Monday, May 26, 2008

Thanks for being my Friend

Job 2:11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job 6:14 "To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 22:11 He who loves purity of heart And has grace on his lips, The king will be his friend.

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend, Nor go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Philemon 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,

James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.

James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

I really enjoy doing Word Studies, and with the great resources that are available today from the internet, it is really so easy. This morning, I did a quick word study on the word Friend. I have a good numbers of friends. It wasn't always this way. For a good portion of my live, I've only had a handful of friends. The reason I believe is that I simply wasn't friendly. Like the word says, in order to have friends, one must be friendly. I haven't been, but for the past year, I've been trying real hard. I've had to really break out of my introverted shell and go out of my way to be friendly. It has been hard, but it is getting easier. It is a struggle to go against my natural tendencies of being a quiet person, to being a more outgoing person. I still have a lot of social skills that I must learn and practice.

I have also learned over the past year that having a number of friends has made my Christian walk much easier. Alone, I was well... alone. But when I am with my friends, I have learned to be friendly, and I have learned to open up and share. And, I've discovered that my friends have a lot of the same problems and difficulties and struggles that I do. How neat it is to know that I can use such a great resource as my friends for encouragement. But it's not a one way street. In order to use such a great resource, I also must be made available to my friends, and be willing to help in what ever way they need. Reminds me of the song from tobyMac - I'm For You:

Whatever I gotta be I'll be for you,
Whatever you need from me
To see you through
Everyone of us has stumbled
Everybody's humbled
We hit the ground and our lives crumble
Whatever I gotta be

I'll be for you
I'm for you
Everyone of us will fall
Have our backs against the wall
And everyone shares a need to be loved
You've always been for me
So I will be for you
That's just what it means to love
Whatever I gotta be
I'll be for you
I'm for you

Thanks to all my friends. I appreciate you being there for me. I appreciate your prayers, and please know that I'm praying for you too. And to all the friends I haven't met yet - I apologize for not yet meeting you. I am trying, please be patient with me.
Am I listening to what God is saying in His word?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Many times in deep despair,
I go to God in fervant prayer.

Lord, I ask why it's been so hard?
I've been trying you, Son. Trying you hard.

Lord, I ask did I pass the test?
You've done well, but not your best.

Lord, I ask what You'd have me do.
Study to show thyself approved.

Lord, I ask please help keep me safe.
You must obey Me and increase your Faith.

Lord, I said, it's so hard to cope.
You will survive if you also have Hope.

Lord, I thank You for blessings from above.
Show me you're glad by showing others Love.

Lord, I thank you for your most righteous Son.
He's your Saviour, your brother; yes He is the One.

Lord, I thank you for your Mercy and Grace.
Just keep running son, finish the race.

Lord, I thank you for your holy Kingdom.
You will be rewarded in the end, when He comes.

Lord, I thank you for blessing us with your own Word.
You must share it with others, with all of the world.

Lord, please bless me and watch me each day.
I have, and nothing will harm you come what may.

Lord, please forgive me when I fail thee each day.
Always get back up Son, and follow the way.

Lord, I pray for my friends who have also been down.
Your prayers have been heard, but I'll not answer now.

Lord, bless me tonight as I lay down my head.
Remember there are others who do not have a bed.

Lord, in the morning please wake me again.
If I do, then arise, give thanks and begin.

It's through Your Son's name that I ask all these things.
He's your Lord, your Saviour, He's King of All Kings.


Monday, May 19, 2008

A Pearl of Great Price

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Matthew 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things?
They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

I can remember a long time ago - when I was still young and immature, I loved playing video games. Actually, I'm still immature and still love playing video games. :) However, I specifically remember playing games only to get 'stuck' on a very hard part that I simply couldn't get past, and so for a long time, the game was useless to me. I was consumed with thinking about the game, and how to get past the difficult part. I would fall asleep each night thinking about the game, spend my time in class thinking about the game, sit in church thinking about the game..... well, you get the picture. I was consumed with the game. It wasn't until I discovered that I could go to the mall and visit the local electronics software game shop and buy (you guessed it) a hint book. My troubles were solved. I plopped fifteen bucks down for the answers to my problem. I could not wait to get home from the mall and fire up the computer and spend the next several hours easily going through the rest of the game. I had the answers to all the games puzzles, and this was real game play.

My point? Consuming addiction has and can get the best of me at times. But what I'm thinking about is this: How can I get totally consumed with all the right things? How and where can I find something so wonderful that I lay awake at night thinking about it? Where can I get that special something that occupies my mind, and that will not allow anything else to creep in and distract me? What is it that should consume me most of all, that I'm willing to work for, to save up for, and to sacrifice for - so that I can have it? Not only that, but what do I do with it once I have it? (that's a whole 'nother subject that I can talk about some other time) :)

Jesus told His disciples what it was that should be very important to us - the kingdom of heaven. At that time, during Jesus' earthly ministry, Jesus preached that "the kingdom of heaven was at hand". ( Matthew 10:7 ) People were expecting something, they were 'hungy' for change, the time was right for Jesus to come and preach His kingdom message to the masses. And, once people heard Jesus' words about it, some left all to obtain it. Some left their families, their jobs, their location to follow Jesus. Some saw Jesus for who He really was, and praised God that they were there - at just the right time to be witness of our Emmanuel. Think about what all people gave up. Look what the apostle Paul says that he at one time had, but gave it all up:

Philippians 3:4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

What a great example of a 'Christian' to leave everything, and live the rest of His life for Christ. Whatever situation I am in, I need to remember and think about my daily sacrifice and if it measures up to the examples found in His word. Is His kingdom so important to me that I'm willing to sacrifice my time? Whatever God has blessed me with; my family, my job, the money he blesses me with through my job, and most importantly my time, I need to be willing to give Him the glory for His blessings, and I need to look at it as His, and not mine. And I need to learn how he wants me to use His 'stuff'. More than that, I simply need to be willing to place more importance on his Kingdom, than I do on my video games. I'm ashamed to say that I spent about six hours the other day on a silly game - wasting my time when I could'a been doing something for His kingdom. There's probably an inumerable list of things I could have been doing but instead it was all about me, myself, and I.
Am I listening to what God is saying in His Word?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jesus - the Word of God

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

I started trying to do a word study on the names of Jesus - as found in the bible, and quickly realized that it could take a really long time. Some scholars have claimed to have found over 700 unique references to Jesus, although I'll have to take their word for it. In just a very brief time, I have come across a whole lot. From time to time, I may try to tackle a few here and there. One of my favorite passages popped into view and so I wanted to read and study this for a while. I've heard it said before that if you substitute the word JESUS for THE WORD, then it can also be understood in a whole new way. Try it:

John 1:1 In the beginning was (JESUS), and (JESUS) was with God, and (JESUS) was God. 2 (JESUS) was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through (JESUS), and without (JESUS) nothing was made that was made. 4 In (JESUS) was life, and (JESUS) was the light of men. 5 And (JESUS) shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of (JESUS), that all through him might believe. 8 He was not (JESUS), but was sent to bear witness of (JESUS). 9 (JESUS) was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 (JESUS) was in the world, and the world was made through (JESUS), and the world did not know (JESUS). 11 (JESUS) came to His own, and His own did not receive (JESUS). 12 But as many as received (JESUS), to them (JESUS) gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in (JESUS) name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And (JESUS) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld (JESUS) glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Woah! That's pretty cool. It really helps me to understand this passage easier. Imagine, Jesus was there - with God during the creation! Notice again, back in verses 1 and also in 14 that Jesus was the word of God - and that he lived among us. The word of God lived among us. The Word was God, and lived among us - Matt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Think about it further and deeper. The Word of God came to live with us. Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. And then also Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. So then, in Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Sum it up - Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus came to the world and we should receive him, and we should believe Him, and we should have faith in Him. Our faith comes from hearing His words, and His words are found no where else but the Bible.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Remember Jericho

Joshua 6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in."
Joshua 6:17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury."
Here's another wonderful Bible study taken from the Old Testament. More than anything, - or - a large part of this story speaks to me of the character of God, and how His people responded. Here we can read how God told His servant Joshua what to do, and then we can see how he followed. Such a great example is Joshua. It is also a reminder to me that God's ways are not our ways. Things of God sometimes don't make sense to me - and sometimes they are simply not meant to make sense to me. Sometimes, I'm simply to have faith in Him and obey rather than to question Him on everything. That is hard to do because I am human and He is God. But, when we can give up ourselves to follow God, He is faithful and will bless us. This I must put much greater effort in than spending time trying to figure out the "why". Why, why, why? I dunno - I gotta stop asking myself why, and just do, do, do.
What I've been struggling with, and so this story is constantly before me, is pretty clear. The question I want myself to consider is this: Does God bless faithful obedience? Does God punish faithless disobedience? Let's read this story found in the next chapter:
Joshua 7:1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel. (But Joshua did not know this and sent men to the city of Ai to capture the city - but God was not with those men and they were chased back to camp and could not take the city)

Joshua 7:11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!'"

Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me." 20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.
If you'd like further reading on God's dealing with His creation in disobedience, then read this story: Numbers 16 which I talked about earlier in a blog posting: What motivates You?
There's no doubt in my mind that in the Old Testament, He did in fact bless faithfulness and punish disobedience. Does God still do that today? Your thoughts are welcomed. Let's study this together if you like. My mind is not made up but I am humbly seeking His will and I believe it is revealed to us in His holy scriptures. In my humble, human opinion I start asking these questions:
  • If I am faithful to Him, am I blessed in this life or the life to come?
  • If I am disobedient, am I punished in this life or the life to come?
  • If I sin, and continue in sin, and do not repent, does God try to "wake me up"?
  • If so, how does He do it?
I attribute my "bad luck" with God's way of getting me to repent and seek Him and rely on Him.