Thursday, January 31, 2013

Praise Ye the Lord

 19Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house of Aaron:
 20Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD.
 21Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. 
(Psalm 135:19-21, King James Version)

Praise Ye the Lord

Psalm 135 ends with a glorious praise to God by calling all peoples, "Praise ye the Lord." Beginning with the nation, then the extended family, then the family, all who fear the Lord are called to bless Him.

As I am writing this devotion, I am looking out the window watching heavy snow float down and then wisp sideways by the strong winds. Living right downtown, there is plenty of action outside our window this morning. Snow plows are trying to make the roads somewhat passable, cars are trying to keep moving, and snow blowers are chugging along the sidewalks. I am amazed at how quickly everything changes, in this case, in the event of a significant snow. Yet, we are only speaking of a 6 inch snow. How much more does everything change when the snow amounts to two or three times that amount.

In truth, we are very fragile creatures. We do best when temperatures hover around the 70 degree mark, but are quickly paralyzed if those same temperatures drop to 70 degrees below zero, or rise to over 120 degrees. Our earth is sustained by God's Almighty hand, yet how much do we take our day to day lives for granted. Only when extreme conditions, such as a "200 year" flood, or a massive outbreak of tornados, or a monstrous hurricane crouches over New Orleans or New York City, do we remember to stop and thank God for His sustaining hand upon us.

Unfortunately, even though we see through Scripture, God's hand actively sustaining the nation of Israel or bringing judgment upon them for their sin, we fail to realize that God works in the same way today. When we look at the horrendous sin which overtakes nation after nation, why do we not see God's hand of judgment when the forces of nature seem to overpower or cripple the economy of one nation after another? Even closer, when we see the predominant sin in our own country, as believers, why are we not down on our hands and knees crying out for our nation?

I fear that we, as believers, have been lulled into complacency, no longer even being shocked by the sin of our people. So, as we look out upon a cold and stormy winter storm (in my case, anyway), let us remember that it is God who loves us, it is God who sustains us, and it is God who protects us, not only from the forces of nature, but from the forces of sin which surround us.

As God's people, let us rise to the occasion and praise Him for His great and mighty hand of blessing upon us. Without the Lord, where would we be? I shudder to even think of the answer to that question.

So, this day, as you go about your normal duties, remember the words of the Psalmist, and "Praise ye the Lord!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Idols

 15The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
 16They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;
 17They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
 18They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them. 
(Psalm 135:15-18, King James Version)

Idols

The Psalmist tells us that the idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. After describing them in more detail, he ends with, "They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them."

What of us in the 21st century? Yes, physical idols still do exist in many countries, and among many peoples, but what of those in countries which no longer worship at the feet of a physical idol? Has idolatry ceased to exist in those countries?

Look at what Paul said of idolatry in the book of Colossians.  5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, (Colossians 3:5-6, New King James Version)

Though we may not bow before a physical idol, yet if our heart runs after the things of this world, especially fornication, uncleanness, unchecked passion, evil desire, and covetousness (just to name a few), then we are still guilty of idolatry before the Lord. Anything that comes between us and our love and service to the Lord is idolatry.

In other words, idolatry can even be something that is not in and of itself evil. If we put other people or other things before God in our love and service to Him, those things have become idols. Even more, an idol does not need to be a physical thing. If our passions and longings for success, for example, are greater than our love for the Lord, then those same passions and longings have become idols to us.

What are popular idols of our day? Fame, fortune, and power are probably the big three in the 21st century. Some are so greedy of fame that they will even seek to be infamous if it will get their name in the newspaper, on the internet, or in the history books. Fortune, of course is number one! How many of us believe, even though we know it is not true, that all of our problems will be solved if we just win the lottery. But, what of power? Just think for a moment how glorious it would be to be the president or ruler of your country. Men and women will go to great lengths, even at the sacrifice of the lives of others, just to gain power.

In the end, it all comes down to our first love, does it not? God is to hold the first place in our hearts. No one and no thing should ever be before Him. That includes spouses, children, parents, friends, and any physical thing.

Is God unjust for requiring such a thing? Think for a minute of what God provides for His people. Lost and condemned, God, through the death, resurrection, and ascension of His only Son, has reached down and plucked us from certain and eternal death in hell. Through no merit or help from us, He has picked us up, placed us on stable ground, and has said, "Live." Has he then left us to go on our own? No! He is our constant help and companion all the days of our lives, and after this life, will take us safely to be with Him forever. Considering all of that, is it too much for Him to ask to be first in our hearts? No!

Go, then, this day and seek the Lord God. Pray that He will help you remove any and all idols from your heart and life, that you may prostrate yourself before Him both now and forever!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

God Endures Forever!

 13Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.
 14For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants. 
(Psalm 135:13-14, King James Version)

God Endures Forever!

How vibrant these words appear when one considers that it has been thousands of years since they were first written! Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. Indeed, God endures forever! Here we are in the 21st century AD, still praising His name and praising God for His Word, much of what was written thousands of years ago. Like the saints of God in the Old Testament, we can hardly praise God enough for the goodness He shows to His people.

How can we even begin to comprehend the greatness of God, who seeing man fall hopelessly into sin (sin that would destroy him forever), already had a plan in place to redeem a people for Himself? None of us deserves the great love which God has bestowed upon us. All of us must fall helplessly before Him and praise Him for such a great redemption, granted to us without money or cost to us. There was a cost, however! That cost was paid by our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who offered Himself, though He was perfect and righteous, as full payment for all of our sins.

How, then, can man reject such an offer? Truly the blindness of man, lost and apart from the Lord is astounding to behold. The lifeline is there, but they refuse its offer--a mistake they will regret forever! For, as verse 14 proclaims, "For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants."

Because God is righteous and holy, judgment must come. No court system can be kept pure which does not punish the offenders, for then there would be no vindication for the victims. But, what does the Psalmist mean when he said, "He will repent himself concerning his servants."?

The New King James version translates verse 14 in this way: "For the LORD will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants." God repents, or turns away from the sin of His people by providing perfect righteousness for them by the blood of His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have left us in our sin and misery to perish and be condemned forever, but He chose a people for Himself, pulled them from the fiery brands of wickedness, bathed them in the blood of Christ, and made them pure, righteous, and holy.

Amazing love, 
How can it be
That God Himself dids't die for me!

Go, then, this day as a people purchased by the Lord, and bring glory, honor, and praise to His name in all that you do. You have been bought with a price, and are now His! Go in His service and do great things for Him! That is your new calling in this life!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, January 28, 2013

Kept by God

 8Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.
 9Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.
 10Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;
 11Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan:
 12And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people. 
(Psalm 135:8-12, King James Version)

Kept by God

As the Psalmist continued to extol the greatness of God, in Psalm 135,  he broke into a narrative of the history of God's working His righteous indignation against the enemies of God's people. Never was there a need for the people of God to live in fear, for they were a people who were kept by God.

Moving against the enemies of God, He brought them out of their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, and led them safely into the Promised Land. From the narrative it would sound as though it was one smooth and easy event, with the Israelites docilely following God.

However, in reading the first five books of the Bible, we learn that it was not one, smooth and easy event. In a sense, the Israelites were led kicking and screaming all of the way. In spite of one miraculous event after another, every new difficulty brought more rebellion and complaining from the people.

Before we rail against the Israelites for their foolish behavior, however, we need to stop for a moment and look at our own lives. How smoothly do we follow God's leading in our lives? How many detours do we take along the way seeking to find a better way than God's way? How does God put up with such foolish creatures as we happen to be?

It is good for us to look back over our lives, especially those of us who have more than just a few decades to contemplate, and see God's faithful hand upon us. His great and loving, long suffering, and His patient forbearance of our own complaining and rebellion are marks of His great faithfulness to us. Indeed, we are kept by God as well. Apart from His faithfulness to us, would any of us ever reach heaven's shores?

So, as we face the events of this day. Let us pray for grace that we might patiently follow God's loving hand of guidance. If the events of the day do not work out the way we had planned, if one disappointment seems to follow after another, let us remember that we are living this life God's way.

Proverbs tells us that man makes his plans, but he Lord directs His steps. As life seems to take some unusual twists and turns, we can be assured that we are kept by God. God is constantly working and moving among us to bring us closer and closer to Him. We need not fear the events that affect us, for we know God is guiding and protecting us all of the way.

Even in the bigger picture, the Bible says, The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1, King James Version) God works and rules among the governments of this world bringing to pass the events that He has ordered before time began. In the end, all of God's people will be safely brought home to be with Him forever!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda



Friday, January 25, 2013

The Lord Is Great!

 5For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
 6Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
 7He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. 
(Psalm 135:5-7, King James Version)

The Lord Is Great!

With great assurance the Psalmist proclaimed, "For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods." As believers, that is our assurance as well, and what a great assurance that is. What do we know about God, and how does that affect our daily lives?

From the words of Psalm 135, we know that God does what He pleases, not only in heaven, but also here on earth as well. Nothing on this earth is out of God's control, whether it be in the earth, in the seas, or even all of the deep places.

In our scientific age, we do not tend to think this way, do we? When we see the rains come, hear the thunder roll, and watch the lightening strike, we do not say, "God caused that lightning to strike exactly where it did, and exactly at that very moment." The more we learn about our physical universe, the less likely we are to think that God ordains all things.

Yet, where then does that leave us? Where is the peace and comfort that exists in knowing that all things are under the care of our tender and loving Father? Apart from those who love the Lord, that peace does not exist.

Man, in his arrogance, cannot conceive of an eternal God who rules over every aspect of His Creation. As a matter of fact, most do not even believe that this world was created by God. Everything, in their minds, has evolved by chance with the dominant species moving forward to a more advanced being.

Yet, that is not what we are told in God's Word. Right from the very first book of the Bible, the order of creation is revealed. This great and mighty God spoke into existence the light and darkness, earth, plants, waters, animals, sea life, and man. Our God, who has this power, has no difficulty providing for and caring for His creation.

Yet, from the beginning Satan, in his own rebellion against God has determined to destroy man and this world in which he lives. Believing his lies, Eve and Adam fell from their perfection into sin, and so has mankind and this world been under the curse of sin ever since. Yet God, even before time began, had a plan to save man from his hopeless, lost condition. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the God Man, salvation is available, and so the conflict between Satan and his minions, and God, continues. Who will win this conflict?

Just as God had the plan in place before time began, so are the results already ordained. At the end of time, Satan and his followers--spirits and human--will all be cast into the lake of fire. It is almost more than we can comprehend. No wonder, then, we can share the excitement expressed by the Psalmist and say, "Yes, the Lord is great!" There is none like our God; no one can stay His hand. We have perfect peace and trust in God who, alone, is truth personified.

Go, then, this day in the peace and confidence of the Lord. It is He who has saved us, and it is He who will keep us until the time we will go to be with Him forever!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda



Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Lord Is Good!

 1Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.
 2Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God.
 3Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
 4For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. 
(Psalm 135:1-4, King James Version)

The Lord Is Good!

Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.

As we read Psalm 135, especially verses 3, we must shake our heads sadly, for this is not the common consensus of our day. How many people truly believe that the Lord is good? Most charge God foolishly for He does not act in a manner pleasing to them. "If He is truly God, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?" they ask.

Complaints and rebellion against authority is not new in our day. Just read the account of Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness and you will see a people who were ripe with rebellion--rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and ultimately, rebellion against God. What was their excuse? They had the evidence of God right there before them in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day, and yet they still rebelled.

So, we should not be surprised that, in the self-serving world of the 21st century we see a selfish, independent people who are quite satisfied without God. Indeed, the words shown above are quite foreign to them. Yet, that should not be true of the people of God. Having the Word of God at our disposal, and seeing the wondrous ways in which God has blessed us, as His people, our hearts are warmed when we read the Psalmist's words in Psalm 135.

Psalm 135 is a Psalm written for true believers. As we think of the many ways in which God has faithfully sustained us all of the days of our lives we gladly join the Psalmist in declaring, Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good; sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant. For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.

Treasures! We are peculiar treasures of the Lord. Those of us who are Gentiles have been grafted into the Israel of God so that these verses are precious to us as well. Not only are we peculiar treasures of God, but we are His chosen people.

It is important for us to understand that we are believers, not because of righteous works that we have done, but because the Lord Jesus Christ covered our sins with His blood, and God looks upon us as though we have never sinned. Nothing we have ever done has caused God to turn to us, but once covered by Christ's blood, we are pure in His eyes.

How much more, then, should we long to love and serve God more faithfully than we do. As we see and understand the great love that God has bestowed upon us, like the Psalmist, we cannot help but lift up our voices in praise to God. Truly, the Lord is good!

May we, in grateful admiration to our God and King, turn our hearts to Him so that for the rest of our days on this earth we may seek to live for His honor and glory alone. May we fill our hours and our days with service unto Him, for we owe everything to Him.

Go this day in the goodness of the Lord and bring praise and honor unto His name!

God Bless You,
Linda



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sabbath Blessing

 1Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
 2Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
 3The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion. 
(Psalm 134, King James Version)

Sabbath Blessing

We can see the picture the Psalmist is painting in Psalm 134. This is the last of a series of Psalms which were sung throughout the Sabbath day. It is nearing evening and the worshipers are leaving the temple for home. As they look back upon the temple walls they see the servants of the Lord standing guard on the temple walls. In response they offer words of blessing to them: Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

The priests respond back with the words: The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion. What can we take away from this short Psalm?

It is good for us to remember to pray that God would bless the dear servants of the Lord who serve us, especially our Pastors, Elders, and Deacons. We need to pray that God would give them faithful hearts of love for Him, and a love for those they serve.

We should also listen carefully when, at the close of our worship services, our Pastors or Ministers offer a benediction of blessing upon the congregation. It is a constant reminder that, when we do well, we do so in response to the good hand of the Lord that guides us and watches over us. We must be careful that we do not rest too heavily upon our own merits. It is God who blesses us and keeps us faithful to Him.

Does that mean that God is at fault if we stray from Him? No! It does mean, however, that when we are faithful to the Lord it is because He has faithfully kept us from the sins which so easily beset us. Left to ourselves, we would surely stumble and fall.

It is a painful lesson which the nation of Israel never really learned. As long as their kings remained faithful to the Lord, He blessed them. Yet, time and again, their kings turned to the idols of the neighboring nations, and began to incorporate the practice of these pagan religions into their own worship of the Lord. Needless to say, God was not happy, and eventually these practices led to their total downfall.

We must be careful that we do not do the same things. We may not bow the knee to a physical idol, yet how quickly we are tempted to fall into the ways of the world, trusting in ourselves, and spending our lives seeking to attain more and more for ourselves, often at the expense of others.

As believers, let us pray that our hearts will remain faithful to the dear God we serve. May we spend our lives living and serving Him, studying His Word, and praying that God will apply that same Word to our hearts and lives. That, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, is our true purpose on this earth.

May this Sabbath blessing of Psalm 132 apply to us every day - not just the Sabbath.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unity!

 1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
 2It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
 3As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. 
(Psalm 133, King James Version)

Unity!

What a beautiful and yet, very sad, Psalm! Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! But, where is the unity among the people of God? In place of unity, in this world we see a fractured church, splintered into thousands and thousands of groups.

Why has God allowed such a thing to come upon His church? Due to the sin of man, what we see today is a natural result of sin in the hearts of God's people. In their zealous attempt to be faithful to God's Word (which is good), they have argued and argued against the finest points of doctrines until it seems that no two groups can agree.

Of course, that is not the only reason for the thousands of groups we see today. It seems that there is a cyclical history of churches faithful to the Lord. A baby church is ever so faithful, seeking to stay pure and righteous before the Lord, but, just as we saw the nation of Israel wander away, so as the church grows it seems as though it often looses that edge of faithfulness. It tends to slip farther and farther away from God's Word until, of necessity, those who desire to remain faithful must break away and begin a new church.

Seeing this pattern in the history of the church, we marvel at Psalm 133. Yes, when brothers and sisters in Christ live in unity, it is like the precious ointment upon the head, that runs down upon the beard. How we long for the day when this Psalm will be perfectly fulfilled. For, when all of God's children are ushered Home to live with Him forever, we will live together in unity. Gone will be the strife and divisions which parted us here on earth. What a glorious day that will be!

What, then, are we to do? If God has blessed you with a church that remains faithful to God's Word, then do whatever is in your power to help and strengthen that group. Pray for your pastor and your leaders, and by God's grace be a positive influence in helping and maintaining unity of faith. Resist the urge to cause division through gossiping, and do not be a part of those who would tear you church apart through their clamoring, especially against those in authority.

Man's pride is his greatest enemy. It is through pride that Satan convinced Eve to eat of the fruit, and often it is through stubborn pride that people refuse to submit to the authorities God has placed over them.

If God has placed you in a church struggling to survive divisions among its people, may God grant you wisdom from His Word to stay true to God. If your church divides, be sure you are with the group who chooses to remain faithful to God.

Above all, let us pray that God would unite His people, for the lack of unity among believers has been a crippling force in terms of standing up before wicked rulers who would rid the world of God's rule over them. Let us not be discouraged, for God is over all, and what He has ordained will come to pass. There is an end in sight, and we know that that battle has already been won!

What a great and wondrous God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, January 21, 2013

Zion Chosen


 13For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
 14This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
 15I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
 16I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
 17There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
 18His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.
(Psalm 132:13-18, King James Version)

Zion Chosen

Who is this Zion that the Lord has chosen? God chose the children of Israel as His own people, and promised to David that his descendants would rule forever. Why, then, is there no king descended from David ruling in Israel today?

One might wonder what would have happened if Israel had remained faithful to the Lord, but first in the Northern Kingdom, and later in the Southern Kingdom, Israels' history was one of apostasy. Enthralled with the idols of the surrounding nations, Israel worshiped one false god and then another until God said, "Enough!"

Is this Psalm still true? Yes, it is true, for God looked beyond the human frailty of the nation of Israel and did give them an eternal king who was humanly descended from David: the Lord Jesus Christ. And, of the kingdom of Christ, there shall be no end!

So, indeed, the horn of David has budded, a Lamp has been ordained for God's Anointed. Though the time has not yet come when all of the enemies of God have been defeated, it will. What of Israel? Miraculously, Israel, after thousands of years is again a nation. Those of natural Jewish descent who turn to the Lord will be a further fulfillment of this Psalm. Those of us who are not of Jewish descent, but who have come to Christ have been grafted in to God's Holy Kingdom.

What, then, are we, who are God's chosen, doing to advance God's kingdom on this earth? How are our lives different than those of the people of this world? The people of this world live for their own vanity, heaping their lives full of things, and seeking to bring honor and glory to their name. What of the people of God? Our desire is no longer for our own glory, but we seek to glorify God in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds.

As a believer, does that describe you? It is true that we saw Zion chosen above all peoples of this earth, but we must remember that, as believers, we, too, even if we are not of Jewish descent, are also members of Zion. Let us then shake off the apathy and indifference of this world and turn our hearts, our minds, and our souls to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Him we serve; it is through Him that we have a God-ordained purpose to fulfill while on this earth.

Let us then be busy about the things of the Lord. Let us set our hearts and minds upon Christ, and prepare ourselves for a lifetime of service for Him. By His grace may we immerse ourselves in God's Word, learning to be more and more like Christ as He is revealed to us in God's Word.

Let us go forth as the chosen of Zion living for, and praising God in all areas of our lives. That is where we will find peace, joy, and happiness, and that is where we will experience perfect rest!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, January 20, 2013

David the King

 11The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
 12If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. 
(Psalm 132:11-12, King James Version)

David the King

Psalm 132 contains a conditional promise to David, the king, that if his children would keep God's covenant, then they would sit upon the throne forever. Has that promise been fulfilled, and if so, how is it related to us today, especially if we are not descendants of the Israelites of David's time?

After having more than 2000 years pass by, this is a very interesting promise of God. Has it been kept by God? Yes! None of God's promises have ever failed. Though the Jewish people were scattered, due to their lack of keeping God's commands, yet today the nation of Israel exists as a testimony of God's fulfillment of His promises to His people. Yet, that is not the only fulfillment of this promise.

An even greater testimony exists in the establishment of God's church which has spread from Jesus' ministry on this earth. Through Peter and Paul, God opened His church to more than just those of the Jewish heritage when Gentiles were presented with the Gospel of Christ. God's church today consists of all true believers, and represents people from all nations on the earth.

Though the church has no physical earthly king, our Lord Jesus Christ who was physically descended from David has fulfilled God's promise given to David in Psalm 132. Christ, our King of Kings and Lord or Lord does and will rule His church for eternity. His people are His spiritual descendants, but not necessarily those who are descended from Him physically.

Why was David so beloved of God? David was a man after God's own heart--a man who kept his first love. We, as children of God today, are called, just as was David to stand in the gap as faithful children of God. Unlike David, we have the entire Word of God to guide and direct us in the way we should go.

Let us, as God's children, take up our clarion call and turn away from the ways of this world. Let us turn our hearts and our lives completely to God, our First Love, that we may live for Him and serve Him all of our days upon this earth. We have a God-ordained job to do. First we must set our own hearts in order, and then we must live faithfully for Him that the world may see the true testimony of those who truly love the Lord.

God our great and wondrous Lord and King calls us to a life of service for Him. Let us take up His Word, read and study its pages, and pray that He will, through His Spirit, apply its truths to our lives that we may be living examples of Christ our King.

Like David the King, may we faithfully live our remaining days to the glory of God alone.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Anointed of God

 6Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
 7We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
 8Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
 9Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
 10For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. 
(Psalm 132:6-10, King James Version)

Anointed of God

What does it mean to be the anointed of God? Matthew Henry made a very interesting comment in his commentary on Psalm 132.
And every true believer in Christ, is an anointed one, and has received from the Holy One the oil of true grace. The request is, that God would not turn away, but hear and answer their petitions for his Son's sake.
David was concerned that the Ark of the Covenant resided in a mere tent, while he lived in a house of cedar. Should not the house of God--the house where David fell down and worshiped God not be in a great cathedral? Yet, we must remember that it is not the cathedral, but it is God whom we worship.

David understood that through God's Anointed one, the Lord Jesus Christ, all saints through the ages are likewise anointed of God, and as such are set apart for a holy work. Let us not think that the things we do each day are meaningless, even though they may be quite ordinary. It is through the ordinary things of life that God moves us to do great things for His glory.

We look upon our great religious leaders and often find ourselves wanting, but God does not look on the outward appearance, but, rather, looks upon the heart. Where is our heart before the Lord? Where do people search for the Gospel (even though they may not realize they are searching). They do not often walk into a church or seek out a pastor when they are looking. Rather, they look at the ordinary Christians God brings into their lives.

Christians are often the only, or at least the first, "Bible" that people read. As they see Christ exemplified in the lives of believers, especially in times of great grief or anguish, they realize their own lack of peace, joy, and comfort. They begin to realize that their believing friend, relative, neighbor, or co-worker has something that they do not have. In other words, it is in the ordinary everyday life that the Gospel is spread, and that is why we are here. As the anointed of God we carry forth the Gospel in our everyday lives and actions.

David understood that he, too, was God's anointed, and as such felt he had every right to ask God for help when he said, "Turn not away the face of thine anointed." In other words he felt every right to approach Christ, God's anointed and expect an answer. Likewise, let us be bold when we approach the throne of grace, for James reminds us that, "We have not because we ask not." How many times has God not blessed us because we did not feel worthy enough to even ask for help.


We must remember that our worthiness is not based upon our own merits, but our worthiness is based upon the merits of Christ. Just as He saved us, so are we covered by His blood. When we approach God Almighty, He sees the covering of blood upon our sins. How amazing is that? We have an eternal audience with the Lord of Lord and King of Kings.

Go, then, this day as the anointed of God, and serve Him with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your might.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, January 18, 2013

House for God

 1Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions:
 2How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
 3Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
 4I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
 5Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. 
(Psalm 132:1-5, King James Version)

House for God

It was his dream. In honor and worship of God, who had so blessed him all of the days of his life, David desired to build a magnificent house for God: "An habitation for the mighty God of Jacob."
It was not a wrong desire, but it would not be accomplished in his days, for God set the task upon David's son, Solomon.

Yet David made preparations and plans so that when Solomon became king, all would be ready for him to begin the building process. Though, in one way, a house for God seems rather foolish, for how can God be housed in any building, yet it was a wondrous plan, for God had chosen, during the wilderness wanderings to "dwell" in the tabernacle. Though of course God, being omnipresent was not contained in the tabernacle, He still showed a visible presence in the form of a cloud by day and a fire by night. So, having a permanent temple was logical step now that Israel occupied the promised land.

Sadly, due to the disobedience of God's people, that temple was destroyed, rebuilt, remodeled, and then destroyed again in 70 AD when the Romans conquered Jerusalem. To this day the temple has not been rebuilt. However, we know from Scripture that one day a temple will again stand in Jerusalem as the center place of worship when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom on this earth.

Does it all seem like a dream? In light of our world today, does it seem as though nothing like that could really take place? Due to the continuous conflicts in the Mid East, it is hard to imagine, is it not? However, what has been prophesied in the Bible will come to pass; the reign of Christ will take place. Even more exciting, when God builds the new heavens, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, God's kingdom will last forever.

It is easy for us, as believers, to get so involved in our day to day lives that, though we know the teachings of God's Word, we do not really think it will happen in our lifetime. Remember, that most people at the time of Christ's birth went right on with their lives, not knowing that Christ, the Son of God, had come to this earth. Even when Jesus began His public ministry, most lived their lives, totally unaffected by His presence. How sad!

As believers, let us never lose sight of the promises in Scripture; let us not live our days as though this is all there is. For the promises of God are sure; they will come to pass exactly as foretold. Let us, then, live our lives fully aware that each day may be our last. Christ could come today! And, if He does not, yet our true future lies ahead of us when all of the sorrows of this life will pass away. True peace will come to this earth, and it will last forever!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Simple Trust

 1Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
 2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
 3Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever. 
(Psalm 131, King James Version)

Simple Trust

Though one of the shortest of the Psalms, Psalm 130 is certainly not short in meaning, but is rather profound in character. It conveys simple trust in the Lord--a trust learned through grievous trials.

This Psalm is thought to have been a song the Israelites sang when returning from captivity in Babylon. Weaned from the idol worship and other wicked practices which had brought upon them their devastation ordered by God at the hands of the Babylonians, the Israelites had been humbled before the Lord and now conveyed a simple trust in Him.

It is the kind of spiritual maturity one tends to find in older saints. Oh how young and bright we are in our late teens and early twenties. Idealistic and even somewhat arrogant, we are ready to conquer the world. Yet only a few decades later, after we have faced the onslaughts of life, our hearts are tender toward the Lord and we are ready to acquiesce to His will.

This same world which holds such bright promise to us when we are young, often becomes a weary place, especially in our later years. The desire to rush from one pleasure to the next is replaced by contentment for the simpler things in life. Facing the realization that though much of what we purposed to do in life has been accomplished, we realize that many things remain undone. And, many things did not turn out the way we had hoped. Seeing the foolishness of pride and resting in the things of this earth, our eyes turn to our Father God as we long for His peace and comfort, and long for His return.

Though our circumstances vary, yet we, as believers in the 21st century, face some of the same sentiments faced by these early people of God. Instead of impatience and longing for success, we find our hearts yearning in simple trust for the Lord. It is a good thing to turn away from the pleasures of this life and find that our real hope, peace, and joy rests in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, as we read through Psalm 130, let us pray that these words may be true of us. Let us pray that our hearts are no longer haughty and our eyes lofty, nor do we try to attain to matters which are truly too high for us. Let us, like the weaned child, rest all of our hope and desires upon Christ. Yes, like Israel, let us hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let Israel Hope

 7Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
 8And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. 
(Psalm 130:7-8, King James Version)

Let Israel Hope

Perhaps you have heard it said, "There is always hope." But, is there always hope? That depends entirely upon one's object of hope. The Psalmist said, "Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption." So, the object of Israel's hope was more important than the command to hope. For if the object of one's hope is not trustworthy, then there is no basis for one's hope.

"Israel," in the Old Testament, can often be interchanged for "believers" in the New Testament, who are sometimes called, "The Israel of God." We could rightly say, "Let believers hope in the Lord." When our trust is in the Lord, then there exists substance for our hope, for it is true that the Lord will never fail us, but will help and sustain us all of the days of our lives.

Why, then, do believers often find themselves in hopeless situations? Is this promise only valid at times, while at other times it is not? As a matter of fact, it is not unusual for a believer to find that when he or she makes a renewed commitment to serve the Lord, their life seems to fall apart. How can that be? Where is their God of hope?

God has not changed, nor is He absent, but He does have a reason for the circumstances He allows His children to experience. As people of the world, highly influenced by the world, we often have a warped sense of what the "perfect" life is all about. Like the world, we enjoy our pleasures, our health, and good friends, and a fabulous fortune would not hurt as well! Yet God does not view the "successful" Christian life from our perspective.

God, from the moment of conception (actually, from before time began), has a plan for the lives of His children. Throughout our entire lives He molds and shapes us so that we become more and more like Him, for that is the real goal in life, and even in death. Events and occurrences which we might view as bad may be exactly the best thing for us, as God moves and turns us in the way He would have us go. He does not indulge us as a parent may indulge a spoiled child, but He moves us in exactly the way we should go. Yet, in all of the trials He may send or allow, He is always right there beside us, comforting, guiding, correcting, and nurturing us.

This provides a comfort and peace that those of the world know nothing about. How fearful life must be if one considers all of life to be one chance after another. For the believer, nothing is left to chance, for God guides and sustains us in all things.

What is the ultimate end? The Psalmist expressed it in verse 8: "And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." How amazing is that? In the end, the believer is redeemed from all of his or her iniquities. In other words, because Christ has already paid the debt of our sins, we appear before God as holy and righteous, without any sin. Does that mean we can sin with abandonment? No! Because we love the Lord, our sins are a great grief to us, and the thought that the time will come when we will live in heaven with no sins charged to our name, and will no longer even be tempted to sin is an amazing thought, indeed! May the Lord truly hasten the day!

Go, then, today and be comforted by the Psalmist's words: "Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous mercy."

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Wait!

 5I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
 6My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. 
(Psalm 130:5-6, King James Version)

I Wait!

Waiting! Now, that is a hard thing to do. Most of us are rather impatient if we have to spend much time waiting, whether it is in a doctor's office, or waiting for someone to come home. The longer it has been, and the later it gets, the harder it is to continue to wait. Yet, we are just speaking of a matter of minutes or maybe even hours, but what about waiting for years--or even for an entire lifetime. How easy is that?

Our waiting for the Lord may be a matter of waiting for His help or assistance. However, our waiting for the Lord also involves our waiting for His return. The New Testament believers waited for the Lord, believing that His return was imminent. Yet, here we are almost 2000 years later and He still has not returned. How are we to think about that?

Every century many have believed that Christ would return, perhaps even in his of her lifetime. World wide catastrophes and events have occurred causing man to think, surely Christ's return is imminent. Just recently, there were some who thought the Mayan's had predicted the end of the world, yet December 21, 2012, came and went, and the world is still here. Are our hopes futile? Is Christ really going to return?

No, our hopes are not futile, and yes, Christ will return. Most missed Christ's first coming, due to their unbelief. Yet, Christ did come. Born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, as prophesied, Christ came. He lived on this earth, first as a carpenter's son. When He reached the age of about 30, John the Baptist, His forerunner (also fulfilling prophecy), presented Him to the world, and His public ministry began. For three years He labored on this earth, equipping and training the men who would be instrumental in bringing His Gospel to the Jew first, and then to the Gentiles.

When the time came, He gave up His life, that He might save a people for Himself from ages past to future years to come. After three days He rose again, and later, in the presence of His disciples, ascended into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us. Now, in the 21st Century, we are still proclaiming this same Gospel to a lost world, and, like the Psalmist we say, I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Just as Christ came once, so will He return as He has promised. Though we do not know the day nor the hour, yet we see that the world is ripe for His return. The Gospel has been, and continues to be spread to the uttermost parts of the earth, and when He returns, He will gather His people from all walks of life, and from all nations.

The Bible tells us that, Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) In Romans 13:11, we are told, Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Let us, then, continue to faithfully love and serve the Lord our God, for we know that the day will come when He will return and time shall be no more. Then, all work will cease, and all who are not saved will be lost forever! Let us redeem the time, knowing that the days are evil.

God Bless You,
Linda



Monday, January 14, 2013

Who Shall Stand?

 3If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
 4But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. 
(Psalm 130:3-4, King James Version)

Who Shall Stand?

The writer of Psalm 130 poses a rather interesting question, If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? Sadly, that is the true state of every man, for no man, except the Lord Jesus Christ has ever or will ever live with no iniquities or sins held to their account. Who, then, can stand before a righteous and holy God who cannot even look upon sin? No one.

Oh, but the Psalmist did not stop there, did he? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. Yes, we can have a relationship with God; we can love, trust, and fear Him. Why? We can love, trust, and fear Him because their is forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider that this writer lived hundreds of years before Christ came, but he already understood that forgiveness was to be found. God, even before time began, already had a plan in place to redeem man, whom He knew would fall into grievous sin.

Who shall stand? Those redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shall stand before God and worship Him. What an amazing thing! Satan was sure that he had condemned all man for all time when he deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but he was no match for God. God, knowing that sin would enter into the hearts of all men provided a way of escape through the death of His perfect and holy Son, who would come to this earth as a man, yet without sin. He, alone, was worthy to pay the price for our sin, giving us a standing before God.

Why, then, is not every man saved? Questions such as these show our total inability to understand God. He purposed, before time began to save a people for Himself, and what He purposed has and will continue to come to pass. Those for whom Christ died will come to Him. Why do all men not choose to come to Christ? Satan has blinded their eyes so that, apart from God's illuminating grace, men do not believe. Most do not even believe they sin, or if they do, do not believe it will keep them from a blissful eternity.

The Word of God is clear and easy to understand. In its pages God reveals the realities of life and death, heaven and hell, and perfection and sin. Let us then, as children of God, immerse ourselves in God's Word. Let us study what God has revealed to us so that we may be ready, always, to give an answer to all who ask us for a reason for the hope that lies within us.

Who shall stand? Those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb shall stand with God in the last day and for all eternity!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Out of the Depths

 1Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
 2Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. 
(Psalm 130:1-2, King James Version)

Out of the Depths

Life consists of considerable opposites. There are good days and bad days, there is sunshine and rain, and there are certainly heights and depths, both physically and emotionally. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD, says the writer of Psalm 130. It seems that we do not have to be very old to have experienced those depths.

We love the heights, do we not? We love those days when everything seems to go perfectly well: we have good health, the sun is shining, our bank accounts look good, and our friends seem to be many, but oh, how we despise the bad days. How hard it is to even get out of bed in the morning when things are not going well. Maybe there is trouble in our home life, our health is not good, we are experiencing the grief of losing someone close to us, or the money just does not seem to stretch far enough to pay the bills.

The Psalmist was simply overcome with life. No help seemed available except from the Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. Wisely, he understood that no matter how bad things were, God was the One to Whom he needed to turn.

It is important for us to understand that the promises God made to His children in the Old Testament are still promises that we, as children of God, can cling to today. What if, however, we do not deserve His help? What if we are in the mess we are in because of our own sin and our own bad decisions? What right do we have to expect God to bail us out every time we get into trouble?

If our friends treated us the way we treat God, how patient would we be with them? How many times would we be willing to forgive before we finally turned out back upon them completely? Thankfully, God is not like us. Our love for others: friends, family, spouses, etc., will always be an incomplete love, but God's love is consistent, pure, and perfect!

 3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3, King James Version)

We must always remember that God does not love us or help us because we deserve that love or help. He loves us and helps us because His love for us is pure; He has chosen us as His children even before time began, and He has brought about all of the circumstances that led us to come to Him for salvation. Truly, it is more than we can comprehend.

However, knowing this, we have every assurance that no matter how grave our circumstances may be, He is ever available and ready to come to our aid, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us so! As a matter of fact, one of the reasons God allows suffering to come into our lives is so that we will learn to turn to Him for help.

When life is going great, it is not because we are so great, or because we have made all of the right choices in life. Life is going great because we have a great God and awesome God, who has lavished us with great and awesome blessings!

What an amazing God we serve. When life overwhelms us, let us remember the words of the Psalmist, Out of the depths, have I cried to thee, O LORD, and let us do the same thing--not only this time, but the next, and the next, and the next!

God Bless You,
Linda



Friday, January 11, 2013

Blessing of the Lord

 5Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
 6Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up:
 7Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.
 8Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the LORD be upon you: we bless you in the name of the LORD.
(Psalm 129:5-9, King James Version)

Blessing of the Lord

It had been a bittersweet relationship that the people of God had had with God. By the time Psalm 129 was written, the Israelites had tasted God's loving hand upon them as well as God's great hand of discipline. They savored the blessing of the Lord when they faithfully served Him, and they tasted the bitterness of His wrath when they turned against them.

In all of this, they found that they were despised by those who served other gods, often being sadly mistreated. As we, in the 21st century look upon those of Jewish descent, we see a continuation of that bittersweet relationship. Scattered throughout the entire world, the Jewish people have been abused and maligned. Only in the last century have they again been able to call Jerusalem and the land around it their home.

Though they now have a nation to call their own, they are still a mixed people. They share the land with those who are not of Jewish descent, and those who can claim to be Jews are a mixed multitude of those who hold to the Jewish faith, those believers who call themselves Messianic Jews, and those who have no faith at all, but still claim their Jewish heritage.

As he looks forward through the centuries, to which of these three groups is the Psalmist speaking? Who are those who hate Zion? We would understand that those who love Zion are those who claim to be Messianic Jews. They understand that the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth as the God Man, to save a people for Himself. Those who observe the traditional Jewish faith are in the same category as those of Jesus' day who heard His message but did not accept it, so have actually rejected the God of Zion as well. Those who profess to have no faith may love their heritage, but they do not love the God of Zion.

What of us who do not share a Jewish heritage? Where do we fit in the Psalmist's laments? Those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, though not of actual Jewish descent, are, like the early Gentile believers, part of the "Israel of God." Grafted in, by the grace of God, they share as adopted children the same heritage as Jewish Messianic believers.

What an amazing God we serve. Who has ever known of a God who creates a people, sees those people rebel against Him, and yet provides a way of salvation for that same people, but at the cost of the death of His own Son? He does not thrust this salvation upon them, but offers it freely due to His own love and grace.

As people of God, we understand the laments of the Psalmist. We, too, are wearied by the lack of faith manifested in the people around us. We, too, are frustrated by their hatred of Zion, as well as their hatred of all of God's true children. We, too, are grieved when we hear of the thousands of believers who are being persecuted and even slaughtered for their faith in this 21st century. Yet, because we know "the rest of the story," we know that, unless those same haters of God come to faith in God, their end has already been set in stone.

Let us remember that there are only two classes of people. No matter how lovely people may appear, unless they love and have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior, they are enemies of God. They are part of those of whom the Psalmist declared, "Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord be upon you: we bless you in the name of the Lord."

The fields are, indeed, white unto harvest. 37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38, King James Version)

This is our calling! This is why God has saved us and left us here! May we, by God's grace, be those laborers who bring in God's harvest.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Many a Time

 1Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say:
 2Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.
 3The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.
 4The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. 
(Psalm 129:1-4, King James Version)

Many a Time

As we continue our series from the Psalms, called "First Love," Psalm 129 continues with in a rather somber tone. The Psalmist cried, "Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth." This appears to be no minor affliction, for the writer continues in verse 3 with the words, "The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows."

We make joke, when getting up in the morning, saying, "I feel like I was run over by a Mack truck," but the afflictions of the Psalmist were such that he was, indeed, run over by that Mack truck, and was still alive to tell about it. He was speaking of afflictions that left him raw, maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally.

What happens in our nice, well ordered Christian life when everything seems to fall apart? It is easy to happily serve the Lord when life is running by smoothly, but what do we do when life becomes nightmarish obstacle course?

I am in my sixth decade of life, and am really beginning to understand some of the familiar "age" sayings, like, "Life is wasted on the young." One thing I have noted, as I observe those who are 10 and 20 years my junior, is that they are generally not prepared for the age-related maladies of the body. Having gone through those glorious 20's and 30's, they somehow think that their bodies will feel that invincible throughout their entire life, even though they know that is not true.

Then, as I observe those decades older than me, I notice a different attitude. They do not necessarily expect to have an ache-free, pain-free day. When asking how they are, they might respond, "Not bad considering someone at my age." (That was a favorite saying of a dear friend who passed away in his late 80's.) Being interpreted: I hurt, my legs wobble when I walk, and I can hardly get up and down.

As I read these verses from the Psalms, I realized that the Psalmist, being used to affliction, perhaps even from his enemies, rose above those afflictions and said, "Yet they have not prevailed against me." He continued with, "The LORD is righteous: He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked."

Oh that we would have that comfortable familiarity with the Lord, so that we would not become undone by the afflictions coming our way! Does God not see our troubles? Why does He not intervene? In truth, that is exactly why afflictions come. God wants us to understand that He is greater than our troubles; He is always right there beside us sending help and comfort our way, even though we may not realize it. The afflictions that God allows to come into our lives are there for a purpose: to mold and make us more like Him.

As iron sharpens iron, and as the chisel in the hands of the sculptor removes the unwanted material, so God sharpens us, and removes the sludge from our lives and hearts caused by our sin. Through the years, the saint of God is sanctified more and more so that he or she becomes more like Christ. Old things are passed away, and all things have become knew. As our eyes are lifted off ourselves and the things of this world, they are lifted to heaven above causing our hearts to yearn to be with Christ.

Many a time in this life we will face troubles and afflictions, but God will not suffer us to experience more than we can bear. He will walk by our side, comforting, leading, and guiding us, so that our life with Him becomes more and more precious.

Lord, hasten the day when our faith will be made sight!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Blessed by God

 3Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
 4Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
 5The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
 6Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel. 
(Psalm 128:3-6, King James Version)

Blessed by God

Psalm 128 continues with its theme: blessed by God. What does the Psalmist picture? He shows us a man, sitting at his table with his wife and children about him. With God's blessing he will see the good of Jerusalem (God's people) all the days of his life, and will live to see his children's children.

Sometimes Psalms such as this can be confusing. After all, we see saints of God, faithful to Him in every way who have lost their spouses, maybe their children have died, or they have no children, and their life is not one of peace or ease. How do we justify that picture in light of this Psalm?

It is important that we realize that no matter how "good" we may be or appear to be, God does not owe us anything. Second, God, who knows our heart of hearts, takes us through rivers and valleys--even valleys of the shadow of death--that He might refine us and make us more like Him. Born with a love of this world, it is not natural for us to turn away from the things of this world and turn to God. Only by God's working on our behalf through our experiences in life, can His Spirit move us to turn away from our natural desires and lusts and turn to Him.

We must also realize that while we walk this road of life, our greatest foe, Satan, will always lurk about seeking to devour us or push us off the road of faith on which we walk. Even so, we are not to walk in fear, but in trust, for God, who loves us so much, is always close at hand to pick us up when we stumble, and shepherd us that we might not turn from to the right or left in our quest to faithfully live for Him.

Psalm 128 offers us great encouragement as we see the tender way in which God moves on behalf of His children. The blessings we are so prone to take for granted are given to us as precious gifts from our Lord. Though the storms of life may crash and thunder all about us, we are kept safe in the haven God has given us on this earth.

So, as we sit about our tables, gaze upon the faithful spouse God has given us, and look upon our children and grandchildren, our hearts must of necessity look to God above who has so wonderfully blessed us. Though life outside our doors may be filled with stress and turmoil, we live within the peace and comfort of God Himself, who gives to us His more richly than we ever deserve.

And, if we sit about our table, alone, with no friends or family, yet still we can praise our God who is more to us than any friends or family could ever be. From Him come all good gifts; from Him comes the peace that passes all understanding!

Yes, indeed, as His children, we are all blessed by God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Blessed!

 1Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
 2For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. 
(Psalm 128:1-2, King James Version)

Blessed!

What does it mean to be blessed? It is a rather important question when one considers that being blessed is a rather relative term. In a day when happiness, which one would consider a by product of being blessed, seems to have all but disappeared from our day to day lives, especially in countries which abound in prosperity, we need to look at what it means to be blessed by God.

In a world filled with greed, envy, violence, and a constant quest to get more, man seems to be less and less satisfied with what he already possesses. To the rich, there is always need for more money, to the talented, there is always someone a little bit better, the the athlete, one never reaches the top, or at least stays on the top for very long. But, what does it matter?

Perhaps we are choosing the wrong goals for ourselves; perhaps there is more meaning to life! That is where the secret lies! It is not about getting more, being better, or reaching the top, but it is about seeing God's hand of blessing upon us and seeking nothing more than His favor. Rather than consuming our days with a quest for more, let us consume our days loving and learning more about this God Whom we serve.

He has given us all we need--talents and treasure--to live our lives in a manner pleasing to him. Through him we can have a happy life, being content with what He has given, and using our time to share His love and truth with all those in whom we live each day, whether at work, home, or in times of recreation.

As believers, I fear we spend far too much time chasing after the pleasures of the world, and robbing ourselves of the peace and joy that comes from knowing Christ more. Perhaps we need to turn off the TV, and open a good Christian book, or at least change the channel to a Christian network.

There are some wonderful internet sites such as archive.org, which enable us to get some great works from Christians written during the reformation and all the way up through the 1900's for no cost. Most are downloadable in several formats so can be read on hand held eBook readers or on the computer. What a treasure of great works right at our fingertips.

One of my favorite Christian authors from the 1800's is Elizabeth Prentiss; all of her works are available to download at no cost. Her book, Stepping Heavenward, is a fiction well worth the read, as it reveals to us the normal Christian experience--drawing closer and closer to the Lord until one is ready to enter heaven's gates. Another great book, compiled by her husband after her death, is More Love to Thee, named after the song she wrote, is an organization of her journals and memoirs written during her lifetime.

Let us use these tools God has given to us to advance our Christian lives in a manner pleasing to God, Yes, we are truly blessed by God, so let us walk in the joy and happiness of that blessing!

God Bless You,
Linda





Monday, January 07, 2013

Children: An Heritage of the Lord

 3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
 4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
 5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. 
(Psalm 127:3-5, King James Version)

Children: An Heritage of the Lord

What can we say about Psalm 127? There is probably no portion of Scripture that seems so antiquated to our way of thinking than Psalm 127:3-5. Yet, the problem clearly lies in our convoluted way of thinking. In our day of blind achievement and search for prosperity, a large family just does not work. How can we afford a large family and still give them all we desire to give them?

Where, in the Bible, do we find the necessity for dumping prosperity upon our children? As Christian parents, what is our proper understanding of the teachings of God's Word? I fear that in our professing Christians of this day, we are far too concerned about consuming the goods of this world than we are about training our children to lead successful, productive, faithful Christian lives. By our very actions, what have we taught our children?

As a matter of fact, we are often not too concerned about training our children, especially in the things of the Lord, at all! We send our children to church, and maybe Christian school, and expect them to graduate from high school as mature, Christian adults. However, it does not work that way. No matter where our children are educated, and no matter what their church environment may be, the responsibility to train our children in the things of the Lord belongs to us, the parents. If we do not feel that we are up to the task, then we must prepare ourselves so that we are.

After all, this is the information age! While it may be true that the internet contains a lot of bad sites, it also contains many good, Biblical sites for children, teens, and adults. If we, as parents, feel inadequate to do the job God has called us to do, we need to seek help from our Christian families, Christian neighbors, our churches, and yes, even on the internet. There is no valid excuse for Christian parents to renege on the command of God,  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, King James Version)

Let us, then, go to God in prayer, seeking a heart that is willing to submit to all of God's Word. Let us pray that our attitude toward children, and having more children, would be in sync with God's Word. Let us remember that children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.

Let us also praise God for the children--the reward--God has given to us, and let us pray that He would make of them great and mighty warriors for His glory. If you are like me and have adult children who are not believers, then pray for them daily--even hourly--that God would graciously open their hearts to His truth. Salvation is a gift from God; we cannot pour it on our children, though we may wish we could.

In everything, God is to be praised, and happy are those who have a quiver full of God's blessings!

God Bless You,
Linda


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Except the Lord

 1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
 2It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. 
(Psalm 127:1-2, King James Version)

Except the Lord

No three words can give a greater theme for the successful Christian life than, "Except the Lord." Our life is not about ourselves--it has never been about ourselves. As believers, no matter what our abilities, no matter what our financial state, and no matter what our personality, living a life pleasing to God is all about, "Except the Lord."

The Psalmist explains, It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Does that mean that life is effortless? Are we not to use the abilities we have and strive to live a life pleasing to God? Yes, of course we are! However, as Christians, we know that our successes and failures are all in the hands of God. Except the Lord is in our plans, except the Lord leads us in all we do, our efforts are all in vain. For it is God who gives success; it is God who give an increase.

One of the greatest examples of this is in the life of Daniel. Though he rose to great heights, sometimes second only to the ruler, himself, Daniel never took credit for himself. He always gave credit and acclaim to the Lord. When he was able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he praised God who gave the interpretation to him. (See Daniel 2.)

At this time of year, when we are tempted to make New Year's resolutions, it is good for us to remember that, while we set goals (which is a good thing), the results of our efforts belong to the Lord. As a matter of fact, as believers, we should set goals to improve our Christian lives, and to bring us closer to the Lord. It is far too easy for us to become so engrossed in the things of this world, that we forget why we are actually here!

So, while we do rise up early, and sometimes stay up late, pushing ourselves to achieve great things, let us take care to immerse those efforts in prayer and Bible study, knowing that it is God we serve. Everything we do and say should bring glory to God, and as we attempt great things, we know that it is God who gives (or takes away) the increase.

Though our results, or the diversions that come our way may not seem to be what we had intended, we know that God works all things out for His glory. What we may perceive as bad, may be used by God to bring about much greater results in the advancement of His kingdom.

As you embrace this new year, may you find yourselves drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May 2013 be a year of great service for the Lord Jesus Christ, as you remember, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Sow in Tears

 5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
 6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. 
(Psalm 126:5-6, King James Version)

Sow in Tears

One of the concerns that I have in today's Christian community is the propensity to speak of the "abundant life." I will admit, it is much easier to convince people to follow the Lord if we promise them an abundant life, but what happens to them, then, when their world begins to fall apart? While it is true that the Christian life is, indeed, an abundant life, we must realize that this present life will be filled with many times of great sorrow and affliction. The abundant life is two-fold. First, we have a great Advocate who will lift us up and carry us through our difficulties, and second, we have a great eternal home that will follow this vale of tears.

Psalm 126 closes with two very familiar and beautiful verses. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

What a precious reminder that nothing that happens to us in this life does so apart from the tender mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ. Much of what we do on this earth will be our "sowing in tears," especially regarding the things we do for the Lord. We are not promised that we will ever have the opportunity to reap that joy while still on this earth. In other words, most of the results of what we do for the Lord on this earth, will never be revealed to us until we reach heaven.

But then, we are not really doing these things to make a great name for ourselves, are we? We serve the Lord because we love Him. Recognizing that He is the One who gave us the abilities we have, nothing we do brings glory to us, but rather glorifies the Lord. It is important, then, that we do not let what often appears to be a lack of results, to deter us from continuing our work for the Lord.

I do not often give personal examples in my writing, but I will share one with you. As many of you know, I have a website called Devotional Reflections from the Bible. For years I closely followed my traffic patterns, becoming more and more excited when the daily traffic grew higher and higher to a very impressive number. Then, one day, about a year ago, my traffic cut in half. I was devastated! How could that be?

For months I struggled, wondering whether I should even continue. Thankfully, through the wisdom of many people, such as my husband, I began to view things in an entirely different manner. It's not about the traffic! God has given me a burden, a desire, and an ability. It is important that I continue to do what God has called me to do. It is true that there are many who could do a better job, but this is what God has called me to do. The results are entirely in God's hands, not mine. I realized that even at my present daily traffic, many a pastor who be delighted with a congregation of this size. Now, however, I rarely look at the numbers, but look to God for the results.

Let us then, not grow weary in well doing, but continue to sow in tears, knowing that we will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda







Friday, January 04, 2013

Celebration!

 1When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
 2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
 3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
 4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. 
(Psalm 126:1-4, King James Version)

Celebration!

What a wonderful Psalm to consider at the beginning of a new year, when memories of good things are fresh upon our minds, along with the hope of great things to come.

The Babylonian captivity was over! After 70 years, God fulfilled His promise and brought the captives back to their home city, Jerusalem! Indeed, they were like those that dreamed a dream--could it really be true that they were free again? We can just imagine their celebrations of joy: Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.

We, as believers in Christ, know that joy of deliverance, do we not? Is it not very much like the joy we felt when we first believed--especially those of us who remember the years before our belief, when we walked about in darkness. The exhilaration of that time when our relationship with Christ was fresh and new. How free we felt, knowing that the chains of darkness which had held us fast were released forever. How easy it was, then, to share the great things that Christ had done for us.

Yet, living in this world of darkness brings new chains of captivity upon us. In our weak moments we are encompassed again by the troubles of this life. The Psalmist expressed it this way: Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. What a precious truth for the believer. Christ is always by our side, ready to intervene, bringing the refreshing rains which will stream over the parched and dry ground of our afflictions.

Often it seems as though we go from one trouble to the next. First it may be a death in the family, then a serious illness or injury, then financial difficulties, and so on. Yet, in all of these, as children of God, we have an Advocate with God the Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us. How amazing is that? We have the ear of God Almighty--He is never too busy to intercede on behalf of His troubled children.

Let us, then, not become too weary in the face of immense difficulties. Our God will continue to turn again our captivity; let us keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He, who walked this very earth, understands our difficulties and our weaknesses. He is able to not only deliver us, but to grant us grace as He walks through the trying times with us.

Let us turn our hearts, then, to God in celebration for the great and wondrous things He has done for us. What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda