What can you expect from dirt? ∙

What can you expect from dirt?

For you are dust, and to dust you shall return. – Genesis 3:19

All flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust. – Job 34:15

Psalms 103:13-22

 13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

 14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

 16 The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here.

 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children.

 19 The LORD has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything.

 20 Praise the LORD, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands.

 21 Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will!

 22 Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the LORD.

Rep. Pat Schroeder, a Democrat from Colorado, coined the term the “Teflon” president to describe Ronald Reagan in 1983. Schroeder later said that the expression came to her while she was frying eggs in a Teflon non-stick pan. No matter what scandal hit his administration, nothing stuck to him personally. Reagan had a seemingly magical ability to avoid blame. It seemed almost as though he had a Teflon coat like a frying pan. As president, Reagan was genial, ever-smiling, and projected a “grandpa” image.

No matter what controversies arose, up to and including the Iran-Contra political scandal, the public continued to forgive and love him.

That is exactly what our relationship with our Father God is like. No matter what, the Father continues to forgive and love the children of the King. It is as though we are coated with Teflon. Our sins, transgressions, and iniquities can’t stick to us. They simply slide off and are gone. We are washed clean, whiter than snow.

Psalm 103 is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. It celebrates the Father’s overflowing goodness and love for the children of the King. It beckons us to praise the Father for who He is and what He has done. David reminds us not to forget “all His benefits” (Psalms 103:1-2).

REFLECT & PRAY

How does a father “pity” his children? he considers their weakness, immaturity, and ignorance, and so does not require of them more than they can handle. Our Father does the same with us (1 Corinthians 10:13) (Stanley).

Dear Father, thank you that you have adopted me into Your forever family just as I am. You are great and magnificent, while I am nothing more than living dirt. I stand awed and truly amazed.

INSIGHT

Before you get down on yourself, what can you possibly expect from dirt? Dust is simply fine particles of other things that have broken down, disintegrated, and become worthless. We are made out of the dust, the dirt of the ground.

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The Hebrew word translated as dust or dirt isaphar. Aphar is dirt, plain old dirt, that is, dry, loose earth. The Scriptures are clear, we are simply repurposed dirt.

The only thing that separates us from all the other plain ordinary dirt on planet Earth is that we are alive. Dirt minus God is inert, inanimate. As living dirt, we tend to get rather dirty. That is exactly what the Father expects. He is not disappointed when we act like dirt, because He knows we are dirt. The most important difference is we are His dirt. And He loves us just the way we are.

Psalms 103:14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

A father knows how vulnerable and dependent his children are and thus takes pity on them, especially when it is needed. Just so God knows how mankind is formed – we are only dust (Psalms 78:39). How trivial mankind must seem to God, and yet he crowns us with love and compassion (Psalms 103:4b)! (Tesh and Zorn).

Psalms 103:15

 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

 16 The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here.

 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children

Not only are people seemingly as trivial as dirt, but our time on earth is short and transitory. There is no permanence to our existence here. We are as grass or the flower that dries up in the heat of the sun and vanishes before nightfall.

In contrast, the Father is eternal and remains forever. His love envelops the children of the King forever.

David focuses on four great characteristics of the Father. He is compassionate. He does not constantly accuse, berate, or antagonize us even though we sin repeatedly. He is slow to anger, and His anger soon dissipates. He is merciful and gracious. He does not punish us for our sins immediately. He does not chastise as we deserve. He does not seek revenge and get even. His loyal love, lovingkindness, hesed, is limitless. The guilt of our sins is separated from us completely and permanently (Constable).

When we think of our paltry existence and our sinful behavior, rather than dwell on it and sink into self-pity, we should focus on the excellence and magnificence of the Father who loves and forgives us. David exhorts every child of the King to do just that. Our awesome heavenly Father is to be praised and served with honor.

How can we do less?

¯\_()_/¯ 3-20-2

The Lord alone opens hearts

The Lord alone opens hearts

Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. – Acts 16:14

Luke 24:27-45

 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

 44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

In an AARP Bulletin, an article was published titled “An End to Blindness?” It explains “new approaches to treating blindness, offering hope to the millions of mostly older Americans in danger of losing their sight from macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye diseases. In fact, progress in ophthalmology is so rapid that some researchers have already begun to envision an end to many forms of vision loss. ‘We still have a lot to learn,’ admits Stephen Rose, chief research officer for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. ‘But it’s not a question of if we’ll end blindness. It’s really just a question of when.’”

“If you had seen Lisa Kulik and her husband strolling the grounds of the University of Southern California’s Eye Institute last summer, you would have thought nothing of it. But for Kulik, that simple walk around the campus was ‘a miracle.’ Blind for more than two decades from an inherited eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, Kulik was seeing again – clearly enough to make out the sidewalk and the grassy edge – thanks to a sophisticated microchip implanted in one of her eyes.” The device is called the Argus II.

Perhaps the 21st century may well see cures for many forms of physical blindness. But what of spiritual blindness? Is there any cure for it?  Yes indeed!

Humankind alone is at a loss to deal with spiritual blindness. The Lord opens people’s hearts, eyes, and minds. It is the Father’s intervention that allows people to see and understand the truth. He ultimately draws people to Lord Jesus Christ, not human wisdom or persuasiveness. Why is this so?

REFLECT & PRAY

Satan does not want the glorious light of salvation to shine into people’s hearts. As the god of this age and the prince of this world, Satan is at work to keep lost sinners in the dark (Wiersbe).

Father thank You that You have opened my eyes to see the Truth. Thank You for transferring me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Your dear Son.

INSIGHT

It is necessary to understand the source of spiritual blindness. During the present age, there is a spiritual battle being waged. Unseen powers are at work which are greater than any person. The god of this world, the enemy, is the culprit. He is using all his resources to prevent people from learning and accepting the Truth of the Word of God. He is in active opposition to the Father’s work on planet Earth.

2 Corinthians 4:4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

How sad it is to be in this condition. The enemy rules over a domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

The enemy is a deceiver. Those being deceived are unaware of it. They do not know that they are deceived. Further, they delude ourselves. “‘Delusion’ is stronger than deception. Deception means that a person can be fooled about something. Delusion is a way of life in which one is perpetually deceived.” (Richardson).

2 Corinthians 3:14-16

 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.

 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

To be freed from a life of delusion requires an intervention by the Father. We have to be rescued. A rescue party of One was sent out to make this possible. But the cost of the rescue effort was the life of the Rescuer.

Colossians 1:13-14

 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,

 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Satan rules only this age and his power is restrained. His time is limited and eventually comes to nothing. He will be crushed.

Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

Each child of the King was born in darkness. But we have been rescued. We were blind and now we see. We need to act like it.

Ephesians 5:8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

As children of the King, we are to live as people of the light. We are to pray for those who are in darkness that they may see the light. The Father will put people on our hearts to pray for.

Could it be that each child of the King was prayed for by another child of the King?

Act 26:18 Open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.

¯\_()_/¯

Living with destructive danger –

Living with destructive danger

“Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” – Matthew 24:3

Ezekiel 33:4-7

 4 If those who hear the warning refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die.

 5 They heard the warning but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives.

 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.

 7 Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me.

Stromboli is an island off the coast of Sicily. It has a full-time population of about 500 souls living there. What makes this island unique is that it has an active volcano, Mount Stromboli. It repeatedly rumbles and is always active. It has near-continuous summit explosions. During the day, smoke can be seen ascending from the top. At night, diamantine flecks shimmer in the dark. Occasionally, lava shoots skyward from the top and illuminates the sky and land. It has been dubbed the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean. Superheated lava is harmlessly funneled to the sea from a slope named Sciara del Fouco (Stream of Fire).

The local population has acclimated themselves to the volcano’s rumbling and background noise. Much like people living near railroad tracks or an airport. But obviously, it represents significantly more danger. It can erupt destructively at any time. Paradoxically, apart from occasional moments of terror, it is a delightful place to live. Gaia Squarci, a photographer and videographer, commented that it provides “a calm, with a tension underneath.”

Volcanologists use it as a “living” natural lab in an attempt to identify and document warning signs of coming eruptions. Their goal is to be able to accurately forecast destructive eruptions. Eruption predictions can provide ample warning to those in harm’s way.

Mount Stromboli is laced with all types of detection equipment looking for significant changes that can be signs of coming events. Volcanoes tend to inflate before they erupt. Mount Stromboli fits the pattern. They created an early warning system in 2019. It has proven effective, but there is still a high degree of unpredictability.

Biblically grounded people are well aware that the catastrophic destruction of planet Earth has been foretold. They observe significant changes that may be signs of coming events. This is an active concern of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ is on earth. They knew He was the Messiah, the King of Israel. They wanted to know when He would set up His kingdom. When He entered Jerusalem for the last time before His looming Crucifixion, they asked Him when the Kingdom would begin and what will be the sign of His return and the end of the age.

“Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” – Matthew 24:3

REFLECT & PRAY

We would be prudent to learn from the Stromboli volcano and be mindful of the predictions and take effective measures when required.

Father You know the end from the beginning. You have predicted will come to pass and have seen to it that prophecy of the future was written down. May we be faithful watchers that heed the signs and provide warnings.

INSIGHT

A watcher must act on what they see. People are responsible to recognize the warning and take action. Society has all kinds of watchers: weather forecasters, astrophysicists, economists, public health officials, political polls, etc.

How does one of the Father’s watchers become aware? It is a combination of due diligence and being receptive. The word of God contains warnings that they should be well aware of regarding signs of the times. The eyes of their hearts should be open and enlightened to discern the Father at work. They should be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and prompting. They must be sensitive and hear the Father’s voice.

Lord Jesus Christ made general and specific predictions. It was as though He placed biblically-based detection equipment out to observe last day trends. This was particularly so for the watchers.

General Predictions – The first half of the 70th week of Daniel

Matthew 24:4-12

 4 Jesus told them, Don’t let anyone mislead you,

 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.

 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.

 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.

 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

 9 Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.

 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.

 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.

 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Specific Predictions – The second half of the 70th week of Daniel

Matthew 24:14-30

 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

 15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about – the abomination of desolation [the Antichrist] that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.”  

 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.

 30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the Earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

When does He come? “Despite many attempts over the centuries to pinpoint the time of Jesus’ return, God’s Word stands: He will come “at an hour you do not expect.” We are to remain in a perpetual state of readiness” (Stanley).

Matthew 24:44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

Ezekiel 33:6-7

 6 If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.

 7 Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me.

In the Old Testament, the Father’s appointed watchers were the prophets. They were given the tremendous burden to see, to hear, and to sound the alarm.

Each child of the King has a similar responsibility. We are the children of the light. We are not to be fooled by the darkness and deception of our fallen world.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

 1 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you.

 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

 4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.

 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.

 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

 9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.

 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.

 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

¯\_()_/¯

AFS – Absent Father Syndrome ∙

AFS – Absent Father Syndrome

Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God” – and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. – 1 John 3:1 (Phillips translation)

Romans 8:15-16
 

 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

There is a Father Crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 25% of American children, 19,500,000, live without a father in the home. In 1960, only 11% of children lived in absent father homes. Mississippi has the highest number of children living without a father in the home, (36.2%) followed by Louisiana (34.4%) and Alabama (30.7%). The three states with the lowest rates of father absence are Utah (11.5%, North Dakota (14.4 %), and Idaho (16%).

When a father is absent, there are often deep, lasting scars formed on the tender, sensitive hearts of the children left behind. The lack of a father has been dubbed, “The Absent Father Syndrome.” What is the source? The physical absence of a father in a family via death or divorce or too many hours spent away from home due to work or war. It can also occur when the father is physically there but is “not there” for his children. Although present, they either don’t know how or don’t want to take on the role of the father. An absent father is incapable of providing his child the foundation needed to develop a healthy character, esteem, and identity. It creates a psychological void.

To make matters worse, our relationship with our human father, or lack thereof, affects the way we think about our heavenly Father. When there is a broken relationship with our earthly father, it is natural to transfer those feelings to our Father God. Thankfully this can be repaired. The void and ache in our wounded hearts can be redeemed. Coming to understand and believe Who and What our heavenly Father is, makes all the difference in the world.

One of the great longings of the human heart is to be accepted, to belong.

One of the seemingly incomprehensible wonders of our relationship with our Father God is that we are adopted into His Forever Family and truly become His children. This is hard to fully grasp. We could contemplate it for all eternity and never fully come to terms with the wonder and magnitude of it all.

REFLECT & PRAY

As children of the King, our identity and security are based solely upon being adopted into the Father’s Forever Family.

Dear Father, Abba, help me to realize that I not only called Your child, I am Your child! I belong to You forever! You are always “there for me.”

INSIGHT

It is mindboggling when we recognize that our adoption was not finalized “on paper.” None of us have a physical certificate of adoption. Rather it took place deep within our hearts and spirits. When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted Him as our Lord and Savior by faith, remarkable supernatural events occurred. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we were born again. Rather than a fragile, destructible certificate of rebirth, our adoption is written down and guaranteed in the eternal word of God.

Romans 8:15-16
 

 15So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Before we were adopted, we were the slaves of fear. But now that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us, we have been released from slavery. There is no longer any reason to be fearful. What a welcome and blessed relief!

But there’s more.

We no longer have to address Him solely as Father. Rather He is now our Abba Father. The term “father” in English connotes a bit of formality, sternness, or distance. Not so with words like Papa or Daddy. They imply a close intimate relationship. There is a sense of endearment, a warm embrace with smiles, kisses, hugs, and even perhaps a few tickles. That’s what our adoption does for us.

There is no disrespect when we call our heavenly Father, Abba. The encouragement and prompting to do so come from the Holy Spirit Himself within us.

Galatians 4:6 Because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The term, Abba Father, is used in one other place in the New Testament. In the garden of Gethsemane, when Christ is in anguish regarding His coming betrayal, trial, humiliation, crucifixion, and death, He cries out, fervently praying, “Abba, Father everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36).

Our adoption is not earned, it is freely given when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.

John 1:12-13

 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

 13 They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
Abraham Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?” The correct answer is Four. “Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

We are not just CALLED the children of God; we ARE the children of God!

Some fathers are good, others not so much. A few fathers are great! Our Father in heaven is not just great, He is magnificent! He wishes us to have a tender, intimate, gentle, and warm relationship with Him. He seeks for us to call Him, Abba. There is no fear when we come to our Papa! What is less scary and more welcoming than a Papa? Well, perhaps a sweet, old, doting grandpapa.

1 John 4:18-19

 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
 19 We love because He first loved us.

He seeks to fill the void, the vacuum that so many of us have inherited from our absent fathers.

¯\_()_/¯ 3-06-2

Can we help God?

Can we help God?

Psalms 16:2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.”

Job 22:2-3

 2 Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?

 3 Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?

Cars 2 is a 2011 American computer-animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the sequel to Cars the 2006 computer-animated sports comedy film. It grossed $562 million worldwide at the box office. It was the tenth highest-grossing film of 2011.

The movie remarkably and delightfully depicts how children think and act when they play. You probably remember vroom-vroom, boom, screech, crash, etc. Race car Lightning McQueen and tow truck Mater are pit buddies. They compete in the World Grand Prix in Japan, Italy, and other countries of Europe.

Lightning McQueen loses a big race because of Mater. When McQueen gets back to his pit, he is very angry with Mater. Mater is very apologetic. Mater wants to help McQueen make it right.

McQueen retorted, “I don’t need your help! I don’t want your help!”

Is that way that the Father thinks about us? Absolutely not!

Turn it around, do we think that we can help God out? Are there times when we think our plans are better than His plan? Do we really think that somehow or another the all-knowing eternal God makes mistakes?

Consider Job.

Job’s friend, Eliphaz, accuses Job of sinful, self-righteous pride. For Eliphaz, the only logical explanation for Job’s suffering is sinful behavior. Eliphaz condemns Job saying “Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins” (Job 22:4-5).

Based upon his assumption, Eliphaz picks random iniquities out of the air with which to charge Job. It is so easy to jump to totally false conclusions when we start with inaccurate assumptions.

The Father sets matters straight. He clearly states the facts in the case.

Job 1:8 “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

Does Job in any way think that his conduct is our character or somehow beneficial to the Father? Does Job think that the Father needs his help? Eliphaz accuses Job of exactly that.

Job 22:2-3

 2 Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?

 3 Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous?

Recall that at this point in the story. Job has no idea why terrible things are occurring. He never read the first chapter of the book. Job had not written the book of Job yet. It provides a backstory that explains what is happening and why.

Satan challenges the Father God. He asserts the only reason that people are loyal and devoted to Him is that the Father treats them so well. People would turn away from the Father if that were to cease.

Job 1:11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!

It was not the sin of Job that set the wheels turning. It was a false accusation of Satan. The Father knew the fiber of His servant Job. The Father was certain that Job could and would endure and overcome anything that Satan could throw him, within the limits that the Father established. Ultimately, the book of Job is a vindication of Job’s character and a demonstration of the Father’s confidence and faithfulness in him.

REFLECT & PRAY

Many people have an unfortunate, warped view of God. Rather than seeing the Father as a gentle, caring protector and shepherd, they see Him as a harsh, vindictive, villainous tormentor. So sad!

Father thank You that You were not petty or vindictive. Thank You that You take pleasure in those that walk with You.

INSIGHT

Eliphaz has a warped understanding of the Father God. He does not conceive of Him as being kind, gracious, and tenderhearted. Rather his God concept is one of the stern, strict, punitive judge. His God searches for errant human beings to judge and punish. “These verses reveal Eliphaz’s very deficient concept of God. To him, God did not delight in fellowship with man or in blessing man. His only reason for intervening in life was to punish people when they misbehaved” (Constable).

Job 22:3 Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?

Eliphaz is asks pointed, rhetorical questions the answer to which is, none.

The Hebrew term translated as pleasure, advantage, delight, or special benefit is chephets. Chephets connotes a strong emotional connection. The basic meaning is to feel great favor, happiness, joy, or delight with someone or something. The Hebrew term translated gain or profit is betsa’. Betsa’ means to receive personal advantage from something or someone.

Eliphaz is stating no one through their actions can benefit or help the Father. His God is distant, cold, and depersonalized. His God simply cares not about people, their struggles, or their righteousness.

I can see Eliphaz snarling a bit as he spews out his biting sarcasm. Job you don’t really think that God brings tragedy on guilt-free, righteous people? Give me a break!

Job 22:4 Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you?

The logic is clear and straightforward. “Courts don’t try people for their righteousness but for their lawlessness! Therefore, since God has sent terrible judgments upon Job, he must be guilty of sin” (Wiersbe). But Eliphaz’s logic is all wrong. It proceeded from a faulty presupposition.

While the Father does not need people, but He does take great delight in them. The Father enjoys people.

Zephaniah 3:17 He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

The Father gets so excited about children of the King that He takes great delight and celebrates with joyful singing. Visualize the Father excitedly loving on you.

The beginning of the book of Job provides understanding. Recall that the Father was so impressed with Job’s character and integrity that He knew Job would triumph over the struggles that would soon come upon him.

“Job’s character and conduct were important to God, for God was using Job to silence the devil. Neither Job nor his three friends knew God’s hidden plan, but Job had faith to believe that God was achieving some purpose in his life and would one day vindicate him. Furthermore, the character and behavior of God’s people are important to the Lord because His people bring Him either joy or sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:1; Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 6:5-6). He is not a passive, distant God who does not identify with His people but the God who delights in them as they delight in Him (Psalms 18:19; Hebrews 4:14-16)” (Wiersbe).

The omnipotent Father God does not require any assistance from children of the King. But we do give Him great pleasure. Should we not desire to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ?

John 8:29 For I always do what pleases Him.

¯\_()_/¯

There is something about that Name ∙

There is something about that Name

You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins – Matthew 1:21

Matthew 1:20-25

 20 An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

 23 “Behold! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

 24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.

 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

In the 21st century, a child is born every second. At the beginning of the twentieth century, popular baby names were John and Mary. But my, how things have changed in the century that followed. These days, you are more apt to run into an Emma or a Jayden.

Top Names of 2015

Male

Noah Liam Mason Jacob William Ethan James Alexander Michael Benjamin

Female

Emma Olivia Sophia Ava Isabella Mia Abigail Emily Charlotte Harper

Top Names of 2000

Male

Jacob Michael Matthew Joshua Christopher Nicholas Andrew Joseph Daniel Tyler

Female

Emily Hannah Madison Ashley Sarah Alexis Samantha Jessica Taylor Elizabeth

Top Names of 1950

Male

John James Robert William Michael David Richard Thomas Charles Gary

Female

Linda Mary Patricia Barbara Susan Maria Sandra Nancy Deborah Kathleen

Top Names of 1900

Male

John William James George Charles Joseph Frank Henry Robert Harry

Female

Mary Helen Anna Margaret Ruth Elizabeth Marie Rose Florence Bertha

Top Name of 4 B.C.

Jesus

Naming your baby is one of the most enjoyable and important choices you make as an expecting or new parent. Some parents have names in mind before their children are born, others choose a name after the child is born.

In the Scriptures, many babies are named by their birth father. Their names are often descriptive of something that they will do or become. Many times, the Father intervenes and provides a name for the child. It goes without saying that in Biblical times there was no technology available to determine if the baby would be a boy or girl. The Father of course knew while the child was still in the womb  (Jeremiah 1:5). Here’s a short list of people who were given their names by the Father: Ishmael – (Genesis 16:11), Isaac – (Genesis 17:19), Solomon – (1 Chronicles 22:9), Josiah – (1 King 13:2), and John the Baptist – (Luke 1:13).

But the most important of all was the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21).

REFLECT & PRAY

Every person’s name is special. Some people are personally named by the Father according to His purposes. Before we ever conceived and came into this world, the Father already know our name. But there’s more. He doesn’t just know our names, we are so important to Him and He has written them in the palms of His and sins.

I have written your name on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:16).

Father thank You for inviting me into Your forever family. It is with honor that I bow the knee before the Lord Jesus Christ.

INSIGHT

The name Jesus involves a fascinating wordplay. It is derived from the Hebrew word yasha which meant to “deliver or rescue.” It has two spellings in the Old Testament, Yeshua, and its longer form, Yehoshua. It is also related to the name Joshua. It was translated into Greek as Iesous.

The basic meaning of the word is simply “Savior.” The Lord Jesus Christ was given His name directly by the Father. He sent an angel to Joseph in a dream.

Matthew 1:21 “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The clause, “you are to name him Jesus,” is better rendered as an imperative: “you will have a son; you must name him Jesus” (UBS). His name had special meaning. He was the son of David, the Messiah of Israel. One day He would be the king of Israel and sit on David’s throne

Luke 1:26-33

 26 God Sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee,

 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.

 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!”

 31 “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

 32 “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.”

 33 “And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

But there’s more.

The Father gave His Son the Lord Jesus Christ the highest place of honor. His name is above all other names. One day every knee will bow before the name of Jesus. Everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Philippians 2:9-11

 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,

 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is something about that Name!

¯\_()_/¯ 3-17-2

Spiritual formation ∙

Spiritual formation

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. – 1 Peter 2:2

Ephesians 4:15 We are to grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head.

2 Peter 1:3-8

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,

 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,

 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Pan was not into spiritual formation. He wanted to avoid any kind of development at all. He had no desire to grow up and become an adult. His goal was to remain forever a child in Never, Never Land.

I won’t grow up; I don’t want to go to school.

Just to learn to be a parrot, and recite a silly rule.

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me!

I won’t grow up; I don’t want to wear a tie.

Or a serious expression in the middle of July.

And if it means I must prepare

To shoulder burdens with a worried air,

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me, not I, not me! So there!

We won’t grow up! We will never grow a day

And if someone tries to make it

We will simply run away

I promise that I won’t

No, I promise that I won’t

I will stay a boy forever and be banished if I don’t

What is Christian spiritual formation?

Spiritual formation is the process of developing and growing the spiritual aspect of our personality. For children of the King, spiritual formation is becoming more like Christ. Spiritual formation is a relatively new term that many believers are not familiar with. More familiar terms might be, “growing in grace,” “becoming spiritually mature,” “becoming more Christlike,” “becoming sanctified,” or “walking with Christ.”

Spiritual formation is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual growth in our lives. The word of God is foundational. Learning it and meditating upon is the epicenter of spiritual formation.

Spiritual formation starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. When the word of God is understood, the process of a renewed mind is fostered and increased.

There is simply no substitute for knowing and absorbing the Father’s eternal truth. Convictions regarding right thinking and action follow. Remarkably and inexplicably, an inner compulsion to obey the Father’s Word develops within our hearts. Conviction is the fountainhead from which confidence and passion flow.

REFLECT & PRAY

Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more mature in one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone who is growing spiritually Will become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father thank You that You are working to grow me up. Spiritual formation is Your personal goal for me and each child of the King.

INSIGHT

Many children of the King fall in love with His truth. The more time spent in it, the more beautiful and delightful it becomes. There is nothing else like it on planet Earth. Imagine your favorite food and how much you enjoy it. Over the millennia, that is what the Word of God has become for many children of the King. Once this happens, there is no going back.

Psalms 19:10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

Spiritual formation cannot be rushed. Spiritual development is a lifelong process. Process and growth are seen everywhere in nature. The finer more advanced the organism, the longer the process. The Father is working for eternity. It is not our concern how much time is involved or how long the process takes. That is totally in His hands.

Many of those who are new to the faith, have a burst of enthusiasm and began a fast and swift journey. But this does not last. The Father Himself modifies the pace.

“When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months” (Strong).

Spiritual formation is often seasonal. We can learn much by looking at the rings of a tree. Some years were marked by great growth, others not so much. So it is with children of the King. During the slow times, growth is solidified and strengthened, often through testing and even severe drought.

“Growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fiber is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July” (Strong).

The Father’s methods involve time and a variety of techniques that are all necessary for spiritual development. “The Husbandman’s method for true spiritual growth involves pain as well as joy, suffering as well as happiness, failure as well as success, inactivity as well as service, death as well as life . . .” (Sanford).

Spiritual growth and transformation are not based upon our striving to get something we do not have. Rather it is based on the knowledge and acceptance of, and reckoning upon what is already ours.

We develop a childlike faith and trust and simply rest in the Father’s loving hands, being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Biblical spiritual formation is about actively engaging with the Father in His ongoing work in our lives. Our determination, fortitude, and character are often tested. Things will not always be easy, but sometimes seemingly impossible. Spiritual formation is not determined by the size of the task, it is determined by the size of the effort one puts into the task.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going (John Wooden).

Never, Never Land should be a distant memory. After all, it was a fairytale for children.

¯\_()_/¯ 1-20-2

God honors obedience, despises stubbornness

God honors obedience, despises stubbornness

Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. 1 Samuel 15:23

Psalms 78:7-8

 7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.

 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors – stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.

Jeremiah 7:24-26

 24 But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.

 25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets – all day in and day out.

 26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful – even worse than their ancestors.

“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth” (Joseph Joubert).

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday” (Abraham Lincoln).

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture” (Thomas Paine).

“Pettiness of mind, ignorance and presumption are the cause of stubbornness, because stubborn people only want to believe what they themselves can imagine, and they can imagine very few things” (Madeleine de Souvre).

Stubbornness has two diametrically opposed meanings: arrogance or defiance on one hand and determination or perseverance on the other. The Father detests arrogant, defiant, stubbornness. The Scriptures are replete with His denunciation of rebellious stubbornness.

1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.

The Hebrew word translated as stubborn is patsar. Patsar has the sense of being unmanageable. The verb means to push, urge, be insolent, display pushing, arrogance, presumption. In modern English, an expression captures the sense of this word is “push back.”

“Our heavenly Father places a high value on obedience, preferring it even to outward expressions of worship. In fact, our obedience is the ultimate expression of worship and service” (Stanley). “The Torah integrated sacrifice into the life of obedience to God; however, it never envisioned it as a substitute for obedience” (Bergen).

1 Samuel 15:22 Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offerings.

Obedience and submission are regarded highly while rebellion and stubbornness are denounced. Why is this so? “To know God’s will and deliberately disobey it is to put ourselves above God and therefore become our own god. This is the vilest form of idolatry” (Wiersbe).

REFLECT & PRAY

“God blesses obedience, not stubbornness” (Stanley).

Father search out every rebellious, stubborn stronghold within my heart and empower me to bring them captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

INSIGHT

The story of Saul offers a window into a haughty, independent, stubborn heart. For Saul partial obedience was the same thing as total obedience. He substituted his plan for the Father’s plan. He had it all wrong. If are going to obey and serve the Father, we must do it on His terms, not ours. The Father is the implicit object of our rebellion and stubbornness. When we are stubborn and reject the clear direction of the Father, we are rejecting His authority and leadership. Ultimately we are rejecting Him.

“What is the difference between obedience and sacrifice? Sacrifice is one aspect of obedience, but obedience involves more than just sacrifice. We should never think that we can compensate for our lack of obedience to some of God’s will by making other sacrifices for Him.”

“Suppose one Saturday morning a father asks his teenage son to mow the lawn for him since he has to work that Saturday and cannot do it himself. Company is coming and he wants it to look good. The son decides that his dad’s car needs washing more than the grass needs cutting. Besides the boy plans to use the car on a date that night. When the father comes home, he finds that his son has not cut the grass. ‘I decided to wash your car instead,’ the boy explains. ‘Aren’t you pleased and me?’ His father replies, ‘I appreciate your washing the car, but that is not what I asked you to do. I would have preferred that you mow the lawn as I told you’” (Constable). In

It is possible to overcome stubbornness, if so how? It requires a massive perspective transformation.

Romans 2:4-6

 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

 5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done.

Because of the Father’s wonderful kindness, tolerance, and patience, we should turn away from the sin of stubbornness.  It is a matter of choosing to develop a resilient, flexible, and submissive spirit. Any child of the King can do it. It’s a matter of learning and putting into practice the inspired word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

The Father stands ready to enable each child of the King to cease doing what is wrong and to equip us to do what the Father desires us to do.

¯\_()_/¯

%d bloggers like this: