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Archive for September, 2006

True Faith

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Job. Although it’s sad to see the pain inflicted upon him by Satan, his unchanging faith in God is truly a sight to behold, and something each and every one of us should strive for.

Job 1:1-5 starts by giving us some background on Job and his family: It tells us that he was blameless and upright; “he feared God and shunned evil”. Because of his stout devotion God had blessed him with many sons and daughters, and with riches greater than any of the people in the East. He was a truly blessed and happy man.

Job’s First Test:
Continuing, in Job 1:6-12 it says: Then one day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch our your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Satan then took all of Job’s possessions from him, killed his sons and his daughters, and left only four servants to tell Job of his misfortune. Upon learning this, Job didn’t curse God or blame Him, but fell down in worship and said:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
– Job 1:21

How many of us can say that we would fall down and worship God when trouble comes our way? Even if everything we had was taken away from us?

Job’s Second Test:
The Bible goes on to tell us: On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

Satan then inflicted terrible sores over every inch of Job’s body. He continued torturing him and causing him great pain for some time, yet Job’s trust in God would not be shaken. The story ends with God healing Job, giving him back all his wealth and then some, and blessing him with many more sons and daughters.

It’s easy being a Christian when everything is going well for us, but it is the terrible and unfortunate times that truly test our faith in the Lord. I pray that we all have faith like Job did; a faith so strong that even if all our loved ones and wordly treasures are stripped from our hands, we will not lose our trust in Him.

Priority

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1-3

The first thing to come to my mind when I read this was, wow, How awesome is our God? His people were suffering, and they couldn’t free themselves. He heard their cries, and He took action. He freed His people from their tormentors. After He had saved so many peoples’ lives, Why wouldn’t He want them to worship only Him? It makes sense to me.

Some Christians have a tendency to believe this command doesn’t apply to them because they worship God. That’s what their lives are all about isn’t it? No, we don’t worship the sun or moon, we don’t sacrifice our children to rocks, right? But no one can keep every law all the time. We have each broken every law God has given us, including the first one. When we don’t put God’s will first in our lives then we have to put something first. The something we tend to put first, is OUR will.

We are told in Matthew 26:42, that Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done. If Jesus Himself prayed this prayer, how much more so should we submit ourselves to the will of God? He could have just as easily begged for His life, and that the burden of every sin in the world be lifted from His shoulders. Even the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples contains the phrase, “THY will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

God has given us the best gift there could be. He gave us freedom from eternal death, and a new life to live for Him. When we accept the gift of God, we make a decision. We chose to either follow God, and live with His will before ours, or follow ourselves and live for ourselves. Matthew 6:24 says “No man can serve two masters.” We can not live for God and for ourselves.

God has given us a choice. He has offered each and every being the key to eternal life, but whoever accepts it makes the decision to put their old lives away and begin a new one. Whoever accepts God’s gift chooses to put His will before their own.

We can not live for both God and ourselves. It is our decision who we make our priority.

Thoughts on Psalm 9: Part 2

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Today, I’m finishing up looking at Psalm 9. I’m picking up in Verse 11.

The Psalmist says to sing praises to the Lord, and to declare His doings among the people. Declare His doings means to tell people what God has done. Do we do this? Do we tell people God has done in our lives? Do we tell people how much God has done to help us? Or do we not say anything? Part of praising God is telling other people how Great He is.

Continuing, the Psalmist describes how God doesn’t forget what the evil do, or what the humble cry out for. The Psalmist then switches over to a cry for himself, asking God to have mercy on him, so that he will then be able to praise God more.

He then describes the heathen, and how they are trapped in their own doings. Many times, evil people get trapped in their own evils, and end up dying, or suffering greatly for it. We may think that we are not evil people, but haven’t we all got trapped at least once in something we were doing to “get back at someone” for something they did to us?

The Psalmist ends by describing the consequences of being evil, and that the needy and poor’s dreams will not always be forgotten. In ending, he also prays that God will show nations how all they are just men and how God is God.

Thoughts on Psalm 9: Part 1

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Psalm 9 is another Psalm of praise to God. The Psalmist details how he will praise God with his WHOLE heart. He doesn’t say with part of his heart, or with most of his heart, he says that he praises God with his WHOLE heart; with all of his heart.

Too often, we worship God with part of our life, and basically say “Here God, have this, but stay away from the rest of my life”. Should we instead offer God our entire life when we praise, rather than only part of it? This doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to enjoy ourselves, but it does mean that we should pick what we do carefully, and not do things that God wouldn’t like.

Continuing, the Psalmist describes how God judges the evil, and how He has destroyed the wicked. He says how the Lord will endure forever, and how he is a refuge for those who put their trust in him.

God is our refuge, if we are willing to let go, and put our trust in Him. Too often though, we are so caught up in our own problems, or we are so stubborn, we don’t put our trust in God. Rather, we try to work through it on our own. Instead of relying on ourselves, or worrying, we should put our trust in God, and He will be a refuge for us.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish going over Psalm 9

The Sixth Commandment

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

I was reading through Exodus today and came across the section where God presents Moses with the Ten Commandments. I’ve read this passage many times, but something interesting caught my eye. The NIV Bible I was using (Which I use the most) showed the Sixth Commandment as “You shall not murder”. This confused me, because since I was very little my family has had two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments enscribed on them; and I specifically remember the Sixth Commandment being written as “Thou shalt not kill”.

I decided to try another version, and opened up my King James Bible to Exodus 20:1-17. It showed the Sixth Commandment written as “Thou shalt not kill”. It surprised me that the KJV & NIV Bibles would have such a glaring contradication. The words ‘kill’ and ‘murder’, although sharing a common action that results in death, have VERY different meanings.

I believe that the NIV Bible has the most accurate translation for this verse. I could technically ‘kill’ someone if I accidentally crashed into another car while driving. Would this mean that I broke that Commandment? Since I had no intention of harming anyone, I don’t think so. On the other hand, if I were to intentionally ‘murder’ someone by stabbing them with a knife, I would have broken the Sixth Commandment severely.

Please share your thoughts!

Fight or Forgive?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” One of these commandments is “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13

We go through all of the commandments, and we tend to skip this one. Why would we kill anyone? We’re Christians right? Everyone refers to terrorists as murderers, which I don’t deny, but what a lot of people don’t know, is that every human being is a murderer.

We all know that no one but Jesus is perfect no matter how hard we may try. People do things that we don’t like, that rub us the wrong way, or make us angry. Maybe they steal something, use something without permission, or even bomb a city. There is a time for justice and forgiveness, and a time for revenge. Our job is to ensure justice. We need to leave revenge in God’s hands. If we don’t forgive them, and let it go, or deal with it calmly and fairly, that dislike for them builds up. We can’t keep those feelings locked up forever, they have to be let out at some point. Whether we clear it up with them gently, or blow up at them, those feelings will come out.

An unresolved problem could easily turn into hate. Unresolved hate leads to a longing for revenge. A thirst for revenge can begin many wars.

Hate is murder in your heart [Matthew 5:22], but it can lead to physical murder. If the problem is not taken care of, it can grow and become a worse problem than when it began [Ephesians 4:26b]

So how do we make sure we do not kill? The best way to prevent hate is to love. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26a that we need to be angry and sin not. It is ok to get upset with people, and it is ok for two countries to disagree with each other, but if that little moment of getting upset, or that disagreement is not resolved, forgiven, or pushed out of our memory, it causes trouble. If we clear up any problems or misunderstandings right away, then they won’t build up in our hearts and minds.

In Romans 12:19, we read that revenge belongs to God, not to us. He will avenge the deaths of the innocent, and the abuse of the helpless. We need to show EVERYBODY the love of God, including the people that persecute us [Romans 12:20-21]. We can not show the Love and forgiveness of God, if we are blinded by our hate. We can not both love someone, and hate them [Matthew 6:24].

We know we have to love our enemies, and show everybody God’s forgiveness, but we can love someone and not really like them at the same time. We can love terrorists, but we do not have to choose them as our best friends, and we do not have to like their actions. If more people forgave others for actions against them, and loved instead of hated, fewer wars would break out, fewer lives would be taken, and more hearts could be won for Christ.

It is our decision. It is your decision. Are we going to fight or forgive? Are you going to love or hate?

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Thoughts on Psalm 8

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Psalm 8 starts off with a heartfelt praise to God. The Psalmist says that the name of the Lord is Majestic, and goes on to say that “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength”.

This is where we get the saying “Out of the mouth of babes”. What the Psalmist is saying is that God uses children sometimes to accomplish His will. He doesn’t just use adults or people who have been theologically trained; He uses children as well.

Continuing, the Psalmist praises God, by thinking about the heavens, and the other things that God has created. This leads him to ask what man is, compared to what God is.

He answers by describing man, how man is slightly lowe rthan the angels, and has dominion over the works of God’s hands. In closing, he praises God again, by saying how majestic his name is.

When we pray to God, how do we do it? Do we remember to praise God? Or do we just thank him for a few things, maybe ask for forgiveness, and then launch into a list of things we “need”. Or do we remember that sometimes, we just need to praise God for Who He is, and what He has done.

The End Times

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I was having a discussion recently about whether or not we would know when the return of Jesus would be. The Bible doesn’t give us an exact date, time, and place, but it does give us some clues. Take a look at this passage from 2 Timothy, Chapter 3:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, un-forgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -”

If you think about it, that pretty much describes how the world is today. Everytime I pick up the newspaper I see articles on death, destruction, hatred, and other evils. Turn on your TV and go to any news channel – It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll see the reporters discussing a murder, rape, or some similiar attrocity. Children aren’t allowed to discuss the Bible in school, Judges can’t bring the Ten Commandments into their courtroom, and Soldiers can’t even bow their heads in prayer without being criticized!

The “disobedient to their parents” part especially caught my attention. Just look around you and you’ll see for yourself how true that part of the prophesy is.

It’s so sad to see how far the world has grown apart from God; how wicked and immoral our society has become. But do not be afraid or discouraged, for in Revelation’s 22:12-16, Jesus tells us:

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the three of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

Jesus is coming to bring us home with Him!

Thoughts on Psalm 7

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Psalm 7 is a fascinating Psalm, asking for judgment.

The Psalmist starts out by declaring how he puts his trust in God, and asking that God save him from his persecuters. Now, after saying this, he says something very interesting.

He then says that if he has iniquity on his hands, he prays that his enemy will persecute him, and that his enemy will kill him.

Now, lets stop and look over this again. The Psalmist is praying that God will save him, but, if he has done something wrong; something to deserve this persecution, he prays that his enemy will kill him. Isn’t that an amazing prayer request? Too often, we assume that we are in the right, and that our enemies are in the wrong. The Psalmist understood that sometimes, we are in the wrong, and that our “enemies” are sometimes in the right. Because of this, he was willing to pray to GOD that if he had sinned, that he would be punished for it.

The Psalmist continues by praying that the Lord will bring down judgment on himself, and all the people. He prays that the wickedness of the wicked will end, and that the just will remain.

He then describes what God will do to the wicked, and how the wicked’s plans go astray.

In conclusion, he says that he will praise God.

This, to me, is such an amazing prayer. David prays that God will judge him, and that if he sinned, that God will allow his enemies to kill him. How many of us would be willing to pray that prayer? How many of us would be willing to admit that we might be the wicked, and not our “enemies”?

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Monday, September 25th, 2006

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