Word of the Day

Friend or Foe?

Matthew 24: 6

And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

People like to talk about the end of the world or the coming apocalypse. This verse is one of the more popular forecasting verses. It certainly does lead one to conclude we are reaching the end of the age.

The focus people usually take from this scripture is the “wars and rumors of wars.” I think Jesus had a much bigger message in this passage than mere prognostication. He gives instruction saying, “see that you are not frightened.” How overlooked and forgotten these important words are.

Jesus intends to encourage and warn us. He lets us know that, yes, there will be wars, etc., but, he says, let not that fact be your focal point. See that you do not succumb to fear when you hear of wars or rumors of wars. Now, let me ask you this. As a body, how have we done at obeying Jesus in this directive? In your estimation, are more Christians frightened or confident in the face of the tumultuous political climate in which we live?

The tragedy of 911 was calamitous and devastating to Americans. However, the greater damage was done in the psyche of Americans as we bowed to fear and gave up liberty. We chose to bend our knee to the wars and rumors of wars rather than to extend our confidence in Jesus. Overnight we became imbued with fear. One can understand this reaction. Perhaps some even call it wise, but I recognize the ground we have given up in the name of caution and safety. Rather than shrink into our shells like turtles, a better response is emboldened prayer, prayer that relies on and expects God’s power and response. We, too, can pray like David did.

I don’t want to die anymore than anyone else and I certainly do not want my family put at risk but there are things much worse than death. To die is to be with Christ. In fact, you cannot kill me because I already have eternal life. Allowing ourselves to turn into a cowardly race is sacrilege. Letting our hearts become the haven of fear is worse than death, or perhaps it is a death. Jesus died that we might be free. That necessarily means that we are to have hearts that are free and light. There is no fear in love, therefore, no fear in Christ or our Father. Fear is only on Satan’s scorecard. Faith is the measure of God.

What I am suggesting is that we talk to ourselves. When we see things which cause fear to expose itself in our hearts, we need to immediately begin to preach Jesus to ourselves. We should immediately oppose fear. I don’t say it is always going to be easy but if we are to become an overcoming people, then we need a strong backbone. We cannot stand without a backbone. Paul taught us to stand firm. He knew, as Jesus warned, that difficult times arise. However, without regard for whatever challenge the devil concocts, we can stand against those trials because the Lord Jesus has already defeated all evil. He is victorious. He is the Lord.

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world,” (1 John 4: 4). These words must begin to have actual, real meaning and genuine application in our lives. Fear is your foe. Do not let it have a nesting place in your heart.

Don’t Quit

Galatians 6: 9

And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

Is there something or someone you have been praying for a long time? Or maybe it is some project you have been working on and haven’t seen the results you expected yet. Don’t give up! Don’t lose heart! Sometimes you may feel like you are never going to see the end result that you have been praying for but don’t let the appearance of situations determine your resolve. You have God’s word that you will eventually see the fruit of your prayers.

This piece of encouragement was put in the Bible because Father knows how wearisome it can be sometimes and He wishes to encourage you. He is hanging in there with you so don’t give up. You are going to reap. Even though it may be that you have been praying for years, don’t quit. Your answer is coming. It is in route. And what is going to happen to the people you are praying for if you quit? Who will pray for them if not you? Be encouraged. Know that God is aware of your persistence and that He is faithful. You will get your answer as long as you don’t quit.

Go Deep

Proverb 2: 6

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

You probably like all of God’s good gifts. Where does wisdom rank? I had a friend once who, though she had spent years in the Bible, said she never really got into Proverbs. This one of the first books I was attracted to because wisdom is all over it. I figure if you have the wisdom of God, you are likely going to be in pretty good shape.

The question becomes, “How do you position yourself for God’s wisdom? Where do you place yourself so you can hear the knowledge and understanding that comes from His mouth? Verses 1 – 5 give us those answers: “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” That’s good, isn’t it?

God actually wants to give you His wisdom. He has stored it up for you but there is something you must do. Sometimes I wish Father would rain all of His wisdom and goodness down upon us, but it just does not work that way. We must put ourselves in the position to receive. I often think of American football. The quarterback intends to pass the ball downfield to his wide receiver. It is his desire. However, if the wide receiver never runs his pattern, there is no one to throw to. We need to just run the pattern God called in the huddle and He will take care of getting us the ball. Then we can run with it.

Today’s word tells us which pass pattern to run so that we will receive wisdom, knowledge and understanding. You’ve got to want it, ask for it and listen. We have to pay attention to His words and commandments. Which commandments, you ask. Every word which proceeds from His mouth. In our seeking, there is finding. A hungry heart will be satisfied. Now, go deep!

Jesus is Lord?

Romans 10: 9         NIV

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Do you call Jesus Lord? Do you worship him as Lord? Do your daily behaviors reflect his lordship? Do you obey him as lord?

The first question is easy, but I find each subsequent one gets harder. First, I must ask myself what it means to worship him, obey him and reflect him as Lord. We do not live in the feudal Europe of the past, so the idea of lordship is a bit foreign to us. Add to that the high value we place on individuality and independence and we become even further removed. Yet, we are called upon to serve him as our lord. In fact, wasn’t it a prerequisite of your salvation? Didn’t we accept him and confess him as our lord?

The best tool I have is movies. I think about the medieval era movies I have watched and that adds texture to my thoughts. Jesus’ obligation is to care for me. He is to defend me against my enemies and I owe him fealty. I owe him obedience, respect and honor. In return, all my problems become his. I am his responsibility.

Jesus is certainly our brother and our best friend, and we should not lose sight of that, but he is also Lord. His lordship is weighty and should be. He takes his responsibility towards us seriously. We must bear our responsibility towards him just as soberly. His commands are life and death. They are not just wishes. He gives them to us to impart abundant life to us, but obedience is a value unto itself. We should hearken to his word even when we do not understand. His having spoken should be enough.

What is Jesus saying to you today? What has he told you in the past? What are the goals and directives he has given for your life? Has he given you something to do that is yet undone? We are all given this day to begin anew. Each day we have the opportunity to improve upon yesterday. Each day is new and carries new promise. We are not called into condemnation but rather reevaluation. Are we where we want to be in our walk with Jesus? What does he wish to speak to us? Where is he leading us?

Jesus is Lord. He is our leader. His word is command even though it is also blessing. He is a benevolent lord and that is a worthy statement. He is worthy of honor and service. We should enter his court with high praise. He is our lord and our king.

The Gold Star Standard

Lamentations 3: 22 – 23

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.

I hear so much junk about God and I know you do too. Here is a true introduction to our God. He is faithful to forgive, to respond compassionately to our shortcomings, failures and misguided adventures and His love for us never ceases. This is our God and Father.

Our Father is a good God. He always causes good things to happen for us. It is beyond sound reasoning for people to have construed Yahweh as an angry God or one who heaps misfortune and challenge upon us for any reason. God is love. Period. Everything He does is motivated by love. God sent His son to earth to suffer and die for us. You know that, but what are the implications of this truth? Did he allow Jesus to be bruised for us; to carry our diseases and sicknesses just so He could turn around and give us cancer? That just does not make any sense. It is crazy thinking. If His compassions never fail, then why would He send (or allow) troubles and misfortune into our lives? If He sent His son to redeem all humanity so that none should perish, then why would He make it hard to get into heaven? He sent Jesus exactly so that we could get into heaven. God isn’t trying to keep us out, He is trying to get us in.

So, what is the point to this? You will see and hear, both in the world and in the church, comments which portray God as angry and vengeful. You will hear comments which deny God’s inherent goodness. People actually believe the things they say even though it is complete lunacy. The devil has done a good job in his characterization of God and, unfortunately, we have not done a very good job in our portrayal of God as a loving and compassionate being. The point of this is to put God’s lovingkindness in the forefront of your mind. When you hear things which fly in the face of this truth, you need to refute them, at least in your own mind. If you want to go for the gold star, refute them to those misled speakers. Keep this verse in your pocket and its kinfolk as well because there are many verses which proclaim God’s love and goodness towards His people. Most of all, don’t fall for this foolishness. Your Father loves you more than you can fathom and wants only good for you.

Get Youth

Psalm 103: 5

Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

How would you like to have your youth restored? That is exactly what this verse promises.

God has no one compelling Him to make promises. When He promises us a thing, it is because He wants to. So, this verse reflects His desire. He wants you strong. We are guaranteed at least a 120 year life span (Genesis 6: 3). Most of the time when I tell someone that, they reply that they do not want to live 120 years. I ask them why and, without fail, each person has expressed their belief and aversion to becoming infirm. We have visions of being broken down and living in a broken down home for the elderly. That is not a Christ thought. That is the world.

Look at today’s verse from the God’s Word translation. It reads that God, “fills your life with blessings so that you become young again like an eagle.” Now that is a God thought. Here we see God’s vision for your elder years. Moses is one of our Biblical heroes. Certainly, I love studying him. Do you know that he didn’t even begin his ministry until age 80? He was 120 years old when the Israelites reached the Jordan river. Moses loved the mountains. He often retreated to the mountain tops to commune with God, so at 120 years old, he climbed a mountain. How infirm do you suppose he was? Think of this too. He didn’t have a nice pair of hiking shoes. He didn’t have hiking clothes and socks, nor did he have the kind of hiking poles we have today. None the less, he did, at 120 years of age, what many of us can not do today. How is that possible? He had a revelation and he believed God. He took God at his word and he obeyed him. There are some relationship keys there.

We need to hear God’s voice and then obey what he says. Many Christians do not actually expect God to speak to them and they spend no time trying to hear from Him. We need a shift in our thinking. Second, we need to begin to see the Bible as completely relevant for today. Truly, it is a how to manual for our lives. There is practical advice in it that can, literally, transform our lives.

Today’s verse is God’s vision for you. Now, how do we get from where we are to what He envisions? First of all, we have got to stop listening to the world and put the Word of God in its priority position. The world says when you reach 50 you start falling apart. It’s a good thing no one told Moses. He would probably rebuff them anyway. When you hear people talking about the ravages of age on the body, you need to pull up what God’s says and refute it, if only to yourself. When you hear the TV commercials about how your body will no longer function as it ages, you just say, “That may be true for others but not for me because I have the Holy Spirit and the glory of God restoring my youth.” Get bold. Hold God’s word up before your eyes and do not believe what the heathen are teaching. They don’t have God; how can they speak to your life?

There is health revelation throughout the Bible. Let it guide you and let it minister to your spirit. You are just waiting to get to age 80 so you will be wise and strong enough to enter into the fullness of your calling. Retirement? No way! We are going to save the nation when we get old enough. These are our preparatory years so begin preparing now for you Moses style calling. Go to your mountain top and ask God what you need in your life so that you may be strong mentally and physically. Listen to the wisdom He has stored up for you. He has great plans for you. Now, let’s go mountain climbing.

Acceptable Meditations

Psalm 19: 14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

This scripture may be familiar to you. Check out this one too, “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him, (Psalm 104: 34). I have read Psalm 19: 14 for years. When I do, I think about the words of my mouth. How much thought have you given to what you meditate on?

Two thoughts occurred to me as I compared these scriptures. First, God’s interest is not in what we think but rather that which issues from our hearts. Do we even consider that we can mediate in our hearts as well as in our minds? We do take things to heart though, don’t we? Those are the issues that are of central importance to us whether they be instances of offence or gifts of kindness to us. We hold those things in our hearts and roll them around and around in the very spot where they can do the most harm or the most good. That is why forgiveness is so important. We can take someone’s bad deed and instead of forgiving them and sending that offense away, we deposit it into our hearts where it can fester and grow. And we wonder why we have health issues.

Another revelation from these scriptures that may startle you when spoken out loud is that our heavenly Father can see the meditations of our hearts. Whoa! Is that a bit scary? That bad thought about someone that we have held onto is now buried in the tender tissue of our hearts AND Father can see it. Jesus revealed this to us in Luke 16: 15, “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.” Still, somehow it just doesn’t register that God is looking on those thoughts and meditations of the heart. Does that make you hold your breath for a moment? It does me. Those thoughts are not good for us nor are they good for anyone. The Spirit living inside us certainly does not enjoy them. Paul said it best, “Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable,” (Philippians 4: 8 GW).