Friday, January 27, 2012

The Way of the Eagle

I Bore You On Eagles’ Wings
Exodus 19:1-6
In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Introduction: Moses will soon be given the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai for the people of Israel. The purpose for the Law being given was for them to have a proper pattern of living as a theocratic people. (Theocratic meaning: God Rules.) The giving of the Law made the people of Israel distinct from all other nations because no other nation had their own laws governing them ultimately by God. The Ten Commandments would teach the people of Israel to worship God properly and be a safe guard for their daily lives. 
The Way of the Eagle
In Exodus 19:4,5, the Lord uses the eagle as a symbolic metaphor showing His loving care for Israel. As a young eaglet, with little strength, is taught to fly, they begin their flight from the nest by falling. The mother eagle will stop the fall of the young bird by spreading her wings so the eaglet will land on them and then carry them back to safety. The Lord has carried Israel out of the bondage and despair of Egypt–– training them to fly on His wings of love and omnipotence, an unlimited power. 
As God led the Israelites out of bondage, He fed them manna, bread from Heaven. Everyday God provided fresh food for them to eat and be nourished from. Eagles never eat dead things as vultures do but eat only things that are living. God has given to us the “Living Word of God” to feast upon and to grow from. We are to eat the fresh bread of Heaven everyday which will sustain us and  keep us strong in the Lord.
The Lord led the children of Israel through their wilderness journeys with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. His steadfast love and watchful eye guided them through the many long years of conflict and struggle they would endure. For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings (Proverbs 5:21). Eagles have strong vision and the ability to identify their prey from afar. The goal of the mother eagle is to keep a watchful eye over the nest providing a safe haven from predators that would destroy the nest and kill the little ones inside. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. (Psalms 34:15).  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil (I Peter 3:12).
Thought: As we are led through life’s journeys, by the precious hand of God, may we mount up with wings like eagles, to run and not get tired and walk and not become weary. Eagles love storms for they will use the fierceness of the wind to fly above the storm. The eagle has a God given ability to lock their wings during the strongest winds, which enables them to soar higher in the midst of a storm. Who gives us the ability to withstand the storms in our life and soar above the strong winds and tempest below? Our God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, comfort, and empower us to lock our minds on the things above ascending beyond the raging storm beneath. Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
Allow the Lord to, “bare you on eagles' wings,” demonstrating His matchless love, tender mercies and mighty power to care for you, the one He calls His own.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where Is Thy God?
Psalms 42:3,10
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? (Read II Samuel 13-18).
David was going through some of the darkest days of his life. The family he loved and cared for was disintegrating, his kingdom broken by betrayal and he himself was on the run. David was escaping from the act of vengeance Absalom was taking upon him––after the rape of his sister, Tamar. Adding to his misery, David was continually badgered by those who mockingly asked, “Where is thy God?” David’s counselor, Ahithophel, was planning to rebel against the king. David prayed that God would “turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (II Samuel 15:31).
Ahithophel was asked to recommend the first steps to be taken to secure control of the kingdom. Absalom was told to pitch a tent on the roof of the palace and publicly be seen having sexual relations with David’s concubines. By committing open immorality, Absalom would accomplish two things. He would cause a permanent division between David and himself and Absalom’s comrades and followers would be fortified, realizing there would be no turning back (II Samuel 16:22).
Ahithopel approached his master, Absalom, with another recommendation. He wanted the freedom to select twelve thousand men who would pursue and kill David that very night (II Samuel 17:1). This quick thinking action was important to catch David while he was “weary and weak” (II Samuel 17:2). David was emotionally and physically strained. Some might call it,  “letting down your guard.”  Absalom and the leaders of Israel had become so corrupt they saw the death of David as the right or lawful thing to do.
David was given the opportunity to gather strength and reorganize his men making the defeat of Absalom inevitable. Unwilling to face the consequences of his actions, Ahithopel in shame and despair, took his own life by hanging. And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father (II Samuel 17:23). A greater King, from the house of David, would be betrayed by a traitor ten centuries later. This traitor would die at his own hands with a rope around his neck .Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,  Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.  And he 
cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself (Matthew: 27:3-5).
David gives orders that they are to save the life of his son but Absalom is killed while hanging by his head in a great oak tree. The news of the victory is given to David along with the message of the death of his son. David is deeply moved and in great sorrow withdraws himself entering the chamber over the gate. King David is overwhelmed with grief and laments the death of his son crying out, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (II Samuel 18:33b). Even though Absalom had caused a considerable amount of pain and despair in David’s life, David becomes preoccupied with the loss of his son. David showed weakness as a father in dealing with the sins of his family which gives us a sense of warning about the distressing and debilitating results of sin.
Thought: God is in control of every circumstance––good or bad! Do not think that God is not around when the going gets tough. God is always at work despite the outward appearance of the situation. Things looked hard for David and you can feel his pain as you listen to his cries, Psalms 42:3 and 43:2 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. David, despite his circumstances and suffering, learned to have a deeper trust in God. Circumstances should not drive you away from God but to Him. David’s problems did not drive a wedge between him and his God but they became a means for a deeper and richer fellowship with God. That may not always be an easy thing to do, but the benefits are eternal.
“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of this life flashed before him, he look back at the footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life. This really bothered him, and he questioned the Lord about it, ‘Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You most, You would leave me.’
The Lord replied,’My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’”
~Anonymous Author
Know this, your God is always there for you, you are never alone.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When God Says, “No!”
II Samuel 7:1-5
And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;  That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.  And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,  Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? (Read II Samuel 7:1-29)
Up to this time, David’s life has been filled with war, bloodshed and trouble. David is now resting from his enemies and a thought comes to mind, a desire to build a special dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant. The prophet Nathan is introduced for the first time in Scripture and will later record many of the events surrounding David’s life as you will see in 1 Chronicles 29:29; Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer. Nathan is God’s spokesman for the kingdom and David decides to bring to him this desire and Nathan encourages David by saying, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. 
We must remember that Nathan is human––like the rest of us and the proposal David gave him sounded great. Nathan would have a new “church” in which to preach and worship the Lord in so he responded quickly. How did Nathan know God would want a building? Had Nathan talked to God about it? Maybe he reasoned as many of us do. “If it’s in the name of God, it must be okay.” That night as Nathan lay down to sleep, the LORD spoke to him and Nathan realized that he had spoken too soon. Now he would have to go to David and admit that he had been wrong. 
God had said, “No” to David’s desire of building a permanent dwelling place for the ark but He never condemned it.  Instead, David was commended in II Chronicles 6:8, But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart. David could have felt empty or even angry that God had turned him down but he didn’t and the Lord knew that. So, God decided to give King David a reminder from the past and a glimpse of the future.
Five promises were made to David and Israel from the Lord. The first promise given to David was He would be given “a great name.” II Samuel 7:9 says, And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. A past promise from Genesis 12:2 reads, And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
The second promise was that God would appoint a place for Israel. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; (II Samuel 7:10a). Promise three, God gave David “rest” from all his enemies; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, (II Samuel 7:10b). The fourth promise God gave was that the Lord would build a “house” i. e., a temple. Even though David’s desire was to build it for God, God would build for him a dynasty.
Last but not least, according to Scripture, it was the coming Messiah who would establish David’s kingdom forever. II Samuel 7:16, And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.  Isaiah 9:6-7, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Thought: Though God had said, “No” to David’s dream of building the temple, He did give to David many blessings. David’s submission to the ways of God exhibits for us the attitude we must have when God says,”No” to us. David prayed with awe and thanksgiving over God’s divine blessing on his seed and nation knowing God would keep His promises and do as He had said (1 Chronicles 17:16-27). We as children of God do not have the same promises as David did but God has promised that when we hurt, He will be there, when we cry out, He will hear our voice and when we believe and call upon His name, we will be saved. What has happened in your life? Has God told you “No?” Are you bitter or are you better because of His sovereign work in your life? I pray you will allow the Maker of this universe to do His work in your life even when He says “No” to the most important and significant treasures you hold so dear. (Romans 8:28).
Psalm 116
I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:  I said in my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
Oh, how this devotion has ministered to my own heart.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Hallowed Be Thy Name
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Matthew 6:9b
If there is anything that we need to learn from the Lord’s Prayer, it is that prayer is God-centered and we should pray so that God’s name will be magnified and recognized as holy and sacred. Prayer is more than the privilege of coming to Him but it is a vehicle God uses to demonstrate who He is. Prayer is recognizing God’s majesty, glory and power and our submission to it.
The name of a person is very important because the name bears the character of that person. Therefore, the name of Jesus is and will be above every name.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippinas 2:9-11). In Scripture, the name stood for the whole character of the person. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee (Psalm 9:10).
Some of the names of Jesus in Scripture are found in the Gospel of John. John 6:35, And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 8:12, 9:5,  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 10:9, I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. John 10:11,  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 11:25, Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 14:6, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 15:1, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
To hallow something is to set it apart as special, to dedicate it, to consecrate it to God for His special use. Abraham Lincoln used the word hallow in his famous Gettysburg Address.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract......”
So how do we hallow His name? How do we really reverence God?  We can hallow His name when we believe He exists. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). God is accused of being unloving at times or harsh, or unforgiving. When you think wrong thoughts like that about God, you don’t understand who He really is, and you have not hallowed His name.
When we are constantly aware of His presence and live everyday of our lives giving place to Him, we hallow God’s name. In Psalm 16:8, what does David say he does? I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. We hallow the name  of the Lord when we live a life of obedience to Him. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Thought:  To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever should be our constant delight. While it is serious business to glorify God, it should not be a drudgery. It does cost something to be identified with the name of Jesus Christ, but when you consider all the benefits and that you will spend eternity with Him, the price is worth the blessing. May you hallow His name always, for He truly is worthy.