WE ARE GOD’S PRESENCE IN THE WORLD

A word that has especially fascinated me of late is the Hebrew word ‘shkinah’ which means ‘God’s manifest glorious presence’. To be in the presence of God should be our intent 24/7 so it is good we look at shkinah and how it can be ours.

For starters we read in Matthew 18:20 that “wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in His name there I (God) am also”. If God’s word is spoken in prayer or otherwise between yourself and one other God is in your midst. Likewise in a congregational gathering of believers He is there (Psalm 82:1).

I am an admirer of a man (Tommy Tenney) I once heard speak who called himself a ‘God chaser’. I also seek God in every moment and place. Perhaps that is why clouds and fire fascinate me. This was where the Israelite’s found God in their exodus out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21). Perhaps today our fascination with campfires, fireplaces and weather can somewhat be attributed to our longing for God. In a sense those times are like a meal where we take in the glory of God nourishing us spiritually as food does us physically. This as well as we can know God’s presence through light and the sound of waters (Ezekiel 43:2).

Truth be told God is all around us and even within us. As Genesis 1:26 shares we are each created in God’s image and unless we reject or starve that nature, He will always be ever present. In fact it is His presence within that insulates me from any attack against my Christian faith (1 Peter 4:14-16). It is as Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that as God’s Temple we are no longer our own. Indeed WE ARE GOD’S PRESENCE IN THE WORLD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Power and purpose come with God’s presence.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 6:19 “God’s presence within us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek your presence 24/7.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:’

  1. What natural elements are you fascinated by and why?
  2. How do we find God in light and the sound of water?
  3. Explain Christ as the divine presence of God in our world?
  4. Where and when do you feel God’s presence?

MEANING IN LIFE

One of the most difficult things to understand is suicide or the taking of one’s own life. Scripture speaks openly about it giving examples from the largest mass suicide occurring at Matzada in 70 A.D. when Roman occupation destroyed The Temple to satan tempting Christ in Luke 4:9.

The season where suicide is most prolific is one of Christianities most sacred which we celebrate as Christmas. It is when those away from their families or who have no family grow most despondent. The problem being here as in all suicidal cases that focus is often time placed on shallow meaningless symbols and on self rather than on Christ. To reduce suicidal thoughts we need to turn from self to God and the many meaningful things He has placed in our lives.

What brings on suicide is hopelessness as in the case of Matzada and Samson (Judges 16:29-30), sin as in the example of Zimri (1 Kings 16:18-19) and disappointment (2 Samuel 17:23). The common theme in each of these is the absence of God and turning matters over to satan.

If suicide is to be overcome, it has to be by a society and individuals who acknowledge the words of 1 Corinthians 6:19. Here we are told that God intends our bodies to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. As this verse tells us “we are not our own”. Satan and self have no authority over our emotion. Our Lord and Savior are in control and we truly have found the MEANING IN  LIFE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Suicide is satan’s effort to substitute his self for our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Sacredness of the body prohibits suicide”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord overwhelm me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How can we help people out of a despondent nature?
  2. What makes people despondent often leading to suicide?
  3. Why are we putting satan and self where our Savior belongs?
  4. Is there redemption in the case of suicide?

TRUST IN GOD!

There seems to be a great deal of confusion on the topic of science and its relationship to Christian faith. For me science is a current description of how God is currently running the universe. Nothing more and nothing less.

Where science gets into trouble is in the realm of metaphysics. Where the desire is to get in contact with the beyond but do not want Jesus to be part of the equation. Scientific inquiry is okay but what is left out and key in all inquiry is that which is critical to Christians. Trust in our Triune God and living a holy life.

There is that in life from which we can get exact knowledge. For example the genetic transference of disease and other traits. Matters of the soul do not fall under this scientific inquiry as it is a creation of God. It is why scientists and abortionists as a specific example feel emotionally and spiritually empty. They deal with theories and limited realities.

Ultimate meaning does not come through wisdom as the Greeks believed and still hold influence through Gnosticism. Ultimate meaning comes from knowing that science manifests God’s existence (Psalm 19:1-6) and is used in this life to illustrate heaven’s glory (Revelations 21:9-23). Science serves a purpose but only when we add to it TRUST IN GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Science satisfies only  when understood through Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 19:1 “nature manifests God’s existence”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I trust in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the purpose of science?
  2. Why is understanding body and soul key to life?
  3. What is metaphysics?
  4. Why does science often leave one emotionally and spiritually empty?

THE PROPER ATTITUDE TOWARD ONESELF

It is important for mankind to have a right understanding of self and to have a proper attitude toward self. For that to happen we need first to understand how special each of us are when we grow according to God’s plan. He has a plan for each of us even before we are conceived not unlike someone designing a blueprint before putting up a building. Every element of our personal construction is being overseen by God from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13-16). Indeed we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).

With time just as buildings need oversight so do we in terms of our relationship to our Creator. God desires that from our earliest moments we be in union with Him. That requires that we die to sin and no longer live in it (Romans 6:2).

The problem is that God gave us free will and many if they have sorrow for their sin are insincere and after forgiveness continue sinning. God’s plan is that we put on the “new man (and woman)” or new self.

For some time many if not most in our world have had a problem of self pre-occupation. Someone once wrote a book titled: Looking out for #1 and it compounded the problem of mankind’s focus on self rather than God. The result when we abandon God and get caught up in our own sinful life is we are less successful on many fronts. Simon Peter learned this lesson when leaving Christ to go fishing and came back with nothing (John 21:3).

There are those who have left our Lord and Savior and seem successful yet in reality they are not for they will be and are caught up in their own sins. For we who call ourself Christian remember the importance of having THE PROPER ATTITUDE TOWARD ONESELF.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Proper self image is seeing oneself as subject to our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Psalm 139:13-16 “self plan of God for each of us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always be subject to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you view yourself?
  2. What do you believe is God’s blueprint for your life?
  3. Have you died to all your sins?
  4. How has mankind shown its focus on self?

 

TODAY IS THE DAY TO REPENT!

The most important experience you can have in this life is repentance. Repentance means to”turn from sin (and) turn to God”. This act requiring God’s grace (Acts 11:18) is two fold as has been stated. You cannot just turn from sin thereby becoming a good person which many people believe is enough.You must also turn to God. That requires we change from self-seeking ambitious people following numerous types of ‘isms’ to someone who seeks God found through Christ alone (John 14:6).

Today our news is distracting and disturbing on so many levels. The reason being that it allows people to get caught up in the blame game where we see the sins of others rather than looking within our own hearts. Unless we change ourselves and the world one heart at a time nothing will ever be different no matter how many laws you might pass. For example repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand. If you have truly repented there is no room for anger, hate or even blame.

That being said, it is unfortunate but there are some that will never repent. Saying no to God to often God will one day harden and seal their heart as He did the pharaoh’s in Exodus 14:4. It is for that reason we must continue to denounce sin (which is to truly love the sinner) so that they might one day open their eyes to their wrongdoing.

We must hold before all who sin that unless we repent God will give us over to physical sin (Romans 1:24), emotional sin (Romans 1:26) and ultimately mental sin (Romans 1:28). TODAY IS THE DAY TO REPENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A world can change one heart at a time.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Exodus 14:4 “a hardened heart if repentance is ignored”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I repent of all my sins and turn to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What ism’s do people get caught up in (ex. humanism)?
  2. Why is it important to understand repentance is a 2-fold act?
  3. Why do people in desiring to solve problems not look first at healing the heart?
  4. How should people with a hardened heart be dealt with?

CHILDBIRTH

I begin today’s thoughts with a disclaimer. As a man speaking about childbirth it seems somehow out of place yet the Scripture has much to say on the subject which I now share with you.

Motherhood is certainly in harmony with God’s plan. Trusting and loving God and living a Holy life Scripture tells us will remove some of the pain (1 Timothy 2:15) that came with Genesis 3:16 and original sin. For many these verses are difficult to accept or understand as we want to be in charge rather than live under God’s authority. Yet when we accept the truth of Scripture we see the beauty of childbirth which is symbolic of the restoration of life. Symbolic of our return to the Garden of Eden. Symbolic of Christ’s and our own resurrection some day. Childbirth truly is the best symbol of the new birth we experience as Christians.

Most all understand the fear, pain and hazards that can accompany childbirth but remaining focused on the joy afterwords get us through. Two thoughts go along with this. The first is a traditional Jewish view that as God added pain to childbirth in Genesis 3:16 so also the cries of pain at child birth will reach the Lord Who will open the womb. I do not know how many mothers who at that exact moment of delivery consider it a love gift from God but that is exactly what that newborn is.

A second thought is how mankind in its ignorance chooses to interfere with childbirth (God’s promise). We have not only abused this promise with acts of abortion but also by means of surrogacy, test tubes and more. Galatians 4:22-23  shares the story of Abraham who had one child come by promise and one by other means. Not placing trust in the miracle working power of God has resulted in many of the difficulties we are facing today.

The Jewish Talmud writes that God gave His Son Jesus Christ 3 keys that He alone could open the doors to. They were rain, resurrection of the dead and childbirth. Mankind today seems obsessed with controlling in some fashion each of these though that will never happen to the extent they believe they can. Today we give thanks to our Lord and Savior for His part in CHILDBIRTH.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Childbirth in the name of Christ has eternal consequences.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Galatians 4:22-23 “Abraham’s poor decision”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the gift of childbirth.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Options to consider when unable or choosing not to have children of one’s own?
  2. Explain all the symbolism in childbirth?
  3. In what ways is abortion the antithesis of childbirth?
  4. How has Abraham’s decisions impacted today’s world?

 

PRODUCTIVE UNTIL THE LAST BREATH!

The one thing I can’t imagine being is totally useless or of little worth. In order to not become so requires that I be productive. In that regard, Psalm 92:14 is especially spiritually uplifting as David shares how even people of old age shall bear fruit and be fresh and flourishing. Coming upon my 7th decade of life, in some ways that seems more difficult while in other ways each new moment is richer than the last.

The key to productiveness is found in the words of Christ recorded in Matthew 13:23. It comes in hearing our Lord’s Words and understanding them. Understanding that comes only through the Holy Spirit within us. The two go together like Oreos and milk.

When this happens we will truly understand and know what it means to receive the Grace of God in truth and we will walk a walk that pleases our Lord doing good works and increasing in the Knowledge of God (Colossians 1:6,10).

It is at this point our lives will abide in Christ and we will be one with Him (John 15:2-8). There is no description that can explain the euphoria we will experience at that time. A euphoria that will be and is 24/7 every day of the year. A euphoria that will allow us to be PRODUCTIVE UNTIL THE LAST BREATH.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Fruit bearing leads to a fulfilling life feasting on every moment with our Heavenly Father.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR THE DAY: Psalm 92:14 “with age comes productivity”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always bear fruit for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Of what value are you to the Lord?
  2. What can you do to make yourself of greater value to our Lord?
  3. In what ways are people of value as they grow into their later years?
  4. Is your relationship with the Lord one of euphoria?

RESPECT FOR THE UNBORN

It will be no surprise for any who have followed my devotional thoughts how strong I feel about the rights of the unborn child. This irregardless of how many weeks from conception it is. My reasoning comes not from those who oppose or support abortion irregardless of the terminology they use. My reasoning comes from God’s Word and His Word alone.

From the time of Moses the unborn child has been legally protected (Exodus 21:22-23) and yet somehow in today’s world many have convinced themselves and our highest courts that the unborn developing child is simply a mass of cells to be dealt with as mankind desires and not as God desires.

I believe the unborn child has a nature given it by God conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) yet saved by grace. Equally if not more importantly is that from the very moment of conception the unborn child was formed by God (Psalm 139:13-16). It should be as we say at weddings in that what God has joined together no man (or woman) should separate.

In fact the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1) tells us God already has a plan for each of us while yet unborn. Each and every one of us are special and have a purpose if only we would listen to God’s voice. I believe our calling if we hear God’s voice is like Jeremiah expressed in Jeremiah 1:5. Each of us, as was the life of Christ, are here to share the message of God’s Kingdom. In fact we know that from John the Baptist whose life was spent preparing for Christ’s coming. That preparation began in his mother Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41). It is time we put aside our self interests and begin to have RESPECT FOR THE UNBORN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: All unborn fetuses are children fashioned by God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Psalm 139:13-16 “from conception God formed us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord open the eyes of the world to the value of life given by You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What has led so many to the point of believing life is so disposable?
  2. How did courts evolve into supporting abortion?
  3. Why do people choose words like ‘choice’ rather than calling ending the life of the unborn an ‘abortion’?
  4. What are your personal feelings?

RELATED BLOG: A God given right

WHAT TO DO WITH ‘OLD’ PEOPLE!

As society becomes increasingly a throw away society in so many ways it is natural that it would eventually come to human lives. From the unborn to the elderly ‘choice’ is now the word of the day. Not God’s choice who created us but our choice on whether an unborn child should live or die or even an elderly person as assisted suicide (fancifully called euthanasia) gains acceptance.

God’s Word treated life considerably different. The elderly contributed a great deal. King Rehoboam after seeking consul from the elderly foolishly rejected it (1 Kings 12) and paid a price. Job 12:12 tells us correctly “wisdom is with aged men (and women) and with length of days understanding”.

The story of Anna recorded in Luke 2:36-38 tells of the spiritual service elderly can give. With time and retirement elderly can provide the back bone of any faith related needs whether it be intercessory prayer or any number of Christian activities. People of old age can still be fruitful (Psalm 92:14). In fact in many ways they can provide leadership serving as examples in their bold declaration of the words of Joshua 24:15: “But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.

So the question remains ‘what to do with the elderly’? First, like Abishag in 1 Kings 1:15, we must minister to their needs and that does not mean providing them with the means for an untimely death. Senior living centers, families and home care providers when set up properly can certainly do this. The care should always be provided in a respectful manner. No less so than God would do as we are told in Isaiah 46:4 with the words: “even to (your) gray hairs I (God) will carry you”.

The Bible is clear. The elderly often referred to as ‘silver or gray’ haired are to be honored (Leviticus 19:32 and Proverbs 16:31). That is the answer to WHAT TO DO  WITH ‘OLD’ PEOPLE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Elderly are not an encumbrance but rather a source of spiritual enlightenment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Job 12:12 “understanding comes with age”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may we always honor our elderly.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How has society become a throw away society especially in areas of faith, family, friends, finances, etc.?
  2. In what ways are we as a nation committing the same crimes we fought against in World War 2?
  3. What type of spiritual service can elderly provide?
  4. What can we do for the elderly that honors them especially those living lonely lives?

RELATED BLOGS: What comes with age? and Blessings of being old.

 

DEPRESSION!

It seems to me there is much around us that can bring on a depression of spirit. We start off the day with depressing news casts and often don’t go to sleep without watching the news. Somehow that doesn’t seem like the answer for what ails us to overcome this ‘down in the dumps’ mood we believe we need. For many we look outside of ourselves to find the ‘good feeling’ and so we cling to sports teams, become groupies for some unique personality or perhaps we turn to alcohol, drugs or narcotics. The end result eventually is often a let down as we return to reality.

The Bible tells us the cause for despondency often lies in, for example, mourning such as Jacob felt when he thought his son Joseph had died (Genesis 37:34-35). The only solution to this separation brought on by death or some other means of course is our hope in God (Psalm 42:5). In fact without our hope in God our life would indeed be pitiful.

Many feel despondent in reaction to sickness such as Hezekiah did (Isaiah 38:9-12). It is a major factor in the popularity of euthanasia. Legally ending our lives prematurely with the assistance of others. When that is done we remove ourselves from a healing God who values each of us created in His image and so we buy into satan’s argument feeling we have no longer a purpose and despondency often leading to death sets in.

Sorrow drives many into despondency even to the point of suicide. Here is where forgiveness is so important. Others forgiving us for sins we committed whatever they may be (while still allowing for accountability for actions committed). Not only do we need outside forgiveness but we have to forgive ourselves as well. If not, the problem will eat away at our soul to the point of destroying it.

This life by its nature will be full of adversity. No one understood that better than Job who shared his feelings in Job 9:16-35. There will be times when we will wonder where God is but we can rest assured no matter what the cause God is at our side and ready to help us with our DEPRESSION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Despondency is difficult unless we turn our depression into devotion toward God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 42:5 “answer for depression”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me strong.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What around us brings on depression?
  2. Where does society go for comfort and with what results?
  3. Is there something you need forgiveness for?
  4. What is the Biblical answer for depression?