“The Healing Stream”

Deep and wide

Ezekiel 47  They tell us that there is a fountain in Jerusalem which flows deep and wide just like the Sunday School song titled: “Deep and Wide.” Children are captivated by its hand motions and simple tune

Deep and Wide; Deep and Wide; there is a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Ezekiel saw a trickling stream flowing from under the new Temple’s threshold. It began as a trickle, and then it grew until it was a mighty river. It had healing powers and provided nourishment for the trees along its bank. Indeed it was a fountain flowing deep and wide. In Psalm 1, the author likens a man to a tree planted by a flowing stream which produces fruit, and healing leaves.

Just as the river has healing powers, so does the gospel message. It begins with a small trickling stream of faith. Soon the gospel reaches and heals men and women with its message. So too, when the Holy Spirit indwells us, our faith starts as a little trickle, then expands and seeks to heal others with its message of healing. We can stop at the Temple’s threshold or let our love overflow and heal the “Dead Sea” of dead men.

Is your fountain deep and wide or still just a trickle? 

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“Fake vs Fact”

Fake or Real

Jeremiah 2 and 3 Have you ever heard these words: I don’t want you and I don’t need you?” These are heart-wrenching words that creep into our souls. God asks; what have I done that you have chosen to dismiss Me out of your life? You were once devoted to Me and loved Me just like a bride loves her new husband. Yet, now you find more pleasure in foreign gods and want to pursue them.

God reminds His people that they no longer even ask where God is. If they had asked God would have told them, as He did for the Church at Ephesus, you have lost your first love. “Remember from what high state you have fallen and repent.” [Rev 2:5] God is calling today just as He did then. We say we are Christians, but our walk and talk do not match. Instead, we are like broken cisterns. The true Living Water is available, but we say I have my shovel and will dig my own. The sin of pride is ever before us. Audaciously and coyly, we say:  isn’t it right that you are a forgiver of sins and gracious beyond all that we can understand? And yet, our words are words of a faithless child because we go our wayward ways. We were only pretending.

As then so today, God is pleading; return to me. Break your rebellious ways, and I will be a Father to you once again. Is your faith real or fake? Are you just pretending or are you for real?

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Jeremiah 1 “What’s Your Excuse?”

There are no imperfections in God's family

God, the Master Potter, forms and uses the imperfect clay to form perfect vessels. Satan desires that we see our imperfections as God’s mistake. If you notice, Isaiah, Moses, and Jeremiah saw their flaw as lips contaminated by sin or “I can’t speak eloquently.” Yet God never makes mistakes. He will equip men for the task of reaching the lost.

God doesn’t bless the eloquent orator. He does bless the tongue that has been touched by the coals of the fire of His kiln. Again, Satan tells us that we are too young or too old, and we could offer that same excuse. God promises, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” (2 Tim 3:17) Again Satan says this is too fearful. Yet God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)

The real question is: Is this world more dangerous, or is Hell waiting for the lost a more compelling reason to step out? God has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness to those who come to the well seeking to alleviate their thirst.

Our archenemy has one last excuse in his arsenal. He asks, surely you don’t have to do it “now? God doesn’t care if you delay. If you are listening to his voice, then you are not asking; Am I God’s choice to go into a lost world?  But, if you can answer, today is the day of salvation, then why are you waiting?

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“Anointed for Service”

Isaiah 61 Have you ever said: What does God want me to do? Messiah didn’t have that problem. He knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. We may be centuries apart, but the Israelites to whom Isaiah was writing and speaking had the same questions you have.

Listen as Isaiah allows Messiah to speak. “I have been anointed for the service of the Lord.” Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote:  “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1 Jo 2:20] Peter wrote:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Pet 2:9]

Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. He would encourage the poor, help the brokenhearted, and free those imprisoned by sin. God gave him spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.

Has God shown you someone that needs a refreshing word from the Lord? It might be a parent who has a child that has made a wrong choice, or someone has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely—or just perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.

Remember, God has called each of us to fulfill the Great Commission.

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“Saul’s Death”

Salvation Graphic

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.  

Graphic: https://bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation

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Counting the Cost

Deut 10 set apart2ajpg

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?

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God is a Promise Keeper; are You?

Deut 7 chosen

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

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Do you smell sweet or stinky?

Numbrs 28 29 be a sweet aroma2a.3jpg

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?

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The Aaronic Blessing – What it means for you

Numbers 6b aaronic blessing2aNumbers 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.

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God’s Mercy

Exodus God's mercy2aExodus 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?

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