Friday, June 28, 2013

Where Are You, God?


Where Are You, God?
Psalm 42:3-11
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.  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. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Read II Samuel 16:15-17:23
The King of Israel, King David, was going through some very troubling times at this point in his life. His family was disintegrating, his kingdom had been disrupted, and he himself was on the run from his own son, Absalom. Adding to his misery, David was continually badgered by those who mockingly asked him, “Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:3,10).

David was informed of the sedition of Ahithophel, the king’s counselor, inciting the people to rebel against his authority as king. David prayed that God would “turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (15:31). God answered that prayer when Hushai, another of David’s counselors, offered himself in service to David. The king sent Hushai back to Jerusalem with instructions to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel but, before this could be done, Hushai had to win the confidence of Absalom. Through carefully chosen words, Hushai saluted Absalom, “God save the king, God save the king” (16:16), and most likely did homage with the customary bow. Absalom, knowing Hushai’s former loyalty to David, caused him to be suspicious and didn’t understand why Husahi would leave David at this critical moment. Hushai’s mission was to contradict the advice of Ahithophel and to communicate Absalom’s plans back to David. 

Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom was to go into his father’s concubines and have sexual relations with them and assert his right to his father’s throne. In the Near East, possession of the harem came with the throne and Ahithophel knew this. The second piece of advice given to Absalom was that he immediately kill David to remove any possibility of David reclaiming the throne. Ahithophel wanted to overtake David while he was weary and exhausted.  The plan, terrify the people who were with David so that they would run away from the king leaving him alone and venerable to physical attack. Absalom and his elders had regressed so far in their rebellion that they saw the death of David as the right or lawful thing to do.

God, in His providential care of David, took control of the situation through the counsel of Hushai giving David time to prepare for war against Absalom. When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not taken, he went home, set his house in order, and in shame and despair, took his own life. Ahithophel, in all probability, assumed that Absalom would not win the battle and would be accused of being disloyal to the king. Ten centuries later another traitor would betray a greater King from the house of David. He, too, would die at his own hands with a rope around his neck.

Thought:  Have you ever asked the question, “Where are you, LORD?” when you were facing unsurmountable problems? Did it seem that during those troublesome times in your life that God was not there? Despite the appearance of what is happening, He is there with you and is at work in your life. Don’t be fooled into thinking that God is not around when the going gets tough, or allow your problems to drive a wedge between you and your God. He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you but to guide, direct, and bring about His purpose in your life (Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13).

Have you committed every trial totally to God and used your circumstances as a springboard for richer fellowship with Him? Every situation has two sides, a dark side and a bright side. Troubles should not drive us away from God but to Him. God is in control of every circumstance–––good or bad! When things around you are overwhelming to you, hear the cries of David in his most troublesome times–––”My tears have been my meat day and night...I pour out my soul in me...Why art though cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?...Why hast thou forgotten me?...Why dost thou cast me off?” (Psalm 42:3,4,5,9; 43:2). David learned it was critical for him to have a deeper trust in his God and at the end of Psalm 42 he wrote, “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance (deliverance), and my God.”

I cannot image what it would be like to have my own son rebel against my God given authority and then plot to take my life. David was experiencing tremendous difficulty during this time of his life and in Psalm 42 he reveals the strength and hope he has not found in his earthly kingdom, but in God and God alone.

Note: Ahithophel was Bethsheba’s grandfather and David’s chief counselor. It is not certain why Ahithophel turned against David but he must have felt shamed and betrayed by David when the king had taken his granddaughter, another man’s wife, and had her husband killed in battle. Revenge may well have been at least part of his motivation for his treason and rebellion against David.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Psalm 139:13-17
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

There are several evidences in the Bible that strongly determine an unborn child is a human life well before birth and that this child is deserving of protection until the time of birth. Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. “There I lay hidden -- covered by thee. Before I could know thee, or aught else, thou hadst a care for me, and didst hide me away as a treasure till thou shouldest see fit to bring me to the light. Thus the Psalmist describes the intimacy which God had with him. In his most secret part -- his reins, and in his most secret condition -- yet unborn, he was under the control and guardianship of God.” Quote by C. H. Spurgeon.

The word cover means to interweave; to weave; to knit together, and the literal translation would be, "Thou hast woven me in my mother's womb", meaning that God has put a baby’s body together, as one who weaves cloth, or who makes a basket. The eyes of the Lord see the unshapely embryo in the womb of the mother and His hands fashions every part. With eternal wisdom, God has formed the intricate workings of a tiny human body according to his divine model and plan. I am fearfully and wonderfully made: is a mystery of God so private to the human eye yet, the womb is where every organ, limb, and biological structure is harmoniously and marvelously created in His sight.

Forty years have passed since the Roe vs. Wade case and abortion was made legal in America. To take the life of an unborn child is unthinkable, especially to those who name the name of Christ. God’s wonderful design for human life is beyond man’s comprehension. An unborn child is fully human at conception, a reward given by God in the womb of a woman. At conception the sperm fertilizes the egg, and a dramatic and instantaneous change occurs–––these two cells form a new cell, a baby. This new cell has a genetic uniqueness, completeness and is a whole person.

Forced Abortion in China

Each year, millions of mothers in China are forced to undergo abortions or sterilizations under the One-Child Policy. For the majority of Chinese people, pregnancy with a second child and any pregnancy without a birth permit is considered "out-of-plan" and therefore illegal. Family Planning Officials, tasked with ensuring "out-of-plan" children are never born, track down pregnant women and forcibly terminate pregnancies. Pregnancy termination methods can be unsafe, often lacking anesthetics and proper sanitation. The consequences can be hemorrhaging, infections, or lifelong injuries such as paralysis—in some cases even death.

Statistics about Forced Abortion and  Female Suicide in China

China is the only country in the world where women commit suicide more than men. In fact, the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center reported in 2009 that the suicide rate for females was three times higher than for males. Suicide is the #1 cause of death among Chinese rural women aged 15-34. In China, 56% of the world’s female suicides occur, but only 20% of the world’s population lives in China. Five hundred women commit suicide in China each day.

Abortion Statistics in China

Chinese data show that 13 million abortions are performed each year, for an average rate of 35,000 abortions per day.  An average of 8 million women undergo abortions every year in China. The abortion rate among women in China is 29.3%, which far exceeds the average level of other developed nations; in the population of 20-29 year-old young women, the abortion rate is 62%. In Shanghai, Beijing and other large cities, the rate of repeat abortion is higher than 50%.

One-Child Policy Punishment in China

Mandatory abortion, which is often referred to as “remedial measures” (bujiu cuoshi) in government reports, is endorsed explicitly as an official policy instrument in the regulations of 18 of China's 31 provincial-level jurisdictions. Severe government fines pose a dilemma between undergoing an unwanted abortion and incurring potentially overwhelming financial costs.

Children may go without household registration (hukou) in China because they are born out of plan and their parents do not pay the necessary fines.  Lack of a valid hukou raises barriers to access to social benefits typically linked to the hukou, including subsidized healthcare and public education. (Statics by www.allgirlsallowed.org/forced-abortion-statistics)

Thought: The Omniscience of God is clearly seen in the Scriptures above and shows we are under the watchful care of a All-Knowing and All-Seeing God. Because we are the work of His hands, there is no doubt He knows us and has formed us in the image He planned. At the moment of conception, we were wondrously wrought in our mother’s womb and miraculously framed to be who we are today. Our God thinks upon us, How precious also are thy thoughts unto me,” and deems all human life to hold tremendous value. The unborn child is made in the image of God and we as Christians must acknowledge and proclaim the sanctity of life.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Troubled Heart



A Troubled Heart
Psalm 38:6-11,17-18,21-22
I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. 

For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

As Christians, we can’t go for very long before we find ourselves with a troubled heart. We are troubled with sin from within and troubled by foes from without. We are on paths that lead us in directions we never wanted to go and we are experiencing difficult circumstances causing anxiety and distress. We are acquainted with burdensome situations and are becoming weary in the journey. 

When we sought comfort we found sorrow and when we expected help we found hindrances and discouragement. When life promised pleasures we found pain, difficulties and a reluctant heart to continue moving forward. We have become weary of ourselves, our sin, and the world around us. With all of this misery, a sense of guilt too heavy to bear penetrates our heart and thoughts of giving in to the trial seems to be an option we consider. 

What do we do and to whom do we turn to find the relief we so disparately need? There is mercy and grace for us in our pain and despair knowing our Lord experienced such sorrow of heart   certainly gives us hope in our darkest hour. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” He suffered such agony while praying to the Father, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” We will never know the torment and suffering Christ experienced the night before His crucifixion, but we will in our own lifetime, face painful trials and agonizing temptations. 

Is it possible to be free from worry and to live a life that knows no fear? The answer–––it’s a matter of the heart. We can go to the Lord with our needs, our suffering and our fears. We’re not talking to a high priest who doesn't know how we feel but to the One who being fully God, yet fully human, has been touched with the feelings of our weaknesses and our infirmities. In the midst of a troubled heart, one can become completely overwhelmed and feel utterly devastated, but if our heart is focused on Him and not the things of this world, the promises of God are already guaranteed and secure. May we fasten our hearts on heavenly things, letting go of earthly  distractions and remember what Jesus said to His disciples, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:1-3).

Thought: In this light momentary trouble, He is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison; and the sufferings we are enduring at this present time are not equal with the glory that is to be revealed in heaven. (The word weight figuratively speaking means; a load, or  abundance). Our eternal weight of glory is our eternal abundance of glory promised to us for all eternity. Why are we worried, why do we fret and have a troubled heart? We need to fix our hearts and minds on Him, the author and finisher of our faith, who is preparing for us a home of abundant glory and in this we can be secure.

 (Read 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18; and 1 Pet. 1:6; 5:10). 

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3:2




Friday, June 7, 2013

What Kind of a Christian Are You?


What Kind of a Christian Are You? 

John 13:31-35
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


Are you everything you promised God you'd be when your life in Christ first began? Are there visible, distinguishing attributes that show you are deeply committed as a Christian? Jesus gives what should be the marks of a true disciple and these virtues should characterize all of us that name the name of Christ.

There are some distinctive traits of a committed Christian: an unwavering focus on the glory of Christ; an unconditional love for other believers; and a loyal commitment to the Lord. The very purpose for which you and I exist is to glorify God–––for He is worthy of all glory and honor. He came and lived on this earth in preparation of His death so that in the end, He would be glorified. “Now is the Son of man glorified.” Christ dying on the cross paid the price for our sins and that brings glory to His name. The very act of Jesus dying on the cross deserves glory because of His power to crush the chains of sin and death. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). God promised the world a Savior, and He did just that for sinful man.

The committed Christian is consumed with glorifying the Lord and the message of his life is in the glory of the cross, and in His love for mankind. But, the most significant aspect for living out your Christian life is to love other believers, a distinctive mark of a true disciple. What kind of love is this? “That ye love one another; as I have loved you,” kind of love.  A forgiving, sacrificial kind of love that needs to exists in the body of Christ. 

There are divisions, gossip and backbiting in the church of the living God today.  How can this be?  Jesus said; "By this shall all men know that you're My disciples." By what? By the love you show towards one another, will men know you are a Christian. Does the world look at us and say, “They are of God because they love so deeply,” or do they say, “They are not of God because they have no love for one another?” Two visible ways to prove your love is to say, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you,” even if someone has never asked for forgiveness. A forgiving spirit shows an attitude of love like no other and in reality, shocks the world through the power of such great love.


O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the 
     throne!                     
                                                     Words  by Samuel Trevor Francis

Others
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
 That I may live like Thee.              
                                        Words by Charles D. Meigs

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
   O Love that wilt not let me go,
  I rest my weary soul in thee;
 I give thee back the life I owe,
       That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
                                       Words by George Matheson


Thoughts: Giving your life for others shows the love of God dwelling within causing others to see Christ in you. A true disciple of Christ will glorify the Lord, love others and stay committed to the end. What kind of Christian are you?