Why?

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27 For the hearts of these people are hardened,    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’ — Acts 28:27 NLT
 
 
The Jewish leaders there in Rome had already heard the message of Jesus. They wanted to hear it again from Paul and to hear what he believed.  Any time and every time the name of Jesus is mentioned, it requires that we make a decision.  Whether we decide to reject Him, accept Him or to think about it, we make a decision.  Some of these leaders were persuaded to believe by what Paul said and others were not.  It is a mystery to us why all the people hear the same message but some respond positively and some respond negatively.  Did Paul quit preaching the Word because some refused to believe?  No!  For two years, Paul supported himself and continued to tell others about the Good News.  Paul understood that the results of his preaching the Word were not up to Him.  His part was to continue to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  We are to do the same thing.  Keep preaching and/or teaching and not be discouraged because we don’t see any results.  The results are up to the Lord and the Holy Spirit, not to us.  We will see the results when we get to heaven. Until then we just keep living out God’s plan for each of us and let Him handle the results.
 
Post 07-31-2016

The Whole Person

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2 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. — Mark 10:52 KJV

The Greek word “sozo”  that is translated as “whole” here in this verse appears over one hundred and ten times in the KJV.  It is sometimes translated as heal, save, or rescue.  If translated properly, it means to deliver out of danger and into safety.  The biblical meaning is that God is rescuing us from the power of sin and into His divine safety.  When Jesus healed people, the crowd saw the external effects of that healing, but Jesus was actually saying to each of those He healed: “You are made whole”.  It was more than a physical healing, it was a complete healing of soul, mind and body.  Notice that the word has two aspects.  First, it moves you out of danger.  This would be the physical healing.  But the people still died at a later date, so they were not freed from physical death.  Secondly, it moved you to a place of divine safety.  The recipients of sozo were not left in limbo.  The divine safety was forever.  God doesn’t always heal the physically sick.  Ask Paul.  Those that are truly repentant and call upon the name of Jesus are always delivered from sin and into divine safety.  In the resurrection, we will all be made completely whole.

1 Corinthians 15:42-50

Post 07-30-2016

God Specializes in the Unusual

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4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”  — 1 Kings 17:4 NLT
 
 

When  the children of Israel kept complaining about their food situation in the desert, God gave them meat in the evenings and bread in the mornings (Exodus 16:8) .  The manna fell from the heavens and an east wind blew in the quail.  After Elijah had told Ahab that there would be no rain or dew in the land of Israel for a few years, Ahab became angry and desired to kill Elijah.  God instructed Elijah to go hide by the Kerith Brook.  Even though there was famine in the land, God had commanded the ravens to bring Elijah bread in the morning and meat in the evening. Elijah had food twice a day and water from the brook.  God had created the ravens as scavengers.  They are able to find food and survive when others are dying from hunger.  It probably doesn’t sound too tasty but God provided all that Elijah needed to survive.  We may not be happy in our present position but God has provided that position to us so that we can survive.  Be thankful until the brook dries up and the ravens quit bringing the food.  If we are thankful and obedient, then God will open up another way to feed us just as He did for Elijah by sending him to the widow of Zarephath. The widow fed Elijah a little bread made from her last flour and oil.  That little turned into an abundance.  God blessed the widow for her obedience and her jars of flour and oil never ran out. Provision and abundance follows obedience.

Post 07-29-2016

A Time For Celebration!

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10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
— Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
 
 

After the work on the walls of Jerusalem had been completed and the gates were hung in place, Ezra gathered all the people together and took a census.  Then he sent them all home.  They reassembled in Jerusalem and asked Ezra to read to them all of the Book of the Laws of Moses.  As Ezra and the scribes read the laws, the people wept remembering their disobedience.  They realized how much God had forgiven them and how he had brought them safely back to Jerusalem.  They had seen how God had provided everything they needed to rebuild the walls.  Though the enemy came close shouting insults and discouragement, God had protected them while they finished the work.  Ezra and the priests explained to the people that this was not a day for weeping but a day for rejoicing and celebration. There are times in our lives, when some things need to be rebuilt.  When some unexpected event has shaken our faith, we need time to rest and heal.  Perhaps a close friend has broken our trust or one of our spiritual leaders has fallen from grace. The enemy will come close whispering discouraging words in our hear.  God will protect us through the storm and when the skies are clear, it will be a time for rejoicing and celebration for us just as it was for the Israelis in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Psalm 30:1-5 NLT

Post 07-28-2016

Restoration

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7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
— Psalm 51:7 NLT
 
 

David was chosen by God to rule over His people Israel.  God had brought him from the lowly position of shepherd to the highest position in the land. He had watched over and protected David from all of the enemies of Israel and had given him victory after victory. Springtime was when all of the kings went out to war.  Whatever David’s reasons were for staying home in the spring we will never know.   Instead of going out to lead his army as he should have, he sent the army out to fight while he stayed home living a life of leisure and idleness. As the trite old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.   David got caught in that trap and fell into sin.  His sin led him to adultery and finally to murder.  As we are told in the book of James, sin brings death.  It brought the death of a marriage, a husband and finally, the death of David’s son.  When Nathan confronted David about his sins, David became humble and repentant.  God forgave him but there were still the consequences of his sin that he had to face.  We must be careful to stay on course and not deviate from what God has called us to do. If we stop and stay idle before the job is finished, we put ourselves in jeopardy. When God shows us our sins, we need to have the same heart David had and react the same way.  God is not looking for ways to punish us but to forgive us and restore us.

1 John 1:5-10 NLT

Post 07-27-2016

 

Die Another Day!

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27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! — Daniel 3:27 NLT
 
 
Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego had refused to bow to the ninety foot statue of Nebuchadnezzar.  They, instead, chose to remain faithful to their God. They told the king that whether God chose to deliver them or not, they would always remain faithful.  For their faithfulness, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that burned so hot, the soldiers throwing them into the furnace were killed.  Rather quickly, Nebuchadnezzar learned that his plan to destroy the three men did not work.  God joined them in the furnace and delivered them so completely that their clothes did not even have the smell of smoke on them.  An amazing miracle!  So, amazing that even the king gave the praise to the God of these three men.  He also quickly promoted them to a higher position in the government.  They were saved from the fire because they had more work to do here on earth.  Contrast this to the deaths of the apostles whom God chose to deliver in a totally different way. He allowed them to die and to come on home to heaven.  Their work here on earth was finished.  I wonder which of the two methods of deliverance the three men in the furnace would have chosen, if the decision had been left up to them.  Paul might have wondered the same thing.
 
Post 07-26-2016

Called Out

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3 They did not conquer the land with their swords;  it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them. — Psalm 44:3 NLT

Israel was the smallest of all nations (Deut. 7:7).  Had they been left to themselves, they would not have been able to leave Egypt and safely cross the desert to get to the Promised Land.  But God chose them and fought their battles for them.  He gave them manna from heaven and water from rocks to sustain them in their journey.  When they complained about the food, God gave them manna and quail to eat.  God gave them victories over every enemy that attacked them on their journey using miracle after miracle to defeat the attackers.  He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River bringing them into the Promised Land at harvest time.  God gave them a great victory over the ancient, walled city of Jericho and they ate crops that they had not planted and drank from wells that they had not dug. Why?  Because He chose them and loved them.  Why does He give us spiritual food and water in a spiritually dry and barren land?  For the same reason.  He has chosen us and He loves us. They were to bear His standard and carry His name throughout the known world.  Just as God called them out of Egypt, He has called us to come out and be a special people and a royal priesthood.  Just as He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, so He will bring us safely out of this world and to the new heaven and new earth.  Not because of who we are but because of who He is and His promises to do so.

Post 07-25-2016

An Oasis of Love

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8  But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. — Psalm 42:8 NLT

This Psalm was written  by the descendants of Korah.  Korah, a cousin of Moses, was the one who led the rebellion against Moses during the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  He was the leader of the group that was killed when the earth opened up and swallowed all of the rebels.  Not all of the sons of Korah rebelled.  There was a remnant left to carry on the family name.  This family had experienced both the wrath of God and His loving kindness.  From these experiences, we can deduce that they understood that it is okay to complain to God as long as it is done in a respectful way. Just as this Psalm begins with how much they long for the goodness of God, then it proceeds to alternately complain and remember the blessings of God. 

When we are complaining to God, it is good to mix in a little worship with the whining.  It is good to recount the times He has blessed us and thank Him for those times.  The writers of this Psalm question themselves.  What reason do they have to be sad and discouraged ?  We need to ask the same question and arrive at the same conclusion they did.  If we put our faith and our hope in God, we won’t be sad and discouraged, but we will be filled with joy and praise for God and His goodness.   We will long for His presence just as a thirsty deer longs for a drink of cool water.  God’s presence is like an oasis in a desert of depression.  Spend time in that oasis, drink deeply from the healing springs and thank Him for His goodness.
Post 07-24-2016

When We Can’t, He Can

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2  He lifted me out of the pit of despair,  out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along. — Psalm 40:2 NLT
When we hit those rough patches and we all do at some point along the way, we need to remember passages like the one above.  There are times when friends can’t comfort us.  There are times in our lives when from all outward observations things are going fine, but inside we are in turmoil. There are times when what we feel is inexplicable because we don’t quite understand it ourselves.  How do we pray about things that we can’t even put into words?  How do we turn to the One who has lifted us out of the pit of despair when we don’t know what to say?  What do we do or say when being still and knowing the He is God is not enough.  How do we move from here back to solid ground and continue on our journey with Him? God has made a way for that to happen.  We bow before Him and tell Him that we are unable to pray.  He doesn’t get angry or upset, instead, as we wait before Him, He prays for us.  Just imagine God the Holy Spirit praying for us and through us, God the Son, Jesus, is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us! God is listening to the 2nd and 3rd persons of the Trinity praying for us and He sees His own righteousness in Jesus Christ!  What more assurance do we need that whatever happens will truly be for our best?
 

Stop Being Angry!

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8 Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm. — Psalm 37:8 NLT
Considering all that is going on in this country and around the world, this is a very timely message.  Every day we see the wasteful results of those that choose to express their anger with violence and illegal acts.  God gave us our emotions and one of those is anger.  There is an anger that comes from righteous indignation when we see the evil being done to others in our cities across the world.  But that anger must be controlled and pointed in the right direction.  Our response must be to hate the sin and love the sinner.  Unless we are expressing our feelings about sin and evil actions, we should never use the word “hate”.  Jesus has set the standard.  We are not allowed to pick what we will love or hate, He has already shown us the right way.  We are all guilty of allowing our anger to control us at times, so we need to learn to pray before we react to any situation.  
We must pray for those that have been deceived into thinking that violence is a solution to their issues.  Each of us needs to set aside a few minutes of each day to pray about this issue and for praying especially for the cities that we call home.
Post 07-22-2016