Thunderstorms…Majesty and Grace

Psalm 29 Thunderstorms here in Texas are something to behold, but imagine if you were out in the wilderness with David and his sheep. David saw the power of the lightning and heard the power of the thunder. In a thunderstorm, we can see the trees sway under the control of the wind and the clouds race across the sky.   How far is the storm? They say you can count between the thunder and the lightning to know. The storm comes with power, and then as quickly as it happens, it recedes to the quiet and the fresh rain saturates the ground. As David sat out on the hillside with his sheep, he may have chosen this time of reflection about God.  Perhaps as he was sitting with the sheep, he reflected and recorded these words for us.

Truly God is majestic; He is sovereign, He is mighty. His voice is so powerful it can shatter the most towering cedar in Lebanon. He allows us a glimpse of His majesty in the thunder and lightning. And often God allows us to see the rainbow as a reminder of His grace. When the storm subsides, we are left to hear the quiet and smell the odor of the freshness it brings.

It is in the quiet we should stop and give Him praise for His protection, and acknowledge Him as Lord God Almighty, the one who is sovereign overall.

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Bragging Rights?

Jeremiah 9:23 “What Do You Boast In”

jeremiah 9 boasting2a

One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped where contestants are given sundry food items from which they are to craft a dish in a prescribed time frame. Then the taste test begins and with each round the judges “chop” one contestant until there is only one left. To that person goes the “bragging rights” along with a financial reward.

As believers we are not in a contest nor do we have to fear being “chopped” but do we have bragging rights? Jeremiah says unequivocally no!  We have no bragging rights to ‘our” wisdom, power or wealth. We may be wise, but it is only partial for God knows all. Power or strength is temporary or someone else will prove stronger than us. Wealth ebbs and flows with the market and it cannot buy love joy or peace and even wise people die and leave their wealth to others.

What then can we “brag” or boast about? It is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence” [1Cor 1] To have a personal relationship with the living God is something we can boast about. God says boast that we know and understand the attributes of God of faithfulness, fairness, and justice.

We haven’t been “chopped.” Go and brag about God each and every day giving Him the glory He deserves.

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Is washing your mouth out with soap enough?

ephesians 4 ps 141 set a guard over my mouth2As a child who often spoke first and thought later, the taste of soap became a regularity. Had it really done its job, this mouth would have been antiseptically clean. However until that antiseptic, called the Holy Spirit, did His work this mouth continued and will continue to exude that which dishonors and defames because  “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” [Matt 15]

God has given us His divine power pertaining to life and godliness, but also with that comes responsibility, a responsibility that without Christ would be burdensome. But, Christ said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Christ can carry the yoke by himself but two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. [Ecc 4].

If our salvation is so great why do we not live like it? We say, oh yes, I have this temper you understand, just accept me as I am. Saying that means we do not understand the depth of grief we cause the indwelling Holy Spirit or how deeply we quench His power. Perhaps that is why Paul wrote: let no unwholesome word (sapro = rottenness) proceed from your mouth. In other words, not just wash that mouth with soap but with the holiness that has been imparted to you so that you are edifying not corrupting.

Here’s where we need to end up: Psa 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

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Jesus-Believer’s Transformation

1Thess 1 transformation3In Thessalonica Paul preached the truth of the gospel from the scriptures “explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” [Acts 17] But his stay was short lived and as Paul left hurriedly he had visions that his work was of no value as it seemed that the word of the Lord had fallen upon deaf ears. How often do we proclaim and think that what we have shared has done the same? It is then that we must remember it is NOT about you or me, but it is the power of the gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit that changes lives. It must have been almost more than Paul could take when he heard that the Thessalonians not only heard but received and now were living as Jesus-Believers. They were transformed!

Three things stood out in the lives of the Thessalonians that we can take to heart. First their transformation was evident to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia so much so that the message of the power of the gospel was echoing everywhere. Does our transformation by Jesus do the same? It was evident in three ways: ‘work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope.’ They put faith; words and their belief into action. The world is looking for the reality of transformed lives. Are we living out the gospel so much so that even our “trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold –“?

How does your life and my life look to the outside world?

You can also read this post here: https://www.facebook.com/bible.org

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Want Godly Children?

2tim 3 god breatheda It is an innate desire that we want to be known as godly parents/teachers and role models. We want and earnestly pray for godly children to be our legacy. How then does it begin and where does it begin? Paul gives us a glimpse as he writes this third chapter of 2 Timothy.

More than once Paul has commended Timothy’s mother and grandmother either directly or indirectly. It was because of Timothy’s heritage that he became who he was. Our children’s heritage, just as Timothy’s, begins at the knee of every parent where they learn godly traits. It is there that the scriptures are instilled into their lives thus fulfilling Ps 78: “tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord…” Why is this so important? It is the sacred writings/scripture that are able to give children wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It is because scripture alone is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” It is scripture that prepares children to be adequate and equipped for every good work and it is scripture that prepares them to be able to handle the word of truth with accuracy.

We live in a world that seems to have gone awry. but is no different than in the time of Paul. Just read through the list of ungodly traits he lists in this chapter. It reads like the list of the worst of the worst in men and we are seeing it in living color today all across our globe. These children, now adults, are revealing the traits taught them from early on.  It is therefore imperative that parents, teachers, and other godly adults model and teach the scriptures which will help children to be able to discern good and evil. [Heb 5]. It is the scriptures that will help them to avoid people who hold to a form of godliness but deny its power, who are deceiving and being deceived. It will prepare them to stand strong should they face persecution such as the OT Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who when faced with certain death proclaimed that God could deliver but even if he did not they would refuse to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol god. It will prepare them to be like the children beheaded by ISIS just because they would not deny Jesus.

How are we doing preparing our children?

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Oh Lord How Majestic is Your Name!

ImagePsalm 8 begins and end 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 indignant 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”  Oh 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] Yes God knows for He is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent.

May we begin our week with these words upon our lips: “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth”

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Me n’ Jesus makes a Majority…Matthew 10

ImageDid you ever see the Apostle Matthew as humble and unassuming? Yep, he was and in chapter 9 we see a short snippet of his calling. Here he was minding his own business…the tax business that is and along comes this radical preacher dude and says “Follow Me.”. Hmmmm Choices! Choices! Yet, this humble man who was wealthy beyond all the others around him not only followed him but had a banquet to celebrate his new “calling.” No longer would he catch tax evaders but he would catch men to do the same thing as he did. No longer would he gather $$ to fill his coffers but he would gather souls for the kingdom.

So what has he been doing in these past few months or even short years? He has been listening and watching, observing and memorizing passages of scripture, been eating with the other dudes who were also called. Let’s see, there were fishermen, and zealots. There was the sweet Andrew who loved kids and his brother Peter the big and burly guy who thought he knew better but often had “foot in mouth disease.” Yet all had heard the call “Follow Me ” and they had made the choice. And now? Now the mentor who has lived shoulder to shoulder, life on life, in close proximity with them moment by moment has chosen to challenge them in the only way He knew they would know the way of the Master. He chose to send them out two by two. And look at who his partner is going to be…Thomas. Yep the one and only: Doubting Thomas. Wonder what their diary read after being together for a week or more? But, then the greatest diary read had to be Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Wonder what their time as a team was like.

So into this motley mix of “dudes” Jesus summons them and says I am sending you on a mission. And this is what he said and how he prepared them:

I am giving you My authority…heavenly authority. As such you will now bear the emblem of the heavenly to do heavenly work. You now will have power over the unclean spirits, power to heal and to touch the lepers and make them clean. You will have the anointing power of the Spirit to preach the word to Israel that were like sheep without a shepherd. You have the good news and My authority to share it with all of Israel.

Then Jesus  instructed them prior to their being sent out. He said: stay in Israel, preach the message that the kingdom is at hand, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Trust God for all of your daily provisions just as you have seen me do with you. Even though I have had no place to lay my head, my Father has provided for my every meal, my place of rest when I am weary, my every need and He shall do the same for you.

And lastly, Jesus also warned them of what lay ahead for discipleship is costly. You will  meet unsavory characters, the enemy’s servants, and those who will persecute you for your message and lifestyle. So you must be as wise as a serpent…that is prudent and shrewd, and yet innocent or inoffensive as a dove. Your character must have both sides of the coin to meet all and any situation you will meet. Three times he told them “do not fear” thus reminding them that although they were men the enemy is the fallen archangel, Satan, and he will set traps to cause even grown men to become fearful.

But the chapter does not end there. Tucked at the end is this verse: Matt 10:42 “whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” I wonder if they remembered that as they walked the dusty roads of Israel? I wonder if they talked about the authority, the instructions, the warnings or concentrated on this verse? It is at times like this I want to be a fly on the wall and see and hear and experience what they did…but *sigh* that was then and this is now. It is really up to “Me n’ Jesus” to get this job done. Will you join us? Where two or three are gathered in His name we are truly a majority. Come join me on this journey!

 

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