VIDEO The stings of life – “Temple” from Kings

The stings of life

 

A 71-year-old woman was outside her home when a swarm of killer (Africanized) bees began stinging her. Neighbors called firefighters who rushed to the rescue—only to find the woman covered in a “suit of bees.” A blanket was thrown over her and she was carried into a neighbor’s house. Surprisingly, she survived more than 1,000 stings!

A remnant of Judah had returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon, only to be stung by the words and actions of the local pagan residents (Nehemiah 4:1-3). Once full of excitement and ready to rebuild the temple and the rest of the city, these Hebrews were now depressed and in a state of apathy. That’s when the prophet Haggai provided a fourfold message for them:

• Do the work—Haggai told them to give up their creature comforts and restore the temple and city for God’s glory (Haggai 1:1-15).

• Cling to God’s promises—The people could rest in the fact that God had not forgotten or abandoned them (Haggai 2:1-9).

• Pursue purity—God desired that they continue to follow His law and to be holy as He is holy (Haggai 2:10-19; Leviticus 11:44-45).

• Know that God rules—God reaffirmed that the line of kings leading to the Messiah and the kingdom He would usher in was intact and could not be broken (Haggai 2:20-23).

The stings of life can cause us to get bogged down in spiritual apathy. Perhaps you’re working for a difficult boss or have a family challenge that simply won’t go away. Whatever the issues are, remember this: God calls us to passionately serve Him as we rest in His promises. Pursue God and His rules, even as you find hope in the fact that He rules! May life’s stings inspire you to seek God—not slip into spiritual apathy.

by Tom Felten


Sermon: “Temple” from 1 Kings 8:1-66 | Unlocking the Bible

A Hand Up

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work sweeter and more effective (4:9), and a friend brings warmth to our lives. When we encounter challenges, it helps to have someone come alongside with practical and emotional support. These relationships can give us strength, purpose, and comfort.

When we find ourselves flattened on the cold ice of life’s hardships, is there a helping hand nearby? If so, it might be from God. Or when someone else needs a friend, could we be God’s answer to lift them up? In being a companion, we often find one. If it appears that no one is nearby to lift us to our feet again, we can find comfort in knowing that God is our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). As we reach out to Him, He’s ready to steady us with His firm grip.

Thank You, Father, for helping me up when life knocks me down. Thank You for the people You’ve used to encourage and strengthen me. Yours is the most faithful friendship I have.

How can you open yourself more fully to God’s presence in your life?

By Kirsten Holmberg 

INSIGHT

The author of Ecclesiastes (“the Teacher,” 1:1–2) is in the midst of a long lament about the meaninglessness of living for this world only. This particular section concerns a lonely rich man the Teacher has observed. Perhaps he has trampled all others on his way to the top. (Think of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge.) Regardless of how the man got there, the author recognizes the futility of such efforts and concludes, “Two are better than one” (4:9).

Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher’s larger point is that living with an earthbound view is cruelly dissatisfying. We toil and strive, yet we remain haunted by a vague sense that we’re missing something. As with all Scripture, Ecclesiastes must be understood within the context of the entire Bible. The early church fathers Jerome (ad347–420) and Ambrose (ad 340–397) were among the first to note that the companion we’re missing is Christ Himself.

Tim Gustafson

Giving and Receiving Exhortation

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Most of us are much more willing to receive instruction from our pastors than from fellow members of the congregation. Yet today’s passage gives us some surprising advice regarding how a church is to operate.

First of all, we are told to appreciate and esteem our leaders who have charge over us in the Lord. They are our shepherds, who feed us with the Word of God and care for our spiritual health and growth.

However, this passage also describes the responsibilities we have to admonish, encourage, and help one another in the church. We are not just spectators but are told to be actively involved in helping each other grow in the faith. Therefore, let’s consider some ways we can do this:

See God’s presence in difficulties. When we come alongside fellow believers, we can help them lift their focus from their circumstances and begin to view their trials as opportunities for spiritual pruning, growth, and discovery.

Become personally involved. Exhortation is best received through face-to-face meetings because the other person sees our care and concern. Furthermore, when we observe his or her response, the insight we gain helps us to understand the heart issues and perceive which biblical principles to apply.

Be teachable. In helping others grow toward spiritual maturity, we too must be willing to make changes in our own life, because we can’t pass wisdom on to others unless we’re pursuing it ourselves.

We’ve been entrusted with these responsibilities. Therefore, we must ground ourselves in scriptural truth so we can give wise guidance to others.

Wisdom and Might Really Are His

“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his.” (Daniel 2:20) 

Men have sought wisdom all through the ages, “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Others have sought great power. But then we read of Alexander weeping because there were no more worlds to conquer, and we see one rich man after another who cannot bring himself to say, “It is enough.”

The problem is, of course, that they are searching for wisdom and might in the wrong places, and thus they can never be satisfied. Wisdom and might belong only to God. In the Lord Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), and to Him has been given “all power . . . in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God, revealed in Christ, is both omniscient and omnipotent, and true wisdom and true riches must come only from Him.

Therefore, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). If we are in need of strength, we must become weak, for “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). If we need riches, we must know poverty, for before Christ can commit to us “the true riches,” we must be found “faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10-11).

Daniel’s testimony, as recorded in this passage, was given to the most powerful monarch on Earth, with access to all the wisdom of the most highly educated men of the age. But neither human might nor human wisdom could solve his problem. Only Daniel, drawing on the wisdom and power of the God of creation, could meet his need. God’s servants, even today, have the same privilege and responsibility, because our God is “for ever and ever.” HMM

If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed

1 Peter 4

1 Peter 4:2

We reckon the sufferings and death of Jesus to be ours. We cannot, therefore, love the sin for which such sufferings were endured. We have, in Jesus, been put to death for sin, and henceforth we are dead to it.

1 Peter 4:3-5

Regeneration makes a marvellous change in men, and it generally happens that the ungodly see it, and at once begin to persecute the convert. Have we been converted? If so, we may expect opposition, but we need not be afraid of it, for the Lord is on our side.

1 Peter 4:6

Our departed brethren heard the gospel to this end, that, though condemned to die by their cruel persecutors, they might win the immortal crown, and glorify God as his witnesses.

1 Peter 4:8

Of love, the Christian poet sings

 

“‘Tis gentle, delicate, and kind

To faults compassionate or blind.”

 

1 Peter 4:11

trying to follow both the sense and spirit of the inspired Scripture

1 Peter 4:11

if any man minister or render service

1 Peter 4:13

By such exhortations as these the heroes of the cross were trained to endurance, so that they defied death, and torments worse than death. Have we any of their brave spirit?

1 Peter 4:14-18

A solemn question! Answer it, each one of you, if you are still unsaved. Where will you appear? Oh, be wise, and fly to Jesus; enlist beneath his banner, cost you what it may. May the Lord lead you to do so.

 

Press forward and fear not! though trial be near:

The Lord is our refuge—whom then shall we fear?

His staff is our comfort, our safeguard his rod;

Then let us be steadfast and trust in our God.

 

Press forward and fear not! we’ll speed on our way;

Why should we e’er shrink from our path in dismay?

We tread but the way which our Leader has trod;

Then let us press forward and trust in our God.

 

Just Let the Day Dawn

The path of the just… shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)

The Bible tells us that when a person becomes a Christian, it is as though the sun has come up and the day has dawned. Then his experience along the path should be like the glowing light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day!

This brings us to a question: if all Christians are alike in standing and state, why did Jesus point out three distinctions in the Christian life—”some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold”?

If we are all alike and have all “arrived” at the same place and state, why did the Apostle Paul tell the Philippian Christians—”I have suffered the loss of all things, that I may know Him and if by any means, I might attain unto that superior resurrection”?

I am of the opinion that we cannot experience that which we have not believed. I still think we must instruct and urge men and women, toiling along in average and common Christian ways, to move forward and claim spiritual victory they have not yet known.

 

High Places of Defense

“He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” Isa. 33:16

The man to whom God has given grace to be of blameless life dwells in perfect security.

He dwells on high, above the world, out of gunshot of the enemy, and near to Heaven. He has high aims and motives, and he finds high comforts and company. He rejoices in the mountains of eternal love, wherein he has his abode.

He is defended by munitions of stupendous rock. The firmest things in the universe are the promises and purposes of the unchanging God, and these are the safeguard of the obedient believer.

He is provided for by this great promise, “Bread shall be given him.” As the enemy cannot climb the fort, nor break down the rampart, so the fortress cannot be captured by siege and famine. The Lord, who rained manna in the wilderness, will keep His people in good store even when they are surrounded by those who would starve them.

But what if water should fail? That cannot be, “his waters shall be sure.” There is a never-failing well within the impregnable fortress. The Lord sees that nothing is wanting. None can touch the citizen of the true Zion. However fierce the enemy, the Lord will preserve His chosen.

 

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