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

SundayPraiseAndWorship-50--AMP

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.

 
Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
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.

#Complacent

caution-complacency-ptz-amp

Complacent

By Patricia Knight

Each day I traveled to work, I encountered a stretch of residential build-up on a secondary road where the speed limit was reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph. Familiar with the road land marks, I decreased my vehicular speed in preparation for the new speed zone.

One morning a state police vehicle passed by me from the opposite direction. I perceived I was within the posted speed limit, so I ignored his presence, assuming he had business elsewhere. That is, until he negotiated a screeching U-turn! Suddenly I was engulfed with eye-popping blue lights and ear-piercing sirens. The policeman then had my undivided attention.

When the imposing officer appeared at my car window, he was straightforward. “Do you know you were traveling 52 mph in a 35 mph zone?”  He had the proof; I had no excuse. Still I felt obliged to offer a weak explanation: “I drive this route to work every day and I’m usually more compliant with my speed.”  To my surprise, the state policeman gently responded, “It’s easy to act complacent when repeating the same activity frequently.”  Fortunately the officer dismissed me with a warning. Little did he know the impression he made that day, affecting my driving alertness and compliance, as well as my reaction to life in general.

Complacency denotes self-satisfaction that results in false comfort, diminishing an awareness of danger.

Apathy is closely related, expressive of indifference, a lack of feelings, or inaction. The opposite of complacency is passion; zeal rather than indifference. Jesus taught that love knows no boundaries, tantamount to the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and love your neighbor as well as you do yourself” (Luke 10:27, The Msg.).

Jesus defined our neighbor with a parable: A man was attacked while traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho through rugged, crime-ridden terrain. He was stripped of his clothing, robbed of his possessions, beaten unmercifully, and left for dead. A Levite, a priest, and a Samaritan eventually passed the victim’s way. The first two ignored the assaulted man and intentionally crossed to the opposite side of the road.

Complacency reeks of self-importance and indifference. What could possibly have been so pressing in the lives of the Levite and the priest that neither could conjure up the minimal time and compassion to cover the naked, bleeding man with a garment? It is obvious that neither religious leader cared about his fellow man. The suffering victim’s pitiful condition didn’t tug on their heart-strings. For them it was easier  to turn away and ignore their neighbor with an indifferent attitude, though they would likely claim personal righteousness. Complacency is the greatest hypocrisy.

Historically, Samaritans and Jews exhibited open hostility toward one another. But, it was a Samaritan who ran to the aid of the beaten, robbed man lying beside the road. He bandaged his wounds, and lifted him onto his own donkey for transportation to a local inn. There the Samaritan cared for the assaulted man. The following day, the Samaritan gave sufficient funds to the inn keeper to provide for the man’s future care, assuring the inn keeper he would reimburse any extra expenses incurred when he returned (Luke 10:27-28).

The man who posed the question to Jesus, “ ‘Who is my neighbor’” (Luke 10:29), learned explicitly from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ story highlights a neighbor as one we help when a need is displayed, to whom we may give of our time and treasure, and for whom we are willing to be inconvenienced.

One great danger of complacency is that it gradually overtakes the heart space reserved for kindness and decency. Apathy is so deviously replaced with nonchalance and mediocre responses that it is easy to ignore danger along life’s journey. Complacency bows to subtle changes. The process is so insidious that before we are aware of the changes, we’ve been converted to a curmudgeon who increasingly replaces a once tender, passionate heart with reluctance. What happened to fierce, dynamic faith? It cooled to tepid.

Jesus didn’t call us to follow Him when it is convenient. Our time on earth is brief; we are here on assignment. There is kingdom work to be done, people to help, and the gospel to proclaim. He wants 100% of each of us, with the adoration of our hearts, the zeal of our souls, and the days of our lives. Because Jesus died for us, no sacrifice can be too great for us to make for Him.

What is your response to Jesus when you recognize a paramount need in another person’s life? Do you avoid prayer, assuming Jesus is incapable of surpassing human limitations? “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God’” (Luke 18:27). Continual prayer is our most powerful deterrent to apathy, preventing us from slipping into smug self-dependence and self-satisfaction. Acknowledging that God is supreme and capable of the miraculous, dispels indifference. Apathy requires low energy output and provides no positive returns.

There are blue lights of warning surrounding many of our personal scenarios, reminding us to slow down to discern and evaluate. It is never too late to comply to the greatest commandment in which there is no provision for self-serving motives. Complacency and apathy provide only convenient excuses.

Jesus desires to fill our hearts with a deluge of joy. In addition, He clothes us with joy.

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).

From the riches of heaven’s own wardrobe room, swishing robes of rejoicing define us externally, as Jesus, the source of our praise, engulfs our hearts. Joy is to be the constant dimension of a life of faith, a sovereign characteristic that flows freely from dwelling in God’s presence, a gift that interlocks with God’s everlasting nature. Following His example, let us love our neighbor, reaching out with enthusiasm and joy.

Thankfully, neither complacency nor apathy are permanent states, easily remedied with commitment to spiritual renewal as we discover anew the exhilaration of displaying our Lord’s characteristics. We are transformed by Christ; a holy reconstruction project uniting us with Him that motivates us to ask,

“What can I do to help my neighbor?” 

Know Jesus and #Believe

Rom10-17--AMP

Faith

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

–Romans 10:9-17

It may be that the reader feels a difficulty in believing. Consider that we cannot believe by an immediate act. We come to faith by degrees. There may be such a thing as faith at first sight, but usually we reach faith by stages: we become interested, we consider, we hear evidence, we are convinced, and so led to believe. Evidence weighed and knowledge obtained lead up to faith.

It is true that faith in Jesus is the gift of God, but he usually bestows it in agreement with the laws of mind. Therefore we are told that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). If you want to believe in Jesus, hear about him, read about him, think about him, know about him, and so you will find faith springing up in your heart.

Hear much concerning Jesus. Souls come by the hundreds to faith in Jesus through a ministry that presents him clearly and constantly. Few remain unbelieving under a preacher whose greatest subject is the crucified Christ. Go to the place of worship to see Jesus, and if you do not even hear the mention of his name, take yourself to another place where he is more thought of and is therefore more likely to be present.

Read much about the Lord Jesus. The Bible is the window through which we can look and see our Lord. Read with devout attention over the story of his sufferings and death, and before long the Lord will make faith secretly enter your soul. The cross of Christ not only rewards faith, but causes faith.

If hearing and reading are not sufficient, then deliberately set your mind to end the matter. Either believe or know the reason why you do not believe. See the matter through to the utmost of your ability. Pray that God will help you to make a thorough investigation and to come to an honest decision one way or the other. Consider who Jesus was, and whether the foundation of his person does not entitle him to confidence. Consider what he did, and whether this also must not be good ground for trust. Consider his death, resurrection, ascension, and eternal life that interceded for sinners, and decide whether this does not entitle him to be trusted. Then cry to him, and see if he does not hear you. If you want to know Jesus, get as near to him as you can by studying his character and appealing to his love.

At one time, I might have needed evidence to make me believe in the Lord Jesus, but now I know him so well, by proving him, that I should need a very great deal of evidence to make me doubt him. It is now more natural for me to trust than to disbelieve. Act after act of trusting turns faith into a habit. Experience then brings to faith strong confirmation.

–Adapted from Around the Wicket Gate by C. H. Spurgeon

The Law is Only a Shadow… Old and New, Part 2

From GraceThruFaith, Part 2 of 2.

Something Old, Something New

Part 2 of 2 in the series Old and New

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley 


What’s external and physical in the Old becomes internal and spiritual in the New.

The Epistle to the Hebrews underscores the issue we covered last time on the nature of the Bible. The 66 “books” penned by 40 scribes over hundreds of years are really components of a single message … a message describing two agreements or covenants, but consistent in design and intent from Genesis through Revelation. You’ll hear liberal scholars (oxymoron?) talk about the differences between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the new. Nonsense. It’s simply a matter of which side of the cross you’re on. We used prophecy as both an example and an authentication of the Bible’s singularity of purpose and its supernatural origin.

Demonstration Please

Now I’d like to demonstrate that every event and requirement commanded by the Lord in the Old Covenant has its fulfillment in the New. They all began as external and physical acts and became internal and spiritual principles. In addition to being real requirements given for sound purpose, they were also symbolic; models meant to teach us lessons about God and His incredible plan for us. Hebrews 10:1; the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.

And just as it is with prophecy, understanding the context of the old dramatically increases comprehension of the new. Let’s try a few examples. 

Read the rest here.

Something Old, Something New

From GraceThruFaith, Part 1 of 2.

Something Old, Something New

Part 1 of 2 in the series Old and New

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’”
(Psalm 40:6-8, from the Septuagint translation. Attributed to Jesus in Hebrews 10:5-7).

People who don’t think of the Bible as one message for everyone, but see the Old Testament as the part for the Jews while the New testament is the part for the Church miss out on a lot. They don’t see that while the two parts of the Book are obviously different they are also tied together.

The Old Testament explained how the Israelites were supposed to behave while the New Testament takes some of those behavioral imperatives and presents them in the spiritual sense to show us what we’re supposed to believe. If you look closely you’ll find that things that obviously call for external, physical, and national behavior in the Old Testament often become internal, spiritual and personal beliefs in the New.

Read the rest here.

Mother Mink

Mother Mink

 By Patricia Knight

Mink usually do not make themselves known to people, especially during daylight hours.  One splendid warm summer day there were seven of us around our dock near the lake.  While our grandsons were captivated with fishing we adults detected a sleek, black, lithe creature slithering its way around the children’s sandal-clad feet. Our son commanded his boys to stand motionless, using only their eyes to observe the oddity of nature. 

The wet, glistening mink investigated everything, including foot gear worn by the boys and wet socks draped on a rock to dry. The mink’s nose never stopped wriggling and sniffing as it wove its body among every human foot firmly planted on the dock. Its conical snout with the incessant quivering was on a mission. What was bothering this mink so much that it would voluntarily wander among the enemy? We talked quietly. Then the mink slinked away as quickly as it had appeared. Our activity resumed in slow motion. The boys continued to fish as they cast a wary eye in the direction of the intruder, wondering if she would return.

It wasn’t long before mother mink emerged, this time on a new quest. She had previously disappeared into the rocks to the left of the dock, probably in the location of her den.  Now, with a limp kit helplessly dangling from her mouth, mama mink hastily scampered across the dock without stopping to socialize and plunged into the water, bound for the cribwork on the opposite side of the dock. There she remained with her kit, in an area her instincts told her would be much safer than their last home. We weren’t privileged to see the mother mink or her kit again. Their short performance left us astonished, albeit entertained.

Luke15-3-7-Shepherd-Lamb--AMP

Jesus told this parable to His disciples: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:3-7).

Jesus taught a truth using familiar objects his audience would understand. One hundred sheep would comprise a flock for a modest shepherd of that day. Shepherds often worked in teams, so it would not be irresponsible for one shepherd to leave the ninety-nine safe sheep in the care of his other companions in the open field. The shepherd would not take the remainder of his herd home until the lost lamb was found.

Throughout Scripture, Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd; we are His sheep or His flock. Sheep are without direction in life. They must be led to good grazing grounds and protected from danger. They are passive animals, unequipped to find their own food to fight predators. A good shepherd supplies his sheep’s needs. The picture we see in Jesus’ parable is one of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protecting His own. He is willing to leave His glory in heaven to search for the one who is lost. When that person is found, Jesus places His beloved on His shoulders, the place of strength, and rejoins him with the rest of His flock. Jesus always rejoices when His people return to Him for salvation, safety, and guidance throughout life. 

The mother mink protected her one kit, going to great lengths and endangering her life by carrying her offspring past the enemy to safety. She was willing to risk her life for the security of her young.

Though initially the scene of the kit dangling from its mother’s mouth may appear pathetic, the instinctive submission and obedience of the kit saved its life. Though Jesus handles us much more gently, He requires our posture to be one of complete trust and reliance upon His care.

We confront danger on a daily basis. Are we willing to put our lives in the care of the Great Shepherd, who incessantly rescues His wayward children from harm, one individual life at a time? Trust Jesus daily as He readily  enfolds you beneath His protective arms and leads you to safety.

Jesus went further than risking His life for us. He came to earth with the express goals to sacrifice His one perfect life for mankind, to redeem us from our sins, and to carry us on His shoulders to our refuge in heaven for an eternity.

Jesus’ mission on earth was unselfish. He sacrificed His pure, unblemished life to save His children, one-by-one. The Good Shepherd came to secure an eternal victory for His wayward ones. Submit to Him, for His plans are always perfect.

#Faith For Things Not Seen

I was privileged to serve as a counselor for Royal Family Kids Camp in the summers of 1996 and 1997. RFKC’s mission statement: “Create life-changing moments for children of abuse.”

Let me just say that I did not go into this venture lightly, but turning everything over to God during my first week at camp resulted in even more faith in Him to walk with me through everything in my life. I wrote this piece after my first year at camp because I wanted to make sure I never forget the many ways God worked in my life and in the life of one particular little girl in my charge.

Beloved, if you ever have the chance to work at camps such as these, don’t hesitate! The rewards will be so much more than you can imagine. And as always, I give glory to God who never, ever lets me down.

Heb11-1-FoggyMtnTop-sm--AMP

Faith for Things Not Seen

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

Lord, how can You possibly ask me to do this? I’m not trained to be a counselor! The words welled up in me as I struggled to understand God’s persistent nudging. Suddenly I could feel His loving arms wrapped around my shoulders like a warm shawl. And then I distinctly heard the words: “My child, I want you to do this for Me.”

Well, how could I ignore that? I bowed to God’s greatness and silently whispered my thanks to Him for being so patient with me. And then I prayed one last thing: God, if You really want me to do this, please enable me for the task.

When God called me to be a counselor at a Christian camp for abused and abandoned children, I thought that this wonderful endeavor would be a blessing to some very needy children. Week after week, the Lord pointed my eyes to the announcement in the church bulletin, yet I kept ignoring the urgings I felt that God wanted me to participate in some way. The word “counselor” stood out more than anything else in that announcement, but I felt completely unequipped for this position.

Four short months later I was at camp. One of the little girls I had in my charge was a particularly tough case. Eight-year-old Debbie* had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not.

Debbie’s stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, Debbie’s standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…”

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but Debbie’s tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors too. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending Debbie home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed.

That same night, I found myself unable to sleep because of Debbie’s exceedingly vocal night terrors. She tossed and turned as she relived some terrifying experiences, and mumbled words such as “Don’t!” and “Stop!”

I got up to make sure she was all right and found her sleeping on her stomach facing me. I ran my hand lightly over her forehead, then up and down her back in a soothing manner. She didn’t seem to be sound asleep yet she was not fully awake either. As I kept rubbing her back, she continued to moan in a sing-song way. Even when I talked to her in an attempt to wake her out of her bad dream, she just moaned as if in pain. After about twenty minutes of this, I lay back down and tried to get to sleep, but it was impossible with all her moaning.

I lay wide awake. What to do now? I got up again and tried to quiet Debbie by rubbing her back. Once again, that didn’t work. Tears coursed down my face as I prayed for guidance…for Debbie to stop…to be able to fall asleep again. I was so tired. How was I going to handle the rest of the week?

Once more I tried to sleep. When that didn’t work, I went back to Debbie and tried to wake her up. “Debbie, are you all right? Are you having a bad dream?”

This time she seemed to hear me. The answering groan was different from the others, almost like a real answer.

“Do you want to get up and talk for a while?” I asked.

Debbie’s eyelids flickered and then opened briefly. “Yeah,” her sleep voice croaked as she sat up in her top bunk.

“Come on, I’ll help you climb down.” I assisted a very groggy Debbie by placing one of her feet at a time on each of the bunk bed steps. When she was standing on the floor, I led her to the designated play area next to her bed and sat down, pulling her to a sitting position next to me.

The night air was cold and crisp up here in the mountains, so I put my arm around her and covered us both with a blanket. I looked down at her in anticipation of our little talk. Instead, she leaned her head against my arm and fell asleep again.

I shook my head in disbelief, thinking that maybe all she had needed was a change of position. I decided to sit with her this way for a while and leaned my head back against the wall. In a few minutes, I started praying for her again.

I asked God what I could say or do to help Debbie adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that Debbie’s life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices.

Even here at camp, she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if Debbie was given some limited choices, her responses might be different.

I sat with Debbie like this and prayed for about two hours. I realized then that I had better get some sleep before this day officially started. I eased Debbie away from me. “Do you want to sleep down here the rest of the night?” I whispered to her.

She seemed to understand and gave a sleep nod, so I slipped her down onto the bed and fetched her pillow from her bunk. Lifting her head gently, I placed the pillow beneath it and then tucked the blanket around her better. I stood next to her for a few minutes to make sure she was all right. Now it was time to get back to my own bed.

It was already 4:30 as I fell into a light, fitful sleep. I had to be up again in about an hour. This time Debbie slept peacefully.

Several hours later, Debbie started her usual tantrum when informed it was time for chapel. Before she could get carried away, I told her she had the choice of going to chapel with me or to the nurse’s office. Of course, she chose to stay with the nurse. But not more than fifteen minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there stood Debbie. “I want to be here with you,” she whispered.

I smiled at her and nodded to the nurse, who had escorted Debbie to chapel. As we stood to sing, I felt Debbie’s small hand slip into mine. Thank you, God… Before that week was over, little Debbie asked Jesus Christ into her heart.

When we returned home, all who had served at camp were treated to a special dinner at church. The counselors each received a certificate inscribed with a Scripture passage our leaders thought best described us. Much to my surprise, I saw that my certificate contained Hebrews 11:1, the verse which begins a chapter all about faith.

Faith. I had started out on this journey with a great deal of skepticism. I didn’t understand why God would call someone like me to serve Him in this way, but He kept me going by faith throughout the entire week and left me with a new understanding of His enabling power. Whenever God resolves to use us in His work, He will enable us to do it!

And by the way, Debbie was in my charge again the following year —but what a changed Debbie! This time she helped me take care of my other little charge, a girl who had been brain-damaged from so much physical abuse that she sometimes had behavioral problems. After that week together, Debbie told me she couldn’t wait for her turn to be a counselor at that camp. And ten years later, Debbie did go through training to be a counselor at that same camp.

The lesson I learned through all of this comes back to me as I continue to learn what true faith is. Each of us can“count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”  (James 1:2-3).

James1-2-3-TreeGrassSunlight-25-50--AMP

As for me, I continually pray that I will always be willing to answer God’s call in my life to walk by faith. To do otherwise is to miss a huge blessing!

*Not her real name for her privacy and protection.