Sunday #Praise and #Worship: The Lion and the Lamb

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One of my favorite songs right now is “The Lion and the Lamb” by Big Daddy Weave. I can’t tell you how often it runs through my mind, and makes me feel JOYFUL and hopeful at the same time. 

As you listen to this song, reflect on our only Hope of Glory. Read through Revelation 5 (below) and exult in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion and the Lamb:

Revelation 5: The Lamb Takes the Scroll

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”

3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

12 saying with a loud voice:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

 
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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Two Witnesses of #Revelation

Another great Bible study from GraceThruFaith.

The Two Witnesses of Revelation

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1260 days clothed in sack cloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying and they have the power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. (Rev 11:3-6).

The Lord has always used the testimony of two witnesses to establish a fact. In the Mosaic law the testimony of two witnesses was required to obtain a conviction (Deut 19:15). Jesus used this law to validate His claim to be the Light of the World (John 8:17). In Revelation 11 the two witnesses validate the Lord’s claim that He (not Satan) is Lord of the Earth. So the principle of two witnesses is firmly established and almost universally accepted among Bible students. Therefore any discussion of the two witnesses of Revelation will sooner or later center on their identity.

What Was Your Name Again?

Several Old and New Testament figures have been suggested as the identities of these two, including Moses, Elijah, Enoch, John and Nathaniel. But if the two witnesses are Biblical figures from the past, the most logical candidates are Moses and Elijah, and here’s why. The supernatural signs used to authenticate the ministry of the two witnesses are the same ones that Moses (plagues, and water into blood) and Elijah (drought and fire) used to authenticate theirs and are decidedly Old Testament in their nature. Moses is known in Judaism as the giver of the Law, while Elijah is considered the greatest of Israel’s Prophets. In fact the Old Testament is often called “the Law and the Prophets”, hinting at the contributions of these two great leaders from Israel’s history. Who better to represent God on Earth during the time when He brings events foretold in “the Law and the Prophets” to their ultimate climax?

Read the rest here.

Buzzard, Bat, and Bumblebee

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Buzzard, Bat, and Bumblebee

(Contributed by Patricia Knight)

BUZZARD

If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet that is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10-12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

BAT

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and no doubt painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

BUMBLEBEE

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

PEOPLE

In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumble bee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is LOOK UP. Our weakness will give way to God’s strength as He grants us the vigor and strength of eagles.

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Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles,
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

 

-Author Unknown

The #JOY of #Hope

In continuing my search for Biblical references about the JOY of the Lord, today’s post is about how JOY ties in closely with hope.

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Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase Quality of Life. Here are some of the definitions of Quality of Life, also referred to as QOL:

  • Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
  • The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
  • Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
  • BusinessDictionary.com: Dailyliving enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.

As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.

Where is God in all of this?

“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org

So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still be triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 5 or 6 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more JOY than I ever thought possible.

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What is true JOY? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:

 “The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE. “It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE).” (1 John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2 Corinthians 4:17)”

To me,

the hope of JOY = the JOY of hope.

I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the hope of JOY because . . .

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27

And I can also have the JOY of hope because . . .

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13

Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our hope on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much JOY that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.

Choose JOY!

Yes, JOY is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain hope of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain hope, how can we be anything but JOYFUL no matter what our circumstances?

My Redeemer lives!

Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much hope and JOY as it does me!

If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.


New International Version (NIV). Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Dead Branch

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A Dead Branch

By Patricia Knight

We are frequently treated to the hummingbirds’ antics as they sip nectar from the feeder suspended between two parallel birch trees. The leaves gently sway in contrast to the desultory movements of the diminutive hummingbirds. The hummingbirds rest on the only dead branch located in direct line with the feeder.

If the dead tree branch had been within my reach, it would have been lopped off by my pruning shears long ago. I ascribe to the theory that most plants flourish with regular pruning of dead or ineffectual branches. Little did I realize that I would have threatened the hummingbird’s favorite rest and look-out spot.  From the hummingbirds’ vantage point on the dead branch, attacks can be averted and their eating station protected, all from an unobstructed view of the world around them.

Joseph was the youngest of Jacob and Rachael’s twelve sons. “Now Israel {Jacob} loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he had been born to him in old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him” (Genesis 37:3). Joseph’s jealous brothers gained opportunity for retribution when Joseph was sent by his father with instructions to check on their welfare in the area they were grazing the family flocks.

The familiarity of the account of the brothers stripping Joseph of his ornamental coat and throwing him into an empty cistern is nonetheless chilling. When the brothers realized they could exploit Joseph’s life for an attractive price, they pulled him out of the well and sold him as a slave to the Midianite traders. “The Midianite merchants sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard”(Genesis 37:36).

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Though his brothers intended only harm toward Joseph, God had a magnificent future in mind for him, orchestrating circumstances and people to accomplish His goal. “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered … Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned” (Genesis 39:2&5).   

Joseph’s experiences in the household of government officials in Egypt were a pattern of victories and defeats. Though he was thrown into jail on a trumped-up charge and apparently forgotten by those in authority, God gave him the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, his ticket out of jail and into another responsible position. Joseph prophesied through God’s intervention, warning that Egypt would experience seven years of abundance followed by an equal number of years of famine that would ravage the land.  Joseph explained to Pharaoh that God was responsible for interpreting his dream and its message.

Once again, God rewarded Joseph. Pharaoh proclaimed, in the presence of all of his officials: “‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you’”(Genesis 41:39-40).  At age thirty, Joseph was named second-in-command of the whole land of Egypt. He traveled extensively throughout Egypt, collecting from every harvest, storing the abundance for sale and distribution during the years of famine.

During the famine, the humanly unpredictable scenario developed in which Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy food. Joseph, then governor of the land, met with all people requesting grain. He immediately recognized his brothers who had previously betrayed him, though they did not suspect it was Joseph interacting with them. After an involved process Joseph finally admitted to his brothers, “‘But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt’” (Genesis 45:7-8).

Are we so different from Joseph?  During our lifetimes we experience vacillating failures and victories. When we are in the throes of disappointment and defeat, where does our trust lie? Do we moan, groan, and complain about situations that may be less than ideal or beyond our control? Joseph was imprisoned in the king’s dungeon on false charges of making advances toward his master’s wife. Even though God granted Joseph favor in the prison, his environment remained a dark, dingy, odiferous dungeon.

Joseph didn’t know when imprisoned that God would eventually place him in a position of authority so that his family could survive the future widespread famine. What kept Joseph encouraged during his prison term? It is likely Joseph’s faith and trust in God supplied him with daily strength. Joseph’s life story is a marvelous illustration of personal patience and trust in a faithful God, whose perfect plan is always accomplished in His precise timing.

God has not changed His methods throughout the centuries. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8). His promises are trustworthy. Like Joseph, even when we can’t see beyond our present circumstances, if we trust in God to develop His unique purposes for us, we shall eventually experience a victory. God created us and maintains a devoted love for each of us. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’”(Jeremiah 29:11) 

Even during those times in our lives when God is silent, He is continually intervening on our behalf. His plans and purposes for each of us are perfectly orchestrated, just as in Joseph’s life. “A righteous man may have troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19).

Perched at attention on the dead branch, the hummingbird remains constantly vulnerable.  Instinct positions the hummer on defense against attacking predators. Vigilance is the only stance the hummer knows. However, we are free to develop trust that God will protect us from harm as we rely upon His deliverance. When adversities assail us as they did Joseph, the energies that would normally be expended on fear are converted into prayer for God’s power and strength. God assured the apostle Paul, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”(2 Corinthians 12:9).

The victory is ours to claim!  

10 Bible Passages for When You’re Hurting

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It is no surprise that the reality of life here on earth means we won’t be gliding effortlessly through our days. In fact, there is so much to discourage us. Sickness and diseases. Family problems. Tension at work, including job (in)security. What if we have lost our job and are having trouble finding another one?

Beloved, we can find many Bible verses that can help calm and soothe us when we’re hurting. The ones I’ve listed below are only a few I am appreciating right now. My prayer for all of us is that by clinging to these verses we will always turn to the One who can help us through these tough times: Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

Joshua 1:9 NKJV— Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 9:10 NKJV— And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 34:17-18 NKJV—The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

John 16:33 NKJV—These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Romans 5:3-4 NKJV— And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 8:28 NKJV— And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:35-39 NKJV 

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NKJV—We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

James 1:12 NKJV—Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Time for an Update!

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On April 25th, I wrote about having to take a blogging hiatus. After several months of dealing with various infections (bronchitis, sinus, ear, flu), I ended up in the ER with pneumonia. All of this upper respiratory stuff took a big toll on me and I needed a lot of rest and sleep.

I think I’m finally getting to the other side of this mess, so I will soon resume blogging. I hope to get back to my previous Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday schedule, but if I find my health backsliding again, I’ll  just post once a week for awhile.

Thank you all so much for sticking with me. It means the world to me! Never forget that God is good all the time, all the time God is good!

And my soul shall be JOYFUL in the Lord;
It shall REJOICE in His salvation.
Let them shout for JOY and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness
And of Your praise all the day long.
—Psalm 35:9, 27-28