Monday, March 31, 2014

Beyond Sunday ~ Be not anxious...rest in the Lord

Beyond Sunday


Focus Verse of the Week

It is in vain that you rise up early 
and go late to rest, 
eating the bread of anxious toil; 
for he gives to his beloved sleep. 


Classic Commentary:


It is vain for you to rise up early,
to sit up late,
to eat the bread of sorrows.
Because the Lord is mainly to be rested in,
all anxious care is mere vanity
and vexation of spirit.

We are bound to be diligent,
for this the Lord blesses;
we ought not to be anxious,
for that dishonors the Lord,
and can never secure his favor.

Some deny themselves needful rest;
the morning sees them rise before they are rested,
the evening sees them toiling long after
the curfew has tolled the knell
of parting day.

They threaten to bring themselves
into the sleep of death
by neglect of the sleep
which refreshes life.

Nor is their sleeplessness
the only index of their daily fret;
they stint themselves in their meals,
they eat the commonest food,
and the smallest possible quantity of it,
 and what they do swallow
is washed down with the salt tears of grief,
for they fear that daily bread will fail them.

Hard-earned is their food,
scantily rationed,
and scarcely ever sweetened,
but perpetually smeared with sorrow;
and all because they have no faith in God,
and find no joy except in hoarding up the gold
which is their only trust.

This is not the way the Lord would have his children live.
He would have them, as princes of the blood,
lead a happy and restful life.

Let them take a fair measure of rest
and a due portion of food,
for it is for their health.

Of course the true believer will never be lazy or extravagant;
if he should be he will have to suffer for it;
but he will not think it needful
or right to be worried and miserly.

Faith brings calm with it,
and banishes the disturbers
who both by day and by night
murder peace.




A Thought to Keep

Do we believe that God is big enough
to provide for us even after we rest
and acknowledge our physical limitations?

Sleep is a physical humility,
an acknowledgement that all our efforts
will fall short
unless God blesses them.






Eat into the very soul of the Bible


"Your words were found, and I ate them; 
and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!" 
Jeremiah 15:16


Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of 
the Word of God
— and get that Word into ourselves!
As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, 
and consume it
— so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord
 not crawl over its surface,
but eat right into it
until we have taken it
into our inmost parts!


It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words,
or to recollect the poetic expressions,
or the historic facts;
but it is blessed to 
eat into the very soul of the Bible 
until, at last...
you come to talk in Scriptural language,
your very life is fashioned upon Scripture models, and,
what is better still,
your mind is flavored with the words of the Lord.


"Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word
that proceeds
from the mouth of God!"
Matthew 4:4




Sunday, March 30, 2014

God's Love-Letter

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity,or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

The Scripture is 
God's love-letter to men. 
Here the lamb may wade—and here the elephant may swim!

The blessed Scriptures are of infinite worth and value!
Here you may find ...
  a remedy for every disease,
  balm for every wound,
  a plaster for every sore,
  milk for babes,
  meat for strong men,
  comfort for the afflicted,
  support for the tempted,
  solace for the distressed,
  ease for the wearied,
  a staff to support the feeble,
  a sword to defend the weak. 

The holy Scriptures are ...
  the map of God's mercy—and man's misery,
  the touchstone of truth,
  the shop of remedies against all maladies,
  the hammer of vices,
  the treasury of virtues,
  the exposer of all sensual and worldly vanities,
  the balance of equity,
  the most perfect rule of all justice and honesty.

Ah, friends, no book befits your hands like the Bible!

The Bible is the best preacher.
This book, this preacher will preach to you ... 
  in your shops,
  in your chambers,
  in your closets,
  yes, in your own bosoms!

This book will preach to you at home and abroad;
it will preach to you in all companies; and it will
preach to you in all conditions.

By this book you shall be saved—or
by this book you shall be damned!
By this book you must live.
By this book you must die.
By this book you shall be judged in the great day!

Oh, therefore ...
  love this book above all other books,
  prize this book above all other books,
  read this book before all other books,
  study this book more than all other books! 

For he who reads much—and understands nothing,
is like him who hunts much—and catches nothing.

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Give Me Jesus by Fernando Ortega (+playlist)



"Give Me Jesus"

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus, 
You can have all this world, 
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, 
Give me Jesus, 
You can have all this world, 
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, 
Give me Jesus, 
You can have all this world, 
You can have all this world, 
You can have all this world, 
But give me Jesus 





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday's Answers to Life's Questions ~ What tools has God provided to help me share my faith?

He said to them,
“Go into all the world
and preach the gospel
to all creation.
Whoever believes
and is baptized
will be saved,
but whoever does not believe
will be condemned.
Mark 16:15-16

The only way to reach spiritually blind, 
captive, and dead people 
is through the divine work of almighty God, 
who does not wish "for any to perish 
but for all to come to repentance" 
(2 Peter 3:9). 

We are His tools; He is the power.

The apostle Paul explains, 
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, 
but of power and love and discipline" 
(2 Timothy 1:7). 

We do not have to be afraid to share our faith 
because He has given us three important tools to help us.

1. Power.
The gospel of God open blind eyes, rescues captives, and revives the dead.
We share our faith by declaring that Christ died on the Cross for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. Lead the lost to consider who Jesus is because He is the One who provides salvation. Any rejection you experience thus centers on Him, not you. Always pray for His wisdom and strength when you tell others about His saving grace. It is the power of God through the Holy Spirit that changes lives (Acts 1:8).

2. Love
The greatest force on earth is the love of God. 
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, 
if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
We can showcase His love in countless ways (1 John 3:18).
Listen to the words of a friend.
Spend time with a parent or loved one.
Keep a couple's child so they can enjoy a special night out. 
Invite a friend over.
Deliver food to someone who is sick.
We can love others through service, 
or we can love them with our words (Proverbs 31:26). 
That means we encourage those who are lost
by telling them about the Lord Jesus, 
who loves them unconditionally 
and wants to give them a new life.

3. Wisdom
The Christian faith is based on 
the unshakable Word of God 
and not fiction. 
Sharing our faith is never unreasonable 
or irrational
-we are doing exactly 
what Jesus has commanded us to do: 
to proclaim the true message of the gospel 
to as many people as possible. 
We offer others the trustworthy testimony of Scripture 
and the reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15), 
which includes:

  • The fact of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6). The resurrection is indeed a concrete, historical fact.
  • The fact of fulfilled Scripture. Literally hundreds of Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled in the New Testament, including many intricate details of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection.
  • The fact of manuscript and archaeological evidence. Thousands of ancient manuscripts attest to the reliability of the Bible. Archaeological evidence has consistently verified the historical data of the Bible.



for more instruction on 

Tools for Sharing Your Faith

click on this link above.


To learn more about

How the Holy Spirit help us Serve?



Lord, Help us to become excited about sharing our faith in You...guide and direct us as we reach out to a hurting world.
In Jesus name, Amen.





Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday's Answers to Life's Questions ~ Who's First?

Mark 9:33-41

Do you serve for the good of others? 
Or do you serve for yourself? 
Are you doing what you do because God assigned you the task? 
Or are you doing it because it makes you look good?

This may seem like a strange line of questioning—but this is something that will confront every Christian at one point or another. Even the disciples struggled with their desires to be the greatest in the kingdom (Mark 9:34). But Jesus was always quick to remind them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35).

Unfortunately, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we can measure the success of what we're doing the same way the world measures achievement. We mistakenly believe that if God receives glory from our service, then it should be glorious for us as well.

Yet when we remember some of God's faithful servants from the Bible, we realize their situations were far from easy or glamorous.
  • God allowed Job to suffer the loss of his children, his health, and everything he owned (Job 1-2).
  • God told Isaiah to be barefoot and naked for three years as judgment against Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20).
  • God commanded Ezekiel to lie on his side a day for every year of iniquity found in Israel and Judah. He was also to prepare his food using cow dung as fuel (Ezekiel 4).
  • God instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2).
  • God sent His only Son to die naked on the Cross for our sins (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19).

Of course, most often, God will call us to do those mundane things that seem so unimportant—that don't benefit us in any way. As Jesus said in Mark 9:41, "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward." These are the simple acts that show compassion towards other people—and which display the character of Christ. They are not done for any personal gain; rather, they are done out of an overflow of Christ's love in us.

Pastor Stanley ends with this reminder:

Friends, the reason we serve God
is not for the sake of our name,
reputation, or even our income.

The reason we serve God
is to be obedient to God
—to show His love to a lost world.

Whenever we go to do something
in His name,
we must check our motives....

Are we doing it for His kingdom or for ours?

Are we putting ourselves first or last?



~ page 293 ~ 
Available for purchase at Intouch.org

Blog Author's comment:
I highly recommend getting a copy of this Life Principles Daily Bible to use in your own personal study time with God. It is filled with insights about things maybe you always wondered about but did not know who to ask or where too embarrassed to ask because you felt maybe you "should" have already know the answers.

Also, if you...like me....have had trouble "reading through the Bible in a year," then this edition is definitely for you because each day's Bible reading is broken down for you...from the beginning of January until the end of December. It is written in the easy to read New American Standard Bible format...and has insights about what you are reading sprinkled all throughout. I have found it so helpful to me that I often write the insights or comforting verses on index cards and carry them with me or put them beside my bed or reading table to remind myself of God's love and assurances of His promises.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday's Answers to Life's Questions ~ What does it mean to live in "the fear of the Lord?"

Leviticus 25:36 ~ NIV
Do not take interest or any profit from them, 
but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.


There are several practical indications 
of a life lived in fear of the Lord.

1. Obedience to God's commandments.

The Lord has given us very specific commandments in His Word, and He expects us to obey Him without regard to circumstances or situations. No matter what others may say in offering us an alluring, good-sounding "alternative plan" to God's commands, we must never choose to follow their advice. Schemes of man's design may seem to make sense, but the Lord tells us, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). God's Word is very clear. The problem most Christians encounter is their lack of understanding when it comes to His standards for right and wrong. They may know what is right and God's will for their lives, but they choose to disobey Him—and this always leads to disappointment, frustration, and heartache.

2. A desire to be like Jesus.

Those who truly love Jesus as their Savior and Lord will want to be like Him. How did Jesus live? Jesus lived in complete obedience to His Father. He did only what the Father instructed Him to do and He spoke only what the Father prompted Him to say. What Jesus did, we are to do—not to the best of our abilities, but in submission to the Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit empowers us to live as Jesus lived, and it is our responsibility to ask Him to guide, help, counsel, and empower us to obey. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, the more we gain the ability to live like Jesus.

3. A life of courage.

Those who fear mankind and natural disaster suffer a panic that paralyzes. Those who fear the Lord with a holy awe, on the other hand, find a courage that mobilizes them to act. God challenges His people to live in confidence and to respond boldly and courageously to life. Such "heroes of the faith" as Moses, Joshua, and the apostles Peter and Paul faced incredible challenges, yet they succeeded because of their God-given courage. They learned the same lesson that emboldened Ezra to say, "Thus I was strengthened according to the hand of the LORD my God upon me" (Ezra 7:28).


~ page 261 ~
Available for $19 at Intouch.org
I don't get anything for recommending this, I bought my own and enjoy it very much!!



 Blog Author's comment:
I highly recommend getting a copy of this Life Principles Daily Bible to use in your own personal study time with God. It is filled with insights about things maybe you always wondered about but did not know who to ask or where too embarrassed to ask because you felt maybe you "should" have already know the answers.

Also, if you...like me....have had trouble "reading through the Bible in a year," then this edition is definitely for you because each day's Bible reading is broken down for you...from the beginning of January until the end of December. It is written in the easy to read New American Standard Bible format...and has insights about what you are reading sprinkled all throughout. I have found it so helpful to me that I often write the insights or comforting verses on index cards and carry them with me or put them beside my bed or reading table to remind myself of God's love and assurances of His promises.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love for Enemies ~ Matthew 5:43-48


“You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I tell you,
          love your enemies and
                   pray for those who persecute you,
                             that you may be children
                                      of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise
          on the evil and the good,
                   and sends rain
                             on the righteous
                                      and the unrighteous.


If you love those who love you,
what reward will you get?

Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

And if you greet only your own people,
what are you doing more than others?

Do not even pagans do that?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Be perfect, therefore,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.



Matthew Henry Commentary on the Bible
http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/5.html?p=2

We have here, lastly,
an exposition of that great fundamental law
of the second table,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor,
which was the fulfilling of the law.

I. See here how this law was corrupted by the comments of the Jewish teachers, v. 43.

God said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor; and by neighbor...
they understood those only of their own country, nation, and religion;
and those only that they were pleased to look upon as their friends:
yet this was not the worst;

from this command,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor,
they were willing to infer what God never designed; 
Thou shalt hate thine enemy; 
and they looked upon whom they pleased as their enemies,
thus making void the great command of God by their traditions,
though there were express laws to the contrary, 

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, nor an Egyptian, 
though these nations had been as much enemies to Israel 
as any whatsoever.
It was true, God appointed them 
to destroy the seven devoted nations of Canaan,
and not to make leagues with them;
but there was a particular reason for it
to make room for Israel,
and that they might not be snares to them; 
but it was very ill-natured from hence to infer,
that they must hate all their enemies;
yet the moral philosophy of the heathen then allowed this.

It is Cicero’s rule, Nemini nocere nisi prius lacessituminjuriâ
—To injure no one, unless previously injured. De Offic. 

See how willing corrupt passions
are to fetch countenance
from the word of God,
and to take occasion by the commandment 
to justify themselves?

II. See how it is cleared by the command of the Lord Jesus,
          who teaches us another lesson:
"But I say unto you,
I, who come to be the great Peace-Maker,
the general Reconciler,
who loved you when you were strangers and enemies, 
I say, Love your enemies,’’ v. 44.

Though men are ever so bad themselves,
and carry it ever so basely towards us,
yet that does not discharge us
from the great debt we owe them,
of love to our kind, love to our kin.

We find ourselves very prone to wish the hurt,
or at least very coldly
to desire the good, of those that hate us,
and have been abusive to us;
but that which is at the bottom hereof
is a root of bitterness,
which must be plucked up,
and a remnant of corrupt nature
which GRACE must conquer.


Note:
It is the great duty of Christians to love their enemies;
we cannot have complacency
in one that is openly wicked and profane,
nor put a confidence in one that we know to be deceitful;
nor are we to love all alike;
but we must pay respect to the human nature,
and so far honor all men:

we must take notice, with pleasure,
of that even in our enemies
which is amiable and commendable;
ingenuousness, good temper,
learning, and moral virtue,
kindness to others,
profession of religion, etc.,
and love that,
though they are our enemies.

We must have a compassion for them,
and a good will toward them.

We are here told,
1. That we must speak well of them: 
Bless them that curse you.

When we speak to them,
          we must answer their revilings
                   with courteous and friendly words,
                             and not render railing for railing;
                                       behind their backs
          we must commend that in them
                   which is commendable,
                             and when we have said all the good we can of them,
                                      not be forward to say anything more. See 1 Pt. 3:9 .

          They, in whose tongue is the law of kindness, 
                   can give good words to those
                             who give bad words to them.

2. That we must do well to them: 
"Do good to them that hate you,

and that will be a better proof of love
than good words.

Be ready to do them all the real kindness that you can,
and glad of an opportunity to do it,
in their bodies, estates, names, families;
and especially to do good to their souls.’’


3. We must pray for them:
Pray for them that despitefully use you,
and persecute you.

Note:
(1.) It is no new thing for the most excellent saints to be hated,
and cursed,
and persecuted,
and despitefully used,
by wicked people;
Christ himself was so treated.

(2.) That when at any time we meet with such usage,
we have an opportunity of showing our conformity
both to the precept and to the example of Christ,
by praying for them who thus abuse us.

If we cannot otherwise testify our love to them,
yet this way we may without ostentation,
and it is such a way as surely we durst not dissemble in.

We must pray that God will forgive them,
that they may never fare the worse
for anything they have done against us,
and that he would make them
to be at peace with us;
and this is one way of making them so.

How much better is it to 
do good to our friends, and make friends of our enemies. 
This is heaping coals of fire on their heads.

Two reasons are here given to enforce this command
(which sounds so harsh)
of loving our enemies.

We must do it,
[1.] That we may be like God our Father;
that ye may prove yourselves to be,
the children of your Father which is in heaven.’’

Can we write a better copy?

It is a copy in which love to the worst of enemies
is reconciled to,
and consistent with,
infinite purity and holiness.

God maketh his sun to rise,
and sendeth rain,
on the just and the unjust, v. 45.

Note:
1st ~ Sunshine and rain are great blessings to the world,
and they come from God.
It is His sun that shines,
and His rain that is sent.
They do not come of course,
or by chance,
but from God.

2nd ~ Common mercies must be valued
as instances and proofs
of the goodness of God,
who in them shows Himself
a bountiful Benefactor
to the world of mankind,
who would be very miserable without these favors,
and are utterly unworthy of the least of them.

3rd ~ These gifts of common providence
are dispensed indifferently
to good and evil,
just and unjust;
so that we cannot know love and hatred
by what is before us,
but by what is within us;

not by the shining of the sun on our heads,
but
by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness
in our hearts.


4th ~ The worst of men partake of the comforts of this life
in common with others,
though they abuse them,
and fight against God
with his own weapons;
which is an amazing instance of God’s patience and bounty.

Reminder:
It was but once that God forbade his sun to shine on the Egyptians,
when the Israelites had light in their dwellings;
God could make such a distinction every day.

5th ~ The gifts of God’s bounty
to wicked men that are in rebellion against him,
teach us to do good to those that hate us;
especially considering,
that though there is in "us" a carnal mind
which is enmity to God,
                                                yet "we" share in his bounty. 

6th ~ Those only will be accepted as the children of God,
who study to resemble him,
particularly in his goodness.

[2.] That we may herein do more than others, v. 46, v. 47.

First, Publicans love their friends.
Nature inclines them to it;
interest directs them to it.
To do good to them who do good to us,
is a common piece of humanity,
which even those whom the Jews hated and despised
could give as good proofs as of the best of them.

The publicans were men of no good fame,
yet they were grateful to such as had helped them to their places,
and courteous to those they had a dependence upon;
and shall we be no better than they?

In doing this we serve ourselves and consult our own advantage;
and what reward can we expect for that,
unless a regard to God,
and a sense of duty, carrying us further than
our natural inclination and worldly interest?

Secondly, We must therefore love our enemies,
that we may exceed them.
If we must go beyond scribes and Pharisees,
much more beyond publicans.

Note:
Christianity is something more than humanity.
It is a serious question,
and which we should frequently put to ourselves,

"What do we more than others?

What excelling thing do we do?

We know more than others;
We talk more of the things of God than others;
We profess, and have promised, more than others;
God has done more for us,
and therefore justly expects more from us
than from others;
the glory of God is more concerned in us
than in others;
but what do we do "more" than others?

Wherein do we live above the rate of the children of this world?

Are we not carnal, and do we not walk as men,
below the character of Christians?

In this especially we must do more than others,
that while every one will render good for good,
we must render good for evil;
and this will speak a nobler principle,
and is consonant to a higher rule,
than the most of men act by.

Others salute their brethren,
they embrace those of their own party, and way, and opinion;
but we must not so confine our respect,
but love our enemies,
otherwise what reward have we?

We cannot expect the reward of Christians,
if we rise no higher than the virtue of publicans.


 Note:
Those who promise themselves a reward above others
must study to do more than others.


7th and lastly: Our Savior concludes this subject with this exhortation (v. 48),

"Be ye therefore perfect, 
as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Which may be understood,
1. In general, including all those things wherein we must be
followers of God as dear children.

Note:
It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press toward
a perfection in grace and holiness, Phil. 3:12-14 .

And therein we must study to conform ourselves
to the example of our heavenly Father, 

Or,
2. In this particular before mentioned,
of doing good to our enemies; 
see Lu. 6:36 .

It is God’s perfection to forgive injuries 
and to entertain strangers,
and to do good to the evil and unthankful,
and it will be ours to be like him.
We that owe so much, 
that owe our all,
to the divine bounty,
ought to copy it out as well as we can..