Friday, February 22, 2013

"God Will Take Care of You"

“God Will Take Care of You”

Psalm 103:1-14
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;  Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.  The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.  He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 

~ Dedication ~
I would like to dedicate this Psalm to those whom I know are hurting and in need of God’s special care. 

The Lord is ever mindful of your cries, your grief and your need for His loving hand to guide, to comfort and ease your pain. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end and His compassions (to suffer with or with suffering) never fail.

David, the author of this beautiful Psalm, writes with immense sensitivity revealing a heart truly blessed of God. The realization that all his sins are forgiven brings David to a new height of worship and shows him as a man that is in tuned with a Holy God. With all the emotion that God has given him, David expresses praise, blessing and honor due His holy name. The phrase “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name,” invites a chorus of praise and blessing; bringing to light a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.

How do I bless the Lord with all that is within me when I hurt and am afraid?

Let your affections and love praise Him, by loving whatsoever He loves and seeking only His glory. Let every thought bless Him, by meditating on His excellent greatness and counting every benefit He alone provides. Give Him the highest praise declaring His goodness in every gracious deed done towards mankind. For in Him, what infinite enjoyments we share, as we live, move, and have our being. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ~ For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What are the benefits from God?  Is Suffering part of His benefits?

The earthly benefits from God include: the forgiveness of all sin, the healing of sickness, the deliverance from death, His lovingkindness and tender mercies, and sustenance to sustain life.  According to God’s amazing character and desired purpose for our lives, the healing of disease is not a promise from God, but rather a testimony of His nature and power to heal. Great is His faithfulness towards us which encompasses His grace, His mercy, His love, His goodness, His truth, His compassion. and His forgiveness of sin. God will fulfill every promise He has given to us for He is honorable and true to His Word. 

J. C. Penney, one of America’s greatest retail merchants, suffered from anxiety and insomnia after the 1929 Great Depression which threw him into an overwhelming crisis. He developed a painful case of shingles and was hospitalized making his mental state deteriorate even more. He later was noted as saying, “I was broken nervously and physically, filled with despair, unable to see even a ray of hope. I had nothing to live for. I felt I hadn’t a friend left in the world, that even my family turned against me.” One morning while still in the hospital, he heard singing coming from the little hospital chapel. “Be not dismayed whate’er betide / God will take are of you.”As he entered the chapel he listened to the words of the song, the reading of Scripture and the prayer. Suddenly, all worry left him as he realized how much the Lord Jesus Christ cared for him. He said, “I felt as if I had been lifted out of the darkness of a dungeon into brilliant sunlight.”

Thought:  Friend, you may be going through a time of pain and sorrow right now and if you are, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to His wonderful ways and give you understanding of His precious path. Seek His truths and ask Him to show you what you cannot see or any sin that may hinder the way. Remind yourself of His great benefits, His redeeming love, His tender mercies and limitless forgiveness of sin. Realize He remembers your frame; He knows you are but dust and loves you with an everlasting, unwavering love. 

Psalms 139:17-18  ~  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
What a wonderful word picture the Lord gives to us. Visualize all the sand from every beach in the world, all the sand from each sand dune, and every single rock and piece of dirt from every desert land––those are God’s thoughts towards each of His children, plus many more. God has infinitely more caring thoughts about us than there are granules of sand or seconds in our life time. 

What a benefit!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Is He Your Friend?

Is He Your Friend?
John 15:12-15
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection is known as–––a friend. I have had many acquaintances in my life time, but only a few genuine friends. If you have a true friend, you are considered most fortunate indeed. Loving a friend is the sacrificial giving of ones self for the benefit of that friend without thought of self in return. Christians are called to exemplify sacrificial giving toward one another, even if such sacrifice involves the laying down of one’s own life, as Christ laid down His life for His friends. 

I have never had a President of the United States as a personal friend nor have I had the privilege of having any Governor, Congressmen or Senator as a colleague. No diplomat or ambassador  has ever called me friend nor even a CEO of some large corporation. I don’t know any movie stars or any people of renown prestige but, I have met and possess as my friend, the Creator of the universe. This Friend of mine measures the water of the world in the palm of His hand and sovereignly rules all creation. 

Isaiah 40:12 ~ Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

My Friend spoke life and substance into existence and continues to sustain all that He has created. His title is beyond any title ever given in the aforementioned dignitaries and His love and friendship exceeds any friendship ever known to man. Oh, what a Friend I have in Jesus!  

Isaiah 48:13 ~ Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. 

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
by Joseph Scriven

What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptation? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrow share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.

It was said that Joseph Scriven wrote this hymn for his dear mother, to comfort her in a time of deep sorrow. He had not intended that anyone else should ever read it and later replied when asked if he had composed the hymn; “The Lord and I did it between us.” Great tragedy touched the life of Joseph Scriven when his lovely fiancee was pulled from the lake the day before their wedding in Dublin, Ireland. The second traumatic heart-ache occurred when his bride-to-be, Eliza Catherine Roche, contracted tuberculosis and died in 1860 before they could wed in America. He found Jesus to be the Friend most needed when agonizing troubles find their way in ones life and overwhelming sorrows fill the soul.

Thought: Is Christ your Friend? Have you received His forgiveness and called upon Him by faith to be your Savior? No greater friend could you possess than a Friend who is willing to lay down His life for you. The perfect sacrifice was given by the perfect Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not His friend today, I trust you will put your faith and trust in Him who is a Friend for sinners and Lover of your soul.

Our Great Savior

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

J. Wilbur Chapman

Friday, February 8, 2013

So, Is There Fruit?

So, Is There Fruit?
John 15:1-6
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.   I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Have you ever looked at something and thought it was something else? Sometimes you think you see one thing and then you realize, you have been looking at it all wrong. I just came back from the rock chip repair place and am laughing because I thought I had a chip in my windshield. I found out it was not a chip at all but something had stuck to the inside of of my windshield. I am sure the man in charge of the store thought I was looney-tunes and probably called someone to tell them, “A lady came in the store today and asked if I could check her windshield for a chip. I felt the outside of the window... nothing, then I opened the front passenger side of the car and there it was...something stuck on the inside of the windshield.” It looked exactly like a chip but it wasn’t.  Just a little embarrassing, wouldn’t you say?

How many times have we read the same passage in the Bible and saw what we’ve always seen and then one day, the Lord opens our eyes and the Word of God comes alive with clarity and new insight? I can’t begin to tell you how many times this has happened in my life. I am truly thankful the Bible is the living Word of God and when God opens the mind and heart of a believer, it is a most exciting experience. 

In John chapter fifteen, Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated the Passover. The disciple Judas has left the group to set up the betrayal of Christ. Jesus and the eleven remaining disciples left Jerusalem, and went down into the Kidron Valley and up the slope of the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus picked up a vine cutting and turned to His disciples. "You know how Israel is pictured as a vine which is to produce refreshing fruit. Well, Israel failed. I am the authentic Vine. I am the true and genuine Vine as opposed to a mere copy or symbol. I am the fulfillment of all that this symbol suggests. I am the True Vine.’’

In the Old Testament, the vine is commonly used as a symbol for Israel but in the New Testament, the Vine or the “True Vine” is specifically identified as Jesus Himself and the Father as the “vinedresser” or “husbandman,” the caretaker of the vine. In this metaphor of the vine and the branches, there are two types of branches: 1. (branches that bear fruit) and 2. (branches that do not bear fruit). With this vine, Jesus illustrates the most fundamental and basic secret of the Christian life. "You in Me, and I in you." John 15:1–2 ~ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

A vinedresser has two responsibilities toward a vine. 1.) Cut off the branches that are dead. 2.) Prune the suckers off the branches that are fruit bearing. The husbandman doesn’t want a fruitless branch, a dead branch, sucking off any energy when it can't produce fruit nor does he want suckers shooting off of good branches and sapping the strength that could be producing the fruit. The vinedresser has the responsibility of cutting off the branches that are fruitless and pruning the ones that are fruit-bearing.

The branches that bear fruit are easily perceived as genuine believers. All true believers bear fruit of some kind. It may be minute in size or quantity but nonetheless, all believers bear some kind of fruit in their life time. Christians are defined in these terms: Little fruit, more fruit, much fruit, but not no fruit. The branches that bear no fruit are those who profess to believe, but their lack of fruit indicates that true salvation has never taken place. (The same analogy is in Matthew 13:24-30 with the wheat and the tares and explained in Matthew 13:36-42). 

The picture of the Vinedresser getting rid of the dead wood is necessary so that the living, fruit bearing branches, may be clearly distinguished. This is not a picture of a true Christian loosing their salvation but a clear representation of a person who has made a profession. They have the appearance of branches, (profession but not possession), but are not apart of the true Vine. They have never genuinely believed and will be taken away in judgment and cast into the fire. Fruit is the outstanding evidence of life. When God prunes a true believer, He removes all things in the believer’s life that would hinder fruit-bearing. God chastens to cut away sin that would hinder and drain the spiritual life of a believer just as a farmer removes anything on the branches that keeps the branch from bearing the greatest amount of fruit. In a true believer’s life, the actual pruning is done by the Word of God. 

Could there be a good tree with no good fruit? No, it wouldn't be a good tree. Would every Christian have good fruit? Yes, that's what the Bible is saying. You can tell a true believer because he will have good fruit. Every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree can't bring forth bad fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. The true Christian cannot continually bear evil fruit. There must be the good fruit that comes from the life of God in him. Matthew 7:17-19 ~ Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 

Thought: Are you a fruit bearing Christian or are you one who is bearing no fruit at all? Are you playing church, professing to be a Christian, but have never possessed the good seed of the Gospel? Beware my friend–––professing is a claim or a pretense to attempt to make something that is not the case appear true. Possession is belonging to, being completely under the influence of, and being controlled by and empowered through the Holy Spirit of God. Are you professing or possessing Christ?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our Substitute

Our Substitute
Isaiah 53:1-5
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

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’s prophecy of 66 chapters is divided the same way the Bible is divided. The Bible has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. Isaiah has 39 chapters in the first half, which speaks of the coming judgment and captivity and in the last 27 chapters, the theme is of grace and salvation. Isaiah is prophecy. It is a look into the future 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 that which 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 Him 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. He didn’t die for His own iniquities. He didn’t die for His own transgressions. He didn’t die because He was a blasphemer like they thought He was. He didn’t die because God killed Him for claiming deity. It was our griefs He bore. It was our sorrows He carried. He was pierced, crushed, chastened, scourged for us. He took our place, died in our stead, gave His life for us. He was our substitution for sin. Jesus is the scapegoat.  He takes our sin and its full punishment, pays for it in full. One day when we enter into heaven, there will be no more sin and no more effects. He took away from us all that belonged to us, all that we should have felt by way of judgment, pain, devastation, even eternal punishment and put it on Himself.

No condemnation now I dread; 
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him my living Head, 
 And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approached the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Charles Wesley wrote the song, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” after coming to Christ. On Sunday, May 21, 1738 Charles wrote, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.” The Wesley brothers didn’t come to know Christ until after they had failed as missionaries in the new colony of Georgia in America. Charles Wesley’s song is a vivd testimony of Isaiah 53:4, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

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?

Thought: We as Christians are so deeply moved by the amazing realities of Isaiah 53. The details known and 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 than Christ. We pray that today would be the day of salvation for you dear friend, who, in asking for the forgiveness of sin, that only comes through Christ, will know you have eternal life which is promised to all who believe. 

We pray the Lord will help us to understand the urgency of the times in which we live, the urgency of evangelism in bringing the gospel to people who need so much to hear this and how will they hear if there’s no one to preach? We need to proclaim this glorious gospel and tell sinners that this is the acceptable time. This is the hour of grace. Nothing matters more than proclaiming that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (Him) (John 14:6.)

Romans 10:14,15 ~ How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!