Our Selfless Savior (Part 5) [REPOST]

~This is the fifth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with several thought-provoking questions:

Am I teaching others God’s Word?

Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?

Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?

Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Jesus knew Judas was betraying Him. He didn’t cast aspersions on Judas nor rail against him. Scripture says that Jesus washed his feet too. It would seem He gave Judas every chance to repent.

Am I doing that when others disappoint me? Or am I willing to forgive and “wash their feet” as Jesus did Judas’ feet?

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

—John 13:21-30

It is my understanding that at a Jewish Passover a morsel was given to an honored guest, but to be certain I looked for verification. Below is an excerpt from a study I found on the internet written by Keith Krell:

In [John] 13:26, we have one of the most beautiful verses in the New Testament. John writes, “Jesus then answered, ‘That [the one who will betray Me] is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

In the culture of Jesus’ time, to take a morsel from the table, dip it in the common dish, and offer it to someone else was a gesture of special friendship.Interestingly, Judas must have sat near enough to Jesus for Jesus to do this conveniently (cf. Matt 26:25). Possibly, Judas reclined to Jesus’ immediate left. If he did, this would have put him in the place of the honored guest immediately to the host’s left.

Regardless, the morsel Jesus prepares for Judas was a piece of the Passover lamb wrapped in flour and rolled together. It would be dipped in sauce made of bitter herbs and eaten. Why did Jesus prepare a morsel and offer it to Judas?

In the greatest act of grace ever recorded, Jesus offers Judas one more chance. Jesus offers Judas a piece of the sacrificial lamb. Jesus, the Lamb of God to be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), is offering Judas Himself. He is saying, “Judas, here I am. Do you want Me?”

Wow! Doesn’t it just stab at your heart? Don’t you know how it must have grieved Jesus?

This was the point of no return for Judas. In my opinion, until he took the piece of the Passover lamb from the hand of Jesus—the Lamb of God—he could have been saved. He chose not to be.

In the next sentence, verse 27, we see Jesus accept the evil of the heart of man and tell Judas “what you do, do quickly”.

Jesus knew He must be the sacrifice—the Lamb—so the timetable could be kept.




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How Many Cows [REPOST]

Another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from March 2013.

 

TREASURE TUESDAY

Once again I’d like to share with you a special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight.  This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE! and it is not a coincidence that I decided to share yet another post with you about God’s extreme love for us.

How Many Cows

cow_1

A story was told me about a love story in a primitive culture a very long time ago. Amerigo was one of the brightest, most ruggedly handsome young men in the village. He was enamored with a young maiden named Maria. She was plain, shy, and self-conscious. In spite of Maria’s apparent flaws, Amerigo loved her.

In their culture, fathers demanded payment for their daughters in the form of cows. Two or three cows would buy an above-average wife; four or five cows for an exceptionally beautiful wife. When Amerigo was prepared to bargain with Maria’s father for her hand in marriage, Amerigo strode proudly into his tent, grasped her father’s hand and unequivocally announced, “Father of Maria, I offer eight cows for your daughter.”

The villagers were incredulous when they heard the news, not expecting Maria to earn many cows. Amerigo had offered the highest price ever paid for a bride, even one of extraordinary beauty. Amerigo’s word was honorable and he promptly produced the eight cows as his bride’s dowry. The wedding ceremony was then conducted that evening.

Within months Maria evolved into a new person. She gained new confidence, her eyes sparkled and she developed grace and poise. She had become a beautiful woman.

Later Amerigo was asked the reason for his high payment for his wife. If he was such a shrewd trader, why would he offer eight cows for a woman he could easily have had for three? He wanted Maria to be happy, but more than that, Amerigo recognized that the way a woman thinks about herself can bring about changes. “Before I came into her life, Maria believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any woman in the village is. I wanted to marry Maria. I loved her and no other woman.” He paused and smiled. “But, I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

John3-16--NumbersOfHope

We were nothing by ourselves before Christ purchased us with His blood. God loved us, His creation, so much that “He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God purchased a pauper with a king. There was nothing we could do to make ourselves more attractive, more honest, or more loving. When the unblemished Lamb of God purchased us, we were transformed. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Notice that God did not require that we first become pure and demonstrate our abilities before He would begin to work in us. He accepted us as we were, presented us with His Son, the greatest gift of all time, and promised His very presence and His gift of eternal life. This was accomplished by divine grace, not by human merit.

We can walk a little straighter, talk more positively, and live more joyously because through Jesus “we have access to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The God of the whole universe is approachable. He allows us to pray to Him and he hears and answers every one of our prayers. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Jeremiah-33-3

God is alive. His Word is alive. No other long-established religion in the world has the benefit of worshiping a living person, one who has experienced everything we do in our live. When Jesus walked the earth, He was exposed to every temptation known to man so that when we find ourselves in a bind, when we need delivery from a problem, Jesus knows what we are feeling. That is why He can answer instantly and appropriately whenever we call on Him.

Eph1-7

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

We had a price on our head and now it has been fully paid. We have been freed, redeemed, justified. Christ paid the price for our sins, creating salvation for all who believe.

I know so little about the supreme love that sent Jesus to the cross for my redemption. But, this one thing I know—I am free! Jesus saved me from a life of servitude to sin, shame, and sadness. All of my previous transgressions are sealed in God’s possession, forgiven and forgotten by a righteous God.

Maria was purchased with cows so that she and Amerigo could form a union. We have been purchased by the blood of Jesus so that we could be united with Him on earth where we do His work, knowing that one day we will live with Him eternally in heaven.

Maria changed drastically after being complimented by a high purchase price. We too are transformed people. The old has passed away. The new is constantly evolving. God compliments us and elevates us by purchasing us with an extremely high price, the highest gift anyone could give. Jesus gave His life to redeem us.

Maria knew the reason for her new confidence. If her countenance and performance were changed by trust placed in her by Amerigo, how much more we can change, bloom, and evolve into a child of God. Our heavenly Father loves us beyond measure! Even when we mess up He is right nearby to clean up and set us back on our feet. There is no limit to His love for us; He gave His son as proof of that indistinguishable love.

Eph2-8-9“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

REJOICEIf anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

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How Long, O Lord {Part 2}

Originally posted on TRC Magazine on July 31, 2014:

CHAPTER 2: GOD ANSWERS HABAKKUK

By Anna Popescu

Habakkuk is the prophet of faith. His name means “Embrace,” or “one who strongly enfolds.” Through all the mystery of sin and its apparent success, through the mystery of suffering and of God’s judgments, he lays hold of God’s promises, and clings to Him with faith triumphant. –A. M. Hodgkin

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I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; 
and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, 

and how I may reply when I am reproved. 

—Habakkuk 2:1

In chapter one, we considered Habakkuk’s confusion in a world filled with chaos. He felt that God saw and knew about all the injustice and corruption, but did not care enough about His people to do anything about it.

Habakkuk was understandably perplexed, but instead of internalizing his confusion, he let God know that he didn’t understand and asked Him to unravel the mystery. God now answers Habakkuk, who sees that, although God’s ways don’t seem to make sense, He is still in complete control.

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Recording the Vision

Having asked God for clarification, Habakkuk now declares that he will watch and wait for God’s answer. He was ready to wait patiently, believing God would answer his questions.

Waiting is never easy and in our current culture of fast food, video chatting, quick texting, and constant and instantaneous social media updates, waiting is harder than ever. We can’t even seem to take a walk without having our cell phones to keep us company.

God does sometimes delay in answering our prayers, not because He wants us to suffer, but because His timing is much different than ours.

222But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,

but everyone to come to repentance.
–2 Peter 3:8-9

 

Sometimes God wants us to learn something during the waiting. Other times, He is using the waiting time to orchestrate events according to His timetable. Mostly, He simply wants us to trust Him no matter what.

Habakkuk lived in a very different era than we do, but I’m sure he had been watching all the troubling events around him for some time. Even though he had been patient, he was probably wondering when God would finally provide him with some answers.

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Then the LORD answered me and said,
“Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets,
that the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
for it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
–Habakkuk 2:2-3

Habakkuk was the embodiment of Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians to, “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). He knew what he was seeing, but chose to wait on God to reveal the why of it.

Did you catch the phrase in verse 2 which says “that the one who reads it may run?” In this context, God is telling Habakkuk to record what He is about to reveal to him, and encouraging him to be well prepared to carry His message to his cohorts. To apply this verse to our current times, I believe God wants us to immerse ourselves in His Word so that we may be fully prepared to share the hope we have in Him.

Behold, as for the proud one,
his soul is not right within him;

but the righteous will live by his faith.
Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
so that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.

–Habakkuk 2:4-5

The phrases “proud one” and “haughty man” refer to the Babylonians and others like them—those who are arrogant, filled with their own importance, and never satisfied. Although they have much, they constantly want more, even if it means crushing people (figuratively and literally) in the process.

These people place themselves above the Lord and do not recognize or acknowledge God’s sovereign authority. They are their own lords, and more is never enough for them.

In verses 6 through 19 (below), God answers Habakkuk’s concerns with five woes directed at the conceited, self-important Babylonians. These five woes are significant because God is telling Habakkuk that these oppressors will themselves suffer the same kinds of horrors they are inflicting upon others.

“In this chapter the five woes of God to the Chaldeans are universal principles. The principle is that everything that is evil will be met with the judgment of God. Habakkuk learns that the Chaldeans would be in power for a while, but the limit of their power and prosperity was absolutely fixed by God. The wicked may triumph for a while, but it will not last. Their doom is sealed.” –Dr. Harold L. White

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Revealing the Reasons

Cheating

6 Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his—for how long—and makes himself rich with loans?’

7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.

8 Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you—because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.

In verse 7, creditors, and those who collect from you, can be translated as, “those who bite you and violently shake you.” How many times have we read about loan sharks, people, and organizations who are more than happy to loan us money when we are desperate, but who also tack on high finance charges—sometimes more than the actual loan itself? People have been murdered when they cannot come up with the exorbitant amount demanded.

Covetousness

9 Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high, to be delivered from the hand of calamity!

10 You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off many peoples; so you are sinning against yourself.

11 Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.

For the Babylonians, more was never enough. They felt entitled to help themselves to whatever would satisfy them. If it took fighting and bloodshed to get what they wanted, so be it. They didn’t care.

How is this any different in today’s culture of robbery, murder and the like, simply to grab what you want merely because you covet it?

Corruption

12 Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!

13 Is it not indeed from the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations grow weary for nothing?

14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Babylon became rich by waging war with the surrounding nations. Bloodshed was second nature to them in their zeal to get what they wanted. But God also points out that, even though the Babylonians are slaughtering people to get what they want, they will be repaid in kind.

Verse 14 is a comfort to those of us who are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, when he will rule the earth. This is a direct reference to Isaiah 11:9:

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord    as the waters cover the sea.

Carousal

15 Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!

16 You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.

17 For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them, because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.

The Babylonians fueled their desire to possess more with alcohol and regularly drank to excess. They did their best to cause others to carouse along with them so they could take even more advantage of them in their diminished capacity.

Don’t lose heart though. You don’t have to look far to see that they will reap what they dished out. Verse 17 is a promise that the Babylonians will be hunted down and destroyed with as much violence as they imparted to others, probably more so.

Cultism

18 What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.

19 Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it.

Cultism is defined as, “obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing”—in other words, worshiping false gods or idols. We are also very good at worshiping things: money, fame, and more and better stuff. How about when we worship nature (creation), and forget to worship and thank the Creator for all the beauty we see around us?

That is what the Babylonians were doing, venerating themselves and their grandiose ideas of how to obtain even more to feed their huge egos. Their idols were themselves! The worst thing people can do is to turn their back on God and start worshiping themselves and the works of their hands.

The downfall of a nation begins in idolatry; it begins in turning away from the living and true God. –J. Vernon McGee

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Remembering His Holiness

Habakkuk, in spite of his questioning attitude toward God, finally gets it. God is God, and Habakkuk is not! He hears what God has to say and it soothes his heart, making him trust and praise God all the more.

20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

God longs for us to worship and adore Him for who He is; He is, among so many other things, the great I AM; that means He has always been and always will be God. Since He created all things, He also knows all things, thus He has a much bigger picture of events than our puny minds can understand.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel,
and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’
Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”;
and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’

This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
–Exodus 3:13-15

Habakkuk has questioned the Lord’s methods for dealing with the injustice he sees in his world, and the Lord replies by saying He is using the Babylonians for His purposes and will punish them for their sins in His timing. God reminds Habakkuk that no matter what he sees or feels, He is still on His throne taking care of business as He sees fit. Ultimately Habakkuk submits to God’s authority and continues to praise Him.

Beloved, what are you going through right now? Do you have faith that God knows what He’s doing, even if you can’t yet see the results of that trust? Do you truly believe He has your best interests at heart?

The word “believe” is defined as:

to have confidence or faith in the truth of,
to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence of.

So, if we believe that God is the great I AM, do we also believe—in faith— that God wants the best for us? Do we choose to have faith and trust in what we know to be true rather than what we can or cannot see?

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
–Hebrews 11:1

On October 31, we’ll finish our study of Habakkuk, and see why Chapter three is considered a, “psalm of beauty,” according to J. Vernon McGee. I call it a song of praise and adoration to God.

For everything that was written in the past
was written to teach us,

so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures
and the encouragement they provide
we might have hope.
–Romans 15:4

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 4) [REPOST]

~This is the fourth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with this:

Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” — John 13:7

The disciples seemed obtuse to us, but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. We do, and we still fall so short of understanding. It is sad how little I know of His Word.

Jesus told them not all of them were clean. This is true for us as well. Not all in our midst are saved. It is like the parable of the wheat and tares.

Tares Among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 Tares are a weed resembling wheat.

We are not called on to pull up the tares because we don’t know who they are…just like the apostles didn’t know that Judas was a devil in their midst.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Here again we are told there are those among us who are not clean. The unlined verses say some of us were, but we are now washed clean.

How?

“…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We are to serve others, we are to preach the Word, because it is the power of God unto salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16

Dr.J. Vernon McGee defines salvation as the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means “deliverance.”

It embraces everything from justification [the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin] to glorification [the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever].

Dr. McGee describes salvation as both an act and a process, and goes on to say that it is equally true that “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.

I ask myself:

  • Am I teaching others His Word?
  • Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?
  • Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?
  • Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Beloved, how about you?

 

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Victory [REPOST]

Another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from January 2013.

Treasure Tuesday

--treasure tuesday 001

It’s been awhile but today I’d like to share with you another special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight. This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE!

Victory Over Circumstances

Elijah was God’s prophet. The Old Testament tells us that Elijah alone challenged 450 prophets of the false god Baal. God’s people refused to help so Elijah faced the formidable adversaries with only his God on his side. Each opposing team of believers was to offer a sacrifice on an altar but not set fire to it. Baal’s prophets were to call on their god and Elijah called on the Lord. The one who answered by fire would be declared the true God. Baal, of course, was unresponsive in spite of shouting and pleading by his prophets. Elijah then prayed that God would let it be known that He was the only living and true God. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).

elijah-and-prophets-of-baal

Elijah had just been triumphant against 450 prophets of a false god. He had believed in God and God was triumphant. One would think Elijah would be praising God and rejoicing after the victory. But, he had just received a message from wicked Queen Jezebel, saying she would kill him. God’s Word tells us Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Other than being overtaken by fear Elijah was tired—just plain worn out. Imagine the energy he expended in the intense fighting against the vastly out-numbered prophets of Baal.

Elijah-angelWe cannot forget the all-powerful Jezebel, who was at that time threatening to do to Elijah what he had just done to the prophets of the false gods. 1 Kings 19:4 tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” With God’s help he had just defeated all those men against all odds. Now we hear him pleading with God to take his life. “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5). Observe how God ministered to him. It appears that the cause of Elijah’s depression was lack of proper rest (vs. 5), improper eating habits (vs. 6), physical exhaustion (vs. 6), and loneliness (vs. 16). In the scene that is created for us of Elijah, God has sent an angel to minister to his needs. God healed Elijah by allowing him to rest, gave him food, and sent a friend for earthly companionship.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. 1 Kings 19:4-9

Interestingly, God didn’t condemn Elijah and tell him to stop his foolishness and get on with life. God, in His wisdom knew that Elijah needed comfort and understanding. God knew that what He had asked Elijah had not been easy for him to do. With his multiple needs in mind, God ministered to Elijah to refresh him mentally and physically. God still had more work for Elijah to do; He needed a rested and nourished man for the days ahead. God even demonstrated to Elijah His presence in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

There is nothing that we experience
that God has not been through.

That is why He so readily understands our needs.

There was a time when God allowed Satan to test Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. Though Jesus did not sin, He knew the energy it took to resist constant temptation. That is why He can minister to us and completely meet our needs when we are worn out, over-worked, or have a long list of demands facing us.

Like Elijah, our typical response
may be a desire to crawl into a corner
and tell God and the world to go on without us.

“And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God does not expect us to be super heroes.

Nowhere does He even hint at that. He only tells us to obey. A concise way to remember the importance of obedience when we can see neither the purpose nor the outcome is to recall this quote:

God takes full responsibility
for the consequences of our obedience. —Anon

There will be a day, soon, when you will feel like smiling inwardly and outwardly. For now you need to rest and restore and renew. Only God can accomplish healing and in His precise time. It is not comfortable to be in a dry area. Look at all the great men of the Bible. They had their wilderness wanderings when God took them away from the crowd to teach and refine them. Moses was out in the fields where he escaped to Midian after murdering a man. He lived there for forty years until God called him to do his life’s work. Or, visualize Joseph in prison, wondering why God took him so far, to then have him forgotten by family and those to whom he was devoted. Job teaches us about physical and emotional suffering; he learned that he had no right to question God. In His time, God restored Job’s health and showered him with many more possessions than he had before. Even God’s own Son spent those forty days resisting Satan in the wilderness.

Cracked desert dry tree

I have been in dry spiritual times and I have resisted greatly. It is neither fun nor a comfortable place to be. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going… These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever. So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians, 4:8, 9, 17, 18, TLB).

The Psalmist David was named “a man after God’s own heart.” What a distinction and honor! Yet this is what he admitted, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1, 2). It is wonderful that God chose to write examples of very real and flawed people in His Word so that we can relate to those about whom we read and apply the lessons to our own lives.

When God sees us in the “pits,” He reaches down and lovingly rescues us, lifting us up to higher ground. Through Him, we are triumphant, like Elijah of centuries ago. Trust Him because He has already won the victory!

REJOICEPat, once again I thank you for allowing me to share your writing with my readers. You’re the best and once again, your writing has blessed us all!

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Filled with Joy

 

Psalm126_3

 

Psalm 126

A song of ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

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From my Bible study notes:

God’s ability to restore life is beyond our understanding. Forests burn down and are able to grow back. Broken bones heal. Even grief is not a permanent condition. Our tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of tragedy.

When burdened by sorrow, know that your times of grief will end and that you will again find joy. We must be patient as we wait. God’s great harvest of joy is coming!

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 3) [REPOST]

~This is the third part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday we learned that we can be equally vulnerable whether we are in the valley or on the mountain top.

The key is to be like Jesus and keep focused on our mission.

Jesus was facing unmentionable things and He knew it, but He kept His mind stayed on His Father. He knew His mission. He went forward. He did not hurry or shrink back.

He used His last hours to teach His disciples to be humble. To be servants. And to love each other as He loved them.

The washing of the feet was a visual picture of how He was willing to do the job of the lowest of servants, and how they, too, should serve each other in the same way.

We are all to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ.

Only Peter seems to think it inappropriate for Jesus to wash his feet. But here again we have this beautiful visual picture of what the Lord was doing for them and for us.

Jesus said that we cannot be washed unless He washes us, but once we are clean [saved], we only need to have our feet washed.

Jesus washed their feet because He knew that He would “depart out of this world.” His ministry would continue after He went back to heaven. He has identified Himself with His people, and today He still washes the feet of His disciples. He says that He will depart out of this “world” [kosmos], meaning the world system. It is man’s world, a world of sin. It is a civilization that is anti-God and anti-Christ, and it is under judgment. Because He is leaving this world, He washes their feet. (1)

In John’s other book, we read this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us…
—1 John 1:9

We only need to confess to be washed clean. Ephesians 5:26 says we are washed by the washing of the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. —John 1:1

So we know what God says and Who Jesus was and is: The Word. This is how we are washed—once for all, and daily as well.

To me, the feet imply our daily life—our Christian walk. We need to wash those dusty, dirty feet that have led us into some grimy, filthy places where we have sinned.

We do this by what we read and obey in God’s Word.

Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.

(1) J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 451.

To be continued next Thursday…

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God is the great I AM [REPOST]

TREASURE TUESDAY

Today’s Treasure Tuesday post is brought to you thanks to my mentor and friend, Patricia Knight.

God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’   —Exodus 3:4

God is.

God is able.

God is able to do.

God is able to do great things.

He is able to do great things for us.

Sometimes the simpler we describe God, the more majestic He becomes. Isn’t it with simplicity that He guides us in our faith? It was never His goal to make our walk with Him complicated. “Come as a little child” (Matthew 18:3), He told His disciples long ago. He instructs us the same way today. That is why I love to observe our grandsons and learn truths about God from applying analogies to their activities. We can learn from all people, young and old.

God tells us to “get wisdom, knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23b) and to treasure them.  God wants us to learn and grow. Not a static faith, Christianity comes alive in Christ. Worship at the throne of Grace where we can find our Lord, not as a hard-handed authoritarian, but as a loving, merciful, gracious Father.

If we knew we could plug our bodies and minds into a Source of power to gain energy and ability, wouldn’t we rush to do it? We can call on the God of all power who created and sustains the universe. If we knew we could inherit an eternal life of bliss, with no suffering or sadness ever again, wouldn’t we stand in line waiting for an extended period of time to gain access to such a gift?

There is no need to cool our heels in long lines. Come to the Savior personally. With humility and meekness, imitating Jesus, bow down before the Savior of the world, requesting forgiveness and a new life with God as the Lord of your life.

Believe.

Has God made our faith in Him too simplistic?  It was designed so that a child could understand the terms. At times when we struggle with trials, we are convinced the Christian life is complicated. There are adversities to be lived and learned so that we can develop into the best disciples possible. There is predicted persecution from following Jesus, but we have never been told to go it alone.

God is with us and promises

never to leave us or forsake us” (Joshua 1:5). 

What security! What blessedness! What absolute joy! God is in the quietness. Listen carefully for Him. You will hear Him speak through His Word, through other Christians, through your experiences, and in prayer.

We will never hear Him if we are striving and fumbling about with our own goals.  Prayer is a two-way conversation. Talk and then—listen. Listen with impunity. Listen with intent. Listen with reverence. Hear with purpose so that once the quietness is past, the goals become manifest. Go forward in faith, knowing what God has spoken is solemn and sovereign.

God is faithful.

He will meet all your needs” (Philippians 4:19).

That is a promise! God said it and that makes it so. Do not fret. Do not worry. Forsake anxiety and confusion, for God offers peace and comfort. God is immutable. It is impossible for Him to make mistakes or to go back on His Words. It just can’t happen, for it would alter the character of God.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
—Hebrews 13:6

What a firm foundation for our faith!

As you go forward with new plans for each day,cast your cares and worries on God, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He will free you from questions and doubts to accomplish the work for which He has chosen you. Keep your faith strong by remaining  locked in God’s Word. He will steer your life and your plans. Stay the course. As you leave your home bay for a destination on the other side of the waters, keep your eyes on the Light in the distance, for God will lead you home. Allow God to be your pilot, your oarsman, your guide. He promises to provide you with His strength for the journey, though it may occasionally be long and treacherous.

Dare to think big. Dare to trust in a God who is big, who is strong and mighty, and who controls the elements of nature with complete authority. Become one with God so that His goals are yours; His power and strength are transferred to your life. God lavishes His children richly with His gifts. In return, give yourself obediently to the Lord; all of your body, mind, and soul.

He will never fail you. On that you can depend, for He is simply, but elegantly,

the Great I Am.

Thank you, dear Pat, for sharing your heart with us here again.

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The God of our Salvation!

psalms-68-19

 

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!
—Psalm 68:19

 

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OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2) [REPOST]

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

 

Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… —John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

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To be continued next Thursday…

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