Unity is Key to the Health of God’s People

Pray for unity

Ps 133 “Be Unified”

Unity is not a new idea. We read that even Jesus prayed for his disciples: “that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you.” [Jn 17] Before him, the psalmist wrote: “how beautiful it is to be unified as brethren.” As the Father and Son are unified, we are to be as well. Our model is the Trinity, and we are to be the messengers of this unity to the world.

In Genesis, we read a sad story about disunity and a family that failed to model that principle. Abraham and Lot had lived side by side, but disunity came about over water and grasslands. Whereas Lot was feuding, fussing and fuming, Abraham sought unity: “Let there be no quarreling between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives.” [Gen 13:8] However, Lot chose to ignore this wise counsel and moved away from Abraham choosing his herdsmen and the well-watered plain of Jordan. He never returned even in his darkest hour. Lot’s decision is a lesson for us in what NOT to do. That is why we need Psalm 133:1,

“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!” 

Is there disunity in someplace in a relationship between you and another? Beloved: make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [Eph 4:3]

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The Blessing of Being a Sheep

Lost Sheep

Psalm 23 and 100 Diary Entry—What a Blessing!

Do you feel like you are lost in the midst of the voices that are shouting? Do you fear your bleating won’t be heard? Beloved, the Good Shepherd hears your bleating and He is coming to your rescue.

Memo to self on Day 100: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Shout out praises to the Lord! Worship the Lord with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing! The psalmist reminded himself that this is the day the Lord has brought about. He wrote: I will, and we will be happy and rejoice in it.  [Ps 118]

Indeed, we are the sheep of his pasture.  He called us out of the darkness of sin into the light, and one day we will see our Good Shepherd. What a blessing to know that He directs our steps and takes us to the refreshing quiet living water. He knows that rushing water and the swirling waters of today’s news is unnerving. It is here that our thirst is quenched, and our heart renewed. What a blessing to know that in His pasture, we find peace amid the storms.  It is in His pasture we can feed on the lush green grass and lie down in peace. What a blessing to know that He is the Good Shepherd who leads us, for we require His tender care. What a blessing to know that out of His love He ransomed us with His blood.

Truly the Lord is good, and his mercy is everlasting. His truth endures to all generations. Therefore, serve Him with gladness and come before Him with singing.

The Good Shepherd is coming soon!

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“It is Good to Talk About God”

The heart of God

Psalm 85 The author of this psalm is unknown to us but not to God. One thing we immediately pick up on is that this author knows God and His character and he extols this in poetic form.

He showed favor, restored the well-being of Jacob, pardoned the people, forgave all their sin, withdrew all your fury, and turned back from your raging anger. Then, because of these attributes, the writer felt bold enough to enter God’s space and pray: Will you revive us once more? Will you show your lovingkindness?

But also the author realizes all of this cannot come to pass until he listens to what God says and not return to his foolish ways.

Where are you wandering in the wilderness expecting God to act, but you have not done your part? You will find out all about God and you in His Word.

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Psalm 73 Life Isn’t Fair–Yet

Do you talk to yourself? Let’s listen in on Asaph’s self-conversation.

Listen, God, life is not fair.  You tell me to be humble, but I see the prosperous, and they are not! They are proud and pompous while I am poor and suffer adversity. They lack for nothing and live life with a “God owes me ” mentality. I am a man of integrity, and yet here I am facing problems. Where is my material prosperity, God? Why do I face challenges? If you are God, why am I suffering? Does this sound familiar?  Asaph has a problem and we do as well. We fail to see life through the lens of the eternal perspective.

There are three lessons we should note. First, Asaph was envious.  Envy is a sin that began in the Garden of Eden and is alive and well today. Secondly, Asaph shares, “If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your loyal followers.” Today’s translation: I would become a stumbling block! Do we do the same without thinking what our grumbling might do to a young believer’s faith?  Asaph then realized as he entered the precincts of God’s Temple; what he needed was cleansing. He pondered the consequences of being a stumbling block to others, so wisely, he sought God’s counsel.  Lastly, in God’s presence, he saw the reality: We are here for one purpose:

to behold His beauty and to worship Him in all of His fullness.

In the parable of Luke 16, we see the point of it all. Lazarus was poor and needy, but in the end, he was the one whom God blessed. The rich man, not hardly. You see, he had the “God owes me mentality.” So, where are you in your thinking?

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“Do You Need a Heart Transplant?’

Psalm 50 & 51 People, we are in deep trouble. Instead of peace and quiet, our world is swirling with anxiety, greed, grumbling, and all the “vices” of Galatians 5. There is strife, jealousy, and outbursts of anger. We are swimming in sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, and idolatry—all because we are worshiping the creation more than the Creator.

God says we are in debt, but He also says: My Son has paid your debt.  The world is striving to do the right “things,” but God says come apart with me and listen to what I have to say. You lack the one thing I desire, which is a humble spirit, a repentant heart, or a heart transplant.

Without the sacrifice of our Savior, we remain indebted. We are guilt, but Jesus paid our sin debt; if we accept His gift of salvation. Then our sin debt is canceled. But—we are never debt-free of offerings of thanksgiving to Him for this beautiful and precious gift. God does not desire sacrifices, for if He did, we could never repay our debt. Indeed, God wants is a heart that is receptive and thankful for this unspeakable gift.

Today step aside and evaluate your worship and your lifestyle. Pray that God would create in you a pure heart and a resolute spirit.

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Hang in there…we aren’t at the finish line yet

Psalm 43 to 45 On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your day going? Are you among those who grumble and complain about life and wish you could go back to the “good old days?” But how good were they? Reviewing history, we recall that in the twentieth century, there were two world wars. Yesterday was the 76th anniversary of D-Day, where 4000 men lost their lives on Normandy’s beaches. Children contracted polio and spent their days in an iron lung. We could go on and on, yet in all of that, know this: God was still on the throne.  He is sovereign and in control. He knows the beginning and the end.

Stop and consider this; God has placed us, in this century, at this time, just as he did, King David and Queen Esther and Nehemiah and Cyrus and many more.  He chose this time for us because, He has plans “not to harm ‘us’ but to give ‘us’ a future filled with hope.” It may seem like God has taken his hand off the world, but the psalmist reminds us to “wait for God for his saving intervention.”

As we walk and talk through each day, we should praise Him because we now have the privilege to “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace whenever we need help.” Like the saints of old, we can praise Him because God is in the business of granting continual blessings for his children.

We can praise Him for each new day because God is not finished yet.

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Do You Have God’s eyes to see?

Ps 41/Ps 33 “The Beatitudes of the Psalms.”

As a tax collector, Matthew was monetarily rich, and yet his heart was empty until Jesus called him. He left behind his riches to follow Christ and later recorded the teachings of Jesus that his fellow Jews might see the promised Messiah. Matthew 5 reveals what the world sees as upside-down theology. Instead of focusing on self first; focus on this principle: “So the last will be first, and the first last.” God looks at the heart and the actions that come from it. The principle is: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Centuries before Matthew wrote, David noted: “How blessed is the one who treats the poor properly!” These are the merciful, the compassionate, and the gracious. They pray not only for God’s eyes to see those in need, but then to treat them with grace.

Catherine Martin writes: “You can always spot those who know life in the garden of grace, for they act with unusual mercy and love, and they speak out of kindness and compassion rather than resentment and vengeance.” [1]

Psalm 41 ends: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” Earlier David noted that God watches from heaven; he sees all people and takes note of all their actions.

Today ask the Lord to give you His eyes that you may see, minister, and be blessed. 

  1. Martin, Catherine, A Woman’s Walk in Grace, 2010 Harvest House Publishers
  2. Photo: Dreamstime

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Ps 8 “O Lord…How Majestic is Your Name!”

Psalm 8 begins and ends with the same phrase: “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth,” “We need not wonder at this, for no heart can measure, no tongue can utter, the half of the greatness of Jehovah. The whole creation is full of his glory and radiant with the excellency of his power; his goodness and his wisdom are manifested on every hand.” [Spurgeon]

And yet even though God is majestic and full of splendor, it is the infants and children who understand His majesty more often than those who mature and educated. The Pharisees were angry when the children were crying out in the temple courts “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and Jesus responded, quoting Psalm 8:2. “From the mouths of children and nursing babies, you have ordained praise” Is it your prayer to have such a childlike faith to offer praise as freely as these little ones to the Lord for His power, majesty, and splendor? David’s point was the same as the Apostle Paul’s words: “But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.” [ICor.]

Today may we offer praise to Jehovah for truly He is majestic and full of splendor. The heavens and all of creation resound with his work. “For since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” [Rom 1] and that is why this statement should bring shudders to our soul: the young child of an atheist couple once asked his parents, “Do you think God knows we don’t believe in Him?” [Dr. Constable] Precious Child, yes, God knows for He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.

Today may we meditate upon these words upon our lips: “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth.”

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LFL: Lessons for Life

2 Chronicles 35  The story of King Josiah teaches us that not IF but WHEN we fail to consult God, we may face severe consequences. Josiah set out to intercept Pharaoh without asking God. He went looking for trouble where he didn’t need to be. Had he consulted God, the outcome may have been different.  An archer drew his bow with Josiah as his target. We might ask: ‘why didn’t God protect righteous King Josiah—why did he allow him to die at such a young age?’

Excellent question with a practical answer: When we fail to consult God, he may send his counsel to us— even through unbelievers as he did with this unrighteous Pharaoh. Pharaoh Necho told Josiah to “Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroys you.”

As a believer, we have the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us, but more often than not, like Josiah, we grieve and quench his power when we make decisions on our own.  Josiah had everything at his disposal to seek God’s will, but he chose not to do so, and we are guilty of the same.

Even though Josiah did not consult God, God was true to His promise. Josiah did not see the calamity God had foreordained for Judah. The LFL (Lesson for Life):  Do not rely on your own understanding. Seek God’s wisdom first before setting out. Sometimes God is gracious but not always as we see in Josiah’s case.

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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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