Friday, October 28, 2016

Dwelling in Fear?

                    Dwelling in Fear?

                                        Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 

In light of Isaiah 41:10, Israel did not need to fear God’s judgment upon them but rather to trust in their God. For the LORD is trustworthy and His promises to restore the nation of Israel once again are true.

“My righteous right hand” refers to what is just and right and a place of honor and authority. God’s hand is faithful, one can rely on it and know that there’s security in times of trouble. Living life in fear is a hard place to be. The feelings of fear are intense whether they are real or assumed to be true. Both types of fear will have an affect on a person’s emotional, physical, and/or spiritual well being.

Fear triggers the release of adrenaline in the body which propels us to action. We’re faced with making a choice to stand up and fight, freeze, or to run away. Though some fear is good and needed especially when a bear is loose in your neighborhood and you’re instructed to stay inside until the animal is caught. Or, like an old recording of past emotions playing in your mind and wreaking all kinds of havoc. That kind of fear captures the imagination caused by a lack of faith (Mark 4:40) and is not from God (II Timothy 1:7). 

Psalm 56:3,11 says, "
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." This is an awesome testimony that the psalmist gives revealing the power in trusting God. The way to overcome fear is to put your total and complete trust in Him, even in the most difficult situations. In the darkest time of his life, Job wrote, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him . . .” (Job 13:15).

Lord, I will trust in You.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What Does It Mean to Blaspheme?

   What Does It Mean to Blaspheme?

Definition: According to Black's Law Dictionary, blasphemy is “the written or oral reproach of God, His name, attributes, or religion.”

To blaspheme was a serious offense or crime according to the law God gave to Moses. The Israelite people were to worship God, obey Him and revere His Holy name (Leviticus 24:10-16). The name of God was not just a convenient label for mankind to use, but a symbolic representation of His divine character.

Jesus spoke of a type of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which was committed by the religious leaders of His day. The situation, the Pharisees were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles, but they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the presence of a demon (Mark 3:22-30). This was deliberate, insulting and a scornful rejection of the Holy Spirit of God. Blasphemy of this sort was unforgivable (Matthew 12:22–32).

The Pharisees, living in a unique time of history, had the Law and the Prophets, and the Holy Spirit of God to stir their hearts. They experienced the Son of God Himself before them and they watched with their own eyes the miracles He performed. There had never been anything like this in the history of the world and never has been since that time where such divine light had been granted to men. Even though they knew the truth, they denied the validity of Christ and He declared their willful defiance to be unpardonable. This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be their final rejection and they would be guilty of an eternal sin never to be forgiven.

We can blaspheme the Holy Spirit today, but not in the same way. Jesus Christ is not on the earth but is in Heaven and seated at the right hand of God. No one can witness Jesus (in His flesh) performing miracles and attribute that power to Satan instead of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin today is to live and die in unbelief.

Lord, forgive me for any reproach I have brought upon Your name.

Friday, October 14, 2016

In the Pit

                            In the Pit
                                       Psalm 40:1-3

Being in the pit is a place we have all been and even as God’s children will experience for some unknown period of time. Pits happen and they happen to everyone. There is no escaping the pit which approaches all of us. They come in all different shapes and sizes sometimes startling us with shocking news or at times, a rude awakening. I know, I am a survivor of multiple pits.

My pit began as a young girl being abused and feeling the guilt that never subsides. The pit of alcoholism dominating my home and then undergoing the imprisonment of a sibling. The heartache of young love mistreated, spousal assault and devastating divorce. Somehow the pits became more challenging with each difficult and perplexing situation, but still they came.

It didn’t matter whether I was a Christian or not. The pit was
incomprehensible and demanding my attention. Ministry has it’s own pits for sure but, trying to help others figure out their complex troubles while managing your own pit is exhausting. When the love of your life is diagnosed with cancer and you’re faced with death, the feeling of despair sweeps over you and engulfs your very soul. While suffering with terrible bouts of worry and anxiety, crippling fear continues to flood your mind.

Pits are deep, dark, confining, lonely, and down-right scary places with no known escape hatch. The Bible calls them trials, testings, tribulations and with them comes the feeling that there’s no way out. Psalm 121:1 says, “I will lift up mine eyes. . . My help cometh from the LORD . . .” The only way out of the pit is to look up, cry out and wait on God. You’re not alone in the pit. He promises He will never leave you or forsake you and gives you the confidence to know, He’s your helper in time of need (Hebrews 13:5b, 6). I have learned that I cannot only survive the pits, but I can thrive in the midst of them.

Lord, thank You for the invaluable lessons learned,  from the pit.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Woman's Response to Submission

  A Woman’s Response to Submission
                                  Ephesians 5:21-23
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . .

The responsibility of all believers is to submit to one another. When we submit mutually to each other, we approach all of our relationships with humility, unselfishness, self-denial, and a desire to meet the needs of the other person. It is commanded that every Christian wife is to be in subjection to her own husband. This does not mean every woman is to be submissive to every man, but that submission is an attitude which shows a loving act of obedience and a willing spirit to submit to her husband. Submission is not the husband’s to command but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer to her husband as unto the Lord–––who has given this command regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition.

Do you have a husband who’s life-style is a trial to you, either because he's unsaved or he's a disobedient believer? Has your husband failed to fulfill all of your hopes and the expectations you desired in a husband? Are you struggling with his authority over you? Dear wife, all the more reason to be submissive, to demonstrate to him a respectful kind of behavior. Adorn your heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God and every husband’s dream (1 Peter 3:1-4). 

When a wife does not submit, there is deviation from the design of God causing the relationship between the husband and wife to be dysfunctional. God has designed the body to respond to the head and has designed the husband to be the head of the wife. (We are not speaking about abuse, it is another matter.) Responding to your husband as if you were responding to Christ is submission.

Lord, without reluctance, I submit as unto You.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Perspective in Pain

                   Perspective in Pain

                                   Psalm 55:4a
                      My heart is sore pained within me:

The story behind David’s heartache is found in I Samuel 13-18. Absalom, King David’s son, was overwhelmed by the pain and sorrow his half-brother, Amnon caused, when he took advantage of his sister, Tamar. In Absalom’s bitterness and grief, he plotted to kill Amnon. The sinful actions of Absalom continued to escalate into greater realms of bold defiance and revenge against his father––leading to his untimely death.

Though Ahithophel and Absalom appeared to have the upper hand in making David’s life hard, God is still in control. Things looked difficult for David, but through this troublesome time he learned to have a deeper trust in God. Trials and suffering should not drive us from God but to Him and His Word. The most valuable way we profit from adversity is in the deepening of our relationship with God. Through trouble we learn to trust in His ways, and to acquaint ourselves with the comfort of His love. David committed the matter totally to God and used his circumstances as a springboard for richer fellowship with God. That may not always be easy to do, but the benefits are eternal!

David expresses the anguish he felt in the disloyalty of a friend as he pours out his heart to the Lord. “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:  But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company” (Psalm 55:12-14). Though David is in deep despair, he communicates his confidence by saying, “cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee. David’s heart was expressing that the Lord would uphold him in all the struggles of life including great loss through betrayal.

Lord, You are my Burden Bearer, “I will trust in You” (Psalm 55:23b).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Our Substitute

                          Our Substitute

                                           Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The name Isaiah means: Salvation of the Lord. Isaiah 53 is prophecy, a vision given to Isaiah 700 years before Jesus came. There have been many visions in the Bible, but none surpass the vision God gave Isaiah depicting the cross and all that would follow.

He left His Father’s throne above, So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race.‘Tis mercy all, immense and free!  For, O my God it found out me!

The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a blasphemer claiming to be equal with God and that God killed Him for His blasphemies. Surely, He didn’t die for His own sin, for His own iniquities, or His own transgressions? It was our griefs, our sorrows, that He suffered and died for. He took our place and is our substitution for sin.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray–– I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Amazing love, How can it be That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

     “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?”  by Charles Wesley

We as Christians are so deeply moved by the amazing realities of this prophecy. The details revealed hundreds of years before they came to pass point to Christ and no other. We know that there is salvation in no other name but Jesus (Philippians 2:9-10). One day when we enter into eternity, there will be no more sin, for He took away the sin that belonged to us and put it on Himself.

Lord, thank You for such amazing love, that You died for me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Consequences of Lying and Deception

     Consequences of Lying and Deception

                           Genesis 27 ~ The Beginning

Jacob’s deception and lying caused sever consequences in his life, something he would live with until his death. After Jacob deceived his aging father, he fled from the presence of his brother Esau, in fear of his life. Rebekah accepted responsibility for her wrong actions regarding Esau  and Isaac sent Jacob away to Laban’s home, Rebekah’s brother, Jacob would suffer consequences from his deception, being he would never see his mother again before her death.

Laban had two daughters; the name of the older daughter was Leah and the younger, Rachel. Jacob’s heart was definitely bent towards Rachel and he was willing to work seven years to provide a dowry to make her his wife. Unfortunately, Jacob, the deceiver, was about to be deceived himself. Local customs of the land required that the older daughter be married first and that meant Leah before Rachel. Fourteen years Jacob worked for Laban and ended up with two wives that would become jealous in childbearing competition causing tremendous sorrow.

Years later, Jacob would be deceived by his own sons when they made plans to murder their brother Joseph. They tried to cover-up their hate and envy by selling him to merchants passing by and telling their father that Joseph was dead, killed by a wild animal. The pain and heartache  that accompanied Jacob was overwhelming but God, in His divine plan, made Joseph second in command in Egypt. During this time, there was a great famine in the land of Israel, and Jacob’s sons journeyed to Egypt to buy food. They were shocked and fearful when they saw Joseph, their brother, whom they had sold into slavery, alive and in charge of the distribution of food. The sons of Jacob would have to tell their father that Joseph was alive and confess the sin they committed against him so many years ago.

What unnecessary suffering they caused their father in their lying scheme and what unnecessary grief and sorrow we cause our Father when we pursue to deceive.

Lord, forgive my deceitful, untruthful ways.