God is at His Best in Times Like These

The most difficult the times, the closer our Heavenly Father draws us to Him.
When things are well with us, we are prone to forget Him.

 “Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
he is gracious,

and full of compassion, and righteous.”
Psalm 112:4

He waits to be gracious to us. In times like these, He opens heaven and His sanctuary to us, drawing us ever so close.

Dear Father, send your light and and by your Spirit, lead us to seek you, your kingdom and your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Strategy for Times Like These

Few of this generation understand how to face and deal with the issues of this life. Not claiming to be one of the few but needing to know and use what our Creator has promised during these times, I write as I seek His kingdom and His righteousness. Only as we look to and receive His instructions can we discern the times and overcome our opposition.

Life is a constant battle (and has been since our first parents joined the forces of the enemy against God). The antithesis reveals the presence and power of God ~ good against evil. His grace and His glory are continually revealed in every generation whether through individual tensions or worldwide onslaughts.

The origin is the same. We each are dealing with our own thoughts ~ who we are, why we are, and how we are to live. It all boils down to self. Each heart beats to its own battle cry.  Each is bound and instructed by its own thoughts of what we see life to be. We walk according to the flesh. We respond to everything according to our own desires. And we buy, hold to and defend all we think will keep us alive.

This is the reality when the battle becomes prevalent and worldwide. We cannot escape the news of death and degradation when it mushrooms around us, but we can know and respond differently than the multitudes.

“Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

If we are aware of the battle in our lives during peaceful times and have learned to overcome the fleshly war, we are more apt to respond in faith and wisdom in times of crisis.

2 Corinthians has been a constant reminder of the greatest warfare we face. It teaches us that we are captives to the stronghold of our minds ~ thoughts that control us and keep us bound to ourselves and at enmity against God.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Paul spoke these words to the Corinthian Christians, knowing their need to deal with their former lives and their selfish desires. For every Christian, the power of the Holy Spirit works, teaching us through God’s Word, the strategy we are to use when facing the enemy.

We have this divine power available today as real as it was with Paul.

We must recognize the enemy within ~ thoughts that rule. Self has to be brought captive to Christ, in repentance and faith. We must ask and receive His Holy Spirit to bring us captive and teach us through His Holy Word.

We must spend time in His Word and prayer for the necessary instructions. When we overcome the enemy within (pride, fear, and unbelief), we will be confident in facing whatever the odds may be against us.

As we wait in times like these for what may come next, we must prepare.

Just as a soldier learns to use his weapon, we must have our weapon ready. Study and memorization of His Word is necessary for overcoming the enemy.


“Fear not, for I am with you;

    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,”
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

We have the promises and assurance of our Father’s presence and power with us at all times. They are for our consolation and comfort though we may have to endure sickness and death. Christ has been through suffering and death, leading us through the most treacherous of times we could ever face, excluding the eternal wrath of God.

When He wins the battle in us for our souls and minds, we become living sacrifices with all His people, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness to rule in the world.

 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

What promises of God’s Word do you use as a weapon of your warfare?

Gracious Father, forgive us as your people, living at enmity with you. Rend the heavens and come down to make yourself known to the adversaries ~ beginning with us, your children. Turn us from our selfish desires to receive all that you have prepared for us. Be merciful to us and all your enemies. For your glory, and our joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Yet I Will Rejoice

From the writings of the prophet, Habakkuk, we learn of God’s judgment upon His people.

The Lord’s words are recorded in Chapters 1 and 2. Well-known promises are interspersed between God’s judgment and Habakkuk’s response in Chapter 3.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
Hab. 2:4

“For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.”
Hab. 2:14

“But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Hab. 2:20

 “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid:
O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make known;
in wrath remember mercy.”

Hab. 3:1-2

And, as God’s people, in this generation, let us remember the source and the joy of our salvation. Neither are derived from good health, prosperity or anything of this world.

In times of adversity, we must consider what God is saying to each of us. We cannot point the finger at others. Let us use this opportunity to search our hearts, and in faith and repentance “humble ourselves before God and men.” (Andrew Murray, Humility)

Gracious Father, God and ruler of heaven and earth, give us wisdom and grace to turn our hearts to you. Revive your work in us and make us witnesses of your mercy ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Scripture Tunes ~ Habukkuk 3:17-18

 

Words of Life ~ JOY

Not being able in my lifetime, to cover all words that pertain to the life of a Christian, I will continue as the Lord leads in this series Words of Life ~ A to Z  ~ the Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian.
A few days ago, when I asked a young sister-in-Christ what I could pray for, she spoke this simple word ~ JOY. And so, we will share what the Word of God says about this precious word describing the nature and the fruit of His children.

JOY is recorded 187 times in the Bible. You can find them here. We will only highlight certain references.

There are many ~ too many and varied ~ definitions for joy in Hebrew and Greek for me to list but you can find them here.

In the Old Testament, joy is referred to as the sound of lifting the voice in 1 Chronicles 15:16 as singers with instruments were appointed for worship.

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” Psalm 95:1

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” Psalm 5:11

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”
Psalm 100:1

Isaiah 35:10 speaks of “the ransomed who return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy and gladness.”

“Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.” Isaiah 52:9

Joy from the heart produces rejoicing (1 Chronicles 29:9).

For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” Psalm 32:11

Jeremiah 15:16 speaks of God’s Word as the joy and rejoicing of the heart.

True joy has always been associated with the Lord. It is a heavenly gift known only to His people.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Psalm 16:11

Joy is in the Lord and in His salvation.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation. Psalm 35:9”

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
Psalm 51:12

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Habakkuk 3:18

Joy is often learned and experienced more during or after a time of trial. Difficulties are the means of the Lord planting within us the seed of joy that springs up as it is watered by our tears. Joy may never be known except we go through the dark times. Even His chastisement produces the end result of His joy in us.

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126:5

“The meek and the poor rejoice in the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 29:19

Jesus promised His disciples they would be sorrowful at His death.
“ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20

All of the Lord’s blessings ~ “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness are appointed for His people. that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; James 1:2

Jesus taught that those who are persecuted for the Lord’s sake are to “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” Luke 6:23

Paul was “exceeding joyful in all his tribulation.” 2 Corinthians 7:4

Nothing moved Paul, but he was determined to “finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Paul spoke of the churches in Macedonia ministering to the saints in Jerusalem.

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2

“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power,
unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;”
Colossians 1:11

Hebrews 10:34 speaks of those who “took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”

In Proverbs 12:20 joy is related to peace.

Zephaniah 3:17 speaks of the Lord’s salvation and His rejoicing over His people.

“He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

I often wondered why Paul listed the fruit of the Spirit in its order ~ love, then joy, then peace. Joy must be the fruit that comes through God’s love for us.

In Matthew 28:8 fear is mixed with great joy.

“Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7

John the Baptist’s joy was fulfilled because he was the friend of Jesus, the bridegroom.” John 3:29

Jesus’ joy was promised to His disciples.

“These things have I spoken unto you,
that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full.”
John 15:11

“Your heart shall rejoice, your joy that no man taketh from you.” John 16:22

“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24

“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13

 At His ascension, Jesus’ disciples “worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:” Luke 24:52

Paul spoke of our “joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” Romans 5:11

Our pastor often reminds us of the nature of God’s kingdom.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;
but righteousness, and peace,
and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Romans 14:17

“And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:52

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
Galatians 5:22

“The good and faithful servant will enter into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1 Peter 1:8

What a blessed promise of the joy that awaits us in the presence of His glory.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory
with exceeding joy,”
Jude 1:24

Dear Father, we praise you that you sent your joy to us in Jesus your Son. Thank you, Jesus, that you sent your Holy Spirit to work this joy in us as proof that we belong to you. Holy Spirit, continue to work your power, bearing the fruit of the life of Christ in us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Words of Life ~ BREAD

This post follows Food for the Hungry Soul. The most well-known verse with the word BREAD is found in the Old and New Testaments, Jesus in Matthew 4:4 quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”.

Old Testament H3899
Strong’s Concordance defines BREAD in Hebrew:
lechem, lekh’-em;; food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it):—(shew-) bread,
from H3898 lâcham, law-kham’; a primitive root; to feed on; figuratively, to consume; by implication, to battle (as destruction)

God’s Word speaks of bread not only as physical food but anything that is needful ~ something we feed on so as to ward off destruction. Men’s main concern is to satisfy his craving for the body. Not many consider bread for the soul. Only those who seek God and the bread He gives will be fully satisfied in this life and the next.

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” Psalm 37:25

The Psalmist would have been thinking of bread in terms of the righteous whose whole life is dependent on God and His provisions for all things. Paul speaks in these terms in Philippians 4:19

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

“The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.” Psalm 105:40

From the abundance of our provisions, we are to give even to our enemies who are hungry.

If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:” Proverbs 25:21 (Romans 12:20)

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Ecclesiestes 11:1

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): “Sixty-two years ago I preached a poor, dry, barren sermon with no comfort to myself and, as I imagined, with no comfort to others.  But a long time afterwards I heard of nineteen distinct cases of blessing resulting from that sermon.”

The Lord speaks through Isaiah to His people to hearken diligently to Him, to eat what is good and let their soul delight in fatness (Isaiah 55:2).

“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:” Isaiah 55:10

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?” Isaiah 58:7

The Lord speaks through Amos of a famine of His Word.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God,
that I will send a famine in the land,
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord:

Amos 8:11

What greater verse than this from the Old Testament can describe the need for the sustenance of true life. We understand the hunger and thirst that is satisfied only by the words of the Lord. And what a refreshing we come to in the New Testament with the Living Word of God, His Son, Jesus Christ, who gives Himself as that bread of life.

New Testament G740
ártos, ar’-tos; from G142; bread (as raised) or a loaf:

From this Greek definition, it seems that bread was considered as one loaf not to be cut but broken. This would describe the body of Christ given for us in His sacrifice for us and in the communion of the Lord’s Supper and the breaking of bread.

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:3-4

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

Jesus taught His disciples to ask the Father who gives all that we need but to ask for one day’s supply at a time. This prayer keeps us close to Him and dependent daily on Him.
The following sermon is from Ryan McKee in Northern Ireland as he is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount. Give us This Day our Daily Bread

“And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?” Matthew 15:33

Jesus satisfies all who come to Him. His life is given to the multitudes with no limitation and with satisfaction for all our needs.

The Living Bread

Let us meditate on the following verses where Jesus speaks of Himself as the true bread from heaven, that comes down from heaven, the bread of God as life to the world, the bread of life, the living bread, the bread that He gives and the results.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” John 6:31-32 (Jesus quoting Psalm 105:40)

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.” John 6:33-34

 “And Jesus said unto them,
I am the bread of life:
he that cometh to me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35, 48

“This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:50-51

“This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” John 6:58

The Lord’s Supper

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26:26

Jesus instituted what would become the practice of those who have accepted Him as their Life. The Apostle Paul speaks of the bread of the Lord’s Supper. Even as Jesus spoke of being the bread of life, the breaking of bread in the Supper is the communion of the members of His body, partakers of that one bread.

“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? or we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Corinthians 11:26

Jesus used the word bread as symbolic of the doctrine of the Pharisees, even as Paul used it in terms of fruit, both signifying the results of what men produce from their spiritual life. Instead of malice, our fellowship with Christ and each other should be in sincerity and truth.

“How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:11-12

 “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:8

“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)” 2 Corinthians 9:10

Dear Heavenly Father, your Word speaks and spreads the seed of life, watered by your Holy Spirit. We praise you that you sent the Seed of Life in your Living Word, Jesus Christ, to give us His life ~ abundant life that satisfies every longing. Send your Spirit in power to awaken our need for the bread of your Word. We thank you in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

The Original Rock

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink:
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:
and that Rock was Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:4

Modern hymnals sport a new tune to a traditional hymn I have heard for eighty years. Many dislike the old Rock of Ages because they never heard it as it should be sung.

The audio of our last Lord’s Day Call to Worship sung by our Covenant Choir is below. The link to the preaching of the Word of God from Luke 8:41-56 is added (watch or download and take ti with you).

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:
in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;
he shall set me up upon a rock.”
Psalm 27:5

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee. Amen.  Augustus Toplady 1763

Jesus Christ, Our Powerful Savior  Luke 8:41-56  10/20/19 Chris Strevel

Dear Father, lead us by your Holy Spirit in our worship today. Fill your messengers with your Spirit and your Word and open our hearts to hear and obey. We thank you and praise you for the foundation of Life you have given us in Christ, the Rock of our salvation, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

New Wineskins

Have you run into the grocery store bypassing the grocery carts because you only needed one or two items. Before you get to check-out your arms are loaded with other things you see. Something else you remembered you cannot get because your arms are loaded already.

Such is our going to worship without preparation and the proper vessel.

“But new wine must be put into new wineskins,
and both are preserved.”
Luke 5:38
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
2 Corinthians 4:7
” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.”
Ezekiel 36:26

Let us worship today in anticipation and prayer that the Lord enlarge our hearts, open them to receive and carry with us the new wine of His Word prepared for us.

Dear Father, you have preserved and prepared your Word for us. Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear the written Word. Open our hearts to conceive and receive what you have prepared for your people today. And let the Spirit of your Living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, lead us through this week ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

A New Level

A few days ago, a friend made reference to her daughter’s piano teacher who is taking her daughter “to a new level.” Music students rate themselves as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Not many go from beginner to advanced, but from one level to another, as they are trained and practiced in what they are being taught.

This can be applied to our lives as disciples of Christ. Does not our Lord Jesus Christ challenge us to a new level of wisdom and understanding of His grace? If so, we will find ourselves more humble than we can imagine. We will be filled and enabled to thrive on the abounding grace and the abundant life that He promised.

As we continue to see our need for humility; to desire this abounding grace; to pray and believe as we wait on Him, He will not fail to fulfill His promises to us, in us, and through us.

Growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now live, should be an ongoing process as we pray, read, study, meditate, and wait.

We should be advancing in our faith to higher levels of knowledge and holiness. This is a process working in us that will not exalt us, nor of which we can boast, but rather one that will humble us more and more.

It is the sinner dwelling in the full light of God’s holy, redeeming love ~ in the experience of that full indwelling of divine love, which comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit ~ who cannot be anything but humble. Not to be occupied with your sin, but to be occupied with God, brings deliverance from self.
Humility Chap. 8 Humility and Sin

Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride, whether of evil spirits or my own corrupt nature and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit. Humility: the Beauty of Holiness

Dear Father, you, the God of all grace, have called us unto your eternal glory through Jesus Christ.  You do not leave us to grow by ourselves.  You know what we need ~ grace and more grace.  Work in us according to your own good pleasure that we may be a witness of the abundant life in Christ that humbles us and glorifies you. In Jesus’ name, I pray and praise you.   Amen 
(Excerpt from A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility
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Fran