The tendency of man is to keep to his own and to shun or avoid those outside of his group. The rich avoid the poor. The nationals separate from the immigrants and the culturally refined from the abased. This is true for all people groups and regardless of how much society teaches and trains to overcome this, it to some measure will remain the same. However, there was one who stooped down from his group to the reach out to the lowest.
Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the
things that are in heaven, and in the earth! Psalm 113:5-6
When God looked and came down to man, he needed to stoop way down. God, in his greatness, transcends far above all his creation. For him to look into the matters on Earth required that he stoop way below himself. In order to reach out to me when I was in my lost sinful state, it took an even greater step down. To save me, he needed to identify with me and he did this when he became a man: a step which required even greater humility (Philippians 2:8).
Missionaries have stooped to reach the lowly heathen of the jungle. Business men have stooped to secure land and mineral rights from natives and fortune hunters stooped down to secure gold and diamonds from people viewed in their eyes as less than them. We cannot fathom how far God needed to descend in order to reach us, but he did because we are more valuable than land, minerals, gold or diamonds.
He did not need to humble himself and come to us. He could have resided in his holy, lofty and divine habitation and had been right to do so, but he wanted us. He loved us and wanted to fellowship with us. He wanted to be our God. He wanted to be our father.
Today, lets remember how much God loves us as demonstrated by his humility and reach out across the equal plan of mankind to somebody who needs to know how much they are loved.
Many years ago as I began working as an electrician in a Pennsylvania steel mill, I gained some advice from an older man as we were climbing on a crane some 50 feet in the air. He told me that in order to keep from falling, I should keep three things in contact with the crane at all times: two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. It didn’t matter which. He further stated that with three in contact, if one contact was was to be lost, you still would have two firm contacts remaining. If you only had two contacts and one was to be lost, you most likely would not be able to maintain your position and would more than likely fall. I eagerly took his advice.
Similar advice can be given so as not to fall spiritually. The psalmist states that a good man will not be afraid of evil tidings because his heart is fixed, trusting The Lord (Psalm 112:7). His heart being fixed has the idea that his heart is firmly established in The Lord. It also carries the idea that it is in a ready state.
You can be sure to keep from falling if you established your heart in The Lord. Trials may come and attempt to remove your secure footing, but a heart that is set in The Lord will continually run to him for refuge and not fall into the pit of hopelessness and despair.
You can establish your heart in the Lord by attending to his word (Proverbs 4:20). You can also establish your heart by removing sources of negative influence (Proverbs 4:23-24). Between pushing away the world and its philosophy and drawing your heart nigh to God, you will secure your footing so as not to fall.
God has a plan for your life. It has always existed and will not change. As you walk with The Lord through life, he will guide you in his plan. The thoughts of trying to fulfill God’s plan or will for your life can be overwhelming, but it does not need to be. We do not need to find God’s will, we just need to follow it. The most difficult part of that is to endure the battles that will oppose God’s will.
Joshua was a man who knew what it was like to follow God. During his life time, he led God’s people into the promised land, but not without difficulty. Many have analyzed Joshua to determine what leadership qualities he had. In my opinion, Joshua’s greatest quality by far was being strong and courageous.
There is not any skill required to be strong and courageous nor does it take any great knowledge and understanding. A person is strong when they fasten upon, bind or cleave themselves to something. For Joshua, he held to what God wanted him to do and would not allow himself to be swayed. Joshua’s courage was displayed by his mind being fortified or established to The Lord. In short to be strong and courageous is to be unswayed emotionally and mentally. Joshua displayed this countless times as he led God’s people to conquer the cities of the promised land.
We too must be strong and of good courage. We must keep ourselves from being moved emotionally on mentally away from The Lord. Our battles are all spiritual ones. Therefore, we must fortify or gird up the loins of our minds to be courageous (1 Peter 1:13) and withstand the attacks of the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:58). Everyone is required to be strong and courageous and every one can be.
You can enable yourself to accomplish this by remembering what the Lord has already done for you and by fellowshipping with him. When attacks come, you will be forced to decide whether to believe The Lord or the enemy. Therefore bath yourself daily in God’s word and pour your heart out before him in prayer. The battle will rage and be difficult, but remember, the battle is the Lord’s. we are not required to bring the victory or even determine how the victory should be won. We are required to be strong and courageous.
When my son was little, I took him to a small kid’s amusement park. Some friends talked him into riding the roller coaster. As his car whizzed past me, I could see that he was terrified. So, I waited for him at the end of the ride in case he needed my help. When I asked him how the ride was and was he afraid, he stated with great confidence that it was nothing and that he hadn’t been afraid at all. I chuckle as I think of it. That is how I am as I go through the trials in life: I white knuckle through the experience, but look back as if it were nothing. Being strong and courageous does not mean you will never have fear, it simply means that the fear will not stop you from trusting The Lord.
Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, Joshua 1:1
What Joshua did when he was younger influenced what he did later in his life. As a young man, Joshua chose to follow The Lord and did so by supporting the Man of God. This passage tells us that Joshua ministered to Moses. In other words, he served Moses by meeting his needs. It probably was not surprising that when Moses was to pass on, Joshua would be the new leader. The only difference between him ministering as a youth and as a leader was the capacity in which he served God. All along Joshua was serving The Lord. He was used by The Lord to meet the needs of Moses and to support him as leader. To some it may not seem like much. There was not any glory in his service and probably not any social recognition, but because he was truly serving God, it did not matter.
You too can and must serve The Lord. Each time you enable or strengthen a believer, you have served The Lord. Those in ministry are under attack and need encouragement from other believers. Whether it be a note, a phone call or a secret gift, these acts of encouragement are used by The Lord. Shut-ins, the elderly and the sickly need encouragement and support as well. If you keep your heart sensitive to The Lord and your ear to the church grapevine, it will not be long before you will find somebody who needs ministering to.
As you put this mind set into practice, you will be influencing the recipient and others who may hear of how you were an encouragement. You will influence others around you and be an example to the church of what it should be.
I have preached many times and have seen many different responses to the preaching, but the greatest response that I always see is when I preach about trials and try to encourage those in the midst of them. People everywhere hurt. We hurt because we are a fallen race in a world of sin and we will continue to hurt unto we are taken out of it, but until then, those who encourage others are greatly used by The Lord to help us along the way.
Will you decide to minister to somebody? Right now, ask The Lord to direct your heart. He will and you will be blessed.
The Scriptures tell us that God is rich or abounding in mercy. Why is mercy so important to us? Can we live without mercy and if so, what would it be like?
Without mercy, God’s actions towards all men would be based on his holiness as dictated by the Law. The principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth would result is us receiving an act of judgment against us for each sin that we commit. Living under these conditions would be impossible to perceive because the consequence would be death after committing the first sin. However if death would not occur, man’s life would consist of experiencing judgment upon judgment for each sin committed. During every moment of each day, man would live under the terror of when God’s hand of judgment would fall upon. Multiple times daily he would experience curses from God, physical plagues, domination from enemies and famine. His life would be one without hope and death would bring greater terror than his life.
Praise be to God for the Scriptures state, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us (Ephesians 2:4). From this we see that mercy is a product of God’s love. In other words, mercy is the means by which God acts towards us in love. Mercy is dependent on God and not us. We first received mercy when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Our lives could not get any lower than that. Now that we have believed and have become children of God through adoption, we are joint heirs in Christ. We have received his inheritance and righteousness. However regardless of that great position in which we now stand, mercy continues to be based on God’s love. Regardless of whether I am up or down, abounding on the mountain top of struggling in the valley, I can still rest in the fact that God will deal with me in mercy. As long as he loves, he will act in mercy. He will always love because he is love (1 John 4:8).
Today, I can expect the best. God loves me and because of that I can look to the God of mercy for the help that I need throughout the day.
How do people who were at one time excited about The Lord make a turn one day and then depart from him? This question has been asked by many believers throughout the ages. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, some disciples did the very thing. The reason for their departing from The Lord gives insight into the reason for others.
There are three key phrases in this passage that are of great importance: does this offend you, his disciples murmured and his disciples went back (vs. 61, 66). These key phrases reveal the steps that take place with people that turn away from The Lord.
The phrase “Does this offend you?” can be said in another way as “Does this trip you up?” The first step in turning from The Lord is allowing yourself to be offended or tripped up by events that The Lord has allowed to happen in your life. For some it is the loss of a job. Others get tripped up over a miss carriage, auto accident, missed opportunity or the hurt that comes from people that they love and the list can go on. Whatever it may be, people allow events that occur to affect their view of God, his mercy and his goodness.
After they are offended or tripped up, they begin to murmur against The Lord. It may begin in the heart but after some time it will flow out of their lips. Whether it be as simple as God isn’t fair or as deep as God doesn’t love me and I want nothing to do with him, it is still sin.
After being tripped and then the heart is turned it is only a matter of time before the sin nature decides that it will take over and say that if God will not treat me as I need it, I will take care of things myself and then walk away from God. What a sad state to be in. It did not take just a few days to get there and for some it took years, but the enemy tripped them up, turned their heart and led them to fall away.
The solution is never to allow the enemy to get a foothold in your life. Those whose Christianity has been performance based will fall more easily to the enemies’ attacks. Those who have a deep relationship with The Lord, will be able to withstand the lies and attacks of the flesh and enemy. In either case all can be delivered because God’s grace is always present and sufficient, but what sadly takes place is that these people allow themselves to become captive by their own will.
Two ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. Does it get any better than that? Not at my house. We think the combination is the best. However, there is one combination that out does any other combination and that is faith and love.
There is not a need for you to be put under a microscope to examine if you meet the expectation of The Lord. All people need to find are two main ingredients: faith in God and love for the brethren. According to Galatians 5:6, our faith works by love. The word for works comes from the Greek word energeo. From it, we get the modern word energize. In short, our faith is energized by our love. So faith is the manifestation of our love toward God. He wants our love and each time we exercise our faith, we are demonstrating our love for him.
The second ingredient for the Christian is love for the brethren. This is a repeat of the second great commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself. When we demonstrate love for the brethren, the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Love is not a feeling but a conscious decision and desire to meet the need of somebody. We are admonished to love our enemies. In order to do that you definitely will not have the emotion labeled love, but you will act in a manner to meet their need. This love needs to been seen by the world and the church.
As you live for The Lord, keep you faith focused upward and reach out in love to the brethren. By doing so, you will have the two main ingredients essential for pleasing The Lord and fulfilling his will.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11
As a kid, I was short and skinny. One day, I got ahold of a muscle man magazine. It was then that I determined that I was going to be big with muscles. Immediately, I started an exercise program and dietary changes. For breakfast, I had Wheaties with wheat germ sprinkled on top. After breakfast, I forced myself to consume a table spoon of black strap molasses. The stuff was nasty, but I was told that it would make me big and strong. So, i ate it anyway. After weeks of this program, it seemed as if there wasn’t any benefit. I wasn’t bigger and definitely not stronger. So because of my disdain for the molasses and the lack of recognizable benefits, I quit the program.
Some people after living the Christian begin to think that there isn’t any benefit. They don’t see miracles happening in their lives and they continue to struggle with sin and the attacks of the enemy. Sadly to say, many drop out of the heavenly race. The legalist crowd would say that these people were never saved. I think that they became disillusioned and discouraged.
Regardless of how things appear, there are benefits for living for The Lord. Psalm 97:11 states that light will be sown for the righteous. When the clouds of trials and troubles loom overhead, we can rest that The Lord will shed light on the direction that we should go. The skies will not part open like a scroll nor will the mountains shake, but nonetheless The Lord will lead. More than likely, we will not recognize his leading until after we have arrived at his place.
Another promised benefit for those living for The Lord is gladness. Gladness is what the entire world is looking for. They will not find it in the bottom of a bottle, in a pill vial or in the pleasure of sin. Their money cannot buy it and fame or position will not yield its peaceable fruit. Gladness comes to the upright in heart.
These blessings can be considered much like salt when cooking. You may not recognize when it is added, but you sure can tell when it is missing. If you are facing difficulties, don’t bail out on God and miss the promised blessings that he has for you. The benefit will be worth it and the loss will be great.
As a kid growing up, my father decided to make wine. He recruited me as his helper. I really didn’t have any say in the matter, it just happened. He located some black berry bushes not too far from the house. The patch was relatively large. I remember squeezing my way through the picky branches of the bushes. Once in the center of the patch, I was in kid heaven. I don’t recall how many quarts of berries I picked, but I can say that I ate more than I picked. Although my legs and arms were torn by the branches, it was well worth it.
Truth is an important part of the Christian’s life. By it the believer is made free (John 8:32). God’s word or truth is a guide (Psalm 119:105) and by it favor and good understanding will be found with God and man (Proverbs 3:3-4). According to Psalm 91:4, truth is a shield and buckler. These words are very similar and from their meanings we gain great insight into the benefit of truth.
The word shield comes from the word meaning pointed or prickliness. As something prickly keeps opponents from advancing forward, truth keeps falsehood from getting too close. A buckler is something that surrounds a person. It is used to deflect blows from a sword. In the same manner, truth deflects the wiles and attacks of the enemy from advancing and overcoming the believer’s heart.
For whatever troubles I may face today, truth is what I will need to withstand the enemy. When my faith rests in truth, I will experience victory. I don’t need better plans: I need truth. Although the experience and encouragement from others may help, in the end it is the truth that they experienced and share with me that will bring hope and strength. Before you start your day, get the truth that you will need. Without it, your heart will be unprotected and you will be unable to withstand the enemy.
Shortly after the stock market crumbled in 1929, there were many, who previously had been very wealthy, that were facing financial ruin. They were in debt beyond their imagination. For those who saw no way out and could not face the shame, ruin and their current state of poverty, decided to take their own lives. They did so because they could not face living under the bondage and constraints that the poverty would bring.
For Moses, this was not the case. He was raised in the palace of the Pharaoh, but of his own accord chose no longer to live in the pleasures of sin. By forsaking Egypt and following God, he went from being a ruler to servant. The choice was not placed upon him, nor did he make the decision after being coerced by spiritual leaders. Moses recognized that in life he would serve somebody or something. He chose to serve the living God.
Today and every day, I must make that same choice. Will I live to fulfill my will or will I live to pursue the desires of God? This decision begins when I awake and continues to occur countless times throughout the day. Will I labor for my employer like I want or as God wants? Will I handle problems that I have with people in my manner or God’s? Will I manage money my way or God’s way? The decision is mine. When Christ saved me, he set me free and the liberty that I have in Christ is that I get to choose. I can do this because I no longer am bound in sin, but set free.
What decision will you make? As you make the decision to serve God, vocalize it to him each day. Begin your day with the declaration to God that you choose to serve him.