Psalm 133 speaks to how beautiful it is to be unified. As the Father and Son are unified, we are to be as well, unlike Abraham and Lot, who went their separate ways or Euodia and Syntyche to whom Paul pressed to agree in the Lord. Our model is the Trinity, and we are to be the messengers of this unity to the world.
Abraham and Lot were family members, and as such, they had dwelt together for years, traveled together, and worked together. But, they failed to model that principle of family unity before their herdsmen. Then quarrels erupted and Lot took up the offense of his herdsmen. Abraham sought a sweet refreshment of their spirits: “Let there be no quarreling you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives.” [Gen 13:8] Unfortunately, Lot chose the well-watered plain of Jordan and moved away from Abraham. From that point on, he never sought his closeness or counsel again. This is a lesson for us in what NOT to do. Their unity was destroyed and never restored.
Psalm 133:1 “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!”
Is there disunity someplace in a relationship between you and another? Pray this as Paul prayed: Eph 4:3 ” make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Numbers 28-29 Is your calendar full of appointments? Do you include God as you begin each day? To help the Israelites, God included significant days on their yearly calendar, and on those days, they were to bring offerings that would be a sweet aroma to Him. They were to plan and choose each offering intentionally.
Do you spend time each day to prepare your heart so you can be a sweet aroma to others as you spread His love to all, not just on special days but every day?
“Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” [Eph 5] Jesus was the perfect atoning sacrifice. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice, it should produce a fragrant or sweet aroma that permeates or bring to mind the knowledge of the Messiah as we walk this earthly life. “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.” [2Cor 2:15]
God doesn’t want an occasional “holiday appointment” but a daily appointment, not an excuse of why our life is busy with appointments that have no eternal value. He gave the best; what is the best you are giving to Him?
Job is described in Chapter 1 and again in Chapter 42 as God’s servant. Job has been unaware of a spiritual battle between Satan and God. He has never known what that battle was or how God perceived him—until God responds to the three comforters in this last chapter. It is then that God speaks to Eliphaz and says; go to my servant Job—not once but four times!
When we face a trial, does God call you His servants? You may be facing a spiritual battle, but you can be assured of this; believers are God’s servants, and He knows how you and I will face each trial.
Paul reminds us that we not in a wrestling match against flesh and blood. Instead, our battle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against evil’s spiritual forces in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12-13] Therefore, we must put on the whole spiritual armor of God that includes the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace; the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and stand firm.
What trial are you facing this day? Will God announce to Satan that you are His servant?
Job 6 to 9 When we get discouraged it helps to remember that we know how this story will turn out but as we walk with Job we begin to experience his pain, his anguish, and his questions. Satan had accused and challenged God that if Job’s body were touched “skin for skin” he would curse God to His face. But, even in the throes of a body that was wasting away with sores and in bodily pain he did not succumb for he “feared God and turned away from evil.” He may not have understood but he remained God’s faithful servant. He kept talking to God and that is where many fail the test saying: “I tried God and He failed me.” Instead of clinging to God through the hard times, we seek to do it our way thinking we know best. But, Job, although walking precariously close to that edge in his thinking, never crossed that line; he trusted that God will have His way in His time.
A lesson we can learn from this comes from Peter:
“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange was happening to you.” [1Pe 4:12]
Trials prove the genuineness of our faith and this is the lesson we need to glean from Job.
When you face these hard trials you have a choice; trust God or go your own way and prove the words of Satan true. Which will it be? Will you trust that God is working even if you can’t see it?
The words of the Apostle John remind us that we look forward to the time when we can all rejoice at the feet of our Savior. Until then we rejoice on Christmas in the babe in the manger and we look forward to His resurrection day on Easter. These are a reminder of God’s promises:
Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. [Jn 1:14]
Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity.
If you live in the United States, you know that we do not face persecution as those in the first century. We talk about it but have not really experienced it. Many today, as illegal immigrants, who move from their home country now fear that their identity will be known and deportation will come. “Pastor” James understands their fears. His letter is as relevant today as in the first century. Lives have been upended, and they have relinquished their rights and the comfort of family, home, and citizenship. They were persecuted in Jerusalem and are even now facing persecution where they are now living. “Pastor” James sends this letter to encourage them in their poverty. He begins with an exhortation to be joyful in times of persecution. He encourages them to remain firm in their faith. He tells them that, in fact, their firm faith will help them to endure hardship and their response proves their faith.
Faith is true faith when works also accompany it.
He winds up that first part of his discussion by saying testing will come. He has written a letter to remind them as well as us to get prepared. One day we may find ourselves in the same circumstance. James is asking; are you prepared?
I must admit, I am a cooky-holic! I love to bake and I love December for its many cooky recipes! But, alas December is followed by January, and then I find myself groaning as I step on the scales! I know that the last cooky or last piece of candy should be put out of sight and out of mind. But, alas, I fall precipitously careless when so much is offered as a gift! And so comes January when I resolve to begin the rounds of dieting by sacrificing certain those foods, like cookies, so I can bring those scales back into the proper frame.
Often it is not just the cooky but there is also a second problem I face during this season. Christmas and Advent provide an example of what happens when I fail to guard my keeping to a Bible reading schedule each day. This happens when I allow this season’s busy activities to take my eyes and minds off what should be the most important activity of my day! Thus enters the deadly d’s of drifting and disbelief. The author of Hebrews warned of this! He called it being “sluggish in hearing.” [Heb 5:11] He also noted that “we must pay closer attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away. “[Heb 2:1]
Lest I find myself in the same strait, I must earnestly plan to dig into the Word daily and to learn the truths so I can share them with others. Will you join me in my Bible Reading Plan? Here’s a link I follow: https://tinyurl.com/3x8ufhl
Today my prayer is that you and I be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. [1Cor 15:58] And…I can only do that by setting aside time each day to read and pray.
Paul encouraged Timothy to disciple others. As he is actively discipling, he is entrusting what he had heard in the presence of many others. Also, he is discipling another so that they may disciple others, thus living out Psalm 78. “tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts..” BUT—-there is a cautionary point to be heard in his directives:
Be gentle as you disciple.
Please don’t waste time in frivolous arguments, for they serve no purpose.
Be ready instead to answer every man who asks you about the hope you have, and do so with gentleness, which is a Fruit of the Spirit.
In this way, you may be the catalyst to turn one who is away from God back to Him in repentance and then knowledge of the truth. Those who are wandering will then come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil who wants to keep them captive.
Paul reminds Timothy and us that a gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.[Pro 15:1]
Who has God placed in your path that needs the most important message in the world? Will you pray that you are an apt discipler demonstrating kindness, gentleness, and patience so that they either come or return to Lord Jesus Christ?
Ezekiel 28-31 When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he noted that all men could know God as Creator and Sustainer by the vast universe before us, therefore we should stop and honor Him as holy, holy, holy. While Ezekiel slept and awakened to see the creation each morning in Babylon, God was preparing to destroy those nations who took advantage of His chosen ones. In his vision, God allowed him to know but never experience the horrors of God’s hand of discipline on them. From east to west, God would cleanse the wickedness in the land lest his children return 70 yrs. later to a land that was polluted. Do we ever stop to consider that both the bad and the good in our world have been allowed by His Hand? The children of Judah did not, and the wicked nations did not. Do we stop to honor Him for the steps He has ordered for His purposes alone? Daniel said: He raises up and puts down rulers. Do we praise Him for these choices, or are we like Egypt’s leader that usurped the honor of His Great Name to himself? Why did God choose to take these nations down? Over and over, He tells Ezekiel to tell the Judahites that when this happens, they will know that I am the Lord “their” God!
Today, stop and honor God for the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unfathomable his ways!” [Rom 11:33]
Give God the honor due His Name today and every day.
Ezekiel 15 to 18 In the NT, Jesus told three parables about things or people. Ezekiel’s four parables, earthly stories with a heavenly purpose, mirrored these stories in many ways.
Parable: #1 In the branch parable, we see a branch full of life thrown into the fire. Life without God is like the fires of hell. #2 In the unfaithful bride parable, we see a rags to riches story. God takes us from the gutter and bestows his blessings, yet the world’s lure is always at the doorstep of our heart. Be on guard! #3 In the parable about the eagle, we see that God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, who deported the people to Babylon, leaving a vassal king who swore to honor the king in charge. Yet the vassal grew impatient and soon rebelled against the king. Solomon wrote: when you make a vow, do not delay in paying it. #4 In the parable of the two sons, we see a family whose lives mirrored the NT story. The younger was restless and disrespectful of his father. Seeking his inheritance, he left and walked the world. The older son served his father but with an ungrateful heart. The younger returned and sought reconciliation, but the older remained unforgiving.
Israel had been blessed by God but was unfaithful and ungrateful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship. She would need to return to the father in confession and repentance. What would she do? What would you do?