Standing Firm

Trust and Obey

Psalm 112 The world clamors for peace and harmony, yet they deny the radical conversion that Christ performs when one yields to Him and chooses to bear His yoke. They choose ridicule rather than the path of godliness—yet they cannot deny the evidence which stares them in the face. They cannot understand how it is possible to stand firm when faced with adversity. They are like Job’s comforters, which could not wrap their minds around Job’s intense faithfulness amid the worst tragedies to befall a man. How could he sit in ashes and mourn yet keep his faith in God?

What was his secret?

Like the psalmist, Job, and the saints who chose Christ, they knew the blessing of walking in harmony with God. Each decided to let God train them to walk beside Him in the furrows of the good, bad, and ugliness of life and then recorded their steps on parchment for us to read.  It is titled  “trust and obey – there is no other way.” They could then see beyond the temporal circumstances to the eternal reward for those who walk uprightly. They submitted their will, heart, and mind to Him.  They chose not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of their mind.  They knew no matter the circumstances of life: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed.” Therefore, we like the psalmist can say: “I will not be shaken, and I will remember Him who is just and knows the beginning from the end.”

What choice have you made?

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Handing Off to the Next Generation

Psalm 71 and 78 Getting older is not for sissies, but until we take our last breath, God has work for us to do. Senior citizens have much to offer the younger generation about the lessons gleaned from trials to blessings. But how do we ensure that the next generation knows these lessons? We must purposefully choose to take time to sit with them and share our life’s story.   How many years are there between you and the next generation? Twenty or even fifty? One of my regrets is that my parents did not tell us about their lives even when asked.

Beloved, time is fleeting, and memories are being lost. We must begin to tell the next generation of our story—whether good or bad.

The psalmist is writing from his perspective of being “old and gray.” He has one request of the Lord. His prayer is that God allows him to remain until he tells the next generation about God’s strength and His power. What is your prayer? Do we choose to tell about His praiseworthy acts, strength, and the amazing things He has done? Do we choose to teach and speak of His splendor and tell about His marvelous deeds, power, and majesty?

What is your prayer this day? Don’t waste this opportunity! Prepare now to tell your story.

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Are you Blessed?

 Psalm 1 to 4 “Blessed Men and Women”

God blessed Job; “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.” James references Job “Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance…” [James 5]

Now, as we leave Job behind and move on into the psalms, written over thousand years, we once again read about the blessings God bestows upon those who are righteous, of whom Job is an example. King David, who most likely wrote this first psalm, summarizes what God calls blessed.

These people choose their companions wisely; they revere God by obeying and fearing Him. They feed on God’s Word day and night, delighting in His Law. They see themselves as the Lord’s heritage. In times of peace and war, God is their shield and sustainer, their salvation, and sanctifier.

They are proof of what Moses told the Israelites: teach your children and speak of God in your house, and as you walk along the path of life. Be sure to educate them in the night as well as in the day; if trained early on, he will remain steadfast and immoveable later in life. [Prov 22:6]

If God spoke about you, would He use the word “Blessed?”

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“Where is the Compassion?”

Job 18 to 20 Are you feeling that God has abandoned you? Do you call and heaven is silent? Do others blame you for where you are spiritually or physically or emotionally? Then you will relate to Job.

When we are suffering, we need compassion; do we not? But, Job’s three comforters are anything but! He asks them, “how long will you torment me and crush me with your words.” We should take this as a lesson. Do we respond as these three men? Job’s heart is crushed. He is in pain. The last thing he wants to hear is that he is suffering because of some sin he is unaware of. Job says ten times you have reproached me. Where is your compassion?

While all of this is happening, heaven is silent. Have you ever thought heaven had shut its doors? Have you ever asked like Job; where are you, God? That has to be the hardest road to travel. When God is silent, we find it hard to be faithfully waiting and at peace, and it doesn’t help when others share harsh words. If there is one truth we can cling to at this juncture, it is what Job shared next:

“I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last he will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh, I shall see God Whom I shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.”

We all need that reminder.  If you are facing a hard time like Job, underline that verse, memorize it, and cling to it. God may be silent, but He is still where He was yesterday and is today and will be tomorrow.  

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“Zophar and Job dialogue.”

Do you assume something without concrete evidence? How would others label you? Zophar is what we call a “know-it-all.” He presumes without evidence and is an example for all of us.

Job 11 – 13 Have you ever met someone who is what we call a “know-it-all?” That would be a fitting description of Zophar. First, he denigrates Job. You said your teaching is flawless and pure in God’s sight, but if you are so wise, you must know that behind this circumstance, you stand convicted of sin.   Remember, there are two sides to the wisdom coin; earthly and true. [James 3] Job reminds Zophar that God is key to understanding which wisdom is revealed.  Is Zophar only looking at the earthly side of that coin? Zophar claims that God has only forgiven only some of Job’s sins, so he needs to relinquish his pride and seek God’s face for forgiveness.

Job tells Zophar: you are just like the so-called experts who extol their wisdom while alive, but when they die, so goes their wisdom. What God determines will come to pass regardless if we are wise or not. Instead we ought to pray: “keep me back from presumptive sins.” [Ps 19:13]  Zophar would be prudent to heed those words.

Job says this has not happened because of my sin. Instead, God is orchestrating it for His purpose. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28] Job will continue to trust God.

  There are two life principles here: (1) don’t presume you understand God’s ways for some are revealed and some are hidden; [Deut 29:29] (2) remain faithful to God even in the hard times.

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“Have you Planned for Your Retirement”

Retirement

Do you know that there is no retirement in the Bible, right? When you are dating, did you talk about this subject? Probably not, but then again, some are forward thinkers and were thinking about that subject. Even God thought about retirement. In Numbers 8, he provided retirement for the Levites after the age of 50. They were to retire from performing the work of carrying the tent materials.

How does one prepare for that stage of life? The psalmist [Ps 71] looked back and noted “that he had leaned upon God since birth,” so he knew that God would sustain him in his old age when his strength failed. He and God were close friends. They walked and talked together each day, much like Enoch. Like the retired Levites, we are to share our wisdom with the younger generation. [Psalm 78] Are you developing the habit of teaching the younger generation about God? As a retired person, are you looking for ways to mentor the next generation—even if you don’t have grandchildren!  

How’s your attitude? They say if you are a grumbler in your younger days, you will be a grumbler in your old age. Start now to develop an attitude of gratitude now so you will be a joy in your old age.

May I ask: Do you know God like that?

Check out David Austin’s blog post on this topic: https://blogs.bible.org/director/david_austin/retirement_whats_next

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“Backsliding doesn’t happen all at once”

2 Chronicles 15 The wise prophet spoke to Asa:  If you seek him, he will respond to you, but if you reject him, he will reject you.  Asa sought God up to the 35th year of his reign, but like many of us, Asa listened with one ear to the ground and one ear toward heaven. The prophets of old had spoken that same refrain to other kings, but few imparted that truth to their heart. Just as then, so today, the enemy uses distractions and fear to keep our eyes on our circumstances and away from God.  

Asa was a good king for many years, but then an enemy kingdom threatened him. The swords of Benhadad were rattling, and Asa’s fear was escalating. Instead of going to God as he had done in the past, he resorted to bribery. Asa didn’t lose his confidence and his closeness to God all at once but gradually. Lesson fact: Protect yourself from the enemy by staying in the Word. 

God sends tests like this into our lives to see how we will respond. Are you like so many who forget what God has done?  Using a computer illustration, we might say Asa lost his memory card that held all of his victories under God, and when he tried to download new information, it failed because it didn’t have the right driver.

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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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“God Keeps a Remnant”

2Kings 11

How often do we fall for the line that “no one cares what I do.” Is that a true statement?

Jesus challenges us to be salt in an evil world to preservative godliness. In chapter 11 amidst all of the evil Queen Athaliah could muster there were some individuals who remained pure and holy. They were the salt; the remnant that God has preserved.

Jehosheba was the sister of the wicked King Ahaziah, recently deceased. She took his son and hid him—not for just a day or two but seven years!  Then there was the faithful high priest Jehoiada, salt in the midst of ungodliness.  God has preserved this story to show that even in the midst of the worst kind of evil, God can and will use us for righteousness.

Jehosheba was used by God to hide the little child king, Joash from the wicked queen. The high priest Jehoiada may have taught the young child king the Torah. Both worked behind the scenes for seven years without Athaliah knowing.  

Do you feel like all you are doing is not important? Listen to the words of the psalmist: I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. A doorkeeper is unknown except to God yet is the salt and the remnant God preserves.  

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Earthly Stones vs. Living Stones

1Kings 6 Peter uses the word picture of living stones for people building the “living church.” The Temple used manual labor. We, as “living stones,” are building the living church using the ‘manual’ labor of scripture reading, witnessing, and prayer. 

Hiram willingly assisted Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting friendship. What lasting friendships have we cultivated?

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. Here in this passage, we read that David had accumulated the necessary materials to build the Temple. Are we giving voluntarily to build the living church?

 The Temple used stones from under the earth. Believers are “living stones” on the earth to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

God led, but men did the work, all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God directs our work and records it in our Book of Life—if our name is there! It is only there if we have accepted Jesus as Savior. One day, the books will reveal what is in those books.

Are you ready to hear what the Book has under your name?

 Time is fleeting. Will your works be wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stones?

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