19 Nov

“Off Key” in a Strange Land

Music is a means of expressing the thoughts of the heart. Every believer who has trusted Christ for salvation has a reason to have a song of thanksgiving and praise in the heart. The song writer calls it a song of deliverance of courage of strength. Since in this life, we still do battle with the sin nature of the old man, we sometimes allow our song to be muffled or silenced because spiritually we get “off key.”

In Psalm 137, the exiled Jews taken to Babylon found themselves to be “off key” in a strange land. Jerusalem had been destroyed along with the magnificent Temple of Solomon. In discouragement, they hanged their harps on the willow trees beside the river of Babylon. Their captors mocked them and asked them to sing one of the songs of Zion. The exiled Jews replied: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4)

What an opportunity here was lost. What a difference if the Jews has immediately reached for their harps and even through tears engaged their captors in song. Was God no longer their God? Was heaven no longer a hope? The words of spiritual songs planted in the heart give assurance, hope, strength, comfort, praise, faith, joy, and courage. How inspiring are these examples in song:

“Burdens are lifted at Calvary.”
“Just as I am, Thou wild receive.”
“My Lord’s a rock in Him I hide.”
“Great is Thy faithfulness.”
“To God be the glory.”
“Under His wings, I am safely abiding.”
“To the old rugged cross I will ever be true.”
“My hope is in the Lord.”
“Lord, I am coming home.”
“Tell me the old, old, story.”
“O to be like, Thee, blessed Redeemer.”
“It is no secret what God can do.”
“Lord, I need You.”
“He keeps me singing.”
“It is well with my soul.”

As we journey through this “strange land”, music can be a key that nourishes the soul until we reach Home. Keeping a melody of faith in the heart will keep us “on key” in praise to God.

16 Nov

Victory in Stillness

There is such a soothing stillness in autumn days. The poet Hood described it as being like “silence speaking to silence.” There is indeed much benefit in just being still and casting all concerns on God as He has invited us to do. It is difficult to hear God speaking when the soul is overwhelmed by the noise of doubt, anxiousness, and other distractions.

In Psalm 46:10, we are reminded: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.” This verse comes near the end of the Psalm. In the verses before, we are given reasons as to why we may be still and rest in God’s promises. These promises give every born-again believer an overwhelming insurance policy.

In verse one, God promises to be a refuge(shelter) from the storms and to be our strength and help in trouble. This personal protection should calm our fears. Also, this protection is so secure that we need not fear losing it because the price has been paid in full at Calvary.

Verses four and five give assurance that heaven awaits at the end of the journey. Eternal security is there because God is there, and heaven “shall not be removed.” Finally, God’s mighty works in the past remain clear evidence of His faithfulness and that “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Psalm 23 promises that we shall walk “beside still waters.” Consider also the words in Psalm 4:4: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.” Surrender the battle to God who is the God of victory. “Be still and know. . .” (Psalm 46:10)

24 Oct

Glory in the Heavens

The stars, sun, and moon are mentioned many times in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Psalm 19:1 states: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” “Declare” is a strong verb in that it means to broadcast. To “declare” also emphasizes that the truth of a statement is so evident that it cannot be denied. The heavens (sun, moon, stars) declare the glory of God through their mystery, beauty, and constancy.

The mystery of the universe remains because of its vastness in size. Job asks: “Is God not in the height of the heavens?…Behold the height of the stars how high they are.”( Job22:12 ) The distance between the earth and the stars was not known until 1838, when the astronomer Bessel was able to calculate the distance from the earth to the stars to be more than one-hundred thousand times the diameter of our solar system. The sun is the size of an average star, yet the sun itself is over one million times as large as the earth. Today, man has made much progress in exploring space, but the vast size of the heavens cannot be comprehended.

Mystery also remains concerning two miracles in the Old Testament which God as ruler and sustainer of the universe performed. In Joshua 10:13 when Joshua was in a battle against the Amorites, he needed more daylight to finish the battle, so he called upon God, “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves against their enemies.” The miracle in Isaiah 38:8 is just as glorious. Hezekiah the King of Israel who served God faithfully became ill and was facing death. He prayed and asked God to give him more years. God agreed to give him fifteen more years and to also deliver Israel out of the hands of the King of Assyria. As a sign that He would keep his promise, God caused the sun dial to move backwards ten degrees. Not only did the earth cease its rotation, but also reversed the earth’s rotation for a short time. The mystery of God’s power declares His glory.

Another mystery involves the star of Bethlehem which occurred at the time of Christ’s birth. Its brightness was most unusual. The star was not stationary but moved to guide the wisemen to the Christ Child. In Revelation 22:16, Christ calls Himself “the bright and morning star.”

Not only do the heavens declare the glory of God in their mystery, but also in the beauty which they produce. The stars, sun, and moon bring much beauty to the earth. How beautiful is the sky at night when the stars light up the world. They differ in size, color, height, and distance from the earth. How peaceful is the burst of color produced by the setting of the sun. The moon creates a changing beauty as it passes through its course each month. The seasons display their beauty as the earth rotates around the sun.

Finally, the constancy of the heavenly bodies declare the glory of God. We count on the time table of the universe. It is always on time. The sun rises in the morning; the moon appears always in the evening. The timing of the universe is so constant that scientists can predict when an eclipse of the sun or moon will appear.

In Psalm 8, David addresses the glory of God: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who has set Thy glory above the heavens…. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him? Christians too can declare God’s glory when we
allow His love to shine through our lives as we keep His commandments.

20 Oct

The Wellness Center for the Soul

Memories are a gift that connects us to the past. Recently, I was reminded of a memory that always brings a smile. However, this time as I recalled that memory, I immediately associated it with a spiritual truth for the times in which we live.

My husband was a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. During one of his sales meetings, his manager was introducing the Wellness Centers that many hospitals were opening. The manager, who was from another country, spoke with an accent. As he began talking about the Wellness Center, he pronounced Wellness with a V sound, so it sounded as though he were talking about a Vellness Center. Finally, my husband, who could not imagine what a Vellness Center was, raised his hand and asked the manager: “Just what is a Vellness Center”? You can imagine the laughter this produced.

This story is a reminder that the world is seeking for a Wellness Center for the soul, but the answer has become distorted. The true answer is that the Wellness for the soul is in Christ and His finished work on the cross. How does one get to the Wellness Center? The journey begins when the individual realizes that he has a disease called sin. There is only one cure for this disease. The door to the Wellness Center for the soul is called faith, faith in God’s plan for salvation which He has described and prescribed in the Bible: that is to place one’s faith in Christ.

The Bible states: “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) All are born sinners because Adam and Eve chose to sin. However, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The belief that Christ died on the cross, and rose from the grave so that all sinners who believe in Him might have eternal life is the cure for sin. Salvation is eternal. The believer will never lose his/her salvation. However, because man will never be perfect in this life, God has also made provision for future sin. Christ not only died for our sins, but also He remains the Great High Priest who is always ready to forgive our sins. I John 1:8-9 reminds us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thanks be to God for His great salvation, which even in the darkest hours gives cause for the redeemed to say: “It is well; it is well with my soul.”

29 Sep

Abounding Strength

In I Kings 19:4, Elijah the prophet of God is fleeing for his life because King Ahab and his wife Jezebel have vowed to kill him since Elijah has exposed their evilness.

After a day’s journey into the wilderness, Elijah falls asleep under a Juniper tree. An angel awakens him and offers him bread and water and says: “Arise and eat because the journey is too great for thee.” (I Kings 19:7) What an encouraging truth to know that the Father knows when our journey is too great for us and provides strength for our need. This strength includes physical, mental, and emotional strength.

The Bible gives many accounts of God’s strength in action. For example, the journey was too great for Abraham without God’s strength. Abraham obeyed God’s command to take all of his possessions and leave his family to go to a land which he had not seen. This was only the beginning of a journey filled with much adversity as Abraham was to become the father of the Hebrew nation. God’s strength was with Abraham every step of the journey.

Also, God gave Hannah the emotional strength to keep the promise she made to Him. Hannah promised God that if He gave her a male child, she would give the child to God for His service. God answered Hannah’s prayer and also gave her the strength to keep her promise. When the child was weaned, Hannah and her husband brought the child to the temple and presented him to Eli the priest, and Hannah said, “As long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord.”(I Samuel 1:28) This child Samuel became a priest who was faithful to his calling.

Refreshing Promises from the Word

Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.”

Psalm 18:32: “It is God that girdeth me with strength and maketh my way perfect.”

Psalm 29: 11: “The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.”

Psalm 81:1: “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.”

Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater. He sendeth more strength when the labors increase. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”
–George Beverly Shea

16 Sep

Heavenly Communication

Today communication is possible through many different means. How many times do we communicate with others throughout the day? God the Creator of communication desires to communicate with us. This is possible through prayer and the Bible. God speaks through His Word, the Bible, and we speak to Him through prayer.

The Bible is no ordinary book. Its author is God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16)

The Bible contains sixty-six books recorded by a variety of men, yet it has a unity that can be explained only by the fact that its writers were all inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible’s purpose is to give God’s message to the world. The Bible’s theme is the redemption of man.

This Book is a precious, perfect, powerful book of history, law, poetry, wisdom, and prophecy which engages its readers with stories of love, adventure, wars, suffering, heroes, friendship, greed, dedication, sacrifice, and much more.

Word pictures give insight to personal testimonies of what the Bible is:

In John 4:14, Christ presents the Word as SEED, which when planted in the heart of unbelievers and is received, will result in that person’s salvation.

In Jeremiah 15:16, Jeremiah says that the word is the “JOY and rejoicing of the heart.”

In Psalm 119:105, the writer declares: “Thy Word is a LAMP unto my feet and a Light unto my path.” In other words, the Word gives understanding and shows the way to journey through this life.

In Jeremiah 20:9, Jeremiah describes the Word as a FIRE that cannot be hidden but must be shared with others.

Volumes may be written about the Bible, but only when its pages are opened and its words read, will the reader understand the life changing power of God’s Word, the Bible.

“The Bible is a book in comparison with which all others are of minor importance and which in all my perplexities and distress has never failed to give me light and strength.”
Robert E. Lee

21 Aug

The Dominion Mandate

To have dominion is to rule. At the highest level, it means that man understands that he has a free will and a measure of power delegated to him by God and that he is charged with using that free will and power responsibly.

Psalm 8:6-8 6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

But some men fail to recognize that.

John 19:10-11 10Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?   11Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 

Even though man has repeatedly failed to exercise dominion well, that doesn’t mean that God failed in His design. The way one rules is determined by the character of the one ruling.

When Adam sinned, he forfeited dominion to Satan who became the prince of the power of the air. The Dominion Mandate is still in force even though it has been greatly affected by man’s sin. The mandate came from God, and God will never cede total dominion to Satan, although Satan certainly has the power to influence man to use the mandate for fleshly, carnal purposes.

While most fail to recognize the biblical basis for the mandate, it is still in effect and indirectly authorizes all honorable occupations – science, technology, medicine, commerce, government, education, the arts, etc. God’s intent was for it to benefit mankind and to honor Him.

We are God’s stewards. He has charged us to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28). May you and I as believers do our part well.

11 Aug

Small Things

“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zachariah 4:10)

In 587 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The magnificent temple that Solomon built was among the ruins. Soon after the destruction, the Jews from the tribe of Judah were exiled to Babylon. Their stay would last approximately fifty years.

In 538 B.C., Cyrus, the King of Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. However, the returning Jews were few in number, and their resources were small. Twenty years would pass before the building of the second temple. Finally, under the leadership of Jeshua, the High Priest and Zerubbabel, the governor, the building of the second temple began. There were many difficulties, but God promised that the temple would be finished, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.” (Zachariah 4:6) As the foundation was laid, the old men cried and the young men shouted for joy.

The temple was completed in 515 B.C. After seventy years, the Jews could once again worship God in their temple. It was during this difficult time of temple rebuilding, that God asked the question: “For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zachariah 4:10) God is not hindered during difficult times because He is the God of all resources.

Does this not encourage our hearts in this time of uncertainty! Small things become great things when given to God. Today, we find ourselves somewhat in a day of small things. Our choices have become smaller. If severe suffering comes, what should be our reaction? We serve a God who has promised: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

There are many examples of how God used small things to accomplish His purpose. For example, Christ used a lad’s lunch consisting of five barley loaves and two small fish to feed at least 5,000 people. (John 6:9) May we in these days think of the importance of small acts of service to others: a card, a phone call, an email, a smile, a meal, a prayer, an expression of gratitude. We serve a God today who promised that by His Spirit He would accomplish great things in “the day of small things.”

“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things – a chance word, a tap on the shoulder, or a penny dropped on a news stand – I am tempted to think…there are no little things.” Bruce Barton

When a small thing provides a great blessing, it is no longer a small thing.

27 Jul

More Great Truths for Times Like These

Recently I shared some truths from God’s Word in a devotional entitled, Great Truths for Times Like These. Here are more great truths. These are not original, but were shared by a lady in a former Sunday School class in regard to dealing with trials in life. I was so challenged by them that I wrote them down in the back of my Bible and added Bible references to them.

A time of crisis is no time for sloppy thinking.

1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The greatest danger is always the flesh.

Romans 7:18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

God’s Word is always the answer.

John 17:17
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

God’s glory is always the goal.

1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

God Himself is always enough.

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Making those truths come alive in our lives is part of the trying that the Lord permits us to go through. This lady’s sharing these truths was particularly revealing as she had been through treatment for cancer herself, and her teenage daughter was suffering from acute leukemia. Both were doing well at the time she shared these with the class.

16 Jul

Promises Kept

The story of the rainbow is such an uplifting account. The rainbow is mentioned four times in the Bible. In all of these references, there is a promise involved.

In Genesis chapter 8, after the flood has ended and Noah and his family are on dry land, Noah builds an altar and offers burnt offerings to God, “and the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; neither will I again smite any more every living thing.’”(Gen 8:21) Here we see the tenderness of God toward man and His creation. God establishes a covenant with Noah in which He promises: “Neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen 9:11) As a seal of the covenant, God promises: “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.” (Gen 9:13)

The other three references to the rainbow: Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3, and Revelation 10:1 refer to happenings after the rapture of the Church. In these three references, the rainbow functions as a reminder that God keeps His promises. Just as God restored the earth in Genesis, in Revelation, He promises a new heaven and a new earth.

A rainbow occurs when the sun shines through the rain. I like to think that there are personal rainbows which come when the SON shines through the rain in our lives and creates a rainbow in the heart. Take time to think on all the promises our God has kept and those He will continue to keep. Our Father, thank you for the rainbows, rainbows, rainbows!

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