HOW GREAT IS GOD’S LOVE?

PSALM 57:10-11: “For your faithful love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth.” CSB

OBSERVATION: How great is God’s love? How steadfast is His faithfulness? How marvelous is His glory? When we feel small, when the troubles of life begin to overwhelm us, all we really need to do is look up!

When I read these words I began to wonder – how high is the heavens? I am not really a great science buff. It has never been my favorite subject. However, I was compelled by this thought to look this up. How big is the universe? How far do the heavens expand? If His faithful love is as high as the heavens, this question is worthy to pursue.

No one really knows how big the universe is. We can only use measurements on what we are able to observe. Therefore, we must limit ourselves to the observable. Here are the startling facts.

The diameter of the observable universe is about 93 billion light years. Even for the Star Ship Enterprise, at warp speed, that is more than one could travel in a lifetime. A light year is about 6 trillion miles. So if you multiply 6 trillion by 93 billion…well, you get the picture. It is a number that would have too many zeros to even comprehend. The observable universe is beyond our own human comprehension. And that is just what we can see. What about what we cannot see?

The point is clear. The heavens are beyond our comprehension. So is the depth of God’s faithful love. His faithfulness reaches the clouds. This is another example of how great God is. In an airplane we may have the experience of flying through the clouds, but from where we stand they are unreachable. They expand over our heads in such a mighty canopy and are a beautiful sight to behold. So is God’s faithfulness towards us. It covers us like the clouds. It brings shade to our weary souls. It brings rain to our dry and thirsty hearts.

Paul reminds us in Romans about the wonders of God in creation.

  • “…For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20 CSB

Paul was speaking of God’s testimony to the world about His nature through creation. People who dismiss God are without excuse, because the heavens declare His glory. Yet, we too need to heed the testimony of creation. As we look up into the heavens, as we watch the waves of the ocean in the sunset, as we gaze upon the grandeur of a beautiful mountain range, we need to see the love and faithfulness of God that is always directed toward us. The birds of the air trust in His faithfulness in their lives, and so should we!

  • “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” Matthew 6:25-26 CSB

Lord, this morning I choose to look up into the heavens. I choose to behold the wonder of the clouds You have placed over me. I choose to remember Your love and faithfulness in my life. Help me to see Your hand in everything of beauty in my life. When I am weary, help me always to look up!

In Jesus Name!

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AM I BEING LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT?

ACTS 16:6-10: “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I being led by the Holy Spirit? Is my heart attuned to hearing His still small voice? Am I positioned and ready to obey His voice when I hear it? These are the questions that come to mind when I read these verses from Acts.

I remember watching a game show when I was a child. It was “Let’s Make a Deal.” Many times a contestant was given the opportunity of trading what they had already won for something behind three curtains. One curtain held a big prize, one curtain held a lesser prize, and the last curtain held a joke prize. As I watched the show I would think to myself, “If only I could know what is behind each curtain before making my choice!” However, without this knowledge, more often than not, the contestant ended up with a goat rather than a car.

Life is very much like this game show. We are constantly faced with choices. They all look good, but only one is the right choice. And, it even makes it harder when all three are good choices. This is where Paul found himself. Yet, Paul had learned to walk in the Spirit. He had trained his ear to listen for His still small voice. When they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia to preach the Gospel, the Holy Spirit would not allow them to stop. Then, when they tried to go to Bithynia to preach the Gospel, again the Holy Spirit would not allow them to stop. And then, behind door number three, Paul discovered the Lord’s will and direction.

During the night the Spirit spoke to Paul in a dream. In this dream he saw a man from Macedonia pleading with him to come to Macedonia and help them. Paul, upon waking, perceived it was a dream given to him from the Holy Spirit and set course to preach the Gospel in Macedonia. Paul did not know what really was behind curtain number three. Yet, he was positioned to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, and hearing, to obey.

The rest of the story is quite interesting. Paul encounters a godly woman named Lydia, who upon hearing the Gospel, places her faith in Jesus Christ. She and her entire household believed and were baptized. And, Lydia invites Paul and Silas to stay at her house while they were in the region. God had led them to reach this household for Jesus Christ, and also to receive provision for their journey. The Holy Spirit led them to the very hearts who needed to hear the Gospel. The Holy Spirit knew that Lydia and her household were ready to receive and believe.

What happens next is quite interesting. Paul and Silas encounter a demon possessed girl that had been manipulated by certain men to make money by predicting the future. When Paul casts out the spirit in this girl, and when these men realize their source of revenue has been taken away, they incite a riot against Paul and Silas. Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown into prison. One may being to wonder if Paul really received the direction of the Holy Spirit under these circumstances. However, what happens next confirms that he did.

Paul and Silas, in jail, begin to sing hymns and pray. The rest of the prisoners, as well as the guard, hear them. Then the Lord caused a great earthquake to open up all the prison doors and loose all the prisoners shackles. The guard proceeds with an attempt to take his own life because he envisions that all the prisoners have escaped. Yet, Paul reassures him that they are all there. The jailer invites Paul and Silas to his home. The jailer and his entire family hear the Gospel, believe, and are baptized. And Paul and Silas are vindicated as the town leaders come to apologize for beating them and lead them safely out of town.

Who could have envisioned these turn of events? Only the Holy Spirit. The Lord knew that there were two households that were ready to receive the Gospel. And Paul and Silas, sensing they were being led by the Lord, continued in worship and prayer, even when they were thrown into prison. When you know that you are in the will of the Lord there is peace and great joy. Even if you find yourself in the midst of a storm. You know that where the Lord guides, He provides! There is nothing better than knowing you have heard the voice of the Spirit and you are right where God wants you to be!

  • “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14 CSB

The indwelling and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit is the wonderful assurance that we are the children of God. It is the promise of the Father given on the Day of Pentecost. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit opens the door to a lifetime of walking in the power and leading of the Lord. We no longer have to wonder what is behind each curtain. We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. The key is to learn to listen. We train our ear to listen as we abide in God’s Word, continue in prayer, and position our heart in worship.

It is in the secret place of the Word, prayer, and worship that we hear His still small voice. Jesus regularly drew apart from His disciples into a quiet place to be with the Father. In His earthly life, Jesus did not rely upon his heavenly attributes. Rather, as a man, he relied on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And, He has promised us that the Holy Spirit will also guide us into all truth. What a wonderful privilege and blessing. We have not been left alone. We have a comforter and a guide that is present with us, and will lead and guide us on a daily basis.

Lord, this morning I am led to pray what David prayed. Lord, keep me from presumptuous sin. Help me not to move ahead prematurely in my life until I hear the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart – “This is the way, walk in it.” May I wait upon You, meditating upon Your Word, seeking You in earnest prayer, and worshipping You with a sincere heart. Help me to train my inner ear to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice.

In Jesus Name!

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IS MAN INHERENTLY GOOD or EVIL?

PSALM 53:1-3: “The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Is man inherently good or evil? This is a question that has been debated for ages. One’s answer to this question depends mostly on their world view. If one forms their world view from conventional wisdom, the position would be that man is inherently good. However, if one forms their world view from the Scriptures, the position would be that man is inherently evil.

The Psalmist makes it very clear. God has searched the entire human race and He has found it wanting. This may seem like a harsh statement, but it is true. David came to realize this in his own fall into sin when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and orchestrated the death of Uriah. David wrote,

  • “Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.” Psalms 51:5 CSB

In theological terms this is known as the depravity of man. This doctrine is greatly misunderstood. It does not mean that man is inherently as bad as he can be. It simply means that man is born with a sin nature, and his natural inclination is to sin. This is proven out logically by the fact that all men and women do sin. If this was not true, there would be those among us who escaped this fate. However, the truth is – we all sin!

In Psalm 53 the Psalmist does not declare that everyone in the world is as corrupt as they can be. The key point he makes is that no one seeks God. Instead, they rely upon their own wisdom. They create their own reality. They dismiss the commands of their Creator and begin to live by their own desires and decrees. This is the state of man – without a Savior.

Some may object to this view as negative and condemning. How can man achieve his full potential if we do not uphold and promote his goodness? Our politicians tell us how good we are. Society tells us how good we are. Why doesn’t the Bible tell us how good we are? Which view of man is true?

Jesus was approached by a rich man. This man was a good man in the standards of the day. He was a devout Jew, he upheld the commandments, and he was seeking the way to eternal life. In this discourse we discover an important truth about man’s inherent goodness and depravity.

  • “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother. ” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:17-23 CSB

This man was respectful as he approached Jesus. He addressed Him as “Good Teacher.” Jesus’ response is telling. Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” In this statement Jesus both proclaimed His deity and man’s depravity. The problem was that this rich man thought he was good too. So Jesus challenges him with the commandments. And the man is proud to answer, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” Yet, Jesus left out one commandment – “Thou shall not covet.” When Jesus asked the rich man to sell all he had and follow Him, the man turned away dismayed and grieving. He was not really interested in seeking after God if it cost him something he was not willing to give.

This is what the Psalmist declares. Man is not as evil as he can be. Yet, even at man’s best he does not seek God on his own volition. If this were true, Jesus would not have come to die for our sins. Man needs a Savior. I need a Savior. I need a Savior from the penalty of sin, which is death and separation from God eternally. And, I also need a Savior from the power of sin that is inherent in me. I am totally incapable of overcoming the power of sin and living a life that pleases God, apart from Jesus Christ. It takes a change of heart to change my sin nature!

  • “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:26-28 CSB

While we enter a new season of a national political race, there will be many who stroke our egos and tell us how good we are. Yet, in all of the cycles that I have experienced in my 63 years of life, I have not seen an improvement in the nature of man. The only change I have seen in mankind is when there is a changed heart. Changed hearts change the world. And the only one who can change man’s heart is Jesus Christ. Apart from this inner transformation we all will wander in our own direction away from God. Some will do it in starched white shirts, and others clinging to the gutters of life. Yet, all will stray.

Lord, remind me today that there will be no peace in this world until we meet the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ the Lord. We have tried to change the world through governments and programs, we have thrown trillions of dollars at the social ills of our land, and yet we continue to slide downward. Give me boldness to proclaim the wonderful truth – Jesus Saves! Transform this sinner’s heart so that I can share your truth with others. Help me seek You today, sincerely, wholly, and in fullness of faith.

In Jesus Name!

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THE ROAR OF HUMILITY…

PSALM 51:16-17: “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What is the roar that is heard in the heavens? What is the roar that moves mountains? What is the roar that moves the heart of God?

It is the roar of humility!

David was a warrior king. He knew the roar of battle. He knew the roar of victory. Yet, he had forgotten the roar of humility. Psalm 51 is a song written at one of the lowest points in David’s life. It was a song of repentance resulting from his sin with Bathsheba, and orchestrating the death of Uriah.

The story of David’s fall from grace is not covered over in the Scriptures. It is one of the most vivid stories of sin and the power of grace we find in Scripture. On a spring day, while the armies were out in battle, David went out on the roof, saw Bathsheba bathing, lusted for her in his heart, and committed adultery. Then to cover up his sin, and to take Bathsheba as his wife, he orchestrated the death of one of his mighty men, Uriah, by sending him to the front lines to be killed.

What happened to the man after God’s own heart? How could this mighty man of God fall so far? I know this is conjecture, but may I suggest that David may not have gone on the roof to look at Bathsheba. I would like to offer another possibility. David always led his troops into battle. And, David was used to the Lord providing victory after victory. Victory had become the norm. It is easy to begin to believe that the victories in our life have something to do with us. David’s heart may have been filled with pride. The army no longer needed him. They were just mopping up. So David stayed behind.

Why did he go on the roof? Again, may I suggest that it was not initially to spy on Bathsheba. Could it have been to look out over Jerusalem and revel in his victories. Looking over his kingdom David’s heart became centered upon his own grandeur. He had not gone with the army to seek the Lord’s direction as in times past. He was relying on his army, rather than relying on God. And, in this moment of pride, the enemy took advantage to tarnish the man after God’s own heart. Pride always goes before a fall. And, David’s fall was hard!

  • “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 CSB

I believe that Psalm 51 bears out this premise. David, humbled by his sin, cries out before God for mercy. He recognizes his fall from grace. He acknowledges his sin and pride. He prays earnestly for his restoration.

  • “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious your ways, and sinners will return to you.” Psalms 51:10-13 CSB

David’s sin did not begin at the moment he walked out on the roof. It began long before that in his heart. It began when pride knocked at the door and when David answered. David asks God for a clean heart, a steadfast spirit. He hungers for God’s presence, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. He knows that only in God’s mercy and grace will he find joy. Only God can transform his heart and free him from pride. And only in humility will he be able to lead God’s people.

David recognized one more important truth. God does not desire our religious service if He does not have our hearts. If our hearts are filled with pride, all of our service and worship are unacceptable to Him. There is only one true sacrifice that the Lord requires. It is the sacrifice of a humble and contrite heart. Only then is our service and worship acceptable to Him!

  • “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God. In your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” Psalms 51:16-19 CSB

The roar heard in the heavens, the roar that moves mountains, and the roar that moves the heart of God – is the roar of humility! As long as David sought the Lord he prospered. As soon as David leaned upon his own understanding, and reveled in his victories, he fell. We are no different. Pride can take a hold of our hearts. Humility is both an acknowledgement and an action. We must take the first step in humbling ourselves. The roar begins with obedience to His call and command.

  • “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:6-10 CSB

God always responds to the roar of humility.

Lord, this morning hear my roar. I need You! I love You! Without You I can do nothing. You are my Savior, my Healer, my Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and my soon coming King. Cleanse me from all pride deep within. Give me a servants heart. Restore me and uphold me by Your grace, and through Your Spirit. Let me deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus – today, tomorrow, and forever.

In Jesus Name!

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MY PERSONAL BATTLE WITH PREJUDICE…

ACTS 9:13-18: “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Ananias went and entered the house. He placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I free from prejudice? Do I see every person as a soul that is capable of being redeemed? Is there anyone outside of the power of God’s saving grace?

The story of Saul’s miraculous conversion addresses these questions. It also challenges my heart. Many times I find myself living on both sides of the fence. On one hand I believe in the wonderful and transforming power of God’s love through Jesus Christ. On the other hand I find it difficult to believe that some people will ever change. When I am completely honest with myself I see the same prejudice that Ananias battled with.

Who would want to go to the house of a murderer? The stoning of Stephen, under the supervision of Saul, was not done in secret. The news of this, and Saul’s arrest of believers, spread rapidly through this young and growing church. Ananias knew full well who Saul was and what the Lord was calling him to do. Ananias did not try to hide his prejudice from the Lord. Rather, Ananias confessed it before the Lord. I need to confess mine too!

Near our new home there was a house with a large open field. We drive past it every time we are heading into town. My wife noticed that there was an organized group of cement parking barriers in this open field. We were both puzzled at what this meant. Who has parking barriers in an open field by their house? Then a sign went up. Next a tent was placed behind the house. The sign stated – “Islamic Center of Clermont.”

After September 11, 2001, I have battled with prejudice regarding those who hold the Islamic faith. This prejudice has been mostly out of fear. I tried to pretend it was not there. However, whenever I board a plane and see someone who appears to be Muslim, I face it all over again. I know this is wrong. I know that most Muslims are not terrorists. However, I have allowed fear to take hold of my heart. I am like Ananias. Yet, I have not been as honest about my prejudice as Ananias was about his with the Lord.

This is not a plea to embrace Islam. There is only one true God, and only one true Savior – Jesus Christ our Lord. Yet, when I allow fear to prejudice my heart, am I extending the good news to those who need to hear it? Did Jesus die only for those who live in the Western world, or did He die for the whole world? If Jesus can save Saul, if He can transform my sinful heart, isn’t He able to save all men and women who call upon His name? Can the power of the Gospel break through the veil of Islam? Can it even transform the heart of a terrorist?

There are so many wonderful testimonies of people of the Islamic faith who are now meeting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. The veil that was over their heart has been torn asunder. The Lord Jesus Christ is reaching Sauls all over the world. And when I see an Islamic center, or any faith that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ move into my neighborhood, I need not reel back in fear. The Lord is bringing the nations to my own backyard. The Gospel is still the power of God to save. It is time to let go of my prejudices and fear and to let my light shine. It is an opportunity to show the wonderful love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 CSB

Truth be told, I am a work in progress. Each day I must face my prejudices head on. I need to bring them to the Lord and confess them. I need to admit my fears and affirm God’s love. I need a transforming work of God’s grace in my life and heart. The apostles did not eschew the Jews of Greeks who did not know Christ. Rather, God called them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This call is still our call. We need to lay all fear and prejudice at the foot of the cross!

Lord, this morning, cleanse my heart of any prejudice that I have against anyone who is different than I am. Help me see all people as You see them. You came and died for the sins of the entire world so that all who would believe may be saved. Help me take Your Gospel to the ends of the earth, and to the corners of my neighborhood.

In Jesus Name!

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IS THE WORLD OUT OF CONTROL?

PSLAM 47:5-8: “God ascends among shouts of joy, the Lord, with the sound of trumpets. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise! Sing a song of wisdom, for God is King of the whole earth. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Is the world out of control? Is there hope for the human race? Will the earth end in the next 12 years because of global warming? Will a nuclear war destroy all of mankind?

I remember growing up in a similar time of uncertainty. We were in the midst of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The threat of a nuclear war was hanging over our heads every day. I went to school at a small Lutheran school. We had a classroom filled with old wooden desks. The teacher would be giving her lesson, and then the siren would sound. We knew what this meant. We all quickly took our place under our desks. It was a bomb drill. We lived with a regular reminder that a nuclear war could strike at any moment.

Today we live with many more threats. There is the threat of a terrorist attack around every corner. Now, it is not only Russia who has a nuclear weapon, it is small rogue nations that also pose a threat. To believe the news, we will be swallowed up in floods in 12 years time if we don’t change the way we live immediately. And then, there is the threat of a financial meltdown that can wipe away all of our savings and the hard work of an entire lifetime. Is anyone in control?

The Psalmist brings us words of comfort and hope!

  • “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.”

In the midst of all these uncertainties, for the believer there remains one constant – God is seated on his holy throne!. I have read the beginning of the Bible that outlines the creation of the world, and I have read the book of Revelation that outlines the end of the world. And in it all one things remains constant. God is in control! Nothing catches the God of all creation by surprise. He reigns over this world and over the nations. While everything may seem to be spinning out of control, the Lord is bringing all of human history to its purposed close. And the wonderful news for the child of God is,

  • “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 CSB

Notice where the loud voice comes from. It comes from the throne. God is seated on his holy throne. He is guiding the courses of history. He is reigning over the nations. Our only hope is in Him. Jesus Christ is the victorious lamb of God who is leading God’s people to victory. Jesus is the only hope for the nations, the only hope for mankind. Jesus Christ is our Savior, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, our Healer, and our soon coming King! He is still on the throne!

The early church understood this truth. They were looking with anticipation for the soon return of Jesus Christ. They were not concerned with changing or overturning the Roman Government. The mission and call upon their lives was to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. They knew that the Kingdom of God was not a kingdom of this world. It was a kingdom established in the hearts of each man and woman who believed. And they wanted to reach every man and woman possible before Jesus returned!

What was the result? They turned the world upside down. They impacted the culture of their day. Their influence and proclamation of the Gospel changed governmental structures. This was not their intent. Yet, it was the outcome. Why? Because changed hearts bring eyes of faith to their appointment in life. Changed hearts in the marketplace bring honesty and integrity to business dealings. Changed hearts in the government bring justice and mercy to legislation. Changed lives are our only hope!

There is only one thing that can change a life. It is faith in Jesus Christ. When a person is born again they receive a new heart and new spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence and begins a life long transformational process of the heart that changes everything. It changes how we view life and how we live life. The shackles of sin are broken and the floods of mercy and forgiveness are released. The Holy Spirit begins His work of molding every area of our life into the image of Jesus Christ. Only a changed heart can change the world!

Lord, as we move into another political cycle, help me to remember what my most important calling is. It is not to be swallowed up in the 24/7 news coverage, or to fret over the future of the world. It is to remember that You reign over the nations and that You are still on Your holy throne. It is to fulfill the one and most important call that You have given.

  • “Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 CSB

In Jesus Name!

(If you would like to learn more about this “Good News,” go to http://www.smashwords.com. When the page opens, do a search for Kirk L. Zehnder. It will lead you to a free E-Book entitled “GOOD NEWS – The Gospel of Jesus Christ from Genesis to Revelation.”)

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KEEP ON PRAYING!

I SAMUEL 23:1-5: “It was reported to David: “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and raiding the threshing floors.” So David inquired of the Lord: “Should I launch an attack against these Philistines?” The Lord answered David, “Launch an attack against the Philistines and rescue Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Look, we’re afraid here in Judah; how much more if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” Once again, David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him: “Go at once to Keilah, for I will hand the Philistines over to you.” Then David and his men went to Keilah, fought against the Philistines, drove their livestock away, and inflicted heavy losses on them. So David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What do you do when are faced with a great challenge? What do you do when you feel you have direction from the Lord, and then everything seems to be against that direction? David faced these challenges with his men, and with Saul’s continued pursuit of David and his men. What did David do?

David kept praying!

I think we misunderstand the call and power of prayer in our life. The late Paul (Papa) Billheimer, in his classic book “Destined for the Throne,” says – “Prayer is our on the job training for the Kingdom of God.” If we don’t understand the call and power of prayer in our life now, we will enter into the Kingdom ill prepared. This morning I needed to be reminded of this important truth, as illustrated in the life of David.

David was a man after God’s own heart. He got that reputation because he spent time with God in worship and in prayer. The book of Psalms is David’s legacy of this intimate relationship with the Lord. As David was on the run from Saul, and as he led a rag tag army of about 600 disgruntled soldiers, David relied upon prayer. He did not rest on his past victories, or his military experience.

David prayed, and kept on praying!

David prayed and asked the Lord if he should rescue the people of Keilah from the hand of the Philistines. The Lord responded – Yes! Then when David shared this with his disgruntled army, they pushed back in fear. They were not as convinced as David was. So what did David do?

David kept on praying!

David sought the Lord again for confirmation and direction. The Lord once again confirmed His direction to David, and the Lord also turned the hearts of David’s army to follow David. David did not give up on the Lord’s calling at the first sign of opposition.

David kept on praying!

Then, when they had delivered the people of Keilah, a walled city, Saul began to pursue David and his army. David prayed and asked the Lord if Saul would pursue him. The Lord answered – “He will.” Then David prayed and asked the Lord if the people of Keilah would be loyal to him and his army, or hand them over. The Lord answered – “They will hand you over.” The important lesson we can learn from David is that at each and every turn of his life,

David kept on praying!

Jesus taught this same principle.

  • Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-11 NLT

Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. This is the call to perseverance and faith. And the wonderful promise is that our Heavenly Father does not grow weary of us doing so. In fact, this is His delight, to hear the prayers of His children, and to give them good gifts in response to their prayers. Yet, the key is to “keep on!” It is not a lack of faith to persevere in prayer about the same thing. It is an act of faith and obedience to the Word of God.

The reality is – every situation in our life is filled with multiple twists and turns. When we initially come to the Lord in prayer, we only see our situation from one perspective. However, as we begin to follow the Lord in obedience, we discover new challenges along the path that we did not anticipate. It is foolish to simply press on into unknown territory. It is wise and prudent to pray. Prayer is not to be simply an act of desperation. Prayer is to be our ongoing relationship and conversation with the Lord. We need to learn this important lesson from David.

David kept on praying!

Lord, this morning I needed to be reminded of this important truth. Forgive me for pressing on ahead of Your leading. Help me to seek you at every step, every twist and turn, every difficulty along the path of life. Guard my heart from discouragement. Give me strength to watch and pray. This morning I choose not to assume or give up. This morning –

I choose to pray!

In Jesus Name!

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