Thursday, April 30, 2009
Psa 124:1 A Song of degrees of David. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
Psa 124:2 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
Psa 124:3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
Psa 124:4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:
Psa 124:5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.
Psa 124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Psa 124:7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Psa 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
We are left to imagine the plight of God's people had God not taken up our cause. Like orphaned street children without defense in a harsh and cruel neighborhood, so would we be without Heaven's aid in an unfriendly world.
Foes, both spiritual and physical accost us on every side, yet God stands as our mighty sentinel watching over us at all times.
When men and demons rise up against us, He has taken our side. When their wrath is kindled up against us and they try to overwhelm us, He has taken our side. When it seems our souls would be flooded with more than we can stand He orders the waterboarding illegal and puts a stop to it.
He will not allow us to fall to their devices. He always shows us an avenue of escape.
Remember, blessed child of God, that our help is not in the world, but always in the name of the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Psa 121:1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Psa 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
Psa 121:3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Psa 121:4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Psa 121:5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
Psa 121:6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
Psa 121:7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
Psa 121:8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
My best friend in this world, the one most responsible for me coming to Jesus, has suffered a horrible loss. 2 years ago, David received news that his 22 year old son, Christopher was killed in a terrible accident on his way to work north of Dallas. Yesterday, two years and 2 weeks later he heard the same news about his 28 year old daughter, Melissa. Her crash was in the same area. Lightening has struck twice!
She had her two little children with her. Her 2 year old daughter is hurt so badly that she will probably die within a couple of days. Her 5 year old boy suffered a broken pelvis, several broken leg bones, a lacerated kidney and bruised lung, but should be okay, physically anyway.
Melissa was a very sweet servant of the Lord, faithful in her church with a good husband, Jesus Juarez, who at one time served on church staff as a youth and bus director. Would you pray for the family, especially this man who has lost his wife and probably his little girl and is left with a little boy that is pretty broken up?
I will be leaving for Dallas very early this morning to be there for my friend and to minister any way I can.
Blessings on you all and PLEASE drive carefully. Kiss your spouse and mean it, let your kids know what they mean to you. You never know when the last time will be that you see them here on earth.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Psa 120:2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
Psa 120:4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
The tongue can be such a blessing, but it can also do a lot of damage. It is easy to lose control of it and difficult to get it under control. Of course, that which proceeds from the mouth comes from the heart.
Psalm 120 is a song of degrees, that is, it is one of the psalms that would be sung by those going up to the temple for worship. It is a heart preparation psalm. Perhaps we would all do well to sing hymns or choruses in the car on the way to church. We would arrive in much better shape to come before the Lord.
As the Psalmist is heading toward worship, he is smitten with the reality that his tongue is a problem. He is so frustrated that he asks what could be done about it. His answer… hat sharp arrows of mighty men would pierce it through. Now I've heard of pierced tongues, but this is kind of drastic! Then, he thinks of another sadistic way to deal with his uncontrolled tongue, lay some burning coals from the Juniper tree on it. So, he sings, pierce that tongue to keep it from piercing people and burn it so it can't burn others.
Is your tongue a bit uncontrollable at times? You heard about the gal who came to the altar and said to the pastor, "I need to lay my tongue on this altar." The pastor said, "Ma'am, we'd have to add a couple of feet to this altar just to accommodate the whole thing!"
Before you talk to one mere person today, ask God to control the words you speak, that your tongue would frame healing and helping words.
Spirit of Almighty God, pierce and sear our tongues today that we might speak that which is edifying to others today. Amen!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Psa 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
In this 119th psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, which is broken into 176 verses, we see the Word of God referred to in many terms.
The first 48 verses each have a reference, then, once again, from vs 50 to 89. After that only verses 121, 122, 123 and 132 do not reference God's Word. Amazing!
I list now those references for you:
*The Law of the Lord
*Thy Righteous Judgments
*Thy Wondrous Works
These synonyms of the Word show forth the character of what God has given us. The entire chapter teaches us the effect of God's Word in the life of the believer.
It behooves the child of God to never stray from the Book. It should always be consulted, obeyed, memorized, practiced, lived, loved and preached.
Have you read it today?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Psa 118:7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
Psa 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Psa 118:9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
The longer I live, the less confidence I have in people and government and the stronger my confidence in the Lord.
Track records are important. The Lord's is perfect. He simply never fails. No matter the difficulty, He always comes through. No situation is too tough for Him.
Conversely, people often disappoint. Princes, that is, politicians, rarely come through.
I am amused at all the people, many of whom probably trusted the Lord at one time, who actually trust that their new "alleged" president is going to pay their bills for them. (Think reparations) Granted, he is trying to do so, but even the anointed one is not going to be able to pull that off.
As good as some people are, even they will inadvertently disappoint from time to time.
It is better to just keep on trusting the One Who never fails.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Psa 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
The Word says that the fear of man is a snare. How true. We get so caught up pleasing people, making sure that we are not rejected by our friends, our family, our boss, that we hardly have opportunity to make sure that the One that really counts is pleased.
God is the boss! Nobody watches out for us and cares for us like He does. He is the One that butters our bread. Therefore we ought to give Him first consideration in all things. We will not stand before our teacher, our professor or our spouse on judgment day, but before the Lord.
If we seek to please Him first and foremost, everything and everyone else will find their place.
Lord, today we respect you above any other. We put you first. When we are confronted with the choice of your way or somebody else’s, may we recall that you are on our side. We've no need to fear man, for he can do nothing to us in comparison to what you can do in your power and might.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Ps 118:5 I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and ser me in a large place.
A wee bit of a word study would help in getting a lot out of this verse. The word distress is 'metsar' and it means something tight. Literally then, it means being in a tight spot.
Recently my friend was looking at some real financial difficulties. Every time I asked him how it was going, he told me he could feel the noose tightening a little more. He was in a straight, or a very tight spot.
The psalmist tells how he called upon the Lord in this tight spot, the Lord answered and set him in a large place. The words 'large place' come from one Hebrew word, 'merchab', an open space, figuratively, 'at liberty'.
God took this man from a tight spot to a place where he could breathe again, where he had some freedom.
Back to my friend who had two and 1/2 mortgages. He had to sell two homes ASAP or he was sunk. Additionally, he and his wife needed to get into a place. As it turns out, they ended up with three house closings ALL on the same day! They were able to walk away from their tight spot, the noose obliterated, given room to breathe and even a little change in their pockets!
Only God can do things like this! I am calling on the Lord now to take me from a metsar to a merchab.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Psa 114:1 When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;
Psa 114:2 Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
Psa 114:3 The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
Psa 114:4 The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.
Psa 114:5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?
Psa 114:6 Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?
Psa 114:7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;
Psa 114:8 Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.
In this passage we see how God's powerful presence drove the Red Sea into 2 saluting columns of water, sentries guarding the passage of Israel on dry ground safely to the other side.
We witness how Sinai was awash in thunders, lightening, smoke, fire and an earthquake as God descended upon it.
And then, view Jordan as she stops her flow for another dry passage of the children of Israel. Again, God's presence accomplished this marvel.
I wonder what wonder God's mighty presence in us could perform today. Right now, ask the Lord to fill you. Petition His Spirit to give you unction. May the seas of difficulty part before you. May mountains of trouble quake at the presence of God in you!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
4 times in these verses we read the exact same words, "His mercy endureth forever."
I guess my first thought would be, how many times does the Bible have to say something? So the very fact that it is reiterated again and again, over and over repeatedly (sorry, couldn't resist), lets us know that God means it. He really means it. He is a God of mercy.
If I were God, (scary thought, huh?) I would get fed up in pretty short order. You would think that watching over a corrupted creation for this past 6000 years must have really taxed the Creator's patience. He who is absolutely righteous, immaculately holy, deals with totally depraved individuals and showers them with unmerited grace and divine mercy, not just for a while, but for ever.
I am reminded of the 23rd Psalm which states, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
How cool is that?
So let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Go ahead, say it!
Monday, April 20, 2009
A couple weeks ago, Somali pirates hijacked a cargo ship with 20 American crew members on board. Thank God and the Navy Seals that they all got out alive. But will Americans be so lucky next time?
During 2008 alone, these thugs raided more than 130 vessels, resulting in 50 successful hijackings and millions of dollars paid in ransoms. With at least five well-organized pirate gangs, including Islamic extremists like the Shabaab militia (a group comparable to African Taliban), all seeking and splitting the spoils of these sea traders, isn't it time America better protects our merchant mariners in volatile areas like the coast of Somalia? Isn't it time they are armed with better deterrents than fire hoses, rubber bullets and sonic weapons? Isn't it time our Navy Seals reach land and cut pirates off at the pass?
Ransoms only enable these hooligans. And negotiations never work with them. We need to cut them off so that no one else goes missing in action. For proof of that, we only need to look back and learn from our revolutionary predecessors. They not only demonstrated how we need to rescue our citizens, but then instill the notion within these pirates that America will never appease or tolerate captors, and we will never pay their ransoms again.
Some might not know America has been dealing with African marauding mariners since its inception. Though it's not a direct parallel, I believe we need to do as Thomas Jefferson did during the Barbary Powers Conflict, a confrontation between Muslim extremists or pirates from the five Barbary nations (Tripoli, Turkey, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco) and what they considered the "Christian nations" (England, Denmark, France, Spain and the new United States).
While the United States was mopping up from the Revolutionary War, it was also squaring off against largely Muslim pirates in the Mediterranean. These sea bandits cruised the coastlines stealing cargo, destroying villages and enslaving millions of Africans and hundreds of thousands of Christian Europeans and Americans. Because America was a newborn nation, we had a relatively little naval defense. Our rebellion against Britain severed our protection by the Royal Navy. And while France helped during the war, the United States was on its own as of about 1783. And so our merchant ships were exceptionally vulnerable to attack in and out of the Great Sea. As a result, our cargo and seamen were captured, and our country's leaders were forced to negotiate with the Barbary pirates.
In 1784 envoys were dispatched to secure peace and passage from the Barbary Powers. Treaties were made. Tributes and ransoms were paid. Our cargo and captives were freed. And our ships traveled safely. But over the next decade and a half, millions of dollars were given to these radicals – estimated at 20 percent of America's federal budget in 1800! (Despite that men like Thomas Jefferson argued vehemently against paying ransoms and tribute – he believed the only road to resolution would be "through the medium of war.")
America's first four presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison) each dealt with this East-West conflict of powers to varying degrees. Though numerous negotiations and treaties were made, including "the Treaty of Tripoli" in 1796-1797, Tripoli (in present Libya) still declared war against the U.S. in 1801. It is sometimes called America's first official war as a new nation. The founders believed in a foreign policy of non-interventionism, but Jefferson realized that protecting America's borders also meant protecting American lives and property overseas.
He confessed to Congress in 1801 that he was "unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense," but he still ordered a small fleet of warships to the Mediterranean to ward off attacks by the Barbary Powers. Marines and warships were deployed to the region, which eventually led to the surrender of Tripoli in 1805. It would take another decade, however, to completely defeat those pirates, or should I say cause them to temporarily retreat until a distant time when they would again attack our country.
America's victory back then over those sea radicals is commemorated today in the Marine Hymn, with the words, "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea."
The voices of our forefathers cry out from the Barbary Powers Conflict in hope of imparting some wisdom to us. As the adage goes, we will either learn from history's mistakes or be doomed to repeat them.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Psa 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
In a time when so many people are so restless, it is a blessing to have a safe retreat for our souls, the bosom of the Almighty. There is no rest elsewhere. Oh, people try; self-medication, entertainment, recreation, meditation, etc. But only in Jesus do we find rest for the weary soul.
Jesus gave the invitation to us in Matt 11:28-30, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Is your soul restless today? Come unto Jesus, cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. In Him you can find a comfortable to take a load off and relax in His care.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Ps 116:6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low and He helped me.
I have heard this quip for years, “The Lord watches out for fools.” I thought it was just an old saying until my reading today. There it is, plain and simple. I don't know how many times I have read this verse and never saw it, the Lord preserveth the simple.
"Preserveth" means to hedge about. In our vernacular, this means He puts and fence up around that which He is protecting. It means to guard, protect, attend to. So, God is looking out for someone who seems to need a lot of looking out for.
"The simple." The Hebrew word is pethiy, pronounced peth-ee', and it means seducible, simple enough to be easily tricked.
Well then, it seems I can take this verse personally 'cause I are that!!!
If it is not those wicked hearted people out there who make a living pulling the wool over the eyes of the sheep, those snake oil salesmen, users and abusers of the non-discerning, then it is the devil and his minions. Always out there taking advantage of the unsuspecting.
Not a whole lot of people are gushing about my wisdom and discretion, but I have been called gullible. I thank the Lord that He is paying attention, hedging me in and protecting me from evil doers who would take advantage.
You want an example? There are thousands of people without one shred of moral decency who make a living calling churches asking for their rent to be paid, or their electricity to be taken care of before it is shut off and their kids being left in the dark.
I am sure that in the history of the world there have been maybe a dozen of these people who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own who were sincere and had a genuine need. Maybe a dozen, but that's probably a stretch. Ask any pastor and he will tell you the rest are all cons working the heart strings of good hearted, but simple people.
Catch my drift? Perhaps you have been taken in, at work, at your front door, by phone, even at church. Then you know what I am saying and this verse can be a comfort to you.
Lord, preserve today's readers from those who prey on good people. Hedge them about with your protection. Repel the evil one from their doorstep. When we are brought low, help us! Amen!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Ps 115:2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
Let me paraphrase; Why, oh why should the lost say, “now, where is their God?”
We affirm publically that we are church-going, God-fearing, born-again children of the Most High. But when things go south for us, why do we often act, especially in front of others, as if God is nowhere to be found?
Just let our agendas be trumped by the divine purpose and most of us lose it. Oh, we confine our language to Christian cussing, if there is such a thing; "Heck!", "Crud!", "Darn it!", etc.
The sentiment is still there, "I don't like the way God chose to do things!"
When the lost see a professed believer beside herself in a troublesome situation, blaming circumstances, turning to everybody but the Lord for sympathy, and griping rather than praying, that hypocrisy throws that Christian's Savior into the light of irrelevance.
Their response, and rightly so; "Now where is this God you claim to love?"
Do you get it believer?
Vs 3 tells us where our God is, He is in the heavens doing whatsoever He wills, and you can count on the fact that He is doing what is best for you. So, learn to react to adversity in a Christian manner. Trust that, even in this disaster, even in this reversal of personal agenda, God is working for your good.
And, BTW, having a God that allows the rain along with the sunshine is a billion times better than the gods everyone else serve. Look at verses 4-8... Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
I say, "Where now are their gods?"
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Psa 113:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Psa 113:2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
Psa 113:3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.
Psa 113:4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Psa 113:5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,
Psa 113:6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
Psa 113:7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
Psa 113:8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
Psa 113:9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
It is my humble observation that there is way too much complaining going on among Christians and not nearly enough praising. True, we are living in the dirty now and now rather than the sweet bye and bye, so it can be hard being praiseful while the world is beating us upside the head with a bat. Never-the-less, praise can be a state of mind that lifts us above all that. So let’s think about praising for a bit.
1) Who is to offer the praise? The Servants of God (1) All God’s children should participate in this divine exercise.
2) When should we praise Him? From this time forth and forevermore. (2)
All day long, morning, noon and evening. (3)
3) Why should we praise Him? Because He is over all, His glory is matchless. (4) Because He is incomparable. (5) Because He became like one of us! (6)
Because He helps those in need. (7-8) And because He does the miraculous. (9)
Are we praising the Lord like we should?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Psa 112:7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
A person who walks with the Lord for a while, paying close attention to the mysterious ways in which He works His miracles, eventually learns not to be afraid of bad news.
We learn that all things truly do work together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.
Our hearts can be fixed in difficult times like an anchor in rough seas because our trust is in the One who never fails.
I can promise you that something will come your way today which will threaten to undo you, but fix your heart by trusting in the Lord. He doeth all things well.
Psa 112:4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
When I was a child, we roamed the neighborhood like a pack of wild dogs, seeking adventures that would have horrified our parents, had they known what we were up to. Between Muni Pool and the Hinky Dinky store was a tunnel through which Antelope Creek flowed. We would enter into that tunnel and walk until the light was gone. Now, being in a tunnel in total darkness, walking the sand bars with water flowing at your feet, imagine the things we imagined at such an impressionable age.
I have to confess, that trek into a watery darkness got awfully scary for a little boy. Who knows why in the world we would go back in there time after time? I do know that in that place I learned to appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel. When it was time to turn around and head back to the entrance and we rounded a bend in the tunnel and started to faintly see that light way off in the distance, oh, what a relief.
It is said that, possibly, the greatest word in the English language is relief. Think about it, when we have suffered sickness, such as the flu, when the fever finally breaks and the stomach begins to feel better, that relief is so welcome. When you have been in a huge financial crunch and then you begin to see that light at the end of the tunnel where the bills can get paid and the creditors are no longer parked on your stoop, that is a fantastic relief. When you have been battling cancer, suffering through the treatments, and then the Doc informs you that it looks as if you are now cancer free, you begin to see that light in the distance and relief comes over you like a flood.
Friend, for the child of God, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel, relief will come at some point. This is God's assurance, "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." This is so because God is gracious and full of compassion. Our relief is His relief.
We are told that weeping endureth for the night, but for His kids, joy cometh in the morning.
So hang on child of God, help is on the way. Joy is coming in the morning. Heaven will turn the lights on for you in good time. Be faithful while in the darkness, praise Him, trust Him to guide you, relief is on the way.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Psalm 112:1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
Are there any laws that really turn your crank? Does knowing that breaking the speed limit could get you a $100 fine make you happy? What about the thought that if you don't get your taxes paid you could go to the pen, How's that for a thrill?
Laws, which are necessary for an orderly society and peaceful lives are not something most of us get too pumped up about.
But the Psalmist tells us that the person who fears God delights greatly in His commandments. So, how can we be happy because of commandments?
When a person feels like a slave to such things as taxes and speed limits, he can never find joy in them, especially when they seem so unfair and we never realize the benefits of those laws. But when a commandment is liberating to us, when we know it is good and profitable, then we can rejoice in that law.
The law of God has an important function, Paul said it is the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. In ancient times, the schoolmaster was a person who came to the student’s door and walked the child, hand in hand, to school, and did the same for the home trip in the afternoon.
It was the law, which nobody could ever fully keep, which showed us the way to Christ. Not until we realized that we had broken the commandments did we know that we were in need of the Savior.
Once the schoolmaster has handed us off to Christ, our Savior, then we can more fully appreciate the service the law did for us.
Therefore, we continue to delight in such commands as,
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
For a complete guide of God's top 1o, see Exodus 20:1-17.
God's law is a protection for us and for society. Think of where we would be without them!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Mat 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mat 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
Mat 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Mat 28:4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
Mat 28:5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
Mat 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Mat 28:7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Mat 28:8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Mat 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Mat 28:10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Whether we be parents, teachers, bosses, pastors, officers, etc., most of us are called at some point to be a leader. If there is one thing people despise, it is someone in leadership who really has no business being there. The scribes and Pharisees were such people. A scribe was like a secretary of Jewish religious law. At times they were called lawyers. They knew the Scriptures backward and forward, literally. The Pharisees were religious separatists. Both were considered to be in the exalted "seat of Moses," that is, in the place of the law-giver.
"Do as I say and not as I do" is the kind of attitude of which they were often guilty. Let us look at some good ideas for leadership, learning what not to do from these guys.
To be a good leader:
1. One must not be a hypocrite, but must practice what he preaches. "…but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (3)
2. One must lead the way. "...they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (4)
3. One must work to please God, not man. "But all their works they do for to be seen of men" (5)
When a person works to please God, he or she will always do right. However, trying to please people is a great snare.
4. A good leader shows humility, working to be productive, not to advance his/her career. The cream will always rise to the top, it doesn’t need our help. "…and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues" (6)
5. Leadership seeks the good of many, not many titles for self. "And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." (7)
6. A good leader waits for his promotion from on high. He/she does not promote self. "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (12)
7. Leaders ought to encourage and assist others in their efforts, and not block their advancement. "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (13)
8. Leaders need to observe ethics and morality. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation." (14)
9. Good leaders must exhibit the following characteristics: "...the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith" (23)
10. Leaders need to keep the important things important. Major on the majors and minor on the minors.
"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (24)
Jesus knows all about great leadership. In this chapter we have much to learn from His teachings. Let's utilize these aspects of good leadership in our ministry as leaders at home, work and church.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Mat 27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
Mat 27:28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
Mat 27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
Mat 27:30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
Mat 27:31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
Mat 27:32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
Mat 27:33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
Mat 27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
Mat 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
Mat 27:36 And sitting down they watched him there;
Mat 27:37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Mat 27:38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
Mat 27:39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
Mat 27:40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Mat 27:41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
Mat 27:42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
Mat 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Mat 27:44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
Mat 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Mat 27:47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
Mat 27:48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
Mat 27:49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
Mat 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mat 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Mat 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Mat 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Mat 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
Mat 27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
Mat 27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
Mat 27:58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
Mat 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
Mat 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Mat 27:61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Mat 22:16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
Mat 22:17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Mat 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
In these verses, the enemies of Jesus employ Hyperbole, hypocrisy, and hypotheticals all for the purpose of trying to get some info they can use against the Lord. They try to butter the Lord up with the following:
2. "We know that thou art true"
3. "...and teachest the way of God in truth"
It was the minions of the Pharisees who were sent to Jesus with this deceptive ploy. They were disciples of the Pharisees and also Herodians, that is, men who were loyal followers of Herod, spawn of the butcher king who slaughtered scores of baby boys 33 years prior to this. So their true "masters" were dark-hearted opportunists and control freaks hanging on to what undeserved power they still had.
Stating that they knew Jesus was true and taught the way of God in truth was the most insincere statement they had ever made. Not long before this Jesus had stated to His disciples that He is the way, the truth and the life. If they only could have sincerely believed these two statements, they could have been on to the greatest truths that would ever infiltrate their small minds. But it was only flattery intended to fool Jesus.
They were cons, buffoons impressed with their poor acting abilities. A warmed up spot in Hades would await these questioners and those who commissioned them.
I am convicted about those times when I approach Jesus with my own selfish agenda and feel that He might better hearken unto me if I would build Him up a bit first, as if my contrived words would make Him "feel" better. But God calls us to worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH.
When we approach the throne with our "hallowed be thy names" we had better mean it.
Merciful Lord and Savior, we bend the knee to you today. In contrition we acknowledge that you are all we can say and so much more. What you are cannot be changed by our choice of words. But our praises, from our hearts can truly change us as we worship you in spirit and in truth. May we lift you up today as we consider that you were lifted up for our sins so long ago. Thank you for your great salvation! Hallowed be your name.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Read Mt 22:1-15
We must contextualize these kingdom teachings of Jesus. The come on the very heels of Jesus entering into Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna to the son of David.” They were calling Him their king. Next, the religious leaders, after witnessing His cleansing of the temple, ask Him about His authority. He then challenged them as to the rejection of the chief cornerstone. The Pharisees "perceived" that He spoke of them. Duh!
The religionists knew they were in big trouble. For them it was the 4th quarter and they were down by several touchdowns. Jesus rode into town on a donkey just as Zechariah had foretold and it was on the exact day prophesied by Daniel. What were they to do? So they told Jesus to tell the people to shut up with all these "Hosannas".
He told them that on this particular day, if they didn't do the praising, the rocks would.
Against that backdrop, Jesus begins speaking to all in attendance about "the kingdom". I guarantee you, He had their attention. He spoke about invitations to be a part of the kingdom, about those opposed to it, about being prepared for the kingdom or being caught unprepared.
I don't suppose there had ever been such keen interest in a sermon as His Kingdom teaching that day.
The responses? Many heard Jesus gladly because they were under the impression that the actual reign of Messiah, Son of David was imminent. But the Pharisees had other ideas...trip Him up, get Him to say something they could use against Him, even take Him by force if the opportunity arose.
But the kingdom Jesus referred to was misunderstood. His chief interest was to reign over individual kingdoms of the heart.
Today, I cede the throne of my heart back over to the King. Daily my flesh revolts against His reign and it deposes the rightful rulership of King Jesus. With Paul, I die daily, so that I may live in Him and under Him.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I love the IHOP. At least, I used to. I am not thrilled with what it has become. The service there hasn't been too good the last few years, the quality of the fare and he crowd has declined and prices have gotten pretty high.
Jesus wasn't thrilled with what the IHOP had become either. In fact, He got downright angry about it. That is, the Intended House of Prayer.
Mat 21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
Mat 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
We need to stop and ask ourselves if today's IHOPs, our churches have become something they were not intended to be. Have we left our first love? Have we neglected prayer? Are others being glorified more than Christ?
How 'bout we all make sure that church be the wonderful thing God intended for it to be?
Monday, April 6, 2009
The Supreme Court of the State of Iowa has come out of the closet for the strutting sissies. In a unanimous decision, they have upheld the overturning of a ban on homosexual marriage by a lower court. This means that the deviants can began getting married in Iowa shortly, and if you don’t like it, you are bound to get hit with one of their purses.
Nebraskans flock to the Hawkeye state on a regular basis to satisfy their gaming vices in the border casinos. Now, I foresee the sodomites of our state heading across the Missouri to get their licenses to be licentious.
Another thing I see, It's only a matter of time now before those of us who are still willing to speak the truth and say that homosexuality is wrong are the ones that they are calling criminals.
Once again, Bible prophecy is coming to pass. “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
It is not the eating, drinking, buying and selling that took down Lot’s society, it was the proliferation of perversion. The stench of our nation’s sin has reached the nostrils of Heaven and now, time is short. It is not only homosexuality that concerns me, but also the acceptance and even approval of it. Now, states are legalizing pervert marriage, soon they will be penalizing those who speak against it.
May God protect our children, our churches and the decent people of our nation.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Mat 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
Mat 21:2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
Mat 21:3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
Mat 21:4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Mat 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Mat 21:6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
Mat 21:7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
Mat 21:8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
Mat 21:9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Mat 21:10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
Mat 21:11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
Mat 21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
Mat 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Mat 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
Mat 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
Mat 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Psa 115:12 The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel;
Think about what we think about. Our world is so busy and our thoughts are so scattered at times that focusing on something important can be like nailing Jello to a wall. I would like to center my thoughts on the Lord for an extended period of time, but other things scream for my attention; the day's agenda, a pressing need, a worry, a person in need, a pain I am having or a money problem.
These and other thoughts speed through our minds causing needful thoughts to dive for the tall grass on the side of the road.
Paul said, " Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Now let's turn our thoughts to the God Who not only created, but sustains the universe. As if He had little else to do, God is mindful of us!!! We are in His thoughts and on His mind, not now and then but consistently. He knows our thoughts, He sees our plight, He plans our future and he directs our path. What glory and wonder the Mind of the Divine!
Perhaps today I will think more about the One Who constantly considers me.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Think of the professor down at the U who looks down his long nose, through his spectacles which are precariously planted at the end of the ski slope he breathes with at those of us mere mortals who are stuck in 15th century thinking.
He chortles at our beliefs about the sanctity of life and intelligent design.
He is miffed that we would want to stifle 'free-thinking' with such preposterous ideas like absolutes and morality.
My dad called these people educated idiots who are too smart for their own good. My preacher said that letters after a person's name are like curls in a pig's tail, a pig is still a pig. I have known people whose IQs were off the charts, but they had zippo common sense.
A bunch of little, bright-eyed Sunday school kids who know how to quote John 3:16 and can tell you what it means are on the right path to wisdom. Those simplistic believers who rely on the Lord's power to keep God's commandments have a pretty good understanding of what's what.
Education is a great thing. The Word tells us that wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
It is said that knowledge is the accumulation of facts, but wisdom is knowing how to apply them.
Those who know God know essentially everything necessary, but those who deny God, well, the Bible has a word for them and there is a day named after them on the first of April.
Psa 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Jesus said, blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Have you ever been driving around town and thought you'd hit a drive-through for lunch? You find a place that sounds "okay", but once you've eaten their burger or taco or whatever fare they offered, it just didn't hit the spot. You then wish you would have found something better, but alas, it is too late. You've had your lunch and now you are filled but not satisfied. You've wasted your money and space in your stomach on junk.
This is not unlike our lives. We seek to fill a hunger, a longing, and sometimes we choose the wrong things. When we are bored, we may invest an hour in a TV show that leaves us feeling unfulfilled and we know that is an hour wasted that we will never have back.
Appetite is a funny thing. They say never do your grocery shopping when you are hungry. You end up getting a bunch of junk you don't need.
The truth is, only Christ satisfies a longing soul. That emptiness, those pangs of spiritual and emotional hunger can only be met and fulfilled by the One Who created that longing within us.
The only way to find true satisfaction and fulfillment is by longing for the right thing and then get an abundance of it. And He is that goodness that truly satisfies your hungry and longing soul.