The Beat Goes On…

Prayer2

TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

two red leavesLet those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 118:4–6, NIV

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we thank you. How often you rescue us from all fear and distress! How often you hear and answer us! Grant that our hearts may always be eager and joyful because you answer us. There is nothing else for us in this world; you are our one hope, our only hope. You alone can help our times, help the nations, help each person. Nothing else matters to us. Lord our God, for the rest of our life on earth you alone are our help, our comfort, and our strength. Amen.

Daily Dig

Caffeine for your conscience

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

bfly5I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don’t want to be morally excellent but my faith isn’t in the idea that I’m more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

In our battle against evil, we use the spiritual weapons of God that enable us to know the truth and the freedom that the truth brings. The devil’s greatest tools are deception and death. God’s grace allow us to see through the deception and demolish its falsifying grip on the minds of men and women. God’s power has broken through the barrier of death and given us victory in Jesus Christ. Our task in this victory march? To obey our Lord and help others to do the same, finding his grace and power sufficient to help us overcome all that we face that could defeat us.

My Prayer…

Father, please use me to defeat the power of the devil and his influence on the lives I love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Read Matthew 5:38-45…

”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

 

43. ”You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45. that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Matthew 5:42

v38-42 The plain instruction is, Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort.

It’s Only Candy…

At first the man was annoyed. But he became angry as groups of teenagers without costumes kept coming to his door shouting, ”Trick or treat!”

 

”I’m not going to put up with this!” he announced to his wife. ”If any more older kids without costumes show up tonight, they’re not getting anything from me. And if they don’t move on, I’ll call the police.”

 

As he talked, his face became red and his breathing rapid. His wife looked at him with a curious gaze and said, ”George, it’s only candy.”

 

I’ve often pondered those three words: ”It’s only candy.” That put the issue in perspective. How easily we become agitated over our rights, our property, and our preferences, only to be reminded that we have allowed something inconsequential to consume us.

 

The words of Jesus sound so strange to us: ”If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mt. 5:40-41). The Lord wants us to respond to our circumstances in ways that reflect our trust in Him and our commitment to heaven’s values.

 

So much of our anger could be avoided if we would only pause and say, ”You’re right, Lord. It’s only candy.”

 

Daily Treasures

Refusing Your Pardon

One of the strangest stories ever told is a true story that happened in 1829. George Wilson was sentenced to be hanged in the state of Pennsylvania for murder. President Andrew Jackson pardoned Wilson (for what reason, I do not know).

They took that pardon to Wilson and said, “The President of the United States has pardoned you. You will not hang.” Wilson said: “I refuse the pardon.” As a result, Wilson was hung by the neck until dead, even though a pardon had been offered.

You can read this, then die and go to hell while Jesus is stretching out His arms to you and saying, “Will you be made whole?” That pardon is no good if you refuse it.

Isaiah 55:7 promises, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

 

 

October 31
Turning the World Upside Down
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king-Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”
Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Acts 17:1-18:11
WORSHIP
Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
I remember Your name in the night, O LORD,
And I keep Your law.
Psalm 119:53-55
WISDOM
He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
Proverbs 21:17

DELIVERANCE COMES THROUGH ENDURANCE

…if we endure, we will also reign with him… 2 Timothy 2:12a

AnOpen Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I need to encounter the Persecuted Church.”

Christian testimonies on the whole tend to be dominated by those who experienced wonderful deliverances; deliverances of healing, from cancer or other life threatening diseases, or deliverances from debt, or romance less marriages. Even when it comes to reporting on the persecuted, we read of Chinese house church leaders released from the grip of a deadly fever, or border guards with eyes miraculously blinded to the Bibles sitting in plain view on the back seat.

Yet it has to be said that deliverance stories—though they tend to grab the headlines—are not the norm. A dear old Christian in Beijing used to say to me, “Remember, for every deliverance story you hear, there are a hundred endurance stories.” He was right. The story of the persecuted is primarily one of endurance.

I never saw this principle better illustrated than in the story of an old Chinese woman known throughout the world as “Auntie Mabel.” A doctor in Beijing, she was well known for her bright Christian witness. She never married in order to look after a sick brother. Her family was wealthy. They lived in a large house in central Beijing. All that changed abruptly in 1949. Her large house marked her out as one of the landlord class. She was evicted from her house and forced to live in a garden shed, with just a stove, two deck chairs and an old bed.

The Red Guards—teenagers who were given power to direct the Revolution—began to visit her, beating her up, parading her in the streets, and forcing her to wear a placard with her crimes written on them. So thorough were the Red Guards that they erected a large sign outside her house declaring her a pariah because she had distributed “imperialistic literature.” Mabel was shunned by neighbors, victimized daily by her work gang, and regularly beaten by Red Guards.

Many years later, she knew why she endured all this. In the early eighties, after Mao died, Mabel began to receive a stream of visitors saying, “During the Cultural Revolution, there was a large sign outside your house full of your crimes. One of them was that you had distributed Bibles. So I’m here on the chance that you have some left.”

Amazingly that sign which made her life such a misery became the means of a new ministry. It kept people away from her during the Cultural Revolution, but afterwards, after she had endured, it drew them. A number of high-ranking members of the Communist Party in China today owe their faith to her endurance.

She reflected, “It’s been nice to know why. It helps my faith. But it was hard. Every day was hard. I can’t say I saw Jesus, or even felt him close most of the time. I just got the strength to keep going, and that was enough.”

God can deliver us by transforming a situation, but more often he delivers by giving us the strength to endure the situation. That way, others are transformed as well as ourselves.

RESPONSE: Today I will endure all challenges knowing that God has a purpose and I am in His hands.

PRAYERThank You, Lord, for saints like Aunty Mabel who are such an inspiration and testimony.

 

 

Quote of the Day

“I’ve learned to place those cares in the hands of One who can handle them.”

– Chuck Swindoll (from Leaving it to God?)

Today’s Answer

Jesus: The Consolation of Israel?

Ray Pritchard

“He was waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25).

In this baby Simeon sees the fulfillment of all the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people across the centuries. To call Jesus “the consolation of Israel” takes us back to the time of Abraham when the Lord said, “I will make your name great . . . and through you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3). After that came the reaffirmation to Isaac, and then to Jacob.

  • Still later God told Moses that one day a great prophet would come who would be unlike any other prophet before him.
  • Still later God promised David a son who would reign on his throne forever.
  • Still later God spoke through Isaiah and promised that a son would be born of a virgin, and that his name would be called Immanuel—God With Us.
  • Still later Micah predicted that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

For generations the promises were repeated—from father to son, from mother to daughter, from family to family, from the older to the younger, and Jewish children were taught to pray for the Messiah’s appearance.

By the time you get to the first century, you have all these centuries of expectation built up. In his great work The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim tells us that when Jesus was born there was great excitement in the nation of Israel. While it is true that many people were not expecting anything, it’s also true that many others were aware that something was up and that God was beginning to stir the pot of history.

Some Jews thought the Messiah would be a great political leader who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to its rightful place in the world. Others thought the Messiah would be God himself. Still others expected a second Moses or a second Elijah. So you had a lot of confusion mixed with a general sense of expectation. Edersheim says that by the time Christ was born, one question above all others was on the lips of every expectant Jew: “Why does Messiah delay his coming?”

Now after all those years, after centuries of waiting, all God’s promises were coming true as Simeon held the Messiah in his arms. That’s what Luke means when he calls Jesus “the consolation of Israel.” As the famous Christmas carol says, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”

Taken from “Consolation of Israel” by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

 

October 31

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.–GEN. v. 24.

Oh for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
W. COWPER.

Is it possible for any of us in these modern days to so live that we may walk with God? Can we walk with God in the shop, in the office, in the household, and on the street? When men exasperate us, and work wearies us, and the children fret, and the servants annoy, and our best-laid plans fall to pieces, and our castles in the air are dissipated like bubbles that break at a breath, then can we walk with God? That religion which fails us in the every-day trials and experiences of life has somewhere in it a flaw. It should be more than a plank to sustain us in the rushing tide, and land us exhausted and dripping on the other side. It ought, if it come from above, to be always, day by day, to our souls as the wings of a bird, bearing us away from and beyond the impediments which seek to hold us down. If the Divine Love be a conscious presence, an indwelling force with us, it will do this.
CHRISTIAN UNION.

 

bible reading

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

How should we respond to this annual celebration of All Hallow’s Eve? Should we let our children trick-or-treat? Should we refuse any kind of celebration? Or can we redeem this festival beloved by so many?
Trick or treat for Jesus?

by Rob KerbySenior Editor

Should Christians let their kids go trick-or-treating? Out of respect for the Almighty, should adults stay home from the office Halloween party? Is it wrong to dress up as a witch – just for fun? How about as a martyred saint?

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“Okay. I admit it,” says Greg Stoughton , a Campus Crusade staffer in Orlando. “I had two seasons where I darkened our doorstep, turned off most lights, and ignored the doorbell on Halloween as a protest to its darker elements.”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“How should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season – are they overreacting?” asks Travis Allen on the Grace to You website.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“Is this just one more time when we Christians isolate ourselves from culture for religious reasons apparent only to us?” asks John Fisher in CCM magazine .“Have we really thought through what our dark houses are saying to the rest of the block?”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

I can recall October 31, 1992, quite vividly. My daughter, Paris, was five, our son, Jordan, was three, and my baby, Capri, was only five months old,” writes Ellie Lofaro for Today’s Christian Womanmagazine. “While Paris knew all about costumes and free candy, my husband, Frank, and I made sure she also knew why our family didn’t celebrate Halloween.”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween,” writes Allen. “Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“As a Christian,” Stoughton says, “some of it was my disdain for its satanic associations. Some of it was an excuse to save a few bucks.”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

I would slump on the sofa, chomp some red licorice, and watch television while my wife said ‘Good grief!’ and took our 2-year-old son to her mother’s for some neighborhood fun.”

Trick or treat for Jesus?

“That was then. Now, a decade later, I look to engage the culture and not simply retreat,” writes Stoughton. “Through the example of others, prayer, some reading and thought, I have personally come to view Halloween as an ideal time to build a relational bridge with neighbors. When else do people you don’t know come and knock on your door – at least without having something to sell you? It is you who holds the goods.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Actively Plan. “Ask God what He might have you to do this Halloween. Consult ideas for Halloween or do some research on your own,” advises Stoughton.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Surf the Web or talk with Christian neighbors or friends for creative ways you might use the event to positively grow relationships with others. Think of positive ways to help your neighbors extend their stay at your home.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Don’t Hide: Allow the lights of your home and your persona to reflect the light of Christ in your heart. Be friendly. A 30-second conversation is not to be equated with presenting the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, yet don’t underestimate the power of even a warm smile, a sincere compliment, or a brief introduction.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Don’t Preach: Your neighbors aren’t coming for a sermon. But Halloween can be a great time to get acquainted, share some laughs, or even mix-it-up with non-Christian families you might already know.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Don’t Trick; Do Treat: This is not the night to be frugal. Christians have opportunity to practically show the love of Christ through providing the best “treats” and no “tricks.” Perhaps provide some candy that sets you apart as being a bit more generous than the rest.

Trick or treat for Jesus?

Be Understanding: Not all believers are of one opinion on what is the appropriate way to approach Halloween. If a fellow believer is unable in good conscience to participate or embrace a Halloween activity, it is right not to pass judgment. Romans 14:3 reminds us: “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.”

 

TODAY‘S

Christian Quote

Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

– Luke 9:60 (Revised Standard Version)
In the Line of Fire, with Michael Brown
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

The differences between Martin Luther, the 16th-century Reformer, and Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, are countless. Yet, in some significant ways, they are very similar, and understanding the one helps us to understand the other.

Again, to be clear, the differences between these two men are countless.

Luther spent years as a celibate monk; Trump spent years as a philandering playboy.

Luther was a theologian turned reformer; Trump is a businessman turned politician.

Luther translated the entire Bible into German, word for word; Trump, at best, has a superficial knowledge of parts of the Bible.

Luther literally changed world history; Trump’s impact on history remains to be seen.

And yet these two men bear striking similarities that are worth exploring.

Now, had I not been speaking in Germany this past weekend, I probably would not have thought of comparing Luther to Trump. But while conversing with some leaders about the strengths and weaknesses of Luther, I immediately thought of the strengths and weaknesses of Trump.

Luther was a courageous, even bull-headed leader, a man who took on the establishment of his day, both religiously and politically. Indeed, in terms of its breadth and scope and power, the establishment Luther faced down was far greater than anything Trump will ever face.

Yet almost single-handedly, Luther took on the church of his day, an entity that spanned continents and had immense power and wealth and influence. This required a forehead of steel and a courage that was as stubborn as it was fearless. This required the mindset of a wrecking ball.

But Luther’s strengths were also his weaknesses, and just as he was responsible for much good—really, an immeasurable amount of good—he was also responsible for much bad.

His words often got him in trouble—shall I quote here some of his worst sayings regarding the Jewish people, the peasants or the Anabaptists?—and his bullheaded style of leadership made for him many unneeded enemies. Can you see why I liken him to Trump? (For those in the know, Luther’s Table Talk can be compared to Trump’s Twitter account.)

Clearly, I’m not trying to make a detailed comparison between their personalities, which from what I can tell, were quite dissimilar. But when one thinks of the strengths and weaknesses of Luther, one immediately thinks of the strengths and weaknesses of Trump.

Donald Trump backs down to no one, and he is absolutely bull-headed in his convictions. If he feels he is right, he will take on the world, and I mean that quite literally. He will take on the American media; he will take on Congress; he will take on Russia and China. You oppose him, and he will fight you to the finish.

He is also an anti-establishment figure, and it is this quality that earned him many of his votes. His constituents were sick and tired of the status quo, sick and tired of politics as usual, and they wanted someone who would rock the boat. They wanted a wrecking ball, and they got one.

But here too, Trump’s strengths are his weaknesses. At times he has divided when he could have unified; he has alienated when he could have reconciled; he has used a sledgehammer when a scalpel was needed.

Do you see why I draw a parallel between these two men?

Luther was truly a world changer, one of the most influential men who ever lived, a man responsible for a massive amount of good, both spiritually and culturally. But at what cost?

Trump is in the process of writing his legacy, and he can still be a powerful and effective president. But at what cost?

To the extent he can harness his strengths while working on his weaknesses, the good will outweigh the bad. To the extent his weaknesses become dominant, the bad could outweigh the good.

Isn’t this a good reason to pray for President Trump as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation?

Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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A Prayer to Help You Serve with Right Motives

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  – (Mark 10:45 NLT)

serving-others-ydp

Jesus came to earth to serve others, and he calls us to do the same. How are you serving others? And just as important—why? Are any of these thoughts familiar to you?

  • If I don’t help this person, no one will.
  • I am the only one who knows how to please this person.
  • This is the last time I am going to help this person
  • I am tired of being a doormat.
  • I am going to stay around this person because I believe they will change.
  • If I continue to do my best to help, I believe things will get better.
  • I have to help this person because their poor choices are my fault.
  • I am a bad person if I don’t do what this person wants of me.

Consider This . . .

Servanthood is meant to be something we do voluntarily. Sometimes, however, we may feel we should do something for others because of pressure we feel from outside sources of intimidation or inner sources of guilt. We may not even realize we are serving another person for reasons other than a sincere and healthy desire.

Here is a prayer we can pray in order to examine our motives and begin to serve the way God would have us serve:

Father, I realize I have had some of these thoughts. I’m quick to think I have to carry others’ burdens on my own. I also see my tendency to think I can save friends and family, when I know you are the only one who can. Help me see any unhealthy motives I have for helping others. Help me establish healthy boundaries. Forgive me for helping out of these unrighteous motivations. Help me serve others with a generous, selfless heart that shows them your love. Help me be motivated by your love, not my own ego. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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How to Live in the Face of Death

Theologically Driven

by Bob McCabe

Can you imagine the shock when an usher escorts you out of a church service to be told that your mother had just died? Because my mother was forty-four years old at that time and had become a Christian a few years earlier, I was emotionally devastated when I was greeted with this news. I was twenty-two and in my first year of seminary. For the first time in my life I faced the reality that someone who was intimately connected to me had unexpectedly died. Though I knew a few other people who had died, none had been as close to me as my mother, and this news affected me in such a way that I ached for many days. I was faced with a reality that death is no respecter of persons. We all face the reality of death many times in our lives. We see our loved ones die, people in our community, those we work with, and fellow believers. And, we will die! This is the type of context where Solomon commands his audience to joyfully make the most of God’s basic gifts. In Ecclesiastes 9:7–10 he gives a series of commands that not only applied to his generation but also to all other generations, including ours. Notice his advice:

[7] Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. [8] Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. [9] Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. [10] Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV)

Though Solomon has previously treated the subject of death on other occasions in Ecclesiastes, he devotes more space to this in 9:1–6and 11–12Verses 7–10 are the core of a pericope that extends from9:1 through 9:12. The regenerate and unregenerate alike, in vv. 2–6, inevitably face death. Like fish and birds, people, in vv. 11–12, cannot predict when they will die. In the context of vv. 7–10, Solomon gives his advice by using a series of imperatives: three commands in v. 7focus on food and drink; three in vv. 8–9 on nice clothes, oil, and one’s wife; and one in v. 10 on living wholeheartedly.

The first imperative in v. 7, “go,” is an interjectory use that focuses on the two following imperatives “eat” and “drink.” Finding satisfaction in what one eats and drinks was previously commended in four earlier passages: 2:243:135:18–19 (Heb. vv. 17–18), and 8:15. In this context two objects are added: “bread,” lehem, with eating and “wine,”yayin, with drinking. In this verse the prepositional phrases that qualify the commands to eat bread and to drink wine, “with joy” and “with a merry heart,” reflect the celebratory nature of both imperatives. The theocentric nature of this verse should also be noted: “for God has already approved what you do.”

Solomon gives three other commands in vv. 8–9: “let [your garments] be white,” “let [not oil] be lacking,” and “enjoy.” While the third command is an imperative, the first two are jussive forms used as commands. Each of these commands extols the enjoyment of new elements in Ecclesiastes (for a listing of the other gifts to enjoy, see the other carpe diem, or enjoyment-of-life, passages: 2:24–263:12–13225:18–20 [Heb. 5:17–19]; 8:159:7–1011:9–12:1): garments being white, no deficiency of oil, and enjoying life with one’s wife.

The first command is a command to wear white clothes. In contrast to the black robes of mourning, the white garments reflect a celebratory mood. The second one highlights the regularity of anointing one’s head with oil. Like Psalm 45:7, this is associated with joy. The commands in this verse about white clothing and oil, like other carpe diem passages in Ecclesiastes, presuppose that Solomon derives his theology from the early chapters of Genesis. The final command is a call to enjoy life with one’s beloved wife. However, the ESV’s translation of hebel as “vain” is unfortunate. It is preferable to translate this Hebrew term as “enigmatic,” or an equivalent (though the nature of this blog post does not permit a justification of this rendering, I would recommend two sources that give solid defenses of this translation value: Graham Ogden’s “‘Vanity’ It Certainly Is Not,”The Bible Translator 38 [July 1987]: 301–7; and Jason DeRouchie’s “Shepherding Wind and One Wise Shepherd: Grasping for Breath in Ecclesiastes,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 15 [Fall 2011]: 4–25). With this understanding, Solomon commands men to enjoy life with their beloved wives during their enigmatic days on earth. Solomon’s use of hebel as “enigmatic” reinforces the book’s focus on the puzzling nature of life.

In addition to the commands in vv. 7–9, Solomon has one more in v. 10: “do.” More specifically, this command is to accomplish “whatever your hand finds to do… with your might.” In other words, one should wholeheartedly pursue, as God enables, the specifics of what is detailed in the carpe diem passages (eating, drinking, working along with the benefits from it, wisdom, adorning nice clothes, lavishly using oil, enjoying one’s wife, and living wholeheartedly) with intelligence and wisdom, as the last half of v. 10 implies.

By Solomon using a series of imperatives in vv. 7–10, he authoritatively calls us to judiciously enjoy life. When these verses are set in the immediate context of 9:1–12, this passage reflects the contrast between life and death. This tension is not only reflective of this unit of verses but also the overall design of Ecclesiastes with its dialectical scheme. Solomon’s overall sketch in this book mirrors the paradoxical nature of this world that was cursed at the Fall with unsolvable conflicts and disjointedness, yet it also affirms that God is renewing creation and man. Solomon uses vv. 7–10, as well as the other carpe diem passages, to affirm this renewal.

As Ecclesiastes describes, we will also face issues with death as well as other results of the curse, such as suffering. And, as we work through these issues, may we return to Solomon’s advice by embracing our God and enjoying the gifts he has bestowed on us.

 

Are You a “Convenient Christian”?

Some Christians are “convenient Christians.” These are believers who seek to obey God, but only when it is convenient.

It is like the men and women of Israel who came to the prophet Jeremiah one day to see if it was God’s desire for them to go to Egypt. You find their story in Jeremiah 42-43.

After they asked Jeremiah to ask God on their behalf, they said(Jeremiah 42:6):

“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.”

Now that sounds pretty good. These folks seem like they have it together spiritually and truly desire to obey God.

But just a few verses later, when Jeremiah tells them, “This is the word of the Lord: Don’t go into Egypt. Stay here,” they respond this way (Jeremiah 43:2):

“You speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.'”

Some people’s posture is, “God, I’m going to do anything you say… as long as it agrees with my viewpoint.” Some will say, “Lord, I’m going to be obedient and give an offering… but I’m not giving ten percent of my income. You can forget that because I just don’t see it that way.”

Or, “God, I’m going to do whatever You saybut I’m not going to forgive so-and-so because what they did to me is just unforgivable.”

Friend, we can’t pick and choose. It has to be, “God, I am going to do whatever You say. I’m going to do it whether it rubs the cat’s fur the wrong way, whether it plows my field crossways… Pleasing, displeasing, I’m going to obey.”

Do not be a “convenient Christian.”

 

Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Jesus Today by Sarah Young

Relax in My Presence, knowing that nothing can separate you from My Love. The worst-case scenario in your life—that I might stop loving you—is not even in the realm of possibility. So rejoice that you don’t have to perform well enough to earn My Love, or to keep it. This Love is pure gift, flowing out of My own perfect righteousness. It secures your connection to Me—your Savior—for all eternity.

Since the worst thing imaginable is not possible, you can relax and live more abundantly. When things are going well in your life, I want you to enjoy those good times fully—without worrying about what is on the road ahead. When you are facing tough times, I will help you and strengthen you with My Love. Even though you live in a world where trouble is inescapable, you can be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 8:39

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

—John 10:10 NKJV

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

—John 16:33 NKJV

©2012 by Sarah Young

 

Believing God’s Promises

For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever. – Psalm 37:28

I read and study God’s Word because it’s a map–an instruction manual–for my life.  As the psalmist said, Scripture’s a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths.  Yet there’s an important discipline to consider when we spend time in Scripture: and that is believing God’s promises.  Listen to a few:

God is always near and will never forsake you.
God has good plans for you.
God listens to you when you pray.
God will forgive you when you fail.

From first to last, Scripture is filled with God’s promises to us. These promises of God fill us with hope and love, and they give you courage to live in the world, but not of the world.  Believe God’s promises to us.

“How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter.” – Woody Allen (1935-     )

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: Psalms is the longest book in the bible.

Darkest Before the Dawn

And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer? But Elisha said, Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time’ 2Kings 6:33 ESV

Joram was king when Samaria, the capital city of Israel, was besieged by Syria about 850 BC. Samaria was surrounded and a great famine spread through out the city. People were literally eating each other. This was a very dark time for the people of Samaria and the king begin to blame God.

Finally the king snapped and decided that if he could not kill God, he would kill the man of God, and set out to find Elisha. Elisha though had a completely different view and told them that by the following day food would be so plentiful that it would cost pennies. What he said came to pass the following day.

Your breakthrough is waiting near your breaking point. When it looks like you cannot go on and it becomes dark, and you are ready to let God have it with both barrels, you are so close. Don’t give up! It is always the darkest right before the dawn.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that you strengthen me and guide me through this time. Lord, I cannot do this without You! Send Your Comforter to me today, in the name of Jesus I pray.

Note: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) If you are in need of prayer, please feel free always to send your requests to our prayer network, where we and the team will be honored to lift you up! Here is the link: RHM Prayer Network 

 

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL OCTOBER 31, 2017

Hope for the Backslider

Renew a right spirit within me.
Psalms 51:10

A backslider, if there is a spark of life left in him, will groan for restoration. In this renewal the same exercise of grace is required as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We required faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the same grace can bring us to Jesus now. We needed a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s energy as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now as they ever were.

Let your personal weakness, Christian, be an argument to make you pray sincerely to your God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hurried to the mercy-seat crying, “renew a right spirit within me.” Do not allow the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with an awful earnestness to Israel’s strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life–“renew a right spirit within me.” He who sincerely prays to God to do this will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works.

Be much in prayer; live constantly on the Word of God; kill the lusts that have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has His own appointed ways; sit by the wayside, and you will be ready when He passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances that will foster and nourish your dying graces; and knowing that all the power must proceed from Him, do not cease to cry, “Renew a right spirit within me.”

 

Today’s Scripture

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and He will help you.” Psalms 37:5 NLT

Thoughts for Today

Yesterday we talked about being honest concerning life-controlling problems. Sometimes it is hard to identify this kind of problem. Below are some questions to ask yourself. Your answers will help identify a dependency or behavior that is pulling you down.

  • Is my behavior practiced in secret?
  • Can it meet the test of openness? Or do I hide it from family and friends?
  • Does this behavior pull me away from my commitment to Christ or those who care about me?
  • Does it express Christian love?
  • Is this behavior used to escape feelings?
  • Does it have a negative effect on myself or others?

Can you identify a relationship or behavior or substance that is trapping you? The only way to escape the trap is to come to a point where you resolve to live a life free of the behavior or whatever is mastering you–and to commit everything you do to the Lord.

Consider this …

If your answers to the questions above point toward the development of a life-controlling problem, please be honest–with yourself, with God, and with a person who cares for you. Ask God for his forgiveness–and his help. He loves you unconditionally. Let him lead you out of that trap. As you commit your ways to him and trust him, he will help you.

Prayer

Father, I realize now that I am being controlled more by this behavior than by my commitment to you and to doing what pleases you. Please forgive me. Help me get my eyes back on you and trust you. Help me to do things your way. In Jesus’ name …

 

 

Keeping Oaths
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 31, 2017

“This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.”Joshua 9:20

Joshua and the people of Israel were in the Promised Land. They were winning battles and were feeling good about their progress. One day a band of Gibeonites came by dressed as travelers in order to fool Joshua. They wanted to make Joshua believe they were merely travelers instead of enemies. The Gibeonites asked Joshua to make a peace treaty with them. Since Joshua chose to believe their story, he did just that. That was a mistake on Joshua’s part. The Bible says Joshua did not inquire of the Lord about the Gibeonites. This forced Joshua to uphold the peace treaty with the Gibeonites, even though it was made under false pretenses.

Keeping our oaths before the Lord is a serious matter. One might think that Joshua had every right to consider the agreement with the Gibeonites null and void since it was done on false pretense. However, Joshua knew how God viewed oaths. He knew that a man’s word, once it was given, should be good as done. There was no reversing it. He also knew that if he did not keep his oath, he was subject to God’s disfavor, which meant his ways would not be blessed.

Whenever we become a child of God, we represent Him. When His children follow unrighteousness, He takes this personally. Unrighteousness opens us up to satan’s attack. God’s protection shield is removed. So Joshua knew that if he did not honor his oath, he would be subject to God’s judgment.

Is there any unfulfilled oath you have made to anyone? Ask God this morning if you have not fulfilled a commitment to anyone. Then, if there is, go and fulfill. Otherwise, you will be subject to God’s judgment for your unrighteousness.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘You Who Serve’

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Praise the name of the LORD. Praise him, you who serve the LORD.

Life1
Lessons……life lessons……..we all must learn some of these…….so, yes, I guess it’s like being in school….Life 101!!
10life
Yes, you can learn a little piece of these in school but mostly, you learn them in the world……through experiences and trials and even through the good times!
Good-Morning-Images-Face-Them-As-A-challenge
Challenges make life exciting and fun and NEW!
NoRegrets
No, don’t have regrets……..for every trial you face, there is a lesson to be learned…..learn it well!!
Remember:
JesusLight1
God bless you all!!!!

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