Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Master’s Unusual Methods: His Silence.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:23-24 )

We see from the text, Jesus seems to ignore the poor woman and when she keeps crying out to him he finally responds yet seemingly coldly

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

Yet we see the woman does not lose heart even though Jesus appears unconcerned and uninterested.

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. (Matthew 15:25)

Then we see Jesus seem to respond coldly a second time, “He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26)

Now at this point many would have given up or walked away offended and feel insulted. After all it appeared on the surface level Jesus did not care, but then to add on his responses seemed very insulting.

Yet the woman replies wisely and shows such great faith:

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:27)

When Jesus heard her response he was pleased, and “Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:28)

Was this woman’s faith itself the only thing we can see shining out? Was not her humble heart also revealed? She was neither put off or slighted by Jesus’s replies at first but she accepts her unworthiness to demand anything from Jesus. She knows that He does not owe her a thing and He has the right to say no or answer however He decides. She shows she revered Him – yet her faith compelled her to not let Him go until He granted her petition,

As Jacob did in Genesis, he wrestled with the angel of the Lord and said

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:26-28)

We are often put off by God’s silence and forget how God often tests us with His silence. We see in the chapter before Jesus encounters this woman of faith- Jesus sends the disciples ahead of Him in the boat

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. (Matthew 14:22-24)

We see these men in the story out there nearly all of the night panicked until at last

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27)

“Shortly before dawn” and it does not say “When the storm first hit” nor “In the middle of the night” but rather the text shows Jesus came right before “Dawn”

They also could not fully recognize him at first sight and mistook him for a ghost. They were afraid of His approaching and thought they were in danger. Yet they were more close to deliverance then when the storm first began and feared the very Jesus who was then at last coming to them.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)

Here Jesus chides Peter for his foolish doubting. Yet a chapter later he says to the Canaanite woman she had great faith.
Though she was a foreigner and not an Israelite, she had more faith then the men Jesus was training to carry on His gospel after he ascended to be with the Father.

We can learn much from these Scriptures. We see Jesus was faithful to the disciples in the boat though they were faithless in that moment. 

if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

We also see that a poor foreign woman had great faith and persistently laid hold of Jesus

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.(Hebrews 11:6)

The Lord rewards bold persistent faith coming from a humble heart. If we come to God in prayer we must humble ourselves and keep persisting in prayer- unless of course it is totally out of the will of God to grant some request, then no amount of persistence can overcome his resolute “no.” As we see Moses prayed to the Lord when God forbid him enter the promised land. Moses asked him to reconsider and God said “No” and “Do not speak to me on this matter anymore.”

Yet obviously the persistence of the woman was not trying to lay hold of what God was reluctant to do- Jesus healed her daughter who was terribly oppressed by the demon.

We should also persist in praying for things we know would honor God and are not outside of His will. If it is not out of his will then often we must persist in prayer till God brings it to pass or he redirects us in our prayer. 

For example: Praying for an open door –pray until God either reveals it is not a door to be opened and is not His will

If that does not happen, we ought to continue to pray till He either opens it pr shows us an alternative door or route we must take.

Patience often is very necessary to receive most things from the Lord. We may need to wait patiently until He breaks a long and dreadful silence and finally speaks.

We need patience in order to wait for further instructions so often. 

We may feel tired and weak and have prayed for “Strength” yet Isaiah 40:30-31 says: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)

We may wait for some solution to a problem and seek the way out, yet God will grant new strength to endure and may cause us to have to wait in patience and obedience for a time.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4 – 

Yet how foolish we are when we try to dictate how God should act and when he should act!

When God Seems To Be Hiding

Hide And Seek

In Luke 2:48-52, Jesus vanished out of sight of Mary and Joseph and they got anxious and worked up over it. When they finally retraced their steps, they located him and he said “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Yet Mary and Joseph did not really understand. 

Often with us to as believers, we may feel we have lost Jesus, or as the Psalmist says “Why, Lord, do not reject me and hid your face from me?”

Like Mary and Joseph, David asks “why?”

David also says: “Do not hide your face from your servant: Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.”

See how the disciples in the boat frantically woke Jesus saying “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Jesus wakes up and stills the storm and chides them on their lack of faith.

Often our Lord would test our faith, our Teacher will go silent and make us take his test to test our faith and trust

As it says in the the book of 2 Chronicles 32:31 of king Hezekiah “God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”

But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:31)

Why would God test? For his learning? God already knew all about Hezekiah before he gives him the pop quiz but when God withdraws His experiential presence, we often reveal things about ourself, our faith and loyalty to God, and we show what it is truly made of.

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.[Isaiah 57:11-12 ]

Even the best and most upright of believers apart from Jesus Christ is filthy and wretched. We are truly dependent on Jesus Christ alone for our forgiveness and power to live right before God!

None of us can be saved from our sins by our good works or deeds. Our best cannot compare or measure up. This is why our salvation is a gift by faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Yet God will often “test” us to and let us see what is “in our hearts” and see how our faith holds up when he has seemed to withdraw and “hide”

Our faith as true believers should as 2 Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith not by sight”

So when emotions scream [In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” however David concludes by saying “Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” [Psalm 31:22 ]

There are many times our circumstances tell us “You are doomed, God won’t come through, if he loved you why has he allowed this” Like Senacherib who said to Hezekiah while laying siege to Jerusalem

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: “‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? [Isaiah 36:4]

Hezekiah was trusting the Lord His God!

Yet Sennacherib boasts: “But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine? ” [Isaiah 36:12 ]

We may be faced with circumstances that say “You are doomed” yet, we must rely on our God who has given us so many wonderful promises in His Word so we can have hope!

Emotions can lie too. So we must always let God’s Word instruct and anchor us, not how things look or how we feel.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. [2 Corinthians 4:16-18]

Additional passages: [Psalm 105:3, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Hebrews 11:6, 2 Chronicles 15:2-7, Proverbs 3:5-6, Deuteronomy 4:25-31, John 6:37]

Evily Ordained

Jeroboam, king of Israel made war with Abijah king of Judah. Jeroboam not long before got rid of all godly influence in his kingdom and the true priests of the Lord defected to Judah.

Jeroboam had ended up instituting his own priests of his choosing, [See 1 Kings 12:31-33] and he also rejected the true priests of God [See 2 Chronicles 11:13-15]

Later Jeroboam was about to attack the kingdom of Judah. It was possible Jeroboam wanted to conquer king Abijah and take the kingdom of Judah too. Yet he was warned,

“And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the Lord, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. But didn’t you drive out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods. “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. (2 Chronicles 13:8-10)

Jeroboam is also told he has rejected the Lord’s priest driving them out of the land of Israel. Jeroboam rejected first of all the Lord and then the Lord’s designated Levitical priests!

But didn’t you drive out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods. “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:9-11)

Jeroboam made two gold calves that led the people he ruled over to sin and turn away from the Lord.  

Obviously Jeroboam would give any person an “ordination” at the price of young bull and seven rams.

“Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.”

Not only was his way of ordaining priests that of receiving something in exchange, but these new priests he ordained were ordained to serve idols.

Let’s understand also in our times too anyone can push themselves forward and claim to be a preacher or teacher of the Word of God. Anyone almost can become ordained and call themselves a minister. Yet let us learn this timeless truth, to be a true Christian minister must be a calling and done according to the solid sound instruction of the Holy Scripture.

There are many churches out there today. Not all are under godly leadership. Not everyone who stands on a stage or preaches from a pulpit is ordained by God. Not everyone who has a slip of paper or a fancy ordination title serves God’s call.

After all, too many churches compromise the Word of God in the name of a large audience. Too many churches exist where a minister, preacher or Bible teacher won’t condemn sinful behavior as sin but selectively choose what they want to teach is sin.

There are preachers, teachers and church leaders who may condemn certain sin yet show partiality and omit what God’s Word says about other very clear Biblical matters of sin are. 

There are also preachers and teachers who do not preach a accurate Gospel either. We can never omit the full message, that Jesus Christ came to die on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the grave, so we could die to sin and live for Him.

To preach a salvation message that leaves out repenting of sin is a partial Gospel. Truly it is by God’s grace we are saved and through faith in Christ Jesus we are forgiven, not by our own effort or merit, yet true faith requires us to turn from living in sin to do as Jesus says: “Come follow me!”

Many in our day do not want a Gospel that requires much of them. Many want a gospel that says “Just believe and then live however you see best”

The true Gospel is Jesus Christ died for sins out of His great love, no we ought to respond to such love and forgiveness by yielding our lives to follow Him and His ways.

When The Lord Makes Your Dinner

We all were kids once. We all can maybe remember saying “Mom, what’s for dinner?” And there were times as a kid my mom made food I wanted, other times not so. 

I can remember dreading the word, “peas” or “green beans.” In my kid mind it felt like a dreadful sentence of punishment to have to eat those bitter veggies.

Yet one time, I tried to not eat them, and mom and dad said, “Well, if you do not eat them tonight, you will eat them for breakfast instead of the cereal you like.”

 I do remember one time having to do that. Vegetables are necessary and good for health, but as a child I did not like them.

So too, often, God sets a plate before us that is good. Good for us, yet we may look at some of these things he allows to come into our lives as bitter, distasteful, unpleasant.

God’s Word is compares to “Bread” and “Man does not live by bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)

There will be times where we may not like what God has to say. It may not be the easiest to swallow. Also he may allow certain things to come onto the plate of life that we highly feel are not to our benefit. However, God, like a wise mother who knows more then that child does, said to Ezekiel:

“And whether they listen or fail to listen —for they are a rebellious people —they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Ezekiel 2:5-8 – 

We may not understand or like it, yet we shall not be disappointed at the conclusion if we let God have His way and shape out lives for His glory and our greatest good.

Overwhelming Emotions of David

David felt in this moment doomed and forgotten by God. David seems to believe God is angry with him, “Why, Lord do you reject me and hide your face?”  

I do not think the Lord was truly hiding from David, and I certainly do not think God rejected him at all, after all, throughout Scripture the Lord speaks highly of David. 

Yet David says “I have borne your terrors and I am in despair,” and “Your wrath has swept over; your terrors have destroyed me.”

In moments like these we may feel like David, but God had not destroyed him or abandoned him.

At the end of David’s life before he appointed Solomon, his son, as next king, David affirms God has brought him through all the storms he has faced!

The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.” (1 Kings 1:29-30)

God never abandoned David, there were times in David’s life where God disciplined David for sin (2 Samuel 12 and 2 Samuel 24:11-14) Yet God never forsook David or abandoned his love for him.

What can we learn? Our emotions are not the best way to gauge how God sees us. Our circumstances can lie as well, we are often tempted to think “When all is going well, God must be pleased and blessing me, and when things are going bad, God is punishing me!” 

Yet this is not Biblical. It can be true that God can send troubles into our life to get a person’s attention or bring them to their knees in repentance. Yet hardships come on even God’s faithful followers and Jesus warns we will face troubles in this life (See John 16:33) also see (Psalm 34:19)

The thing we can experience in times of trouble or grief or sorrow or trouble is peace. Peace is the inner calmness and soothing power of God to hold our hearts together and protect us from panic or despair.

God want’s us to have the peace of Christ guard our hearts! (See Colossians 3:15 and Philippians 4:6-9)

Yet in order to truly experience this we must turn from our sin and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We cannot know peace till we know the Prince of Peace. 

Also, if we are saved even and we are living in willful disobedience and do not repent and confess our sin, we cannot truly have peace either

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. (Job 22:21-27)

We must deal with our sin or any area of life we are not submitting to Christ’s Lordship. Then when we do, we can find peace and restored joy.

Anytime we as Christians even do not fully submit all areas of life to Him, we deprive ourselves of the wonderful experience of close intimacy with God. Jesus died on the cross to provide new life of joy and peace, and we sell ourselves short by not fully obeying Him in certain points of our Christian walk. 

We will lose out on so many of the great benefits that our salvation brings and we are really cheating ourselves, as well as Jesus who paid it all so we could have closeness with the Lord.

The Lord wants close relationship and we miss out on so much if we do not fully taste the wonderful friendship he made possible!

Saul, A Self Centered First King In Israel.

Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food. (1 Samuel 14:24)

King Saul was engaged in a bitter war with the Philistines and in this occasion he makes an oath that keeps his men from eating till as he put it “I have avenged myself on my enemies!” 

Yet Saul who had been going down a moral spiral of disobedience to the Lord eventually starts to make his kingly reign merely about himself.

God, many years earlier consents to giving them a king, though it was not his ideal design, but as we see, sometimes God consents to people’s demands and let’s them suffer the consequences thereof.

When Saul first becomes king:

Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. (1 Samuel 12:1-2)

Samuel warns them that if they and their king become unfaithful to God, they both will perish together, them and their king. 

Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.” Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel. The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.” “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” (1 Samuel 12:17-25)

Eventually king Saul dies in a battle with the Philistines and David becomes king shortly later. 

Yet lets examine the life of king Saul and see how his words reflect his heart, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” 

Here we have him cause his own men problems with his oath as well as show he no longer is fighting these Philistines with the Lord’s glory in mind, but his own self centered desires. 

He says “Before I have avenged myself” then adds, “On my enemies!”

Yet these people were not merely Saul’s enemies, they were the Lord’s enemies, and the Lord had been using Saul to avenge Himself against His and Israel’s enemies!

First the kings duty should have been to the glory and purpose of God, and secondly to the good of the Lord’s people. Yet pride had gotten in Saul’s way. Sin had taken him down a trail of self centeredness and arrogance.

Let us also never forget, when it comes to our duty as Christians as individuals, or spiritual leaders. We should never make it about ourselves. Rather, as it says,

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

We are then told, what we do and say should reflect not merely our own desires but seek the good of others also

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Now, thoughtful application,- next time I make a decision, ask:

“Is this choice or what I’m about to say going to glorify God?

Then ask, “Is this choice, course of action or what I am about to say going to be of benefit to others?”

Reverse this and ask, “Do I just want to do or say this because I want to?

“Is this action or what I say only going to make me happy and benefit just me?”

God’s wisdom and how He calls us to live is summed up in this

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18)