Posted by: bshelley | June 26, 2009

Reviewing God

plan

Today’s Verse: Matthew 16:22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” NASB

Jesus had just told the disciples the next step in His mission. He was to go to Jerusalem and be killed. Peter took it on himself to give Jesus a quick review of His plan. Jesus responds in the next verse with the famous line, “Get thee behind me Satan!” Ouch. Do you ever find yourself playing Monday morning quarterback or like a supervisor giving God job “advice”? I subscribe to a service called “Quotemeal” and get Christian quotes every day by email. That is where the quotes at the bottom of my signature file in my emails comes from. (now you know one of my secrets) Today’s is appropriate with this verse. “Sometimes God doesn’t tell us His plan because we wouldn’t believe it anyway.” — Carlton Pearson. I don’t know Carlton Pearson, but I both agree and at the same time disagree with his statement. On the one hand, it is just what Jesus was saying to Peter. “Keep quiet, as you don’t know the whole picture.” What if Jesus had taken Peter’s advice? We’d be without a Savior. On the other hand, the quote for the day is off. God has indeed revealed His plan in full to us in His word. Maybe the quote idea is true at the day to day micro level, but we can know God’s plan and will. At any rate, this is the ideal place to insert faith, is it not? We just need to have the faith that God has the big picture and knows where He is going and we’d be best served by following instead of making vain attempts at a performance review of Him.

 

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

 
 
 

 

Posted by: bshelley | June 25, 2009

Blessed are the eyes

stream

Today’s Verse: Luke 10:23 Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see,” NASB

Jesus was explaining to the disciples how wondrous was the opportunity to witness what He was saying and doing. Kings and prophets longed to have the opportunity they had to be eye and ear witnesses to the things the Son of Man would do. What an amazing opportunity to have met with, eaten with and even talked to Christ Jesus in the flesh. Interestingly enough, thanks to the sacrifices of many, we too can experience the miracles and teachings of Jesus. All we have to do is pick up our Bibles and read. The apostles and writers of the New Testament books and letters have left for us a first hand account of what Jesus said and did. Here we too can experience the thrill of the miracles and know the depths of the heavenly lessons that were being taught. When many of the communist countries were still closed to such things, people risked their lives to smuggle these stories in to people hungry to share in this knowledge. Let us who may have multiple versions available never take for granted what a privilege it is and what a blessing we have in the Bible. Open God’s word today and drink deeply of the living water. Your eyes too will be blessed!

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 24, 2009

Goat of Azazel

goat

Today’s Verse: Leviticus 16:9-10 “Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.” NASB

So believe it or not, these verses explain a couple of important things. One, where did the concept of a scapegoat come from and secondly, what happened to the sin of the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. The goat for (literally) Azazel, “the goat of removal”, received upon it the sins of the nation of Israel and the priests for the prior year. It was then cast out into the wilderness so that sin might be far removed from the city of Jerusalem. That is a good lesson for us in dealing with sin. Christ paid the debt owed for our sin when we are in Him. We must then repent of it and cast the sin out of our life in to the wilderness not to be seen again. What a wonderful picture of redemption God began teaching so many years ago. Let us not invite the sin on Azazel back into our lives.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 23, 2009

Sing praises to the Lord

singing 2

Today’s Verse: Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming. NASB

In the midst of trying to hit the right notes and get the words correct of church hymns, I find it easy to lose sight that I am supposed to be worshipping. I like praise choruses better for that reason. They typically are on PowerPoint and do not have notes. You just sing the melody or simple harmonies with everyone. It is a challenge since many of the older members, and some not so old, like to sing the oldies. It seems as if some of the song leaders do not want to sing anything written after 1642. This may be why I struggle with the wording sometimes. We certainly have to find balance. A proper worship service also must be crafted. There is a giftedness bestowed on those wonderful few who have the God given ability to lead us into praise and meaningful worship. There are some choruses that literally bring me to tears every time. Not that this is requisite, but for me it signals my heart’s involvement in what I am doing. It happens in my preaching as well. Heart felt messages have me tearful every time. It is ultimately my responsibility to bring praise and worship to the Lord. I pray that I will find myself more often moved to tears and less often to criticism that someone else is not “doing it right”. I must get my heart right first and no one can help with that except Christ Jesus.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 22, 2009

Pray and do not lose heart

TreeofHope

Today’s Verse: Luke 18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. NASB

It is pretty easy to pray and not lose heart in the short term. It is in the long haul of a prolonged illness or trying circumstance where heart and persistence sometimes evade us. I can assure you that there are indeed times in my ongoing struggle with cancer that there are moments that sometimes turn into days when I just run out of spiritual steam. I just get tired of being tired. Maybe you have experienced the same thing with job burnout or being in some trying circumstance for seemingly forever. It becomes harder and harder to “keep a stiff upper lip” or whatever you want to label the toughness and rugged persistence we would like to model to others. Good news is that God knows all about that. He certainly knows our heart and our circumstance. Here is Jesus’ answer to just such failure of strength. He says, ” pray”. God promises to give us wisdom and strength in a measure equal to any circumstance we find ourselves in. We must however seek Him and His strength in prayer. Maybe we run out of gas when we neglect time with Him? So, in all this there is a promise as well. If we pray at all times He will help us to not lose heart. For then we will have the assurance of knowing He is at our side all the way.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 22, 2009

Keep watching and praying…

pray

Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not fall into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” NASB

I think one of the most important daily lessons that we can mimic of Jesus’ is to pray before we go into difficult or tempting circumstances. All too often we do the opposite. We wait until we are tempted and then either fail or scramble in prayer for God to help us “quick”. What Jesus did was to win the victory before He entered into the battle. The battle against temptation was won before it started. Certainly it is appropriate to ask God for help when we are tempted. Pray like crazy I say. However, does it not make more sense to knowingly go into the fray having already made the decision and have chosen God’s way instead the way of the flesh? There are certainly times when we will be surprised by a temptation or trial. Many times though we actually know going in what we are about to face. If we already have the decision to behave or react in Christ’s righteousness made. then we can also have much more strength having already faced the temptation in prayer and defeated it. Pray for God’s strength in advance and enter the battle victorious.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 18, 2009

Strong in the Grace

muscle

Today’s Verse: 2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. NASB

The men’s Bible study I lead on Thursday’s is studying the Assurance of Salvation right now. So far the study has consisted of some word studies. The first word we studied was “grace”. The standard definition for grace is “God’s unmerited favor”. Simply meaning that it is favor granted towards us out of God’s compassion and mercy for us rather than because of any possible merit we might claim for ourselves. So the best way to think about it is just the word “favor”. In the context of this verse, what is Paul telling Timothy, and I would include us as well? Be strong in the favor you receive by your relationship with Christ Jesus, right? We have the assurance that if we are in Christ Jesus by faith and obedience, that we can have strength for the trials we face because of that relationship. We need not be timid about doing His will in the world around us because He is in it with us. We have God’s favor and God’s strength at our disposal. Do we look there first or second? All too often I exhaust my own strength before calling on God’s. Paul is telling us to do just the opposite. He says depend on God’s strength, implying to seek it first. A good lesson to remember.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 17, 2009

Not Disappointed

decoder ring

(Official Orphan Annie Decoder Ring)

Today’s Verse: Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” NASB

A famous scene from the seasonal classic Christmas Story was when the boys ordered a “secret decoder ring” from their favorite radio show, Orphan Annie. The waiting for it to come in the mail was excruciatingly long. Then, when they finally got it and decoded the first secret message, what a disappointment. Instead of being some nuclear or world security secret, it was simply “Eat more Oval-teen.” We can understand how people can become jaded and even reluctant to trust anyone or anything after a life filled with disappointments. What a relief it is to know the One in whom we can fully trust with our very lives and know that we know that we know we will never be let down. Thant’s good news. I bet you know someone who would like to hear some good news. Why don’t you share this with them today.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 16, 2009

Overcome evil with good

conflict

Today’s Verse: Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NASB

The greatest example of this I ever saw was years ago when a black preacher squared off on a TV discussion across from a KKK guy. It was amazing. Every time the KKK guy would spout some horrible slur against the black preacher, the response was always begun with “bless you”. The racist would just get more and more vile and vehement in his curses. Yet each time the response from the godly man, bless you. As Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story is that some thirty or so years later, the born again Christian, former Klansman, contacted the black preacher to ask his forgiveness and to express what an impact his bless yous had on his heart. Like seeds that took years to sprout fruit, the words of the godly preacher and the power of God’s grace had won the day. We need to remember that we too are called to return a blessing for cursing and to overcome evils in this world with good. Blessings may not yield the result we would desire in the short term, but sometimes it just takes planting that seed to make a life changing difference for someone.

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

Posted by: bshelley | June 16, 2009

Where lies our citizenship?

passport

Today’s Verse: Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; NASB

We recently took a two week vacation to see friends and family in Texas. It was a lot of fun and I got my Tex-Mex food levels back up to normal ranges which will hopefully hold me until next time. Several members of our California church family asked discretely if we were in reality on a job interview. We assure them we were not and would be back, God willing, in a couple of weeks. God was willing and we are back home now. I did tell several people however that there would be one thing that would happen which would signal our immediate departure for the Texas state line. If Texas secedes from the union, we would be gone overnight to get back there before they closed the borders. (Texans already consider the state lines to be “borders” anyway) I did tell them not to worry, simply that we would get our Texas passports and come back as missionaries. It usually got a laugh. A couple of people asked if they could ride along. In reality, we already are missionaries as Christians. Our passports are issued with Heaven stamped on them. We are citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom placed here to get a job done. That is to spread the good news of a Savior Jesus Christ available to all. You know, I doubt they have Tex-Mex in heaven, but I am just betting that Heaven-Mex will be even better! Let us not fail in our mission regardless of what field on which we find ourselves. See you back home!

May God bless your heart as you seek His.

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