Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 30

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 30

1 A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple. I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

So often I read the psalms as a personal letter reflected in my own life. A psalm that describes a common struggle, or trial, or praise that all believers share in. This is a fair estimate of one of the values of the psalms. They were written with the intent of providing comfort to the battle weary believer.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

I would like to consider this psalm from a different angle this morning, as a number of verses shout out to me that the Lord Jesus must have identified with this psalm in a completely different manner than you or I.

Resurrection

Psalm 30:3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

I can imagine that during our Lord’s time on earth, He dwelled on the verse above. Sheol is the Hebrew term describing the grave and it is obvious that He knew His death was the focus of His ministry for those He loved. This verse speaks of the restoration of the author from the pit, from the grave. Of course the author wrote it figuratively, since David did not actually die, and was not physically resurrected. It was a description of the danger he faced, and the saving outcome he experienced.

Not so for the One who came to die. He most assuredly understood the reference of resurrection and clung to the promise, veiled as it may be in our eyes.

Joy

30:5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

His death on the cross was His experience of anger produced by our sins against the Godhead. Our sins resulted in the “piling up” of anger that was poured out on the Son. The psalm speaks of anger, “but for a moment”. I refuse to consider the time of suffering He endured to be slight, or momentary, for it is surely something I will never fathom, understand or comprehend. It is beyond me, and rightly so.

Yet the Father’s favor is for a lifetime, to be experienced continuously. Yes, there is weeping for the night, and I can’t help but think of His suffering in the garden. His battle was in the garden, the tremendous burden He carried in those hours before His arrest.

Yet the joy was in front of Him, beckoning Him to follow through with His sacrifice for us.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Praise

30:9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

This verse again speaks of the outcome of His death, of the intent of His death. Praise that will ascribe the faithfulness of God in the resurrection of His Son. The profit of His death is our deliverance and justification, but ultimately to the glory of the self sacrificing God, who stooped to our condition and entered death to provide forgiveness and life for an undeserving and rebellious people.

We have a God that is beyond our comprehension. He is above our thoughts and to praise Him is simply a natural result of glimpsing at the Son, thinking of His time on earth, seeing His focus and dependence on the Father. He is truly the only One we are to look to and to praise.

Praise Him for His mighty love.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Sacrificial Love

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

When we come to the topic of love, the deepest love I can imagine is the self sacrificial love of the Messiah. It is beyond comprehension, even beyond mental belief, if we are honest with ourselves.

He has shown a way that is to be followed by those who have seen His goodness, His self sacrificial giving of Himself, or denying His own glory in order to provide for others, even His enemies, those that call for His crucifixion and death.

It is a story, real as it is, that sometimes seems unreal. I am not denying the gospel – No no no. – yet to consider the message, and the man behind the message, the Lord Jesus as a breathing walking person who suffered, hungered, felt shame and fear, sometimes escapes me.

He travelled amongst those who hated Him, (and a few that loved Him, but didn’t “get” Him), and sought to serve them, either through mercy or hardness, through tough words that didn’t reach soft hearts, but refused to respond to His call.

He never gave up on His mission, even though everyone else did. Everyone abandoned Him, even His Father as He hung on the tree, bleeding and dying for sins He never committed.

How can that be understood?

I tell you, that the depth of it cannot be understood, other than in a faint way, a glimmer of that love that shines on us through our relations with others.

Without others, the story of the Savior, through true as truth, can become almost academic. Facts and figures of the story can sometimes dull the sense of the story, the “feel” of the gospel.

Love is an action word and because of that, we understand love through the actions of the Lord, through His creation, and especially through His people.

But as I have walked this pilgrim way for the past four decades, I have found that some of the cruelest people confess Christ, and it confuses me. Sure they may be false converts, and that is something I consider, yet I fear that some have lost focus on the goal of the Christian life. I know I do.

For you see, I am a studier, I love research. I have studied numerous topics in the Bible, and when I have just enough information to be dangerous, I go on the attack. Arguing a point to no end, shaming others that do not hold my very specific point of view, elevating myself (in my own view) over my brother and sister, even spreading gossip and lies in order to protect myself from the truth.

Christ died for our sins.

We need to remember that He died for His brothers and sisters, and not just ourselves. This is a challenge for myself since I have this tendency to consider myself better than others, better that those that I love deepest. And yet, when I do give up something I love in order to help someone else, when I leave behind a dream or aspiration, a possession or activity that I seemingly can’t live without, a tremendous freedom is experienced, and lightening of my soul.

This only do I need to say. Love the brethren, and remember, even just for today…

1 John 3:16

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 4:7

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 29

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 29

1 A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

This psalm of David has him watching a storm and contemplating the LORD above. His comparisons with the lightning and thunder of a storm makes for great comparisons with the voice of the LORD, His power, majesty and glory over all creation.

As many of you know, I am a bit of a technical geek and love to find out information that gives me a relative sense of a topic being described. As mentioned, this psalm is using a thunderstorm to try to describe the power of the voice of the LORD.

I found recently the following information that helps me understand (sort of) the massive power of a typical thunderstorm.

  1. The estimated peak power per lightning stroke is 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) watts.
  2. The total energy in a large thunderstorm is thought to be enough to power the whole of the USA for 20 minutes.
  3. A tall thunderstorm cloud can hold over 100,000,000 (one hundred million) volts of potential.

I am sure there are some out there that consider this information to be just so many numbers, and it a way it is, since it is sooo difficult to understand the term ” one trillion watts” or even “one hundred million volts”. I suppose the point is, that this may be the best example David had, though limited, to compare the power of the voice of the LORD to.

David, as he watches the storm in all his travels, had seen the lightning tear apart a massive cedar of Lebanon, and felt the land shake at a crack of thunder. His familiarity with the storms of the land gave him that sense of awe that as “moderns” we so sorely lack at times!

David mixes images by describing the voice of the LORD as sending out fire, that is, lightning bolts of power that nothing stands in the way of.

David speaks of the lightning breaking the massive trees of Lebanon. We can calculate the power it takes to destroy a tree, or create some havoc, but that is not the point in this psalm. David was in awe of the power that the LORD displayed, and used the things of nature (in our opinion) to consider the greatness of our God.

As the rain pours down in the middle of lightning flashes and thunder boomers, David considers the greatest rain event in the history of creation. The flood, with it’s related upheavals of the ground and releasing of the vents, reshaped the earth and controlled all things and everything on the face of the earth!

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood, and is enthroned as the KING forever.

This is the LORD we say we know, and yet even today, I was faltering a bit, confessing my weakness of faith and lack of love to Him. How powerful is His nature and being, and how tender of a Savior to us, in that He bends down to the lowly, seeks out our best, understands our weakness and loves us to the very end.

He is surely the great KING who is the servant of the lowliest, adversary to the proud, lover of sinners and walked amongst us to teach us of His compassion and goodness, to mimic and to follow.

May we learn to be more like Him as we look to Him for strength, wisdom, love and peace.

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 28

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 28:1-9

1 Of David. To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

3 Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.

4 Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.

5 Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.

6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Communication.

I struggle with it everyday, seeking to translate my thoughts into noises in order for others to comprehend my questions, needs or warnings. But that is only half the effort of communication. I may elucidate my thoughts perfectly, (in a theoretical world that is!) and if the one(s) I am addressing do not hear, understand and receive the message, it is all for naught.

David is letting us know of the communication between the God of Israel and himself. David is crying out for help, and nothing is happening. After years of open communication between the King and his King, David is calling out to God in some emergency.

The first verse has a bit of ambiguity to it when the ESV coins the phrase  “be not deaf to me”. A few of the other translations translate the phrase as “Do not be silent to me”.

There is a difference in my mind. The end results are the same of course, in that the praying saint seems to find no response from the One who can help. But David’s tone of the psalm changes based on this difference.

If the term is rightly understood to be “be not deaf to me”, David is implying that God isn’t hearing the prayer. God’s willingness (or ability?) to hear David has changed. He is not allowing any prayer to reach His understanding.

If the term is “do not be silent to me”, David is simply reiterating the same truth in the next phrase. The tone of the psalm then becomes that the saint isn’t receiving a response, though God may be hearing of the complaint.

You see, it is a different scenario if one doesn’t hear, and then doesn’t respond, than if one does hear and doesn’t respond. The ESV understands David’s complaint to be twofold. God isn’t hearing his prayer, and He isn’t responding to his prayer.

I think this allows us to see a bit deeper into David’s relationship with his God. He understood when his God heard his prayers, and when his God would answer his prayers. This is incredible, for many believers (my self included) struggle with this assurance and knowledge of God’s hearing and responding to our prayers.

Of course this may be a one-off for David, meaning this may be a specific time when David understood this situation. Therefore, I don’t mean we are to constantly know how and if God is receiving and responding to our prayers. But that is not the main point.

David had the sense, the discernment of knowing God’s attitude toward the prayer he offered up. And based on this knowledge, made his complaint anyway! He would not take no for an answer, and continued with his plea.

David pleads to the One on the throne, claiming that if his God is silent, he will die. God is the only One whom David leans on. If God doesn’t help, David’s life is over.

Get a feel for this situation.

You have spent your life seeking to hear and follow God, (imperfectly of course) and have come to a point when all is against you. At the time when all hangs in the balance, and you seek help from your God, all communication falls silent. No help comes. You are stranded, left to your enemies and the fate of death.

King David had to wait for his rescue, but it came.

Psalm 28:6

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

David’s voice was heard. The LORD responded and saved his anointed one before he went to the grave.

Psalm 28:8

The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

David’s voice was heard and the grave was avoided. The greater David, our Lord Jesus, his prayers were heard, and yet the grave was not avoided. As a matter of fact, the grave was inevitable. Where David sought rescue from the grave, Jesus sought strength to endure entering to the grave.

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

David’s salvation and Jesus salvation, both men facing the grave, followed different trajectories.

David was saved from the grave. (At least in relation to the current plea!)

Jesus was saved out of the grave, in resurrection power, not only to live forever, but to become the priest of a new creation, bringing many others into the same resurrection life.

Jesus prayers were heard. God the Father’s ears were (and are) always open to the Anointed One. The Fathers answer to the Saviors prayers were greater than any may have imagined, thought or wished for

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Jesus was heard by the Father. He is alive and praying for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

David sought deliverance from the grave. Jesus sought to enter the grave, to go through death in order to be “taken up”.

Luke 9:51

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

He is the One to follow, if for no other reason than the incredible bravery and faith He exercised. The single minded focus of His life was to enter the grave, to obey the call of the Father on His life and to prove (ultimately) the great love wherewith He has loved us.

Love. It is the difference.

Let us love one another as the One who loved us has taught us.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 27

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 27

1 Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

David was in trouble.

When he looked around, all he saw were evildoers, enemies, adversaries and foes. A brief look through this rich Psalm gives us some idea of the condition David found himself in.

David’s Condition

  • His enemies were after him

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

  • He was removed from the House of the Lord

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

  • He experienced abandonment by mother and father

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

  • He was defamed by false witnesses rising up against him

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.

I don’t recognize a victim mentality coming from David, that I sometimes hear when a believer is under trials. Statements of his condition didn’t fall into that favorite category of mine, which I reserve for times like this, that is of blaming someone for my situation.

In all of his trials, David interspersed this psalm with confidence in God.

David’s Confidence

David’s life is a life of exhibiting confidence in God, when he was is serious trouble. Was David perfect – No, only the Messiah was able to live a life of perfection. But David did exercise confidence in the Lord when the chips were down, and this psalm typifies this character of David.

David’s life was in jeopardy, his kingdom is falling (this psalm was likely written during the insurrection of Absalom), his family was treacherous to him, and the political machine had turned against him.

What I find interesting is that he does not look for revenge directly. He begins with his confidence in the Lord and rhetorically asking of whom he shall be afraid. Everything had turned on David and he looks to the Lord as the stronghold of his life.

What is your stronghold? Family? Finances? Friends?

David had focused his confidence in the Lord through a continual faith. He had confidence since he had proven the Lord to be faithful. So many instances of David in his life seeing the faithfulness of the Lord may be noted, but it may appear to be giving obvious information. Suffice it to say, David’s trust in the Lord over the years had provided him the confidence he was living in during this crisis.

David’s Prayer

As I hinted at above, David does not look for revenge directly. Of course he is looking for a mighty rescue, for the Lord to pull him out of this jam. He doesn’t look for revenge, but looks to the Lord for the solutions. This is amazing in my estimation, since it is the default position to blame someone (usually God) for our troubles, and David sees the Lord as the focus and center of the situation.

Consider the last time you were being persecuted, abandoned or defamed. Did you focus on the condition you were in or on the Lord who is the Savior?

David looked to the Lord for strength.

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

David states that in the past, his enemies, adversaries and foes stumbled and fell. But David – you are in the midst of the greatest betrayal and fall from grace yourself. But dear reader, this is looking at the situation, and David is looking to the Lord, He comes back to his desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord” and to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”

How often have you been told that, in the midst of trials, this thinking is “pie in the sky” thinking, and that you need to plan, execute, do, prepare, analyze, organize, coordinate and designate.

Don’t get me wrong, for even in the time of David’s worst political danger, he executed plans to mitigate and overwhelm the enemy. Hushai was sent by David to that rebellious Absalom, in order to redirect him into a strategic error. David strategized and acted, but this psalm shows David’s source of strength, his priority and focus in life.

As David left his throne, his city and was being chased by his enemies, two truths come blaring out to me

Consider 2 Samuel 15, where we pick up David’s experience of leaving his capital.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.

King David, after being rejected by the nation of Israel, his family and most of his support, climbed the Mount of Olives. This narrative speaks volumes of the Greater David, the Lord Jesus and His confidence in God the Father for His future trial. I have heard it many times that the victory was secured in the Garden. His strength for the torture of the crucifixion was found in the garden. David’s weeping and travail of soul was a picture of the Greater David, of His confidence in our Father God, and show’s us who we are to follow after.

And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

David did not send out an assassin for Ahithophel. David, if he was thinking only of his kingdom and of his own survival, may have reverted to taking revenge upon his friend and counsellor Ahithophel. This was not David’s response, but he prayed that the Lord would interfere with Absalom’s understanding. David knew Ahithophel would give excellent advice, but David prayed that the advice would be turned into foolishness.

How that happened was a combination of events. Hushai argued against Ahithophel in front of Absalom in giving “next steps” advice. Hushai wisely saw the subject he was providing advice to and fed Absalom’s arrogance and pride.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

The prayer of David was accomplished through the planning of David and the vanity of Absalom.

David’s confidence was again strengthened due his continued trust.

When hard times come, trust Him. Do not seek revenge, but seek to know God’s will and to follow it in your heart, mind and actions.

Romans 12:19

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Difficult times train us to stand up, and will produce a confidence in the Lord that prepares us for future struggles. There is a war we are fighting, and as David experienced in the civil war that was erupting before his eyes, the only wise approach is to seek God and his will.

David’s admonition is wise advice

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!


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Devotional

Simple Thoughts – Jeremiah 29

Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.

This passage was not such an occurrence. Jeremiah 29 was being discussed in Sunday School last week and the discussion brought to mind the importance of the context of the verse. First, lets consider the verse and then I will try to explain my thoughts.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

How often have you been surfing the net, checking out facebook or simply listening to a sermon and this verse pops up. The message of the speaker implying, (or out rightly stating) that the Lord has a prosperous and “best life” for you right now! The modern message assures us that the Lord has plans for peace and to give us a future and a hope, implying riches, security and blessing in the present.

Really?

Let’s consider the context of this precious promise, for you see, if we dig a bit we find that the promise is much more than simply satisfying our present wants and relieving our current fears.

This message was to a group of Jews that were no longer residing in the beloved city of David. They had been carried away in the captivity to the city of Babylon, under the obvious displeasure of the Lord, per Deuteronomy 29:28. The nation had been rooted out of the land and the current generation residing in Babylon was being spoken to in Jeremiah 29.

Lets read the immediate context of Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 – “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

When 70 years are completed in Babylon? What? No immediate gratification? Verse 10 speaks of the duration this people of Israel will have to reside in Babylon.

The Lord has plans for this nation, and it includes captivity for 70 years! The plans spoken of include a wait of 70 years until the Lord visits them and directs them to return to the city of David and the Promised Land, (which in it self is an act of mercy!). Many of the Jewish population would die in a foreign land, with the second generation returning to a decimated land and city they had never seen.

A bit larger context may be beneficial, so lets consider a few verses previous.

Jeremiah 29:4-9

4 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 – Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
6 – Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

The Lord is informing the Jewish remnant, those who trust in His Words, to settle in Babylon, the nation that destroyed them, to raise families and to seek the welfare of the captors city. To pray to the LORD on it’s behalf! (How very New Testamental!)

In the midst of this tremendous passage though, the LORD gives a warning.

8 – For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,
9 – for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.

In the city of Babylon, certain men, even Jewish “prophets” had risen up to declare that the captivity would be short lived and the Jew’s would be returning to their homeland soon. The message was intoxicating – “Don’t settle, for you are heading back. This captivity, this suffering will not continue.”

Sound familiar to a message that is popular nowadays?

Those who read this blog must understand that the false gospel of prosperity is a virulent pervasive and deadly message that perverts the loving care of the Lord Almighty, that exchanges the eternal for the here and now, and true riches that should be exchanged for temporal junk.

Sometimes I fear the message is so prevalent, the the culture is fully drunk on the venom.

Let the message of verse 8 ring in your ears.

Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream

The following verses address the desired outcome of the captivity, the joining together of the nation with God in determining their future. (Consider 1 Corinthians 3:9). Note verse 13 & 14, and the conditional finding of God prior to restoration. When you seek Him with all your heart. Then He will be found by you, and then the people will return to the Promised Land.

12 – Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
13 – You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
14 – I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Amazing cooperation of the Lord Almighty with the will of man, and the invitation by the Holy One to a rebellious people, to again enter into a life of faith with the Living God. We have such a good and loving God, One who is not to be compared with any!

Praise the Father of light, Who has given His own Son for our redemption, salvation and continual blessing, even in the midst of occasional trials.

In conclusion, the Jews in Babylon received a message from Jeremiah, the true prophet of God in Jerusalem, a message of required endurance, and of a future that would be secured for them. A return to the promised land that, though generations away, was secured for the nation by the Word of God.

Individual Jews were also given direction, that is to settle in the land of their enemies, to seek their enemies good and to rest in the promise of God.

This passage from Jeremiah to the Jews in Babylon was to have an intended effect. That effect was to see the Jews seek God (and not conditions of ease) with their whole heart. The Jews were warned NOT to rely on empty promises from false prophets, promising a return to normal peaceful living in security and wealth.

Be at peace with your current situation, even if difficult. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, and the Lord provides an escape, of course take it.

If no escape, endurance is called for. Seek Him with all your heart, and depend on the promises of God.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 26

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides

Let’s read the first few verses before any comment.

Psalm 26:1-3

Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

David was bold.

He knew where he stood, and wanted to be tested. He wanted to be proven, tested to ensure he was where the Lord wanted him in his life.

Prove me! (bāḥan)

To prove something is to examine something, to put to a trial and find results.

What are you saying David? You are telling the Lord to test you out? How rare this request is for our modern christianity!

Consider

Proverbs 17:3

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests (bāḥan) hearts.

Try me! (nāsâ)

To test something is to get proof of the validity of the thing. When the Old Testament saint used the word try (nāsâ), the word literally meant “to test by the smell”.

Consider

Exodus 17:2,7

2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test (nāsâ) the LORD?”
7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested (nāsâ) the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Massah nasa. Can you see the similarity between these two words, and the reason Moses called it Massah? It was the place the children of Israel tested (nāsâ) the LORD. (These two words are so homophonic!)

One additional verse needs to be considered in relation to Psalm 26:2

Psalm 95:9

When your fathers put me to the test (nāsâ) and put me to the proof (bāḥan), though they had seen my work.

Amazing contrast, no?

In Psalm 26, the psalmist is requesting the test, to be proven by the Lord. This is the heart of the mature believer, one who seeks to be used by God and will submit to a testing to ensure it!

In Psalm 95, the people are demanding proof of God’s presence. They are not walking in faith, seeking to know God’s will for their lives, but they are seeking their own desires and wants, their own goals and purposes. These folk are continually and without pause, desiring to put God to the test, to demand their rights, to question His goodness and wisdom.

How often have you heard one say that God is not fair, that He must not care for His creation, or His people. If He cared he would stop all disease and hunger, and provide quails for all!

But alas, this is the spirit of a fallen people.

Test me! (ṣārap̄)

The literal meaning of this word is “to melt”, as in to smelt a metal. Heat is implied in this verb, and the Psalmist is demanding this from his Lord.

What audacity! What guts! What confidence in his Master.

My friend, the Lord Himself is a kind and loving Father, One who seeks our best. The monkey wrench in the plan is our lack of desire to be involved in His work.

David sought to be tested, to be melted down and purified. We so often sing of our desire to be purified, and rightly so, but if we are to mimic the saints of old, we need to realize what this means from their standpoint.

This is not to be entered lightly, and is a sobering request of the saint to his Father. Early into my Christian faith, I saw this teaching throughout the Old Testament and sought to follow after their example.

Trials have come, and trials have continued.

Looking back, some of them were simply my immaturity and ignorance of God’s ways, and the results of making poor decisions on my part. He has always brought about good things out of the most painful circumstances.

Some of them were the result of loved ones making bad decisions and my faith was tested. Being out of my control (as if I had much control!), made this testing even more difficult, but He has been so kind and brought about good things out of the bad. But tests such as these are difficult, and can be very painful.

Finally, some trials may have come directly from the hand of the Lord, and not necessarily through an intermediary, or through my own foolishness. These tests, in my opinion have been the most personnel and have caused me to understand my reason for being. These test have also begun to teach my heart and mind of the Lord Himself. He has been so kind to me in my stunted growth, my wanderings and my questionings.

The tests have brought about good things in my life and the lives of those I love. We have great hope based on His constant past care for His loved ones, and we trust that God will bring about a settled faith in future trials.

But let it be clearly stated that the circumstances within and beyond the trials have also been very painful.

Consider when you ask for purification that you are willing to stay under the trial, and have the dross burned off.

It takes time!


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 25 Part 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides in two portions, and I would like to consider verses 12 – 23 for this blog post

Let’s read it before any comment.

Psalm 25:12-23

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

The psalmist, in the last half of the psalm is speaking of two topics. The depth of his need and his utter dependency on the LORD.

One verse, amongst the many that speak to me, of relationship with the One who is All, is verse 16

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

The verse before, the psalmist speaks of his eyes always being toward the LORD, that he seeks the favor of God continually. But something is wrong. The LORD is not looking to the psalmist. You see, when the psalmist states “Turn to me”, it implies that the LORD had turned away from him.

Now, I don’t understand too much about the Old Testament saints related to the LORD, and this particular saint, being David, definitely had a relationship with his LORD that compared in many ways with our condition today.

For believers, after the LORD provided His Son for our rescue, to consider Him to be turned away seems to be beyond the pale. (Consider Romans 8:32 as an example of our Father’s attitude to us)

Where is the application for us in this passage?

It may feel like He has turned on us at times in our life, and a couple of thoughts come to mind.

First off, sin breaks fellowship, and unconfessed sin pulls us away from His loving care. Confess the sin, and repent of it, four hundred and ninety times if you have to.

Secondly, the feeling of abandonment may be just that – a feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, feelings are powerful and intended to be a blessing from God, but they can be used to detract us from our goals in life.

There have been times in my life when I have been very low, struggling to maintain a faith, to not give up. Times of loneliness and affliction that were drawn out for months, even years, and were very difficult!

Every believer goes through times such as these. It should drive us to the promises that have been given, that His love is extreme and He seeks the best for us in all our trials. He is seeking to conform us to the image of His Son, and this is a gargantuan effort from my point of view!

Hold on to the promises of God, in the depths of your loneliness and affliction, for He has promised.

And remember, He was truly abandoned in order that we may never be.

Praise Him for His many many mercies.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 25 Part 1

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This psalm naturally divides in two portions, and I would like to consider verses 1 – 11 for this blog post, since it has caught my attention.

Let’s read it before any comment.

Psalm 25:1-11

Of David. To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

The psalmist speaks of his failings, of the potential shame he may experience, of his transgression of his youth, of his sinfulness. He is a man humbled, and in the humility of his experience, he is seeing that God teaches and leads the sinner. This man is looking to God for His ways, His paths, and His ways. He is tired of his own ways, and the resultant shame that is the result of depending on his own understanding.

The psalmist also recognizes that God is good and upright, full of stedfast love and mercy. He can’t seem to say it enough, that He is mercy, He is good, He is a teacher (of sinners, no less), He is the One who brings salvation, He is faithful.

One is sinful. One is not.

One departs through pride. One invites through love and mercy

One is to be humble. One is a capable teacher.

How are you in the Lord?

Check your walk with Him and consider verse 10, asking yourself if your ways are being led by the Lord, for

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Steadfast love and faithfulness – a characteristic of one who is led of the Lord into His paths.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 24 – Part 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. Lets read it before we consider the message the psalmist is communicating

Psalm 24:1-10

1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

Such a rich psalm. Our last post touched on the first verse and the ownership of the LORD, His extent of ownership, His far reaching possessions.

As I mentioned in that post, my original intention was to address verses 3 – 6, which I will attempt with this post. So lets take a few minutes to consider.

I settled (eventually) on these verses since one of my favorite psalms is Psalm 15, and the similarities between these verses and Psalm 15 are so obvious. (If you recently found this blog, consider reading Psalms for Psome – 15)

The psalmist is questioning the believers ability to “ascend the hill of the LORD”. He is speaking to the populace and stating – You people of God – there are requirements to meet if you seek to enter the temple, to share in His company.

Clean Hands

The believer, in order to approach the LORD, is to have clean hands. His actions are to be right, observing the moral standards set down by the King. Not simply performance to the standards set by the culture, or by legal precedence of a population, but by the moral standards of the King who gave His law.

The King has given us “the law” to live by. This law is the outworking of the commandments, and is described in the beatitudes. Check it out.

Consider 2 Timothy 2:19

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Clean hands – Departing from iniquity.

A Pure Heart

Again, my mind takes me to the apostle Paul when he wrote to the young Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:5

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Sometimes it is truly amazing that the New Testament is so dependent on the Old Testament, that the faith described in the Old is so in line with the New.

To be in possession of a pure heart, a clean heart, is a gift of God through our faith, that is to be maintained in fellowship with the Savior. Confession of sins to the Lord, and to those we offend or sin against, seeking restitution with our brothers, pursuing peace with all and exercising love towards them that breathe. A pure heart is a gift, and it is also a responsibility.

Who does not lift up his soul to what is false

To lift up, in the hebrew is the term nāśā’, and refers to directing our mind or soul to something or someone. The one who would ascend the hill of the Lord, will direct his mind and soul to the true and righteous God, the only One who is worthy of our attention.

To the false, the one who ascends will not direct his mind or soul. It is an affront to consider a falsehood for the believer.

Does not swear deceitfully

The topic of truth comes to the fore front again, yet this time it is not referring to our object of worship, but of the message that pours from our mouth, even our faithfulness in keeping oaths and our word to others. It is the believers responsibility to keep his word to his neighbor if he is to ascend the hill of the Lord.

As believers, we are to consider approaching God, through our Lord Jesus, as a high privilege that is granted to those who consider it so, acting on the requirements of the King. True He has opened the veil for us to enter, but the cost was His blood, His very life.

When I ponder this, it is a sobering thought, and the psalmist reminds me that there is a price to pay to ascend that hill.


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 24 – Part 1

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. Lets read it before we consider the message the psalmist is communicating

Psalm 24:1-10

1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

Such a rich psalm.

This psalm speaks of the Lord’s ownership the earth/land, of all things on/in the earth/land , and all that dwell in the world.

I start off with these either/or statements since it is not clear (at least to me) what exactly the psalmist is referring to in the first verse.

The hebrew word (‘ereṣ) translated earth could be translated two different ways, that is “earth” or “land”. As a matter of fact, ereṣ is translated as “land” twice as many times as “earth” in the Old Testament. I know that proves nothing, but it was surprising when I first found this out.

If the term is to be understood as land, does that imply that the Lord only owns the “land” of Israel, which would be understood by the ancients? Not at all, since the psalmist, within the very first verse qualifies the extent of the LORD’s ownership, by stating He owns “the world” and all that dwell therein.

So, if my understanding is correct, the psalmist is telling me…

The land of Israel is the LORD’s, and all that is therein, but not only that, He owns the entire world, and every body/soul on it!

He is not a simple or tiny god that oversees a nation, or a people group, but He is the LORD who owns His people, and even those who know him not.

This psalm is so rich, that when I first sat down to consider this passage, my eyes were drawn to verses 3 – 6 to discuss. Alas, this portion will have to await for my next blog, since I have found a blessing in the first verse that I would like to dwell on for the day.

Hope you also, in considering this passage, experience a fleeting glimpse of the LORD and the extent of His possessions. The implications can be life changing!


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Two Kings and Two Women

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

Well it happened again. It jumped out at me. At least I though it did.

I was listening to the Word on my way to work, with distractions buzzing around my head, and the passage landed on 2 Kings 6.

You know, the chapter where King Solomon uses his wisdom to determine the rightful mother. Ya – that chapter where he threatens to kill the one child and offer half to each of the arguing women in order to solve their dispute. What genius.

But Carl – You are way wrong about the King and the child in 2 Kings 6.. Let’s read the passage I was slightly listening to.

2 Kings 6:25-31

And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.
Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!”
And he said, “If the LORD will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?”
And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’
So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.”
When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes–now he was passing by on the wall–and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body–
and he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.”

Okay, but as is obvious to all concerned, this is a passage about a king and a child, but for the life of me I don’t see any other similarities.

Consider the passage about Solomon and the sword, and once you read it, I thought it would be interesting to compare the differences and see if there may be a lesson for us.

1 Kings 3:16 – 27

Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house.
Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house.
And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.
And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast.
When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.”
But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king.
Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.'”
And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king.
And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.”
Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.”
Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.”

Ok, we have two similarities, in that the story speaks of a King (Ahab and Solomon) and of children Let’s consider the differences.

The Nation

The nation of Israel was so different in these stories.

Under Ahab, the nation was in starvation mode, with the Syrians on the doorstep, and annihilation eminent. The nation was suffering under the curse of ungodly kings, with Ahab, a very evil little king, ruling over the nation, being led about by that woman Jezebel.

Under Solomon, the nation was in the golden age of prosperity and power. The nation was, more than at any time in it’s history, enjoying the benefits of a godly King, and now his son, reigning on the throne, was reaping the benefits of this history. It was a time of tremendous luxury and national strength, where all the nations bowed to the nation of Israel.

The Mommas

The children’s mothers were of different stock.

In the Ahab account, the women appear to be “average mothers”, under the extreme duress of starvation. Nothing appears to be mentioned about their moral character (under normal circumstances). I know – they ate a child! That is horrendous. And to offer your own child up to satisfy your hunger – that is an incredible statement about the human condition. But without any moral identifier, as in the next pair of women, could we not assume these women were average mommas?

In the time of Solomon, the women in the story were hookers, ladies of the night that used and abused men, selling their bodies for the bread of supper. Though they were prostitutes, at least one of these women still had a beating heart for thier youngin.

The Solution

Both kings were addressed by one woman to provide help.

With Ahab, the women wanted justice in order to continue finding sustenance. (I tend to think the hidden child would be sacrificed eventually). Ahab’s solution – Curse Elisha, promise his death and seek to blameshift the problem to someone other than the self.

With Solomon, both women wanted to care for a child. At least one of them truly did. One momma would give anything for her child. Even give the child up, to ensure its survival.

Solomon’s solution. Look for love. The love of a mother that can not be held back.

You know, I listened to this passage a few days ago, and last night, my daughter was asking about purchasing life insurance, since she has an itty bitty baby. We chatted for a bit, talking of term life and whole life and premiums and such. (BTW, I am not a life insurance salesman, just a dad telling what he know!) Eventually she asked about life insurance for the baby. I informed her rather casually that children’s life insurance is intended to cover burial expenses if the child passed.

A second passed , and she blurted out that she experienced actual pain in her heart when I said that, just to think of her ittly bitty one passing. A mother’s love. It is truly astounding. I have seen my wife break down sobbing over her children, broken hearted over decisions they have made, or that have been made for them.

The love of a mother is a pale reflection of the love of God towards His people. God’s love is a heartbreaking, give anything you can type of love. And yet there are limits that restrict love from being shared, enjoyed and benefitted from. A heart that refuses to receive love, in the end only hates itself.

So Carl what is the lesson from this short post?

Devotion to God

Solomon and Ahab were different, not due to circumstances, but because of who they were devoted to.

True, Solomon was slipping away from the true and living God, but Ahab was as far away as he could get. Their devotion to the living God was exhibited in their reaction to the problem.

Solomon relied on God for his wisdom, having prayed to God in humility for wisdom to lead his people. God provided wisdom, and this story of the child and the sword is one of many stories exhibiting Solomon’s gift from God. Solomon resorted to the love of a mother to solve his problem. Unconventional – yes. Effective – very much so!

Ahab was just a weak little evil king. Led about by an evil woman. No conviction of soul, no humility or willingness to admit to sin, (at least not yet!). No – Ahab was a bad one! And all he did was blame a good one, and ultimatley the Good One!

1 Kings 21:25

There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

What type of person are you?

Do you see the love of God, even just a flicker, in the people around you? Do you look to be a blessing to those around you, and seek God’s wisdom for the benefit of others? Solomon did, and his status grew, and God blessed his life (as much as He could, and for as long as possible).

Or do you blame others for your problems and see others as enemies and impediments to your happiness? Ahab did, and it didn’t end well for him.

Where is your devotion now. It will be evident tomorrow. Something to consider the next time you face a difficult situation. (Hopefully not involving two women and an argument! That is just too much for me!!!!)

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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Bible · Christianity · Devotional

Simple Thoughts – Job 42

Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.

Such is the following passage

Job 42:7-9

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

I suppose I need to give the reader some background to the passage.

Job had spent the last 40 some odd chapters suffering under the hand of God, asking questions of God and receiving, not answers from God, but difficult questions that Job could not answer.

It occurs to me that the questions Job was asking of God were not too hard for Him to answer, but it was not the place for the King to respond to His subject’s demands at this time.

Job 42, opens with Jobs repentance of the bitter heart he had nurtured, and his response of repentance (Job 42:6) brought about a self despising that would not be considered healthy in some parts of the church nowadays. (I’m thinking specifically of the prosperity gospel, and it’s sister, the self esteem movement, but that is for a different blog post!)

So the Lord had dealt with Job, and moved onto Eliphaz and his two buddies. These guys had been “counselling” Job about the nature of God for the better part of the ordeal, and it had ticked the Lord off.

His anger burned against them.

The solution? Offer up a burnt sacrifice of seven bulls and seven rams. But notice that the text says for these counsellors to go to Job and offer up the burnt sacrifices. Did Job represent the Lord in this sacrificial offering? Was Job acting as the one receiving the sacrifice?

Let’s move on – The second part of the solution was that Job would pray for the counsellors.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar had to look Job in the eye and ask for his prayers to the Lord for forgiveness. As many of my readers may know, this is a difficult act to carry out. Pride keeps us from admitting our wrongs to those we inflict. Pride keeps us from restoration of relationship!

But there is one other aspect that occurred to me this morning.

Job suffered under the hand of God, and he had corrected his attitude by way of repentance. But Job had also suffered under the accusations of his counsellors, where they would argue against Job’s position, his faith and his convictions.

And Job had to pray for his counsellors.

He couldn’t hold this over their heads, speak of his superiority, boast that he won the contest, or nurture an arrogance in his heart. His prayers for his counsellors also brought him to a reconciliation with his fellow sinners.

My friends, do you have a Bildad in your life? Do you hang out with a Zophar or an Eliphaz?

I know I have had a few in my life and though they take different positions than I do in my faith, I am thankful for their counsel for a number of reasons.

  • First off, opposing views of God’s nature motivates me to find truth in the Word, to sharpen my convictions, and to determine foundational issues for my faith.
  • Secondly, it broadens my view of the Word, for many times a brother’s thoughts have challenged me in my faith by considering a verse or set of verses that may be understood differently than I did.
  • Thirdly, and quite possibly the more important reason, I am stretched to love a brother who may be of a different opinion, who is passionate about the topic and seeks my best, but in the end, we cannot find similar ground. This happens often, and I believe the Word allows for this to happen, in order to give us the opportunity to love the one who is different.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Love one another.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 23

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

This is the big one. This psalm has been studied, meditated on, inspected, investigated, perused, researched, examined, analyzed, sung, recited, and memorized more than any other psalm I can think of. At least in my lifetime.

But you know, I can’t find any verse of Psalm 23 in the New Testament. It is such a beautiful heartfelt psalm, I can’t think of the Lord and His apostles not dwelling on the intimacy the psalmist was expressing about His Lord.

Yet it isn’t in the New Testament – Amazing.

Nevertheless, although it is so wildly popular in our day and time, it would be good to consider it one more time. Read with me as we consider Psalm 23

Psalm 23:

1 – A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 – He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 – Even 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.
5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I will not spend more than a few moments with you in this blog, and if you see fit to read the psalm one more time instead of my ruminations, I think you may have made the better decision.

Yet the last verse is where I want to settle.

You see, mercy and goodness have followed me all the days of my life. I have a life of unbounded blessings, and it is in spite of me and my pride, my obstinance and my stubborn will.

He has dealt bountifully toward me.

The goodness and mercy that follows me, could be understood as actually pursuing me, chasing me, actively running after me, almost to the point of harassment. The old Hebrew word translated as “follow” can be understood such.

And yet I seek out the bad, the sorry, the sad, and am unthankful, disrespectful and hating. My friends, the grace of God is seeking you and I. He is pursuing us, and we so often flee from the goodness and mercy of God Himself.

Oh for the day when our obstinate nature is released.

Brothers and sisters, be thankful. Turn around and pay attention to the good things that God provides. Do not dwell on the fears, dangers, suspicions, and lies that swirl about our feet. Look up and praise the One who is always seeking our best.

Surely goodness and mercy is chasing us. Let Him catch you!


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 22

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book. A while back, I realized this massively important psalm was coming up for our reading and, as is typical, worried about all the truth that is included in this chapter.

I am a kinda half glass empty type of guy, looking at a blessing and seeing something negative. (So unchristian!)

With this confession, I will simply delve into one portion for the present time.

Psalm 22:7-8

All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Sneering.

To sneer or to show scorn or contempt for the subject. A curled lip, an attitude of judgement. Ridicule and insulting pouring from the people upon the subject. To have derision towards the subject. To consider the subject a joke, a farce and not worthy of any consideration.

Mockery

All the people who see him mock him. The tide had turned and any surface popularity that may have existed has vanished. The people simply view the subject and wag their heads, jeering him as the look on. He had become, in the peoples eyes, a laughing stock, fair game for sarcasm and scoffing.

But let’s consider why all the people were acting thus. Why were the people mocking and sneering the subject? Upon what topic was the subject being mocked, and subjected to scorn?

His trust in the Lord.

David suffered due to his trust in the Lord many times, whether it be when hunted by Saul, or running from his own son, Absalom, as he was about to loose his kingdom. Many times David did not have his best life now, due to his trust in the Lord above, but he hung on to the promises and when sin came into the picture, relied on the character of God, his loving mercy and patient care of the people of God.

But you see, as David wrote this psalm, he may have considered his own shortcomings and failures. He had a heart for God, but in the midst of that heart, a weakness resided, a tendency to want his will instead of the Lord’s.

Not so with the Greater David, the One who was mocked by the very ones who needed His grace and forgiveness. His trust in the Lord survived when the entire populace turned on Him, when the popular culture became opposed to His life.

My friends, as we see our modern culture dropping the façade of righteousness, and we are standing with less popular opinion, standing against a tide of rising opposition, remember Him who trusted in the promises, and the character of the Father in Heaven.

Jesus was mocked and sneered at. He stood strong, when everything around Him was against Him, when everyone around Him was yelling for His death, when politicians crumbled to popular opinion, when all seems lost, hang onto the One who is True, to the One who has provided us all things for life and godliness.

To the One who has went before us and suffered more, much more than we will.

His name is Jesus, and there will be no more mocking and sneering soon enough.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – A Rebuking

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A while back I penned a post on the parable found in Luke 17, regarding the responsibility to forgive a brother when he sins against you. Oh, and one other responsibility, that is to rebuke the brother as required.

That brought to mind my first “rebuking” Not the first delivered to me – No there has been to many to remember. But the first one I provided to a brother.

So much pride and judgement on my part. And such a gentle attitude toward me from the “sinning” brother.

Let set the stage.

My wifey and I had just received our fist child from the Lord and he was well nigh perfect. Sleeping perfectly, eating perfectly, smiling at daddy perfectly. (Come to think of it, each of my chillun were perfect – go figger!)

With me being so young in the faith, and seemingly being so successful at raising my 10 month old son (ahem), I obviously had much to teach others.

Meet Ron – (not his real name don’t ya know). He was an elder in the church, and had three young children, not quite as perfect as mine, but if they stood still, they were somewhat cute. Let’s not get into competition now Carl!

Still, Ron and his wifey had a bit different attitude in raising their children, a bit of a permissive attitude that allowed the children to express themselves freely. Allowed to leave the table during supper, allowed to scream over most anything, allowed to “run a bit ragged” round the house.

Looking back, I may have been sitting on a self erected pedestal when I viewed these little ones.

I remember the day well, when I drove to Ron’s house, after asking if we could meet. He most likely thought I had a personal question of guidance that I wanted to review with him. Little did he know that I was bringing the hammer down, showing him the error of his ways, and allowing him to experience the depth of my wisdom.

Prior to going to the door, I prayed. Of course – I considered myself spiritual.

In talking to him, I felt at a loss to convince him of my argument. He was so gracious to me, and received me in kindness. We chatted and he asked me to stay for a drink, maintaining an attitude of acceptance with me.

Ron is a good man, and for some reason I didn’t see the bigger picture. I guess I only saw what I wanted to see about my own abilities as a parent. Don’t worry – soon enough that pride would come crashing down!

In my rebuking responsibilities, I try to remind myself to be careful to consider my own weakness in the very area I will be addressing in my brothers sin. I need to approach him with a spirit of gentleness, as one beggar going to another beggar.

This rebuking thing is a most delicate thing to balance. I definitely need the wisdom of Jesus. The wisdom and humility of the Lord.

Thanks Ron, for being the believer I needed to see that day!


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Devotional · hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – 21

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 21

1 – To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 – You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 – For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 – He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
5 – His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 – For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 – For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8 – Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 – You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
10 – You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 – Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 – For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13 – Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

The psalm was written by David upon a victory over an enemy. The specific details at this time are unimportant, since the only message I see in the psalm is a description of the true King, and His joy.

Consider vs 3

For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.

Did not the Father crown our Lord Jesus with authority and power (Revelation 14:14)

Or vs 4

He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.

The Lord Jesus “received” life, not only directly from the Father (John 5:26), but also in the ultimate sense of resurrection life, eternal and incorruptible.

Or take a minute to consider vs 6

For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

There is a time when we will experience the great joy of the Father and Son as we are presented blameless before His presence. (Jude 1:24 ) This joy is the great joy Jesus has with the Father continually, being eternally glad before His God.

And lastly Vs 7

For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

When the Master prayed in the garden, His trust in the Lord was evident when He gave of His own will, surrendering to the will of the Father. Suffering, shame, darkness, abandonment and horrors awaited the Son, and He trusted the Father to deliver Him out of the crucible of death. His miracles of raising the dead were astounding, yet His cost in performing the miracles upon another did not compare with the sacrifice of His own suffering, and death.

I am leaving a few verses without comment since I would love to hear from you on how you see the King of Glory reflected in the remaining verses. I am tempted to look at verse 9, but I will recant in order to offer my readers an opportunity to consider it.

It really is a great verse to consider how it relates to the King. But I will stop for now.

Hope to hear from y’all, and thanks for sharing a few minutes with me in my time in the psalms.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – All Things

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Have you ever went through a week where it seems you are right on the cusp of dropping one of the balls you are juggling, right on the edge of loosing some control, walking the precipice of a bad experience, of experiencing a serious fear?

A bit of a long winded question, but I wanted to give you a feel for the week I went through. I will not bore you with the specifics, but looking back, the week was a great week, with none of the perceived and expected failures falling on me.

I am sure I am not alone, and this is a further reminder that I need to press in on the Savior for the calmness He promises in the midst of my day. This is a lesson I am realizing more each day.

But this story has to do with “the hangover” from a week like I described. You see, I had been carrying this nervousness and not dealing with it correctly, until the week was over and then I simply relaxed. But I didn’t deal with the frustration I had inflicted on myself. And because of this frustration, I was ticked Saturday morning!

I mean, my attitude was completely incorrect, unwarranted and super confusing for my favorite wife to understand. She didn’t deserve the friction and when my son came over to chat, he must have walked away thinking that something is wrong with ol’ dad.

Fast forward a couple hours later, when I am over to my son’s new home, painting the inside prior to his family moving in. We were making good progress and the radio was on, with Creedence Clearwater playing in the background. The song “Lookin Out My Back Door” came on, and the phrase “take a rest on the porch” struck me.

This is a song about the imaginations of a young child, watching a carnival come through town.

Immediately, when the porch phrase came on, I realigned my attitude. It was very unexpected, and seemed to be the very trigger that the Lord used in my weakness, frustration and anger. My perspective changed, and I am thankful to the Lord for His kindness

Let me ask you if you have been ministered to by the Lord by words or thoughts not directly from the Scriptures. This may seem like heresy to some, but I am seeing the pervasiveness of the Spirit working through All Things for His intent and goal in our lives

Let me know what you think. Has the Lord spoke to you through secular messages? Has He used a common message and provided you a heavenly meaning, one that aligns with the Word of God and His nature?

I am convinced He is big enough to take All Things, even an old song about a child and a carnival, and use them for His purpose.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Cry Baby

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My wife and I did some baby sitting this Sunday and it reminded us of the many times we just didn’t know what to do with a child.

As a reminder to my reader, my wife and I have raised five kids, and have had our challenges, some of which we may have succeeded at, some we failed at. But with all of the child rearing, we can look back and see the grace of God in giving us many blessings as a family.

But back to the intent of the story.

We had a little baby with us for close to 7 hours, and when the little one is not asleep, she cries. Cries cries cries. Until she is picked up, but then, after a brief respite, she goes back to crying crying crying. Wow. So much crying.

Prior to experiencing the joys and trials of parenting, I had the attitude of “Make the kid obey” for every parent out there.

Parent the child.

Make em obey!

But with a child comes a will, and with that will comes a difference of desire. After the birth of our children, I slowly (too slowly) understood the concepts of training the will of a youngster, of directing the youth to better things. Telling a child to obey does not work (for long). Sure, they may conform, but that is not the goal is it?

This little one we cared for, she just cried cried and cried some more. She wanted something and in my heart of hearts, I wanted to just figger a way to make her stop. The incessant crying only to get what she wants. Terms like spoiled, coddled and pampered raced through my head, but I fought against such judgmental thoughts, since I know my broken nature is the source of that reactionary thought.

Still, is there no way for this little one to just quit crying?

Eventually I became numb to the crying, sat still and let my thoughts wander. (Oh nooooooo….)

How often have I known a young (in the faith) believer that cries incessantly over some issue. One who claims the name of Christ and yet is divisive, full of gossip, a backbiter and continually complaining.

With both scenarios, discipline is required. Of course with the little one, this is kind of a moot point, since she has such little capacity to understand any type of discipline. (BTW, when I mention discipline, please do not default to understanding corporeal punishment.)

With the young believer, strong biblical verses need to be applied, speaking of the danger their behavior is leading them towards. Grace needs to be understood properly, and wisdom is needed when discussing an immature believers actions and attitudes. Growing up necessitates direction and discipline.

With a young child, as the child understands the discipline, it needs to be administered consistently and under the constant attitude of love. Before a child is one year old, the concept of “NO” should be firmly understood by the child.

Remember how I mentioned my mind wanders a few paragraphs back. You have just entered the “Simpson” Zone, where strange and weird thoughts connect with one another to try to communicate a general life truth. A general life truth of relating to others in their situation.

This bit of a story all started with a little one crying crying crying. And my reactionary thoughts. Golly, if I had just a bit more patience, I would have understood that this little one is only 6 months old, and she is cutting her first teeth.

Can you blame her for crying? Not at all. No discipline required, of course (as if it would have been of benefit!!!) Just an adult that needed to understand the facts.

By the way, when you come into contact with a young believer, understand his or her situation prior to throwing those danger verses out there.

Wisdom my friends. It runs on knowledge and understanding.


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Scars

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Chatting with my daughter a few weeks back and she told me of her friend that is a new parent.  The young couple  are dedicated to providing a safe and loving environment for their baby to grow up in.

Maybe too safe? 

You see, my daughter spoke of this little baby having a walking helmet.  Yes, a walking helmet.  Their little one is starting to venture to the vertical method of travelling, but the parents, in all good intentions (I think) are seeking to protect their little one from bumps and scrapes.

Is this wise? Does past experience teach us the wisdom of being overly protective?

When my grandbabies come over, I wrestle with them, throw them over my head, tickle em till they are crying and swing them around to make them fearless, instead of fearful. When they (and I) are dizzy and stumble, even fall down, I distract them from any pain they may experience. (Of course if there is blood squirting, or a bone sticking out, I will call the mama – I’m not that heartless!!!)

If they inadvertently experience a bit of pain, I see it as a necessary experience in life, and that protecting them from all pain is actually detrimental to their successful voyage through life.

It’s funny when I think of my grandbabies, when they come over, that grampa is the neighborhood toy to play with, and they know the treatment they will get, the rough and tumble playtime, the chasing and wrestling, the tossing about, and yet they seek it, look for the “scary”, dangerous(?) and goofy fun

Folks, I am persuaded that scars build character, and that without some scarring in this life, it becomes obvious there is no battle being fought, no cause to seek for, no purpose in the existence granted to us.

This “safety first” consciousness that is so pervasive in our society speaks of a pampered, indulgent society, of comfort and ease at all cost, and the loss of a will to fight for anything.

You might think I am taking a minor item like walking helmets and blowing it up out of all proportion, and you may be right. Each parent has to determine their philosophy of child rearing and mine isn’t perfect, but my adult children are fighters, and they don’t give up after a disappointment. Each of them have had major setbacks in their lives and yet they are fighting to make the best of it, instead of sitting in a pity puddle, crying about how unfair life is.

Scars are evidence of a fight, of a battle fought, of a character being formed, even at very early ages.

As we grow into adults, (and even grampas!), the scarring may take many different forms, but each scar gives evidence of character. Character that is formed from adversity, (not prosperity) from suffering (not comforts) and from struggles (not a life of ease!)

The greatest scarring I can think of are the marks the Lord Jesus carries, even as He is praying for us in our battles. Jesus showed His disciples his hands and side, proving it was He that spoke and not some ephemeral spirit, but a flesh and bone resurrected man.

He fought for us, and for the glory and love of God. His scars give evidence of this.

What scars are you carrying?


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