8 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
This song of praise and thanksgiving was composed by David after the successful movement of the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom’s house to the tent David had prepared especially for the Ark. On the first attempt at getting the Ark to Jerusalem, a man had died because he touched the Ark. David and his men had attempted to do the right thing the wrong way. This time David appointed priests to carry the Ark. They researched the proper way to transport the Ark and were able to bring it safely to Jerusalem. How many times in our lives have we failed when we were sure we were hearing from God and doing what He wanted us to do? When God gives us a work to do, we need to inquire as to how we are to accomplish this work. When we are sure that God has given us a specific work and we fail in trying to do that work, we need to stop and listen to God to determine how He wants His work done. We make a lot of mistakes because originally, we want to do our thing, our way. When we are saved, we want to do God’s thing, our way. As we listen to the Holy Spirit and mature in our walk with God, He brings us to the point that we want to do God’s thing, God’s way. So, when we are sure of God’s purpose for us in life, but we keep failing in our attempts to accomplish that purpose, we need to stop, look and listen. We don’t give up, we give in. When we do this, God is able to use us to accomplish His work His way. Then, we will be successful in His eyes whether the world recognizes it or not.
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” — John 9:41 NLT
Jesus had just healed this blind man by making mud with dirt and His own spit. Can you imagine anyone in today’s society allowing Jesus to put that compress on their eyes? Can you imagine how many lawsuits Jesus would have been faced with because of His actions? How many shots and vaccines would this man have been advised to take because the spit of Jesus had touched his skin? Even back then, Jesus and the once-blind man had to suffer rejection and persecution because Jesus did this good deed on the Sabbath. It is not recorded that even one person besides the blind man himself, was excited and happy for him. When called by the Pharisees, even his parents refused to stand up for him because they feared rejection themselves. Isn’t still that way today? When we see good things happen to people, don’t we question and doubt? Don’t we try to tear down rather than build up? Don’t we look for hidden reasons that this happened? After all, it is just smoke and mirrors, right? As long as we think we can see, we will not ask for sight. As long as we trust our own intellignece, we will not ask for God’s wisdom. We, like the Pharisees and religious leaders will remain blind and ignorant because we claim we can see and understand when we cannot even imagine what God has in store for us. Not just in the sweet by and by in heaven, but right here and right now. We must ask God to open our eyes to see and our hearts and minds to believe so that we can access all the power and wisdom that He wants to give us.
19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
— Ephesians 5:19 NLT
If we take any time to read the testimonies of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted by being imprisoned, our hearts will break at the stories of their cruel treatment. Sleeping in hot containers in the blazing sun or on cold ground in winter time. Being allowed only one set of clothing with no laundering facilities for months. Being fed one meal a day (on good days) and that being nothing but gruel. Being given the worst of the chores, such as shoveling out the latrine pools and carrying the waste away in buckets. Being beaten for witnessing to the other prisoners. When these brothers and sisters are interviewed (if they survive), they each have amazing stories of how God was gracious to them, providing supernatural spiritual, mental and physical strength. But there is one common theme that runs through their stories. When asked the quesiton; “How do you survive such cruel treatment for such a long length of time?” They tell stories of singing the spiritual songs they have learned while serving Jesus. Some are old hymns, some are psalms and other Bible verses set to music, some are words that God has given them for just such a time. Helen Berthane tells her story of imprisonment in the containers in Eritrea in her book, “The Song of the Nightingale”. In her book, she tells of many songs that Jesus gave to her. In our own lives, though we certainly have never tasted such cruel punishment for our Christian beliefs, such songs can get us through the hardest times. Take the time to commit some Spiritual songs to memory and the next time, satan shoots his fiery arrows at you, repel them with your favorite songs and verses. He will flee.
8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. — Matthew 6:8 NASB
Matthew 6:5-14 NLT
Jesus starts this discussion by telling us how we should not pray. We are not to pray just to be seen and heard by others. If that is our motivation then the only reward we will get is the praise of those who see and hear us. Whether our prayers are realistic or ritualistic is not determined by where we pray or the words that we say. It isn’t the length of the prayer but the strength of the faith behind the prayer. One of the most real and shortest prayers is the cry of Peter when he was sinking in the sea of Galilee. His cry was “Save me, Lord”. Jesus immediately reached out His hand and brought Peter to safety. After He tells us how not to pray, He tells how we should pray. It is a short, powerful, beautiful prayer that covers everything from God’s holiness to our dependence on God for our daily bread. It covers forgiveness and God’s desire that His will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven. It shows us that we need the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that we will not be led into temptation but that we will be delivered from evil. We could pray this prayer continually and whether it becomes ritualistic instead of real would be determined by our attitude. God has given many examples of prayer in the Psalms where David cries out with all of his heart and might. He has also given us prayers of thanksgiving for His many blessings and benefits. When we reach the point that we have no words to express our desires, He has given us the Holy Spirit to pray through us, with us and for us.
It isn’t our words or our bodily position that determines whether our prayers are real or rituals, it is the attitude of the heart toward God and toward our fellow man that makes the difference. It is our faith that God can and will do these things for us and that we are willing to do these things for those around us.
10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
— John 8:10 NLT
In this short passage of Scripture, we get to look at sin from all four sides. There is sin as the devil sees it, a tool for death and destruction. There is sin from the human viewpoint as seen by the accusers. There is sin from the viewpoint of the one who commtted the sin. Then there is sin from the viewpoint of Jesus, a wrong that demands forgiveness. The accusers had caught this woman in the very act of adultery, how this happened we are not told and we don’t need to know. Under the law, the woman was guilty and deserving of death. Jesus had come to change all of that. He was bringing a new way of looking at and treating the guilty party. From the reaction of the accusers when Jesus questioned them, we know that, at some point, all of them had transgressed the law. In Jesus’s way of thinking, regardless of what they had done, they were as worthy of death as the woman was. Under the law, there was big sin and little sin. Under grace, there is just sin, liars are lumped right in there with murderers. We may often find ourselves in the postion of the accusers or in position of the woman who committed the sin. Jesus was using this situation to teach a two-fold lesson. First, He was teaching them the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we were caught in this situation, would we want others to show us mercy? Then we msut show mercy. The second and most important lesson is that sin is forgiveable and that is the road we should choose.
To receive God’s forgvieness, we are required to forgive others of their sins.
14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. — Galatians 3:14 NLT
God blessed Abram with abundant natural blessings and changed his name to Abraham. What did Abraham do to deserve these blessings? He did nothing to earn them. Blessings are gifts from God, they are not rewards for good works. We can never do enough or be good enough to earn blessings from God. The greatest blessing we receive is salvation. That gift is free and cannot be earned. Since the greatest gift of all was freely given, why do we feel that we have to earn the lesser gifts? The blessings come because of God’s great love for us and His covenant promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his seed (or child), not seeds or children. It is singular meaning only one and that one is Jesus Christ. So, all of our blessings come through Jesus Christ and because He gave His life for us at Calvary. The debt was paid in full for all the blessings we receive. If good works can earn salvation or any blessing then Jesus Christ died in vain. The good works are to lay up rewards in heaven and to earn crowns that we can lay at the feet of Jesus. Good works are a part of our worship here on earth. The rewards we receive for those good works are laid up in heaven and will be used to worship Jesus there. The blessings we receive here are a taste of what is to come and to encourage us to continue and never turn back.
33 And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. — 2 Kings 17:33 NLT
Again and again, God allowed other kings to invade and conquer portions of Israel. He did this because they refused to obey His laws and they refused to keep His commandments. Finally, God allowed the king of Assyria to remove all of Israel to other countries. After doing this, the king of Assyria brought in foreigners to settle the land of Israel. God did not like this, so God sent lions in to destroy the foreigners. The king was informed that this was happening because the new settlers did not know how to worship God correctly. He brought in an Israelite priest to instruct them in proper worship. They learned and practiced the proper worship procedures, but they also continued to worship the idols of each of their respective homelands. God will not stand for impurities in any worship service or offering to Him. Either He is our God or He is not, there is no middle ground. Our God is a jealous God and He will not allow any other god(s) to be a part of our love affair with Him. Our God deserves worship from hearts that are pure and undefiled. When we celebrate Jesus, our celebrations must be in obedience to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We must lift up holy hands in His honor. There can be no spots in our love feasts. Everything must honor Him and Him alone.
2 Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.
— Song of Solomon 1:2 NLT
The Song of Solomon is a love letter from Jesus to HIs chosen bride, the Church. It explains how He sees the Church in its purest form, when all the members are living in unity with each other. It gives us a glimpse into the depth, length and width of His love. It shows what great lengths to which He will go to get us to spend time with Him. Everything He created was created for one purpose. That purpose was to bring all the glory to Himself. A part of that glory is the exaltation of the Church to the postion of His chosen bride. For the marriage to bring Him glory, the bride must be spotless. He has assured that purity by washing each member in His own blood. When the Holy Spirit comes to each of us, He is not bringing an invitation to the wedding, He is coming with a question from the Bridegroom. The question is, “Will you marry me?” Such love demands a response and a total commitment. Keeping that commitment is not always easy and in the flesh,it is seemingly impossible. But, it gets so much easier when we understand that a Holy lifestyle is really about having a love affair with Jesus. The thing that Jesus really wants from us is to be treated the way we treated our first real love. Remember that? That person was on our mind constantly,we were always contemplating how great it would be the next time we were with them and what we could do to please them. Jesus wants us to think about Him that way. Take some time today and just spend it loving on Jesus and allowing Him to love on you. He’s waiting to hear from us now.
19 The king’s officer had replied, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” And the man of God had said, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” 20 And so it was, for the people trampled him to death at the gate! –2 Kings 7:19, 20 NLT
Everything that Elisha had prophesied about the famine and then the abundance of food came to pass. Not one thing was left out. God had defeated an army by confusing them until they fought each other and then the rest ran away leaving all of their supplies which included the abundance of food they had stored for their sustenance during the siege. Israel did not fight the battle and they did not lose one single soldier in getting the supply that God had promised. The only person lost was the king’s assistant and he was trampled by his own people before he could get a bite of food.
Every detail was fulfilled. God has made us many amazing promises in His Word. We can believe those promises, access them and enjoy the benefits of living in His presence or we can try to make it on our own and experience defeat and death. God is not a man that He should lie and He is not slack concerning His promises. There is no fine print or legalese to interrupt, just promises made in simple langauge that anyone can understand. Don’t be like Pharoah and choose to live with the frogs one more night. Just believe God’s Word and start enjoying the benefits of lving in His resurrection power today.