Nuggets – No more problems

No More Problems
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)

All too often in these days of “easy believism” and the erroneous “peace and prosperity” teaching, we hear someone say, “Once you become a Christian, all your problems will be over.” It is doubtful that anyone really believes such a statement, much less experiences it. Certainly the Israelites who had just been miraculously delivered from bondage didn’t experience it.

Of course, this concept is not biblical. In fact, the Bible teaches quite the opposite. Christ promised, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). He, Himself, would have many problems. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Later, after experiencing many problems, John wrote, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13).

These problems may take the form of general troubles that come from living in a sinful, cursed world; specific afflictions, which God allows in our lives to bring about His purpose; or discipline for personal sin, as well as direct persecution from without.

While troubles will come, all is not lost! Christ promised, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Through Him we have the strength to meet every difficulty of this life with peace, good cheer, and victory. Through Him we also receive the promise that throughout eternity “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). JDM

From the Institute for Creation Research

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August 18 – The Price Tag Of Integrity

O take the whole world but give me Jesus.

THE RIVER WALK

When they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. (Esther 1:12)

Read: Esther 1:1-3:15, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Psalm 35:17-28, Proverbs 21:19-20 

Relate: An offer was on the table. Actually, it was the combination of two offers. Bill’s father had owned a small seafood restaurant on the Louisiana coast. It had been his dad’s pride and joy and had been a staple of the tiny community for longer than Bill had been alive. These past few years, however, things had taken a turn for the worse. His dad had finally fallen to a long running war against cancer and the extended illness meant the place hadn’t received the attention it needed and it would be very costly to get the building up to code. Although Bill had graduated from restaurant management, he had lived in the northeast and had never planned to follow in his father’s footsteps…

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Nuggets – The Unshakable Foundations

The Unshakable Foundations
“For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:2-3)

Often we hear or feel the drumbeat of those who oppose the work of God. Many would undermine our faith in God’s promises and try to shake our confidence in the authority of His Word. David’s short answers are wonderful sources of strength for us each day.

Trust in the Lord (Psalm 11:1)—He has not forsaken us (Psalm 9:10), and we can “taste” and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8). No matter what happens, God knows what we need, and He promises that we will be taken care of (Psalm 37:3). If we trust in Him and do not lean on our own wisdom, God promises to direct all of our life decisions (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Lord is on His throne (Psalm 11:4)—The picture of God’s majesty can be easily lost in our sin-cursed world. If we are not going to be overwhelmed by the wicked, we must see God “high and lifted up”(Isaiah 6:1), surrounded by the great host of heaven, recognizing that “heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1).

The Lord sees everything (Psalm 11:4-5)—His “eyes behold the nations” (Psalm 66:7), and He “knoweth the thoughts of man” (Psalm 94:11). There is no place that will hide us from His sight (Psalm 139:7-12).

The Lord judges everything (Psalm 11:5-6)—God loves justice (Psalm 37:28) and will finally come to judge the earth (Psalm 96:13). “The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 146:9-10). HMM III

From the Institute for Creation Research

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Night Song

A death in the family.

Is anyone ever ready for that kind of news? Especially when it’s sudden and unexpected. The brother of our son-in-law took his life yesterday. The events leading up to his self-inflicted death are sketchy, but at this point, I don’t think the details really matter. The cold, brutal truth is that a bright, fresh-faced 23 year old young man full of so much promise is gone. No explanations or clarifications will change this painful reality. Though we hadn’t the chance to really get to know this boy yet, I do know his family. And I have a mother’s heart and know what it is to love a child. So, even if you cannot fully grasp the pain of this kind of loss, who cannot feel at least some empathy for the agony that some very loving and godly people feel today … and will continue to experience for a very long time?

Replaying the conversations and events from hours before, I found myself standing on the back porch last night near midnight trying to process it all. Feeling very helpless, I continued peering out into the shadows for a long time…  until I heard it.

A lone bird somewhere in the distance.

Its simple repeating song stood out in contrast to the dark scene before me and seemed to pierce the blackness of the night.  Somehow the sweetness of the melody was comforting. An audible reminder of God’s promise in Psalm 42:8.

“By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me. 

Even in the depths of a moment that threatens to swallow those that I love, this little sound stood as a solitary assurance that even amid the confusion and questions,

God is still here…. still active… still present.

Into the moments when we cannot see anything except the midnight of hurt, God whispers with assuring tenderness ~

… I am with you; …. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Isn’t that exactly what you need to know when you feel deep ache in your soul?

You are not alone.

You have not been abandoned. 

I do not know why God permits circumstances to unfold the way they do, but what I do know is that even when the light slips away and shade falls with its all-encompassing gloom, we can still hold on to His unending love and compassion. Even at the moment when heartbreak settles over us like a heavy blanket, we can still choose to believe and turn to God instead of away from Him.

And… in those moments when we feel almost suffocated, if we strain just a little harder toward Jesus, it’s then that we just might hear a song in the night that keeps us going until the sun comes up again.

Your sun will never set again,
  and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
  and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:20

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Nuggets- Scattered Abroad

Scattered Abroad
“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)

God has given two great commissions to His people, both of which would require worldwide effort to accomplish. Both, however, were so resisted that God Himself had to step in and force His people to be obedient.

Immediately after the great Flood, God gave the following command: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1). This was an extension of the Edenic mandate given to Adam in the beginning, a commission to fill the earth and exercise dominion over it under God (1:28). Noah’s descendants, however, decided to stay in Babel and “make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” As a result of this rebellion, “the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (11:4, 9).

Over 2,000 years later, the Lord gave His disciples another great worldwide commission: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Then followed the coming of the Holy Spirit, and soon “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7).

But they remained in Jerusalem instead of spreading out to “the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). Therefore, God once again intervened, and “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem: and they were all scattered abroad” (8:1). Then, finally, began their full obedience to the great commission, for “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word,” and eventually some “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” will stand in saving faith before the Lord (Revelation 7:9). HMM

From the Institute for Creation Research

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August 17 – The Imitation Game

We want to see You Lord. Please help us to imitate You only.

THE RIVER WALK

And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Read: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, Psalm 35:1-16, Proverbs 21:17-18 

Relate: Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. That’s a bold statement. It seems so counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? I mean, far more often I hear good and well meaning Christians say “Don’t follow me, follow Jesus.” That phrase is so common you can buy a bumper sticker of the phrase with multiple different graphic and text options on Amazon (among other places, I’m sure). Even as I sit here and type, I can think of at least a few times where I have told people some variation of “don’t follow me”. I mean it in humility and in recognition of my own faults and failures but am I wrong in saying it? Have you used this phrase?

React: What would it look like to live a life…

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Nuggets – The Arm of the Lord

The Arm of the Lord
“The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)

The human arm is often used in the Bible to symbolize spiritual strength or power. The word is first used in Jacob’s dying prophecy concerning his beloved son Joseph: “But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24).

The source of all true strength is in the mighty God, so it is not surprising to find at least 40 biblical references to the Lord’s powerful “arm” or “arms.” One of the most striking is our text, promising that when God “bares his arm” for His great work of delivering the lost world from its bondage to Satan and sin and death, then the whole world will see His salvation (literally His “Jesus”).

In a real sense, therefore, “the arm of the Lord” is none other than Jesus Christ. When He came into His world, however, the world refused Him. Just a few verses later, introducing the incomparable 53rd chapter of Isaiah, appears this tragic question: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

Nevertheless, some believed, and the first was His own mother. In her “Magnificat,” spoken in faith before Jesus was born, Mary said, “God my Saviour . . . hath shewed strength with his arm” (Luke 1:47, 51). This confession of faith is the first use of “arm” in the New Testament and again refers to the saving arm of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, His arm is not only mighty to save, but also secure to hold: “His arm shall rule for him. . . . He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom” (Isaiah 40:10-11). HMM

From the Institute for Creation Research

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Kingdoms in Conflict

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There are two kingdoms in conflict.

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Nuggets – Spiritual Entropy

Spiritual Entropy
“I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:5)

The word for “shame” in this verse is the Greek entrope, meaning “turning inward” or “inversion.” It is used only one other time, in 1 Corinthians 15:34: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Evidently this special variety of shame is associated with taking controversies between Christian brethren to ungodly judges and also with failing to witness to the non-Christian community. Instead of bringing the true wisdom of God to the ungodly, such “entropic Christians” were turning to worldly wisdom to resolve their own spiritual problems. This inverted behavior was nothing less than spiritual confusion!

The modern scientific term “entropy” is essentially this same Greek word. In science, entropy is a measure of disorder in any given system. The universal law of increasing entropy states that every system tends to disintegrate into disorder, or confusion, if left to itself. This tendency can only be reversed if ordering energy is applied to it effectively from a source outside the system.

This universal scientific law has a striking parallel in the spiritual realm. A person turning inward to draw on his own bank of power, or seeking power from an ineffective outside source, will inevitably deteriorate eventually into utter spiritual confusion and death. But when Christ enters the life, that person becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Scriptures, “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The law of spiritual entropy is transformed into the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). HMM

From the Institute for Creation Research

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ATB 22 A Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:20; “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

This scripture I would hope is one that is familiar to each of us.  Just from a personal perspective, I find it to be a scripture that sheds light on what stands as the core foundation of our relationship with our heavenly father. Faith. 

As each of us go about our daily routine we find that this thing called faith is something that we call upon or lean on.

In my Christian walk I have heard faith described and or defined many different ways.  What continues to encourage me is to give thought to faith by virtue of the five W’s.  Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Who  

This is where for each of us on a daily basis we find a challenge standing before us.  In this world that we live in it would seem to be the rule rather than the exception that we are called on to place our faith in man.  It would seem that throughout the course of each day we are lead to believe that our faith is to be placed in each other, or let’s just make it plan, in man.  But if by chance we were to look back through time, we will find that over and over again, that faith in man will always result in failure.  As Christians we must remember daily the words from Psalm 146:3 that remind us to “not put our trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”

What   I am reminded of the fact that if a tree falls in the forest, it does happen even if we do not see it.  These days as such emphasize the misnomer that seeing is believing, and that it has to be tangible in order for something to be real.  Society operates under the principal of the five senses.  If by chance something does not affect these senses then it is not considered to be real.  It has been said that this is the case then for many in society when it comes to faith.

But we know that faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  It is at its very essence the polar opposite of what the world believes. For those of us on this Christian walk we know that we are called to see it without seeing it.

 Where   the on going viewpoint of today’s world is that your faith can be and perhaps should be in those things that we own or place on a pedestal.  As an example when we arise in the morning and prepare to go to work we do so assuming that our vehicles will start and get us on the way.  Or maybe once we get to that job we believe that it will always be there no matter come what may.  But I am reminded of the meaning of Matthews 7:26 warning us that foolish is the man that builds his house on sand.  This much we all can testify to, life will in the blink of an eye throw us a curve leaving us virtually upside down.  And thus the very things that we considered as the bedrock of our faith proved to be otherwise.

When   it is I will admit easy for us to have faith when things are going smoothly.  When all in our lives is calm, our faith is there but for the most part we don’t really think about activating it.  But it is during those times when as the songwriter, when the storms of life are raging, it would seem that all we have to lean on and draw on itself is our faith.  It is during these times when all around us is seemly falling apart that we turn most of all to our faith knowing come what may when we need God the most, he will be there for us.  It may not appear to make sense to the rest of the world, but we know that when all else may fail, God the author and finisher of our faith, will never fail us.

Why  in our natural state there are times I am sure when we have asked ourselves why should I have faith, or I’m sure others have asked why do you have faith.  Truth be told there have been many times in each of our lives we may have questioned ourselves as to why we have faith.  Our answer to why we have faith is for each of us different.  But what does bind us together is the reality that sometimes we can’t explain why we have faith; we just know that we know that no matter what the situation is or whatever it is that we are facing, we know that in looking back over the course of our lives we that we have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord as the songwriter wrote, and trusting in his holy word.  And sometimes though others may not be able to understand our why it is for us a matter of trust and believe.

A mustard seed.   Though not large in size, ultimately we know that it’s not the size of our faith that matters, it’s quality of our faith and how it directs each of our lives that stands as a reflection of the who, what, where, when and why of this thing called faith.

To God Be The Glory

Alan T. Black

 

 

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