“The descendents of Caleb the brother of Jarahmeel were Mesha, his firstborn who was the father of Ziph, and the sons of Mareshah, the father of Hebron.”  1 Chronicles 2:42

“Now the Lord said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house; to a land I will show you.  I will make you a great nation.  I will bless you.”  Genesis 12:1

I have to admit, there are some books in the bible, some parts of The Word, that are harder to get a message from, for me, than others.  The power of the burning bush, parting of the Red Sea, a Virgin birth, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are all so powerful.  But the beginning of Chronicles with chapter after chapter of hard to pronounce names and a lot of begetting, it’s tough for me to maintain focus.

Thank God Our Father Almighty that in His Mercy and Grace, He has sent the Holy Spirit to teach us that all parts of His Word, have something to teach us.  During a time when much power and property were handed down based on genealogy it would be important to know from whence you came, but what does it speak to us today?  In humble prayer and supplication, the Spirit gave to me some impactful insight into the wonderful impact on you and I today.

You see there was a man named Abram (God would change his name to Abraham).  He was the head of a somewhat successful family of shepherds and herdsman.  God came to him, called to him and made him a promise.  If you will pack up and leave where you are, leave much of your extended family and what you know, go to a far off land that I tell you is rich in all that you need; God tells Abram, if you will do this, I will make you a great nation. I will bless you.  Do know dear Sisters and Brothers, at this point, Abram had no children of his own, he had no idea about the land he was being sent to.  But Abram trusted God.  Abram answered God’s call, packed up his immediate family and one nephew (Lot) and he set off.

God kept His promise.  How do we know?  1 Chronicles.  You see that listing of genealogy traces back to Abram (and even beyond).  We can see that he, Abram, who had no offspring when God first called to him, truly became the father of a great nation.  Another part of 1 Chronicles is a breakdown of the area of the promised land each main branch, each tribe inherited.  Should you take the time to read through the names (which I highly encourage you to do), you’ll come across names that you’ll recognize.  There’s Jacob and Joseph and his brothers, Moses, David, Samuel the prophet and you might find yourself saying:  “Hey I know that one!”  We know from the Word, that not one of the people listed was perfect; they all stumbled.  However, that did not stop God from fulfilling the promise He made.

God will not go back on a promise.  His word endures for ever.  Today, you and I are or at least can be people of His promise.  “For God so loved the world that He Gave His Only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. God’s promise to us.  Also remember that Jesus Christ was and is God who came down to this earth.  So the promises He made concerning seeking and finding, the Love of His Father, giving peace, are all God promises.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, you may find yourself in a place of wilderness today.  You may feel you are in a place where God is far from you.  You may even be in a place where you doubt that God can hear you or cares for you.  You and I may have done something that we feel has separated us from Our Heavenly Father.  Our faith may waiver, but be assured of this, God’s faith never does.  God never turns from You and I even should we try to turn from Him.  God has made a promise to you and I and as long as we believe on Him, He will be faithful to that promise.  The prince of this world shows us how easily the promises of the world are broken into shambles.  He hopes to convince us that God’s promises will not last either.  Yet see in His Word, in a book like 1 Chronicles,  through names like:  Issachar and Abigail, how God is faithful to His promise.  A sacred promise is called a covenant.  There was a covenant with Abram that was shown in a sign.  There is a second, more lasting, more powerful covenant, shown through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, that God loves us.  God will keep us.  God’s face will shine upon us.  What’s in a Name?  What’s important about your and my name?  God knows it in His Heart.  God loves it and the person it represents.  God will fulfill His promise to it.  Praise be His Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are in need of You.  We can not successfully navigate this world on our own.  We need a promise to hold on to, to get us through the day.  Thank you Dear Father, that You have made a promise to us.  Thank you most Merciful Father that You have seen fit to show us through Your Word just how faithful You are in keeping Your promises.  Help us to carry Your Promise in our hearts.  Being fully confident in Your Power to fulfill every aspect of the promise You have made.  In turn help us to rely solely and souly on You, forgiving us when we are weak and strengthening us so that we will be fully in You.  We pray this in the name of Your Most Precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

“And Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand surely if it were not that I regard the presence of Jehosphaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you.”‘  2 Kings 3:14

Three kings, King of Israel, King of Judah and King of Edom are contemplating war.  A country that had once been a peaceful neighbor, Moab, was now a rebellious threat.  The King of Israel calls upon his two neighboring kings and their troops to help.  However, there are a couple of problems.  First, they have to make their way to Moab but can not agree on the correct route.  In times past, the kings would call upon a holy man, a prophet of God to give them guidance.  Now comes the next problem.  You see the King of Israel and the King of Edom are kings who have done evil in the sight of the Lord.  They are worshiping and allowing their kingdoms to worship other gods and allowing a type of worship to God that God has warned them against.  It is only the King of Judah Jehosphaphat, who is living and worshiping as God has commanded and is leading Judah to follow God’s commandments.

It is Johosphaphat who recommends that they seek out a prophet of God Almighty to give them guidance, before they go into battle. Initially, Elisha the prophet wants nothing to do with them.  He scornfully suggests that the Kings of Israel and of Edom go seek out the prophets of their false gods that they have been worshipping.  But Elisha knows that Jehosphaphat is a wise king and he does not want to see him come to any harm.  So because Jehosphaphat is in the company of the other two, Elisha decides to give them guidance from God.  The grace given them by God Almighty was because the two evil kings had at least been wise enough to associate with a faithful, righteous king.  In the fight against Moab, all three kings are victorious and utterly destroy the Moabites.   One would hope that after the scolding of the prophet and seeing God’s Grace and Mercy in the defeat of the Moabites first hand, Jehoram, King of Israel would have a change in heart and start following the Lord God.  Such was not the case and he is killed in battle later as he was still leading Israel astray.

We hear the phrase; guilt by association, to describe that we must be very careful concerning the people we associate with.  That is to say if we hang out with people doing evil things, then we will be thought of to be equally as evil.  Yet in the story above we see a different almost opposite axiom at play.  The King of Judah was associating with to evil kings, yet he was able to withstand their evil and stay true to God.  It was through his, the King of Judah’s faith, that the three sought out God, through the prophet Elisha in the first place.  Secondly, the only reason that Elisha would even speak to them was because the King of Judah was in their presence.  So grace was allowed to come to the two evil kings because they were in association with the one righteous king.

Thus for us today, we must be careful how we decide to associate and how we judge others who associate with those we would deem evil.  For how is it that evil might see the Wisdom, Might and Power of God or know they are experiencing the Mercy, Forgiveness and/or Love of God, if one called by God is not willing to reveal it to them?  I was called by God to befriend a person who had committed an evil, heinous act.  An act of which I could never condone.  As time went on, all abandoned this person, including family, friends and even church.  Not through my strength, but through the urging of God was I able to stay friends with the person while despising the act.  It was through that association that God was able to provide His Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness and Love to this person as well as teaching me much about the true nature of a Merciful, Loving, Forgiving God.  However, you see, I wanted to run away on many occasions, plus there were many who felt me wrong for continuing an association with this person.  Had I listened to myself or others, I would have missed an overwhelming powerful lesson in my life.

So dear Sisters and Brothers, we must prayerfully consider what God is calling us to do and then heed His answer.  If it is to flee, then we must make haste to do so, no matter how much the world might be telling us to stay.  But if God Almighty is calling us to be His Hands and His Feet to show His Love and Mercy through our association with one the world and/or even our faith friends tell us to abandon, we must ask for the strength to persevere in God’s calling and faithfully continue in that association.  Do understand this though, God will never ask or expect us to participate in the evil of a person or group; we must resist that temptation.  But we might find as Joseph associated with the heathen Pharaoh and by the Grace of God, saved the people of Israel from a devastating famine, that God may pour out His Grace on our association and by His Mercy, help to redeem one who was once lost.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that You have a plan and in that plan You have put people into our lives for a reason.  May it be that we strive to shine Your Light to all that You have put into our lives.  May it be that You will use us to bring Your Grace into others lives that they and we may see the way You bless those who call upon Your Name.  We pray this in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

“‘Come’, he said”  Matthew 14:29

Jesus Christ was in His element.  He had just preached His Father’s word to a great crowd.  He had just fed them, 5000 and more with five loaves and two fish.  He sent His disciples on ahead as He blessed and dismissed the crowd.  And now it was time for Him to go back to His disciples.  So He walked to them.  You see this is the One who was there at creation.  This is the One, John tells us, Who was there at the beginning; that through Him all things were made.  So it was very natural, having made all things, that Jesus was in control of all things.  So, for Him, it was not a miracle to walk on the water that He, Himself had a part in creating.  It was His element to control.  So as Jesus approaches the boat where the disciples sat and looked upon Him with great fear; He very naturally tells them to have no fear.  It is natural for the Son of God to be doing this.  But here is one of the most important points.  Peter asks to be with Jesus, in His element.  He asks to walk on water, himself.  Now Jesus could have said: “Peter, this is not the element for you.  You are not the Son of God.  You were made for the boat so that is where you must stay. (In other words, you were made from this world so you must stay in this world) No, Jesus invites Peter to come, to come into His element.  And Peter does, Peter enters into the element of Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and Peter also walks on water.

Alas, Peter doesn’t stay in Jesus’ element.  Why?  Jesus tells us why in the very first parable that He teaches with.  It is the parable of the Sower.  You see dear Sisters and Brothers, we have an enemy.  We have a spirit of darkness who loathes that, through Jesus Christ, we can enter in the element of God, Our Heavenly Father.  Satan will try all things to stop us from entering into that element.  Jesus Christ, the Sower, sows the Word.  Satan comes and hardens some hearts and makes them like stone.  So the Word can have not the slightest effect on them.  However, should their/our hearts be receptive, Satan doesn’t stop there.  He brings persecution and condemnation because of the Word.  The world calls the people who will listen, stupid, delusional, losers and some can not withstand the persecution and they leave the element of the Word.  Yet some, withstand the persecution and Satan does not give up (and this is what happens to Peter).  For now Satan brings all of the world that he can against them.  Satan will bring worry about life, storms, not having shelter, making a paycheck, having an illness against us.  If that doesn’t work, Satan tries the other route, he can make us worldly successful, where the cares and pride of maintaining that success, cloud our thoughts and block the Power of the Word and it is not fruitful.  Peter sees the wind and the waves of this world and they block him from Jesus and he starts to sink.

But, Praise be to God the Father Almighty, through Jesus Christ the Son and to the Holy Spirit that testifies to the Word in us, Satan does not have the last word.  For Jesus Christ is there.  He lifts Peter back up and the Word becomes mighty in Peter, who becomes the “Good Soil” and produces a crop “thirty, sixty and even a hundred times what is sown”.  Jesus Christ is never defeated.  One might look at Saul as one of the “first soil”.  For Saul had heard the Word of Jesus Christ and it had no impact on him.  He persecuted the Word and all who believed in it.  But Jesus Christ came to Saul and overpowered Satan within him.  He turned Saul into Paul, a man of “Good Soil” and Paul reaped a great harvest.

So it is dear Sisters and Brothers, that Jesus Christ calls to each of us to come into His Element, the Element of Our Heavenly Father.  He asks us to seek, He asks us to knock, He asks us to ask.  Know when we do those things that Satan will come against us.  Satan will do everything in his power to keep us from the Element of Jesus Christ.  Christ knew this; Our Heavenly Father knew this.  They both knew that, on our own, we had no power to defeat Satan and enter into the Element.  So Our Heavenly Father sent His Son to do what we could not.  Jesus Christ through His victorious death and resurrection once and for all defeats Satan and opens up the path for us to enter into the Element of our Heavenly Father.  May it be that through the Holy Spirit that is given to us, we will find the path, we will enter into the Element, that when the defeated Satan still tries to defeat and dissuade us and we indeed stumble, that through prayer and repentance, we will call upon the One, Jesus Christ who is victorious every time for all times, to bring us into that same victorious Element.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise Your Most Holy Name that You have seen fit to invite us to be in Your Element.  Thank You Dear Father that to make that possible, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ, first into our element.  Forgive us when we stray from you either through hardened hearts, fear of persecution or worldly concerns.  Through Your Holy Spirit, bring us back to You, through and in the power of Your Once and Forever victorious Son, Jesus Christ.  That our lives may be in Your Element and thus be lives of Praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“….if your son asks for bread will give him a stone?”  Matthew 7:9

“…how much more will your Father, who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11

Our Father in Heaven is the perfect parent.  That may seem obvious to say, but then, what should we do with that?  Here’s the challenge with this post.  First, I have not the perspective nor wisdom to truly, adequately describe the perfection of Our Heavenly Father.  Second, in using comparisons of earthly parents, there is a flaw for the comparison has some apple to orange aspects to it.  Having said that, I still believe there is value in looking deep into this concept that will allow us to step out further in peace, confidence and joy in faith in Our Heavenly Father.

All of us have been children.  That means we all had parents.  Some of us are parents.  What that allows is for us to attempt to grasp the concepts of parenting whether we are parents or not and regardless of how effective our parents were with us.

First concept:  Parents provide.   That is to say that children can not provide for themselves.  No little child can adequately go out and find food, clothing and shelter for themselves.  Good parents want to provide for their children.  Yet from an earthly aspect there are struggles.  Human parents have finite resources.  There is only so much time, money and for us even love to be shared.  A human parent often finds themselves in a conflict with distractions.  If I purchase or give this now, what will I have to give up?  If I spend time here what about my occupation?  Where is the time for me?  Our Heavenly Father has no such restrictions or distractions.  Our Heavenly Father has all things at his disposal.  He created all things.  He is not limited to a certain time or space.  He is everywhere at once.  His ability to provide is limitless and His plan to provide is perfect.

Parents protect.  That is to say that good parents want to keep their children from harm.  To the children it may seem a lot of can’ts, don’ts and no’s.  Why do good parents do this?  They do it to keep from harm.  What good earthly parent would let a child put their hand on a red hot burner, or let their child go out and play on a busy street?  Satan would have us believe that Our Heavenly Father’s restrictions are about keeping us from what we deserve or just to show His power out of meanness.  Our Heavenly Father’s Wisdom is perfect.  What He restricts us from are things that will lead to our harm and destruction.  We know a small child might be drawn to a bright bottle with a liquid in it and want to take a drink.  But would we really let them take a drink of drain cleaner?

Parents teach.  That is to say a good parent gives instruction on what is good and proper and then allows their children to attempt it.  Sometimes the children fail.  A good parent will sometimes even let the child feel some of the consequences of that failure but at no time will abandon the child.  The good parent will also forgive the child, especially if the child sincerely asks for it.  Our Heavenly Father has gone to great lengths to teach us what is good and proper.  Again please don’t get caught up in thou shalt and thou shalt nots.  What has our Heavenly Father tought us is good and proper?  Two things: first, love Him with heart, mind, body and soul.  Secondly, love one another as we love ourselves.  That’s it; Love.  And please understand this; we can not out love Our Heavenly Father.  He asks this of us, His children because of the Perfect Love He has for us.  It is when we love that we don’t murder, steal, covet or bare false witness.  It is when we love that we are generous to those in need, forgiving to those who’ve hurt us and kind to those who are hurting.

Bottom line:  Parents Love.  As I said earlier, the challenge is with earthly parents, no matter how good, we fall short in this area.  However, our Heavenly Father has an endless supply of perfect love.  It is His very nature to provide, not to get anything in return but because that’s who He is.  It is Our Heavenly Father’s nature to protect us.  He sees the troubles ahead that we can not.  He sees the evil planned against us that we never know about.  He longs to steer us clear of all of that or, as long as we are focused on Him, easily allow us to pass through it.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to learn.  With immeasurable mercy and patience, He allows us to try things our own way, turn from His instruction, yet He is always ready and willing to forgive our failings.

There is one more significant difference.  As earthly parents there is an expectation that, although we will always love them, earthly children will stand on their own with little to no assistance from us.  There is a huge difference with Our Heavenly Father.  We are always to be His Children, relying on Him to provide, relying on Him to protect and relying on Him to teach.  Yes, I know as an earthly parent I have let my children down.  I have been selfish and unwise as I have dealt with them at times.  If they or any of us were to judge our Heavenly Father by the standards of our earthly parents, no matter how good, we would be horrendously short changing Our Heavenly Father.  Dear sisters and brothers, Our Heavenly Father longs to be our personal Father, ready, willing and able to supply all things and save us from all things.  How do we know this?  Did He not send His Son to be our Savior?  Did Jesus Christ not love us enough to sacrifice all for us?  Let us accept Him as our Heavenly Father knowing that in His Perfection, He is more than up to the task.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim that You are Our Heavenly Father whose abundant providing, merciful protection and perfect teaching are all that we need.  Forgive us when we, as disobedient children, turn from you and desire to go our own way.  Pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would see the errors of our ways and humbly come back to you in repentance.  That as living as Your Children, we would know Your Love and spread Your Love to a world in such desperate need.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

(Author’s note:  Dear readers I need your help.  If, and only if, you have read this post or others and see value in it/them, I humbly ask that you pass that on.  I know that these are longs posts so I’m not asking that they be necessarily “shared” on your blog or social media sites.  No, I merely ask that if the conversation ever comes round to spiritual topics, and as you see fit, that you might mention this page.  In the end not about me, but may it be that His Holy Name be praised.  Knowing that there are many wonderfully uplifting posts that I follow, know that I do and will continue to do the same.  Blessings to You in the Name of the Father. Amen)

“The Lord came to Abram in a vision saying: ‘Do not be afraid Abram I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”  Genesis 15:1

“He said: ‘Come’ and when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on water to Jesus.”  Matthew 14:29

“..and Greeks seek after after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified….and to the Greeks foolishness”  1 Corinthians 1:22,23

A leap, or in this case leaps of faith.  A man is established with family and large flocks where he is living.  But God comes to him and tells him to pick up all he has and travel to a far off place.  God goes on to tell this person that he will be the father of many nations although his wife has yet to bear him any children.  A man is sitting in the safety of his boat.  He is a fisherman well aware of the dangers of deep water.  He sees what he thinks might be a vision, a spirit walking on the water, although Jesus tells him that He is real.  The man asks Jesus, if you are real then bid me to come to You and Jesus answers: “Come”.  The man gets out of the boat and actually walks on water.

Leaps of faith.  It seems to me that in the world today we tend to look at the concept of leaps of faith as some aspect of dare-devil, brave propositions or acts that are filled with extreme peril either to our station in life or, worse yet, maybe even our very lives as well.  We tend to think it takes much inner strength on our part, to accept that risk and take the leap, only having faith as our guide.  At least that is how the wisdom of the world seems to look at it and if we’re not careful we buy into that as well.

Yet perhaps, we have it all backwards.  Yes Abram (who God renamed Abraham) had faith.  Yes, Peter, to step out of that boat, had faith.  But think for a moment who they had faith in!  They had faith in God, God as the Father in Abram’s case and God in Jesus Christ in Peter’s case.  If we stop and think about it for a moment, just how risky truly was it to take their steps based on bidding of God?

Do we think that once God had called Abram, once Jesus Christ had called to Peter, that either of Them were just going to say to the ones they called: Okay, you’re now on your own.  How much more safe were they to be following the Will of God, then to have turned their backs and stayed where they were?!  Perhaps (and truly there is no question) the riskiest action is to say no to God and go our own way, in our own wisdom.

Abram did step out and go where God led.  Peter did get out of the boat.  And please, please Sisters and Brothers understand this from scripture, they did not do so perfectly, they both stumbled.  As Abraham traveled through Egypt with his beautiful wife Sarah, his faith in God was not complete in terms of keeping the two of them safe.  Abraham feared that the Pharoah would kill him to be able to take his beautiful wife from him.  So Abraham told Pharoah that Sarah was his sister and in fact Pharoah then wanted Sarah for one of his brides.  God did not punish Abraham for that lack of faith.  God’s plan was to always have Sarah give a child to Abraham so he struck Pharoah and Egypt with plagues so that he would not touch Sarah.  Likewise with Peter, he did get out of the boat and focusing on Jesus, he walked on water.  But he became distracted by the waves and the wind, took his concentration of Jesus and started to sink.  Now Jesus could have made an example of Peter for the rest of the disciples.  Jesus could have said: Look at this man as he drowns seeing what happens when you lose your faith in me!  But Jesus didn’t.  Scripture tells us the minute Peter started to sink, Jesus was right there to save him.  So again, where truly was the risk?

Dear Sisters and Brothers, the world has a path.  The world has a wisdom.  That path and wisdom has a lot to do with believing in yourself, doing for yourself, exalting yourself and each other.  Letting your perfect Son die for the wrongs of others, having Him become humble and humiliated by those much less than He is sheer folly and stupidity to the world.  That kind of plan would never work.  That kind of plan is the epitome of risk.  That is what Satan would have us believe.

The truth is the risk, the horrible leap of doom is not to take steps in faith with Jesus Christ toward God; but like the rich man who approached Jesus, whom Jesus loved but the man turned away, to turn away and leap to our own destruction in the world is the most horrible risk.  How do we know that steps to take? How do we know that we’re walking in faith?  It seems to me the two most necessary steps are in reading the word and in prayer.  God is our Father.  And as our Father, Perfect Father, He will never leave us alone.  As our Father, All Powerful Father, He will never let us, as we strive to follow Him, walk into the path of destruction.  As our Father, Most Merciful Father, He will be there and pick us up when we stumble along the way.  Leap of faith; risky?  I don’t think so.  Stepping in faith, leaping in faith is in fact, the safest leap we will ever take.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, the world and prince of this world strives to have us follow our own earthly ways.  We humbly admit that  we at times cower in fear at the thought of following the path You have laid out for us.  Forgive us Dear Father and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would seek You first and then step forth in faith upon hearing Your answer.  Bless us on the journey testifying to us that our steps in You are the right, just and perfect steps to take.  Be with us when we stumble guiding our feet back to the path.  That in that walk of faith, our lives would be lives of Praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen

“..Named Demetrius a silversmith….he called them together and said: ‘ Men you know we have our prosperity by this trade…..Paul has persuaded and turned away many people….So not only is this trade of ours in danger…but also the temple of the great goddess, Diana..”  Acts 18:24-26

“Paul stood in the midst….Him I proclaim to you; God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands…”  Acts 17:22,24

Demetrius was a silversmith.  It appears in Acts that he was a silversmith of some repute in the city of Ephesus where the temple of Diana (or Artemis in Greek)was located,  which was one of the wonders of the ancient world.  Diana was the goddess of everything from wild animals and the hunt to childbirth and fertility.  So there was much to do, not only with the upkeep of the great temple but in making images to sell to those who would made a pilgrimage to see and worship her.

Paul has been traveling and preaching throughout the Greco-Roman world.  He is starting churches and preaching that there is only One God who resides in no image made from man and no temple made by human hands.  Paul has been preaching that salvation does not come from observing certain festivals or rites, but from believing in and belonging to Jesus Christ who is the only true way to the Heavenly Father.  And Paul’s preaching is working.   Thousands of converts are accepting the Word of Jesus Christ.  They are leaving the worship of false gods and worse yet, for craftsmen like Demetrius, they are no longer purchasing the idols and trinkets that he is making.  Demetrius can not take this lying down.  So he makes a spirited defense to stop Paul.  Yet notice carefully how his defense is crafted.  It is not a defense based solely on the merits of Diana worship and faith in the goddess.  No, Demetrius starts with a defense of the people’s livelihoods.  It’s not about following Paul and His God will lead to spiritual destruction.  No, it is following the One True God will lead to personal financial ruin as well as the degradation of the power of their temple and city.  If you want to get their attention, hit em their pocket books, is an old saying.  When the people of Ephesus hear this, many are fearful and they start a riot.  However, that does not deter Paul in the least from continuing his faithful preaching, converting and church building.

So, what does that have to do with us today?  Much, I think.  You see today we are filled with messages about the building and accumulating of wealth.  One can hardly look at any form of media without being bombarded by questions and suggestions about retirement, saving for college, making money from this action or that trade.  Alas, if only it were a secular concern, we might be able to ignore it.  Yet even within institutions of faith, there are messages about giving so that you can receive and claims that if you will give this amount or do this particular thing, then God will multiply your return on that investment untoldfold amounts for your personal prosperity; as if God was some aspect of a really good investment plan.  I’ll stick with God as long as the return is good.

Yet one has to wonder, what if in Ephesus of Demetruis’s time, Paul had asked Demetrius to start making statues of God.  What if those statues had really started to sell to the converts to Christianity.  Would Demetrius had been so quick to come to defense of Diana?  Or, would he have started to proclaim the truth of God and His Son as he hawked the silver wares he was creating because it was good for business; a good return for his investment.

Please don’t misunderstand me sisters and brothers; for Scripture tells us in Timothy that a worker deserves his wages.  I know that many who follow this blog have a vocation in the ministry of the Lord.  And you can tell by their words and deeds that they are first and foremost about serving faithfully the Lord God Almighty and Jesus Christ and not about the financial gain that might come from it.  Many have made significant worldly sacrifices to follow their calling.  Humbly, in writing these notes, there is no copyright, no place or desire for remuneration, those who want to use them in any way are free to do so with only the prayer and hope that it is for the Praise of God Almighty.  Yet this I also know; I am truly, immeasurably blessed by the connection to the Spirit which I feel in this writing which is so much more valuable than any financial return.  No this is about faith, belief and action in God for who He is and not based on some sense of measurably, positive return we will receive because of it.

Finally I would ask you; look at the faith of Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Ruth, Queen Esther, David, Mary, Peter, Paul and countless others in the bible who stepped out in faith, not knowing or caring about worldly return.  Look at Jesus Christ.  He who was with God from the very beginning, by Whom all things were made.  There was no gain in Him coming to earth; no increase in finances to feel earthly pain; no higher value because He died on the cross.  No by faith in His Heavenly Father, He did what He did.  Now Jesus Christ resides at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.  So let it be for us; that our worship, our acts, our thoughts be because of faith in God the Father Almighty.  That we don’t try to see some eternal financial ticker that measures our return or gain based on our love for Him.  That in confidence, we understand that the Nature of Our Heavenly Father is to Love Us, to Keep us, to Bless us, in every way that we need, regardless of how the world would measure that return.  That we understand the greatest investment ever made was the investment of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation.  And that our aim be to return that investment with our love and steadfast devotion.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that the world teaches that we look for and do those things that will be the greatest personal gain back to us.  Please forgive us for those times that we are tempted to act that way.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit who testifies to us of Your Faithful Love and Blessings poured out for us because You are Our Father.  Help us to go forward in steadfast faith in You with no concern for what we will receive in return.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and Our Lord and Savior.  Amen

“Withdraw from me and I will pay you whatever you demand of me”  2 Kings 18:14

“This is what the Lord of Israel says: ‘ I have heard your prayer…..I will defend this city and save it’”.  1 Kings 18:20, 34

Hezekiah is King of Judah.  Scripture tells us that he is a good king, following in the steps of King David.  And at that time God knows Judah needed a good king.  Hezekiah tore down the offering sites that kings of Judah before him had built to false gods of the local people.  He held fast to the commandments of God and lead the people of Judah in worshipping only Him.

Yet for King Hezekiah, as there is today, there were many who did not worship, did not believe in, who felt more powerful than God the Father Almighty.  One of those people, back then, was the King of Assyria.  He was very powerful and had crushed many of the nations of his time including Egypt.  So he comes and attacks and occupies several cities of Judah.

Now it appears that King Hezekiah’s first attempt to deal with the King of Assyria is done on his own, without consulting or relying on the Lord, God of Judah and Israel.  For Hezekiah sends a message to the Assyrian King saying that he, King Hezekiah that is, has “done wrong” and offers to pay the king of Assyria a tribute, basically a bribe or ransom, of whatever amount the king wants, to get him to leave.  The King of Assyria takes King Hezekiah up on his offer and demands a very hefty sum to leave.  The king demands 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (according to Google, that would be equivalent of 2 million dollars for the silver and 2 million dollars for the gold or 4 million dollars total).  In fact the price was so exorbitant that Hezekiah has to raid both his own treasury plus the treasury of the temple for the silver and take the gold off the temple doors to have enough gold.  The King of Assyria accepts the payment of silver and gold.  Now if you were to think that the King of Assyria now turns away and goes home, you would be sadly mistaken, as I’m sure King Hezekiah was.  For you see no sooner had the King of Assyria accepted the money, then he rode straight on to Jerusalem and threatens to invade it.

So King Hezekiah is between a rock and a hard place.  He has already plundered the treasury to pay the first “tribute” to the Assyrian King, thus he has no more money to bargain with.  As he looks around, King Hezekiah sees that the meager troops he has available to him are no match for the battle hardened, successful troops that are arrayed against him.  Now where does King Hezekiah turn?  To the very place that he should have in the first place.  To the Lord God Almighty.

Now two things happen almost simultaneously.  First, King Hezekiah humbles himself; scripture tells us he took off his kingly garments, put on sack cloth, a very uncomfortable material to wear so that he could show his humility to God.  He knows that he has sinned by not going to God, so he goes to the temple and petitions God for His Mercy and His Help.  About this same time, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, boasts and blasphemes, God the Lord Almighty.  He shouts out for all to hear that the God of Israel has not power to deliver Jerusalem from his hands.  That if all the other countries’ gods were not powerful enough to stop him, then the people of Jerusalem are fools to believe their God can prevail against the King of Assyria (we’ll see in a moment who the fool really was).

As you can probably guess, God does not stand for Sennacherib’s taunts and disbelief.  God tells Hezekiah not to fear, that the King of Assyria will be utterly defeated.  The Lord goes into the Assyrian camp and in one evening kills 185,000 soldiers!  When the Assyrian King awakes the next morning and see’s the carnage and devastation, he turned and went home.  It gets even worse for the Assyrian King.  For while he is in his temple worshiping his false god; Sennacherib’s two sons come in and murder him.

So what is our lesson in all of this?  First to realize that the easy solution, the earthly solution is the one that often presents itself first when we are faced with a difficult or tragically overwhelming circumstance.  Second we must realize that should we find ourselves successful in life, that success is a direct result of the Grace, Mercy and Power of God the Father Almighty.  If we lose sight of God in our life we may find ourselves tempted to rely on what we think based on our own past successes, our own wisdom and, like King Hezekiah, turn to the earthly solution to solve our problem.  And more than likely, like Hezekiah’s solution to pay off the King of Assyria, it will not work.  God does not want, nor reward self-reliance.  To rely on one’s self is to rely on the imperfect.  No God wants you to choose God-reliance; that is to rely on the All Powerful, All Perfect, All Knowing Father.  Yes that does mean we will have to humble ourselves, knowing and confessing our weakness.  It also means that we have to be ready and willing to pray and praise God for the assistance and blessings that will come.  Note I didn’t say “if” they come.  For they will surely come; just as they did for the people of Judah.  Dear Sisters and Brothers may it be ,whether we find ourselves in dire circumstances, searching for a solution or launching forth on some great blessed adventure; that we turn to the only one who can truly bring about a successful conclusion; God the Father Almighty.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we completely acknowledge your total sufficiency to bring us through any trial or difficulty that we are facing.  Yet we also confess, that often we fail to call upon You, Most Merciful Father, and try to take matters into our own hands.  Forgive us Dear Father when we neglect to call upon You.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that we would come back to You in prayer and supplication knowing that You will be with us always.  That through Your Mercy and Love for us, we would see the triumph of Your Will and sing praises to Your Most Holy Name forever.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

“So Jehoahaz pleaded with the Lord, and the Lord listened to him..” 2 King 13:4

“Then the Lord gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Syrians….”  2 Kings 13:5

The bible, in its entirety is a revelatory and the most important work ever.  However, I must confess that there are books or at least parts of books that I find challenging to glean understanding and life lessons from.  1 Kings and 2 Kings can be that way for me.  While there are wonderful pages full of the works of God through Elijah, Elisha and others.  There are also pages filled with a paragraph here and a small chapter there about a king, whose name I can’t pronounce and who normally is doing something evil that I have trouble finding the lesson in.  Yet I find that if I can quiet my thoughts and be open to the Holy Spirit, He can teach me things through any and all stories.  Jehoahaz, in 2 Kings is one of those stories that is short but, now I understand, extremely powerful.

You see Jehoahaz became King of Israel.  He was the son of a king, Jehu in a line of kings that had done evil in the sight of God.  Now Jehoahaz father had at least destroyed the temples of and killed all the priests to stop Israel’s worship of Baal.  But scripture tell us his heart was not set to follow the commandments of God.  He dies and now his son, Jehoahaz is on the throne.  Well Jehoahaz, like so many of the kings, does not learn any lessons about being a good king; for scripture tells us that he did evil in the sight of the Lord.  Remember, there is always consequences for sin, even if there is not complete condemnation.  So Israel follows Jehoahaz in sin and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Syrians where they were mistreated.

Now comes the amazing lesson.  Jehoahaz, the sinning King of Israel, Johoahaz who has led the people astray, in the midst of his sin, calls out for mercy to the Lord God Almighty.  Scripture tells us that he pleaded with the Lord….and the Lord listened!  The Lord acted upon Jehoahaz’s pleadings, provided a deliverer for His people and frees them from the Syrian oppression.  Sadly, you would think that would be enough to turn Jehoahaz around but it is not.  Jehoahaz continues to do evil and is killed in battle.

So here’s the blessed lesson for you and I today, dear sisters and brothers; God’s Mercy.  You see I confess that I have sinned.  Out of both fear of this world, as well as desires tied to this world, I have done those things which I ought not to have done and not done those things which I ought to have done had I been living a righteous, God fearing life.  There have been times when I felt that either the disappointment or anger of another person or perceived personal threat has fearfully driven me to actions against what God would have me do.  I have had times where earthly pride and desire have had me think, contemplate and carry out things which are decidedly against what God’s will for me has been.  In those times there are consequences for those actions.

But here’s the bottom line; God has never forsaken me.  God has never turned his back on me nor withheld His love from me.  He has kept me and when I have repented and confessed my sins, He has lifted me up with such incredible blessings and mercy, showing me His everlasting Love for me.  You see, dear sisters and brothers, we serve a Creator, Our Creator, of Love and Mercy; ever present to hear us when we call; not to condemn us, but to forgive us, not just once but over and over again.

What should our response be?  First let us strive to not be like Jehoahaz whereas upon witnessing Our Heavenly Father’s Mercy first hand, we act as if nothing has happened and continue in our evil, sinful ways.  Let us bow down in humility and thanksgiving, giving shouts of praise for the Love and Mercy of Our Heavenly Father.  Let us search ourselves looking at our own hearts to see the ways that we are not living into the Will of Our Heavenly Father.  Upon seeing those things, let us repent attempting to go forth in the power of Holy Spirit in ever more righteous living.

Yet understand this, we will fail.  Scripture tells us that we will sin.  God knows that is the case.  God knows that our sin should justly lead to our judgement and destruction.  And God acted.  No, He did not set up tribunal after tribunal and set wide open the gates of hell so that we would all perish due to our evil deeds.  No, God, in Love and Mercy, sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for us. That we, who believe in Jesus Christ as the only True Son of God; equal to God Himself, will not die in our sins, ever separated from Our Heavenly Father.  But will be forgiven our sins and thus, through His Mercy, live eternally in His Grace and Love.  That is the lesson that we can learn from 2 Kings and indeed each and all of the books of His Word.  Let it be that we are open to the learning in them.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim that Your Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting and far above and beyond our ability to comprehend.  Thank You that You have seen fit not to condemn us; but to send Your Son Jesus Christ to save us.  We also freely admit that we are sinners who must call upon Your Mercy to save us.  Again we praise You that You hear us when we call and time after time through countless times do not forsake us but deliver us.  Help us, through Your Holy Spirit, to live lives of evermore righteousness, love and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Matthew 22:36

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Matthew 22:39

There are many, many blessings and benefits to being married to a teacher (yes, there also times of grammatical and other corrections with eye rolls as well).  One of which being a gaining of understanding of nuances of things like language that can lead to deeper, richer understanding.  Take the word “as” for instance.  It is a conjunction.  For those who might remember an American, cartoon called “School House Rock” and the song “Conjunction Junction What’s Your Function?” (If you have a moment to Youtube it, it is a fun watch…anyway I digress), a conjunction exists to connect or combine two things together.

Jesus, is being tested; not in the sense of a an academic test or the sense of an achievement test, no this test is much more significant, the stakes of the grade are much more dire.  The Jewish Authorities are testing him.  They are sending different representatives to ask Him questions.  These are questions designed to trip Him up.  He has claimed to be the Messiah, God’s True and Only Son.  Yet Jesus has no formal training; He is a carpenter’s son.  In the minds of the Jewish Leadership, Jesus has been able to trick the uninformed, unintelligent masses, but He has not fooled the leadership.  And they are going to trap Jesus in His own words and show to the people the fraud that Jesus is.  There is only one problem with their plan.  Jesus keeps answering every question posed to Him with such great wisdom and then in turn asks the Jewish leaders questions they can not answer; that they are quickly being shown to be the ignorant fools that they in fact truly are.  So almost in exasperation; they turn to a final question with which they hope to trap Jesus; to have an answer which will lead to His downfall and doom.  But again, Jesus answers with such wisdom, such truth, such power, that the Jewish Leadership is forced to remain quiet and indeed, will never try to confront him openly in argument again.

The question?  Which is the great commandment?  Unwittingly, in their minds, and by the Grace of God the Father Almighty, they had opened the door to some of the most powerful teaching, the most clarifying concepts of Jesus entire ministry:  What does God think is the most important.  Jesus doesn’t just answer them.  In the Gospel of Mark, before answering he shouts out:  “Hear O Israel!” for Jesus isn’t just answering for the gathered leadership, He is answering for all of us; for all time.  The first of His answers is about our relationship to God. It is to be one of love with all that we have; heart, mind, body and soul.  But it is the second one and knowing that Jesus always chose His words with carefulness and clarity that he uses the conjunction as.  After our relationship with God, what is the next most important thing in our lives; is it the temple?, the priests?, our sacrifices?, the amount of money we give?; No, it is none of that.  It is our fellow human beings.  It is that which God, Himself, made in His own image and breathed His own breath into; His creation that He saw was very good.  It is those; whom we are to love AS we love ourselves.  Jesus goes on to say; everything else; all additional laws, commandments and teachings that have ever come are built on these two fundamental commandments.

So what’s the point for us that I think is so vital today?  AS.  For you see as, in the conjunctive form is a state of being.  It is a state of combination, of existence together; that is neighbor and you and I.  Please, Sisters and Brothers, take particular note of where and how the as is placed; neighbor as yourself.  Note this is not an eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth type of commandment.  This is not love your neighbor as they love you in return.  There is no freedom here to not love our neighbor if we don’t feel that their is love returned in kind to us.  No, the only way we can not love our neighbor is to not love ourselves in the first place.  And also please note this; if we find that we have no love for ourselves, then the first commandment of loving God will be next to impossible, for we are hating the very thing which He, in His wisdom, created.  And that is of course why Jesus Christ placed the two commandments in that very order.  For there can be no actual love of any kind lest it first come in a relationship from Above.  Then and only then, can the first Love, between God the Father Almighty and you and I, then be shared with all who are around us.  And finally note this, it is completely irrelevant, whether the love is returned from our neighbor or not.  Loving ourselves, we are commanded to love others.

In summation; of course God knows what He is doing and Jesus Christ knows exactly what He is saying.  We should not look at these commandments as harsh in nature or drudgingly laborious in carrying out.  For love is the greatest of all things.  Love opens up all things.  Love conquers all things.  Loving is the essence to life.  Love is the way to be.  Striving for anything else is striving for less.  Simple? yes. Easy? hardly.  In fact it is so hard that none of us will ever perfectly achieve it in this life time.  But that does not excuse us from trying.  And as we attempt and when we fail, we reach to up to Him in prayer who came down; who knows our weaknesses and in His Perfect Love and Mercy, died for our sins and failures; Jesus Christ.  And in Love, Perfect Love, Jesus Christ will lift us up, continue to Love Us and show us the way to love all others as ourselves.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You that You have seen fit to teach us, to tell us what You desire from us most.  We also humbly admit that what You want most from us; love, first to you and then to our neighbors, we often fail to give.  Forgive us Merciful Father and Pour Out the Holy Spirit upon us that He may teach us each day how to better love you as well as our neighbors.  That in that love, we will live lives of praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 

“Lord I pray open his eyes that he may see………and he saw.  And behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around.”  2 Kings 6:17

“And do not fear those who can kill the body but can not kill the soul.”  Matthew 10:28

What a powerful blessing is our sight.  For most it is the primary sense by which we measure, we experience, we judge most aspects of our world.  We even go as far as to say: “Seeing is believing!”

Well Elisha’s servant had seen.  He had seen that the city of Dothan was surrounded by an enemy army.  He had seen the enemy’s fierce chariots and horses.  He had also seen the defenders of Dothan and they were not many.  So Elisha’s servant runs to Elijah and he is scared.  The servant runs to Elisha, filled with despair he cries out to “Alas, my master, what are we to do?”

Now the servant might have been expecting Elisha to have some escape plan or perhaps he expected Elisha to tell him to get his things in order for they were doomed.  He must have seemed extremely surprised when Elisha showed no trace of despair.  Elisha’s demeanor portrayed no hint of despair.  What on earth did Elisha know?

Well “on earth” had little to do with Elisha’s confidence; that is the “on earth” that most people, including the enemy could see.  For Elisha, a prophet of God, had been shown that there was something else “on earth” that most could not see.  Elisha knew that there was the earthly “seeing” that was based solely on what was physically able to be seen.  But he also knew there was the spiritual “seeing” that was based on the soul, based on the spiritual world and that was even more powerful than the physical world.  For the spiritual world was the realm of God Almighty and His realm was the most powerful of all.

But Elisha’s servant, the people of Dothan, even the enemy army could not see the spiritual world.  They had no idea what and who was arrayed to defend the people of God and utterly destroy the enemy.  So the enemy was confident, the servant was full of panic and Elisha sat confidently.  Elisha did not want his servant to be filled with terror so he prayed that his servant might be able to see the spiritual.  Once the servant’s eyes were opened; he then saw the spiritual.  He looked around and saw that the mountains surrounding the city and the Syrian enemy were filled with the flaming chariots and warriors of God Almighty.  An army more powerful than any earthly army that could be brought against it.  So now the servant saw and he understood how it was that Elisha could be so calm.  And indeed the Syrian Army was completely and utterly defeated and destroyed.

Dear Sisters and Brothers we can be sorely tempted to look around us today and be as the servant was.  It is tempting to fall into the trap of seeing enemies both near and far that seem tremendously more powerful, more dangerous, more assured of victory than we will ever be.  When we see only or primarily the physical, the realm of this earth; we can see significant evil arrayed against us.  It appears to be stronger and indeed if we will only look with the earthly, physical eyes, it is larger, stronger than we are equipped to defeat.

So God the Father Almighty, open up our eyes.  Give us eyes to see the spirit realm.  Give us eyes that see Your spiritual forces arrayed to do battle on our behalf.  Let us see the spiritual army with Jesus Christ leading it on, that we might be at peace as Elisha was.

Again, Sisters and Brothers we must be open to, believe with certain knowledge that both the physical and spiritual realms exists.  And that which is of the spirit; that is Our Father in Heaven, is more powerful than anything that is in the physical world.  When we allow our eyes to be opened to the Spiritual Realm, then nothing in the physical realm can overpower us with fear.  For we know that God is the All Powerful of both realms.  How can we so sure?  The God of Spirit came down to take the physical form; his Name, Jesus Christ.  And the God who came down in physical form, did not come to judge and destroy, He came down to bring salvation in the only way that could be.  The God, with the earthly body, came to die.  He came to take the death that was meant for us, for our sin and our transgression and He took it upon Himself.  Then after death, He took physical form again in His resurrection.  That we might, by some miraculous mystery, be transcended with Him, into beings of both the physical and spiritual realm.  Oh Lord open my eyes that might see…….THEE!

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You are our Creator who have endowed us with every blessing needed to live fulfilled, joy filled lives.  But we confess that we turn our vision from You to seeing only the world and when we do, sin overwhelms us.  Open our eyes we pray that we may see Your Spiritual Realm and thus know the power to defeat this physical world.  We thank You and praise You that, in Your Mercy and Love, You have not judged us as we deserve but instead sent Your Son, Our Savior Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for us and our salvation.  With this vision firmly planted in us; Dear Father, may we live lives of praise and thanksgiving to You.  In Jesus Christ Name we pray.  Amen

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