Tag: Faith

Sunday rest and reflection

Greetings! Today is another day of rest and reflection and a time to catch up if you need to. Today, I am reflecting on what it means to seek God during our days here on earth.

Solomon built a temple for the Lord as a place where God’s people could come and seek the Lord.  At the dedication of the temple, Solomon’s prayer petitioned God to let His eyes be on the temple and asked that God’s ears would be attentive to the prayers of His people.  (2 Chronicles 6:20-21)  God answered Solomon by appearing to him and answering his petitions.  God promised that His Name would always be there and that His eyes and heart would also be there.  (2 Chronicles 7:15)  God warned Solomon not to forsake seeking Him and turn away to other gods. 

I believe that the first thing needed to seek God is faith.  Anyone who comes to God, must believe that He is.  Since God is Spirit, we can not see Him with our physical eyes.  So if we are seeking to contact God, we must approach Him as if He is really there and can hear and see us.  God actually appeared to Solomon after he had prayed and petitioned God.  As we approach God in faith, He reveals Himself to us.

We must also believe that God wants to reward us for seeking Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)  It wouldn’t do much good to seek out God if we did not feel that He would actually hear and understand what we needed.  Our God not only understands us, but has compassion on us and loves us.  He desires our highest good and wants to bless us.  We understand these truths by faith through believing God’s Word.  We must choose to believe because we hear the Word.  The Word of God has spiritual life and power in it to bring faith to the hearts of those who hear and believe, not just listen.

It was said of Rehoboam that he did evil in the sight of the Lord because he failed to seek the Lord.  (2nd Chronicles 12:14) Lord help us to seek You in all we do! In His love, Pastor John

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Faith and prayer

Scripture reading for April 13: 2 Kings 18-21

In 1980,  my wife and I were caught in a financial crisis beyond our ability to handle or fix.  We had borrowed money to buy land and equipment and build our farming business and interest rates had more than doubled.  Many neighbors had lost farms to the banks and creditors because they were unable to pay and our situation looked bad.  We had rededicated our lives to the Lord just a few years earlier and as we studied the Word of God, we knew we needed to humble ourselves, repent, and ask God for His mercy.  Mary and I knelt by our bed and did just that in an act of faith and humility.

Hezekiah, one of the kings of Judah, was a man of faith.  Scripture says that he “held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.”  (2nd Kings 18:5-6)  Because he trusted the Lord, the Lord was with him and he was successful in all he did.  One of his first moves was to destroy the bronze snake that Moses had built to stop the plague of serpents in the desert.  God’s people had made an idol of it and were burning incense to it!  (2nd Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah was tested by the Assyrians.  He rebelled against the king of Assyria, the military power of that day, and would not serve him.  Assyria captured Samaria and Israel (the ten tribes) in Hezekiah’s sixth year.  In Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, Sennacherib, king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. (2nd Kings 18:13)  Hezekiah tried to buy off the king of Assyria with gold from the temple, but a large army showed up surrounding Jerusalem.  Hezekiah was told of this situation and he immediately went to the temple in a humbled posture to seek the help of God.  As he prayed for help, God sent word by the prophet Isaiah that God would intervene and deliver them!  (2nd Kings 19:6-7) Hezekiah’s faith lead him to a humble appeal to the Lord of Heaven.  Solomon had prayed earlier at the dedication of the temple for people who were at war and would cry out to God that God would hear and answer!  (1st Kings 8:44-45) 

What are you facing today that seems like a mountain?  Go to God in prayer!  Let your faith move you to prayer.  Go humbly to confess how your own sinful actions led to the trouble.  Go expecting God to hear and answer you!  The answer is already on the way!  By the way, eight years after we prayed, my wife and I were debt-free!  Faith and prayer gives direction and patience!

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Questions for the next generation

Scripture Reading for February 21: Deuteronomy 1-4

The name “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law”.  Deuteronomy is quoted directly in seventeen of the twenty seven New Testament books and alluded to nearly eighty more times.  This book is a record of the last four sermons given by Moses to the congregation of Israel.  It records lessons he learned and that God wanted to pass on to the next generation who would possess the promised land.

Moses had led the nation for forty long years around the wilderness.  A journey that should have taken less than two weeks stretched out because of grumbling, complaining, doubt and unbelief.  (Deuteronomy 1:26-27) Moses, himself, did not get to enter the promised land due to his dishonoring of God at Kadesh. (Numbers 20:8-12)  In explaining the forty years of wandering, Moses appeared to blame the Israelites for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 1:37)  But God holds leaders to a higher standard because of the revelation and intimacy they share with Him. 

Moses also preached to this next generation to inspire faith in God.  His questions to them are typical of the rabbinical style of teaching.  “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”  “And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8) The obvious answer is “none!”  They were a special people marked by their Holy God traveling with them.  They must be careful to teach these truths to their children and grandchildren!

What lessons do you find helpful for you today from these ancient sermons of Moses? Is history helpful to us today? Choose a family member from the ‘next’ generation to pray for and possibly share your faith or life lessons with in this coming week. Consider some questions you might ask them.

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below.  There is no other.  Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:39-40

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Our God provides everything!

Scripture reading for February 20: Numbers 34-36

The God we serve knows everything!  God told Moses about the boundaries of the land He was giving them and how to divide it when they took possession of it.  (Numbers 34:2) They had yet to own any of it.  They were to cast lots for their portion in the land.  “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)

As the Israelites entered the land and took possession of it, God had Moses appoint a leader from each tribe to oversee the assignment of the inheritance.  The only name that stands out in this list is Caleb.  He and Joshua were the only ones left from the generation twenty years old and older who had not perished in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. These two are examples of  the veracity of God’s promises.  “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19) God alone knows the end from the beginning and He speaks to His people to build their faith, inspiring them to possess their inheritance.

In these last chapters of Numbers, we find provision for cities of refuge.  God knew that His people would need mercy.  Emotions get out of control and things happen.  Revenge instincts are strong and sometimes violence  that causes death erupts.  The cities of refuge were scattered throughout the land and provided a place where someone who had killed another could flee from the avenger of blood.  (Numbers 35:6)  These cities were Levite cities.  The Levites had no inheritance but were given cities and pastureland throughout the promised land to use and to minister to the people.  Six of these forty eight towns were cities of refuge. They were to mediate the serious situations when someone came for refuge.

Our God does know everything and has good plans for us.  He wants us to know those plans and walk by faith and claim our inheritance!  He has provided a refuge for any who sin through Jesus Christ!  Take time today to ponder some of these promises and by faith possess those that you need today!  Our God is on your side!

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

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Flying by instrument!

Scripture reading for February 14: Numbers 13-16

Walking by faith is not always easy to learn.  We are prone to be strongly influenced by what we see, our feelings, and what our past experiences have conditioned us to believe.  In my younger days, I wanted to learn to fly an airplane.  Several of my friends and I got together and bought a Cessna 172 with instrument rating.  I wanted to learn to fly by instruments so that weather and clouds would not cause me to crash.  To help me learn to trust the instruments, my flight instructor would put a hood over my head so I could only see the instrument panel.  When we would turn, or go up or down, I would watch the instruments to learn where the wings were.  My mind, however, would often play tricks on me.  I felt like we were flying sideways or going up or down, when the instruments said we were flying level.  Senses can lead us astray in flying and in life!

The twelve Israelite spies were sent into the promised land.  They were told to determine what the land was like and what the inhabitants of that land were like.  God had already told them that the land was flowing with milk and honey.  He had already told them that He would take care of the inhabitants.  God was to them like the instruments in the plane.  If they had kept their focus on what God had said, they would not have veered off course!  Joshua and Caleb were the only spies to stay focused!  They pleaded with the others to get ready to go on in and possess the land that God had promised them.  (Numbers 13:30-33)  Ten spies got their eyes on the difficulties and began to spread fear, doubt and unbelief! 

The whole community began to complain and grumble against Moses and the Lord.  They even talked of stoning Moses, when the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting.  God viewed their grumbling and rebellion against Moses as against Him!  (Numbers 14:11, 27)  God’s judgment on them was to give them what they had feared–the whole generation 20 years and older died in the desert because of their grumbling and unbelief! They all would wander in the wilderness for 40 years as punishment for their rebellion!  (Numbers 14:29-35) 

Do you remember a time when your feelings or a ‘bad’ report caused you to live in fear? How does God’s punishment of Israel fit their sin of unbelief?

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The wonderful laughter of faith!

January 9th Scripture Reading:  Genesis 21-24

In 1992 while attending a pastor’s conference in California, a man gifted in prophetic ministry gave my wife and I a word from the Lord.  He told us we would have children in our later years and that they would be a blessing.  Several months later at our home church, a visiting evangelist picked us out of 700 people and gave us the same word.  At this time, we already had three children and had no plans for more.  We chuckled a bit, but mostly wondered at these interesting words.  Seven years later, in August of 1999, we traveled to Russia and adopted two daughters!  As we prepared to do this, we had forgotten the prophecy.  Our son reminded us and I found in my file one of these words that had been typed out for me, confirming God does know the end from the beginning!  (Isaiah 42:9)

God promised a son to Abraham and Sarah in their later years.  They waited 25 years and the promise finally came to pass.  God waited until it was impossible for them to have a child and then did the impossible!  Sarah had laughed at the angel’s announcement a year earlier.  Abraham named the child “Isaac” which literally means “laughter”.  In their old age they experienced the sound of laughter–the laughter of faith. 

Have you ever had to laugh at the amazing fulfilment of God’s promises? Have you ever received a word from God that has come to pass? Or is still awaiting fulfilment?

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:18-21

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Jesus meets us in our unbelief

Scripture reading for November 10th: John 20, Psalm 75, Proverbs 8

John 20:26-29 “Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.””

Romans 10:17 declares that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Thomas, the doubting disciple, stated that he could not believe unless he saw Jesus himself and put his fingers in His wounds. Jesus, knowing Thomas’ weakness of faith, met him right where he was. Jesus showed Himself to Thomas and the other disciples by coming right through locked doors. He specifically invited Thomas, who had been missing on other appearances of Jesus after His resurrection, to place his fingers in the nail wounds and his hand in Jesus’ side. This brought a firm declaration from Thomas of faith. Jesus’ Word to Thomas brought faith, as it will to all who hear and choose to believe. Seeing was just a bonus that we will all enjoy one day when we are privileged to see Jesus Christ face to face when He comes again!

Psalm 75:9-10 “But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.”

Prayer: Righteous Father, I will declare the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and salvation through His body and shed blood. I will praise You for exalting those who hear and believe and counting them righteous. Jesus Christ is my Lord and God Almighty! I look forward to the day of Jesus’ return in power and glory when my faith in Him will become sight! Come, Lord Jesus! Come!

Proverbs 8:4-6 “To you, O men, I call, and My cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things and from My lips will come what is right. . .”

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Persistent faith required!

Scripture reading for July 21st: Luke 18, Psalm 145, Proverbs 21

Luke 18: 1-8 “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?””

God always honors faith. Faith puts its hope in God’s ability to do what He has promised or spoken. Jesus, in teaching His followers about faith and prayer, used this example of an unjust judge who neither feared God or respected man. This worldly judge finally gave in to the widow who was persistently coming to him for justice. He did this to get her complaint out of his sight. God is never unjust or callous toward those who call on Him. We must be persistent in faith and patient to wait for His sure answer. In the meantime, we must also be about His business of helping the poor and needy as we have opportunity.

Psalm 145:18-19 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You are never unjust or uncaring towards us when we call out to you. Help me to be persistent and always come in faith when I call to You. Help me to be attentive to those You put in my path who need Your help that I can provide. I will continue to call out to You for my family each day knowing You are near to me and hear my cry and will save them and provide for them.

Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”

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Impossible to serve two masters!

Scripture reading for July 19th: Luke 16, Psalm 143, Proverbs 19

Luke 16: 10-13 “”One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.””

Jesus had just told a parable about a dishonest manager who was shrewd to use his position to win friends to care for him after he was removed from management. Jesus explained that to be dishonest in even a little–the managing of another’s money, was to be dishonest in much. Dishonesty is part of our inner life and a lack of faithfulness with this world’s goods will bar us from stewardship of that which is truly of eternal value. Serving God requires truth and integrity in our inner man. Apart from our humble repentance and God’s grace, we end up serving the flesh and the devil who uses our flesh. We must sell out to serving God and invite Him to lead us on the level ground of faith on a day by day basis.

Psalm 143:9-10 “Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to You for refuge. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God! Let Your Good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for this simple instruction on honesty. Forgive me when I have not been a wise or honest steward of that which belongs to You. Giving You the tithe is an act of stewardship and integrity. Continue to help me and guide me on the level ground of faith. Thank You for promising to provide for all my needs if I seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and faithfully serve You alone.

Proverbs 19:1 “Better is a poor person who walks in integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.”

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Speech with authority!

Scripture reading for July 6th: Luke 7, Psalm 134, Proverbs 10

Luke 7:6-10 “And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the Word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.”

A Gentile army commander sent word to Jesus that his servant was sick and near death. He humbly sent some elders to Jesus to ask for help. Upon hearing the request, Jesus went to help. On the way, the centurion sent other servants to plead with Jesus not to come, but to ‘just say the Word, and my servant will be healed.’ This statement of faith caused Jesus to marvel and commend the centurion for his understanding of authority and the power that comes from speaking truth. Believers have authority given to them by God through Jesus’ Name to speak healing, blessing, provision and life as directed by the Holy Spirit. We bless others and bless our Lord when we act and speak in faith!

Psalm 134:1-3 “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion, He Who made heaven and earth!”

Prayer: Father God, we bless You today and lift up our hands to Your supreme authority! You have blessed us with authority through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and wisdom and direction to have faith like that centurion who trusted in the power of Your Word. Use my mouth to speak wisdom and what is right and bless Your Name. Let Your blessing flow to me from heaven!

Proverbs 10:31-32 “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.”

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