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.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Adoption

                            Adoption
 
                                        Romans 8:15
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father!'"

When walking through the doors of a pregnancy help center, women are faced with three parenting options: to parent, to abort or adoption. Some have made up their minds before they enter the doors what the outcome of their pregnancy will be and others are looking for answers, strength to survive or a glimpse of hope. Most women, when presented with the alternative choice of adoption, make the statement, “I could never give my baby away.” They do not realize that adoption is a loving response and a positive parenting option.

Birthparents and/or birthmothers need to understand that after making their decision for adoption, they are fulfilling their parenting responsibilities by making sure their child’s needs are met before their own. This is not an uncaring mother or one who will forget about their baby, shirking their responsibility, but a compassionate decision that a mature and selfless person makes. Adoption can be a loving alternative for parents who may, for various reasons, be unable to care for their own children.

There are only three adoptions mentioned in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, I Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son or child in Old Testament Scripture (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9) but not until the New Testament, do we see the word adoption written. The foundation for adoption is not based on earthly parents adopting humans but on God adopting mankind through the heart of the Gospel.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ” (John 1:12-13). Once we believe and trust in Christ by faith we become part of the family of God.

Lord, I’m thankful I’ve been adopted into Your family.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

                                  Matthew 18:21-22
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

What can we do to strengthen our homes?  Does the Bible have an answer for us? Keep in mind what God calls us to do, He enables and equips us to achieve. What is most important in our families that causes relationships to be sustained for the long haul? The answer, FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is an undeserved and an unearned love that affirms to an offender that there is no anger, no hatred, no desire for vengeance, no retaliation necessary. The guilt has been removed and the blame is gone. This is the exact compassion that God demonstrates towards sinners. He grants to us a promise of unconditional love through His precious Gospel. Our reproach and humiliation have been removed and God’s attitude towards those who have put their faith in Him is His unfathomable favor. This is what makes a lasting relationship, when there are no resentments and no unresolved grievances we harbor.

In Colossians 3:13, Paul says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Unforgiveness, imprisons and keeps people chained to their past. As long as they are unwilling to forgive offenders and their offenses, they are shackled to them, keeping their pain alive like an open sore. Christ is our model of forgiveness and has pardoned all our sins––the most important truth in Scripture (Colossians 2:13). He has cancelled out our sin debt against a holy God and redeemed us (fulfilled the necessary payment for sin) with His own blood (Colossians 1:14). How can we, who have been forgiven so much, not forgive someone? To make our homes strong, we need to release others through a heart of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).

Lord, build my home.  Amen!