Do you take your work for Jehovah’s kingdom seriously???

Scripture:
And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. – 1 Chronicles 28:9-10

Observation:
David neared the end of his life. He assembled all Israel before The LORD and him to present Israel with his successor, Solomon. As he recounted the days of his service to The LORD and Israel, David informed Solomon of the necessity to worship and serve Jehovah with all that he was and to do so with all sincerity, and to take the work of leading The LORD’s people seriously. Finally, he told his son to be strong and to do the work for which Adonai had chosen him.

Application:
Among all the advice and instruction David gave to Solomon in that discourse, the part that leapt off the page at me today and knocked on top of my head was the command, So take this seriously. These words remind me to re-evaluate the purpose of my being and the purpose of my mission. What am I here on the earth to do during my short stay? Am I doing what The LORD chose me to do? Am I serious about completing the mission, or is this a game to me?

These may seem like trite and trivial questions to some, but to me, they strike at the very heart of who I am, what I am, and what I am doing (supposed to be doing) in this life. The LORD called all humanity to repentance and salvation, but not all respond. Of those wooed by his Spirit, many heed the call and come to salvation, but they resist his Lordship! Of those that heed the call and submit to The LORD, they are the ones he can use to work in his kingdom and fulfill the promises he spoke through the ancient prophets and apostles. Those in the latter group are the ones who take their work and relationship with The LORD seriously, remain strong by grace from Jesus, are equipped by the Holy Spirit, and DO THE WORK to which they were called.

I am at a junction in life where taking inventory of me and the path I am on is required. 48 years have passed for me on this earth as of this year, and many of the tasks set before me remain unfinished. Today, The LORD speaks to me directly from his written word via illumination from his Spirit and informs me it is high time to re-evaluate my sincerity in total pursuit of Him, his kingdom, and his righteousness. This life is not you or me, but it is about HIM! I do worship The LORD, but am I doing so with wholeheartedly and with a willing mind? Thus, I am beginning to seek him anew in order to find him more deeply and more intimately.

As Solomon was chosen to build the Temple, I was chosen as a watchman on the wall to proclaim and declare the TRUTH of Holy Scripture in order that the lost may come to Messiah and be found! I was chosen to proclaim and declare to the saved the TRUTH of Holy Scripture that will equip them to do every good work for the kingdom’s and gospel’s sake!

What are you called to do? Are you doing it? Are you doing it with all that is in you? Do you take it seriously? Join me in seeking the Father and his grace that we may finish the race set before us! Upward and onward!

Prayer:
Father, LORD of heaven most high, you are to be praised and worshipped above all! Your name is great in the earth as it is in the heavens! I bow before you in humility and admit that I have not done all that you have asked of me. I have at times not taking the mission seriously as I should have. There has been much slack at time with periods of “activity” mixed therein, yet the mission remains unfinished. I know that the entire mission will not be completed until Messiah returns and stands on Mt. Olivet and assumes his rightful place atop the throne of David in Zion! Until that time, though, I have worked to which you assigned me that must be done. Equip me, strengthen me, and guide me to the finish. I will take my mission seriously and do the work with all due diligence! Your will is to be done, not mine, and to that point I submit myself to you and your Lordship! Forgive me and correct me as needed. Teach me and guide me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Jehovah Still Shows Grace, Compassion, and Care for Israel.

Scripture:
But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. – 2 Kings 13:23

Observation:
As Elisha neared death, Aram continued to oppress Israel and reduced Israel’s army to almost nothing to prevent them from retaliating. The king went to the prophet for advice, who told him to take arrows and beat the ground. The king beat the ground thrice with the arrows, so the prophet told him that he’d defeat Aram only three times instead of complete victory had he done it more that thrice. Elisha died, and Hazael, king of Aram, never relented from oppressing Israel all through the king’s reign; however, the LORD loved and cared for his people and gave Israel victory over Hazael’s son, Ben-Hadad, thrice as prophesied.

Application:
We see to this day that the enemies of Israel want her dead and gone. The Iranians are renown for their statements of hatred toward Israel in that they want to annihilate Israel and push her into the sea until she is no more. The problem for Israel’s enemies is that the LORD promised on oath to give the land of Canaan to the patriarchs and their descendants forever. Because the LORD is faithful and never retreats from his promises, he has, is, and will continue to uphold, defend, and have compassion for the chosen people of Israel. He didn’t allow ancient Israel’s enemies from destroying her, and he is not about to let her modern enemies do so either. Sure, there will be death and loss across Israel as was foretold by the ancient prophets, but the LORD always has a remnant for which he returns, those who truly love him! Keep an eye on the Middle East and watch Israel defeat her enemies as the mighty hand of the LORD provides for them. He is loving, gracious, compassionate, and concerned for Israel.

The beauty of the situation is that the LORD is both God of the Jew and the Gentile, and he has and is calling sheep not of the fold of Israel into the flock. Jesus prophesied such and continues to fulfill this mission, for salvation comes first to the Jew and then the Gentile. Fortunately, Jesus tore down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile and created one new mankind in him through his sacrifice and resurrection. Because we know that the LORD is faithful to Israel and is the same forever, we can be reassured that he is loving, gracious, compassionate, and concerned for us as well. He is Creator and wants all mankind to come to repentance and be a part of his royal family. Oh taste and see that the LORD is good! Once you do, you’ll never want to go back to the evil ways of sin. Trust in the LORD and serve him faithfully.

Prayer:
Father, may your name rise above all others and be glorified more than all! You are the righteous King who sits in heaven with earth as your footstool. You rule and reign in the affairs of men whether they like it or not. When I read this passage today, I could feel your love for Samaria and Israel despite their continual rejection of you under the various kings who caused them to sin against you through idolatry and other violations of your Law and word. Nevertheless, your love for them, as promised to the patriarchs, was evident them and is still so today. As we reflect back upon the 6-day War of 1967, we see that your mighty hand provided victory over six of Israel’s enemies as they fought them on all fronts from all sides! You demonstrated not only your love and care for them but also showed the world that you are still supreme! May your will be carried out in the world to its completion. Thank you for loving me and caring for me as much as you do for your chosen people of Israel. I trust in you for everything. May your will be done in my life too, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t Get Excited Just Because a Prayer Isn’t Answered Immediately; Praise God If It Is!

Scripture:
He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. – 2 Kings 2:14

Observation:
Elisha followed the prophet Elijah from town to town, all the way across the Jordan River. Along the way, Elijah kept telling Elisha to stay at each town to which they came, but the younger refused to leave the elder. At each town, a group of prophets approached Elisha and asked him if he knew that the LORD would take Elijah away from him, to which he replied in the affirmative. Finally, when they reached their ultimate destination, the elder asked the younger what he could do for him. Elisha replied that he wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to rest upon him after he was gone. Elijah said that if Elisha witnessed his departure, then his request would happen. Elijah was taken away in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses into the heavens. As he sped away, his cloak fell to the ground, and Elisha retrieved it. When Elisha returned to the Jordan River to go back the way he’d come, he struck the water as Elijah had done. He then asked where the LORD was in anticipation of seeing the water part a second time, so he could cross over on dry ground as before. He watched the river part, and he crossed on dry ground.

Application:
When I read this passage, I hear the prophet questioning where the LORD is, but it’s not really a doubt or lack of faith. Elisha had witnessed his mentor do some radical things (miracles) along their journey. Just witnessing the very departure of Elijah would have been a terrific moment! Can you imagine travelling with a close companion, who is then carried out of sight into the heavens aboard a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses?!? I don’t believe for a second that Elisha questioned the presence or the power of his God, Jehovah. He expressed his faith by grabbing the cloak of his mentor, striking the water as his mentor did, and returning home by the way he came. He may for a split second have wondered why the water didn’t immediately part, but it did! His faith was reassured and cemented by this miracle. (An interesting note is that Elijah’s last miracle was the same as Elisha’s first!)

I will not lie. There have been times when I have asked where the LORD is. I’ve had my moments where I prayed for something, and it didn’t happen just when and how I thought it should. Such a thing can unnerve some people or at least rock them spiritually a bit. Let me also state that the LORD does and will answer prayer. He may not answer them immediately, as he did for these two prophets of old, but he does nonetheless. For this reason, Jesus the Messiah taught us to pray in this manner, “Ask, and keep on asking. Seek, and keep on seeking. Knock, and keep on knocking. For the one who asks will receive. The one who seeks will find. To the one who knocks, it will be opened.” We can’t give up hope or stop praying. Keep the faith. Continue to P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have enough faith simply because there was no immediate answer to prayer. The LORD himself taught us otherwise! Therefore, don’t get all bent out of shape if this happens. Be patient, and remember the words of the LORD to David, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Prayer:
Most gracious, loyal, loving, and righteous Father, may you be praised above all! Your majesty is indescribable! Thank you for building up my faith and encouraging me to continue on even when things don’t go exactly as I expect. You taught us to pray with persistence and to do so boldy before the throne of grace. You moved mightily in the lives of the prophets and apostles, and you still do so today. You are the same forever and don’t change. So why would you not continue to perform them and be the God of miracles? You wouldn’t! Help me to be an encourager to those who struggle with not seeing your hand move in their lives immediately. I used to be one of them; I know. There are those moments when I have an occasional flare-up, but you relieve the situation sooner or later. I have nothing to fear, and there is no reason for me to doubt your faithfulness. You told Moses that you are the faithful God. You’re true to your word, which never comes back void or not having accomplished its mission. Thus, I put my whole trust in you, the waymaker! May your will be done, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Scripture:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:3-4

Observation:
In his letter to the Philippian congregation, Paul noted many things for which he was grateful concerning them and their generosity toward him and to others in general. He admonished them to pursue serving others and keeping themselves pure and blameless before others. In this way, they would remain above reproach. Among his warnings, he advised them to do nothing out of selfishness or conceit. Instead, they were to remain humble, value others before themselves, and to put the interests of others above theirs.

Application:
This passage, and letter, is a huge indictment against the American church in this day and age. In the land of the free and home of the brave, there has been and still is a land of plenty, flowing with milk and honey! Because of this wealth and freedom, the people of this nation, despite their generosity to others, have allowed pride and vanity to take hold like a tick on a dog’s ear. Even people in the body of Messiah have succumbed to the ways of the post-modern world in which we live.

Christians are beginning to forsake the very foundations of the Scriptures in pursuit of personal pleasures and world gain. We now allow homosexuals in our pastorates and positions of authority. Homosexual marriages are condoned in various denominations in the name of love and grace, to wit they are an abomination. Divorce rates among Christians are at rates paralleling those in the world. The world has embraced the philosophy of open arms to all and anything goes!

Whereas Paul advises us to put the interests of others before ours, it not to say that we cower to the pressure destroying our culture and way of life. Jesus taught the golden rule of treating others the way you want them to treat you. This is how you go about putting others’ interest above yours. If we merely step aside and allow evil to become good and good become evil, we are complicit in the destruction that engulfs our lives. No, we must learn to serve our fellow man for the sake of the gospel by spreading the good news of Jesus the Messiah and the truth of his Word. We work to please the Father, and LORD of our Messiah, not mankind or ourselves. While at the same time, we must ever remain on guard and be ready to defend our faith and give an explanation of why we believe what we believe. Even Nehemiah had his workmen building the walls of Jerusalem with one hand and a sword in the other.

Jesus the Messiah served those around him in everything from turning water into wine to healing the sick and raising the dead! He even went so far as to allow himself to be arrested, tried, convicted, and executed but finally resurrected in order that he may fully display the heart of a servant and the work required of one who serves others to the ultimate end without ever compromising who he was or what he believed!

This is the life that Paul tells the Philippians and us to emulate. Prefer others and do nothing to promote yourself. It’s not about us but all about him! We accomplish this feat by loving the LORD our God with all our being and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Therefore, keep yourself balanced with periodic checkups from the neck up! Be willing to lend a hand and help others but without compromising your faith or giving into temptation! Stand true to Messiah, others, and yourself. Let your word be your bond. Remember that we are in this world but not of this world!

Prayer:
Father, LORD God Almighty, he who sits between and is enthroned between the cherubim, thank you for the truth of your word. Your Spirit brings its truths alive in me and helps me to learn the right path to follow. I’ve not always been the most humble servant or obedient child, but I am still learning and practicing the ways you prescribe for us in your word. I take your word with great care and utmost sincerity. Please continue to show me the way to remain humble and all the while continuing to serve others in whatever capacity you want. I don’t want to be like the world that says one thing and then does another. I want to be a man of my word and keep my integrity intact. May only your will be done, not mine. As you lead, I’ll follow. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me past, present, and future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Take all commands from the LORD; do nothing without his direction!

Scripture:
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. – 1 Kings 18:36

Observation:
Three-plus years earlier in the narrative, Elijah prayed and the skies dried up over northern Israel. The drought led to nationwide death and famine. It also put a price on the head of the LORD’s prophet! Near the end of this famine, the LORD told Elijah to present himself to Ahab and announce that the rains would return according to the word of the LORD. He encountered Obadiah, a faithful follower of the LORD, and told him to have Ahab gather all the prophets of baal and asherah, so the LORD would prove himself supreme before the people of Samaria. The story unfolded with two sacrifices presented to each deity, one to baal and one to the LORD. The only sacrifice consumed was Elijah’s, which had been doused with gallons of water and still burned up including the water that overflowed around it! Elijah, however, asked the LORD to show the people that he had done all this only at the LORD’s command.

Application:
The first thing we need to examine in Elijah’s prayer that day are the words, let it be known today that you are God in Israel. These words define the whole of Elijah’s actions that day in challenging the prophets of false gods to prove whose deity actually was supreme! Without setting this base, there was no point in going further. There would have been no purpose for a wanted man to come forth publicly and expose himself to arrest, trial, and execution. Then the prophet asked that the LORD demonstrate his supremacy in order to show the pagans that he was indeed a servant of the Most High and did this according to the LORD’s command only and not of himself. He’d have to have been mad to attempt this in his own power.

The moral of the story is that we need to ensure that if we are embarking something that it is ordered and commanded of the LORD. We risk incurring the consequences of actions that we employ that have not been directed of the LORD. Could you imagine what might have happened to Elijah had he just gone off on his own and challenged all of Israel? Think back to Abraham and Isaac when they lied to foreign potentates about their wives being their sisters! They suffered for that. Think of Joshua when he made a treaty with the Gibeonites when God said to not do so and to wipe out the people of Canaan! Israel still pays the price for that disobedience to this day!! If the LORD says move, then move! If he says park it for a while, then stay put! Be led of the Holy Spirit; don’t try to lead him!

Prayer:
Father, most wonderful and glorious One, you alone are worthy of glory, honor, and praise. To you alone be all these things, you who doesn’t share his glory with another! Thank you for loving me and not giving up on me! Thank you for leading me and showing when to turn left, right, and to stay down the center. Thank you for showing me when to move and when to stay put! Many times in the past I’ve launched out on my own only to fall on my face and embarrass both your name and mine! I want to take all direction from your Spirit and be sure that all endeavors taken are ordered and ordained by you! Your will be done, not mine! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have you given all of yourself COMPLETELY to God?

Scripture:
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. – Romans 6:13

Observation:
The apostle Paul wrote that by the death and resurrection of Jesus we’ve been made alive in him and restored by faith in him regarding our relationship with the Father. He noted that Adam brought sin to us all through his one act of disobedience while Jesus brought life through his act of obedience. The one brought death, both physical and spiritual, while the other brought life, spiritual to mankind. The one gave himself unto death through sin while the other gave himself unto life through truth and obedience. Paul warned us that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves unto righteousness when we live as God designed. Thus, he told us to give ourselves over to God completely so that we may do what is right for God’s glory.

Application:
The part of this passage that struck me life a 2”x4” board upside the head was the phrase, give yourselves completely [emphasis added] to God. Have any of us really, truly given over ourselves completely to God? I would dare say not. I don’t raise the question of whether people are true disciples of Jesus and heirs of the promise of eternal life in him. My thought goes to the point of whether we actually commit ourselves 100% to living life in a fashion that permits us to do what is right to bring God glory.

I know that there are areas of my life that remain a tug-of-war in submitting them to the Father fully. One such area is the talent of playing the piano. From my childhood, I studied piano and learned to play the instrument to no respectable level, as perceived by true musicians. I learned the basic mechanics of the instrument, attempted to practice and play it for nearly a decade, and even performed in public places in my youth. However, I’ve never fully committed this talent to God. I never developed it to any useful point. Sure, I can bang out tunes on the piano, read music, and even wrote some short pieces many years ago, but the joy was never there. It was a laborious endeavor in my childhood thrust upon me by my mother.

Now that I am much older in life and moving in the direction mapped out for me long ago, I have to revisit the purpose and usefulness of this talent that has lain dormant for more than three decades. Did God give it to me for us in his kingdom and for his glory? Or was it merely the desire of my mother to impose this upon me as a child for her gratification? Piano playing has never brought me any joy or satisfaction per se. It was just a part of my life. Is that to say that God cannot use it for his plans and purposes in my life? No! It is merely an area of consideration that I have to deal with regarding giving myself completely to God to use my whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

I have to take up this matter in prayer to the Father and seek out the counsel of the Holy Spirit in this matter. To some, this may seem like a trivial matter, but do we really believe in the whole counsel of God or cherry pick the parts that appeal to us?

Prayer:
Father, you are the holy One, the exalted One, and the magnificent One! To you alone be all glory, honor, and praise! You tell me to come before your throne of Grace boldly to make known my petitions before you. Well, here I am. I dare not think I can demand anything of you, but in all true humility, I stand before you as your son requesting that you help me to the conclusion of my dilemma. You can take a donkey to speak to a prophet to save his life. You can use rocks as witnesses against people regarding oaths and promises they made. You can use the beauty of creation to express your omnipotence. Thus, you can use me to do your bidding and bring glory to you. Please help me come to terms and reach peace over the talent that was partially developed in my youth. I am not gifted in this area but do have the intelligence you gave me to learn how to play the piano and learn music. This is one area that I know that I have never fully and completely surrendered to you. It doesn’t torment me but does give me angst and frustrates me at times. I seek your counsel and ask for your wisdom in the matter. May your will be done no matter what in all areas of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When we obey God’s Word, we experience the blessing of his promises.

Scripture:
Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! – Joshua 23:14b

Observation:
Joshua neared the end of his life. He led the people of Israel into the Promised Land and divided it among the tribes as order by G-d. The leader of Israel warned the people to serve the L-rd and him only and to put away their idols. The people renewed their faith and commitment to serve the L-rd, and him alone. Joshua reminded the people that during their exodus from Egypt and through the 40 years of wandering in the desert of Sinai that the L-rd kept every promise he had made to the patriarchs regarding Israel’s occupation and possession of Canaan. He drove the enemies of Israel and gave them land, houses, and crops they didn’t establish. The L-rd was completely faithful to them! Not one of his promises fell short or failed to come to fruition.

Application:
The scriptures tell us that the L-rd is the God who never changes, he’s the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He promised us that his word always accomplishes what it was set out to do and to never return void to him. Therefore, we can hold to the truth of the Word of G-d and rest in the assurance that the promises he has made to us will come to pass.

The key lies in what Joshua told the Israelis. He told them to observe the Word of the L-rd and to be obedient to G-d. Joshua told them that those who stray away from G-d’s Word would find themselves outside the blessings of G-d. That truth still holds today. We may have grace and mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Messiah, but we still have to be obedient to G-d’s Word if we expect to receive the fruit of his promises. It has often been said that you can’t live like the devil Monday through Saturday and expect G-d to move on your behalf on Sunday! How true!

Let us make a concerted effort to be vigilant in our thoughts, words, and deeds to reflect the life that bears fruit of repentance and conversion. It’s one thing to give lip service allegiance to G-d, but it’s another to actually live out the life he expects us to live. Many cry foul and say that it’s impossible to do so, but they either don’t understand the full extent of grace or don’t know it. Messiah said that his Grace is all that we need to live life as he designed. In our weakness, he is made strong! It’s not by human power or strength but by the Spirit of G-d!

If you want to experience the fulfillment of G-d’s promises, you have to be obedient to his Word! This is not salvation by works! This is not legalism! This is the bear truth of G-d’s Word…obedience brings blessing! There is no other way!

Prayer:
Father, king of the universe! Humbly we come before the Might One, the Creator and L-rd of all! Blessed are you above all creation! We don’t deserve the many blessings you pour out upon us. Because of your unfailing love and faithfulness, we can and do live. I confess to you this day that the words of truth in your scriptures rang through my ears like the clangs of steeple bells and if I were only feet away from them! Even now, my heart languishes because of the stain I see upon it. I know that I’ve not be fully obedient to your word. I rebelled against you in the slightest of things, but I know that I must confess my sin to you and trust that you wash me clean of all iniquity, sin, and treachery, regardless of act. I long to follow after you and live holy before you, but it takes your grace to empower me to do so. I cannot live holy without it. That is an exercise in futility. Grant the strength to walk as you desire. Help me to stay on the narrow path inside the narrow gate. No one ever said it was an easy journey or without difficulty. However, I trust you to lead me and guide me, to bless me and to correct me, and to love me as your own. Forgive me, Father. I ask this all in the name of Messiah, Yashua. Amen.