“The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength”

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
Nehemiah 8:9-12 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
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 03-25-2019

Remember the Mercies of God

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17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’  Don’t you remember anything at all? — Mark 8:17, 18 NLT

Depending on what version of the Bible you are reading the word “remember” appears between 148 to 168 times.  Moses used it quite often when the Israelis would murmur and complain.  He asked them to remember how God had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt.  Not only did He deliver them, but God brought them out with an abundance of riches that the Egyptians gave to them.  Still, every time they got tired of the manna or they got thirsty, they would complain and wish they were back in Egypt.  The disciples, even after seeing all the miracles that Jesus had performed up to this time, were concerned about food for their physical needs. They had just witnessed Jesus feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and a few fish, yet they were concerned about what they would eat.  Jesus admonishes them for not remembering these things. Had they remembered them, they would have been at peace with their situation, knowing that Jesus could provide for twelve people very easily.  Jesus, the Bread of Life, wanted them to be concerned with Spiritual things and allow Him to be concerned with their physical needs. They needed to stay focused on Jesus and be content with what they had.  The same thing applies to us.  When we are in a rough patch, we need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has delivered us from in the past.  We need to remember the situations He has carried us through.  If nothing specific comes to mind, then just remember this — satan would like to kill us right now and he would, if Jesus allowed him to.  Whether we draw another breath or not is dependent on the goodness of God and nothing else.  So, every breath that we take brings life and when that breath goes out, it should carry a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness and protection for it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being”.  

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 10-22-2018

To Be Forgiven, Forgive Others

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25  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. — Isaiah 43:25 NLT

God forgives us of our sins and chooses not to remember them or hold them against us.  No where in the Bible are we instructed to “forgive and forget”.  Like many sayings attributed to the Bible, this one is not in there.  While it is a beautiful expression and idea, I am not sure that humans are capable of forgetting those transgressions,  either the ones we have committed against God or those that have been committed against us.  While we may not be capable of forgetting, we are charged over and over with the responsibility of forgiving.  That we can do, because it is an act of the will, it is a decision that we make.  God has certainly told us that His forgiveness of our sins requires us to forgive others

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  — Eph. 4:32​

 
There are many other verses emphasizing the fact that we must forgive.  These verses also show us how our relationship with the Father is affected by a lack of forgiveness. (Matt. 6:15)  They also show us how a lack of forgiveness causes us to become bitter (Hebrews 12) and how un-forgiveness will cause us to lose our reward (2 John).
The “forgetting” part means that we should be so sure and certain about our decision to forgive that the transgression no longer affects our relationship with the person committing the act.  It is no longer a part of any discussion we have or any decision that we make.  It means that just as God has justified our standing with Him, we do the same for the transgressor.  It is as if we had “forgotten” or as if that incident had never happened. Notice in the passage from Isaiah that God said He would forgive them for His sake which indicates there are some good things that come to those who do the forgiving as well as to those who are forgiven.  So,  if for no other reason, we need to forgive for our own sake.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-21-2018

“Moments to Remember”

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You greatly rejoice in this, even though you have to suffer various kinds of trials for a little while, – 1 Peter 1:6 ISV​
As God brings us through each trial that He allows in our life, we should bookmark that time in our lives.  Each time we find ourselves facing another trial or temptation, we need to rehearse each of those bookmarks one by one, remembering and thanking God for HIs deliverance.  As we rehearse these times in our lives, we will come to the same conclusion that Peter did here in these verses.  God’s faithfulness to deliver on each promise He has made to us is worth more than gold.  Money cannot buy the peace that God gives us freely. In those times when no earthly words can comfort us and no human can help us, God is there in all His glory delivering those who depend solely and fully on Him. This deliverance from earthly trials and temptations causes us to love Him whom we have not seen, believe in Him completely and fills us with “inexpressible and glorious joy”.  It also reassures us that we will receive the end result of our faith, the complete and eternal salvation of our souls. That should cause hallelujahs to ring in our hearts and be shouted to the highest heavens.

 

11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
They recite the victories of the Lord,
the victories of his villagers in Israel.
 — Judges 5:11 NIV

27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them — Acts 14:27a – KJV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 08-18-2018

Remember How We Used To Be

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After all, we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and misled. ​ – Titus 3:3a ISV​


When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we experienced a new birth, not physically, but spiritually.  At that time, we are or were new babies in Christ. Just as physical babies have to learn to crawl, stand, and walk before they can run, so we must do that spiritually. For a baby to grow and mature, the baby needs a proper diet along with proper care and training.  We need the same things as new babies in Christ.  The process of growing up spiritually is called renewal.  We are being renewed daily as we are led by the Holy Spirit.  The more we seek God’s wisdom and the more we allow the Holy Spirit to influence our lives, the faster we will grow.  The physical baby grows physically and in time becomes an adult. At some point, our physical growth will reach its limit, whether it be at four feet, five feet, six feet or more.  The spiritual baby grows spiritually and matures.  That growth is limited only by our willingness to be obedient and exercise spiritually every day. We will never be totally perfected here on earth.  So, we must never think that there is not more to learn. If we reach that point, it is pride not perfection. When we become judgmental of others, we need to be reminded that we used to be like that and to some extent, we are still like that and always will be. Any difference in us and the world is because of God’s great love and mercy, not because of any goodness in us.  We need to show that same love to others. To do less is to limit what God can do for us and through us.

 

40  How often they provoked Him in the wilderness,and grieved Him in the desert! 41  Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. — Psalm 78:40, 41 NKJV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-23-2018

True Repentance

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Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. — Titus 3:3


Repentance is feeling remorse for our wrong actions, But, in a Biblical sense, it goes much deeper than that. It requires not only feeling remorse and turning away from our old lifestyle but it requires us to turn to something new and different. That something new is a holy lifestyle. We place ourselves under a new authority. We turn from being led by our flesh to being led by God’s Holy Spirit. His leading will cause us to submit to those put in authority over us in the home, the church, the workplace, school. and society. We should no longer use foul language or be quarrelsome. Remember that we were once slaves to all kinds of lust and pleasures. We were mean-spirited and jealous. Lovers of ourselves and haters of everyone else. Sometimes we might think, “Oh, I was never that way”. If we truly believe that then we would also have to believe that Jesus died in vain. But we know that God gave His only Son to save us. Not because we deserve it, but just because He loves us. We walk in the Spirit, but sometimes we need to be reminded of where we once were.
 
“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
    all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were mined. — Isaiah 51:1 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 04-15-2017

Tearing Down Landmarks

even-smaller-bug-light112  And I will forgive their wickedness,    and I will never again remember their sins.”  13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.  — Hebrews 8:12, 13 NLT

In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God.  We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey.  He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest.  He has made each us members of the royal priesthood.  We can now speak directly to God Himself.  He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament.  Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds.  He has chosen to forget our sins against Him  The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true.  ( Hebrews 10:14-18).  Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks.  All those memories that birng back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity.  As humans, we may not be able to forget entriely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant.  If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning.  Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness.  Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.

Post 03-19-2016

Somebody’s Watching!!!!!

even-smaller-bug-light18 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it. — 1 Peter 3:8​-11 NIV

After the fact that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, the next best thing is the acts of love and kindness that we see this time of year.​​ I would imagine that there is more compassion shown in the days from Thanksgiving through Christmas than there is in the other eleven months total.  There are more smiles in the malls and more greetings spoken than at any other time of the year. It is a time of remembering old friends and family. Through this season, we can even tolerate those we would normally find abrasive.  Everyone, even those who don’t profess to be Christians, is affected by and participate in the charitable acts and greetings.  Perhaps, if we lived this lifestyle all year round, we might attract more unbelievers to Jesus.  Maybe, this year, our gift to Jesus on His birthday should be a covenant to show His love all year long, to seek peace and pursue it on a personal level as well as “world peace”.   After all it isn’t Santa who is watching us all the time!
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” ​ — 1 Peter 3:12 NIV
Post 12-17-2015

Remembering Why We Celebrate

even-smaller-bug-light17 On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord:
8  Oh, give thanks to the Lord!  Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 10  Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 11 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!  12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth — 1 Chronicles 16:7-12 NKJV

“That day” was the day that David and his men brought the ark back to the tent David had prepared for it in Jerusalem.  David had tried before to get the Ark to Jerusalem but he did not observe the correct procedures for transporting the Ark. This time, the priests carried the Ark, as they should, and David stopped numerous times along the way to sacrifice to the Lord. This time he was successful and the Ark was once again at home, where it should be. It was a time of great celebration of victory and the peace of the land.    ​
There is a parallel to the story of the founding of colonies in America. Just as David fought many battles before God established Him, there were unsuccessful attempts to establish colonies in America before the Plymouth colony was successful. Just as the Ark was moved around, there had even been earlier Thanksgivings at other locations in America. Just as David successfully returned the Ark to Jerusalem and celebrated, the colonists did not have a celebration until they had weathered some rough times.  It was after their first successful harvest in 1621, that they invited the Wampanoag tribe to a 3 day celebration and time of Thanksgiving to God for bringing them through the tough times. 
 Thanksgiving is more than feasting and football, let us remember the real reason for our celebrating.  We need to strive to make it a time of thanksgiving for our deliverance as a nation and for our personal deliverance from sin because of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Post 11-25-2015