Finishing Well

Finishing Well

legacy-enterlinedesign-gen-48aGenesis 48 “Consider the Legacy You Leave Behind”

Jacob has not always been faithful to God throughout his life. He has schemed and lived a life that was less than honorable but in the end, he realizes this truth: even “If we are unfaithful, he (God) remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.” And so Jacob rehearses before Joseph, and perhaps his other sons, the faithfulness of God. In essence, he has taken the time to reveal his life to them and show them how the hand of God has been upon him. He now wants to share that with those he leaves behind. Jacob is a man who wants to finish well and that should be our goal as well.

What do you do when you realize you are about to die?  You get right with God, you spend time with loved ones and you share your faith with others. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 reveals this in spades. Lazarus apparently lived a righteous life and dying he was found to be in paradise with Abraham. In contrast, the rich man did not and found himself in torments. He called to Abraham to send him help and barring that to send someone back to tell his brothers what he wished he had told them when he was alive. May we learn from him to not waste the moments we have today.

Keith Krell notes “Begin to pass on your faith to those you love most.”

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Mo Matter What, Who, When, Why, How or Where…God Can Be Trusted!

bible2a“No Matter What, Who, When, Why, Where, How…”

Are you are a believer in Christ? Then you need to read and reread the book of Job because you need to know the God you serve and His and your adversary. This is not just a well I will but it is a book that YOU MUST devour until you understand each and every character’s profile but mostly your own and God’s!

Beloved, when you are faced with afflictions and situations that seem ‘out of character’ you will be like Job asking the proverbial question: WHY?  As you wander the book of Job you will unearth this question more than once. Job’s friends have been saying he has sin in his life.  Yet Job has been saying to his friends God Knows All. Job 31: 4 “Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?” God cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

Job knows this about God: He cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

If we fail here, Satan wins.  

God has, as one author noted, “locked himself in” to consistently adhere to the laws He has established and that is why we can trust Him. He cannot lie, change, break a promise or allow his power to be stopped. His word cannot be broken, annulled, and he cannot sin. All of these are true about God and that is what Job is clinging to even as he wonders what all of this is about. We too face these same dilemmas.

James reminds us that when we are in a trial to ask for wisdom and that is what Job is doing. This is where the rubber meets the road and we must decide: will I trust God or not. Ask yourself: Has God been faithful in the past? Then you can trust that he be faithful now and as well in the future.  If we can say yea and amen to this we can know for certain that at some point in time God will end our suffering, our pain or our dilemma. And if perhaps we need to know, He will also reveal its purpose. May you be encouraged to know that as Job wondered you may as well. But, even in his wondering, he still trusted God. You can as well.

 

 

Are You Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

hebrews 3 rock & hard place2Hebrews 3 is a reminder that because of the faithfulness of Jesus, we who have believed all he has said and done are now given a new distinction. We are now called partners and holy brethren. This is amazing!  Jesus said, follow me and now we find that we also family members of the Apostle and High Priest, the Son of the Most High God!

The initial Hebrew readers were facing a challenge. We might say they caught between a ‘ROCK’ (pun intended) and a hard place because they did not want to dishonor Moses and yet wanted to follow Jesus.  Therefore, the author reminds them that Moses was God’s servant not God’s Son. Moses was a faithful servant “in” the house but Christ was faithful “over” the house. Moses faithfully cared for God’s house, the children of Israel, but he did it as a servant. Christ is faithful as the Son over the house, that is we who are now called holy brethren.

Therefore, holy brethren, beware of drifting or falling away just as the Israelites had done in the desert and ended up doing a wilderness walk for 40 yrs. Beware of hardened hearts and unbelief as a consequence of  unbelief.  A scary thought straight from God! He swore they would die in the desert and lose the promise of eternal rest. It is vital that we remain steadfast and also to encourage other holy brethren who may be wavering and seeking to return to their old ways–the past. We must reassure each other day after day so that hearts remain teachable and soft.

The consequences of unbelief are eternal.

Pearls and Faithful People

Prov 20 pearls of wisdom2Prov 20:6 “Many people profess their loyalty, but a faithful person – who can find?” They are like the pearl of great price. They are “a righteous man who walks in his integrity…” [vs 7]. To find these faithful ones we must be willing to search with “the ear that hears and the eye that sees—the Lord has made them both.” We must be discerning because many are they that are duplicitous or hypocritical.

Listen to the words of Jesus:  “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles.  The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.” [Luke 6]

Thus we who would be wise should know this precious truth: “There is gold, and an abundance of rubies, but words of knowledge are like a precious jewel” and it is in Jesus Christ that we can find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Col 2] So if we want to find this faithful person we must hide these pearls of wisdom and entrust ourselves to the Illuminating Holy Spirit for revelation.

ImageProverbs gives us clues on true friendship: Note: there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother; or a friend loves at all times. At the end of this precious letter to the Ephesians we come across this statement: “Tychicus, my dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make everything known to you, so that you too may know about my circumstances, how I am doing.” Digging through Paul’s letters we unearth some points of who he was and lessons we can glean from his life.

Tychicus is mentioned in the book of Acts where Paul identifies him as from Asia Minor. It is here that we meet him as Paul introduces him to us as a friend of Trophimus and together they join Paul and his team. Paul entrusted the collections for the saints in Jerusalem to him along with a group of men who accompanied Paul on his way there which gives us another clue to his character. Paul included him in four of his epistles and he accompanied Paul on his journey from Macedonia to Jerusalem where this collection was given. It appears that he was with Paul when he was in prison in Rome and became the courier of the letters of Colossians and Ephesians, Philemon and perhaps 2Corinthians. As a trusted servant, Paul gave him the task of returning the converted runaway slave Onesimus back to Philemon. In Ephesians 6, Paul describes him as a dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord. He includes the word “minister” in his closing of the letter of Colossians.

Tychicus is a picture of a faithful friend and servant; nothing asked was too hard or cumbersome. “Being ‘faithful’ also means that he was loyal to the Word. He was the ideal man therefore, to send to Colosse at a time when heretics were knocking at the door. He taught the Truth accurately and plainly, as one utterly bound to his high commission.” [Dr. Peter Masters] He was proven trustworthy, reliable, loyal and an encourager. Paul sent him to Crete to minister along with Titus and to Ephesus so Timothy could come to Rome and be with Paul for a season. In other words, Tychicus was ready to stand in wherever needed!

As you read scripture and come across names such as Tychicus, take time to ask who this person was. Study their lives and then ask am I a man/woman such as Tychicus? Do I seek not my own light but only the Light of the World, Jesus Christ? Tychicus is an example of one who learned at the feet of Paul and then was competent to teach others as well. He is the epitome of one who found his strength in the Lord as it says vs 10 “be strengthened in the Lord and in  the strength of his power.” Are you a Tychicus?

The True Proverbs 31 Women!

ImageChrist came to “seek and save the lost” and we have seen how that has been accomplished right up to the very moment of his death when he gave the cup of salvation to the criminal beside him. And now behold the women who come first to the tomb where supposedly his body lay interred but what a glorious gift of resurrection awaits: Pro 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

All through Luke we have seen the power of Christ’s love bestowed upon the many and women in particular. It is these who have been shunned; interrogated; castigated by the religious leaders and society that Christ bestows equal status in the kingdom. We saw the woman caught in adultery, the faith of the Canaanite woman, the service offered by the women of the court, those who stood by the cross weeping and now at the tomb seeking to serve once again the Master.

It is with great honor that step by step we walk in the hush of the early morning hours before the dawn of day with these women. They have risen early, prepared their person and the aromatic spices even though their hearts are heavy. They are the true Proverbs 31 women: “She also gets up while it is still night; She begins her work vigorously; She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy; and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  With great anticipation that someone would be ready to assist and help in their time of need, they step forth into the hush of the city streets with resolve to anoint the body of their Lord.  Imagine their shock to see not a sealed tomb but one open! With great bravery they enter and because of their fearless boldness are greeted by two angelic visitors: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” It is only then that their grief is startled and their memories recall the words of Jesus.

Beloved, are we are as bold, resourceful, faithful as these women whom God has honored? Or are we like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who hear from the risen Christ: “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” May we resolve to pray that our spiritual understanding is awakened in the hush of the early morning hours when we may meet heaven speaking to our hearts. It is these that receive the glorious news.  Oh, Beloved how precious is our Lord to fulfill to us his followers, His love and forgiveness.

 

MY GOD…..

ImageFrom chapter one in Luke we have come across the question that was being asked about Jesus by the religious leaders, the political leaders, and the followers of Jesus. All were asking “who is he?” The psalmist in Psalm 7 had no problem with this question whether in times when he was at peace within himself, recognizing sin within himself or facing foes. Always he could say “O Lord “my” God”—-Jehovah, the existing one. God was his personal and close confidant to whom he could turn at all times and at all seasons of life.

God was his shelter and his deliverer but also God who disciplined and chastised when sin was noted. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”[ Heb  12:6] Although it is painful at the moment it brings us closer to holiness for it is then that we see our depravity in sharp contrast to His holiness.

God was faithful who rescued David from himself as well as outward enemies. He knew that God would be as close as a whispered prayer or a song sung or a voice proclaimed loudly. Boldly he came to God to change him from within that he might live a righteous life and that should be our goal as well. “The righteous by faith will live.”

As we ponder and meditate upon these attributes of God and see ourselves may we come boldly before the throne of grace seeking His deliverance from sin that we may emulate His righteous character so that when people ask us “Who is God?” we can boldly answer as David: He is “my” God whom I Iove and serve.

“Our Father, we pray that we may immerse ourselves in this marvelous book of experience and find here not only that which speaks of our own moods and attitudes, but also that which answers them in grace. We thank you for this revelation, written not merely with pen and ink, but with blood and sweat and tears, heartache and sorrow, happiness and joy—in the lives of men and women like ourselves. In Christ’s name. Amen.” [R. Stedman]

Where Were You…The Apostle John’s Reflections….

ImageWe all have times when we can recall “where we were” when something of significance happened. As we read John 19, the Apostle John shares with us his recollection of the day when holiness was triumphant over evil. John shares with us “where he was” on that fateful day when the words of Simeon must have come flooding back to the heart of Mary: Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, [Luke 2]

As we read John 19 and see the ugliness of sin in all of its horror we recall these words of Jesus: “hated by everyone because of my name….yet a time is coming when the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.” The religious leaders fulfilled those words when they cried: “crucify him, crucify him.” But, what man plans for evil God turns to good. Jesus endured that we might see God’s plan and purpose for the redemption of man. Act 2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles…thus fulfilling John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”…so that the truth of Acts 4:12 might be ours to claim: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

In the midst of this horror, John focuses our attention on Christ, and along with the other gospel writers, shares the last words heard from the lips of our Savior:

Father, Forgive them, they know not what they do…

[to the thief] Today you shall be with me in paradise…

[to Mary] Woman, behold your son and [to John] behold your mother…

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?…

I thirst…

It is finished…

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…

From there, John turns our attention to the small band of persistent faithful followers as they and he become witnesses to this scene. It was this tenacity, this indefatigable belief in Jesus as THE CHRIST that carried them to this point in time. John 19:25 “Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene…and the disciple whom he loved standing there,” This scene would be forever etched in John’s memory as the turning point of his faith, the turning point of seeing God’s plan fulfilled…but as of yet he did not understand the full scope.

And then John turns our attention to the two secret disciples who stepped out of the darkness into the light. They had not been strong enough to stand in life but Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus became the ministering servants to the body of our Lord in his death. What they paid in the earthly price for their stand against the Sanhedrin is not known but it was a small price for what they gained in eternal rewards. “Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.” [Matt 10]                         

 Where were you when you realized the price paid for your sin?

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Scriptural Principles 101

ImagePaul has been teaching the Corinthians about their pride and arrogance. Swiftly he has taken them to task lovingly step by step. Now in this chapter Paul gives them some wise counsel beginning with this is why scripture has been written. Learn from it! Learn from the past! If you don’t you heed what is written for your instruction, you will just repeat the same mistakes. To help you, here are three principles which you must imprint strongly on your mind:

  1. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted or tried beyond what you are able to bear. But, you must seek his way of escape out of that temptation. The Israelites faced a test and failed because they had a way of escape but failed to seek God and His plan.
  2. All things are lawful but not all things are profitable nor do all things edify. Paul returns to the same argument of earlier. Ask yourself if what you eat or drink will glorify God. If it will not walk away from it.
  3. Temptations will come, not if they come, they will certainly come. They may come in the form of idolatry or immorality. Do not put the Lord to the test. Rather, when you are tempted listen and heed the pleading voice of the Holy Spirit who has been given to you to convict you and to instruct you. You can ignore him but if you do you will only repeat the mistakes of the earlier generation.

Thus precious beloved ones remember these principles and live to glorify God.

“The D Word” is NOT Divorce!

ImageToday would have been the anniversary of my in-law’s marriage. They lived through their 73rd wedding anniversary, she dying on that day and my father in law 18 days later. They were a beautiful picture of true wedded bliss, literally bound to one another “until death do us part”. On the other side was my own mother who buried two husbands and was widowed for several years after. What does all of this have to do with today? In  Romans 7, Paul is using the analogy of marriage to show that just as my mother in law  was bound to her first husband for 73 yrs; she was never was “unbound”. It was death that unbound my in-laws, if even for a short period of time. My own mother was married for 35 yrs upon which my father died. She then was, unlike my in- laws, free to marry another and several years later she did. It was death that ended my own parent’s marriage relationship. It was death that ended my in-law’s marriage. Death is the only “D” word allowed!

 Paul reminds us that once someone is crucified with Christ, who was raised from the dead, so are we also “raised to newness of life” and no longer bound to the Law.  Jesus’ death and our acceptance of that sacrifice for our sin rescinded our binding to the Law.

Therefore, once freed from the rules and regulations from the Law,  what is the believer’s responsibility? It is to see the Law as God’s standard of righteousness, to see how it reveals man’s sin, and to see it as a guide for life. One’s position becomes one’s practice so to speak. We are now to live a life of holiness that we may honor and glorify Him who gave so much. In the past we were slaves to sin, now we are slaves to righteousness. But, as Paul says, it will be a struggle between the flesh and our new spirit in Christ until we take that last breath. We struggle between what we want to do and what we should do. It is at times like this that we can only come to Christ for cleansing. IJohn 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” Thus Paul ends this chapter by saying: Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” And that should be our ending as well.

Hangest thou in there Beloved!

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