Jun 29, 2013
Jun 29, 2013
Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness. Psalm 119:159
Huda Shaarawi was a remarkable woman who, as a child, was secluded in a Cairo harem but who ended up working for women’s rights in Egypt and becoming a national hero. In her memoirs, she told of an older woman, Madame Richard, who became a mentor and encourager to her. Shaarawi wrote, “We took special pleasure in the company of Mme Richard who often joined us while we read, played the piano, or embroidered. When we were blue, her blithe spirit and soothing words revived us as the morning dew revives wilting blossoms.”1
Have you ever known anyone who could talk with you awhile and revive your spirits as the morning dew revives wilting blossoms? We all have such a friend. When we open God’s Word at any point throughout the day, He speaks to us with such strong and soothing words that our hearts are revived, our spirits are restored, and our souls are strengthened. As we study the Word, our understanding of God’s unchangeable, unconditional love is refreshed and renewed in our hearts.
Then we can be reviving to others.
We do not so much search the Word of God as the Word of God searches us. There is reviving power in the Word that we, as a church, need to harness. Barry Black, Chaplain to the United States Senate
1 Samuel 24
Pride causes us to think that we can manage life’s situations ourselves and make our own plans. The first two kings of Israel—Saul and David—illustrate different approaches to handling pride.
Saul’s high opinion of himself resulted in decisions that were contrary to the Lord’s commands. For example, having defeated the Philistines, the king reasoned that he should take some spoils of war, even though God had said otherwise. When confronted by Samuel, he replied that his plan was “to sacrifice [the animals] to the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:15). God saw through his words to a heart of pride. If self-centeredness controls our thinking, we’ll seek ways around divine commands in order to serve ourselves. When caught, we may try to justify our disobedience, as Saul did.
David—Israel’s second king, chosen while Saul was still on the throne—didn’t try to initiate his own reign. Instead, he waited for God’s timing. That meant enduring Saul’s jealous rages and murder attempts, but still he wouldn’t retaliate. In fact, even when he had the opportunity, David refused to seize the throne; he didn’t allow pride to dominate his thinking. Later on, he coveted another man’s wife and committed adultery, but when he was challenged, his humble heart prompted repentance (2 Samuel 12:13).
To prevent prideful behavior, we must refuse to act independently of the Lord. Like David, we should handle self-centeredness by turning to God in confession. David’s sins were forgiven. Saul, on the other hand, never admitted he’d made any mistakes, and that led to his downfall.
“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee.” (Job 40:15)
As God responded to Job, He spent an unusual amount of time referring to animals Job would be familiar with—lions, goats, unicorns (probably the aurochs or wild ox), peacocks, the ostrich, the horse, hawks, and eagles, all within 33 verses.
Then, as though Job needed to pay special attention, God took 44 verses to talk about two animals—behemoth (Job 40:15-24) and leviathan (Job 41:1-34)—citing the behavior and descriptions of these very large animals. Why the interest? Why should it matter?
To begin with, behemoth was “made with thee.” Whatever it was, it was created at the same time as man. Behemoth was an enormous animal that “moveth his tail like a cedar” and had bones like “strong pieces of bronze” and “bars of iron.” Behemoth was “the chief of the ways of God; only he that made him can make his sword to approach him.” This animal illustrates something of the enormous power of the Creator and gives evidence that only God could control it (Job 40:15-19).
Today, with only fossil bones to give some idea of the enormity of this animal, science would likely call behemoth an Apatosaurus. This creature really lived in the past. The fossils indicate it was between 70 and 90 feet long and nearly 15 feet high at the hips. The tail was about 50 feet long (remember the cedar tree), and it had peg-like teeth that suggest its diet was plants. The legs were like columns. Estimates suggest that the animal weighed around 35 tons.
With this much known evidence, it is sad to see the notes in the margins of many Bibles insisting that the behemoth was either an elephant or a hippopotamus. Perhaps these “scoffers” are “willingly ignorant” (2 Peter 3:3-5). HMM III
Adapted from The Book of Beginnings by Dr. Henry M. Morris III.
Each census was to be attended with a redemption. Every one of the Lord’s people was thus to be redeemed as a testimony to all generations that redemption is essential to acceptance with God. Had we not been bought with a price, the fierce plagues of divine punishment would have followed us even to the lowest hell.
God sets his own estimate upon men, for he best knows their value. The standard of our indebtedness is not left to be fixed by our own feelings; the Lord’s own will is the law of our condition. Duty is duty, because He requires it.
Exodus 30:14, 15
Believers vary in knowledge, gifts, and graces, but they are all redeemed with the same price. The meanest believer was bought with the same blood as the chief of the apostles. The poor, the obscure, the faulty, the illiterate, are as dear to the heart of Jesus as the richest and most gifted saint. What a sweet thought! Here is the true equality. “His righteousness is unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference.” Let us all equally bless and love the Lord by whose blood we are equally redeemed.
A memorial of them testifying that the price was paid, and a memorial to them of their great indebtedness to the Redeemer.
The obligations arising out of our redemption by the Lord Jesus are set forth in 1 Peter 1:15-21.
1 Peter 1:16
The essence of religion consists in the imitation of him whom we worship.
1 Peter 1:17
Let a childlike fear of offending your Great Father ever restrain you from sin. “Blessed is the man who feareth always.”
1 Peter 1:18-19
The same price which redeems us from destruction also redeems us from our vain conversation; and this is no less than the heart’s blood of the Son of God. Until the world can offer us something more precious than the blood of Jesus, we shall feel ourselves bound by bonds of love to walk in holiness, to Jesus’ praise.
1 Peter 1:20, 21
The love of Jesus to us is no novelty; he was ordained to redeem us ere worlds began; let none of the trifles of earth charm us with their new pretensions. It was truly practical love which brought him to earth to be our suffering substitute; let our love be practical too; not in word only, but in deed and in truth. O to be a redeemed family, and to live as such. The Lord grant it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving Thee,
And knows no other shame.
As one by whom Thy walk below
Should never be forgot;
As one who fain would keep apart
From all Thou lovest not.
Mark 14:44, 45
Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a true friend? You had walked with him and spent much time with him; you had shared your thoughts and even your secrets with him, thinking that everything you said would be held in confidence between the two of you. Then you discovered that the commitment you felt for that person was not what he felt for you. Can you recall any hurtful moments in your life like this?
This is what happened to Jesus on the night Judas betrayed Him. It was no accidental betrayal, but one that was premeditated and meticulously implemented. Before Judas led the soldiers and temple police to the Garden of Gethsemane, he met with the religious leaders and negotiated a deal for Jesus’ capture. During these meetings, he disclosed information about where Jesus prayed and where He met with His disciples. Judas must have also told them about Jesus’ phenomenal power, which explains why so many troops came with weapons to arrest Jesus that night. It was in those meetings with the religious leaders that Judas agreed to receive a payment of thirty pieces of silver for delivering Jesus into their hands.
Because many of the soldiers and temple police had never seen Jesus before, Judas devised a special signal that would alert them to know who Jesus was. Mark 14:44 calls this special signal a “token,” from the Greek word sussemon, meaning a signal previously agreed upon. This makes it emphatically clear that the kiss Judas gave Jesus was nothing more than a signal devised to let the troops know they needed to move swiftly to make their arrest.
Judas must have been very confused. On the one hand, he warned the religious leaders about Jesus’ supernatural power so strongly that the soldiers arrived on the scene prepared to put up a serious fight with weapons of murder. But on the other hand, Judas told them that he thought he could deliver Jesus into their hands with a mere kiss!
These two conflicting pictures provide an excellent example to demonstrate the kind of confusion created inside a person who walks in deception. Deception is a powerful force that twists and distorts one’s ability to see things clearly. Deceived people misperceive, misunderstand, misrepresent, and misjudge—and later don’t even understand why they did what they did.
The different mixed signals Judas was giving about Jesus make it evident that Judas was both deceived and confused. He told the soldiers and temple police, “… Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.” The word “kiss” is the Greek word phileo. This well-known Greek word is used to show strong emotion, affection, and love. Later, it came to represent such strong affection that it was used only between people who had a strong bond or a deeply felt obligation to each other, such as husbands and wives or family members. Later on, it came to be used as a form of greeting between especially dear and cherished friends.
During the time that the Gospels were written, the word phileo would have depicted friends who were bound by some kind of obligation or covenant and who cherished each other very deeply. On the basis of this deep emotion, it also became the Greek word for a kiss as a man would give his wife, as parents and children might give to each other, or as a brother or sister might give to his or her siblings.
In Mark 14:44, this word depicts not just a kiss of friendship, but a symbol of deep love, affection, obligation, covenant, and relationship. Giving this kind of kiss was a powerful symbol to everyone who saw it. Strangers would never greet each other with a kiss, for it was a greeting reserved only for the most special of relationships. This is why Paul later told the Early Church in Rome to “salute one another with an holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16). It was a symbol in that day of deep affection, commitment, and covenant.
Judas knew beforehand that he could give Jesus such a kiss. This lets us know that he and Jesus were not strangers but had a unique, friendly relationship. As the bookkeeper and treasurer of the ministry, Judas had assuredly met often with Jesus to discuss ministry finances and disbursement of funds. It seems that during their three-year working relationship, they became dear and cherished friends—so close that Judas had the privilege of giving Jesus a kiss of friendship, a privilege reserved only for the intimate few.
On the very night of Jesus’ betrayal, He served Communion to all His disciples, including Judas Iscariot. That Communion was a reaffirmation of His covenant to all twelve of them. Jesus understood what it meant to be in covenant. He knew He would have to lay down His life to empower that covenant and make it real. And just as Jesus reaffirmed His covenant to the other disciples that night, He also confirmed it to Judas. Jesus extended His genuine love and commitment to Judas as He offered him the bread and wine, and Judas feigned commitment by accepting the bread and the wine as symbols of the covenant.
However, Judas’ loyalty to Jesus was fatally flawed. As noted above, that night Judas told the troops and temple police, “… Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.”
Betraying Jesus with a kiss was about as low as a person could go. It was like saying, “You and I are friends forever. Now please turn around so I can sink my dagger into your back!” You see, the kiss Judas gave was a false kiss that revealed insincerity, bogus love, and a phony commitment. The fact that it was premeditated made it even worse. This was no last-minute, accidental betrayal; it was well-planned and very deliberate. Judas played the game all the way to the end, working closely with Jesus and remaining a part of His inner circle. Then at the preappointed time, Judas drove in the dagger as deep as he could!
When I travel and speak with people, I repeatedly hear stories of those who have felt betrayed by someone they dearly loved and trusted. Although they never gave the other person a kiss as a symbol of their affection, they opened their hearts, shared their secrets, and gave a part of themselves to him or her. Then later they discovered that the person they loved and trusted wasn’t as he or she seemed. That kind of discovery can be a very traumatic and emotional ordeal.
Have you ever experienced betrayal somewhere along the way from a friend or associate you thought was a true friend—only to find out later that he or she wasn’t? Did you wonder, How could this person behave like this after we’ve been together for so many years?
Something was evidently wrong in the relationship from the beginning. Maybe you subconsciously knew something was wrong, but you loved the person so much that you didn’t want to see what your heart was telling you. Or perhaps you really were blind to what was happening right under your nose.
When someone becomes a betrayer, you can be certain that: 1) the person was never who you thought he or she was to begin with, or 2) you sensed something wasn’t right but allowed yourself to go ahead with the relationship anyway.
Does either of these scenarios describe you? Have you been burned by someone you trusted? If you allow your hurt to fester and grow inside you, it will only make you bitter and ugly. It’s time for you to forgive and let go of that offense so you can move on with your life.
Jesus always knew that Judas would be His betrayer; nevertheless, Jesus loved Judas, working closely with him and even sharing Communion with him on the same night of his betrayal!
You may ask, Why did Jesus extend so much of Himself to someone He knew would be disloyal to Him? Let me answer this question by posing a few questions to you:
If you’re honest, your answer to all four of these questions will be “Yes, I’ve done that!” Jesus knew you would do these things even before He called you and saved you. But did He throw you out, reject you, or disown you? No, He forgave you, and He is still forgiving you now. Aren’t you glad that Jesus has so much patience with you? Aren’t you grateful He gives you so many chances to get things right?
So just learn from the experience, and determine to never let a Judas be your best friend again. Then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the finest friends you’ve ever had in your life! Yes, it has been painful, but if you’ll allow this experience to work for you and not against you, it will make you a stronger and better person. And when you come out on the other side, you’ll be in a position to understand what others are going through who have been hurt by betrayal so you can be a help and a blessing to them!
Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve been a Judas! I am so sorry for the times I’ve been unfaithful or hurtful to people who thought they could trust me. I truly repent for repeating things that were told to me in confidence, for I know it would have hurt me deeply if someone had done the same thing to me. Help me go back to those whom I have hurt and ask for their forgiveness. Please restore my fellowship with those people, and help me never to repeat this wrong behavior again!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I use wisdom in the way I choose my closest friends. Because the Holy Spirit is constantly illuminating my mind with insight, I discern who is a real friend and who isn’t. Even more, I confess that I am a real friend and not a betrayer of the people who are dear to me. When the devil tempts me to open my mouth and repeat things that were told to me in confidence, I do not do it! I am a friend who can be trusted. I will never be known as a betrayer to the friends God has brought into my life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Have you ever experienced betrayal somewhere along the way from a friend or associate you thought was a true friend—only to find out later that he or she wasn’t?
What do you do when the foundation of your business or profession seems to be crumbling beneath you?
If in our professional life we view ourselves as the resource that brings about success, we will continuously live from one anxious crisis to another. A sense of dread will pervade the organization.
Recently I had dinner with the president of a company that is faltering. The guy can’t sleep at night. He’s having physical problems that are stress-induced… And he entertains a death wish: “Lord, it would be OK with me if this plane never landed and You took me… ”
If we are to have inner peace, we must settle the issue as to just who it is that is building our business… Who it is who (as the Psalmist puts it) is building our “house“:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalm 127:1, 2)
This morning during my devotions, with this friend’s plight on my mind, I came across Proverbs 18:10:
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
So, when the pressure is on… where do you run first:
Or to the Lord, whose Name is a strong tower of safety?
Prayer: “Lord, today, amidst the pressures of business… Amidst the competitive striving of men to manipulate and control one another, help me to rest in You, my Shield, my Wisdom, and yes! My Provider… In Jesus‘ strong Name. Amen.”