Recognize God’s Involvement

Recognize God’s Involvement

When good things happen in our lives—promotion; a raise in pay; an unexpected lump sum of money; success in business—we must recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.  (Jas 1:17)

Don’t think to yourself, my own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me.  (Deu 8:17 CEB)

He answered me:  “This is the Lord’s word to Zerubbabel:  Neither by power, nor by strength, but by my spirit, says the Lord of heavenly forces.”  (Zech 4:6 CEB)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  (2 Cor 4:7)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  (Eph 2:8-9)

Nothing is ever accomplished solely through human might or power!  We must never try to grab the glory that belongs to God alone.  We don’t ever want to be like the rich fool that Jesus taught about in Luke 12:13-21 where God said to the man:  ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

We can see from the Bible verses that I have shown above that:

  • Anything good that is accomplished is not by might or power but by the Spirit of God.
  • The power that we have to work and to accomplish good things is from God and not us.
  • Even our faith is a gift from God!

Acknowledge the Lord’s goodness to you whenever you receive praise, or awards, or blessings in any form.  All glory to God!

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

Why do some believers hear things and see things that others do not hear and see? 

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’  (Ac 22:9-10) 

In the above instance, the people who were traveling with Saul (who later became Paul, the apostle) saw the supernatural light that appeared to Saul but they did not hear God’s voice speaking to him.  God was giving Saul directions to follows. So the only one who needed to hear the Lord was Saul.

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  (Ac 9:7)

In this verse, those who accompanied Saul heard the Lord’s voice speaking to Saul but they didn’t see anything.  In Acts 9:7, Saul was again being told what to do next but we don’t know why God allowed the others to hear God’s voice in this instance.

“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.”  (Ac 26:12-13)

This account in the Bible is where Paul is telling King Agrippa about the heavenly light, brighter than the sun, which he and his friends saw on the road to Damascus.  This was a genuine physical AND spiritual encounter that Paul had with the Lord.

As we diligently work to serve the Lord, and spend time studying the Word and drawing near to God’s presence, we may experience God-ordained sights and sounds which other people don’t experience.  Such things are out of the ordinary for most believers, but they are clearly controlled by God. 

Ask God to give you His wisdom and insight into understanding such an event if it should happen to you.  Don’t be afraid of it, but diligently seek the Scriptures and God’s wisdom to make sure that it lines up with the teachings of the Lord in the New Testament.  Determine what God’s wants you to do or to change as a result of your experience.  If it does not agree with Biblical teachings, then simply put it out of your mind and heart.

For those of us who do not experience these types of incidents, it doesn’t mean that we are any less of a follower of Jesus Christ than any other believer.  It simply means that every individual person’s relationship with the Lord is unique and special.  Value your relationship with the Lord and draw near to Him through prayer, Bible reading, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with other believers.  You are blessed!

Teach Us to Number Our Days

Teach Us to Number Our Days

Some Bible verses discuss the lifespan of human beings.  Why is this important to followers and servants of Jesus Christ?  That’s what we’re considering today.

Our time on earth is brief; the number of our days is already decided by you.  (Job 14:15 CEV)

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Ps 90:12)

I am gone like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like a locust.  (Ps 109:23)

Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.  (Ps 144:4)

One thing that we have to remember is that our time on earth is limited, and so it’s good to learn to value each day enormously.  Once we accept the brevity of life, we will be more inclined to seek God’s wisdom, leading and guidance for living rich, meaningful, and eternally significant lives that will bring glory to God.

We don’t want to take the gift of life for granted.  We don’t want to waste our days on foolish, selfish pursuits that have no real value.  Those would be pursuits that eventually, at their conclusion, can bless no one else but ourselves and that bring pleasure to and minister to no one other than ourselves. Some such ventures might even be sinful or evil.

Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord, all that we need for daily sustenance will be given to us by the Lord according to Matthew 6:33. 

The Lord wants His people to learn, to grow, and to seek His wisdom. 

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.  (Pro 2:1-11 NIV) As we learn to number our days, we regard each day as a precious gift as well as an opportunity to store up treasure in heaven that will please God.  Glory!

God Makes Wars Cease

God Makes Wars Cease

Jesus is the Prince of Peace referred to in Isaiah 9:6.  It makes sense that the Prince of Peace, sent by His heavenly Father, is opposed to war.  Instead, He chose to make changes on earth through His love and His self-sacrifice even to the point of dying on the cross for us.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.  (Ps 46:9)  God’s mighty power extends all over the earth in every country, region, and land.  He has power to demolish weapons and bring an end to war anywhere on earth.

Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.  (Ezek 39:3)  The Lord can cause weapons to be forcefully removed from human hands and to fall out of a person’s strongest hand! Wow!

He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  (Isa 2:4)  In God’s perfect timing, He will cause nations to destroy their weapons and cease from attacking one another. 

Until that time, Christians are to “make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  (Heb 12:14) The gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for all human beings.  It establishes peace between God and man through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. 

We should always promote peace instead of discord, and be instruments of God to demonstrate His love, mercy, and forgiveness to all.  We are blessed!

God Controls “Random Chance”

God Controls “Random Chance”

The Bible informs us in several different places that the Lord controls random chance.  Does that surprise you?  He limits evils and redeems traumatic situations when we enlist His aid, and ask for His intervention.  However, people of faith simply trust God to cover them with His mercy and protection on a daily basis. 

Here are the relevant Scriptures for you:

The dice settle conflicts and keep strong opponents apart.  (Pro 18:18 CEB)  The casting of lots (throwing the dice) can be helpful in times of conflict and stiff opposition.  The people involved must trust that God is the one controlling the outcome of the toss of the dice.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.  (Pro 16:33 NKJV)  This verse clearly states that the way the dice land is controlled every time by the Lord.  Can you believe that?

The leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in the holy city of Jerusalem, while the remaining nine stayed in the other towns.  (Neh 11:1 CEB)  The people of faith in the Old Testament trusted God to control the outcome of this casting of lots.  In this instance, the result determined who was appointed to live in the holy city of Jerusalem.

In these current times, we who follow Jesus do well to trust that however people are chosen for blessings and benefits, whether by district; by names thrown into a drum; or random computer algorithms; etc., God is involved in each and every detail. 

For nothing will be impossible with God.  (Lk 1:37 ESV)  Nothing is impossible with God.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?  (Ps 56:8 ESV)  The Lord keeps a record of when we toss and turn in the night, and of our tears!  He knows about every single thing that we experience daily.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  (Mt 10:30 NIV)  God is involved in even the smallest details of our lives. Let’s rejoice in God’s goodness and in the fact that He affectionately watches over all of the myriad intricacies of our lives.  Hallelujah!

Whiter Than Snow

Whiter Than Snow

Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  (Isa 1:18 NIV)

This Scripture verse is a type of ultimatum from God full of grace and mercy.  The Lord is offering forgiveness and cleansing for the repentant soul.  The color red signifies the deep-rooted nature of sin, and the white indicates purity and innocence which only the Lord can impart.

Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  (Ps 51:7 CEB)

Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling, Heb 12:24.  (Source:  Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Psalm 51:7)

. . . and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding.  (Eph 1:6-8 CEB)

The passage above suggests that the blood of Jesus, our Savior, has freed us from the grip of sin, and immersed us in the forgiveness and glorious grace of God.  What an eternal gift of God from the heart of our living God! 

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (1 Joh 1:7, emphasis added)  All who have accepted Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior have had their souls made whiter than snow.  All we need to do, going forward, is to walk in the light of God’s Word and in fellowship with our fellow believers. All glory to God!

Pleasing All Men in All Things

Pleasing All Men in All Things

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  (Rom 15:1 NIV)

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  (1 Cor 10:32-33, emphasis added)

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.  (Phil 2:3-4 CEB)

We’re instructed by God’s Word to watch out for what is best for others and pleasing to others.  We’re also urged to avoid selfishness and encouraged to care for each other.  That’s a tall order, right?  The apostle Paul said that he pleased all men!  Wow, he is a righteous example to us all.

So why did Paul ‘please all men’?  He did it so that many people would be saved.  By his pleasing and caring behavior toward others, he won many, many people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  All of those people accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  Paul didn’t do it in order to be a man-pleaser but in order to win souls to the Kingdom of God. His motivation was pleasing in God’s sight.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.  (Gal 1:10)

. . . not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart . . .  (Eph 6:6)

Our assignment as followers and servants of Jesus Christ is to please God first, but also to demonstrate God’s love to all people.  That means doing top-notch work in our jobs (even those who are self-employed).  It also means finding ways to cooperate kindly with our earthly neighbors whether we have a house, condo, apartment, or a tent. 

We also, as servants of Jesus, represent Him in our families, with our friends and within our communities and churches.  As ambassadors for God’s Kingdom, we have the honor and privilege of being ‘the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.’  (2 Cor 2:15) May our conduct and our conversation be as a pleasant perfume to the lost and the hurting as well as to the Lord Jesus.  Praise the Lord!

God Loves Humility

God Loves Humility

The Lord instructs us in His Word to humble ourselves, so that He may exalt us in due time.  (1 Pet 5:6)  We need to be obedient to this instruction because the Lord has the power to humble any person or thing that He chooses.

And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.  (Ezek 17:24 ESV)

For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city.  He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.  (Isa 26:5 ESV)

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  (Lk 1:52-53 NIV)

Even in nature, the trees know who the Lord and the creator God is, and that He has mighty power at His disposal.  If the Lord so chooses, He can decide to humble trees, cities, nations, rulers, and individual, influential or wealthy people.

We’re told in Scriptures that the Lord regards (esteems, honors) the lowly (humble) but the haughty (arrogant, self-important, puffed-up) He knows from “afar off.”

Psalm 138:6 (ESV):  For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. 

I believe that the above passage is explaining that God does not have a close, warm relationship with haughty, pride-filled people. 

However, as our opening line in this article indicates, the Lord will, in His own timing, exalt those who humble themselves before Him.  We humble ourselves to God by accepting His Son (Jesus Christ) as our Savior and Lord, and by honoring and obeying His holy Word.  We also honor Him by allowing Him to lead us and guide us throughout our lifetimes. This will result in our having a close and personal relationship with the living God, the Savior and Redeemer.  Hallelujah!

Do You Desire Wisdom?

Do You Desire Wisdom?

Do you desire wisdom?  The Scriptures tell us how we may grow in wisdom.

Respect and obey the Lord! This is the first step to wisdom and good sense. God will always be respected.  (Ps 111:10 CEV)

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding . . .  (Pro 2:6 NKJV)

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.  21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.  (Pro 4:20-22 NIV)

Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.  (Pro 10:23 ESV)

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!  (Pro 16:16 NIV)

. . . for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.  (Lk 21:15 NKJV)

Obeying God’s wisdom should be pleasure to those of us who love and follow Christ.  Obeying the wisdom of God and memorizing God’s Word will minister life and healing to all of our flesh—both to our own and to other people’s bodies!  Another blessing of obeying wisdom is that it will assist us to grow in wisdom as well.

Wisdom can be defined as “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”  The Bible goes beyond that to denote that the gift of wisdom (found in a person) is deep, inestimable, precious and rare. 

Yet, wisdom is available to everyone.  Hear wisdom crying out:  Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares.  21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?  For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.  (Pro 1:20-22 NKJV) 

Wisdom cries out to ALL people.  She offers her gifts and blessings to all, and yet few people choose to accept her offer.  Some are even annoyed by the offer and can’t be bothered to make the effort to even listen.  They are too busy with their own concerns.

Sadly, even though so many people think that wisdom is unimportant, they are literally refusing to accept blessings!  They are refusing life and prosperity. (Pro 8:35, 19:8 NIV)  People who have wisdom preserve their lives (Pro 13:3 NIV); build a firm foundation for life (Mt 7:24 NIV); and gain understanding.  (Dan 12:10 NIV)

God will give wisdom to those who ask for it.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.   (Jas 1:5 ESV)  Yet how many ask?  How many pray for wisdom? 

Solomon did, and the Bible says that the Lord was so pleased that Solomon has asked for wisdom instead of riches and a long life, that God gave Solomon unparalleled wisdom, riches, fame and honor.  (1 Kgs 3:8-13; 4:29-34) 

Seek the wisdom of God, and God will reward and bless you. Your acquaintances will seek you out for advice and guidance, and will ask you to mentor them.  Blessings upon you!

Do You Hear & Obey Instruction?

Do You Hear & Obey Instruction?

Listening to God (heeding His Word) and obeying it are momentously important to God.

The proverbs of Solomon.  A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grieves his mother.  (Pro 10:1 ISV)

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.  (Pro 13:1 ESV)

Listen, children, to your father’s instruction, and pay attention in order to gain understanding.  I give you sound teaching, so do not abandon my instruction.  (Pro 4:1-2 ISV)

According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a brief definition of biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” 

The only “instruction” that it is imperative for us to obey is God’s Word and God’s instructions.

What are the reasons for this?  Let’s consider what the Bible says:

  • Jesus tells us to obey.  (Joh 14:15 ESV)
  • Our obedience, as followers of Jesus Christ, flows from a heart full of thanksgiving for God’s gift of salvation and His gift of grace.  (Rom 12:1 NLT)
  • The Scriptures remind us repeatedly that God rewards obedience.  (Gen 22:18 NLT; Lk 11:28 NKJV; Jas 1:22-25 NIV)
  • When we obey God and His Word, we prove how much we love Him.  (1 Joh 5:2-3 NASB; 2 Joh 1:6 NLT)
  • The Old Testament says that “obedience is better than sacrifice.”  In the Old Testament, God’s people were commanded to offer sacrifices to the Lord, but even then it was not supposed to take the place of obedience.  (1 Sam 15:22)
  • Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.

God bless you as you read, meditate and obey God’s Word!