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Monthly Archives: November 2011

“…after that ye have suffered a while”

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”  1 Peter 5:8-10

It is true that God’s people will come under attack. It could be the world, the flesh or the devil; it may be all three at once, but if you stand in the name of Jesus Christ you will suffer. I think of those who have suffered to bring us our Bible. Being burned at the stake, cut into pieces and other horrible, torturous deaths, all because they stood for the word of God…that many of us let sit on the shelf and collect dust. I think of the early church fathers, fathers of our nation and great preachers and missionaries through the ages that have sacrificed homes, wealth, prosperity and family life to bring to us the faith and gospel of Jesus Christ. Many times their homes being burned or seized by the government and their businesses closed. There are many Christians today fighting to preserve the faith once delivered to the saints. We live in a society where even churches and so called pastors have so perverted the truths of God’s word, that the world is now in a religious spin cycle, not knowing what to believe. The end result is people discouraged and disowning the faith, then, seeking some relief and joy, they give themselves over to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Sometimes it get tough to go on in an environment where the devil is roaming like a roaring lion.

In this passage of scripture, God gives us the blessings of those that will press on and hold fast in times of suffering.

  1. He will make you perfect = this means complete, mature,  as a vegetable comes to ripen for the harvest. Suffering has a way of teaching us truths we would have never learned in the fields of comfort and ease.
  2. Stablish you = this is the root word for establish. Meaning to set fast, to confirm. When you suffer in Christ, it develops a sense of firmness in our cause. One would not give their blood, sweat and tears for a cause, only to wonder if he really is committed to it. Suffering causes us to commit to Christ.
  3. Strengthen you = as the Olympic athlete exercises in his or her discipline and becomes stronger, better and more efficient; so does the Christian who fights for Christ. Suffering and trials are the weights, treadmill and exercise equipment that makes us strong for battle. It is what produces champions for Christ.
  4. Settle you = this word means, to lay a base/foundation so something can later be erected. It is the foundation of the house, the pilings & support of the skyscraper buildings of the city. Sufferings lays a foundation in us so that later in life God has a place to build a strong spiritual building on. Sufferings clear out the brush, excavate the ground of our  hearts so God can use us to help some troubled soul in the future. God may be preparing you for some important church ministry, to which through your suffering, you bring glory and honor to the name of Christ.  

Child of God, understand that God can use even the worst of circumstances for his glory. God never causes sin, God never is instrument to evil; this world is evil and corrupt, but God can use anything and anyone for his glory. Suffering is the University of all Gods greatest leaders; Moses in the desert, Joseph in the jail, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Ruth destitute of a kinsmen redeemer, Ester in fear of her life, Paul being beaten and thrown in jail…..the list continues, but the truth is settled… after suffering, God will make you great for him. Hold fast!

 

 

Music from a Thankful Heart, pt.2

Psalms 100:1-5  <A Psalm of praise.> Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  2  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.  3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

During this Thanksgiving Season we are using the one hundredth Psalm to look at some biblical aspects of Thankfulness. In part one of this devotion we looked at The Commands of the Thanksgiving found in verses one and two; in this devotion I want to focus on The Confidence, Consequence and Consolation of a Thankful Heart.

1. The Confidence of a Thankful Heart: vs. 3

Verse three gives us two things we can “Know” or have confidence in:

First, The LORD is God. The word “LORD” here is the word Jehovah meaning the self existent God; he who lives without the aid of anyone but himself. The word “God” is the word el-o-heem’ which is the same word used in Genesis to describe the Triune God that Created the Universe and all therein. The Psalmist is thankful for the power and ability of his God; that he is in control and driving the ship. But when you put this sentence together with the rest of the verse, the Psalmist is thankful for the second Confidence:

Second, The LORD God made me and keeps me. Praise the Almighty that my shepherd and creator is the same powerful, self-existent one that created the world and will live forever. We can be confident in the ability and sustaining power of our God. In this confidence we rest and offer thanksgiving and praise. You can rest assured that as a sheep in His pasture we will be properly cared for and protected from all harm, forever!

2. The Consequence of a Thankful Heart: vs. 4

Here we see things that happen when a person is thankful. This verse instructs the people of God to enter his gates and how to enter. The phrase “Enter his gates” refers to the gates that lead to his temple or into his presence. God wants his people to go to church and to go with a happy and joyous spirit. Don’t be the saint that comes dragging into God’s house at church time; come before his presence with praise and singing. Be glad and appreciative for the opportunity to go to church. To the thankful heart, church is an opportunity not an obligation! Entering God’s presence also refers to spending time with him. When we set aside time to pray and meditate on his word, we are entering his presence. Spend some time just talking to God and thinking on his precious word, I assure you it will be most rewarding.

3. The Consolation of a Thankful Heart: vs. 5

Here are several things we can be happy about.

First, we see that “The LORD is good.”  We can be assured that whatever God does and whatever we receive of him will be good and for our good. His nature is good, therefore he does not know how to do or give anything but good to his people.  

Second, we see that “His mercy is everlasting.” When we see someone commit a crime or when someone wrongs us, we are quick to pass condemnation on them.  We long to see them “get what’s coming to them”, but with God it’s not that way. God has a mercy that extends to all men in all conditions. God’s ability to love and forgive will never run out. There will never come a time in your life where God will not willingly and lovingly extend his mercy to you when you need it. I say the everlasting mercy of God is something really worth being thankful for.

Last, “His truth endureth to all generations.” That is, every word and promise of God, every mercy, grace and expression of love, will be ready and available to every generation of people upon the earth until the end of time. If you are breathing, you have these promises available to you. When we read the words of God concerning the Bible characters of old, we watch in awe as God performs some amazing miracles in their lives. But listen child of God, the same word is preserved for you in your generation; God’s power is not diminished and his willingness to help has not waivered one ounce. All that He was for them He will be for you.

Be thankful unto him and bless His name!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Devotional Reading

 

Music from a Thankful Heart, part 1

Psalms 100:1-5  <A Psalm of praise.> Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  2  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.  3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, I would like to look closely at this Psalm. There are several aspects of this beautiful scripture we must consider in order to maintain a healthy level of thankfulness. I believe that the person who lives in this Psalm will live a happy and thankful life; today we will start with verses 1-2.

We start with the opening three commands of this Psalm; Make a joyful noise, Serve the LORD with gladness, and Come before his presence with thanksgiving. We will break down each command.

1. “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD all ye lands”

We are created and commanded to make a joyful noise unto the LORD. This joyful noise is in direct contrast to non-joyful noise such and complaining and murmuring. God wants to hear glad and happy voices coming from the mouths of his children. Too many people today poor-mouth and down play the blessings that God gives, we overlook his kindness when we don’t receive things we want; if you are truly happy then speak of those things. The command is “make” implying that sometimes it takes effort to say joyful things. If it requires effort for you to overcome a downcast spirit then put forth all the effort needed to make a joyful noise. This command is for “all” the lands, every nation and tribe should thank God and praise him with joyful noises. Every person alive today can praise the Almighty for life, food, clothing, family, health, and the opportunity of salvation and the hope of heaven that has been provided by God through his Son Jesus Christ. There are so many daily blessing we already have; we just need to appreciate them.

2. “Serve the LORD with Gladness”

Because God is so good to us, we should serve him. God desires that we serve him and make a difference for him in our respective communities. The message of Christ’s salvation must reach all people, God chose his people to get this message to the lost, and it is our duty to spread his message of hope and redemption.  Too many times we plan our day and year to serve ourselves or our flesh. We go about scheduling activities and events for our pleasure meanwhile the work of the LORD grows stale and moves to second place. We should serve him and do it with gladness. We should be happy to serve the one who gave his life for us. We should count it and honor to give our time for the one who gave his all for us. Don’t just serve God, serve him with gladness.

3. “Come before his presence with singing”

The natural result of a happy heart is singing. When we are happy or good mood we often find ourselves humming, whistling or even singing some upbeat tune. If we continually consider the wonderful blessings of God, we will continually have a song to sing. We are to come before his presence with singing. This means when we come to church, come happy and singing. When we come to God in prayer, come happy and singing. When we approach God for any conversation or purpose come happy and singing. When we sign it puts happy sound waves in the air, it promotes a lovely and peaceful environment for others to enjoy. God wants people around him to sing. What song should I sing you ask? Sing the song of a thankful heart, the song that tells of the happiness in your heart for the salvation, hope and blessings God had so graciously bestowed upon you. That is a song worth singing every day.

If you consider and practice these things, you will find more joy and peace in your heart and life each day.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Devotional Reading

 

As a Nurse…

1 Thessalonians 2:7  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children

The apostle Paul was writing to the dear and beloved church of Thessalonica that he founded on his second missionary journey. He wanted these Christians to know the characteristics of a real spiritual leader; not only to remember how Paul himself treated them, but how they were to act as upcoming leaders themselves. Here in this verse he listed a valuable trait of the spiritual leader…tenderness. I know this may appear to be a weakness among leaders, but it is a necessity for success in the wok of God. Christ was man enough to drive out the corrupt money changers from the temple but tender enough to accept the children sitting on his knee while he spoke. Listen to Paul’s words in our text verse.

Nurse” = nourisher…a mother nursing her child

cherisheth” = to warm to brood, to foster

The picture here is a mother nursing her child. As a mother tenderly draws her young baby to her breast and gives warmth and nourishment; so the spiritual leader gives nurturing attention to those around them.  Not only did he give the word nurse to show care and service but he combined it with the word cherisheth which means to foster or give the necessary care needed to help. Here is a picture of a mother hen not just giving life to her young chicks but drawing them close under the protection of her wings.

As a spiritual leader, we must be careful not be mechanical in our Christian service.  If we are not careful we can develop to attitude of “putting in our time” or “getting the job done.”  We can start focusing on simply doing our job and therefore loose the personal touch of ministry.  Serving Christ is more than just teaching a class, preaching, comforting, using our talents or fulfilling our office. Pleasing God in how we serve is as equally important as the service itself.  The loving nurse mother doesn’t just feed the child she loves; she nurtures, cares and cherishes as she serves. If a mother can care for a child in this way, how much more should a Christian nurse others into a deeper relationship with Christ. 

Someone once said “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  May we consider the work of Christ as important as a mother’s responsibility to her child. Let us strive to not only do the job, but to do it with great care and tenderness. We should be strong as iron and soft as velvet; or as Jesus said “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

 
 
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