The Death of HIS Saints

Scripture

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15

Observation/Application

We will miss them.   For many, they were always around.  They might be a family member, close friend, or role model.

For me, a recent passing of one of His saints struck quite close.  He was a point of reference to look back on when I would lose my focus.  He was a great comfort and source of counsel.  He was the one that remained calm even when provoked so far as to become angry.

Somehow, I always knew he would be there.  But now he is not.  And though, time and distance has seen us grow apart, there was always that bond that would draw us together.  When we would have an opportunity, he would make time just to have lunch with me.

Now he has passed on to the glorious presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And it is He alone that made our friendship in this world possible.  To me, he was the embodiment of what it means to be Christ-like.  I ask myself, “what good did his passing accomplish if I am so sad?”  Just this…

As I saw Christ in him, I want people to see Christ in me.

Prayer

Lord, Thank you for the life shared with me that was a dear saint to You.  Help me to rejoice with You.  Help me to be Christ-like as he was Christ-like.  In Your Name I pray…

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His Favor Is for Life

 Scripture

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

Observation

The psalmist is extolling answered prayer.  God is only angry temporarily.  Favor from God is forever.  What favor from God is it that I have that I can count on into eternity?  It is salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.

Application

The trials I go through are only temporary.  God gets angry because of my insolence.  I am thankful that is a temporary thing.  Even so, His favor o me s forever.  In His anger is still His everlasting favor.  His gift of salvation, His grace, His mercy — these will endure.  By this assurance of the psalmist I am able to worship Him in awe and reverence instead of cowering in abject fear.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for Your favor.  I rejoice in Your salvation.

Like a Child

Scripture

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  Matthew 18:2-5 (NKJV)

Observation

Children need supervision.  Their needs come before grown ups hence Jesus says that to as one is to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  When they make bad choices they need disciplining and loving.  His obedience is because he trusts who is asking for obedience.  He has faith. If he has a need he only needs to ask.

Application

Galatians 4:1 says, “that the heir, as long as he is a child does not differ from a slave…”  He is expected to obey. He is trained and looked after by guardians and stewards.  Galatians 4:6-7 says we have the Spirit of His Son whereby we cry out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore we are no longer a slave but a son and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  I need to be as child.  Trust God, obey God, be chastised by God, be loved by God.  My inheritance is assured as a son and heir of God

Prayer

Lord, pray I will become humble like a child…

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The Race

Scripture

…[L]et us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NKJV)

Observation/Application

The idea of a race to illustrate “life” is very familiar to many.  It represents struggle, grief, tragedy, training, winning/losing, suffering, agony, celebration, accomplishment, and so on.  In fact, it is the Greek word “agon,” as in “agony.”  The author of Hebrews (maybe Paul but I don’t get dogmatic about that) gets right to the point — we need endurance and that comes by Jesus.

Our race is not a sprint.  Our race is long distance race.  Our prize at the end of the race to which we look for is Jesus.  The promise of eternally being in the presence of Christ our Lord, God the Father, the Holy Spirit is what keeps us going in life.  And what did Jesus do for us that we have should have the endurance to run this race?

He endured the cross, despised it’s shame, and lived to sit at the right hand of the throne of God!  It was joy for Him!  It was joy because He gave His life for a sinner such as I that I may live.  He took the punishment I deserved and earned and gave me salvation and mercy that I neither neither deserved nor earned.  He laid in the grave where I should be rotting.  And on the third day  — HE AROSE!  He lives!  He defeated death and brought life (2 Timothy 1:10).

By looking to Jesus and His gospel I will endure.

 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NKJV)

Prayer

Lord, thank You for enduring what I could not.  I look to You as the Author and Finisher of my faith.  You died for the sins I could not pay for.  You live that I may have new life.  I look to You.

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Peddling the Word of God?

Scripture

For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God; we speak in the sight of God in Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:17

Observation

Paul preached Christ’s gospel.  All else that happened was in the wake of that.  He preached Him crucified — died for our sins, rose for our new life.  Paul pointed out sin for repentance sake and encouraged godly living.  He had a low view of peddling, or “adulterating for gain,” God’s word.

Application

When a preacher preaches about Jesus and all the “good stuff” but not about obeying Jesus (His first command was to “repent…”) or when he baptizes but fails to ask if the person has repented, he is peddling the word of God.  And it cooks my grits!  The whole gospel needs to be preached and not just the ooey-gooey feel good parts.

Prayer

Lord, raise up men of God that will preach Your gospel.  Stop the peddling of Your word…

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Be Very Courageous

Scripture

Therefore be very courageous to keep and do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.  Joshua 23:6

Observation

Joshua gives his farewell speech to Israel before he dies.  He tells them to uphold what the LORD has instructed.  It’s written down so it should be easy.  He challenges them to be courageous.  That’s the nice way  of telling them, “Don’t be a coward.  Don’t do whatever you want.”

Application

It’s cowardly not to obey God.  I may ask why I should follow the Law of Moses.  Simple…Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17).  That means  by obeying and following Him that the world will hate me, persecution is likely, and I will have a cross to bear daily.  In general, I will need to “be very courageous.”   Or, I can do whatever is easier, live the “good”life,  disobey God, and be a coward.

Prayer

Lord, it is difficult to be courageous.  Help me to be brave.  Thank You.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Joshua 24:15b

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Worship

Scripture

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, what does my Lord say to His servant?  Joshua 5:14b

Observation

The Lord, Jesus pre-incarnate, appears to Joshua at Jericho.  Joshua worships Him.  Joshua humbles himself.  His place is as a servant.  Joshua asks, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”  It is important to note that Joshua sought to serve and not be served.  He did not seek the “warm fuzzies.”

Application

When I worship the Lord, it should be as Joshua — seeking what He means for me to do.  I should worship Him and not worship the goosebumps.  I worship Him, not as a favor, but because He has saved me and shown me mercy.

Prayer

Lord, what does my Lord say to His servant?…

 

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It’s That Simple

Scripture

Christ [sent me]…to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.  1 Corinthians 1:17

We preach Christ crucified.  1 Corinthians 1:23

Observation

Paul’s approach was direct.  It is the same as Peter’s in Acts 4:33.  It confounded the wise.  It is the godly precursor to Occam’s Razor (the simplest solution is the best) and it’s pop-culture equivalent, the K.I.S.S principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Application

Christianity has, culturally speaking, gotten complex.  Books are written on how to do every conceivable thing from prayer to evangelism to baking cookies the Christian way.  Sermons are so complex that they often have a sermon just to set up the sermon.  I long to have a simpler Christianity were Christ and Him crucified are preached, where the resurrection gives power, and expectation of God’s Spirit moving is happening.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for the cross.  Help me to remain simple in my life that i will better proclaim Your Name…

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According to This Rule

Scripture

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.  (Galatians 6:16)

Observation

The rule is this:  But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 14a).  Paul was talking about the law and circumcision.  Folks were saying it was necessary to be Christian.  Paul said the only thing necessary is what happened on the cross — Jesus died for my sins, in my place, instead of me, as atonement.

Application

I extrapolate this to my setting by saying a preaching method, or Bible translation, or church polity, or even secondary doctrines are not the measure of a Christian.  Only the cross.  This rule, when applied, brings peace and mercy.  With the cross as my focus, all other points of contention are trivial in comparison.  There is also the bonus peace and mercy for Israel. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6a)

Prayer

Lord, thank you for the cross.  May your peace and mercy be on me and the Israel of God.

Crucified

Scripture

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires.  Galatians 5:24

Observation

Works of the flesh are evident (v. 19-21).  The list is twice as long as the fruit of the Spirit (v. 22-23).  To crucify means a long tortuous process.  It will be agonizing.  It will be painful.  And my spirit will die.  But God…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4,5).

Application

My passions and desires are dead.  Christ’s live in me now.  Sometimes the “zombie” version of my passions and desires try to come out.  That is why I must repent daily.  It is not I that lives but rather it is Christ.  By his resurrection He has conquered death that I may live.  His resurrection is my hope and assurance.  And with great power [I will give] witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33a).

Prayer

Lord, Thank your for crucifying my flesh.  Help me to walk in the Spirit (v.26)…

 

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