Blog Archives

Cast Your Cares [REPOST]

Here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from June 2013.

Cast Your Cares

Guest Post by Patricia Knight

1Pet5-7

“Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

 Some days we feel like gathering up remnants of worries and sins, all frayed from receiving such a vigorous workout, and seek a disposal means for them. Search no more–God commands us to turn all of our cares over to Him. There is a key word that indicates exactly how to conduct the transfer of our anxieties to Jesus. Very specifically, we are told to “cast” our cares on Him.

Cast is an active verb. God wants us to deliberately throw our troubles and cares at Him.  God is always ready and waiting to receive our miserable care package. Our Lord is constantly alert to our needs; it is not His wish that we be overburdened.

Have you ever observed the expertise of a fly fisherman? There is no hesitancy or reluctance to the art. Casting a fishing line is a powerful and decisive action accomplished with a quick flick of the wrist. Once the line connects with the surface of the water, it is energized and ready to accomplish its goal.

Fly-Fishing_CastingJust as the fly fisherman’s line is thrown with great purpose, we are commanded to give our worries, cares, and weights a resolute fling in the direction of Jesus. Then we are able to walk away with no intention of retrieving anything from our bundle of burdens.  It now belongs to Jesus to swoop up for disposal, patching, or complete replacement.  There is no better way to deal with troublesome occurrences in our lives.

The action of casting heavenward in prayer is in itself remedial. Knowing we have a Person who desires to accept our brokenness provides great encouragement as we forcefully throw our burdens to the Lord.

Casting our cares on God is not a singular event. Life is full of ongoing hardships and tribulations. Our goal is either total elimination or a solution for our troubles.  God stands ready to catch our continual flow of anxiety. If we hone our skills at casting directly at the heavenly Father, He then knows we are serious about giving up the burdens to which we so desperately cling.

Just as we admire the grace with which a fly fisherman plies the art of fly-casting, be reminded that God is imbued with grace; the author of mercy and compassion. He waits patiently to reclaim us from the petty or the monstrous cares that plague our daily lives.  If God wants to relieve us of our cares and we desire to dispose of them, why drag through life over-burdened any longer?  Let go and let God transform your life to His purpose.

psalm-139-vs-23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me to the way everlasting”
(Psalm 139:23-24).

Pat, thank you again for sharing your heart with us!

Beloved, life is indeed hard. We live in such a stressful time that I am very thankful for Pat’s timely reminder to cast all our cares on God.

AnnaSmile

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 6) [REPOST]

~This is the last part of the 6-part series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Donna ended last Thursday’s teaching with this magnificent statement:

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

Recall that none of the disciples seemed to suspect Judas, not before this and not now. This should convince us that we cannot be the judge of the hearts of others—the wheat and tares again [see Our Selfless Savior, Part 4].

Immediately, Jesus begins to talk of the fact that He is going to be glorified “…and this will be accomplished through His death and resurrection. From the human side the cross looks like shame and defeat, but God is glorified in [Jesus] because the salvation of the world will be wrought through the cross.” (1)

Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately…” —John 13:31-32

Then Jesus addresses His other disciples as His “little children.” He tells them again that He is leaving them and they can’t go with Him now but will follow later. He gives them instructions to love one another as He loves them:

Notice that He says (in verse 35) that “by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.

Am I loving others to this extent? Am I an example of His love to those I don’t even like?

With all I see going on around me in this world, it grieves to me to confess I know that I don’t. I must guard my heart. I must ask God to instill the love of Christ in me when my natural inclination is to lash out in indignation.

We are to hate evil, as it is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). But like Jesus showed us over and over again, we are to love the sinner.

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”  Jesus *answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” —John 13:36-38

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The last verses are so poignant. Can you just imagine what Peter must have thought when he declared his bravado for his own strength and Jesus told him he would deny Him three times? Do you think perhaps Peter thought Jesus was going to overthrow the Romans now?

From all accounts none of the disciples seemed to understand that Jesus had to die.

Jesus even said in verse 7 of this chapter: “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Judas “guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees” and that “they were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons” (John 18:3).

This passage goes on to say that Jesus asked them, “Who is it you want?” and they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When Jesus responded, “I am He,” the multitude “drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).

When Peter witnessed all of this, do you think he believed this is where Jesus was beginning his “takeover” of the Romans and that was what fueled him to use his sword to fight and cut off the ear of Malcus?

We can’t know, but it is comforting to read what Jesus says immediately after He told Peter he would deny Him three times:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. —John 14:1

It is my hope that my heart won’t be troubled either as I fail to be all He would like me to be.

How about you, Beloved? Where is your Hope?

(1)  J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 456.

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Donna, thank you once again so much for allowing me to share your teachings with my bloggy family. I am sure they appreciate your words of wisdom as much as I always do!

AnnaSmile…..

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Finishing Well [Repost]

Once again, here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from May 2013.

Here’s another devotional written by my wonderful friend, Patricia Knight. I know you’ll appreciate this one as much as I do!

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FINISHING WELL

By Patricia Knight

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9, NAS

 2Cor12-9-Grace

At the end of his life and his remarkable career, the apostle Paul turned his responsibilities over to Timothy, his friend and co-worker for Christ. Paul expressed self-satisfaction with serving God and promoting His Gospel; he had totally depended on his Lord’s leadership and power. He carried God’s love throughout most parts of the known world, on four missionary journeys. Paul’s ministry work for His Lord was impeccable.

After being stripped and beaten, then thrown in a dark, dank jail where his feet were secured in stocks as an added measure of security, Paul gave thanks and sang hymns.  From inside another jail he wrote letters to encourage fellow Christians, the same Gospel letters that minister to us today in God’s Word.

Paul asked God repeatedly to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” a particularly burdensome physical problem. Instead of curing Paul, God answered that He would convert Paul’s weakness to His sovereign strength.  We do not know to what extent Paul’s physical problem interfered with his endurance, but we are aware that Paul remained steadfast in his faith and service to His Lord, daily buoyed and empowered by God’s strength.  Paul was determined to boast about his own weaknesses so that Christ’s power could be glorified in his life. Today, God is faithful to convert our weakness into His strength, just as He did for Paul centuries ago.

Humble obedience is God’s intent for us.  Whatever our plight in this life, we are   commanded to enthusiastically accomplish God’s work.  Using our unique abilities, God delights in custom designing a personal service plan for everyone who loves Him.

2Tim-4-7-The Race

“Few Christians finish well” is a haunting prediction.  Let us not allow that warning to come to fruition in our lives. By maintaining tenacity of faith and service to God throughout our lives, in the end, like Paul, we can claim, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Though Paul readily identified God as his Source of strength, he also persevered during hardship, allowing God’s power to burst through his circumstances.

James2-26

Our gift of eternal life is secured by grace, not by works. As a result, our good deeds for God and our fellow men spill over as a natural outpouring of our faith “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Paul knew that truth and so do we.  Why not practice with discipline that which we know to be true, and finish our life well, with a remarkable career for Christ?

Thank you again, Pat! What a blessing you are in my life!

.AnnaSmile….

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God’s Unfailing Love

Ps36-5-7--BeautifulGreenMountains

 

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

—Psalm 36:5-7

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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

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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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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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Joyous Hearts [REPOST]

As I wrote last week, I need to scale back big-time on my blog writing this summer. I have shared writings from my other mentor, Pat Knight. She is the author of two devotional books, Pure Joy and REJOICE! and graciously allows me to share devotionals from both of these books from time to time. I’ll be re-sharing more of these treasures with you on the next several Treasure Tuesdays.

As I wrote recently, today is the first of several Treasure Tuesday devotionals by my long-distance friend and mentor, Pat Knight. Today’s devotional is taken from her book, REJOICE!

JOYOUS HEARTS

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. —Proverbs 15:30

Like the tantalizing, sizzling colors winding downward from the primary discharge of the fireworks display, in our thoughts we can supplant joy for the flashes of brilliantly colored light. As each burst produces unique colors and patterns, the major hues trailing through the sky divide and convert into brilliant colors until the fizzle of the initial burst recedes as the point of light remains.

Joy functions in much the same manner. A person with an effervescent spirit engages another in conversation or simply flashes a smile as a friendly gesture. There are burst and sparks of light, like an inner energy that is communicated from one source of joy. From the first burst of enthusiasm, joy divides into cheerful jubilation until, with just a spark of joy remaining, the fire is rekindled in the recipient’s heart, leaving the opportunity for the qualities of joy to increase until another vivacious spirit carries joy along to split and grow. “Rejoice always” [Philippians 4:4] is a direct command. Rejoice is the action verb of the noun joy.

Joy is a gift from God, like fireworks in a night sky with all manner of sparkling light piercing into our lives and awakening us to God’s inner workings. Joy is jubilation made evident as we worship God in the splendor of His majesty. Joy never loses its energy, emerging to consistently provide gratefulness during hardships and trials. “Rejoice always.” Joy is a command. Joy is active and reactive. When we radiate joy, we multiply its benefits and affect others by our delight and good cheer.

Gardening gloves that have been left outside to the elements need the fingers turned inside out to examine for the presence of insects or the growth of mildew on the fabric before being pulled onto the hand. God resides in the Christian’s heart where He is in charge of the seat of our emotions. Just as the gloves were turned inside out to reveal any internal growth, if our hearts were examined from the inside, joy would be clinging to the sides and growing prolifically, yearning for an outward expression. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” [Matthew 12:34b].

Joy is an inner smile seeking an outlet. When we rejoice, we are exposing gladness of the heart. God resides in our hearts, at the epicenter of our emotional activity, surrounded by our joy. He also commands that we share joy with others. Joy is self-perpetuating: The more we share, the more we generate. There is little danger of diminishing our supply. Our worship of God creates a flourishing joy, used to extend enthusiasm and exuberance, naturally emitting a vital emotional energy. Joy is powerful, with the capacity to reach an apathetic heart with love and goodwill. For the Christian, “rejoice always” is not an optional activity, but a command from our Father in heaven. Cast a glimmer of joy and observe the magnificent light show that ensues.

My dear Pat, thank you so much for blessing all of us through your writing.

Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

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