9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’” — 1 Kings 9:9 NLT
God had fulfilled all of His promises and particularly those He had made to David and Solomon up to this point. God blessed David and allowed him to amass all the wealth that Solomon would need to build the temple. He had anointed David and then Solomon to be king over Israel. He gave Solomon peace from all of his enemies for the time it took to build the temple and his own palace. But the Creator of the universe knows the flesh. He knew that as time passed, the people would become complacent and return to their idol worship. So, even in this time of great celebration, God reminded them of what would happen if they abandoned Him and worshipped idols and honored created things as gods. When we forget God and when we no longer worship Him as the only true and living God, He allows things in our lives to remind us of Who He is. When God has blessed us, we must not become complacent and allow things or people to replace Him in our lives. We must continually take inventory of our attitudes and actions to be sure they are God-honoring. He is still the Creator of the universe, He is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is up to us to be sure He is sitting on the throne of our lives. If we forget and stray away, He will remind us of who He is and who we are. That’s the bad news. The good news is that He will coming looking for us and bring us home on His shoulders. When He has returned us to the fold, there will be a party in heaven.
God tells us that giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Him. We are also told to offer a continual sacrifice of praise to God, to do good and to share with those in need.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. — Hebrews 13:15, 16 NLT
We need to take time each day to praise God. It not only pleases God, but it is uplifiting to our spirits as well. Praise and thanksgiving feed the spirit and the soul. After we have read His Word and prayed, we still need to just rest in His arms and give Him glory for all that He does for us each day. Jesus loves to sing over us and He loves to hear us sing to Him.
17 For the Lord your God is living among you.He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” — Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
A part of doing good to others is encouraging them and cheering them up. Nothing can cheer us up like hearing a great song of praise. Rest and let Jesus sing you a love song.
It has been said that when we get to heaven, if we should ask God why He didn’t answer our prayers, He will show us a list of all the prayers we have ever prayed and His answer to each one. Then, He will show us a list of all the prayers we should have prayed but didn’t and His answer to all of those. The list that we prayed will be in the thousands and the list we should have prayed will be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Why are we so hesitant to ask God for everything that we need? No, He isn’t some heavenly Santa needing a list of our needs, but He does want us to ask. We need to realize that every breath we take is an answer to prayer. God owes us nothing, but He wants to give us everythng. The old expression that “God helps those who help themselves” is not Biblical. God wants us to be totally dependent on Him for our needs. As long as we think that we can do it ourselves, He will allow us to struggle. We must reach the same point that Solomon reached and admit to God, that we can’t. As Solomon asked, “how can one man do this?”, we need to admit to God that we can do nothing without Him and that we believe with all of our hearts that we can do all things through Him. It is at this point of need and full realization that we are helpless, that God can move in and use the full force of heaven to accomplish what needs to be done. When we feel that God has not answered our prayers, He has either said “No” or “Wait for my timing”. That is the two answers we don’t want to hear, so we just say that God hasn’t answered. Instead of rebeling and complaining, we need to use that time of waiting to prepare for what God is going to give us that we didn’t ask for. After all, He gave us the most precious and expensive gift He could give when He gave us His Son, why would He withhold anything else?
32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? — Romans 8:32 NLT
When I read this verse, I often think, “How could these people be face to face with Jesus and refuse to believe?”. But, then, I am reminded of how many times I was called by the Holy Spirit and refused to believe. It is easy for us to assume that we would have acted differently than those people did then. We let oursleves off easy thinking that we would have surely believed Jesus in this situation. But, just as Abraham told the rich man who requested that he send Lazarus back to his home town to speak to his brothers, if they won’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe even if they saw someone return from the dead.
On the day that Jesus was crucified, there were prophets and holy people of old whose bodies were released from the grave and they walked the streets of Jerusalem, but not all of Jerusalem was saved.
The point is this, people that have lived since the Holy Spirit was sent to call us, lead us and comfort us, have more reasons to believe than most of those people back then. We can look back over history and see more of God’s promises fullfilled than they could and yet, there are many that still refuse to believe. We will hear the story multiple more times than most of them heard it, but not all will believe Every person will hear the story and have the opporitunity to receive Jesus as their Savior, yet not all will do so. As time goes by, hearts grow harder and harder. A few years ago, it was reported that we had to hear the story seven times before we accepted Jesus. Now, that number is reported to have risen to fourteen. Our work is to keep telling the story and we must keep telling it more and more, so those around us will have more opportunities. But the results of our telling the story are in God’s hands. Our work is to tell, His work is to confirm it in the hearts of those He has chosen.
David was a man after God’s own heart. Time after time, David sinned and repented and God always forgave him. God blessed David with peace and with a super-abundance. Why does God do this for those of us who fall time after time? Because He loves us with a love that we cannot totally grasp or understand. He continued to forgive David because David always had a godly sorrow for his sins. After the heat and passion of the moment had settled, David always turned back to God and begged for His forgiveness. This was a continuing battle for David and it is a continuning battle for any of us as long as we remain in the flesh in this sinful world. God knows that we cannot be perfect in this flesh. If that were possible, then Jesus would not have had to die to redeem us and the old covenant would still be in effect. When we fail and come short of the mark, we must remember to be like David, admit our sins to God and repent from them. When we repent, we turn from the old way and to a new way. True repentance requires actions that show God and those around us that we are serious when we ask God for forgiveness. When we fail and we all do at some point, don’t allow satan to beat you up with guilt and condemnation. Follow David’s example and choose to be disciplined by God. His mercies are new every morning and there is plenty of mercy for all of us and enough to last throughout eternity. When God saved us, He knew our weaknesses and He knew that sooner or later, we would fall, but He chose us anyway and He hasn’t changed His mind about our salvation. Be honest with God, He already knows what we did and what we will do in the future. Those sins are already forgiven, but we must repent.
31 “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
32 For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? 33 God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.– 2 Samuel 22:31-33 NLT
2 Samuel 22:31-37 What a mighty God we serve! No religion can make the claim that we Christians can make about our God. No religion can make the claim that they have a God who loved them enough to send His only Son to die for them and redeem them from the curse of sin. There are other so-called gods but they are all dead and buried or if they were only idols having no life, they have been destroyed. We serve a living God, a risen Savior and we are guided by an indwelling Holy Spirit. That is why Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with a living Lord. The Bible is a book about our God and what our relationship with Him should be. How many times have you read a book and wished that you could sit down and talk with the author? Well, we can do that everyday with the Author and the Finisher of our Bible. Every day of our lives, we can sit at the feet of Jesus and learn about Him from Him. When we do that faithfully and obediently, we learn that all of His promises are true. He is our protector, our Solid Rock, our fortress, our Banner, our Physician and the list goes on and on. Our God is everything we need when we need it the most. He cannot and will not fail us. He is able to deliver us and bring us home to His glory! Praise His Name!!
As we tell and retell the Gospel story and talk about all the marvelous things God has done for us, we are filled with joy. The more we tell the old, old story, the more sure our hope becomes and the more joy we have to help us get through each day. That old liar, satan, comes around every day telling us how bad things are and pointing out all the things we don’t have. But all we need to do is stop and consider all the things with which God has blessed us. Then we need to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. We need to remind ourselves and satan about Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians on the things we need to focus on in our daily thought patterns.
God tells over and over that we should not worry, fear or be discouraged, yet, we spend more time considering what we are going to do when bad things happen than we do praising God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. Just as we don’t want to hear our kids complaining about what they don’t have all the time, neither does God want to hear our murmurs and complaining every day. It was this kind of behavior by God’s chosen people that caused Him to be angry with them on their trek through the desert. Do we want best friends who only tell us about their problems or those who share their concerns and their victories with us? God is our best friend, let us treat Him like we would our best friend. Talk with Him, not just to Him every day and praise Him for all of His goodness, then we will be filled with HIs peace and His joy, which is His gift to us.
The hope that we have of our final salvation is a living hope. It was searched for and studied by the prophets of old. The Holy Spirit revealed things to them and as much as they desired to grasp this hope, they were told that the truths they were revealing were not for them at that time but for a later time. That time came when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent us the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Spirit and He abides within us, He brings with Him a living hope. It may start as just a tiny flame of hope, but as our understanding matures, it grows with each passing day. We are saved, we are being saved and one day we will have our final salvation.
The prophets desired it, the angels desire to look into it and understand it, but, by the grace of God, we have it. We need to feed that hope daily by studying God’s Word, praying and praising Him. As we practice these things, we will find that our hope grows and that we experience a peace and joy that we cannot explain. A joy full of glory because each day we are nearer to the ultimate goal of our faith — which is the salvation of our souls.
Stephen has just recited a short summary of all the things God had brought the Israelites through and the miracles He had peformed in bringing them to the Promised Land. Stephen also reminded them that God did this for them in spite of their unbelief and unfaithfulness. He did it as a fulfillment of His covenant with their ancestors. Even though God was faithful, the Israelites were not, refusing to listen to Moses and any of the prophets God sent to them with messages warning them to repent and be obedient to God. Instead they persecuted and murdered the prophets choosing to remain in their sinful ways and worship idols made by human hands. The people Stephen was addressing were still following in their ancestor’s paths, choosing to kill the Messiah rather than to give up their worldly ways and repent. If Stephen were here today, he could add the history of our country to his discourse and the accusation would still be true. After all the years of God blessing this country with His abundance, we are still a “stubborn people, heathen at heart and deaf to the truth”. More and more, as each day passes by, we become a more sinful nation. We refuse to believe that God will punish us just as He punished the Israelites. We must pray that God will have mercy on this nation of ours, that He will replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and write His name upon our hearts.
God has a plan and a a purpose for each one of us. The ultimate goal for each of those plans is to glorify God. We glorify God by proclaiming the good news that Jesus saves. We can do this by teaching, preaching or simply living a lifestyle that shows others how much Jesus means to us and what He has done for us. God has never called anyone to do anything without equipping them and training them. The way we walk and talk is observed by those around us. We talk to others about ball games, movies we have seen, places we have been to and books that we have read. We share experience after experience with them, but we never touch on the most important experience that we have had. We never mention anything to them about when we met Jesus and all the things he has done for us since. Yes, we occassionally share that with our Christian brothers and sisters, but when we are talking to others, do we mention the name of Jesus? It isn’t alwas necessary to quote Bible verses to people. Sometimes, we just need to tell them what Jesus has done for us. Anytime, the name of Jesus is mentioned, a decision has to be made; will we accept HIm or reject HIm? Just allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and your lifestyle and testimony will be effective.