Jan 14, 2016
Could you forgive the man who murdered your mother ?
Jan 14, 2016
Could you forgive the man who murdered your mother ?
Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. Nehemiah 2:17
When Edward Klee returned to Berlin after being away for many years, the city he remembered and loved was no longer there. It had changed dramatically, and so had he. Writing in Hemispheres magazine, Klee said, “Returning to a city you once loved tends to be a hit-or-miss proposition . . . . It can be a letdown.” Going back to the places of our past may produce a feeling of sorrow and loss. We are not the same person we were then, nor is the place that was so significant in our lives exactly as it was.
Nehemiah had been in exile from the land of Israel for many years when he learned of the desperate plight of his people and the devastation in the city of Jerusalem. He received permission from Artaxerxes, the Persian king, to return and rebuild the walls. After a night reconnaissance to examine the situation (Neh. 2:13–15), Nehemiah told the inhabitants of the city, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (v. 17).
Nehemiah did not return to reminisce but to rebuild. It’s a powerful lesson for us as we consider the damaged parts of our past that need repair. It is our faith in Christ and His power that enables us to look ahead, move forward, and rebuild.
Thank You, Lord, for the work You are doing in us and through us.
We cannot change the past, but God is changing us for the future.
An anchor was a popular image in the ancient Mediterranean world. Because that economy depended on shipping, the anchor came to symbolize safety and steadiness. The writer of Hebrews used the word to remind believers that God has given a hope that holds firm in any storm.
Hope is a healthy attitude. Anticipating good brings comfort to the mind and heart. In contrast, a state of hopelessness is a terrible condition in which to find oneself. It’s overwhelming and depressing to think that what you’re facing cannot be changed or resolved. For the person who has lost all hope, life looks like a long, dark tunnel going nowhere.
Included in Proverbs is a verse that describes the result of this oppressive feeling: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). Emotional, physical, and even mental illness haunt a person who feels trapped in a bleak situation. But as long as there is a God, no situation is hopeless. In Him, we have the promise of the second half of that proverb: “Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Believers have a hope that anchors their soul. Our relationship with Jesus Christ brings us close to the throne of heaven, where we can cast all our burdens before an omnipotent God. Moreover, we can cling to Him through any trial that comes our way. Because of the Lord’s great love, He provides strength for weary bodies, peace for anxious minds, and comfort for grieving hearts. In short, He lights that darkened tunnel and tenderly guides us through trying situations.
“O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1)
The theme of singing is frequently found in the Bible. Probably the first song ever sung was by God’s angels at the time of creation as God laid the cornerstone of the earth, “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).
There are nine occasions when a “new song” was to be sung by the people of God. The very first, appropriately, was to extol God’s Word and His creation. “Sing unto him a new song; . . . For the word of the LORD is right,” and then “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made” (Psalm 33:3-6). Then the second new song is placed prophetically on the lips of Christ, representing His thoughts on the cross after His sufferings were finished and He had paid the redemption price for all our sins. “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, . . . And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Psalm 40:2-3).
The next has to do with spreading the good news. “O sing unto the LORD a new song: . . . shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:1-3). The fourth is our text, focusing on Christ’s future coming as King. The next three new songs (Psalms 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10) continue that great theme.
Finally, there are two new songs to be sung by the redeemed in heaven (Revelation 5:9; 14:3). We shall then all be singing to the Lord Jesus Christ: “Thou art worthy . . . : for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10). HMM
Bad as his neighbours were, Lot had not forgotten to be hospitable. Grace does not flourish in bad companionship, but still it lives.
Then at nightfall followed a horrible scene in which the angels saw for themselves that Sodom was filthy, cruel, malicious, and abominable. Those holy beings, therefore, shut to the door, and waited till the morning to execute the sentence of God upon the city. It was time that such a den of abominations should be swept away. Meanwhile, Lot went to his sons-in-law, and urged them to fly with him, but they thought him mad, and refused.
It is true kindness to men to warn them earnestly of their danger; and we cannot be too pressing in urging them to escape.
We must repeat our warnings, and use holy violence with sinners. At the same time let us beware of lingering ourselves. We are never safe a single moment till we have fled to Jesus.
Though Lot was not such a believer as Abraham, yet being a good man his prayer was heard, and at his request a little city was saved. Was not this also an answer to Abraham’s prayer?
Lot’s prayer saved Zoar, but could not save his wife. A minister may bring thousands to Jesus, and yet his own household may perish. The Scripture says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Remember that she was Lot’s wife, and yet was destroyed. She was half way to Zoar and out of Sodom, and yet escaped not, and all because her heart was still with sinners, and she could not leave them. She started to escape, but she started aside. O for grace to persevere.
Remember Lot’s wife, and beware of even a desire to return to old sins, lest we prove ourselves unworthy of eternal life. This terrible chapter should make us tremble if we have not reached the mountain of atoning love. Let us not delay, but flee to Jesus now, and put our trust in him.
Hasten, sinner, to be blest,
Stay not for the morrow’s sun,
Lest perdition thee arrest
Ere the morrow is begun.
Lord, do thou the sinner turn!
Rouse him from his senseless state;
Let him not thy counsel spurn,
Rue his fatal choice too late!
I don’t know about you, but I believe the word “hate” is a very strong word that should only rarely be used. When our children were young, Denise and I forbade our children to use this word. Even if we strongly disliked something or someone, we never allowed ourselves or our children to use the word “hate” to describe this strong dislike. It was simply too strong an expression to describe how we or our children felt about something or someone.
But there is a proper time and place for hate! Jude 1:23 gives us an example of one of those times. It says, “… Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
The word “hate” in this verse is taken from the word miseo. It is one of the strongest, fiercest words in the Greek New Testament. In fact, it is so strong that it actually carries the idea of a hatred that can turn violent. So when Jude tells us to “hate” the garments spotted by the flesh, he isn’t talking about a mere dislike of something; he is talking about a radical, violent aversion to something.
The Greek word miseo is the same Greek word that is used in Revelation 2:6 and 2:15, when Jesus declares that He “hates” the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Because the word miseo is used in these verses, the Bible categorically tells us that Jesus had no taste for what the Nicolaitans were doing. In Jesus’ opinion, their deeds and teachings were repugnant, disgusting, revolting repulsive, and nauseating. The Lord Jesus possessed a deep-seated aversion to their activities and found their deeds abhorrent.
Now Jude uses this Greek word miseo in Jude 1:23 when he writes, “… Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” There is no doubt about it. Jude is letting us know that we should have a strong aversion to sin—so strong that it allows absolutely no tolerance for sin in our lives or in the lives of other believers.
This part of verse 23 could be taken to mean:
“When it comes to sin in your life or in the lives of others, you should have no stomach for it at all. In fact, your feelings about sin should be so strong that you possess an aversion and repugnance to it….”
Our aversion to sin should be so fierce that Jude says we are to hate “… even the garment spotted by the flesh.” The word “garment” (from the Greek word chiton) was used in ancient times to describe a persons undergarment. You see, the outer robe may be changed to look fresh and clean while the undergarment remains just as dirty as ever! A new, clean robe may hide the truth that a persons undergarment is filthy—but this disguise doesn’t alter the fact that he has a deeper problem to deal with!
Sin isn’t just a superficial, outward problem. If we allow wrong attitudes and behavior to continue in our lives, this moral decay will eventually permeate deeper than the surface and penetrate even to the deepest, most hidden parts of our souls. The defilement may begin as an outward problem, the same way loose dirt can soil a man’s outer garment. But if this filth is never dealt with, it will begin to work its way through every area of a person’s life until he is completely defiled.
When this happens, Jude says the person has been “spotted by the flesh.” The word “spotted” is the word spilos. It means to stain, defile, or contaminate. This person could have dealt with his moral problems before the problem got so serious. However, through neglect he allowed that filth to contaminate his entire life.
Thus, the second part of this verse conveys this idea:
“… And don’t just deal with the superficial issues of sin by cloaking yourself with a garment that hides the true picture. Be honest with yourself about your true situations. And be hard on sin, refusing to allow it access to the deeper parts of your life. If sin sinks that deep below the surface, it won’t be long until you are completely contaminated and affected by it.”
It is imperative that we understand the consequences of sin and learn to hate even the smallest hint of its presence in our lives. If we don’t deal with sin while it’s still a small, superficial problem, it will become a much deeper problem—and much more difficult to deal with!
So before you do anything else today, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to those areas of your life that need attention and correction. He will lovingly point them out to you and then show you how to change!
Lord, help me see sin the way You see it so that I have no stomach for it in my life. I know that as long as I view sin only as a mistake or a weakness, I will be tempted to tolerate it. So I ask You to teach me to see sin exactly the way You do so my desire for change will grow. Holy Spirit, help me see the truth and know the proper steps I need to take in order to make those needed changes.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I understand the consequences of sin and that I hate even the smallest hint of sin in my life. I will deal with sin while it is still a small, superficial problem so that it never becomes a much deeper problem. The Holy Spirit opens my eyes to those areas of my life that need attention and correction. He lovingly shows me what needs to change, and I willingly obey Him as He shows me how to change.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
OUR MODUS OPERANDI IN BUSINESS, AND THE WAY THE HOLY SPIRIT DESIRES TO WORK IN AND THROUGH US ARE OFTEN THE EXACT OPPOSITE FROM EACH OTHER.
In business it is our wit, our persuasive abilities, our genius in manipulating and controlling circumstances, and our cleverness in creating certain impressions that spell “success”. Or so it seems.
When we try however to apply these same forces in the spiritual realm, NOTHING OF ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE HAPPENS.
Because we are by nature CONTROLLERS, we find the freedom of the Spirit’s working difficult to relate to. The Holy Spirit simply will not be controlled or manipulated:
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
In similar fashion, Psalm 37 calls us to release our control and rest in Him:
|Our Natural Inclination:
|Verse 3 – “Trust in the Lord… ”
|Rely upon our cleverness
|Verse 4 – “Delight in the Lord… ”
|Fret over circumstances
|Verse 5 – “Commit your way to the Lord… ”
|Engineer the next step|
|Verse 7 – “Rest in the Lord… “||Grind our teeth over eventualities
|Verse 34 – “Wait for the Lord… “||Rush ahead to clinch the deal
If we were truly depending upon God rather than ourselves, would we not also be applying the same elements of patience, waiting and resting… YES the freedom of the Spirit’s leading, to our business as we should be to the “ministry?”
In fact, the distinction between our mind set and our methods in business and ministry would probably be indistinguishable.
After all, isn’t everything we do supposed to be a work of the Spirit of God?
Jan 14, 2016
Spared by a God he didn’t believe in, Jason Malek comes home with shrapnel wounds in his legs and the memory of his best friend dying in combat. As Jason struggles with the question of why he heard a voice that saved his life, he meets new neighbors who have challenges of their own. As he grows closer to them he discovers they have needs he is uniquely prepared to meet. He also learns more about his relationship to his father, who had been killed in a tragic accident when Jason was a young boy. In the end, he finds that coming home meant much more than what he had thought.
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58
Jeralean Talley died in June 2015 as the world’s oldest living person—116 years of age. In 1995, the city of Jerusalem celebrated its 3,000th birthday. One hundred sixteen is old for a person, and 3,000 is old for a city, but there are trees that grow even older. A bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains has been determined to be older than 4,800 years. That precedes the patriarch Abraham by 800 years!
Jesus, when challenged by the Jewish religious leaders about His identity, also claimed to pre-date Abraham. “Very truly I tell you,” He said, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). His bold assertion shocked those who were confronting Him, and they sought to stone Him. They knew He wasn’t referring to a chronological age but was actually claiming to be eternal by taking the ancient name of God, “I am” (see Ex. 3:14). But as a member of the Trinity, He could make that claim legitimately.
In John 17:3, Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” The timeless One entered into time so we could live forever. He accomplished that mission by dying in our place and rising again. Because of His sacrifice, we anticipate a future not bound by time, where we will spend eternity with Him. He is the timeless one.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine. John Newton
Learn more about the life to come at discoveryseries.org/q1205.
Christ holds all things together. Colossians 1:17
Does peace come naturally for you, or does it feel like a constant struggle? Sometimes it seems as if so many things are actively working against our peace that our spirit may never know a moment’s rest. How can we quiet distractions long enough to hear God’s voice?
The key is found within a word that may make you uncomfortable: meditation. Perhaps you’re thinking, All that meditation stuff is what other religions call “finding yourself.” I’m not going to waste my time with that. What a horrible misconception. My friend, meditation is not about listening to yourself; on the contrary, it is about quieting your own mind and listening for the gentle whispers of the Lord.
Think about your prayer life. Whose voice is more prominent—yours or the Father’s? For most people, the vast majority of prayer time is spent talking to God, thanking Him for what He’s done, and asking for help. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but if you never give Him time to answer, how will you know what He wants to communicate to you?
The time we spend listening is a good indication of how much we respect and enjoy the relationship. If we dominate the conversation, then we may be showing God by our actions that His opinions are not as important as our own—we’d never say those words so plainly, but our actions may be proclaiming that very message.
Are you listening to God? Commit to listen quietly for what He wants to share with you.
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