TRUST: “Where I go, you cannot come.”

April 30, 2016

As a little fellow, I loved to follow my big brother. He normally let me tag along especially if he could delve deep in my piggy bank. In fact, my dad once said that if my brother stopped I would fly up his butt. I just thought the world of my brother. I still do. He always took care of me, but there were a few times that he would not allow me to go where he was going. In those times, he would always give me some disqualifying reason as to why I could not go where he was going. This reminds me of what Jesus said, TRUST:”Where I go, you cannot come.”

What is the disqualifying reason that Jesus said, TRUST:”Where I go, you cannot come.” The answer to that can be found in a myriad of places in the bible, but John 8 explicitly conveys it to us.

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.

22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

25 “Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up[a] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

In the text above, one of the truths being communicated is who is Jesus. The people asks “Who are you?” Jesus told them He has been telling them from the beginning of His ministry who He was, but they do not believe Him. In fact, Jesus had just told them in verse 24 who He was. He said “I am He” Jesus is directly telling them that He is from God, that He is God. They still did not understand, so He continued to explain. Some came to know Him.

It is sin that separates us from God. Since we all are born into sin, we all are separated from God. Consequently, we certainly cannot enter into His kingdom with our sin. Jesus came to serve as an atonement for our sins. Without Christ, no person can atone for his/her sin. The result is continued separation from God in this life and the one to come after death. In fact, spiritual death is the separation of man’s spirit from the Holy Spirit.  This is what Jesus was telling them in  TRUST:”Where I go, you cannot come.”

Acts 4:12 tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” John 3 says, “34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i]gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” This is why Jesus said, TRUST:”Where I go, you cannot come.”
Are you ready to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God incarnate, who came to provide atonement for your sins? If so, you are ready to where Jesus has gone. If you are not ready to believe in Jesus as the atonement for your sins, He says, TRUST:”Where I go, you cannot come.”

 

TRUST: Brings a Radiant Face

April 29, 2016

In the post TRUST: Never Be Put to Shame, the end product of TRUST was not experiencing shame. The point was that one would not regret TRUSTing God in any circumstance or situation. As I struggled to write this morning, I thought about a conversation I had with a coworker yesterday. I prayed for the person on Friday before an important meeting. As I prayed, God told me to pray that no matter what the result was to pray that the person would be able to trust that God is sovereign.

Yesterday, we talked. The person did not get the end or desired result. To that person and me, the decision that was made was perplexing, bewildering, and baffling; however, since God is sovereign, God would work it for the person’s good even though it makes no sense and seems truly bad on the surface. It also reinforces our expectation to TRUST God. Proverbs 16:33 tells us “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” No decision is made at random or chance associated with our lives. Every thing is either permitted by God or provoked by God, but rest assured, it must be sanctioned by God. My cowoker’s situation is a perfect example of TRUST. Here this person is seemingly at the mercy of someone who is making a decision about the most important thing in this person’s life. God says, “TRUST: Brings a Radiant Face

Hear the Word of God: Psalm 34

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

During the conversation with my coworker, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the pivotal verse (5) in TRUST: Never Be Put to Shame, but the focus now was not on shame but on radiance. The word used here for radiant means to shine, to give light or to beam with light; whence to be glad, rejoice, from the light or brightness of a happy face.

God wants us to know that we can TRUST Him amid the storm and pain. He wants us to know that the outcome is TRUST: Brings a Radiant Face. God is not promising to change every circumstance or situation to the end we desire. Through TRUSTing Him, God is promising to give us cause to rejoice, to be glad, to shine. It may seem odd to you, but I have numerous situations that exceeded the bitterness of lemon juice; however, God let me see the beauty of the lemon which result in TRUST: Brings a Radiant Face.

If you have never trusted Christ, this may seem odd or ridiculous. To bring back a slogan from the past, “It’s a TRUST thing; you wouldn’t understand.” Your understanding can come by you surrendering your life to follow Christ as Lord and Savior. For those of you who know, then you just needed to be reminded. Here is your reminder that TRUST: Brings a Radiant Face.

TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me

April 27, 2016

From squabbles with childhood friends to World Wars, people are engaged in taking sides. Throughout history, this has been affirmed. Even now as we move toward the general election of the President of the United States, we see people taking sides. We see candidates who opposed one another drop out of the race only to come along side the whom was being criticized and discredited as a viable candidate. There are some though who think that they will abstain or not get involved. That is misleading. Why?  TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me. 

In terms of working for the will of God or the kingdom of God, Jesus drew the line in the sand. In Luke 11, Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Let me share the verse in greater context.

14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Jesus was clear. Make no mistake about His position on the matter of working for the will/kingdom of God. You are either working with Him, or you are working against Him. While I or any other person may not know your motive, God does. God reveals the omniscient aspect of Jesus’ attributes in the passage. Verse 17 tells us that Jesus knew their thoughts. Since He knew there thoughts about how they felt about Him casting out demons, He knows our thoughts about how one feels about Him. Jesus is in prime position to assess and judge our motives. He can accurate identify what our motives are. This is why I am submitting, TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me. 

Jesus knows who is on His side, but how do we know. We can’t fully, but Jesus reveals His criteria for determining. First, He conveys that whomever is on His side works in concert with Him not against Him. This is what He meant by a divided house. The other means for His judgment is our obedience. In verse 28, the woman tries to worship Jesus’ mother, Mary. Seemingly, this woman is on Jesus’ side, but He has none of that. He corrects her. He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Jesus’ criteria is obedience.

TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me is determined by our obedience. God echos that in Hebrews. Here are other verses that communicate God’s demand for obedience.

Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking inobedience to him and revering him.
You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him.
and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk inobedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go
If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.
but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk inobedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:
It couldn’t be any clearer. God expects us to be for Him. Obedience to God is to be for Him or on His side.  He wants us to know TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me. 
Are you with Him or against Him? Are you obeying the Word of God or are you not indulging in the Word of God? Psalms 119:9 poses a question and answers it. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” Verse 11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” If you are not actively reading, memorizing, meditating and studying God’s Word, you just may not be on God’s side. TRUST: Whoever is Not with Me is Against Me.

TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted

April 25, 2016

First, let me say that there is no possible circumstance of suffering that can compare to Christ on the cross. We do not fully understand what He gave up and what He went through to purchase our redemptions, the salvation of our souls. He constantly lived under scrutiny and a doubtful eye of man. Luke gives us a glimpse of this when he wrote “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”” While amazed, the people were like this is just an ordinary guy that we know from ordinary people. Like us, the people of that time did not truly get the person of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him, and Peter denied Him just as we all have today. It only gives credence to TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted.

According to dictionary.com, taunt means to reproach in a sarcastic, insulting, or jeering manner; mock. Perhaps, there has not been a greater demonstration of this than at the cross. Before he went to the cross, we see Jesus’ experience go well beyond TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted. His own people demanded that He be crucified for His TRUST in the Father. As an example of obedience to the Father, the incarnate God, Christ, the Creator, allowed Himself to be subjected to that which He created. Listen to what they said.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Matthew further reveals TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted.  Pilate, who failed to stand for truth, followed the demand of the people to crucify Jesus. Before he was led away, we see the taunting begin.

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Can you imagine how these men will feel on the Great Day of Judgment? How would you feel? It is too late for them to alter history for themselves in eternity, but it is not too late for you. If you have not surrendered your life to Christ as Lord and Savior, do so today. Read His Word, submit to it and follow Him daily.

After Jesus had been beaten and forced to carry His cross, they crucified Him for our sins. We see another example of TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted.

42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel!Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

They were not believers in who Christ said He was. Let’s face it, many of His disciples had shrank back in their faith too. This is why the grace of God is so incredible. There are none of us who deserves to be forgiven of our sins. None of us deserves to be extended the opportunity to not face the wrath of God for our sins. Jesus showed us that we would endure hardship, suffering and scorn for His cause.

If we call ourselves Christians i.e. Christ like or like Christ, we should understand that we will fully aware that TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted. When I surrendered my will to Jesus’, all kinds of people from friends to family teased me about my decision. One prominent family member asked me, “so Jesus is going to come back and get those who belong to Him, but what about those who were eaten by sharks and bears.” As an extremely new and unlearned believer, I did not know that He was the creator and could reform what He had already created. That was not in my mind. I just felt frustrated, but God told me to keep trusting Him instead.

Now more than thirty years later, that family member is further away from God. I am praying for his soul. I am praying the very one whom He taunted me over will extend grace to him for the salvation of his soul. I just want you to know that if you are following Jesus as Lord and Savior, TRUST: Will Cause You to be Taunted. Press on

Philippians 3:13-15

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment

April 22, 2016

In the post TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation, it was shared that God will judge those who failed to TRUST in Him. We also saw God express condemnation to those who failed to TRUST Him.

Where is the hope for those who are pursuing God in a nation that has forsaken God? Where is the hope for the man, woman or child who has not called right wrong and wrong right? Hope is right where Nahum told the people in his prophecy against the apostate. God, through His prophets, tells us to TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

Let us see and hear the hope God offers through the prophet Nahum in Nahum 1.

Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

Amid the revealed judgment of God expressed in verses 1-5, the notion of hope surfaces in verse six. God through Nahum, raises the question of hope through who could withstand God’s acts of His wrath? When God raises a question, He answers it for revelation and instructional purposes. In Mark 4:9 , Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

Hope in judgment was also expressed in Nineveh in verses seven and eight. The Lord would be good to those who TRUST in Him. He promises to be a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who TRUST in Him. God provides this picture to show TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

When God spoke those Words to Nahum, that was a long time ago. What about today? As with them, our hope too is in the prophet. As God incarnate, Jesus is the greatest prophet that has graced this earth. Jesus acknowledges that He is a prophet in Matthew 13 where he said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” in reference to the belief of the people of His home town. He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. While Jesus did not do many miracles there, He did some to illustrate TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

Peter, the rock, also conveys TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

2 Peter 2

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Peter references Lot who was saved when God destroyed the ungodly of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just as God saved Lot, Peter is declaring that God will save those who seek refuge in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Listen to what Peter says, “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.” The if is not one of question or doubt, but it communicates that “if” God did that for Lot, He will do it for all who believe as Lot believed. The focus is on God rescuing the the godly from trials. Whether now or later, God is saying TRUST: There is Hope in Judgment.

Jesus is our Hope in Judgment. TRUST in Him!

TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation

April 21, 2016

America, as a country, used to love to tout that it is a Christian nation. We have been going askew for some time. We have been dying a slow death in terms of our faith and worship in the Almighty God, Jehovah. For some time now, we have called wrong right and right wrong. We have ushered into a new and greater age of apostasy. As a country, we have sought to redefine righteousness with what we want rather than what God demands. We have intensified the uncoupling of our nation with the Lord of Hosts. As such, we need to prepare for the consequences of our waywardness. This is why I am submitting TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation.

In understanding the bible, God expects us to allow the Word to serve as a cross reference and a revealer of truth. This is no more true than thinking of one’s country and of himself. God is always telling and expecting us to TRUST in Him. Remember, TRUST: Blessings or Curses for You? By our acts of faith or doubt, we receive blessings or curses based upon our response to God. TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation can be seen in Israel as well as other nations. Today, we will look at Assyria.

In Old Testament times, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. If your will recall from Johah, Nineveh was the city that God called him to preach and the people repented. This happened centuries before out text today in Nahum. Nahum addresses a city, thus a nation, that has turned back sin in forsaking God. To reiterate, TRUST: God Disciplines those Who Forsake Him. Nineveh, like America, is ripe for judgement by God. TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation.

Nahum 1

A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
    he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
    and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
    and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
    the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

 

TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation. There it is right there. Through the prophet Nahum, God foretold of His judgement against Assyria and Nineveh. Why? Remember God’s commision to Jonah? “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”Jonah 1:1-2 …Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth…10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”(Jonah 3)

God had provided Nineveh with an opportunity to repent and relate to Him as their God, but like us, the people forsook God. Now, we see God, through another prophet Nahum, telling the people of His judgement. Similarly, God, through the greatest prophet Jesus, has offered repentance and relationship with God to America and to you as an individual wherever you are. “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”” (Mark 1:15) Paul repeats Jesus’ invitation and message when he said “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:21)

In John 3, Jesus outlines what is the outcome for those who fail to TRUST in Jesus. He said, “31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i]gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

TRUST: God Will Judge Our Nation. God will also judge and condemn you should you fail to remain faithful in your TRUST in Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you remain stedfast and faithful in your TRUST in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we know from Romans 8 that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh,in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

TRUST: God Shuts the Mouths of Lions

April 20, 2016

Perhaps, two of the most known biblical accounts occur in the book of Daniel. Whether we attended church or not, most people of my generation knew about Daniel and the three Hebrew boys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The Fiery Furnance involves Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah which was observed in TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. Now today, the second of those accounts,  Daniel in the Lion’s Den, is why I am writing TRUST: God Shuts the Mouths of Lions.

Today, there aren’t too many kings nor are there too many places, if any, where they have a lion’s den where people are thrown to be devoured. Despite that, those two accounts serve as figurative landmarks for us to find our bearings as believers or seekers of Christ. The important factor is for us to glean from the accounts is TRUST: God Shuts the Mouths of Lions.

Let’s read and hear the account of Daniel being falsely accused and set up because of his exceptional service. Let us also see Daniel’s response in the face of the call to forsake worshiping and trusting God.

Daniel 6:1-23

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom,with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealedit with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

In the face of death, Daniel TRUSTed in God. I can only pray that I will have as much strength in such a situation. We all would like to think that we would have unwavering faith in the face of death. Whether we know it or not, we do face death every day. Romans 8 tells us “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long: We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who love us.” God was Daniel’s help in the lion’s den. God is our help in this den of life where satan, who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. That someone is you. That is why I am encouraging us to TRUST: God Shuts the Mouths of Lions.

By TRUSTing in his God, a number of results surfaced from Daniel being thrown in the lion’s den.

  1. God’s power to save was on full display for everyone to see
  2. God saved/rescued Daniel
  3. God gained glory for Himself by having Darius acknowledge who He is to Darius’ kingdom.
  4. God fought Daniel’s fight of those opposing him.
  5. God strengthened Daniels resolve to trust Him and not
  6. God retold the story of Daniels trust in Him for the benefit of others

I want God to use me out of my faith fight to bring glory to Himself, to strengthen my faith and to benefit others in their faith fight. One thing that will help me is to remember to TRUST: God Shuts the Mouths of Lions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

April 18, 2016

Disclaimer: Fire burns you. Today, I want to share a story with you though that defies that fact. It also confirms and conveys another truth about not being burned in the figurative fires of our lives. By standing on the truth, God’s Word, I can say TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

Let me go straight to the text in Daniel 3. In this passage, the faith or TRUST of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah was on full display to show TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. If you have not read the passage, those names may not be familiar to you. You may know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego or the three Hebrew boys who were friends of Daniel. They were apart of the Jewish captivity by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.

As you know from Exodus 20, God said, “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;” Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were well aware of God’s command, so when Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Let’s listen in on Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s conversation with Nebuchadnezzar that chronicles whether they would bow down and serve someone other the Jehovah. 

15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what godwill be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah demonstrated TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. They laid the foundation for us to consider and emulate. I am not sure what you are going through or facing right now, but I know if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the prince of this world, satan, is prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. That someone is you.

Do not fear. He is not a roaring lion in comparison to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David who has truly triumphed. God is calling all of us to TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

Now, let’s see how the story ended for Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah after trusting in God.

Nebuchadnezzar commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

Didn’t He do it! God saved Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah for trusting in Him. He promises to save us for trusting in Him. This why I am proclaiming TRUST: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUST: The Lord Will be The Shepherd

April 15, 2016

I got so caught up this morning reading in Ezekiel that I ran out of time to write. I read a lot that was good to me, but I was particularly captivated by God’s willingness through time to show us that man is inept as caring and loving for us in contrast with His care and love. Furthermore, the prophecy that God Himself would become the Shepherd of His people magnified the contrast between man and God and solidified my belief in the Bible as a source of revelation in itself. God’s goal is for man to know Him, to relate to Him, to be their God. TRUST: The Lord Will be The Shepherd

Have fun reading and letting God speak to you from Ezekiel 34.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

17 “‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.

25 “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. 26 I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27 The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31 You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

When one believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he can TRUST: The Lord Will be The Shepherd.

TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself

April 14, 2016

I will readily admit that there is a great deal of imagery found in Ezekiel 16 that I do not fully understand. I confess that I need to study more the comparisons God makes of Jewish nation, but what is clear is God is saying TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

Thank God that I do not have to fully understand in this moment. God requires me to understand what I know in this moment and to ask Him for understanding and study for greater understanding later. From Ezekiel 16,  I do understand that God expects me to follow and trust in Him alone. I do understand that God wants me to worship Him alone. I do understand God will take decisive action against His people, including me, when we become wayward. I do understand that it is an offense and hurtful to God when I put my TRUST elsewhere. What I hear loud and clear from this passage is TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

Ezekiel said, “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices…” God told him to tell His people about their detestable (hated) practices. Practice conveys a pattern of behavior not necessarily a misstep here or there. In their practices and ours, God is saying TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

First, we must understand why their practices were detestable. It would be better if you read Ezekiel 16 as God will speak to you Himself. Despite that, listen to what actions God made on behalf of the Jews. In the first few verse of the passage, He draws the image of a birthed but orphaned baby laid out bare. Listen to the attention, care and love God outlines:

“‘Then I passed by and saw you …
I made you grow…
“‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
“‘I bathed you…
10 I clothed you…
11 I adorned you..
12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.
14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.

Verse 8 is pivotal. God says, “I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.” As a result, the people became God’s people. He made an orphan His. Then in verse 14, we are told that their beauty was made perfect because of the splendor God gave them.

Likewise, verse 15 is pivotal. God says, 15 “‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.” They took what was God’s and gave it away. That is how we become spiritual prostitutes. 

How does one prostitute himself or herself? In spiritual terms, you abandon God who deserves your love and devotion to pursue other people or things. In a simple sense,we take what God made His and give to those whom it does not belong.  It is forsaking God for someone or something else. In fact, God, through the prophet here, lists nations (Egypt and Assyria), and a false gods (Baal and Moloch/Molech) that the Jews had prostituted themselves. Now, that was one of the detestable practices of the people. To that God says, TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

A prostitute is one who receives payment or favors for giving the most intimate part of her to those whom she/he has no relation or connection. This is what God said about the Jews in the passage. Here are some of the detestable practices God tells Ezekiel to convey to the people. God says “32 “‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!33 All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors.34 So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.” God’s people who had been given God’s love gave away His affection for the pursuit of nations and gods that did not love them nor could they save them. They paid tribute for countries to protect them rather than depending on God. They used jewlry that God had given them to make idols, a false god, as well as sacrificing their children in worship of false Gods. Instead of receiving payment, they made payments. It is God’s warning to us to TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

To whom or to what are you giving yourself? If it is not all God and fully God, we need to repent. That is to acknowledge that you have gone away from God, ask for His forgiveness and turn to following Him alone. Jesus Christ is the one in whom we receive forgiveness and salvation. God is asking us to follow Him solely. God is saying TRUST: Don’t Prostitute Yourself.

 


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