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Sunday, December 1, 2019

God's Message for the anxious Workaholic

God’s Message for the Anxious Workaholic
Psalm 127
I can easily become an anxious person.  Too I often worry that my work will not be good enough. Or that something will go wrong. When I start to worry, remembering the words of Psalm 127 helps me and calms me down.  Reminds me to relax and trust in my heavenly Father.  I’m hoping that maybe this psalm can help you too. 
Psalm 127 is a short little Psalm – only five verses. But this Psalm reminds us that the key to success is not by our anxious frantic efforts but by abiding in Him. That without God, we can do nothing.
Let’s read Psalm 127 here:
  1. Unless the Lord builds the house (marriage, family) they who build it work in vain.  Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
  2. It is vain for you to rise up early and stay up late.  Eating the bread of anxious labor.   For God gives to His beloved even in his sleep. 
  3. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.  And the fruit of the womb is a reward.
  4. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
  5.  Blessed is the person who has her or his quiver full of them.  They shall not be ashamed but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
This Psalm tells us that without God’s help, our endeavors are in vain.  When we build our house (marriage, family) we need to consult the divine Architect. (verse 1a) We need to pray and ask God for His blessing for our house (marriage, family) and our country.  If the citizens and leaders of a country make laws that break God’s laws and if they forget to seek God’s will and blessing, their country will eventually fail.   Psalm 127 says: “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (verse 1b) 
Workaholics beware. Psalm 127 says that our work is in vain independent of God’s calling and direction. (verse 2a) We don’t have to do it all by ourselves, but God “gives gifts to His beloved even in her or his sleep.” (verse 2b) Let’s not miss out on the truth that we don’t have to do it all that God blesses us even at the most unlikely times.  
And Psalm 127 ends by telling us that our children are a gift from the Lord, designed to fill a purpose with joy.  Jesus said: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)    
We sometimes think that the harder we work; the richer we become.  But without God, all our money and earthly riches will not satisfy us. Yet this Psalm shows that God’s gifts are given by our resting in His grace and doing our reasonable share of work.  The fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8) of the Ten Commandments commands God’s people to rest from their work on the sabbath day or the seventh day.  Do we take seriously God’s command to rest from our work – and to rest and trust in Him? 
Yes, Scripture says that God gives us work to do.  There are many passages in Scripture that speak against sloth or being lazy and not doing our share of work. But then we are told not to “Rise up early and stay up late and eat the bread of anxious labor.” (Psalm 127:2) God has placed limits on our work so there is room for rest, reflection and worship. We can find this moderation when we stop trying to run our own lives and trust God each day to guide and help us.
 What does it look like to abide in Jesus instead?  A passage about us abiding in Christ is found in John 15:1-8. Jesus is speaking these words: “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you bear fruit, unless you abide in Me.  I am the “Vine”, and you are the “branches”.  If you abide In Me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:4-5)   This New Testament passage is saying the same thing that Psalm 127, our Old Testament passage said.  That without God being involved in our work and our lives, all that we do will amount to nothing. 
Our secular society tells us that we should run our own lives.  Be self-made men and women. Rugged individualists. But our secular world has it all backwards.  God speaks to us in Scripture and tells us that “We are not our own, we are bought with a price” (the price is the blood of Jesus) (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  We are to live our lives for Him and His glory and not just for ourselves if we want His blessings and His abundant life.  Let’s come to Jesus.  Repent of the spirit of independence in our lives and give our lives to God.  Stop trying to run things on our own and ask Him for His guidance and blessing.  Do this every day! Live the good life.    



God's Message for the Anxious Workaholic

Sunday, November 24, 2019

My Help Comes from the Lord Psalm 121

My Help Comes from the Lord
Psalm 121
All throughout the Bible our heavenly Father assures us that we are not on our own or alone in this world.  That He is our help and our keeper.  Psalm 121 is only one of many Psalms and other passages in the Bible that promise God’s help and provision to us.  Let’s read Psalm 121.  
Psalm 121
  1. I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.
  2. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 
  3. He will not allow your foot to be moved.  He who keeps you will not slumber.
  4. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
                   5. The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
     6. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
     7. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil:  He shall preserve your soul.
     8.  the Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in.  From this time forth and even forevermore.

  • This little Psalm begins with the writer saying that he was looking up to the hills from where his help came. The writer, probably David, was looking up to the hills of Zion and Jerusalem, which was the Old Testament symbol for the dwelling place of God.  Many hundreds of years after this Psalm was written, Jesus was asked by the woman at the well in Samaria if Jerusalem was the place where one should worship God as the Jews said?  Or were the Samaritans correct when they worshiped God on their mountains.
    And Jesus answered her that “the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23)  After Jesus came and died for our sins and rose again, the Old Testament law has been fulfilled.  Believers are now free to worship God anywhere and at any time.
    Psalm 121:2 says: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” Imagine, the Creator of heaven and earth, is also our Guardian and our Caretaker.  “In Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:17b) Who God is (our Maker and Creator) flows into His loving and caring actions toward us.
    Psalm 121:3 says: ”He will not allow your foot to be moved.” When tragedy strikes it may seem to us that our “foot has been moved”.  But our heavenly Father has our deepest heartaches under His control and, if we love Him, He promises to work things out to our good .  (Romans 8:28)    Verse 3 continues: “ But, He who keeps you will not slumber.”  The Hebrew word for “keeps” means “preserves” and it is used six times in this Psalm emphasizing how much God is watching over his children. We are kept and protected not in the sense that we will never suffer sorrows and pain, but that He will go through our pain and sorrows with us and bring us out victorious. 
    Psalm 121:5-7 says: “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil: He will keep your soul.”  The sun and moon. I believe, represent 24-hour protection. Verse 5 says that “He is our “shade”.  Other Scriptures tell of similar imagery in representing God’s protection over us.  Isaiah 51:16 says: “Therefore I have covered you under the shadow of My hand.”   “Shade” and Shadow” are both images of God’s protection over us.
    Deuteronomy 32:11 says: “As an eagle stirs up it’s nest and hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on it’s wings, so the Lord alone leads you.”  What does this imagery say about our God and His care for us?
    In our old age, when our bodies are slowing down and death is perhaps around the corner, our heavenly Father promises to give us special care.  Psalm 23:4 says : ”Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  For You are with me.  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  How many older people are comforted by God’s “rod” and “staff”? 
    This Psalm goes on to say in verse 6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”  It is comforting to know that God promises His “goodness” and “mercy” to follow after us throughout our lives.  When we get discouraged, let’s stop and look around for the “goodness” and the “mercy” that follows our steps.
    Psalm 121 closes with: “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in .  From this time forth, and even forevermore.”  The keeping power of God sustains us until the very coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, He not only keeps us until the end of the Age, but He promises to keep us “forevermore”.  – throughout eternity.
    Since we have such an awesome God – the Creator of the heavens and earth and a God who loves and cares for us, we never need to be worried or anxious about anything again.  We can safely rest in Him.  Believe His promises. Take everything to Him in prayer.  And put our trust in the “shadow of His Hand covering us” (Isaiah 51:16)   







    Saturday, November 16, 2019

    Laodicea, the Lukewarm Church

    Laodicea – the Lukewarm Church
     The year was approximately 95 A.D. and Jesus appeared in a glorious vision to his beloved disciple, John, (Revelation 1:9-20) and gave John letters to give to seven of the early Christian churches in Asia Minor.  We have already blogged about six of these churches and now we have come the seventh or last church that received one of Jesus’ messages. – the church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church!
    Here is the letter than Jesus gave to John to give to His lukewarm church in Laodicea.  “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one of the other!  So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
    You say that you are rich: that you have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire; so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
    Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
    To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  (Revelation 3:14-22)
    Jesus introduces himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14)   The “Amen“ is one of Jesus’ Names. Bible scholars write that “Amen” means “the One that is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises”.
     When we say “Amen” at the end of our prayers we are giving our prayers – our praises and requests - into the Hands of the “Amen” who is the everlasting God. – the Father and the Son and the Spirit.  Jesus introduces Himself as “a faithful and true witness and the beginning of God’s creation.”  And Jesus, being the eternal Son of God, was there at the beginning of creation.  In fact, Scripture says that through Him (Jesus) all things were created. (Colossians 1:16)  
    Jesus goes on to tell his church in Laodicea that they are neither hot nor cold – but they are lukewarm, and He is angry.  He warns them that if they do not repent, He will come and spit them out of His mouth.  Jesus will not allow us to stay lukewarm too long. The compromising or accommodating church is repulsive to the Lord and damaging to His purpose!
    Lukewarm churches have watered down the Message and are probably losing members.  Often, lukewarm churches have become nothing more than comfortable country clubs that mentions God when it is convenient. Scripture says that these churches “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.”  (2 Timothy 3:5) And Christians are commanded to leave lukewarm churches and not be part of them! (2 Timothy 3:5)
     A lukewarm church probably doesn’t try to follow God’s commands in the Bible too closely especially if these commands don’t fit with modern worldly standards.  A lukewarm church is most likely a self-sufficient church.  Cultured Christians going through the motions.
    A lukewarm church doesn’t need to wait on the Lord for answers to their problems since they are intelligent and educated and can figure things out on their own. They try to be independent from God’s interference and run their church and their lives themselves!  Instead of God molding them, they re-invent their god to be what they want.  Jesus is displeased and promises to spit them out of His mouth. 
    Jesus tells the church in Laodicea that they are proud of themselves for being intelligent enough to be able to create all of their own wealth and to live their own lives in comfort and luxury. They don’t believe that they need anything. They can run their lives themselves. – without Him.  They judge their lives by how much money they have and how many things they possess. 
    But Jesus tells them that the truth is that they are really wretched and pitiful and poor and blind and naked.  That also they are spiritually blind and can’t see that they are really wretched and pitiful and poor and naked!  There is a whole other spiritual realm that they are not able to see because they want to be lukewarm! All because they don’t want to let Jesus into their lives to change things around.  
    Jesus advises the lukewarm Christians to buy gold from Him refined in the fire so they can be spiritually rich.  Jesus is the “Store” where we can go to “buy” everything we need for eternity.  You may say that we don’t have money to buy riches from Jesus.  You notice Jesus told the lukewarm church to “buy” gold from Him.  What does it cost us to “buy” refined gold from Jesus?
    Scripture tells us that our faith in Jesus is more precious than gold, though it is tested in the fire.  The Bible says that our inheritance is kept for us through faith.  (1 Peter 1:3-7) Our faith in Him  is the “gold” that Jesus will sell us.  The cost to “buy” this faith from Jesus is to open our lives to His Will and allow Him to refine us from our sins.  The price to buy Jesus’ gold is to agree to let Him help us turn away from our sins.  To give them up - our pride and our self- reliance and all our other ugly thoughts and actions that so easily take us over.  It costs us to give these up to Jesus.  Are we willing to pay the price?  
    Jesus also offers to “sell” white clothing to cover the nakedness for the lukewarm church – and to cover our nakedness also. Scripture says this “white clothing” is the righteousness of Jesus covering our sins – our nakedness.  Our sinfulness is not good enough for eternity.  We must buy Jesus’ righteousness or His “white clothing”.  He must cover our sins - our nakedness - for us to be presentable at heaven’s Wedding Feast.  And we must be willing to give up our nakedness (our sin) and wrap ourselves up in His marvelous Truths.    
    In Jesus’ “Store” He also “sells” eye ointment.  And He calls on all lukewarm Christians to “buy” this eye salve from Him.  Only His eye salve will heal our blind eyes so we can see.  When we come to Jesus and let Him into our hearts and lives, He opens our spiritual eyes so that we can see a whole new wonderful spiritual realm. Jesus tells the lukewarm ones that He only rebukes them because He loves them and wants them to overcome in Him.
    Jesus finishes His letter to Laodicea, the lukewarm church, by telling them (and us) that He is standing outside at our door knocking.  If we hear His Voice and open our door, He will come in and dine with us and we will dine with Him.  (Revelation 3:20) Are some of us are so lukewarm that we leave our Lord and Savior, the “Amen”, “the faithful and true witness and the Ruler of God’s creation”, standing outside knocking at our door?  He calls us to open up to Him and repent of our sins and “overcome” through Him.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  (Revelation 3:22)




    Sunday, November 10, 2019

    Jesus' Message to the Faithful Church of Philadelphia

    Jesus’ Message to the Faithful Church of Philadelphia
    The church in Philadelphia was the sixth of seven churches where Jesus sent His messages.  Jesus was not pleased with the actions of some of the other churches and He gave them warnings to turn from their sins.  But Jesus doesn’t condemn anything that this little church in Philadelphia had done.   In fact, Jesus gave many wonderful promises to the Christians who belonged to the church of Philadelphia!  What were these Christians doing that caused Jesus to rejoice over them and bless them?  Let’s read Jesus’ message to the Philadelphia church and find out.  Here is His message.
    “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:  “This message is from The One who is holy and the One who is true, and the One who has the key of David, and the One who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens.  
    I know your works.  See I have set before you an open door.  And no one can shut it.  For you have a little strength.  But you have kept My Word, and have not denied My Name.  Indeed, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed, I will make them come and worship before your feet, and they will know that I have loved you.
    Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly!  Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
    He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God.  And he shall go out no more.  I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.  And I will write My new Name on him.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelations 3:7-13
    Jesus begins His message describing Himself as: “The One who is holy and the One who is true, and the One who has the key of David, and the One who opens, and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens.” (Revelations 3:7) This description of Jesus emphasizes His holiness, His sovereignty, and His authority.   And Jesus describes Himself as the One who shuts and no one opens and opens and no one shuts. 
    The citizens of Philadelphia at that time (95 A.D.)  were expected to bow down and worship other gods. The town of Philadelphia and all of Asia Minor was under Roman rule and many were ordered to worship the Roman emperor.  As Christians, they refused to worship or serve any other than the Lord their God.  And this often-cost Christians their jobs and sometimes their lives.
     These persecutions could leave frightened Christians feeling out of control of their lives. But Jesus is reminding them that He is in control of their lives. That He is the One who holds the power over their lives.  And that all things work together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) He (Jesus) alone can shut and open doors.
      I believe that Jesus’ comforting words to those early Christians who loved Him are the same for us today who love Him.  That our lives are not out of control.  That our steps are ordered by the Lord and He alone shuts and opens our doors.     
    We wondered what these Christians in Philadelphia were doing that caused Jesus to rejoice over them and bless them.  When we read through Jesus’ message to them we find that Jesus says: “I know your works,…you have a little strength, and have kept My Word, and have not denied My Name. “(Revelation 3:8)
     The church of Philadelphia was weak in some respects, yet they have kept His Word and obeyed it and have not denied His Name as Savior and Son of God.  Because of this, the Lord promises them an “open door” of blessing.  Some Christian churches today have stopped keeping His Word, since it isn’t fashionable.  And some believe they are too smart to trust in His Name.  
    Jesus also praises the Philadelphia church for keeping on and holding fast to their faith during their long trial. He says: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world,…”  (Revelations 3:10 -11) The church’s faithful endurance would serve as a blessing.  Jesus would take them to be with Him before the coming tribulation. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
    Jesus’ letter also condemns the enemies of the Philadelphian believers: “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, …to acknowledge that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9) The church of Philadelphia would be victorious over its enemies. 
    Jesus gives a final promise to the believers in Philadelphia: to Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will he leave it.  I will write on him the name of my god and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down from out of heaven from my God: and I will also write on him my new Name.” (Revelation 3:12) Jesus promises that He will give them (and us) a new name in Glory and He will make these faithful Christian pillars in the spiritual temple of God, the New Jerusalem.  (Galatians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17) Ephesians 2:19-22)
    Jesus calls on the Philadelphia church to hold fast. And He calls us to hold fast also. All of us who have struggled with weakness but still hold fast to our Biblical faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, may be made everlasting pillars in the house of God.  Jesus’ words of comfort and love must have been a blessing to the beleaguered church in Philadelphia.  Those Christians faithfully stood for Christ in their pagan culture.
      Jesus is still watching over His believers today and over His many churches here in our pagan world.  He rejoices over some believers and cries over others.  He walks among us warning and comforting and loving and blessing us, and He always has much to say to us.  But are we listening?  He calls us to listen.  Each of His letters to the churches always ends with these words: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  (Revelation 3:13)