crowns. And now listen: “Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, who was and who is and who is still to come!” And further: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created! And “You are worthy to take the scroll and open it seals because you were killed and at the cost of your own blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation.”
Just imagine hearing those words and although her loved ones still inhabit this earthly realm they have been appointed as king and priests to serve God and one day they will reign on the earth with the Savior. “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory and ruling power forever and ever.”
Beloved, if you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one think on these words. One day you too will face this heavenly throne room and the Lord God Almighty.