Time for reverent reflection before the Almighty!

Scripture:
After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth. – Jeremiah 31:19

Observation:
The prophet declared the word of the LORD that he had received during a dream. He spoke of a future time when Israel would be handed over to Babylon and sent into exile there because of their sins against the LORD. The LORD spoke of how the people would pay for their wrong but would be brought back to the land of their fathers because of the promise he had made with the Patriarchs. In the passage, the LORD spoke of how the tribe of Ephraim had sinned against God but came to understand the everlasting love of the LORD through repentance.

Application:
I am reminded of the story Jesus told of the sinner and the saint that came into the house of the LORD. The saint proudly stood before God and declared all the good he had done and how he was not like the sinners around him. However, the sinner in the rear of the building hung his head in shame and humility and beat his hand against his chest in remorse for the wrongs he had done. Jesus asked the people who of the two stood right before the LORD. The answer was the man who in humility stood quiet before the LORD and recognized his shame and quietly repented, unlike the proud saint who bragged of his self-sanctification.

I’ve recently heard a preacher state that our forgiveness is a finished work of Jesus via the cross and resurrection. He then went on to say that we are forgiven once and for all through the blood of Jesus and need not ask for forgiveness any longer because of this finished work of Jesus. This man advocates repentance on a regular basis when we sin. In one sense I agree with him that our sins are forgiven in the sacrificial atonement Jesus paid! Hallelujah! On the other hand, I veer off course from his discourse in the need not to ask for forgiveness any longer. I do agree that repentance is a great thing and should happen as soon as we have sinned!

The problem for most people is the equating of repentance with forgiveness. This preacher in question failed to explain fully this dilemma adhered to by most of the church universal. Whereas we are fully pardoned of our sins through the cross and resurrection, we must repent of sins we commit beyond conversion. Repentance is the process of making a decision to examine what a person has done and then choose to no longer commit that act. Forgiveness is the pardoning of the wrong another party has committed against the offended. While we are forgiven and yet commit sins, we must repent and strive to not commit them anymore.

The problem I see here is that if we tell people not to ask God for forgiveness of sins committed after conversion, we run the risk of implanting in their minds that they are free to sin all the time and then just decide to repent later. It runs akin to the idea of once saved, always saved. If a person were to marry these two ideas, they would become the child of hell and be worse off than had they never known God at all. Why? Pete explained that when you know the goodness of God and then revert to a life of sin, there is a tendency to grow cold toward the LORD that can lead a person to divorce themselves from their relationship with him and thereby suffer the eternal fate originally appointed for demons!

I don’t see a problem with asking the LORD to forgive us when we sin. It is a healthy practice that keeps us in check and will cause us to repent more quickly after committing a sin. I agree with the other preacher in the final work of Jesus and being pardoned from all sin, but I err on the side of caution in order that I may stand before the LORD quietly, beat my chest in humility for the wrong done, and then walk away with a changed mind about what I had done versus what I will now do. The choice is yours.

Prayer:
Father, King of the universe, Creator of all! Thank you for showing me that Jesus fully paid the ransom for my pardon from sin and eternal damnation. Thank you for offering me the gift of eternal life through Jesus! I now stand before you clean, holy, and righteous because of him. However, I realize that in myself I am capable of committing the foulest of deeds. Over time you have helped me to see the error of my ways and have disciplined me because you love me and want me to live as you desire. I bow my head before you and just pay you reverence as LORD and Judge! You may have pardoned me for eternity, but it is my duty to walk the path, that narrow way, that leads to life. Help me to reach the end of the race and to complete the work you gave me to do. May you be glorified above all! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Always Look to the LORD for Your Help!

Scripture:
What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lordthe Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 31:1

Observation:
The prophet spoke to the people of Israel about trusting in any others than the LORD. He went on to prophecy about what would happen to the Assyrians in a future time – destruction! He explained that the LORD is the provider and protector of the Israelis and the city of Jerusalem.

Application:
Long after Isaiah passed away, the prophet Jeremiah came on the scene. He warned the Jews not to trust in the power of Egypt when the Babylonians came to enslave them and exile them to Babylon. When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and Judea, many Jews fled the area to Egypt. The LORD told Jeremiah that those who escaped and sought the protection of Egypt would lose their lives in the process. Had these people listened to the word of the LORD, they would have gone into exile and survived. Those who did listen went on to live, flourish in Babylon, and had descendants return to Judea to resettle the land and rebuild the temple of the LORD.

We need to remember and learn that trusting in the LORD is the only answer. We cannot afford to rely upon human wisdom, strength, and ability. Why? People fail us and lead us astray. These earthly things may seem like a sure thing and strong response to issues of life, but to trust in them will only and surely bring disappointment and failure. The LORD has told us numerous times in scripture that he is the faithful God, the provider, the protector, and everything that we need. So why then do so many of us struggle to trust in the LORD and believe his word to be true? Is his arm so short that he cannot deliver on his promises? Has his word ever fallen short of its goal? The answers to these questions are actually quite elementary. We don’t really and truly believe that God’s word is what it is – the source of our existence and continued walk in this life.

God is able to do all that he says he can. He has never failed anyone. In fact his name really is I AM! He can! He does! Therefore, we must come to the point that we trust him with our entire lives not just our salvation, but this sounds a bit oxymoronic. Isn’t our salvation our life? Yes, and no. Salvation is our eternal life, but we still have to exist in this world until we are translated into glorious bodies like Jesus did! Our physical existence experiences death, disease, and disappointment but also can have love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, humility, faithfulness, and self-control. These latter only come about through trusting in and serving the LORD through the grace of the Holy Spirit. If we tend to trust in ourselves, we run a risk of becoming proud with all of its trappings. Humility, trust, and obedience to the King of kings is the real solution to life’s issues. Through him we can have life and more abundantly!

Prayer:
Father, LORD Almighty! King and Creator! Thank you for loving in spite of myself. I have failed you more times than can be counted, as we all have because there is none righteous, not one! It is only through the righteousness of Jesus that we can stand before you and be a part of your family and kingdom. We have to trust you and believe you to receive salvation, but life is more than just believing you raised Jesus from the dead and confessing he is LORD! It is about putting our entire trust in you and relying on you to provide all that we need. We struggle with releasing control and sovereignty over our lives to you because we fear the lack of being in charge and making decisions. The sooner we learn to relinquish control to you, the sooner and better our lives become. Only then can we truly begin to experience the full life you have in store for us in this world and the one to come. Help me to be and remain submitted to you and obedient to your Word. May your will alone be done, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How will you react in times of calamity?

Scripture:
In all this Job neither committed a sin nor put blame on God. – Job 1:22

Observation:
Job faced complete economic loss and ruin along with the deaths of all his children. His wife confronted him and suggested that he curse Yahweh and die. He endured debilitating disease! All of these happened to him without his initiating any act that led to them occurring. Despite all of this, he refused to blame Yahweh!

Application:
Have you ever had something terrible happen to you in which you had no part in it? For example, a loved one dies in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver hitting and killing that person. Some people, including disciples of Yeshua, Jesus, begin to ask how Jehovah could take them away from them! They wrongly blame the Father for the issue.

Although He allows things to happen in our lives for whatever purpose, He does NOT cause us harm. We have to learn to develop the type of resolve that Job had. He refused to lash out at anyone or blame anyone. He realized that things happen in life; some we control and others we don’t. Job refused to blame our Creator for the calamity. His wife even suggested he curse Jehovah and die! What nonsense!

So how would you handle such a situation? I guarantee none of us is sure until that moment, but let us prepare ourselves to deal with such a moment. For there will be a time in your life when calamity strikes and forces you to face reality. Will you be like Job and work through it? Or, will you react like his wife and place blame wrongly and give into sin?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your love and mercy. I have struggled at times with how I would handle devastation in my life. I have been like Job’s wife in my past and blamed others for things that happened to me whether it was my fault or not. However, I’ve come to learn to trust in your peace and to let that peace rule in my heart. It is still not an easy to thing to face, but at least I know you are there helping me through it. Your wisdom gets me past the calamity while your grace gives me the power to continue in the right direction. Please continue to develop the fruit of patience in me. You know better than anyone how true that is! May your will be done, in Yeshua’s name, Amen.

Always act in the fear of The LORD, with faithfulness and undivided heart.

Scripture:

These were his instructions to them: “You must always act in the fear of the Lord, with faithfulness and an undivided heart. – 2 Chronicles 19:9

Observation:
Jehoshaphat decided to appoint judges over Judaea to assist him in ruling the nation. He appointed priests over the spiritual matters and made a member of his tribe the final authority in civil matters. When he addressed the judges he appointed, he told them they must decide all cases in a mindset of [fearing] The LORD, with faithfulness and an undivided heart. He wanted to ensure that all decisions made in his court were faith and honest and would be pleasing to The LORD. In this way, the judges would be found innocent regarding their decisions and the ensuing outcomes.

Application:
Although the text describes a situation where the authorities are those in a legal setting, the wisdom the king dispersed is valid to us in all areas of life. We are confronted with situations daily, which require us to make a decision. How we interpret the situation, weigh the options, and render a decision should be based on an attitude and approach of fearing The LORD as prescribed by the king. The LORD despises dishonesty in all its forms. He demands and expects us to live according to His methods and to respond in the same manner as He would.

Therefore, when we deal with others and ourselves, let us go to The LORD in prayer, if necessary, to seek His guidance in how to handle the situation. His answer will give us the best option. If it is something not requiring an answer from Jehovah, because He’s given us knowledge and wisdom to sort through things, then let us draw from His written example in how we handle things. When we treat others with impartiality, we fulfill the written Law. When we fulfill the Law, let it be out of our love for the Father not out of coercion or expectation of receiving anything in return. We deal with every situation fairly and honestly simply because we love our Heavenly Father with all our being and our neighbor as ourselves.

Prayer:
Father, gracious and righteous Creator of the universe, you are worthy of all praise, glory, and honor! You, who does not share His glory with another, may you be worshiped in spirit and in truth! Today, I come before You with a sacrifice of humility and gratitude. I do not deserve anything that You bestow upon me, but You love me anyway! I simply want to express the sincere gratitude of the revelation given this day regarding how I am to interact with all people in all situations. My decisions need to be and must be fair, honest, and based on Your love and wisdom, not earthly standards. When I apply Your principles and standards to my dealings, they should end in success and harmony. May Your Holy Spirit be my guide and mentor in continuing to learn how to deal with everyday matters. May Your love and justice be meted out according to Your standard. May Your will be done, not mine. These things I petition from You in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach! Amen.

Continue live a godly life in faith to please The LORD!

Scripture:
Therefore, brothers, just as you learned from us how you had to live in order to please God, and just as you are living this way now, we ask you — indeed, united with the Lord Yeshua, we urge you — to keep doing so more and more. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Observation:
Paul continued in his letter to Thessalonica to point out things that related to their personal interactions. He instructed them to keep on living as he had taught them earlier, and he encouraged them to continue doing so more and more. His point was that their lives should always be oriented and conducted so as to please The LORD.

Application:
If you are a serious student of Scripture, then you should be fairly well acquainted with this teaching as well as most of the others, if not all, by Paul, John, Peter, James, Jude, Luke, and most importantly Messiah! If you are a casual student of Scripture, then you had best take heed of Paul’s admonishment given to us here. He had taught this congregation to live a life pleasing unto The LORD, and this can only be done by faith. For it is impossible to please him without faith, (Heb. 11:6).

Learn to read the Bible much and often, for it contains all of the necessary instruction to live the life Jehovah designed. Once you’ve read it, then practice it by doing what it says. Then once you’ve done it, continue to do so just as Paul spoke here. Consistency in application is the key to success in living a life well pleasing to The LORD. You will err from time-to-time, but the thing is to never quit trying and applying.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your word today. It was a short and sweet message about fighting the good fight and pressing on to win the race. This life is not about accumulating things or receiving accolades, but it is about living daily in the manner that you prescribe. Help me to continue pressing forward, putting the past behind, not worrying about the future, and doing what you have given me to do. May your will be done, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Working to please Adonai not man!

Scripture:
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4

Observation:
Paul wrote a short letter to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them and let them know how much he and the others with him missed that church and longed to see them whenever they were able. In his letter, Paul wrote that when he and his company were among them, they spoke the truth of Adonai’s word. They spoke the truth because it was their purpose to please Adonai and not people. Their hearts’ motives were pure and were examined alone by Adonai.

Application:
When we speak to others, are we speaking the truth? What drives us to share with others about The LORD Yeshua HaMashiach? Is it out of love for Him and seeing His kingdom grow? Or, is it out of vain ambition for self-gratification and self-aggrandizement? Elsewhere in the Scriptures, Paul spoke of those who preached Jesus for the sake of the gospel and those that did to try and hem him up, but he didn’t care why they were preaching so long as Yeshua was preached!

We must ensure that when we speak to others about Messiah that it is for the sole purpose of pleasing the Father, Adonai! We must never proclaim his greatness and salvation for personal gain. For when we do so, we will reap the appropriate reward. The Scriptures make it crystal clear that The LORD rewards each person for their works, whether good or evil. The correct response will be meted out. Therefore, let us be about the work of the evangelist and share the good news of salvation in Messiah with both Jew and Gentile. Adonai said that his will is for all people to come to repentance and that Messiah died and rose again for the sins of many.

Messiah told us to pray to The LORD of the harvest to send laborers into the fields white unto harvest. Well guess what; you are one of those laborers! Any of us who are disciples of Messiah are called to such! We have no excuse for not sharing the good news of salvation! Let us do so out of our love and gratitude for the Father saving us from a demon’s hell and giving us eternal life in Messiah! What say you?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for being so gracious and merciful that you saved me from eternal death and separation from you! You spared me from a demon’s hell because another disciple of Messiah was humble, obedient, and willing to share the good news of salvation with me. Thank you for sending your Spirit to court me and woo me to you through Messiah. Now, LORD, help me to do likewise and continue to share and spread the good news of salvation with the lost and spiritually dying of this world. The time draws near when the end shall come. You said that you would not contend with man forever. As it is your will that all would come to repentance, they cannot do so unless they hear the truth of the word from someone who knows it and is sent to share it. This is why you stated that blessed are those who bring good news! I pray that your will be done, not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.