by Pastor Ken Gray
September 26, 2016
Matthew 21:18-22 “Power for the Unusual”
One morning, Jesus came to a fig tree in leaf without fruit. He publicly cursed it and it withered. This shocked His disciples. He responded to them “…if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” (21) Some have turned this into a metaphor and missed the point. It was a literal fig tree and He was likely pointing to a real mountain. Jesus is simply saying if we have faith and do not doubt, we have the power to do unusual things.
Proverbs 16 “We Can See Clearly”
Two verses here are similar: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” (2) “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (25) Here we see clearly that we cannot see clearly without God. We cannot trust our own judgement. However, another verse shows how to remedy this: “He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (20) By the input of God’s word and the illumination of His Holy Spirit we can see clearly. May God grant us the wisdom to see our inability to see without Him and to trust in His word completely
September 23, 2016
Proverbs 15 “Life-Giving Instruction”
Our speaking, whether gentle or harsh, influences the response of others (1-7). It also reflects our awareness, or lack thereof, of God’s loving concern for our lives. Sometimes we contend for what will not profit us: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD/Than great treasure and turmoil with it. (16) Joy and peace flow from a heart sensitive to correction in humility: “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof/Will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (31-33).
Matthew 21:12-17 “Welcoming Jesus”
These sobering verses show us the compassion of Christ to those in need. He condemned the religious who had made a business of God’s house: “…It is written, ‘My HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (13b) In the place God intended people to meet with Him [in prayer], religious leaders had turned it into a business where thieves were protected. While they were disturbed about Jesus powerful ministry to the needy, they were even more disturbed by His reception of praise from children. Jesus told them their praise was prepared by God for God. While Jesus met the needs of the humble, He left the presence of the self-righteous.
September 22, 2016
Proverbs 14 “Leaving A Legacy of Wisdom”
Distinctive characteristics of wise and foolish men are enumerated here. Injected among them are a number of sobering exhortations to keep us on track: “Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.” (7) Wisdom is not what “seems right” for trusting our own judgment is folly (12). Wise men cautiously avoid all evil, but foolish men are prideful and reckless (16). Our pursuit of wisdom is critical to our children and the legacy left to them: “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.” (26-27) May God in His mercy grant us the grace to walk in the wisdom of the fear of the Lord.
Matthew 21:1-11 “A Humble King”
In these final days of Jesus’ life on earth, He gave instructed His disciples to go into the village, find a donkey and bring it to Him. This, quite simply, was to fulfill prophetic scriptures. He would not come on a war horse, but in humility on a “BEAST OF BURDEN.” Jesus’ leadership was in stark contrast to the political and religious leadership of the day and is still so today. This brief moment of recognition and praise by His disciples would soon be interrupted by a series of events leading to His crucifixion. May God grant us the wisdom and grace to follow His example of giving His life for the well-being of God’s people.
September 21, 2016
Proverbs 13 “Love Correction, Live Happy”
Wisdom and righteousness have benefits reflected in attitudes toward correction, rebuke, work and honesty. For example: “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline…” (1a); “A righteous man hates falsehood,…” (5); “The one who despises [neglects] the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.” (13); “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored.” (18); May God grant us a receptive heart and attitude toward those who love us enough to correct us.
Large crowds followed Jesus as they were leaving Jericho, but two blind men received special attention from Him. These shouted “…’Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (30b). Their cry reflects four key elements. First, upon hearing of Jesus’ presence near them, they shamelessly cried out in desperation. Second, they did not assert their worth, but their need of mercy. Third, they recognized Jesus for who He was. Fourth, they were persistent in their cry in the face of opposition. Too many of us are not desperate for Jesus’ touch, unwilling to acknowledge our unworthiness, fail to assert who Jesus is, and persist until He responds. May God grant us the wisdom of these two blind men so we may walk in the light of who He is!
September 20, 2016
Proverbs 12 “Humility and Legacy”
Here a rich contrast continues between the wicked and the righteous, the wise and the foolish. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (1) Pride and arrogance are stumbling blocks to learning, but the humility in receiving counsel and correction is key to growing in understanding and wisdom. Another verse says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (15). The parallel here is obvious. We can arrogantly march forward in what we believe is right, or we can be wise by humbly seeking counsel and walk in the favor of the Lord (2). Our choice in this matter will result in great loss or a great and lasting legacy (7).
As Jesus reveals to His disciples that He is about to suffer and die, His disciples are distracted with desire for positions of power and honor. Jesus takes this opportunity to explain to them that greatness is not revealed in position and authority over men, but in humble service of men. We do not strive to be leaders, but we strive to be servants. As we humble ourselves to serve others we achieve true greatness.
September 19, 2016
Proverbs 11 “Contrasts of Rewards”
These verses reveal a very important and fundamental truth: There is great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. This is true of their behavior and their reward. There is a sense of satisfaction and peace for the righteous, but the wicked suffer severe consequence in theirs. Wisdom leads to healthy decisions: “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent.” (12) Speaking our mind is not always a good thing. Wise men have the understanding to know when silence is better. May God bless us with wise choices to walk in righteousness and restrain our tongues from evil.
Matthew 20:1-16 “Joy or Envy?”
This parable of laborers in a vineyard illuminates the subtle but very disturbing flaw of envy. God is generous to all by giving grace to all, but our sinful human nature covets recognition and position. They felt they were not being treated “equally.” The desire for our fair share is often a reflection of a sinful flaw in our nature called covetousness or envy. Instead of envying what God gives others, we should rejoice in His generosity. May God grant us the grace to glorify and give thanks to God for His great generosity to all.
September 16, 2015
Proverbs 10 “Important Contrasts”
Here we have a stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The righteous brings joy to their fathers, but the foolish are a grief to their mothers. The righteous walk in a satisfied life, but fools are always in want. The righteous receive commands, but fools simply babble on wanting to be heard. The wise are discerning in their words bringing life, but for those who lack understanding await harsh punishment. We know we are on the path of life because we heed instruction, but the fool proceeds rejecting reproof. May God give us grace to be quick to listen, obey and avoid all the wickedness of fools.
Matthew 19:27-30 “Great Gain”
After Jesus warns of the danger material wealth, Peter asks, “…‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’” (27b). Jesus, tells them giving up all results in gaining great power with Him. Besides, what we give up to follow Christ pales in comparison to the increase of the same in every dimension of life: material, family, intimate and business. (29). But the greatest thing of all is the inheritance of eternal life. However, there is an order in heaven which is in contrast to earth. May God help us to see the value and treasure of our inheritance, that we can release all this world offers us.
September 15, 2015
Proverbs 9 “Do We Reject or Accept Correction?
Wisdom is appealing and inviting, but only those who acknowledge their lack will pursue her. Before we can embrace wisdom, we must forsake our folly and see the pursuit of it as valuable and essential. Correcting a scoffer or reproving the wicked is useless and results in insults and hate. Yet, we know we are wise when we accept reproof and love those giving it. Where do we start? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (10) The benefit of wisdom is long life and great personal rewards. Those who follow folly of this loud and boisterous world will find themselves on a path of lies leading to death. May God illuminate our hearts to see the precious treasure of wisdom.
Matthew 19:16-26 “True Treasure!”
A young rich ruler approached Jesus regarding how he could obtain eternal life. Jesus gave him all the commands regarding human relationships and he enthusiastically said he had kept them from his youth. He then asked, “…what am I still lacking?” Jesus told him to give up his wealth, give to the needy, find his treasure in heaven and then follow Him. Unfortunately he left grieving treasuring material wealth more than Christ. Anyone can say they love God with all their heart, but when He calls us to release all and follow Him, are we quick to respond or do we walk away in sorrow? May God open our eyes to see what is truly precious!
September 14, 2016
Proverbs 8 “Wisdom Available to All”
Before we can obtain wisdom, there are a few things we must acknowledge: First, wisdom is available to everyone everywhere at anytime. It all comes down to our choices in life and what we truly value (1-11). Second, its nature and source are in God alone. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way/And the perverted mouth, I hate.” (13) Third, There are many benefits to valuing and pursuing wisdom (14-21). Fourth, the very creation of the world we live in was by God through wisdom (22-31). Fifth, we will be blessed if we give careful attention and listen to it (32-36). “For he who finds me finds life/And obtains favor from the LORD. But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death.” (35-36).
Matthew 19:13-15 “Childlike Dependence”
When children were brought to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. Jesus, in turn, rebuked the disciples for hindering them for their very nature reflects qualities needed for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Not only are children quick to receive and believe, but they are extremely dependence upon parents. Luke’s version brings this out as he refers to “infants” being brought to Him. In God’s kingdom we excel when we are fully dependent upon our Savior. Self-reliance eats away at an essential ingredient for spiritual growth. May God give us the wisdom to humble ourselves in childlike dependence on God!
September 13, 2016
Matthew 19:1-12 “Keeping Our Commitments”
As Jesus entered Judea, large crowds followed Him and He healed them. In contrast, some Pharisees asked Him if it was lawful to divorce a wife for any reason. They were not interested in His answer, but only in entrapping Him. Jesus said God’s intent for marriage was for life and no one should interfere or they are messing with God. Divorce, at times, is unavoidable, but never was it God’s intent. Keeping our word and not lying are essential to fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives. Deceit, dishonesty and division are hated by God (Proverbs 6). May God give us grace to be genuine.
September 12, 2016
Proverbs 6 “Listen Up!”
“My son, observe the commandment of your father/And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;” (20) Listening to parental figures in our lives will save us from a world of hurt and serious loss. Whether it be a foolish commitment (1-5), laziness (6-11), bad influences (12-15), avoiding what God hates (16-19) or immorality, attentiveness to caring leadership [especially godly parents] will guard us from the awful consequences of these things. In life, rarely does anyone really care about us like our parents. Even most bad parents want to protect their children from harm. So let us heed the instruction of fathers and mothers God places in our lives by His gracious love and concern for us.
Matthew 18:21-35 “God of Anger or Compassion?”
This question Peter brings to Jesus, He turns to illustrate the significance of forgiveness. The slave is forgiven a debt a lifetime of service would not pay back. But the slave then is unwilling to forgive a fellow slave of a repayable debt or one of relative insignificance compared to his own. This ingratitude changes the posture of his master from compassion to anger (34). Unforgiveness of others moves us from a place of compassion with God to a place of anger from God. May we ever show gratitude by mercy toward others.
September 9, 2016
Proverbs 5 “The Joy of Love & Faithfulness”
“My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge.” (1-2) These two verses set the stage for a sober warning against the influence of seductive people. Though it specifically applies to marriage, we are faced with a world of false religion [Babylon of Revelation] seeking to seduce God’s people from faithfulness to Him. Whether we look at this literally, as is likely intended, or metaphorically as often used in scripture, only our Father’s wisdom is able to equip us so we are not seduced by this ungodly world. Faithfulness to our spouses, and faithfulness to God are exhilarating and satisfying. Beyond this, nothing escapes the eyes of the Lord (21). Bondage and folly await all who ignore God’s instruction (22-23).
Matthew 18:12-20 “God’s Heart for the Lost”
These verses reveal Jesus’ deep love for those who go astray. He is not frustrated or angry, but searches for them in great concern. If they are found, he rejoices over them. Consequently, it is our responsibility to be equally concerned for one another, even to the point of correction for the purpose of restoration. In context, it is also important to address those who stray into sin for the sake of the spiritual health and strength of the church [body]. Beyond this, when this pattern in Matthew 18:15-20 is followed, it leads us to incredible power with God.
September 8, 2016
Proverbs 4 “Where Do We Start?”
“Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father;…” (1a). Solomon points out he was once a son and gave attention to his father. True fathers build a perspective based on critical criteria: 1) they once were young and know its limitations; 2) They have a lifetime of experience and learning; 3) They have been tempered and tuned by time and trials; As a result, they have a perspective of wisdom worth hearing, embracing and heeding. Where does acquiring wisdom start? “…Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” (7). First, we must acknowledge our LACK of these or we will not be motivated to pursue them. Second, “Prize her, and she will exalt you;…” (8a). God gives wisdom to those who persue, value and adhere to her. The great benefit of this pursuit is we grow in attraction, recognition and influence with God and men.
Matthew 18:7-11 “Discerning the Body”
Stumbling blocks to faith are to be expected in the world, but those through whom they come will face serious consequences. Jesus explains we would be better off without critical parts of our body, than to allow those parts to cause us to stumble. He may here be speaking of the metaphorical body of Christ for He goes on to say, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,…” (10a). Causing God’s children to stumble does not go unnoticed. Despising them is not a matter of hatred, but a matter of not properly valuing them. We are called to value, encourage and war on behalf each another. We will give account for our treatment of God’s sons and daughters.
September 7, 2016
Proverbs 3 “Blessings of God First!”
“My son,…” These proverbs flow from a loving father so his son can enjoy long life and peace. Kindness and truth are to be inwardly engraved and outwardly displayed gaining favor and a good reputation with God and man. We are not to be reckless and arrogant, but cautious, humble and dependent. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (5-6). Another foundational principle is to honor God with our abundance [wealth] and the first of our income. Material needs are not met by accumulation of wealth, but by putting God first in our finances. May God be first in all our ways so we might enjoy His favor all of the time!
Matthew 18:1-6 “Being Great in God’s Kingdom”
Jesus addresses the question of greatness with a contrast to their expectations. Greatness is not seen in excelling in ability or asserting ourselves, but in humble dependence on God and a posture of learning like children. In fact, unless we become like children we are unable to even enter God’s kingdom. Another aspect of greatness is reflected in receiving “one such child in My name…” as receiving Christ Himself. Those who are great in God’s kingdom are very receptive and concerned for new/young believers. If we do not care for young believers, we will never know greatness in God’s eyes. In fact, if we cause these to stumble in their faith the consequence of such actions will be dealt with severely. True greatness will be reflected in humble dependence on God, as well as, tender care for God’s people so as not to cause them to stumble. May we thrive in His greatness!
September 6, 2016
Proverbs 2 “Are We On Track?”
This chapter begins by Solomon pleading with his son to pursue his instruction, treasure his commands, be attentive to wisdom, incline to understanding and treasure what is most valuable for true life. He points to God as the source of wisdom and outlines its benefits. It will protect us from all subtle and evil influences guiding us into ways of life and separating us from the coming judgment. In doing this, “Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.” (5). In other words, pursuing and treasuring God’s word gets us, and keeps us, on track to life abundantly!
Matthew 17:24-27 “Defending Our Rights?”
Peter was approached by people challenging him whether Jesus was paying the temple tax. So he went to Jesus who presented a principle illustrating His right not to pay. However, He told Peter to go fishing and the fish caught would contain a coin for the tax. He told him to pay the tax so as not to offend them. We often are so insistent on our being right, that we create offenses. Jesus saw creating an offense as not worth asserting His rights. May God give us grace to follow His example.
September 5, 2016
Proverbs 1 “Reward of Learning”
This first chapter of the book begins with an introduction to its intended purposes. It is summarized by saying, “To receive instruction in wise behavior,…” (3a). After stating a few benefits, Solomon gives this critical key: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (7). He then appeals to his son to understand the perspective of this book as from a caring parents. There is an abundance of information in this world proceeding from its own selfish interest, but the words of this book come from a God Who is deeply caring and perfect in understanding. Wisdom is readily available and rejection of it is dreadfully serious. However, the rewards of our attentiveness to this father’s instruction are rich with life and freedom from evil.
Matthew 17:14-23 “Faith and Focus”
Coming down from the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus was approached by a man falling to his knees begging for his son’s deliverance. The disciples were unable to heal him, so Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and perversion. After healing him, they questioned Jesus why they could not drive out this demon. His answer was simple and to the point: the absence of faith. Their unbelief reflected a perverted perspective or focus [note verse 17]. Faith is not confidence in who we are, or what we have become, but in Who Jesus is and what He has done for us. The smallest amount of genuine faith in God’s Son and His work, is able to accomplish great things well beyond our natural ability and talents. May God give us grace to stay focused on Jesus!
September 2, 2016
Song of Solomon 8 “Leaning On Our Beloved”
As we conclude this book of love, more attention is given to the desire of the bride for her grooms affection and the desire of the groom to please his bride. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness Leaning on her beloved?” (5). There is only one way “out of our wilderness” and it is by leaning on our beloved Lord Jesus. We are able to rest in the overwhelming love and care He has for us. In Him alone is our freedom.
Matthew 17:1-13 “Doing For or In Obedience To?”
Jesus took three of His disciples to a high mountain to be alone. He was transfigured before them while Moses and Elijah spoke to Him. This supernatural experience prompted Peter to offer to build three tabernacles for them. Before Peter finished speaking, God interrupted saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (5b). Note two important points: 1. Jesus is distinct from and above all others. 2. It is not what we do “for Him” that is significant, but what we do “in obedience to Him!” Let us listen carefully and obey Him fully.
September 1, 2016
Song of Solomon 7 “The Joy of Love!”
Again, the groom is enamored by his bride defining every detail of her appearance as something that draws him to her. She rests in his view of her, just wanting to do life with him. She says, “I am my beloved’s And his desire is for me.” (16). Our God not only desires us, but wants us to deeply desire to live life in His presence. When we live in God’s presence and awareness of His great love, our lives are filled with great joy.
When Jesus told His disciples of His coming suffering and death, Peter objected vehemently. Yet Peter was not helping Christ in His journey, but actually hindering what was essential for our salvation. Following Jesus demands we deny ourselves and be willing to face the uncomfortable and the pain of death to self. It is only as we deny self that God’s perfect will can take hold of us to glorify our Father in Heaven.
August 31, 2016
Song of Solomon 6
The brides admiration of her groom causes others to want to see him. She is not dismayed by his absence, but rests in the confidence of his love and perception of her. The groom goes on and on about every detail of his bride as beautiful and unique. So our love for Christ should attract others to Him and His love for us removes every insecurity. He sees each one of us as beautiful and unique. Our groom [Christ] is taken by a simple glimpse of us. He longs to just “look” at us. All insecurity disappears in our awareness of God’s great love for us.
Matthew 16:13-20 “All Because of Who He Is”
Jesus asked His disciples what people “say” about Him, but was especially concerned about what His disciples say about Him. Peter’s confession, “…‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (16). Peter knew by revelation from God who Jesus was and was blessed. Though he had many failures, it was not declaring “who he was” that was significant to his future or that of God’s kingdom. Knowing and declaring “who Jesus is” is key. The key to success is not declaring who we are, but who Christ is!
August 30, 2016
Song of Solomon 5 “Don’t Delay Your Response”
When the groom approaches his bride, she is asleep and very slow to respond to his knocking on her door. He speaks with loving tenderness of his perspective on her beauty. However, she delays in opening the door and when she finally responds, he is gone. She missed an opportunity for intimacy. God is a gentleman knocking on the door of our heart seeking intimate communion with us. Let us not delay and be regretful, but be quick to respond to His invitations.
Matthew 16:1-12 “Danger, Danger!”
The religious elite asked Jesus for a sign. They were looking for reasons to reject Him and were not genuine. Signs abounded in Jesus ministry, but they resisted the transformed life demanded by Him. Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah, foreshadowing His resurrection which they would also reject. He turned and warned his disciples of the subtle dangerous influence of their teaching. It is not the outright heathen posing danger to God’s people, but the religious influence resisting Christ’s transforming power being quite content in their sinful state. May God’s grace guard our hearts from such wicked influences.
August 29, 2016
Song of Solomon 4 “Love Is Attractive!”
Fifteen verses are given to the grooms admiration of his bride. He overflows with poetic details regarding various aspects of her beauty. Her eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth, temples, neck and her two breasts all are perfect to him making his heart beat faster at a single glance. Her words are sweet like honey. Her smell is inviting like a fruitful garden. She desires him to come and enjoy her intimately like a garden with choice fruits. This is a beautiful and erotic picture of love. When we know how God admires us in His Son, we also will be incredibly desirous of His intimate presence!
Matthew 15:32-39 “From Lack to Abundance”
Jesus is moved by compassion for those with Him for three days and had nothing to eat. The disciples responded by stating their lack of food or resources needed to feed this great crowd. Jesus turned their attention to what they had, and not what they lacked. They gave Jesus “what they had,” He gave thanks, blessed it and distributed it for all to eat and be satisfied. They had more “broken pieces” left over than when they started. When we stop focusing on our “lack,” bring what we have to Jesus, give thanks, break it and give to others, our lack becomes an abundance!
August 26, 2016
Song of Solomon 3 “From Distress to Rest”
The bride is distressed over loss of her groom’s presence. She pursues him until she finds him and then will not let him go. The groom’s love expresses his concern for her rest and not his own gratification. From the wilderness comes Solomon for his wedding day well guarded, beautifully adorned and prepared for this great union with his bride. Are we troubled by the loss of God’s presence? Do we understand His great concern for us and the preparations made for our final union? If we are, we will be like this bride who says, “…I held him and would not let him go…” 4b). We must not be weary in our wilderness for there we will discover God’s loving approach!
Matthew 15:21-31 “Faith Triumphs Over Unworthiness!”
Jesus had slipped away for rest when a foreign woman came to him pleading for her demon possessed daughter. At first, He ignored her (23). Then it He insulted her (24-26). But she refused to be offended persisting in faith. She was aware of her unworthiness, but focused on God’s abundance of power and love. Previously, the disciples were rebuked for their unbelief, now she is honored for her faith. We may be unworthy, but God honors those who persist in faith due to His great power and mercy.
August 25, 2016
Song of Solomon 2 “Winter Is Past”
The bride’s self-image is improved by the declarations of her groom. She is greatly attracted to him because of how he feels about her. When we understand how God feels about us, we are overwhelmed with affection for Him. His every move, and even His delays, thrill us. He takes us from hard winters into the most enjoyable springs. “For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land;…” (11-12a). When we are focused on God’s love for us, He changes the way we perceive ourselves!
Mathew 15:15-20 “Free Indeed”
Peter is confused by Jesus’ words regarding defilement. Jesus addresses this is a very basic principle. It is not what we eat that makes us dirty, for food is processed and what is unhealthy is eliminated. Yet, what comes out of our mouth comes from our heart, such as evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lying, slandering and other things like this defiles us. Sin is not a mere issue of behavior, but a contaminated heart. Only God can address this issue by His Son so we are free indeed.
August 24, 2016
Song of Solomon 1 “Everyone Is Beautiful!”
This Song is an very intimate expression of love between a bride and groom. It both foreshadows the love between Christ and HIs church, and reflects God intended love relationship between a man and woman in marriage. Their love for each other is not distracted, but focused and persistent in spite of her awareness of personal flaws. We need to understand God looks beyond our flaws and sees our potential in Christ. So in marriage we need to look beyond one another’s flaws and see our potential. Again, the significant parallel is that our God is not discouraged by our flaws, but gave His only begotten son to make us beautiful!
Mathew 15:1-14 “Genuine Love for God’s Word”
The Pharisees and scribes [religious elite of Jesus’ day] were so focused on traditions they failed to discern God’s heart in God’s word. In fact, they actually exempted themselves from God’s commands by corrupted “reason” and “logic.” Jesus said their worship was mere lip service reflective of hearts far away from God. While they were focused on diet details, they left out the basics of God’s word. When we love God, we are devoted to His word and our traditions can be adjusted. However, when our religion is a collection of externals, our traditions become inflexible and we drift far away. May God give us hearts passionate in our pursuit of God and His word.
August 23, 2016
Psalm 150 “That Must Be Me!”
This last psalm of praise addresses four issues: 1. WHERE to praise; 2. WHAT to praise God for; 3. HOW to praise God; and finally, 4. WHO is to praise God. First, we praise Him in “His sanctuary” or among His gathered people. We also praise Him in “His mighty expanse” or anywhere in creation. Second, we praise Him because of His great works and His excellent greatness [who He is]. Third, we praise him by various visible, observable and loud ways, such as: trumpets, harps, timbrels, cymbals, other instruments and dancing [Every way possible]. Finally, who is to praise God? “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” That must be me!
Mathew 14:22-36 “You Raise Me Up!”
Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him in a boat, sent the crowds away, and went up to the mountain by Himself to pray. While the disciples struggled with contrary winds, Jesus passed near them walking on the water. We must remember Jesus is on top of [walks on] whatever hinders our progress in His will. At first terrified, Peter asked if this was truly Jesus, that He ask him to come to Him and so He did. When Peter saw the waves, he began to sink. But when He called out to Jesus, He reached out and raised Peter up. When we are focused on our storms, our faith dwindles, but when we are focused on Jesus, He raises us up!
August 22, 2016
Psalm 149 “Beautiful People, Joyful Praise”
These songs are marked with the command to “Praise the LORD!” (1a) at beginning and end. Sandwiched in between are the reasons and benefits. Here we are to praise God with fresh [new] songs with great joy. Why? He is our creator, redeemer and King. How? Our songs are to be expressions of gladness, rejoicing, dancing and instruments. Why? God takes pleasure in us and makes us beautiful with His salvation. We are blessed with great responsibility characterized by great joy. His praises are in our mouth and His sword [Word] is in our hand. What is more beautiful than God’s people overflowing in praise characterized by great joy?
Mathew 14:13-21 “From Sorrow & Lack to Abundance for All”
At the news of John’s death, Jesus got in a boat seeking a place to be alone. However, when He came to shore, a crowd gathered and He was moved with compassion to heal their sick. He did not allow personal loss to cloud His awareness of others’ needs. Here He taught His disciples how to turn personal lack into abundance where all were satisfied. Not only this, but they picked up twelve baskets of “broken pieces” after feeding 5,000 men. Like Jesus, even in our place of sorrow, we can serve others as He turns our lack [when brought to Him] into a surplus.
August 19, 2016
Psalm 148 “Praising God Keeps Us Strong!”
As we near the end of this wonderful book called the Psalms, a greater emphasis is made on Praising God. All creation, heavens, earth and all they contain, are called to praise the One who created and established them. This is beautifully summed up in verse 13 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.” We are strongest when we are focused in praise on God as our Creator and Redeemer. Praise the LORD.
Mathew 14:1-12 “Led by Faith or Governed by Fear?”
Though Herod held the powerful political position, He was governed by fear. When he heard of Jesus miracles, he feared John the Baptist was raised from the dead. John had told him it was not lawful for him to have Herodias, so he arrested him for fear of losing the relationship. Herod kept him alive because of his fear of the crowds. But he killed him because of the fear of looking bad after giving his word. Fear is a horrific consumer of lives and is never satisfied leading us to decisions damaging to ourselves and others. May God give us the grace not to be governed by fear, but be led by faith in Christ.
August 18, 2016
Psalm 147 “Praise the LORD!”
Why should we praise the Lord? “…For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.” (1b,c). We are created to praise God and we are never happier or more fulfilled than when we are doing what we are created to do. Besides this, we praise Him for all His greatness, goodness and lovingkindness. God does not favor those with great possessions or abilities, but those who fear the Lord and those who wait for His lovingkindness. Beyond this, He gives His word to the flawed [Jacob] and His principles to all His people. We are overwhelmed with reasons to praise Him. Let us Praise the LORD!
August 17, 2016
Psalm 146 “Value of Persistent Praise”
This psalm begins with the command [and ends]: “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!” (1). There is great benefit to praising God and not looking to man or the created realm. We must be determined to praise God in good times and bad. Looking to men, regardless of our need, eventually leads to disappointment. However, the blessing of God rests on all who find their help in Him. He is Creator of all things, brings justice in all matters, provides for us all, and sets us free from all bondage. He intervenes for the oppressed, loves the righteous, protects strangers and supports the helpless. Yet, He thwarts the wicked. Our God reigns forever and, as His people, we praise Him to all generations.
Matthew 13:44-58 “Honoring Jesus Facilitates Miracles”
The first two parables here show the surpassing value of God’s kingdom. Those who know the value of God’s kingdom, will be “sold out.” Their joy is not extinguished by loss of anything in this world. Nothing compares to the treasure of God’s dominion. Beyond this, we have perfect peace knowing there will be perfect justice. Jesus calls teachers to articulate these “treasures” of truth. Yet, the problem of familiarity by people in His hometown, caused them to miss His kingdom and its value. Their failure to honor Him, resulted in restraining the demonstration of His power among them. Jesus shows up in power wherever He is honored and valued!
August 16, 2016
Psalm 145 “Passing on Our Faith”
David begins by lifting up God as His King and committing to bless Him forever. We will ever be learning of His greatness, mighty acts, glory, power, goodness and righteousness. We, by our praise, declare who God is to other generations. Our praise is reflected in joyful shouting. We are constantly amazed by God’s nature and works. His reign and provisions never cease. Everyone who looks to God is satisfied. All His ways are right and He promises to be near to all who call on Him in truth. “The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.” (20). Our joy filled praise rings out, and so passes our faith on to others.
Matthew 13:24-43 “Healthy Roots, Healthy Fruit”
The parable of wheat and weeds is Jesus’ explanation for how to deal with opposition. If the wicked are uprooted it would uproot the righteous also and growth would cease. We are to leave judgment to God and His angels. The parable of the mustard seed illustrates how healthy growth leads to a strong nest where new life begins. The parable of the leaven reflects the inner invisible nature of God’s work. We must trust God in all our opposition and not get distracted by trying to deal with it ourselves. Let us continue to be nurtured maintaining healthy roots for healthy fruit.
August 15, 2016
Matthew 13:1-23 “Don’t Mess with the Seed!”
Jesus had faithful followers but many rejected His ministry. To explain this, He spoke to them the parable of the sower and seed. The same seed was sown in various places, but it produced varying results due to the condition of the soil [hearts]. The problem was not His message, but with the soil of human hearts. We often doctor the seed of God’s due to lack of results. We seek to make it more relevant, interesting or even entertaining. All these methods do nothing for the soil of men’s hearts. May God give us the wisdom to be faithful to the seed of God’s word and entrust the results to Him.
Psalm 143 “Humility & Favor”
The theme of extreme dependence is expressed by David in this Psalm. His prayer is based in an awareness of God’s faithfulness, righteousness and his own unworthiness as God’s servant. He confesses being overwhelmed in soul by his enemies, yet also focused on what God’s past works. He long’s for Him as “parched land.” Without God’s intervention, he will fail so asks for His lovingkindness in the morning as he relies on and takes refuge in God. He also seeks God to be taught to do His will and give him victory for the sake of God’s honor [name]. He concludes this prayer again appealing to God’s lovingkindness to deal with his enemies as His servant. This humble place is one that gains much favor with God.
August 12, 2016
Psalm 143 “Humility & Favor”
The theme of extreme dependence is expressed by David in this Psalm. His prayer is based in an awareness of God’s faithfulness, righteousness and his own unworthiness as God’s servant. He confesses being overwhelmed in soul by his enemies, yet also focused on what God’s past works. He long’s for Him as “parched land.” Without God’s intervention, he will fail so asks for His lovingkindness in the morning as he relies on and takes refuge in God. He also seeks God to be taught to do His will and give him victory for the sake of God’s honor [name]. He concludes this prayer again appealing to God’s lovingkindness to deal with his enemies as His servant. This humble place is one that gains much favor with God.
Matthew 12:46-50 “Church Family”
While Jesus was speaking to crowds, He was told His family was outside wanting to speak with Him. They expected Him to give preference to them, but Jesus pointed to His disciples, who did the will of His Father in heaven, as His family. One of the greatest blessings to becoming a follower of Jesus is we get to be a part of His family. The church is Jesus’ family and we are valuable and precious to each other. The sense of family is one of the greatest attractions to Christ and His church.
August 11, 2016
Psalm 142 “Liberation for Celebration”
Though David received an anointing to be king, he ran and hid to preserve his life. He did not complain to men, but to God. Though his spirit was overwhelmed, he declared God knew his path and the traps of his persecutors. He had no avenue of escape and no one truly cared for his soul but God. He not only cried to God, but cried out for Him to give heed to that cry knowing his lack of strength before his enemies. He asked for his soul to be released from prison so he could give thanks to God’s name. May the Lord liberate our souls for the celebration of Who He is!
Matthew 12:38-45 “Humility & Hunger”
Many religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign. Jesus said the only sign they would get would be His death and resurrection. In contrast to Nineveh who repented at Jonah’s preaching, and the Queen of the South who traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s wisdom, they did neither. Yet He was greater than both of Jonah and Solomon. Lack of HUMILITY seen in repentance [when hearing God’s word] and HUNGER seen in the pursuit of wisdom [found in God’s word], will result in the demise of many.
August 10, 2016
Psalm 141 “The High Place of Prayer”
As King of Israel, David was in the highest office in the land. Yet, he regularly bowed himself in humility before his God by prayer. His dependency was a reflection of his awareness of his need for God’s presence. He carefully prayed as incense [pleasing aroma] to God. He asked the Lord to guard his mouth and his heart against all wicked influences. He valued the correction of righteous people even at the expense of personal pain. His focus was on His God and he relied fully on Him to defend and protect him from all evil. The more we grow in God the greater our reliance on Him in prayer will be.
Matthew 12:33-37 “The Power of Words”
After severely rebuking very religious people, Jesus said our words reflect our true nature. Who we are is revealed in what we say. Scripture teaches us words are very powerful and can bring life or death. Consequently, Jesus says, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgment.” (36) It is often in the heat of emotions we speak revealing our true nature. May God’s grace abound to us to speak words of love and life. Like the old song says, “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.”
August 9, 2016
Psalm 140 “Who Has Our Reputation in Hand?”
At a time of attack, King David appeals to God to rescue him. He does not retaliate or rely upon his own devices, but asks God to Him to deal with them according to their mischievous words. He pleads with God to deal with them in severity especially in regards to their the slander. His confidence is in God who maintains the cause of the afflicted and the poor. Our reputation [name] should be in God’s hands and not ours. We must turn to Him and refrain from all self-reliance.
Matthew 12:22-32 “Danger, Danger, Danger!”
Jesus had no greater controversy than with the religious elite. Jesus functioned in power casting a demon out of a deaf and mute man. In their minds they attributed this power to the ruler of demons. Knowing their thoughts, He addressed the foolishness of this idea. In fact, he corrected their theology by saying he had bound the strong man and was establishing God’s rule by God’s Spirit. This was blasphemy of the worst kind and cannot be remedied for it is rooted in self-rule rejecting God’s rule and kingdom.
August 8, 2016
Psalm 139 “Search me, O God,…” (23a)
God knows every detail of our lives, even those hidden to us. We make no movement or speak no words of which God is not completely aware. He formed us and there is no place we can go to escape His loving presence. The most incredible thing about this is His posture toward’s us remains only good. We need to avoid every evil influence! Yet, we do need Him to reveal our true selves for our eternal benefit. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (23-24).
Matthew 12:9- 21“Moving On!”
Certain religious people challenged Jesus with questions with no desire for truth, but to defend their own comfort zones. They were not concerned about a man with a withered hand, but with defending their religious borders to maintain their positions and power. Jesus withdrew from them and healed all who came to Him to fulfill God’s word bringing justice and hope to the Gentiles [unbelievers]. It is easy to be distracted by opponents, but like Jesus, we must persist in our mission entrusting our attackers to God.
August 5, 2016
Psalm 138 “Giving God Thanks”
“I will give You thanks with all my heart;…” (1a) Offerings of thanks, songs of praise and bowing before God is key to our spiritual health. Here the psalmist is focuses on who God is and what He has said in His word. God’s word is a key to us discovering and staying focused on the nature of God and His works. When we know who God is, we are bold even in our times of trouble knowing God is over every adversary. Our concerns are God’s and we can rest in His care for us.
Matthew 12:1-14 “Understanding God’s Intent”
Jesus was frequently attacked by the religious people of His day regarding details and particulars of the law. This debate over proper Sabbath observance revealed that the Pharisees had missed God’s purpose in giving the Sabbath. Another issue was their failure to truly understand God’s word. Their interpretation even exempted them from having to be responsible to serve those in need on the Sabbath. Jesus showed them they were more concerned for their animals then their fellow man. Only a humble approach to God’s word can keep us from such erroneous interpretations.
August 4, 2016
Psalm 137 “Our Chief Joy?”
Babylon is a place of captivity to God’s people who disobey Him persistently. Here God’s people long for Zion [place of assemble worshippers/church]. There are some in the church content in “Babylon.” These have no desire to return to “Zion.” Today there is a lack of concern for assembling together, and see “church” as a mere option. May all who rise against the church be dealt with severely (7-9). But as for us, “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my Chief Joy.” (6)
Matthew 11:25-30 “Is Your Burden Light?”
Jesus is not in need of more intelligent, wise and talented people to advance His kingdom. He chooses to reveal it to the “infants” or, we might say, the ones who are totally dependent upon God. Only when we are “yoked” to the Son of God will we genuinely know the Father and have perfect peace. When linked inseparably to Jesus, we have all the wisdom and strength we need to carry the burdens of life. If our burdens are heavy and overwhelming, we are obviously yoked to the wrong thing! His invitation stands, “Come to Me,…”
August 3, 2016
Psalm 136 “Something Worth Repeating!”
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (1). This summarizes the chapter and we are exhorted to “Give thanks” both in its beginning and its conclusion. Much is said regarding God’s greatness in power as creator and redeemer. However, the basic key ingredient to God repeated 26 times is, “…For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” When we begin to comprehend this basic nature of God, we will overflow with gratitude and praise. God is sooooooo good! Let us remind each other continuously, “…His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Matthew 11:20-24 “God’s Kingdom or Ours?”
After speaking of the rejection of God’s word through John, Jesus denounced the cities where He did miracles for failure to repent. When we reject the supernatural demonstration of God’s love, He has no choice but to pronounce judgement. There is nothing more disturbing or scary than walking away from undeniable demonstrations of God’s love and greatness. This failure to repent is seen in rejecting God’s rule and clinging to self-rule. This is the essence of the spirit of anti-christ. Let us give thanks for God’s lovingkindness by repenting and turning fully toward Him.
August 2, 2016
Psalm 135:8-21 “No One Like Our God”
The call to praise God is also rooted in the history of God’s work for our deliverance from Egypt [ungodly world] and bringing us into our inheritance [righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit]. All the enemies we face in entering into God’s promises, He will deal with effectively. All this world relies on is useless and ineffective. What this world serves is a distraction from the one true God who loves, protects and provides for us. Consequently, we fear and praise our God for salvation. There is none like our God.
Matthew 11:7-19 “Effective Ministries”
Jesus refers to John as one who was not politically correct, nor a celebrity, but a voice for God preparing people to receive Christ. Though John’s greatness was greater than those preceding Him, the least in God’s kingdom is greater. God’s kingdom suffers violence, but men who, like John, press on to obtain it are even greater. The rejection he faced was not a weakness of ministry, but an unwillingness of people to receive him or the Christ. We do not judge a ministry’s value by its popularity, but by its faithfulness to God [His Word] and its fruit.
August 1, 2016
Psalm 135:1-7 “A Happy Life Is a Life of Praise”
“Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD. (1 – NIV ) We are never happier than when we are doing what we were created to do: Praise God. We are effective servants of God and His people as we praise Him. Here we have listed a few reasons for praising God. 1. He is good; 2. Praise creates a pleasant atmosphere; 3. God has chosen us and we are His treasure; 4. God’s greatness and power; 5. The sovereignty of God over all creation. Note praising God is not about how we feel, but about who God is. Praising God for these reasons lays a solid foundation for a happy and fulfilling life.
Matthew 11:1-6 “Focus Our Expectations”
John the Baptist witnessed the supernatural at Jesus’ baptism. It was a thrilling moment when God spoke audibly of His Son and John saw the Holy Spirit fall upon Him like a dove. What caused him now to doubt Jesus as the Messiah? His imprisonment was not a part of his expectations. Jesus sent word to John of His supernatural ministry as evidence of His kingdom. His kingdom was not political, but spiritual. Looking to the political realm for hope breads false expectation leading to doubt. We must stay focused on the spiritual, supernatural and eternal nature of God’s kingdom!
July 30, 2016
Psalm 134 “Blessed from Zion”
When we praise and serve God and His people in the “night” season, we get God’s attention and blessing. Our service needs to proceed from the love of God and His people. We are not primarily concerned for self, but the well-being of God’s house [church]. When this is our posture, the Lord Who made heaven and earth will bless us from Zion.
Matthew 10:34-42 “The Enduring Family”
Unfortunately not everyone receives the gospel. Consequently, there are times when we receive Christ, we are divided from those we care about the most. If we are not willing to put Christ before every earthly relationship, we are not worthy of Him. Yet, if we do receive Him and embrace the pain and death to self our cross brings, there is great reward. If we embrace those who represent Him [prophets and righteous men] we will also share in their reward. God’s family is the only lasting one.
July 29, 2016
Psalm 133 “Unity & Blessing”
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” (1) Here our attention is drawn to the value of unity among family who “dwell” together. This unity is not due to common interest, but among those who live together. It is precious or of great value. It is thorough like the dew settling on God’s mountains. When we are aligned with God, we are united together. Here God “commanded the blessing – life forever.” (3b). This is not a unity of compromise, but a unity from surrendering to God. This is not a unity achieved by men, but received from God.
Matthew 10:24-33 “Overcoming Fear of Men”
Jesus warns us not to be naïve regarding peoples’ reaction to our message. Like Jesus, if we are faithful to Him, we also will experience rejections and accusations. Yet, we are not fear them for they will be exposed. We are not to fear those who can kill our body, but fear the One who has the power to send body and soul to hell. Our suffering, even death, is not unnoticed by God and we are of GREAT value to Him. Consequently, we are to be bold and speak what God gives us for this world! To overcome the fear of men, we put our faith in God alone!
July 28, 2016
Psalm 132 “God’s Place”
David understood the essential need for God to dwell among His people in a place of worship. He fought and worked for this place. He would not rest “Until I find a place for the LORD,…” (5a). David is a prophetic symbol of the coming King, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is for His sake and by God’s word, we call upon God to help us be established in His church. God has chosen Zion, His church to be His dwelling place forever. From here the strength of Christ will spring forth, the light of Christ will shine and He will reign over all His enemies.
Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep among wolves. They were to be on guard against men knowing they would come under attack. Though brought before men of power, they were not to worry, but rely on the Spirit of God. They will be betrayal even by family and they will experience the hatred of this world even being put to death. Endurance will result in salvation. When persecuted, we are not retaliate but move on in our mission. One of the hardest things for us to do, is not retaliate. Yet, if we are caught up in defending self, we will be unable to complete our divine assignments.
July 27, 2016
Psalm 131 “Hope in God”
“O LORD, my heart is not proud. nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” (1) Success and position breed arrogance in the fool, but wise men know their limitations and remain completely dependent on God. Like a young child attached to and dependent upon its mother, so David clings to God. There is great hope for those who know their limitations and remain in childlike attachment to, and dependence upon, their God. Our hope is in God alone continuously.
Matthew 10:1-15 “Preparation for Ministry”
“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority…” (1b) Before sending out the twelve, Jesus gave them authority, direction, instruction and strategy. They were told what to do, where and where not to go and how to respond to rejection. Success in any mission is directly related to time with Jesus receiving these things. So many today are ministering without essential preparation time with Christ. Note also the strategy of Christ involved a demonstration of supernatural power of the kingdom based on authority received [freely]. Any strategy based on methods without the supernatural is doomed to fail.
July 26, 2016
Psalm 130 “Run to God Alone!”
“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD..” (1) We need to learn to turn and cry out to God in our low places [depths]. We especially need God when we are impacted by our own failures [iniquities]. Our tendency is to turn from God in these because of our shame, but if we understand the greatness of God’s love we would turn to Him no matter how deep our valley is. Our hope is in who God is and what He has said [word]. We long to hear from God who alone is full of lovingkindness and redemption. Instead of our failures turning us from God, they should cause us to run to Him as the only place of hope and salvation.
Matthew 9:18-38 “Overwhelmed or Obedient?”
Jesus was on the way to an official’s home because his daughter dying. He was interrupted by a woman so desperate to be healed, she violated Jewish law by approaching Him. He stopped and ministered healing and redemption to her. Here He was interrupted by a message the official’s daughter had died. What looked like a failure was an occasion for a greater miracle. He put out the voices of unbelief and raise her up. In the face of the impossible, false accusation and an abundance of need, Jesus persisted in following His Father’s plan. He encouraged His disciples to see these great needs as a motivation to pray and seek the Father’s directives in the harvest. Instead of being overwhelmed He was obedient.
July 25, 2016
Psalm 129 “Trusting God’s Righteousness”
We do not deny there is persecution of God’s people from those who reject Him. We stand praying trusting in the righteousness of God Who has authority over all and binds any lasting effectiveness of wickedness. As we pray, we confess God will deal with them accordingly and their time is very short. They have no lasting security, prosperity, legacy or blessing. Though we expect it, we walk free of any fear of persecution.
Matthew 9:14-17 “New Wine Demands New Wineskins”
John’s disciples, along with the Pharisees, judged Jesus’ disciples for not fasting. Jesus said it is inappropriate to mourn when the bridegroom is with them, but the time for fasting will come. Beyond this, an apparent transition of “form” [wineskin] is taking place. It is not appropriate to add to, or adjust, the form [wineskin], but there is a need for a fresh wineskin [structure] so both are preserved. When we cling to “old forms” or ways of doing things, we are in danger of loosing the fresh outpouring. We must remember, it is not the forms we cherish, but the precious oil of the Holy Spirit.
July 23, 2016
Psalm 128 “A Key to Happiness!”
“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.” (1) The fear of God is a key to true happiness. The fear of God is manifested in obedience. When we lay the foundation of fear and obedience, we have happiness in our work, marriages and our families. Again, God blesses us from our place of worship [Zion] and we have the pleasure of seeing its prosperity. My dad always said he was a rich man, but not in material wealth. He was rich in his family and children who serve the Lord.
Matthew 9:9-13 “What God Desires!”
Jesus invitation to Matthew to be a disciple shocked the religious Jews. As a tax collector, he was considered the worst of sinners. Why? They used an evil system to make themselves wealthy by taking advantage of other Jews. There is a tendency in religious people to justify themselves by finding sinners worst than themselves. The problem with this, is the failure to perceive their own degree of sinfulness. Also, God desires us to express His compassion through us far more than receiving gifts from us! Having compassion on others reflects an awareness of our need for Jesus!
July 22, 2016
Psalm 127 “A Great Reward!”
“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;” (1) The word house is often a term for family, group or nation. We are God’s house. Our efforts to build a house are a waste unless we have God as our master builder. The same is true of our security. Without God’s presence, our “houses” are vulnerable to destruction. No effort or skill can compensate for the lack of God’s presence! In fact, the birth of children is God’s gift and reward to us. They are not an inconvenience, but a blessing. They are not a burden, but a reward. Our children are to be viewed as a gift of God and an expansion of our house! As my daughter and her husband visit this week, I realize what a blessing and reward our children, and their children, are to us!
Matthew 9:1-8 “Authority to Forgive”
Jesus had just come from a place He was rejected and asked to leave [Gadarenes] because of a miracle of deliverance. This did not dissuade Him from continuing in the ministry of miracles. Jesus, seeing the faith of men who brought a paralytic, spoke forgiveness before healing the man. Here, religious leaders of the day accused Him of blasphemy in their hearts, but He healed the man to demonstrate His authority to forgive sins. The crowd was awestruck and glorified God for giving this kind of authority to men. Today, many struggle with God’s ability or willingness to forgive them, but we have a responsibility to demonstrate God’s love and power by miracles. Jesus gave this authority to His church to continue this revelation to a sinful world. His great love and mercy are rich toward sinful humanity. He did not come to judge the world, but to show mercy. Are we continuing this message?
July 21, 2016
Psalm 126 “No Greater Joy”
There is no greater joy than when God restores us from a captivity of our own doing. Laughter and joyful shouting are the fruit of a restoration visible to even unbelievers [heathen nations]. Our joyful celebration honors God before the unsaved. We experience a sudden release like the flood streams covering the desert South. Yet, preceding this harvest of joy, was a persistent sowing in sorrow and tears. What we sow in our times of sorrow determines our harvest. Some sow complaint, vent to friends or some other ungodly activity. But, the one who sows confessing and taking responsibility for their sin and resulting captivity, will reap a harvest of great joy.
Matthew 8:28-34 “Jesus Disrupts Lifestyles”
When Jesus came to the Gadarenes, he was confronted by two demon possessed men tormented by His presence. Jesus presence torments evil. Thinking they could avoid destruction, they sought to be sent into a herd of swine. Yet they were destroyed and a lifestyle of disobedience was disrupted. Consequently, rather than being grateful for His presence, the entire community begged Jesus to leave. This community never had the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of God’s rule because they clung to their lifestyles [self rule]. Jesus presence in our lives will expose every evil thing. Will we welcome Him, or beg Him to leave?
July 20, 2016
Matthew 8:18-27 “Jesus Is Over Our Storms”
When a religious scribe approached Jesus to be a disciple, He laid out no promise of earthly provisions, but a sense of being a foreigner. Another man wanted to follow Jesus as soon as he would bury his dad. Jesus, however, said following Him had to be his first priority. When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. Following Jesus did not lead to a peaceful journey, but a life threatening storm. All this took place while Jesus was asleep. Fearing for their lives, they woke Him up thinking He did not care. Yet Jesus rebuked their lack of faith before He rebuked the wind and the sea. When following Jesus, we know it will not always be a smooth ride, but Jesus is in our boat, we can rely on His direction and He has authority over the storm.
Psalm 125 “Trust Yields Peace”
Mount Zion was not only a place of worship but a stronghold against the rule of wickedness. God grants to those who trust Him a peace and stability beyond anything this world can provide or even envision. Regardless of the advance of wickedness, it will have no lasting impact on those who Trust God. We pray for God’s good to rest on the good and the upright. While the crooked and workers of iniquity will face God’s wrath, there is peace for all who trust God.
July 19, 2016
Psalm 124 “Had It Not Been…”
“Had it not been the LORD who was on our side, Let Israel now say,…” (1) Attacks on David rose like a flood and he knew if God had not intervened on his behalf, he would have drowned in them. Though he was a king in Israel, David always maintained a humility and dependence on his Lord. He, therefore, persistently praises Him for the help essential to his life. When we realize that ‘had it not been’ for God, none of us would live in true victory, then we also will be a well of perpetual praise.
Matthew 8:14-17 “Foundation for Great Works”
The record of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law is not very dramatic. Jesus noticed her sick in bed, touched her hand, the fever left and she rose to wait on Him. Yet by evening many demon-possessed were delivered by a simple word and He healed all who were ill. Why? Not for His self-promotion, but from a passion to fulfill God’s word regarding Him. Jesus foundational passion was to do the Father’s will and great works flowed out of this. If our motivations are likewise, we also can do great works which will not exalt self but honor God, His word, and His will.
July 18, 2016
“To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! (1). As we face a variety of stressful situations, wise men turn their focus to God Who is above all. What should we do? Where should we go? How do we handle this? Like servants attentive to their masters, we look to God for every detail and directive. The humble posture of a servant enables the reception of directives from the One having superior knowledge and perspective. Here we seek God’s mercy to overcome the contempt of the world around us. Though we are immersed in the scoffing of the arrogant, God in His mercy will raise us up to a place of significance and impact on this world. Though we are not valued by this world, our impact is strengthened by our total dependence on God our creator, Savior and Lord.
Matthew 8:5-13 “Under Authority”
A Roman soldier approached Jesus due to a tormented servant in his house. Though he felt unworthy to have Jesus in his home, he understood the nature of his authority as coming from being “under authority.” He knew Jesus would have power in His word simply due to His being “under” His Father’s authority. As a result, Jesus honored his request and commended his great faith. Jesus’ power over disease flowed from His obedience/submission to God. May God grant us the wisdom to be “under” His authority for the power to serve others.
July 16, 2016
Psalm 122 “Peace for Assemble Worshipers”
David was excited about assembling with God’s people for the purpose of giving thanks because of who God is. Jerusalem represents the assembled worshipers of God in tight relationships. Here they receive encouragement, comfort and accountability in God’s presence. Here in worship God’s authorities are established. We pray for the peace of God’s church and prosperity for all who love her. This place is for our good and for a unique dwelling of God’s presence. May God’s peace be on His church!
Matthew 8:1-4 “Jesus Is Able & Willing”
After teaching, Jesus descended the mountain with large crowds following. A leper approached Him having faith He could heal him, but uncertain of His willingness to do so. Jesus said, “…I am willing; be cleansed.” (3b). Often our battle is not to believe Jesus heals, but to believe He is willing to heal us. At times this is due to awareness of our unworthiness. Yet healing is not based upon our worthiness, but upon the worthiness and work of Jesus Christ. After healing him, Jesus sent him to the priest to give the offerings commanded by the law as a testimony to them. Jesus sought the fulfillment of God’s word and the glory of God above all. We too, will see more miracles when we realize and embrace proper basis and motives for them.
July 15, 2016
Psalm 121 “My Help Comes From…”
From where do we receive help, the creation or the creator? Here the psalmist is resolute: “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (2) Unfortunately many of us look to the created realm for help, but those who are wise understand truly beneficial help comes only from our Creator. He is more than capable and never sleeps on the job. He loves His people and protects them day and night from all evil. Our soul is safe and at rest knowing the Lord is with us every moment for the rest of our lives. In this world of turmoil we also say, “My help comes from the LORD,…!”
Matthew 7:24-29 “Information or Action?”
Life is full of storms and this story shows us two foundations on which believers build their lives to face them. Wise men both hear and act on God’s word, building on a rock [obedience]. Foolish men hear but do not act, building on sand [disobedience]. Everybody experiences the storms of life! Yet, only those who hear and obey will survive them. Some gather information, but those who survive take action based on the word of God they have received. Are we simply gathering information or are we taking action?
July 14, 2016
Matthew 7:13-23 “Beware!”
The exhortation to enter by the narrow gate leading to life rather than the wide leading to destruction, is followed by a warning against false prophets. Outwardly they look good, but inwardly are “ravenous wolves.” The telling factor is the fruit of their lives. Fruit is the outgrowth of our true inner nature. False prophets are not concerned for those they serve, but for their own selves. They promote themselves, their egos and what benefits them. They are good at religious language and activity, but are not aligned with God’s word. They promote religion, but do not embrace God’s rule in their lives. Let us avoid these influences and seek influences promoting God’s kingdom.
Psalm 120 “God Answers Our Cries!”
“In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.” (1) The trouble experienced by the psalmist here is being attacked with lying lips and a deceitful tongue. I recently had a dream where such occurred and awoke in great emotional distress and pain. There is no retaliation suitable for those attacking with lies and deceit. Yet, we are “sojourning” [temporary living] among such people. Though we seek peace, we are surrounded by those who are for war. May we have the wisdom to turn to God who alone can adequately address and answer our cry!
July 13, 2016
When we go to our heavenly Father asking, seeking and knocking, we will to receive, find and have open doors. If earthly fathers, flawed by sin, give good things to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us what is good when we ask Him. In fact, God knows better than we do what is best for us and will withhold no good thing. Since God is such a Father, we… “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (12).
Psalm 119:169-176 “God’s Word, Our GPS”
David asks God to hear his cry for understanding and deliverance according to His word. He desires to praise God for teaching him. His song rises in honor of His righteous commands seeking His help because he has chosen God’s ways. He longs for the Lord’s salvation because he has delighted in His law. Even though he has wandered like a lost sheep, he remembers God word and asks God to seek His servant. When we highly value God’s word, He will rescue us even though we have wandered from His ways. God’s word is our GPS in life’s journey. Without it, we are lost!
July 12, 2016
Matthew 7:1-6 “The Danger of Judging”
Nothing is more condemning of our lives then the judgment of others. When judging others, we are implying our superiority to them. Sometimes we do so to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Jesus cautions us to focus on our own shortcomings which enables us to see better so we can truly help others. When judging, we do not help them but, in fact, we assert a hypocrisy regarding self which keeps us in bondage to a false perception. When our assessment of them is accurate, we waste time “venting” for it is like throwing pearls to pigs.
Psalm 119:161-168 “Stable Living!”
When under attack, we are not to retaliate or trash talk about our abusers. Why? Because we are in awe of God’s words and greatly rejoice in it as a priceless treasure despising falsehood. When so focused, we are able to stay in the place of persistent continual praise. Knowing and loving His word prevents us from stumbling for we are secure in our hope of God’s salvation as seen in His word. We live by faith in, and reverence for, His word!
July 11, 2016
Matthew 6:25-34 “Worry or Wait? Our Choice!”
One of the primary causes of anxiety is concern for material needs. Fear reflects a loss of faith in God as our Father and provider. Worry does not add life, but steals life. We are here commanded by Christ not to worry about earthly needs, “But to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (vs. 33). Worry causes us to take premature and wrongful actions, but faith allows us to walk in faith and wait for God’s provision. Worry keeps our perceptions in the sinful flesh realm, but faith elevates our focus to what is truly important!
Psalm 119:153-159 “Revive Me According to…”
At a time of great affliction, godly people seek the Lord because they have confidence in His word, principles and lovingkindness. No matter how “hard” it gets, we cling to His word. Three times David asks God to revive him and each time he reminds God of the love and value he places on His word. He concludes by saying, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” God’s word is often abused for selfish reasons because many avoid its totality and skew its meaning from its context. May we love His word in its totality!
July 9, 2016
Matthew 6:22-24 “Walking in Light”
The context of verses 22 is in the use of finances and wealth. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (22). If our perception and focus [eye] are on heavenly concerns and not material needs, then we are seeing clearly in light. But, if our focus is on earthly needs and issues, we are in deep darkness blinding us from truth and reality. We cannot be devoted to two masters but must chose who we serve – God or wealth. Let us trust God and walk in full light!
Psalm 119:145-152 “God’s Word, Our Passion & Focus”
As David’s enemies draws near, he cries to the Lord declaring his allegiance to God’s word. He looks no where for help but to God. He rises early and looks forward to night so he can meditate on what God says. He asks God to hear him according to two things: 1) His lovingkindness [character] & 2) His word [promises]. While his enemies draw close, they are far from God’s word but he is close to it. Every command of God is truth and reliable! May we trust God and His word and not be distracted by any of the enemies approaches.
July 8, 2016
Matthew 6:19-21 “Where Is Our Treasure?”
We are commanded by Christ not to store up treasures on earth where they are subject to loss. We should store them in heaven where they are preserved for all eternity. But even more importantly we note, “…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The condition of our heart is directly linked to where we place our treasures. By investing in heaven they are not only safe for our future, but we position our heart with an eternal perspective!
Psalm 119:137-144 “Delighting in God’s Word”
God is righteous and His judgements are without flaw. All His words flow from these realities in faithfulness. Our zeal should consume us lest we are distracted by those who disregard to God’s word. Because His word is pure, all true servants of God treasure it. We have a humble self-perception and, therefore, cling tenaciously to God’s precepts as truth. Though surrounded by trouble and anguish, we persist in delighting in God’s commands.
July 7, 2016
Matthew 6:16-18 “Rewarded by God or Men?”
Like prayer, fasting is not to be done to gain the attention of men. We do not put on distressed looks of agony to impress others with our spirituality. If we do, we have no reward with God! However, when we fast to suppress our flesh and to hear from God, He will reward us greatly. All spiritual disciplines are designed to enhance our relationship with God and not to enhance our reputation with men. God knows our hearts and our religious posturing before men does nothing to gain His favor. May God keep our motives pure as we seek Him.
Psalm 119:129-136 “The Wonder of the Word”
“Your testimonies are wonderful;…” (129a) What God speaks to us from His word is truly wonderful. We perceive a beauty in God’s word when our hearts are opened by it. This moves us to a hunger for obedience. It is like someone turns on a light and we suddenly see what we never saw before though it was already there. If we taste of God’s word, our hunger increases and we seek to please Him and not ourselves. We cry out for God to free us of all that oppresses us and seeks to disrupt us from a godly walk. We weep over those who are held in bondage and reject God’s law.
July 6, 2016
Matthew 6:14-15 “The Key of Forgiveness”
Now Jesus explains the importance of extending forgiveness of our transgressors. In forgiving others, we release God’s mercy on ourselves. However, withholding forgiveness, binds God from being able to release His mercy on us. We have received of God’s mercy and we show gratitude for this by extending mercy to others. We hold the KEY for the ongoing flow of God’s mercy in our lives.
Psalm 110:121-128 “Avoiding False Ways by God’s Word”
Doing right and being just does not mean life will be smooth or unopposed. The psalmist cries to the Lord to protect him from his arrogant oppressors while he looks for salvation in weakness. Even under this pressure, he trusts in God’s word for it is right and God’s nature is full of lovingkindness. He seeks God for increased understanding of His word and asks Him to act on his behalf. To him, the value of God’s word exceeds all earthly things and he adheres to what is right and hates “every false way.”
July 5, 2016
Matthew 6:13b “For Yours Is…”
“…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (13b) Even in prayer we must guard ourselves from ourselves. Prayer is an expression of humility and dependance, but we carefully guard against arrogance and self-reliance. We must focus our passions on God’s kingdom [rule] knowing only God’s power can produce it, and only God should receive the glory. We begin prayer with a concern for God’s name and we conclude prayer with the same. May God be glorified in our prayer lives!
Psalm 119:113-120 “Hating All Evil Influences”
“I hate those who are double minded, But I love Your law.” (113) One factor greatly influencing our behavior are the people we choose to “hang around.” We carefully avoid [hate] all who are not fully committed to God’s word so we maintain a healthy love for God’s word. We take total refuge in God’s word and flee every evil influence. Our hope is sustained and we fear no harm or shame as we adhere to God’s word. However, those rejecting God’s word are useless and will be removed. May we walk in the fear of the Lord and not confidence in ourselves!
July 4, 2016
Matthew 6:13a “And Do Not Lead Us into Temptation…”
In light of what God has done for us, we should not be naïve to the dangers of temptation. We seek God’s guidance and strength to walk in righteousness and free of all evil. We do not boast of strength, but we come to God in utter dependence relying on His strength and wisdom. If we are not honest about the dangers of our world, we will be overcome by its subtle influences. However, humility and dependence on God, will raise us above every evil thing.
Psalm 119:105-112 “Treasuring the Light of God’s Word”
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (105) God’s word equips us so we do not stumble in our present and guides us into a healthy future. We must resolve to keep His principles in the face of affliction, enemy oppression and even the face of death. We seek God Himself to revive us so we will not be distracted or fall into the trap of the wicked. God’s word is our inherited treasure and adhering to it lays a solid foundation for lasting joy. So may God’s grace incline our heart to His word forever!
July 1, 2016
Matthew 6:11 “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
This petition acknowledges God as our source. It also expresses our dependence on Him for daily needs. When Israel came into the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt, they cried out for food. He gave them a “daily” provision [manna] and if they put some aside for the next day, it turned bad [useless]. Yet the day before the Sabbath they were to save for the next day and rest. It is God’s desire for us to live in daily dependence on Him for even this most basic of needs. By this simple petition we are reminded of Who our provider is, and our need for Him.
Psalm 119:89-96 “God’s Word Brings Stability & Endurance”
“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (89) God’s faithfulness transcends all time, past and future. All things are dependent upon him for their existence and, ultimately serve His purposes. Without delighting in God’s word, we will not survive our afflictions. However, having a knowledge of God and His word revives us from the most severe trials. Though wicked men oppose us, we are not distracted but diligently cling to what God says. God’s word is sufficiently broad to cover all of life’s issues and troubles.
June 30, 2016
Matthew 6:10b “Your Will Be Done”
“Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (10b) When God’s rule is established in our hearts, our passion will not be our will, but God’s will. Not only do we struggle to know God’s will, but after knowing it, we struggle to obey. We need to settle that God’s will is far better for us than our own and embrace His will even when we do not want to do it. We pray for God’s grace to know, embrace and carry out His will!
Psalm 119:81-88 “Never Let Go!”
Here, while suffering confusion from his opposers, the psalmist longs for God’s help in God’s word. Though fogged in by the traps of persecutors, he refuses to turn from God’s word as the only source of his hope. Yet, he knows and has confidence in God’s commands and trusts his lovingkindness. Under this great pressure, he refuses to let go of God’s word.
June 29, 2016
Matthew 6:10a “Your Kingdom Come”
A kingdom is a territory or a people over which a king rules. At the top of our concerns in prayer, is the rule of God in every dimension of our being. We seek God to rule our hearts, minds [emotions] and bodies. Lasting peace and joy will only be realized when we seek first God’s rule and righteousness. If we permit any other influences [internal or external] to rule, we forfeit God’s rule. The very nature of the anti-Christ spirit is to throw off Christ’s rule especially in favor of self rule. This is why we must deny self before we can truly follow Christ.
Psalm 119:73-80 “Trusting God for Understanding”
Because God created us, only He can give us understanding. Because we wait upon God for His word, we bring joy to all who fear God. We trust in His ways knowing even our affliction is governed by Him for our good. We look to His lovingkindness for comfort as revealed in His word which we have great joy in studying. Opposing or attacking forces will be ashamed for they are governed by lies. We put them in God’s hands so we can stay focused on God’s principles. In this way we encourage others who fear God and are able to live free of all shame.
June 28, 2016
Matthew 6:9c “Hallowed Be Your Name.”
We begin prayer by acknowledging our relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. We praise Him for His character and greatness. Then, before presenting our needs or concerns, we petition God for the honor and reverence of who He is. Our first priority is the issue of God’s reputation. This is the filter through which all other petitions must pass. When the honor of God’s name is first, we are getting our priorities right. Our top concern is not our happiness, comfort, provision or protection. It is the hallowing of God’s name!
Psalm 119:65-72 “…But I delight in Your Law.” (70b)
“You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.” (65) When we know God’s word, we are not surprised at His dealings. We turn to Him for discernment and knowledge so we may be governed by His principles. Yet, without affliction we tend go astray, but God uses affliction for needed adjustments. When we are attacked by the arrogant, our heart clings to God’s word. We are not swayed, but delight in His principles and not get caught up in defending ourselves. In fact, “It is good for me that I was afflicted,…” (71a). Why? Being governed by God’s word and fulfilling His purpose is better than all the worlds wealth or approval!
June 27, 2016
Matthew 6:9b “Our Father Who Is in Heaven,…”
Not only do we enjoy a relationship with God as a loving, caring and protective Father, but He is not flawed or limited in any way as our earthly fathers. He loves perfectly, cares completely and protects forever as we journey through life in dependence upon Him. Prayer does not begin with rushing into God’s presence with our needs, for He already knows them. Prayer begins with a healthy acknowledgment of who He is as our Father and His unlimited resources to parent us.
Psalm 119:57-64 “The Lord Is My Portion!”
While most of the world seeks a portion of creation, our portion is the Creator! To align ourselves with Him, we seek and keep His word pursuing His favor. As we live, we examine our steps and make the necessary adjustments by His principles. We are quick to obey and even give thanks in our “midnight” hour. We refuse to be influenced by the wicked, but surround ourselves with companions who fear God and share our journey and destiny. Our companions help shape our process and destiny. We know there is plenty of God’s lovingkindness and we humble ourselves before His instruction.
June 25, 2016
Matthew 6:9a “Our Father”
We are called to “Pray, then, in this way:…” Since I was young, I have used this prayer as an outline for prayer. We begin by addressing God as “…Our Father…”! The very basis of faith in prayer is an intimate caring relationship with God as our Father. This posture of seeing and talking to God as Father, reflects a confidence in a loving and caring parent. How we see God greatly affects our expectations or faith in God. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are….” (1 John 3:1a)
Psalm 119:49-56 “Hope in God”
The ability to look beyond present tests, turmoil or affliction, is related to the issue of hope! Without hope, we will be overcome by frustration and anger. But when we have God’s word and serve His purposes, we rise above every situation. As we lean on God’s word and focus on it in this temporary world, we are not knocked out by the arrogant words or attacks in our journey. We trust in God in prayer and cling to His word knowing God will never disappoint us. We hope in God and stand on His word.
June 24, 2016
Matthew 6:5-8 “Prayer Problems”
Jesus addresses two common errors in prayer. First, when we are praying, we should not be seeking to impress others for we are petitioning God. If we truly believe in God, we seek to be heard by Him alone. Some are unwilling to pray publicly for the same reason. They fear what others think. Second, He tells us not to use meaningless repetition for this does not increase our chances of being heard. He is not speaking against persistence, but the false notion the number of our words give us greater access to God. God is not lacking information or struggling with memory issues. He hears and answers us because He loves us as His children.
Psalm 119:41-48 “Cherishing God’s Word”
The psalmist seeks God’s lovingkindness and salvation according to His word, but why? To address those who try to dishonor him, he leans on God’s word for all his answers. His understanding, and ability to articulate them, come from God and he continually looks to His commands for both. Because of his reliance on and persistence in God’s word, he knows how to walk in liberty. He is never ashamed of it no matter who is around him. He looks nowhere else, but delights, reaches for, loves and meditates on God’s principles. Many times we waste time and even are directed erroneously because we listen to so many voices and fail to treasure God’s word and be rewarded accordingly.
June 23, 2016
Matthew 6:1-6 “Beware of this Trap!”
Another religious trap is to use religion to impress others and not serve God. False religion is not genuinely concerned about the poor or pleasing God, but simply impressing others for selfish purposes. True righteousness is not concerned for today’s reward, but looks to please God alone for future rewards. This is especially true on our giving to those in need and praying to God. We are not concerned about what people think, but we trust in God knowing our reward is secure in heaven and comes from our loving heavenly Father.
Psalm 119:33-40 “Seeking Understanding for Application”
Our ability to keep God’s word depends on our being taught by Him. As we delight in His word, He delights in us. We humbly admit our vulnerability to the distraction of material gain and ask God to revive us so we don’t waste our energy or lose our focus. We ask God to establish His word in us so we might fear Him and be protected from dishonor. Our hope is in God’s word and God’s righteousness! Our increased understanding is not to impress others, but to equip us for an upright walk.
June 22, 2016
Matthew 5:38- “Are We Better than Heathens?”
Jesus says we are to go beyond the obvious implications of the law [justice] and to give love to those attacking us. We are to have a generous posture to those who mistreat us reflecting our heavenly Father. If we merely love those who treat us well, we are no different from the worst sinners who do the same. Like our heavenly Father, we are to extend love to those who don’t deserve it. We are to demonstrate to our world what we have received from God. Love and mercy are very powerful.
Psalm 119:25-32 “God’s Word Brings Freedom!”
“My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.” (25). There is a deadly attachment of our soul to this world from which only God’s word is able to release and revive. As we confess this to God, He answers by teaching us from His word and enlightening us of His principles. We then are able to meditate on His great works. Though our soul weeps in grievous bondage, strength for freedom comes to us from turning to God and His word. Then we can choose faithful ways and cling to truth. Our hearts are enlarged by God so we are FREE to walk in His ways.
June 21, 2016
Matthew 5:27-37 “Being Faithful”
Another area of righteousness that must exceed that of the religious, is in the command not to commit adultery. It is not merely avoiding the physical act, but avoiding the inner lust. God sees beyond our physical acts to our inner moral fiber. Even the pursuit of divorce for the wrong reasons is adultery. Also, we must be faithful to our word and commitments. The breaking of our word before God is a serious issue and can not be justified. May God’s grace abound bountifully so we live faithfully before Him.
Psalm 119:17-24 “Delight in God’s Counsel”
“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.” (17). Without the generous dealings of God and a posture toward Him as servants, we have no life or ability to walk in His word. We can not perceive truth without God’s help. If we embrace the life of strangers to this world and passion toward God’s word, we are kept from reproach. We entrust the arrogant to God’s dealings, and focus on a passion for His principles discovered in His word. Delighting in God’s word provides the counsel needed for healthy lives and choices.
June 20, 2016
Matthew 5:21- “Are We Guilty of Murder?”
Jesus illustrates how our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of religious people. Religious people will outwardly conform to the requirements of the law, “…‘You shall not commit Murder’…” (21). But Jesus says if we have anger in our hearts towards a brother we are guilty. If the anger is verbalized, it is even more serious. And, if the anger takes on a spiritually demeaning posture, we are in serious danger of hell itself. Even our worship is useless if we are not willing to deal with unresolved issues with our church family. If we do not face these issues now, we will face God as our judge later.
Psalm 119:9-16 “Staying Pure in Youth”
This section begins with a simple question and answer: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” (9). We are not to be led by our heart, dreams or even our conscience, but live in agreement with God’s word. Yet, even this will not help unless we put it in our heart to seek God and His help [grace] in this matter. We must “treasure” [hide as precious] God’s word in our heart [core] or we are highly vulnerable to sin. It is not the memory of scripture [information], but the valuing of it that enables us to keep from sin. Even our understanding of God’s word necessitates His help. God’s word must be the center of our joyful conversation, meditation and pursuits.
June 18, 2016
Matthew 5:12-20 “Being Earth’s Salt & Light”
Followers of Christ are the salt of the earth. We make the earth palatable. If we lose our saltiness, we fail our purpose and are worthless. We are also the light [illuminating a path to God] of the world. We are not to hide our light, but to let it shine so men observe our works and glorify our Father in heaven. Jesus highly honored the Scriptures saying He came to fulfill them not abolish them. Anyone minimizing God’s word will have little value in God’s kingdom. Yet those who value, keep and teach it are called great in the kingdom of heaven. Religious righteousness is inadequate to allow us into God’s kingdom or enjoy His rule. The righteousness that matters has its source and definition in God alone. Our value on this earth greatly depends on our attention to God’s Word!
Psalm 119:1-8 “God’s Word, Our Blessing!”
The blessing of God is promised to all who walk blameless as guided by God’s word. Yet, to walk in this way we must observe God’s testimonies and seek Him with all our heart. Valuing and observing God’s word guards us against walking in error and sin. God, our Creator, has given us His statutes and commandments knowing His design and intent for humanity. We, therefore, give Him thanks hungering for His word to equip us to both know and keep His word. We also lean completely upon His presence for the strength to do this.
June 16, 2016
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed Are the Persecuted”
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,…” (10a). We are not blessed by mere suffering or for suffering from making bad choices. Yet, when we suffer for doing right, this is a great blessing and reflective of belonging to the kingdom of heaven and not this world. Though we suffer in this kingdom for doing right, we have the present and eternal benefit of God’s rule. Where God rules there is peace, joy and every good thing.
Psalm 118:15-21 “God’s Discipline Is Always Good”
Among the righteous is a joyful sound of celebration of God’s strength. Though we face difficulty, we are confident in God’s salvation. We know we are disciplined by the Lord and sometimes it is severe, but do not fear death or defeat. We call on God to get back on the track of righteousness and proceed with thanksgiving. Only God can open the door and lead us into righteousness, so we overflow with joy and celebration.
June 15, 2016
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed Are the Peacemakers”
Those who seek peace hating conflict and loving unity, are truly blessed as being like their Father in Heaven. Those who love a fight and seek to divide, have a different father. There is a peace and unity that is not at the expense of truth, but at the expense of self-interest. Peace comes from our aligning with God by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus daily. When this kind of peace is pursued, obtained and maintained, we are truly blessed.
Psalm 118:10-14 “Let Us Sing of God!”
Regardless of the odds against us, when our confidence [faith] is in the name of the LORD [who God is] and not in ourselves, we will be victorious. Yes, the realities of what is against us is overwhelming at times, but the greatness of our God dwarfs all our enemies. In spite of what is against us, we are full of faith because we know who is for us. Our faith is not in ourselves and we are not intimidated by the size of our enemy, because the LORD has helped us. He is our song and salvation. Let us sing of Him!
June 14, 2016
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart”
Sin, and the stains caused by it, distorts our perceptions. It will cause us to “see” incorrectly. In pain and distress, sin causes us to God as not caring or meeting our needs. In ill treatment from others, we see injustice. We see delay as God’s denial. However, as we allow God to purify our hearts, He clears up our perceptions. Regardless of what surrounds us in contradictions to His promises, pain in circumstances, or other adversities, we see God at work in our lives. We thank God because we see beyond our situations, to see God’s sovereign LOVE at work for our eternal well being.
Psalm 118:1-9 “Give Thanks to the LORD”
We are called to give thanks to God because, quite simply, He is good and His lovingkindness [goodness toward us] is everlasting. God’s people are not grumble, but to speak of His everlasting lovingkindness. When in distress, we call on Him and He answers us. His favor is upon us and we have no fear of those who hate us. Why? Because we take NO refuge in man, but trust in the Lord. The best of man will let us down, but God looks out for our eternal well being. Let us give thanks to the LORD!
June 13, 2016
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed Are the Merciful”
The mercy of God is a key characteristic of God. If it were not for His mercy, none of us could exist. Having received such an incredible expression of mercy, we are expected to pass it on to those who offend us. To some this looks like weakness, but to those who look beyond the moment, we see an unending flow of mercy released to us. Ceasing to be merciful stops this flow and demonstrates both an ignorance and ingratitude for what God has done for us through the sacrifice of His Son. Being merciful removes all obstacles to God’s mercy toward us.
Psalm 117 “Praise the LORD!
“Praise the LORD, all nations, Laud Him, all peoples!” (1). To ‘laud’ God, is to praise Him highly in a public context. All peoples, without exception, have the same calling. This command is not discriminatory. Why? Because God’s posture toward us all is the same. His lovingkindness is great toward us all. His truth is unalterable and everlasting. It does not change. Therefore, we are commanded to “Praise the LORD!” (2).
June 12, 2016
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed Are the Hungry & Thirsty”
How is it hunger and thirst can be a blessing. These cravings for God’s righteousness are essential to our setting at His table to receive what is essential for a healthy spiritual lives. We need God’s bread [Word] and wine [Spirit] for the strength to walk in truth and joy. Unless we see these as necessities to our survival, we will lack strength to both know and do what is right. Yet, if we crave for these, we shall be filled to overflowing with wisdom and strength for truly fulfilling lives.
Psalm 116 “God Hears & We Are Blessed”
“I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications.” (1) We are blessed with a direct line to God our Creator and Redeemer. No matter how far we fall, we call call on God in our distress and sorrow. He is righteous and compassionate saving those who simply call on Him for who He is. Our soul can be at rest knowing God will always come through for our well-being. Consequently, we are motivated by gratitude to give thanks before all God’s people. As we gather for worship, we praise the Lord for hearing our cries for help!
June 11, 2016
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed Are the Gentle”
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (5) The gentle nature to which Jesus calls us, is evidenced in a inner peacefulness reflective of a strong faith that God’s rule over all. Violent aggressive behavior reflect insecurity and fear. How does meekness facilitate inheriting the earth? Inheritance is what we receive from our heavenly Father as a consequence of His work and not ours. It is an unmerited gift that comes to us by the death of His Son. The gentle are those of us who by faith have settled in our hearts that God is in control of our destiny and the process leading us there. We see God as sovereign over all.
Psalm 115 “Not to Us!”
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory…” (1a). Our motivation in praise and worship must primarily be the honor of God who is full of lovingkindness and truth. We are also concerned about the perception of God presented by our lives as a testimony to those living in the futility of idolatry. God’s people both trust Him and fear Him for He is their source of provision and protection. Our God CARES about us and blesses us. We, therefore, are motivated and determined to bless the Lord forever!
June 10, 2016
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn”
How is it that mourning, or the deep sorrow of loss, can bring blessing to the believer? Because of sin, humanity was introduced to death and the sorrow of loss. The pain of loss confronts us with the temporary nature of life and the reality of sins’ consequences. This causes us to turn back to God as the only source of healing and comfort. Without out this sorrow, we would not see our need for God. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Psalm 114 “Our Worship & Our Testimony”
Here we are focused on what God did for His people by delivering them from bondage and taking them into the promised land. “Judah became His sanctuary, Israel, His dominion.” (2) Judah became the place of assembled worshipers and God dwelled in them [sanctuary]. Hence all Israel became His kingdom [rule]. Their entire journey is filled with God’s supernatural intervention causing all the earth to tremble before Him. When we gather to worship God, the rule of God is expanded in His worshipers as a testimony to the nations of the supernatural work of God.
June 9, 2016
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit”
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (3). This beatitude begins a teaching some might call ‘the peculiar kingdom.’ These principles are in contrast and contradiction to what seems right to our sinful flesh. The word ‘poor’ comes from the word ‘to cower’ and means to be a beggar. How is being poor a blessing? It is only as we realize and confess our spiritual poverty that we can realize and enjoy the blessing of God’s rule [kingdom]. Our poverty positions us for God’s wealth!
Psalm 113 “Why We Praise the LORD”
“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD.” (1). The command to praise God is rooted in two realities: 1. Who we are to Him – servants; 2. Who He is! We persistently bless who He is because He never changes. He is over all and there is no one like Him. He raises us from dust [no value] and lifts us from a pile of ashes [burned up by life] to sit in places of authority and influence. Though we are barren, he gives us the joyful honor of a mother with Children. We, therefore, “Praise the LORD!” (9b).
June 8, 2016
Matthew 5:1-2 “Blessings of Going Higher!”
Large crowds pursued Jesus for His miracles and healing. They were drawn to Him for the benefits He provided. Upon seeing these crowds, Jesus ascended a mountain and sat down waiting for His ‘disciples’ to come to Him. Some come to Christ for the benefits He generously gives us in the physical realm, but fewer make the journey up the mountain as ‘His disciples’ to be taught the benefits of lasting value [the spiritual realm]. May God give us grace to climb to the place of discipleship to be instructed by Jesus and equipped for eternal blessings.
Insights for Living – June 8, 2016
Psalm 112 “Blessings of The Fear of God”
“Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.” (1) The fear of God facilitates joy and hunger for God’s word! It brings greatness to our children and wealth to our households along with enduring righteousness. When faced with darkness, light comes to guide us. We are gracious and compassionate to others and we are defended by God. We live in unshakable stability without fear of evil reports as we trust God. We have no fear of enemies and are generous to the poor. You might say the fear of God is the cure for all other fears. We increase in strength and honor and let God deal with the wicked. Praise the LORD!
June 7, 2016
Matthew 4:12-25 “Ministry For God’s Glory”
Upon hearing of John’s arrest, Jesus withdrew into Galilee and eventually settled in Capernaum. These moves fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. He began to preach, “…‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (17b). Jesus then invited various men into a “following” relationship with Him so he might train and develop them. This message He brought to all Galilee both proclaiming God’s kingdom and healing all kinds of afflictions. Consequently, “The news about Him spread…” (24a). Proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom were Jesus’ methods of operation. By this method He did not promote the genius of men, but the glory of God!
Psalm 111 “God Is Reliable”
“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly.” (1) We need to receive the command to praise the Lord and make the commitment to praise Him with all our heart. Why? Because His works are great and worthy of study. They are splendid and majestic. God’s character [righteousness] is eternal and all He does benefits His people. For those who fear Him, He provides and will never break His word. His character and word are reliable and He redeems us though we are forgetful. “…Holy and awesome is His name.” (9c)
June 6, 2016
Matthew 4 “The Purpose of Power”
In the previous chapter Jesus is baptized, empowered by the Spirit and affirmed by His Father (3:17b). At this we might think Jesus is going to be launched into ministry, but instead He is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The activity of the supernatural does not qualify or prepare us for ministry. For this we must face our wilderness and challenges to our motivation. Jesus did not use the power for His provision, protection or promotion (1-11). He used the power to obey God’s word, understand God’s word and serve His purposes only.
Psalm 110 “Jesus Never Fails!”
Jesus will not leave His place of power until every enemy is subdued. He rules through His church and people join Him as His power is released. God’s word regarding Christ will not be altered and He will finish His task quickly. While time seems to pass slowly at times here on earth, God’s purposes aways prevail and justice will be quickly executed. Jesus never fails!
June 5, 2016
Matthew 3 “Repentance Facilitates God’s Rule”
The preaching of John the Baptist was to “…MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,…” (3b). People were receiving a fresh start by accepting his message, confessing their sins and being water baptized. Yet, some were merely going through the religious motions, so John called for fruit consistent with repentance. Outward compliance will not suffice! We must submit to God’s process and receive from Him the power of the Holy Spirit so He can reign in our lives in reality.
Psalm 109 “Taking Injustices to God”
Here we see David as the subject of false accusation and hatred. “In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am in prayer.” (4) It is not uncommon for those seeking to serve in love to be the subject of false and lying attacks. Yet, rather than complaining to others, David takes it right to God, the only one with the right and power to rectify this situation. Though he privately asks God to deal with them harshly, public David trusts in God’s lovingkindness and persists in thankful praise.
June 4, 2016
Matthew 2 “Worship the King!”
The birth of Jesus drew foreigners to worship Him, but Herod the king was troubled by this news. Those in need rejoice at the signs of Christ’s presence. However, those in power [Herod] are threatened by any word disrupting their place of power. Worship of the Messiah, was both humble and costly. The magi’s worship help fund the Messiah’s journey [to Egypt] to power. But the insecurity of Herod, caused the death of many innocent children. We should note how Joseph was carefully led by God to places contrary to His religious convictions. Are we worshiping the King, or fighting to retain a place of power?
Psalm 108 “Unwavering Worship”
“My heart is steadfast, O God; I WILL sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul,” (1). Regardless of environment, we determine to praise and give thanks to God for His lovingkindness and truth. Who He is, and His posture toward us, never changes and warrants our public worship. Beyond this, God has given us His Word [promise] and even our enemies have a purpose in the process to possess them. Only God can give us victory. “Through God we will do valiantly, And it is He who shall tread down our adversaries.” (13).
June 3, 2016
Matthew 1 “Courageous Obedience to God”
It is interesting to note the lineage of Jesus is traced back through a harlot and a foreigner [Rahab & Ruth] (5). It is also interesting to note the generational symmetry leading to Jesus Christ. Yet, even more fascinating is the immaculate conception of Jesus and the struggle it presented to Joseph. In spite of the apparent shame this brought, he trusted God and obeyed His voice. We must always hear and obey God no matter how it appears to others!
Psalm 107:10-43 “The Wise Give Thanks!”
In this psalm a variety of oppressive conditions come upon God’s people to bring them to a place of helplessness and great need. Yet, the moment they acknowledge their need and cry out to God based on His nature, He delivers them. Four times it is said, “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.” (6,13,19,28). Then four times we are exhorted, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!” (8,15,21,31). Lack of gratitude led them into darkness and trouble, but the wise man gives thanks as he considers the Lovingkindness of God.
June 2, 2016
Revelation 22:6-21 “Come, Lord Jesus”
The things written came from Jesus to His angel and then to John “…for the churches.” (16). Those who listen and heed the things written, are blessed and comforted with the promise His return, “And behold, I am coming quickly…” (7). We are not distracted by events of this world, but cling to the promise of Christ’s return as an anchor in a chaotic world we are passing through. We have the promise of His return [chaos is temporary] and His reward [eternal]. A third time Jesus says, “…‘Yes, I am coming quickly’…” (20). So, we respond, “…Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” We now live in the light of His promised return and in the light of eternity!
Psalm 107:1-9 “Forever Grateful!”
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (1). We, the redeemed, are called declare these truths for we have seen His salvation from our adversaries and provided for us in the wilderness when we cried out to Him. He delivers us from ALL our distresses and leads us into our inheritance. God’s nature and deeds are in harmony to fill us with “…what is good.” (9). He responds to our humble cries for help and never fails to give us what is good. May we be forever grateful!
June 1, 2016
Revelation 22:1-5 “God’s Throne Means Great Blessings!”
John saw a river of pure life giving water coming from God’s throne. His rule [throne] can only bring life, purity, prosperity and healing. “There will no longer be any curse;…” (3). His people joyfully and willingly serve Him. As they see Him, they reflect His nature. In God there is no darkness, for He illumines them and they rule with Him. The closer we get to home, the more excited we become with anticipation. May our hearts overflow with His praise allowing His rule to flow in our lives bringing life, purity, prosperity and healing.
Psalm 106:28-48 “Praise the LORD!”
In their journey, Israel frequently dishonored God. Phinehas “…stood up and interposed, And so the plague was stayed.” (30). They persisted in provoking God and were rebellious to His Spirit. They disobeyed [Partial obedience = disobedience!] Him and ‘mingled’ with nations He commanded them to destroy. This led to idolatry and the wickedness of spiritual harlotry. God’s anger was inflamed and He allowed their enemies to rule over them. Yet God repeatedly heeded their cry and saved them because of His great lovingkindness. Therefore, though we fail God, let us continue to cry out for revival and bless Him at all times. “…Praise the LORD!” (48c).
March 14, 2016
2 Peter 1 “Transforming Grace!”
Peter speaks to the church from the place of a servant sent by Christ at the end of his life. His passion is that grace and peace is multiplied to us by the knowledge of God and His Son. In Jesus we have these as we focus on God’s promises and turn from the corrupting influences of this world operating through our desires. Character is formed by diligent application of God’s word. If we fail to do this, we are blind and short-sighted and have forgotten what Jesus did for us. Let us not waste grace!
Psalm 46 “Finding Joy, Stability & Provision”
Where do we turn when we are in trouble? The psalmist turns to God for refuge, strength and freedom from all fear. Everything this world offers is unreliable. However, there is a place of great joy, stability and provision. It is found in the river of God’s Spirit, grace and presence. As we focus on His works and supreme power, we are able to relax [‘cease striving’] and see He is God. “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” (vs. 11).
March 16, 2016
1 Peter 3 “Delayed Judgment, God’s Patience!”
A great concern of Peter is we not lose sight of God’s coming judgment. Delay in Christ’s return results in some who mock His return following their lusts. We, however, remember Scripture knowing God is not slow, but patient desiring all to come to repentance.
Since the heavens and the earth will be entirely destroyed, we live in godliness looking forward to the new heavens and earth where righteousness will prevail. We guard against the influences of unprincipled men so we remain stable in our walk. In this way, we, “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (vs. 18)
Psalm 48 “The Church, God’s Choice!”
Though some demean the church [Mount Zion/place of assembled worshipers], this Psalm shows us God’s love and choice of her. She exalts God in His greatness, is elevated in beauty and joy before the whole earth and God reveals Himself as her stronghold. She amazes the greatest of men and God establishes her forever. She is a key to the revelation of who God is and those who live their are taught and guided by Him until death. May God continue to bless us with His presence so we walk in His ways full of His joy as a testimony to the world around us!
March 18, 2016
1 John 1:5-10 “Confession & Cleansing”
John states that if we say we have no sin, we are deceived and truth is not in us. Failure to confess leads to self-deception. Confession is essential for release and cleansing. Christ is faithful to forgive and cleanse us, when we are willing to confess. It is an insult to God, who gave his son, if we say we have no sin. Let us remain humble before God, confess our sins and receive forgiveness, freedom and cleansing from them.
God is the source of all, owner of all, and is over all. Consequently, He needs nothing from us, but we are in great need of Him. He invites us to offer Him thanksgiving, to keep our word, and to depend upon Him in trouble so we can glorify Him. Those who reject God’s word cannot be taught but persist in evil; especially in their words. Because God did not object, they think He is ok with them, but they will face His judgment. The wicked forget God. Yet, those who remember Him with praise and guards their ways, God will also remember them with salvation!
March 21, 2016
1 John 3:4-24 “True Love”
Practicing sin is lawlessness and those continuing in it are not true disciples of Christ. Our “practice” is our reality! Sin is the work of the devil, but Jesus came to destroy his works. Failure to love God’s family [church], is sin. Genuine love is seen in laying our lives down to benefit others. Love is also evidenced in meeting material needs in His family. We should not be shocked when the world hates us, but neither should we let the winds of lawlessness impact our love (Mt. 24:12-13). Walking in love releases faith in Christ so we can receive from God because of His work.
Psalm 53 “Fully Compensated by God”
In the face of severe opposition, David appeals to God in prayer because of Who He is in character and power. God alone can sustain his soul and recompense his foes. He, therefore, brings a “willing” sacrifice giving thanks to God and knowing He will deliver him. He will have satisfaction over his enemies by the work of God and not his own efforts. If we suffer loss, God will fully compensate us as we trust Him with our enemies!
March 22, 2016
1 John 4:1-6 “Overcoming the Antichrist”
John informs us of an abundance of false prophets who do not speak from God, but deny Jesus as having come in the flesh. If they fail to confess Christ, they are of the spirit of antichrist. This spirit intensifies as they reject God’s rule through His Son. They are governed by the spirit of this world. We need not fear, for greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. If we know God, we adhere to the teaching of His apostles. Those rejecting Scripture operate in a spirit of error. Let us give diligent attention to God’s word and thwart the influence of false prophets.
Psalm 54 “Leave it There!”
David cries out for God to hear him in a time of trouble as wicked men pressure him. Lacking a sense of God’s presence, he struggles with fear and anguish wanting to just escape [get away] this storm. Worst of all, it is his companion and friend who formerly accompanied him in public worship causing this terror. He puts revenge in God’s hands as he continues to call and make his complaint know to Him. He declares God is in charge and will deal with this troubler. Though he was deceived, God was not. So he calls us to “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;…” (22). We must take our storms to the Lord and leave them there.
March 23, 2016
1 John 4:7-21 “God Is Love!”
John calls us to love each other for love is from God and God is love. He defines love as the giving of our lives for others. God is not defined by our view of love, but love is defined by a biblical view of God. God sent His only Son into the world to save us by accepting the penalty of death for our sin. If we abide in God, His love flows through us as a testimony to who He is. This love frees us to serve others and frees from fear of judgment. We are able to love, because God first loved us. We must NOT define God by our view of love, but look to God, His Word and His Work. God is love!
Psalm 56 “Rising Above the Fear of Man”
Have you ever felt trampled on by others? Have you struggled with fear of others’ ill intent? We are not alone, David lifts his voice to God to rise above fear by trusting God and knowing his opposers are ‘mere men.’ They distort our words, focus on doing us harm, and watch our every step to make accusation. However, God knows our failures and our tears, and we know God is FOR us. We will not fear, but bring to God our thank offerings. We walk before Him in the light of the living, free of all fear and stumbling.
March 24, 2016
1 John 5:1-12 “In Christ Alone!”
By believing Jesus is the Christ we are born of God; not by believing in ourselves, but faith in God’s Son! So also, if we love God, we love His children and obey His Word [commands/not suggestions]. This is not a burden, but a blessing enabling us to overcome this world by faith. If we fail to believe in Christ, we are calling God a liar for not believing His word concerning His Son. Life is in His Son alone and if we do not have Him, we are without life or love. Life and love are defined and found in Christ alone!
Psalm 57 “Surrounded by God’s Presence!”
While fleeing for his life, David calls on God for grace because has taken refuge in Him! He sees destruction as temporary [passes by], but looks to God for lovingkindness and protection. When surrounded by evil men [lions] viciously pursuing him, he turns his focus to heaven and exalts God. Evil men intend our harm, but our heart is steadfast when focused on God in prayer, praise and worship. We are only safe when we are surrounded by God’s presence and pursuing His glory and not our own defense!
March 25, 2016
1 John 5:13-21 “We Are Our Brother’s Keeper”
This book was written so we would be confident in our salvation. Having assurance of eternal life, gives us confidence that God both hears our prayers and grants us any request within the parameters of His will. God’s love constrains His generosity to what will not endanger our eternal life. We also have the responsibility to correct God’s family out of love and concern for their eternal well-being. Yes, we are our brother’s keeper! If we are born of God, we have the power to live above sin and the power of the evil one!
Psalm 58 “We Will Have Justice!”
David was not naive, but spoke against persistent wickedness which runs to the core of man. He cries out to God to shatter them and destroy their influence. Their destruction will be joy and satisfaction to the righteous and a sense of justice to their soul. Men of lawlessness abound to the end of time, but we persist in love bringing our concerns to God and trusting in His justice. God, who is above all, will certainly bring justice for His people!
March 26, 2016
2 John 1-6, “Walk in Truth & Love”
John loves the church in truth along with all who know the truth. If we know the truth, we will love God’s people [church]. Failure to love the church reflects ignorance of the truth. The truth is like guardrails directing love’s flow keeping it pure. Without truth, love is corrupted. Without love, truth has no impact. We can only love each other effectively, if we walk according to God’s commands [truth]. As we receive grace, mercy and peace from our Father and His Son, we are equipped to walk in Truth and Love.
Psalm 59, “God, Our Deliver & Joy”
David repeatedly turns to God when enemies rise against him. They do not attack physically, but viciously accuse him with their mouths. However, the Lord laughs at them and David puts vengeance in God’s hands. He then focuses on exalting God in His strength and lovingkindness. As he praises God as his stronghold [protection], his enemies fade from concern. As we put our accusers in God’s hand trusting Him as our deliverer, anxiety is replaced with confidence and joy!
March 27, 2016
2 John 7-13, “Danger of False Brethren”
John warns of many deceivers who go ‘out into the world’ and do not admit Jesus came in the flesh. That is, their roots are in the world, and they do not accept Christ’s true humanity. If Christ did not live as man, we cannot live as He did. They stray outside of Christ’s teachings, so they should be avoided or we are be guilty of participating with them. May God grant us wisdom from His word to escape the influence of false teachers.
Psalm 60, “Cleansed by Enemies?”
David cries to God for he sees enemies rising against them bringing a loss of His presence, instability and hardship. Yet, they have a purpose because they represent God and he is asking for deliverance. We belong to God and He uses our enemies to cleanse us. Failure against our enemies reflects an absence of God’s help. Looking to our humanity is vain, but, “Through God we shall do valiantly, And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.” (12). As we face enemies greater than us, God cleanses us from all self-reliance.
March 28, 2016
3 John “Becoming Fellow Workers by Giving”
John speaks as a church leader [elder] to Gaius whom he ‘loves in truth.’ He prays for his prosperity and good health as his soul prospers. He has no greater joy than hearing his children are walking in the truth. He commends him for supporting the brethren, some of whom are strangers, who live to promote God’s Name. We are called to support ‘such men,’ and in so doing, we become “…fellow workers with the truth.” We share the joy of others selfless service by supporting those who serve for Christ’s Name.
Psalm 61 “Our Dependence, God’s Praise”
David’s dependence on God is expressed in phrases like… “Hear my cry,…”; “Give heed to my prayer.” “…when my heart is faint;” “Lead me…” and others. He looks to God in weakness for refuge, strength and the shelter of His presence. God has heard his vows and he has been rewarded. He asks God for prolonged life in His presence being preserved by His lovingkindness and truth. Why? So he can continually sing praise to God’s name and keep his commitments day to day [walk in truth].
March 29, 2016
Jude 1-3 “To Whom Should We Listen?”
Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Many speak from tainted motives, but we are attentive to those who are humble servants of Christ. He addresses the church as “…the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.” As a true servant of Christ, he is aware of the Father’s love and care for those who belong to Jesus. Jude comes, not to enhance his ministry, but out of concern for the well-being of God’s people. There are many voices, but we give ear to those reflecting servanthood of God and concern for His people.
Psalm 62 “We Will Not Be Shaken!”
David waits in silence for God’s intervention against those seeking his demise. His stability, salvation and strength are found in complete dependence on God. This hope keeps him from being shaken by the plotting of others against him. He calls God’s people to likewise trust in Him at all times and not fear their opposers. We are shaken, but have faith in God’s word and God’s nature to bring justice to all!
March 30, 2016
Jude 4-7 “Contending for the Faith”
Jude calls the church to “…contend earnestly for the faith…” which has been handed down [Scripture] to us. Certain ones come into the church unnoticed, but are exposed when they turn grace into a license to sin and reject Jesus as the only Master. Grace is not given to do as we please, but to embrace Jesus as Lord and do as He pleases. We can be certain if we do wrong, we will face judgment as is clearly revealed in Scripture. Let us contend for the faith revealed to us through genuine servants of God!
Psalm 63 “In the Shadow of His Wings”
David expresses a deep longing for God emphasized by the drought of all this world has to offer. He has know the satisfying presence of God, His power and His glory which generates abundant praise with great joy. Nothing compares to His presence and he meditates on God and all He has done. While others seek to destroy David, he knows God’s power over these “foxes” who speak lies. Their mouths will be stopped! Like David, may we find shelter from our attackers in the shadow of His wings!
March 31, 2016
Jude 8-11 “Trusting God’s Word or Our Instincts!”
In view of Biblical warnings, many by living in a false reality pollute the flesh, reject authority and revile angelic majesties. Though Michael the archangel guarded his words in his assignment, these do not hesitate to angrily criticizing what they do not understand. Like unreasoning animals, they pursue religion for profit and participate in destructive rebellion. Rather than be guided by God’s Word, they are destroyed by following their own instincts. May we have the grace to trust God’s Word above our instincts!
Psalm 64 “From Fear to Gladness & Glory!”
King David learned a very valuable lesson: We should bring our complaints to God to hide us from the secret counsel of the wicked. They have well thought out secret plots they intend to carry out with sharpened tongues. BUT GOD will shoot at them and turn their tongues on themselves causing others to fear God and praise Him. As we take refuge in the Lord, our fears will be replaced with gladness and glory.
April 1, 2016
Jude 12-13 “Value Godliness Over Charisma!”
Jude uses six keys to identify false teachers posing a threat to “faith.” First, they attend gatherings without fear like hidden reefs endangering our journey of faith. They care only for self. They are religious, but without substance. They are fruitless and rootless. Their uncontrolled temperament is without shame. Finally, they are out of control and headed for judgment. Their influence rises when charisma and talent are valued more than godly character.
Psalm 65 “ Where Could I Go?“
Other than God, there is nothing that gets God’s people [Zion] so excited. In God’s Presence we overflow with praise and keep our word to Him, Why? He hears our prayer as we come to Him. Though overcome with iniquity, God cleanses us with forgiveness and chooses to bring us into His house [presence]. In His presence we are blessed and fully satisfied with goodness. “Where Could I Go But To The Lord?”
April 2, 2016
Jude 14-23 “Keeping Ourselves in Love”
The judgment of false teachers is confirmed by the prophetic word and stated in the past tense as if completed. Their ungodliness is reflected in grumbling, fault finding, following their own desires, arrogance and flattering to serve themselves. But we keep God’s word remembering His advance warnings. We pray “…in the Holy Spirit,…” to strengthen ourselves in the faith. We keep ourselves in love showing mercy to others and guarding against all moral pollution.
Psalm 66:1-7 “Is God Forgetful?”
As God’s people, we are called to Joyful Expressive Praise! First, we are to sing of Who He is [His Name]. We honor him with praise declaring to God His awesome works and great power. Is God forgetful? No, but we are, and praise keeps us focused on Who God is in our trials. We invite others to join us looking back on our supernatural salvation from this world with great rejoicing. He governs nations for all eternity and we must never forget it, lest the rebellious exalt themselves.
April 5, 2016
Revelation 1:4-6 “A Kingdom of Priests”
John is the chosen bond-servant bringing this message to seven churches in Asia. He desires grace and peace for the churches from our eternal God who rules all nations in Christ. The message is from “…Him who LOVES us and RELEASED us from our sins by His blood-…” (5b). He has MADE us to be a kingdom of priests to His God and Father. To God be “…the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (6). As God’s priests, we are in a place of honor and responsibility. May He give us His grace to effectively serve our God in this world!
Psalm 67 “God’s Blessing, Our Witness”
We are to call on God for His grace, blessing and favor, so He and His salvation will be known in all the earth. When people praise God, live in gladness and sing for joy, it releases a powerful testimony. We do so knowing He will bring justice and provide guidance to all the earth. In other words, God is in control! Even for earth’s produce [our provisions], we call others to join us in praise for God has blessed us. This is our witness to the earth!
April 6, 2016
Revelation 1:7-8 “He Is Coming & He Is Sovereign!”
There seems to be a contradiction between the declarations of who God made us to be, and the present state we see on this earth. So we are given two truths to stand in the face of this. First, we have the PROMISE of Christ’s return. We must always live in the light of this reality. Second, we serve a SOVEREIGN God beyond all time and over all powers. He is the God of the past, present and future. He is the Almighty God over all earthly powers! “So it is to be. Amen!” (7b). His word and nature are our assurance!
Psalm 68:1-6 “Partying in God’s Presence!”
“Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,…” (1a). As God’s manifested presence rises, His enemies flee. They disappear like smoke driven by wind or melt like wax before fire. But those worshiping God are elevated into enthusiastic, jubilant and joyful worship celebration. Their song proclaims His nature and His works. He is a father for the fatherless, brings justice for widows, a home for the lonely, and liberator of prisoners. The same presence of God drives away His enemies, attracts His worshipers and leads them into awesome partying!
April 7, 2016
Revelation 1:9-11 “Seeing to Serve!”
John identifies himself as a brother who ‘partakes’ in the tribulation, kingdom and perseverance in Jesus. This book was written when he was exiled due to his testimony of Jesus. He was “…in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,…” When in the Spirit, environment can not impede service. Here, in God’s presence, he heard a loud voice behind him commanding him to write what he would SEE. What John sees in his suffering, would become a blessing to the church throughout history. What we see greatly effects our ability to serve. May we, in the Spirit, look beyond our trials to serve God’s people with effectiveness.
Psalms 68:7-10 “God Is Present in Our Wilderness”
Between our prison [Egypt] and God’s promise [kingdom] is a journey though a wilderness. It is not our home, but it IS essential to our promise land! Here we must remember three things: 1. Our God goes before us to guide. 2. Where our God guides, He also provides. 3. Our God’s presence is our assurance. Though we face various tests, we must never forget God goes before us, provides for us and keeps us in His presence.
April 8, 2016
Revelation 1:12-20 “Jesus at the Center!”
This first vision is foundational to what follows. John turns and sees seven golden lampstands symbolizing the church as the light of this world. He then sees the son of man in glory with great intensity with seven stars in His hand. He fell at His feet, but was raised up as Christ declared to Him who He is in eternity, strength and to His church. He saw Christ at the center of His people as sovereign with messages to benefit them. May we never lose sight of His majesty, our value to Him and His desire to speak to us.
Psalm 68:11-14 “Our Fight For Freedom, Beauty & Worth!”
Not only did Israel have to follow God through the wilderness, but she had to follow God to fight for and defend Zion [God’s presence among His gathered worshippers]. God gives the command [call to war] and many women proclaim the news. When God’s people respond to His call to war, their enemies flee and even those who remain at home, enjoy the spoils so their beauty and worth are greatly enhanced. Our cooperation with God in spiritual warfare breaks every stronghold of the enemy and we enjoy freedom, beauty and worth!
April 9, 2016
Revelation 2:1-7 “Love Calls for Repentance”
Jesus identifies Himself as He who governs the messengers and walks among His church. He is very much aware of our true condition. He commends Ephesus for their deeds, hard work, perseverance and intolerance of false messengers. Yet, He is against them for falling from their ‘first love’ and threatens to extinguish their light [witness] unless they repent. Christ’s love not only encourages us, but calls us to repentance when we are off. The call to repentance is an expression of love and not condemnation. To reject repentance is to reject God’s love!
Psalm 68:15-18 “God’s Dwells in Our Worship”
Zion, the place of gathered worshipers, is envied by and contrasted to Bashan. Though Bashan was higher in natural elevation, the church is elevated by being the place where God chooses to dwell forever. From here God battles in astounding displays to defeat our enemies in His holiness. He delivers us from our enemies and makes us His possession and habitation. Regardless of our past, God is pleased to dwell among those who worship Him.
April 10, 2016
Revelation 2:8-11 “Nothing Compares!”
Jesus speaks to the church at Smyrna as their eternal God who overcame death. He knows our tribulations, poverty [lack], and our opposition from false Christians who are of the church of Satan. We should not fear what we suffer, for our tribulation is brief. To overcome present trials, we look at their brevity in the light of eternity, and stay faithful focusing on our future reward in Jesus. No pain or lack in this life compares!
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,…” When we are aware of God’s love for us in deliverance and protection, expressive praise flows freely. As we gather with others to worship Him, we experience His fountain of life. He is our strength and power bringing every opposing force into submission to Himself. Therefore, we give joyful praise for His exalted place above the heavens. As we gather for public worship, we become aware of His awesome presence and receive His strength and power.
April 11, 2016
Revelation 2:12-17 “The Sharp Two-Edged Sword”
To Pergamum Jesus speaks as the “…sharp two-edged sword…” Nothing is more discerning or penetrating then God’s Word. Without the light of His word we walk in deception! He commends them for standing firm where Satan rules by threats of persecution. Yet some were holding to the teaching of Balaam who, for a price, gave the enemy an upper hand on God’s people by subtle seductive relationships. Nothing angers God like those who cause God’s people to stumble. God deals with them harshly. However, for those who overcome these influences there is great reward!
Psalm 69 “Pray While Enemies Rage”
David is overwhelmed by those who hate him without a cause. His cry reflects his own struggle and our Lord’s who is to come. He has no reliance on self [like Christ] nor his own character, but cries to God to defend him and disable his enemies. He puts his fate, and that of his attackers, into God’s hands. While they RAGE against him, he PRAYS to the Lord in view of His lovingkindness for deliverance and justice. Though afflicted and in pain, his faith in God is solid as reflected in his praise and songs of thanksgiving. He calls on all God’s people and creation to join in this song.
April 13, 2016
Revelation 3:1-6 “Are We Alive?”
The power of the Spirit and God’s messengers are under the control of Jesus. Only He can release the Spirit giving us revival, and only He can bring us the message we need. The church at Sardis had a name reflecting life, but they were dead. Jesus commands them to awake for their deeds are incomplete in God’s sight. If they do not, He will erase their names from the book of life. It is not enough to have a title, we must have the reality of deeds flowing from God’s Spirit. In Your Mercy, Oh Lord, fill us again to live by Your power to do Your will and work.
Psalm 71 “A Legacy of Hope”
This psalmist reflects on a long history of God’s faithfulness when in trouble or under attack. Though opposed by many, he placed his hope in God alone. As a result, praises rises to God continuously. His long life has caused many to marvel at God’s faithfulness to him and the praise rising from this. His hope remained strong as his praises and prayers persisted. He was not so concerned about leaving his wealth as he was leaving a legacy of hope. As we age, may we leave a legacy of hope declaring God’s strength and power to those who follow us.
April 14, 2016
Revelation 3:7- “Faithfulness Is Rewarded”
Jesus comes to the Philadelphia church as holy, true and ruler of opportunity. He gives them an open door which no one can shut for the have a little POWER, kept His WORD and have not denied who He is [NAME]. He will make phony Christians bow before them and show them He loved them. Why? Because they held to God’s word and persevered. For this God will keep them from the hour of testing coming on all earth dwellers. These who overcome will be pillars in God’s house, identified with God and part of His community!
Psalm 72 “God’s People & God’s Glory”
This prayer is from the king regarding his rule in Israel. He asks for righteousness, judgment and ability to protect the needy from oppressors. He also desires to lead people into the fear and the blessings of the Lord. He asks for expansion of his rule because of his concern for the needy and oppressed. He concludes with praise and blessing of God asking that His glory fill the earth. True leaders are always motivated by concern for God’s people and God’s glory.
April 15, 2016
Revelation 3:14-22 “Discipline, Evidence of God’s Love”
Jesus comes to the Laodicean church with perfect perception and the only foundation for life. Nothing disgusts Him more than lukewarm christians with a false confession of their spiritual condition [hypocrites]. They declare their spiritual worth, but are, poor, blind and naked. The only remedy for this is God Himself. This call to turn to Him [repent] is rooted in love. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline;…” (vs. 19a). True love is also evidenced in God’s reproof and discipline. The parent not disciplining his child, hates his child. We must value God’s discipline as an expression of God’s love!
Psalm 73 “God’s Presence & Our Perspective”
Though God is good to His people, what we see in life often clouds this reality! Asaph ‘almost slipped’ when focused on the apparent prosperity of the wicked. They seem to get away with everything. It appeared vain to walk in purity and he became frustrated. “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.” (vs. 17). As we come to worship God and experience His “nearness,” we walk in peace and seek to declare His works. We must always remember, what we SEE is not what will BE!!!
April 16, 2016
Revelation 4:1-4 “A Heavenly Perspective”
After a series of messages to seven churches, John is invited to ascend to an open door in heaven. This occurs “in the Spirit” where He will see from a new more complete perspective. In this chapter alone the ‘throne(s)’ is mentioned thirteen times and in these verses six times. It represents the rule of God encircled by a rainbow representing His covenant keeping nature. He is seated in majesty, beauty and purity. God’s rule is not tainted with any evil but is perfect, beautiful and pure. A revelation of God and His rule from heaven brings great peace to His people in the midst of a world in turmoil.
Psalm 74 “Justice for God’s Honor”
A cry to God arises from the psalmists due to the lack of God’s presence among His people. He calls for Him to remember His people He purchased for His inheritance. He asks God to deal with the devastation caused by the enemy leaving them without the demonstration of His power and His voice. Yet in all this, he acknowledges God is his king Who has moved mightily for them. He is concerned not primarily for their condition, but for the cause of God’s Name! He calls on God to defend His own cause and bring justice against His enemies.
April 17, 2016
Revelation 4:50 “Honoring the Throne”
“Out from the throne…” (vs. 5a) comes the penetrating earth shaking voice of God. The seven Spirits of God speak of His fullness in carrying out His Word. God’s rule is carried out God’s people by God’s Spirit. His creation responds to His voice in respectful worship. God is worthy of their worship simply because He is Holy and is their creator. God’s voice is central God’s work and we must honor Him by carrying out His word. As we obey Him we honor Him as our Creator.
Psalm 75 “Prevailing Through Praise”
We give thanks to God for He is near [though surrounded by evil]. Wise men declare His works knowing He is over all and will judge the wicked in His timing [not ours]. The wicked are warned not to lift their ‘horn’ [strength] or speak with disrespectful pride. God is in complete control and His judgment is ready to be released. In the midst of this elevated wickedness, we persist in praise undistracted by those who will be cut off in God’s time. The strength of the righteous will prevail and be exalted.
April 18, 2016
Revelation 5:1-3 “The Mystery of History”
This is a continuation of the vision of chapter four. At this time, the book would have been in the form of a scroll necessitating the breaking of all seven seals to reveal its contents. Being in the right hand of Him on the throne, we see history as under God’s rule and strength, but it is a mystery. At first none were found “worthy” to open it, so John wept. But then his attention was turn to prophetic terms describing Christ as overcoming so as to open the book. The truth of history and its intended end, can only be known through Christ as He reveals it. Otherwise it remains a mystery. The death of our Lord Jesus unlocks for us a perception of history as it ends for God’s glory.
Psalm 76:1-3 “Victory in Worship!”
Where God rules, He is both known and honored for His greatness. While this world does not know God, His people both know and praise Him. From the place of worship God moves on our behalf against all our enemies. “THERE He broke the flaming arrows, The shield and the sword and the weapons of war. Selah.” Where? From the place of assembled worshippers, God defeats our enemies. Victory comes from our intimacy with God in worship, not from the intensity of our efforts in war!
April 19, 2016
Revelation 5:4-11 “God Is In Charge!”
This new perspective given John shows us God’s power and concern for His people. GOD IS IN CHARGE! It also reveals the fullness, majesty, power and perfection of God’s heavenly government [rule]. All heaven does not cease to declare God’s holy and eternal nature. In view of Him who sits on the throne, all the created realm bows in humility before His presence. Without a heavenly perspective, we remain in the deceptive nature of the sinful earthly realm. No matter how things appear on this earth, a heavenly perspective moves all creation to praise their Creator.
Psalm 76:4-12 “God Protects the Humble”
While God’s people are enamored by His glory and majesty, their greatest enemies are paralyzed in His presence. All their anger, strength and planning melts into fear when faced with His awesome presence. When the sound of judgment reaches heaven, all earth is fearful and silenced. For the HUMBLE, God girds Himself with wrath to save them from all these enemies. We, therefore, persist in keeping our vows to the Lord and bringing Him offerings of praise because He dwarfs all powers on this earth!
April 21, 2016
Revelation 6:3-4 “We Are Not Shaken!”
History contains elements undesirable and repulsive. When the second seal is broken, a red horse is released and its rider is given authority to take peace from the earth so men kill each other. War is reflects humanity living outside God’s presence revealing our need for Him. Jesus said, “…See to it that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end…” Though God permits war, we know it is temporary and eventually removed. Let us not be shaken by the shaking in this earth!
Psalm 78:1-8 “A Blessing Worth Passing On”
As Asaph begins his teaching, he calls for our undivided attention. God’s Word exceeds the value of all other instruction. It has been handed to us from our fathers, and we must pass on the praises of our God to the next generation so they will pass it on to theirs. The next generation needs to hear our stories of God’s strength and works so they can be a testimony to their world. They also learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before them, so they do not repeat them. Though some things are difficult to learn, they are worth the effort. Not only do they benefit us, but our children and our children’s children.
April 22, 2016
Revelation 6:5-6 “Maintaining Spiritual Fulness Under Pressure”
At the breaking of the third seal, he sees a black horse with a rider holding scales. Then we have described an economic condition of poverty and famine. But there is a call “…do not damage the oil and wine.” (6b). This is difficult to understand, but oil and wine are often symbols for the Holy Spirit and joyful celebrations. We are not to damage them. So often in times of economic hardship God’s ways are compromised stopping the flow of His Spirit and joyful celebrations in our lives.
Psalm 78:9-33 “Gratitude & Obedience”
Ephraim, know for the ability in war, turned back in the battle. They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to walk by His Word. They forgot all He had done for them in their deliverance from Egypt and their wanderings in the desert. God became angry with them for their unbelief and failure to trust Him to save them. Even in an abundance of provision, they persisted in sin and God killed some of their best people. Gratitude for God’s lovingkindness will bring us into an obedient relationship with God and HIs word.
April 23, 2016
Revelation 6:7-8 “God’s Mercy Restrains Evil”
When the lamb broke the fourth seal, the fourth living creature invited John to look and he saw an ashen horse with “Death” seated on it. Hades [abode of the dead] was following him and they were granted authority over a fourth of the earth to kill by war, natural disasters and other elements of the created realm. Note both their authority and impact are limited! If evil were unrestrained, it would destroy the earth, but God in His mercy has shortened those days for the sake of His people.
Psalm 78:34-53 “Look What the Lord Has Done!”
Only when God brought death to His people did they seek Him. This, unfortunately, did not last but they broke their word to God “For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,…” (37). Yet God remained compassionate, restrained His anger and kept in mind their frail fleshly nature. Israel’s persistent rebellion pained God. They failed to remember all He had done for them in Egypt to free them from slavery. May God give us grace to always keep dear in our hearts His salvation accomplished at the expenses of His sinless Son.
April 24, 2016
Revelation 6:9-11 “Justice Is Sure, Though Delayed”
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, John saw under the altar the souls of those killed for faithfulness to God’s word and their testimony. They cried to God asking why the delay in justice against “…those who dwell on the earth?” (10) They were gifted with white [purity] robes and told to wait until others would be killed to complete their number. We must leave the timing of justice in God’s hands.
Psalm 78:54-72 “From Tragedy to Triumph”
In spite of Israel’s rebellion, God brought them into His holy land. Through His strength He drove out nations and apportioned their inheritance. Yet they still disobeyed God’s word as their fathers did provoking Him to jealousy. Filled with wrath, God abandoned His dwelling place until many were devoured by enemies. Then, as if God woke up, He turned His anger on their oppressors. He chose Mount Zion to be His dwelling place and led them by His humble servant David. Sadly, we often need to suffer loss of God’s presence before accepting Him as our king and His humble leaders as ours. Only by turning to Him do we triumph over our enemies!
April 25, 2016
Revelation 6:12-17 “Facing the Future in Faith”
When the sixth seal is broken, ‘all hell breaks loose.’ The cosmos is described in pictures found throughout Scripture. All who dwell on earth will be overcome by fear as the wrath of God and the Lamb are about to be poured out. At the consummation of the age, is a final judgment which no one escapes but those who have turned to Christ. Every race, occupation and class of people will seek to hide from God’s wrath and “…who is able to stand?” (17). However, for those in Christ, they long for this time saying, “…’Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’” (22:20b KJV).
Psalm 79 “To God Be the Glory!”
Asaph cries out to God due to the repeated defeat of God’s people and the merciless way they have been treated. They have become a reproach to neighbors and he asks God to turn His anger toward their enemies. He also asks Him to forgive their sins and bring compassion on them quickly, but not primarily for their relief. He is deeply concerned for the honor of God’s name, the mocking of His seeming absence [among His people] and the vengeance for those killed. May our cry be heard by God and may His favor be restored to His people for the sake of HIS HONOR AND GLORY.
April 26, 2016
Revelation 7:1-8 “Our Future Is Sealed”
“After this I saw…” (vs. 1a). John’s last vision involved the coming judgment. Here we have the sealing of God’s “bond-servants” on their foreheads. God’s marked people [belonged to Him] are protected from His wrath. The listing of twelve tribes is not reflective of any other biblical list. This symbolizes the entirety of God’s people on earth at this time of judgment. God seals those who belong to Him and are marked by their mindsets [foreheads or thinking]. Not only is God’s judgment thorough, but His people are thoroughly protected and suffer no fear of the coming judgment.
Psalm 80 “Restored to Favor by Loving Discipline”
God is our Shepherd leading us from His throne and giving us light for our journey. When we resist His leading, He will let us be vulnerable to our enemies to bring us to our senses. God delivers us from this ungodly world, takes us through our wilderness, plants us in our inheritance, and causes us to grow beyond our abilities. Vulnerability to our enemies is a loving disciplinary measure of our Father to bring us back to humility and the reality of who we are without Him. From this place, we seek Him to restore us and bring us into His presence and FAVOR again.
April 27, 2016
Revelation 7:9-17 “Satisfaction Found at God’s Throne”
This next scene is of an innumerable multitude of worshipers of all ethnicities worshiping God in purity with expressiveness. The majesty of heaven falls on their faces before His throne to agree and join this worship experience. Who are they? These are the ones who have come through the wringers [tribulations] of life and are made white by the life [blood] of Christ. Consequently, they are standing before God’s throne in continual service completely protected and provided for by God Himself. Their thirst in life is completely satisfied as they follow the leading of the Lamb Who is in the center of the throne.
Psalm 81 “Worship, A Key to a Full Life”
Here we are called to regular, expressive and joyful worship of God who is our strength! This reminds us of all God has done for us keeping us from forgetfulness leading to idolatry. “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me! (8). If we fail to listen [hear] and obey God’s voice, He turns us over to our stubbornness making us vulnerable to our enemies. However, His desire is to give us the best for our lives so we might live a full and satisfying lives.
May 1, 2016
At the sounding of the fourth angel, John hears a voice from the altar before God calling for the release four angels holding back the forces of war that will kill another portion of mankind. This is not mere punishment, but a warning from God calling for repentance. “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands,…” It is not God’s desire that any perish, but that all will come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Psalm 85 “God’s Favor Is Waiting for Us”
In spite of sinfulness and straying, God shows us favor. Yet, we often finds ourselves in need of restoration, salvation and revival. No one else has the capacity for these except God. He is persistently good and speaks peace, but we must not turn back to folly, but persist in the fear of the Lord. God’s posture toward us is always good, but He can only proceed in the context of lovingkindness and truth. False confessions will never produce revival. In other words, we receive the revival we need when we are honest about our condition. God’s favor is always waiting to be pour out upon our needs as we cry out to Him in integrity.
May 2, 2016
Revelation 10 “A Prophetic Voice to Nations”
Before the sounding of the seventh angel, John sees a strong angel coming from heaven in great majesty holding a little open book in his hand. He declares “…that there will be delay no longer,…” and God’s mystery will be finished. The voice tells him to take the open book and eat it. It will be sweet to taste, but bitter in his stomach. God’s Word tastes good, but digesting it is an uncomfortable process. By consuming this book there flows a prophetic voice to the nations. The church of Christ has a responsibility to consume God’s word so we can speak prophetically [for God] to this world before its final judgment.
Psalm 86:1-10 “Trusting in God Alone”
David begins his prayer asking God to “incline” [bend down] His ear because his is “afflicted and needy.” This reflects David’s humility as he compares his smallness to God’s greatness and his neediness to God’s willingness and ability to supply. He is ‘set apart’ [holy] to God and expresses complete dependency on Him as the only one worthy of trust. As God’s servant, he cries out continually leaning on Him fully for joy and forgiveness. He relies on who God is in His abundant lovingkindness and great works for all who call on Him. He alone is God!
May 3, 2016
Revelation 11:1-14 “The Church, A Prophetic Voice”
This measuring of God’s temple [His earthly dwelling] is followed by the emerging of two witnesses who prophesy for 42 months [church age]. They are the two olive trees and two lampstands representing God’s testimony [light] to this world as seen in Zechariah 4. Being protected by God, they complete their prophetic assignment. They have great power and their ministry torments “those who dwell on earth.” This completes the second woe bringing us to the final judgment. These two visions reveal a primary task of the church: she is to be a prophetic voice for God to this world!
Psalm 86:11-17 “Dependency Facilitates Legacy”
Humility makes David teachable. He knows he cannot live in God’s truth without instruction. He also asks God to, “…Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (11b). A healthy fear of God enables truth’s application to our lives. Then David persists in a this “Truth” walk through persistent thanksgiving recognizing God has delivered him from Sheol [hell]. Finally, he commits his enemies into God’s hands and asks for strength to stand without shame. David’s high level of dependency on God facilitated his exaltation to a place of power and lasting legacy.
May 4, 2016
Revelation 11:15-19 “Hope in an Evil World”
At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, voices in heaven become loud. They announce the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. Loud and joyful worship erupts at the throne when God’s reign is declared. Yet those of earth are enraged at God’s wrath as their rule is replace by His. All injustices and evils of this world will be judged and we who dwell in heaven have great cause for rejoicing.
Psalm 87 “Where God’s Presence Dwells”
Zion, the church, is the place of God’s presence on earth. Therefore, God gives passionate favor all who gather to pray and praise Him. All will speak well of her as the city of God. Zion’s enemies of pride, worldliness, violent hostiles and moral degenerates will know the transforming power of God’s presence in Zion. The church is a place of new life to those born out of her relationship with the Lord. Our worst enemies are not outside God’s transforming power when we are in a worshiping relationship with our God. His presence facilitates His power to accomplish His rule [kingdom] on earth.
May 5, 2016
Revelation 12:1-6 “A Safe Place”
The following visions are in the heart of this book lending insights to earthly events from a heavenly perspective in highly symbolic language. At the birth of the child [Messiah], the dragon [satan] seeks to devour him without success. Instead, this son is caught up to God to rule all the nations in power. For this reason the dragon turns his anger to the woman [church], but she is given a place prepared by God in the wilderness [place of safety, training and dependency] where she is cared for by God for 1,260 days [church age]. While the devil seeks to destroy the church, God has given us a place of dependency to be nurtured until our destiny is secured!
Psalm 88 “We Don’t Always Need to Know Why”
This is a difficult song and, to be honest, one I prefer not to sing. The author turns to the God of his salvation and pleads with Him to hear his prayer. His soul suffers a lifetime of troubles as he draws near to death. He feels forsaken and in a very dark place. It seems to him God is angrily afflicting him without relief. There is no way out and no purpose in his suffering. Yet, he persists in prayer without knowing the “why” but continuing to trust God. At times, in God’s wisdom and love, He allows us to come to places of not knowing the “why” of our affliction so we rely fully on the “Who” of His nature of lovingkindness and grace. May we find our rest in Who He is!
May 6, 2016
Revelation 12:7-12 “The Joy of Heaven Dwellers”
The picture emerging here gives new details to the previous one. A war broke out in heaven between Michael and the dragon and their respective angels. The dragon and his angels are thrown out of heaven [place of power]. At this, those who ‘dwell in heaven’ release a loud declaration of victory. The salvation, power and kingdom of God and authority of Christ, have come as Satan is thrown to the earthly realm. God’s people overcome him by the ‘Work’ of God [blood of the lamb], the ‘Word’ of their testimony, and ‘Willingness’ to deny self even when facing death. There is great JOY for ‘those who dwell in heaven,’ but WOE to those ‘who dwell on earth’ where satan’s explodes with anger knowing his time is short.
Psalm 89:1-18 “Joy Unspeakable”
The psalmist begins with determination to sing of God’s lovingkindness forever. This involves a declaration of His faithfulness to all generations [age groups]. His heart overflows with desire to see God’s people rooted in Who He is. He continues in praise of God’s greatness revealed in creation, His rule over all the earth, and His incomparable strength seen in freeing us from bondage. Nothing exceeds God’s authority and His rule is exalted in righteousness and justice. “How blessed [happy] are the people who know the joyful sound? O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” (vs. 15) As we worship God this way, we enter a place of unspeakable joy in His presence.
May 7, 2016
Revelation 12:13-17 “Dependency Is Good!”
The dragon’s loss of power causes him to turn his anger toward the church. Though he seeks to persecute her, she receives ability to fly into the wilderness [place of dependency] where she is ‘nourished’ and ‘protected’ from his presence. His attempts to destroy her are foiled, so his anger intensifies. He makes war with ‘her children’ who keep God’s word and cling to their testimony of Jesus. We need to receive the Spirit of God to take us to the place where God provides us with all we need. Where is this? It is in the “wilderness” which is a place of total dependency or reliance on God!
Psalm 89:19-52 “Blessed Be the LORD”
The psalmist looks back to God’s covenant regarding David, the king of Israel. His faithfulness and lovingkindness were with David. This man is a prophetic picture of our King, Jesus the Christ. Those who follow Christ will find God’s favor, but if they forsake His word, we will know His punishment. Yet, He will not break His covenant. We can look back to God’s former loving-kindnesses and find hope. From this place we say, “Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.” (52).
May 8, 2016
Psalm 90 “A Heart of Wisdom”
First, the psalmist sees the eternal nature of our God compared to the temporal nature of our humanity. Then he sees the contrast between living in God’s presence versus the presence of our sin and before His anger. He then cries, “SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS, THAT WE MAY PRESENT TO YOU A HEART OF WISDOM.” (12). The wisdom acknowledging our transitory nature causes us to cry out to God for His presence, repent of our evils, and long for the favor of God so we can see Him working through our hands.
Revelation 13:1-6 “We Have a Heavenly Abode”
Though the scene changes, its characters remain the same. The dragon fails to destroy the man child [Messiah], woman [church] and her children [disciples], so he turns to the sea [humanity]. Emerging from the sea is a beast with the strength, and the authority of the dragon is given to him. All ‘who dwell on earth’ worship the beast and revere its power. He speaks arrogantly and blasphemes God, His name, and His tabernacle [church who dwells in heaven]. While the devil rages on earth, we have our dwelling in Heaven!
May 9, 2016
Revelation 13:7-10 “Who Are We Worshiping?”
While the beast was given ability to make war with the saints and kill them, he does not have the ability to make them worship him or the dragon. However, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him,…” for they are not protected from his deception as those ‘who dwell in heaven.’ Though the saints are faced with death, they worship only God placing justice in His hands. All who do not worship God, without exception, are worshiping the devil and the creation under his control. But we who dwell in heaven, are free from these deceptive influences!
Psalm 91:1-10 “Living in God’s Shadow”
“He who dwells in the shelter of the shelter of the Most High, Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (1). The implication of this language is of being so close to God we are protected from the heat of the sun. The psalmist asserts his trust and dependency on God to shield him from all opposition and distress. Jesus has prepared a place for us in God’s house where we live in safety and abundant provision. May we have the wisdom to live close to God so we are protected by His awesome presence.
May 10, 2016
Revelation 13:11- “False Religion of Humanism”
Another beast rises from the earth having two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. This beast has a religious appearance, but his voice reflects the dragon [satan]. He deceives all “who dwell on earth” by this false religion [signs and wonders]. No class of people escape his deception and they are marked with the number of man . False religion [Christianity] gives credibility to idolatry by replacing divine life with human effort! However, those “who dwell in heaven” will have the wisdom to expose this deception. Those “who dwell in heaven” have a wisdom [perspective] exposing it as from satan!
Psalm 91:11-16 “God Rewards Our Love for Him”
The safety enjoyed by those who live in God’s shadow is administrated through His angels who guard “our ways.” (11). Our walk with God is protected so we do not stumble and we have authority over deadly influences. Why? The simple reason is, we love God and know His name [who He is]. We, therefore, call upon Him and He answers us and is with us when we are in trouble. He comes to our rescue because we honor Him. God rewards love, intimacy and dependence with long life and salvation.
May 11, 2016
Revelation 14 “A Heavenly View/Perspective”
Another picture emerges in contrast to the beast and his followers on earth. We see the 144,000 of chapter seven with the Lamb who stands on Mount Zion [church]. They are not marked as belonging to the beast or the dragon, but as belonging to the Lamb and His Father. From them flows a new song [heavenly perspective] as they are before the throne [God’s rule] for He has purchased them from the earthly realm [perspective]. God has “…seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,…” (Ephesians 2:6b)
Psalm 92 “It Is Good to Praise God!”
This call to celebration of God and His works, is seen in declaring His lovingkindness and faithfulness enthusiastically and continuously. We are focused on His works and not ours. We are not disturbed by the flourishing of evil men, for they disappear quickly. Our God is in power permanently! We increase in strength as we receive the fresh oil of His Spirit. We are above our foes though we hear of their rising against us. We steadily grow, are fruitful and life flows freely so we continue declaring God’s righteousness and our stability.
May 13, 2016
Revelation 14:14-20 “Final Justice!”
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on HIs head and a sharp sickle in His hand.” (14). This is our savior carried by righteousness [white cloud], ruling in purity [gold crown] and reaping the final harvest [sharp sickle in hand]. He is told to harvest the earth by an angel from God’s temple. Yet another angel proceeds from God’s temple who harvests those remaining on the earth to be delivered over to His wrath. God will judge all the injustices on this earth.
Psalm 94 “Justice Delayed Is Not Justice Denied!”
At times it seems the proud and wicked oppress others without consequence. However, we call on God to take vengeance for us. Our oppressors act as if God can not see or hear, but this reflects senselessness and stupidity. Do they believe the God who created ears and eyes cannot hear or see? How foolish! “Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD, And whom You teach out of Your law;” (12). This chastening and instruction brings relief during days when justice is delayed. If it was not for this, all suffering would be meaningless. Yet, the Lord quiets our soul as we rest in His sovereignty!
May 14, 2016
Revelation 15 “Justice Flows from God’s Temple”
This scene precedes the final outpouring of God’s wrath. Those victorious over the beast are those who participate in songs of worship exalting God and His works. This song is an expression of trust. From the temple in heaven, proceeds seven angels carrying from the four living creatures seven golden bowls full of God’s wrath. These are carried by purely dressed angels and in golden bowls symbolizing purity and great value. God’s wrath is never unjust, but flows from His glory filled temple for final justice.
Psalm 95 “Two Essential Forms of Worship”
Here worship takes two differing forms. First, we are called to joyfully sing and shout to our Lord with thanksgiving. Why? Because He is a great God, great King, creator of all, and sovereignly rules over all! Second, we are to humbly bow before our creator. Why? Because He is our God, provides for us, and protects us. In this place of humble yielding, we listen and obey. We are not to follow the bad examples of some who have preceded us. Otherwise, we will not be allowed to enter His rest. Though these two expressions are different in nature and tone, both are essential. We both celebrate and we submit humbly to our God!
May 16, 2016
Revelation 16:13-21 “Our Shame Is Covered!”
In this passage the second beast [religious one] is identified as the false prophet. The dragon and his beasts give voice to demonic spirits. Yet, we are blessed as we stay awake and stay clothed so as not to be shamed. Scripture teaches us to stay alert in prayer by thanksgiving and be clothed with God’s righteousness and not our own. Failing to heed this warning, will expose our shame to the world. But embracing spiritual disciplines and the righteousness of Christ will protect us from all shame.
“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;…” (1a). God’s rule is cause for joy in a world full of injustice and wickedness. His rule proceeds from the foundation of righteousness and justice and know enemy stands before His holy presence. his glory is seen in nature and those serving idols are without excuse to worship Him. Knowing His rule, Zion [God’s people] is full of joy. He is high over all forces [gods]. We hate evil and love and trust God alone to preserve our souls. Our path is well lit and our joy overflows. Our happiness is in God alone as we continue to give thanks [for who He is].
May 17, 2016
Revelation 17:1-13 “Come Out from Among Them!”
Here Babylon [all false religion] is identified as a great harlot with authority over all peoples. She is to be judged for unfaithfulness to God as she is carried by a scarlet [seductive] beast [empowered by satan]. She possesses great intellect, power and beauty, but is full of evil and unclean with immorality]. She seduces the world and persecutes God’s people. All her power is enabled [carried] by the beast! All earthly rulers have their power from her and carry out her purpose to expand the power and authority of the beast. The church is hated by her so we must never be allied with this world which is under satan’s rule. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 1:15)
Psalm 98 “Church, A Happy Place”
This Psalm reminds us of the reasons we praise God in joyful celebrations. To sum it up, “…For He has done wonderful things,…” (1b). What are these? He has great power for victory, He saves His people, reveals His righteousness, and makes these visible to all the earth. Therefore, we are to break forth in loud and joyful expressions before our King. Though the world is in turmoil, the church maintains joyful celebrations knowing the Lord is coming to “…judge the earth;…” (9a) in righteousness and equity. We must not allow the world’s chaos disrupt our celebrations. The church is a happy place!
May 18, 2016
Revelation 17:14-18 “God’s Will Prevails!”
The horrific nature and power of the beast and the false religion it bears, is short lived [doomed] (1-13). These are at war with the Lamb and His people [the called, chosen and faithful]. The waters from which the harlot emerges, represent earth’s population. God puts hostility between humanism [beast] and false religion [harlot]. God’s purpose is carried out until God’s word is fulfilled. What great comfort to God’s people. Though we suffer various tribulations, our suffering is temporary and God’s will prevails!
Psalm 99 “Holy Is He!”
“The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble;…” (1a). Awareness of God’s absolute rule generates awe of God. He is far above His creation and is great in His church [Zion]. He is over all nations and should be praised for who He is! “…Holy is He.” (3b). His strength is inseparable from justice, equity and righteousness. Great men [Moses, Aaron & Samuel] lived in dependent relationships with Him. They obeyed His commands, were forgiven and disciplined by Him. We, therefore, “Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His holy hill, For holy is the LORD our God.” (9).
May 19, 2016
Revelation 18 1-4 “Come Out of Her, My People”
Babylon’s historical roots are in Babel of Genesis 11. It involved building a city and tower from human effort and cooperation. It’s purpose was to promote their reputation [or name, not God’s] and security without HIs input, oversight or involvement. This essence of humanism, greatly increases evil. It is a path to success without God, and therefore, full of unfaithfulness to Him. It is a seductive philosophy of life inspired and empowered by the dragon [satan]. By spiritual immorality, many are exalted to power. It is full of demons, a prison of unclean spirits and vultures who prey on godlessness people everywhere. We, therefore, must “…‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;’” (4).
Psalm 100 “He Is Faithful!”
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” (1-2) We come to God in joyful celebration knowing He is our God, our creator and we are His possession. Our gatherings are to be characterized by joyous loud expressions of praise. As we assemble for worship, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and praise for His goodness, His everlasting lovingkindness and His unending faithfulness.
May 20, 2016
Revelation 18 5-8 “Why Separate [Come Out]?”
First, we separate from false religion so we do not participate in her sins. Without separation, we are subtly seduced by the false religion of humanism. Second, if we do not come out, we will receive of her judgment. While false religion is appealing, it is saturated with sin and greatly despised by God. She seeks to glorify herself and live in pleasurable alliance with this world [sensual]. She fails to see her end, but the God who judges her is strong! May God guard our hearts from all her seductive influences!
Psalm 101 “Securing a Life of Praise & Integrity”
Here David commits to two determinations: First, he is committed to praise God even in His apparent absence. Second, he is committed to a walk of blameless integrity. He guards his eyes from influences with potential to lead him off this path. He separates from persons of evil: those secretly slandering others; those with haughty looks or arrogant hearts. He hates backsliding and is intolerant of all evil influences. He surrounds himself with the faithful and blameless to minister to him. Those who are deceitful or dishonest he will remove so as to strengthen the city of God [church].
May 21, 2016
Revelation 18 9-24 “Joy in Judgment?”
All who benefited from Babylon [false religion], will mourn greatly over her sudden judgment. Though she was a great city, her doom comes quickly and those prospering by her, now stand at a distance fearing her torment and weeping over their losses. Yet we, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints… (20a) seeing Babylon’s doom. Her entertainment and prosperity are short lived, because she deceives all nations by her sorcery and is responsible for the persecution of the saints. When we see her fall, will we react with rejoicing or mourning? It depends upon where we live! Are we caught up with this world, or do we dwell in heaven?
Psalm 102 “But God!”
Fiery trials drive the psalmist to cry to God for help. He is losing his appetite, weight, sleep and suffers deep loneliness. He is mocked without relief and is outside God’s presence. “But You, O LORD,…” (12a). Because of who God is and His concern for Zion [church], he asks for mercy. God is the only source of revival in His church restoring praise in His people and an effective testimony to the world. Because we knows who God is, we His servants, have faith for the future of our children.
May 22, 2016
Revelation 19 “Hallelujah, Our God Reigns!”
“…‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;…’” (1b). Heaven dwellers praise God as their source of salvation, glory and power. His judgments are right and He avenges His people. While Babylon’s doom brings sorrow to the world, it brings rejoicing to the church. All heaven joins this celebration. From the throne comes a voice calling all who fear God to “‘Give praise to our God,…’” (5b). The fourth “Hallelujah” rumbles like thunder through the earth “…For the LORD our God, the Almighty, reigns.” (6b). Judgment is a cause for great joyful celebration to all who fear God.
Psalm 103 “Bless the LORD, O My Soul!”
David exhorts himself to bless the LORD in full strength for Who He is [name]. He repeats the command to himself to keep him mindful of who God is and what He does. His anger is brief, but He abounds in compassion. He does not deal with us according to our sins, but according to His everlasting lovingkindness to all who fear Him. Though earthly life fades like the grass, His rule over all is established in the heavens forever. So he commands all creation to join in his song; “…Bless the LORD, O my soul!”
May 23, 2016
Revelation 19:6-21 “Preparing as a Bride or Becoming Supper?”
In contrast to the judgment of Babylon, these verses speak of an extremely joyful wedding of the bride made ready for the marriage of the Lamb. They are given pure garments to clothe themselves as the righteous acts of saints. As they worship God a prophetic flow gives testimony of Jesus. On the other hand, the coming Christ brings fearful judgment to all who follow the beast [world’s philosophies]. Jesus comes as the “Word of God” with the armies of heaven to strike down all who follow the beast and gives their bodies for supper to vultures. So it is, we will follow Christ and partake in His “wedding,” or become the “supper” of vultures as a result of God’s judgment.
Psalm 104 “God Is Revealed in Creation”
This psalm begins with a command, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” (1a). Praise is commanded for the Lord’s greatness and majesty especially as seen in His creation. Nature is as a house to God facilitating His purposes. It is well balanced in every respect more than a finely crafted watch. Each spring birds build nests in our yard. Someone asked, “How do they know they need to build them?” I am amazed at the detail and engineering of their construction. If we are open, God has released great revelations of His being in His creation. Let us bless the LORD for it!
May 24, 2016
Revelation 20:1-6 “Death to Self Precedes Power in Christ”
Many parallels exist here to chapter 12. There is a limitation of the dragon’s [satan] power [“1,000 years”], but then he is release for a “short time.” (1-3). During this time, all who lose their lives for their testimony of Jesus, God’s word and failure to worship the beast, reign with Christ. They reign as participants in the first resurrection. For them, the second death [judgment] has no power, but they function as priests [intercessors] and have power over the devil. We cannot follow Christ or have authority in Christ, unless we die to self (Luke 9:23-27).
Psalm 105:1-7 “Praise, The Path to True Happiness”
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.” (1). When approaching God, we give thanks for who He is, all He’s done and all He’s promised. By gratitude and praise we are ever conscious of realities which strengthen our faith in prayer. We should NOT assert who we are or what we have done, but glory in God alone. If we rely on His strength and presence, we find an abundance of joy. It keeps us focused so we are not distracted by the trials of life, but are unmoved as we rely in His strength, presence and promises.
May 25, 2016
Revelation 20:7-10 “Trust God to the End!”
In the last days satan is released to deceive nations and make war with God’s people. He will conspire with his followers and surround God’s people to devour them. However, God will devour them with great fire from heaven. Then satan, who deceived nations, will be thrown into the lake of fire with all who were deceive by him. In this place they no longer torment God’s people, but themselves will suffer eternal torment. We must trust God to deal with satan and his people while we persist in God’s purposes.
Psalm 105:8-24 “Cling to God’s Promises!”
God never forgets His promises [covenants]. They outlive generations as is seen in Israel’s journey to Canaan. Though they wandered through nations, God permitted no one to harm them. The famine moving them to Egypt came from God and He sent Joseph ahead of them. He was sold as a slave, afflicted with fetters and “Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.” (19). But he was released to great power and God’s people were strengthen and made fruitful in their suffering. Though God’s word is tested in our trials, may we have the wisdom and grace to cling to his promises!
May 26, 2016
Revelation 20:11-15 “The Book of Life”
John sees a great white throne and the entire creation fled from the presence of Him seated on it. All peoples, regardless of significance, stand before the throne to be judged “…according to their deeds” as recorded in the books. All whose names not in the book of life, experience the second death and are thrown into the lake o fire. We give thanks to God for the gift of salvation in Christ putting our names His book. We are not there by our works, but God’s work in His Son!
Psalm 105:25-45 “Praise the Lord!”
As seen in Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, salvation is entirely a work of God. Not only did God miraculously deliver them, but He miraculously sustained them and miraculously gave them the promised land. In every aspect of our journey, God desires to reveal Himself by the miraculous: in our salvation, process and destination. Why? So we can live according to His word and give all praise to our Lord.
May 27, 2016
Revelation 21:1-8 “A New Heaven & Earth”
The present [first] heaven and earth will be replace. From God descends the holy city, the new Jerusalem made ready as a bride “…adorned for her husband.” (2b). The key to her beauty is she is the tabernacle of God, and therefore, she enjoys His continuous presence as sons [family]. Every sorrow is eradicated. Death, mourning, crying and all pain are removed from the bride. To all who thirst God gives unending springs of water without charge. This is the inheritance of all who overcome in Christ.
Psalm 106:1-15 “Restoring Our Memory”
We begin with this command: “Praise the LORD!…” (1a). Next we are told to give thanks for His goodness, enduring lovingkindness and declare His mighty acts. We ask God to remember us in His favor so we know salvation, prosperity, joy and glory. Yet, “We have sinned like our fathers,…” In spite of witnessing great miracles related to our salvation and our journey, we often forget God’s works, but He remembers us for the sake of His name: “They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel,…” (13). While it is easy to forget, praising God helps us remember WHO God is, what He DID for us, and what He PROMISED.
May 31, 2016
Revelation 21:9-27 “The Beautiful Bride”
An angel shows John the bride of Christ [wife of the Lamb]. This necessitated John being “…carried…away in the Spirit…” (10a). What John saw was not a physical reality, but a spiritual one. This new Jerusalem, comprised of valuable elements, speaks of the beauty and value God is putting into His church. It is perfect in measurements and without flaw or any evil. The temple is God Almighty and the Lamb. In other words, God and His Son dwell in His precious jewels. God’s glory illuminates it by the lamp of the Lamb. It is a place of perpetual light, glory and honor. No unclean thing is in it, but only “…those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Psalm 106:16- 27
A factor in the destruction of Dathan and Abiram’s rebellious group, was envy of Moses’ position of authority (16). Israel also rebelled by worshiping their own creations [idols] and forgetting what God did for them in their deliverance. They would have been destroyed had it not been for the intercession of the very one they rebelled against. Beyond this, they did not value [despised] God’s promises but grumbled in secret failing to heed His voice. Unfortunately this kept them from enjoying what God prepared. May we have the grace to be thankful for God’s servants, deliverance and promises!