Bibliophila, peace, and steadiness

Bibliophila, peace, and steadiness

Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing shall offend them. – Psalms 119:165

Psalms 119:159-165

 159 See how I love your commandments, LORD. Give back my life because of your unfailing love.

 160 The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.

 161 Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.

 165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

On December 07, 2010, Reuters reported that a privately owned copy of John James Audubon’s richly illustrated Birds of America sold for a record $11.5 million. It smashed all previous records for a printed book. Only 119 copies of Birds of America are known to exist. There are now only 11 copies in private hands. The book contains 1,000 illustrations of about 500 breeds of birds and took Audubon 12 years to complete.

The book was bought by a London book dealer Michael Tollemache, a true bibliophile. He described the work after the sale as “priceless.”

The word bibliophilia connotes a love for books. It comes from the Greek terms phila love, lover, and bibliobook. A bibliophile is someone who loves books. They are fascinated with them and the stories they tell. What an ideal term to describe someone who is in love with the Bible, the Word of God. David, king of Israel, was such a man a true Bibliophile.

Psalms 119:47 How I delight in your commands! How I love them!

It is important to reflect upon what material David had available to contemplate, ponder, meditate upon, and hide in his heart. He lived circa 1000 BC. What books of the Bible had been written at that time? Primarily, the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, and Job. David was reading and meditating upon the Law of God with all of its commandments, statutes, and ordinances. They delighted him. In the present day with a complete Bible, we may take delight in the Gospel of John or the Psalms or Proverbs, or contemplate and deliberate over Romans and Ephesians, but Leviticus and Deuteronomy? Really! David was a special man with a special heart for the Father and His Word.

REFLECT & PRAY

Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Father may I fall deeply in love with Your Word. May I meditate upon it frequently and continuously.

INSIGHT

Focusing on the Father and loving His Word, has two delightful benefits: peace and stability.

As we praise Him and His word, asking for nothing, somehow it remarkably makes the problems we face look much smaller and the future more bright. The singing saint is a stable saint, walking on a level path even when the enemy digs pits and sets up obstacles (Wiersbe).

Psalms 119:165 Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

The Hebrew word translated peace is shalom. Shalom means far they more than the absence of conflict. It has the idea of well-being, wholeness, health, completeness, prosperity, and having nothing essential lacking (UBS).

The Scriptures characterize life as a walk, a journey.

The Hebrew word translated stumble or offend is mikshol. Mikshol pictures a hindrance or offense (HAL). Imagine an individual living their life and walking a path over rough terrain. When they love the Father’s Word, they are not easily offended nor do they stumble and fall. Stumbling blocks are certainly present, but do not get tripped up by them.

When we fall in love with the Word of God, we become far less sensitive to slights, insults, and struggles that characterize life in our fallen world. We can face life’s implosions and difficulties with peace, serenity, and stability. This is not peace and stability which comes from the lack of adversity. This is peace and stability amid adversity. Children of the King are not immune from sorrow or difficulty, but they have the freedom not to become entangled by them.

In Psalm 23:4, the term traditionally translated the shadow of death elsewhere simply means darkness. Here it has the sense “the valley of deep darkness,” “the dark valley,” “the darkest of all valleys,” “a valley dark as death.” It connotes a dangerous and foreboding place (UBS).

Psalms 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

David was able to face dark and foreboding circumstances with confidence and fearlessness.

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Slow but certain

Slow but certain

Do not be afraid any longer, only believe. – Mark 5:36

Mark 5:22-42

 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet

 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”

 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was.

 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Cardiac arrest strikes almost 600,000 people each year, killing the vast majority of those individuals. About 400,000 occur outside of a hospital and less than 6 percent survive. Approximately 200,000 occur in hospitals, and 24 percent survive.

Each minute is important! Indeed, the likelihood of survival decreases by 10 percent with every passing minute. The time between cardiac arrest onset and the first chest compression is critical.

Timing is often critical for the success of modern medical emergency care procedures. Not so for the Father, the Lord God omnipotent. He is the Lord and commander of time, life, death, health, and recovery. Time and death are not insurmountable obstacles for the Father, they are no more than already vanquished tiny grains of sand. To the Father, death is but sleep.

One day He will awaken everyone who sleeps (1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 20:11-12).

When the daughter of Jairus was extremely ill and death was looming, he sought the best medical intervention possible. He came to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to come and lay hands on her (Mark 5:23). The Lord Jesus Christ responded and accompanied Jairus to make a house call. Seemingly, the timing was critical, and He needed to get there before it was “too late.”

But, on the way a woman with an incurable disease, in desperate need of medical attention, stealthily and cautiously approached the Lord Jesus Christ. She reached out and touched His garment and was immediately made whole. He stopped in His tracks. He was aware that the power of life had gone out. He looked around searching the faces in the crowd to identify the person of faith who had been healed. The woman came forward and He comforted her.

He did a bit of spiritual triage. Which is more critical and requires immediate care: a terminal condition with fast-approaching death or a chronic and inconvenient health issue? The Lord Jesus Christ is never controlled or bound by human conjecture or opinion. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and He is constantly in touch with the Father, receiving direction and guidance.

How much time elapsed? Mark does not tell us. But now bad news arrived. The word reached them that it was “too late.” The little girl had already died. The Lord Jesus did not flinch, He proceeded on to the home of Jairus.

Jairus must have been heartbroken. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ did not comfort Jairus when the news of his daughter’s death came. He challenged him to faith instead. Regardless of our circumstances, God always urges us on to faith and away from fear (Barclay).

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father is in control. He has a plan and also a precise time for completion. We can trust Him to accomplish His perfect will.

Father, it is so easy to fall into fear in the face of tough, demanding obstacles. Challenge me to faith.

INSIGHT

This was not a resuscitation or healing. It was a resurrection from death to life. The little girl’s family and friends would not have mistaken near death for actual death. They had already begun to mourn. But for the Lord Jesus Christ, death, the separation of the soul from the body, is nothing more than sleep.

The crowd was not amused but mockingly laughed when He boldly declared, “The child is not dead but sleeping” (Mark 5:39).

What happens next is remarkably vivid, beautiful, and poignant. The original words that Jesus spoke in Aramaic are preserved for us. Taking the little girl’s hand in His, Jesus said, “Talitha Koum.”

The Aramaic Talitha translates as “little girl” or “little lady” or more literally, little lamb. Talitha is a feminine form of the word for “lamb” or “youth.” Koum is an imperative meaning “arise!”

Can you hear the tender but authoritative words as they fall on the little girl’s cold, dull ears? Can you see her eyes flutter and open wide? The first thing she saw was the face of Jesus, and then the faces of her mother and father, and then the three enraptured apostles (Hughes)!

In difficult, challenging, or even horrific circumstances we have a choice between fear and faith. When we exercise faith, the face of Jesus is not too far off.

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Sweet mercy

Sweet mercy

The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm. – Proverbs 11:17

Psalms 103:8 The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

Exodus 34:5-7

 5 Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh.

 6 The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

 7 I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown: his sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.

But mercy is above this sceptred sway; it is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I).

The Father is merciful, compassionate, gracious, and tenderhearted. He does not fail His children nor will He abandon, leave, forsake, or desert them.

The Hebrew word translated merciful is rachum. Rachum is derived from the term rechem which literally refers to a womb of a woman. Upon reflection and delightful word picture unfolds.  “The ‘womb’ carries with it a picture of the tender care bestowed on an infant when it is most vulnerable” (NIDOTTE). It conveys the willingness of someone to show favor, be gracious, and compassionate.  

When this word is used to describe the Father, it conveys the strong tie He has with those whom He has called His children. He looks upon His own as a human father looks upon his children; He pities them. It also speaks of His unconditioned choice (TWOT).

Psalms 103:13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who reverence him.

He is merciful to His children because He is a committed, loving parent.

Sadly, children of the King forget that He is the Father of mercies. We fail to remember our need for mercy. Our Father extends mercy to us because we desperately need it. Try as we might, even our best efforts continually fall short. We are incapable of living Up to His divine perfections.

Jesus said to them, “it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:17

Our failure leads to sadness, grief, and remorse. Consequently, we often come to Him heavy laden with shame and regret. His mercy sees our sad and contrite hearts and He responds with kindness and grace. He lovingly removes the burden and provides forgiveness and restoration.

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

REFLECT & PRAY

Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you do not deserve.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness. May I treasure your mercy in my heart.

INSIGHT

The Father has been merciful, gracious, and forgiving to us. He wants us to treat others similarly. He wants all children of the King to be defined by gentleness, warmth, and kindness in how they behave towards others.

Matthew 5:7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Being merciful is good for us while being unmerciful is harmful.

Proverbs 11:17 The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.

This can be translated, “A kind heart is full of health and well-being, but a ruthless spirit makes a man sick” (Garrett). “Goodness benefits the one who practices it, but cruelty turns itself against the one who is guilty of it. Be kind to others and you will be rewarded; be cruel and you will suffer the results.”

The point is that a person’s behavior toward others has unexpected consequences: benefits or collateral damage. Sweet mercy, it’s good for you.

One of the main ways to show mercy is through the lenient, gracious forgiveness of others for offenses or wrongs committed.

Habakkuk 3:2 In your anger, remember your mercy.

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The healing power of life

The healing power of life

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” – Mark 5:30

Mark 5:25-34

 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.

 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.

 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.

 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

 30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him . . ..

 32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.

 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done.

 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

The modern electric battery transforms chemical energy into electricity. Batteries are devices which are used to supply electric power. There used to energize electrical devices such as flashlights, mobile phones, and electric cars. A battery is a collection of one or more cells whose chemical reactions create a flow of electrons in a circuit. All batteries are made up of three basic components: an anode (the ‘-’ side), a cathode (the ‘+’ side), and some kind of electrolyte (a substance that chemically reacts with the anode and cathode).

In 1748, Benjamin Franklin first coined the term “battery” to describe an array of charged glass plates. The first true battery was invented by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1800. The first commercially successful dry cell battery (zinc-carbon cell) was invented in 1881 by Carl Gassner. In 1901, Thomas Edison invented the alkaline storage battery.

The Lord Jesus Christ is both perfect humanity and undiminished deity. He has all of the characteristics and attributes of deity. Life as a creative and sustaining force is one of them. That same life force which was used to create all that is resides within the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:3-4

 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus Christ performed a myriad of signs and wonders. Frequently, He did so with the few spoken words, a prayer, or touch. What was the source of his healing power? The Lord Jesus Christ was a living battery of sorts. Within Him, was the energy of life itself. The same life force that was used to create all that exists is within Him. We get a slight glimpse of this from the story of the woman suffering from a discharge of blood. As she reached out and touched His garment, His life force flowed from Him to her and she was immediately healed.

Imagine what it was like for this poor, hopeless woman to suffer from an incurable disease. She already spent all the money she had, employing all of the medical cures available at the time. They only made the situation worse. After hearing about Jesus, she sought Him out. She thought to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” She approached in the crowd from behind and touched His cloak. And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

REFLECT & PRAY

The healing that comes from the Father is purposeful and often selective. The miracle-working power of the Lord Jesus Christ confirmed His identity as the Messiah of Israel. The miracle of Mark 5:25-34 is an exception to the general rule.  In this case, the woman’s faith was the key to her miraculous restoration.

Father the power of life abides in You. I believe, help my unbelief.

INSIGHT

Under the Law of Moses, on account of her condition, she was in ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:25-28). As such any physical contact with her would render other people unclean. Therefore, she was not permitted to be in public without making people aware that she is unclean. By touching Jesus’ garment, she technically renders Him ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:19-23).

But the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Law. He is greater than any purity laws. Rather than becoming unclean by contact, He makes her clean through the power of life bursting out from within Him.

The Lord Jesus was well aware of the power within Him and would discharge it as needed. He could feel it pulsating within and going out from Him. In this case, the flow of power was automatic without His conscious control.

He searched for the woman of faith. The woman was fearful and awed. The Greek word rendered fear is phobeomai which means fear, awe, or reverence. She came forth and identified herself. She fell down before Him and told the Lord Jesus Christ the whole truth. She was a woman of great faith and now sincere gratitude.

The Lord Jesus Christ said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34).

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Persistence

Persistence

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. – James 1:3

Romans 5:3-5

 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

In the 1800s, several different inventors were working on creating the light bulb. Thomas Edison is credited with the invention of the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb. Edison was persistent and systematic. By slow, tedious trial and error, he determined that a cotton thread filament was able to produce over 13 continuous hours of light. Edison filed his first light bulb patent in 1879.

Edison stated, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps. I know of over 3000 ways [that] a light bulb does not work.”

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone [prevail]” (Calvin Coolidge).

On May 3, 2011, Austin Bay wrote In Praise of American Persistence. “If your vision of America is shaped by the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, the building of the Panama Canal, the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Battle of Okinawa, the Manhattan Project, the Apollo program, the Internet and similar endeavors, a nation of genius, courage, and persistence emerges – a nation to emulate, not injure and anger.”

In modern times, enemies of America have sorely miscalculated its persistence. Many thought that America was “fatigued” and would fade as a dominant world power. Some suggested that America lacked the will to endure. It was referred to as a “weak horse.”

What was overlooked is that after the end of World War II, from 1947 to 1989, the United States successfully contained and ultimately triumphed over the U.S.S.R. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall cracked, and the Cold War ended. It was a seemingly incessant, protracted, and grueling international struggle.

“That took extraordinary persistence. It took resilient, adaptable, creative, and able American military and security services. Most of all, it took the basic, consistent support of the American people, the ones who go to work, pay the bills, wear the police and military uniforms, and, to paraphrase John Kennedy, will ‘bear any burden . . . to assure the survival and the success of liberty’” (Austin Bay).

REFLECT & PRAY

“Energy and persistence conquer all things” (Benjamin Franklin).

Proverbs 12:27 The precious possession of a man is diligence.

Father encourage me and strengthen me to respond properly to the trials and afflictions that I experience. Develop in me the precious possession of persistence.

INSIGHT

James 1:3 The testing of your faith produces endurance.

The Greek word translated endurance or steadfastness is hupomone. Hupomone is the ability to withstand hardship or stress. It is the quality of persistence or fortitude. It can be translated persevere, patience, endurance, fortitude, long-suffering. It is the quality of character that does not surrender to circumstances or difficulties.

Persistence is like a muscle. It has to be exercised to grow and become stronger. The Father has seen fit to use testing, trial, trouble, adversity, stress, difficult circumstances, and heartache to develop and strengthen our endurance. It is the ability to bear up under.

It gives an entirely new perspective, a paradigm shift regarding the afflictions and trials, the vicissitudes of life. Seen from the Father’s perspective, they are intended to develop our character and make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ. The children of the King can rejoice in present trials and sufferings, not because trials are pleasant but because they produce a step-by-step transformation that makes them more like the Lord Jesus Christ (ESV notes).

But there is more Hupomone is not merely patiently enduring our circumstances. It actively vanquishes them. “It is the spirit which meets things head-on and overcomes them” (Barclay). .

“When Beethoven was threatened with deafness, that most terrible of troubles for a musician, he said: ‘I will take life by the throat.’ That is hupomone. When Sir Walter Scott was involved in ruin because of the bankruptcy of his publishers, he said: ‘No man will say “Poor fellow!” to me; my own right hand will pay the debt.’ That is hupomone” (Barclay).

All children of the King have within themselves the ability to not only “exult ‘in the midst of’ afflictions but that we are to exult ‘in’ the afflictions themselves: that is, to view them as a basis for further confidence in our redeemed status” (Moo). As our persistence grows, we will become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, we develop the attitude of welcoming and rejoicing in our afflictions.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence” (Colin Powell).

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” (Winston Churchill).

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Undefiled religion

Undefiled religion

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27

Isaiah 1:17-18

 17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

 18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

The coronavirus wreaked havoc on planet Earth. It has been a tragedy for all Americans. But there’s also been a crisis within the crisis in America’s nursing homes as a result of COVID-19. About 100,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities died in 2020 in just 9 months. Many families lost their parents and other older loved ones. Due to quickly established regulations, such as shelter-in-place, those who died, died alone without the care, company, and comfort of their loved ones. Those that longed to be with them in their final days and moments were also devastated. Their grief was compounded by the lack of physical proximity, solace, and closure.

One statistic stands out. Residents of long-term care facilities constitute less than 1% of the U.S. population, yet 43% of all COVID-19 deaths through June occurred in those places (AARP Bulletin, December 2020). This catastrophe exposed fundamental flaws in how we care for our oldest loved ones.

Helping the needy is close to the Father’s heart. It expresses His nature and character. The Father longs for every child of the King to have a heart like His own. Caring for the needy is the essence of undefiled worship.

REFLECT & PRAY

Each child of the King has a God-given responsibility to those in need.  “Do a little more than you’re paid to. Give a little more than you have to. Try a little harder than you want to. Aim a little higher than you think possible, and give a lot of thanks to God for health, family, and friends” (Art Linkletter).

Father give me a heart that truly wants to look out for and care for those in need.

INSIGHT

Each child of the King is to demonstrate the reality of their undefiled religion by putting spiritual truth into action. True religion, the inward transformation of the human heart by faith in the Lord Jesus, is characterized by love for others, particularly those most in need: orphans and widows. Why are orphans and widows mentioned? “‘Orphans and widows’ were the most helpless people in Jewish society, their ‘distress’ (literally ‘pressure’) coming from their desperate need of food and clothing” (Hughes). The neediest are in a helpless state and are representative of those who are truly poor and vulnerable. Caring for the poor and those in need is the crux of undefiled religion.

This was the clearly stated mission of the Lord Jesus Christ

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

We are never more like the Lord Jesus Christ than when we do what He has done!  “Genuine religion is a life-changing force. One’s religion, then, should be more than external; it must spring from an inner spiritual reality that expresses itself in love to others and holiness before God” (Burdick).

The apostle John expounds the same principle in unforgettable potent, piercing words.

1 John 3:17-18 

 17 If someone has the world’s goods to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?

 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted by the world.

The Greek term translated visit is episkeptesthai. Episkeptesthai is derived from epíupon and skeptomaito look. It expresses the sense to look after, take care of, tend, comfort, be concerned about, or nurse the sick (Matthew 25:36, 43). The noun form of this term is episkopos. It is translated guardian, overseer, or elder. It refers to one who watches over and cares for the welfare of others (1 Peter 2:25).

The word visiting means “look in on; to go see.” It does not mean to pay a social call but to meet physical needs. It is the old Jewish usage that means to visit to care for and supply the needs of those visited (Fruchtenbaum).

The Greek term translated trouble or distress is thlipsis. Thlipsiscomes from the Greek verb thlibo – to crush, press, compress, or squeeze. In several languages “trouble and suffering” may be expressed as “that which causes pain” (UBS).

What James is asking us to do is not merely care about the poor or give to the poor. It involves much more than that. It transcends empathy. We are not to merely “feel their pain.” We are to “meet their needs.” Simply being tenderhearted does not work unless we take action to alleviate them.

How tragic it is when we cannot meet the needs and care for those we love.

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We don’t know what to believe anymore or do we?

We don’t know what to believe anymore or do we?

What is truth? – John 18:38

John 17:17 Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.

Psalms 119:160 The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.

John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

“Social media was invented as part of the plot to undermine the faith of sensible people in freedom of speech” (Michael Deacon, the daily telegraph, U.K.)

Western civilization is haunted by a sense of “unknowing” and cognitive dissonance. We struggle to come to terms with the unsettling reality that we simply do not know what to believe anymore. In the era of “fake news,” every claim must now be viewed with deep suspicion. In the era of Google, anyone can “research” anybody. In the era of Facebook, anyone can broadcast from their own private network. But of course, in an era where we cannot trust the news, why in the world would we trust anything we read online? (Mike Rowe, May 4, 2017)

Our search for truth has been replaced by a quest for contradiction.

We are trapped in a tautology of doubt. Tautology is redundant or circular reasoning or description.

It seems we’re no longer merely skeptical; we’re skeptical of skepticism – and doubly skeptical of those who are not. Should we feel deceived? Betrayed? (Mike Rowe)

How did this come about? Humankind has searched for the truth from the beginning. There was always a new truth, a truth for now. But today truth with a capital “T” simply does not exist for much of the population. Absolute Truth has become relative truth. Whatever is true for you, is truth.

In a live appearance at UCLA’s Royce Hall, Oprah explains why it’s important for all of us to find our own truth. “What is the truth of me? Why am I here? And what do I have to offer?” Oprah asks. “The answer,” she says, “is yourself.” Oprah shares why you are enough, just as you are . . . (Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations).

REFLECT & PRAY

Children of the King need to stand firm upon the foundation of true Truth that He has provided. They put it into practice.

Father thank You that You have revealed Your eternal Truth in the Word of God. Encourage me to build and maintain my life upon it.

INSIGHT

Francis Schaeffer explained that in the postmodern age, there are two kinds of truth: Absolute Truth and relative truth. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German philosopher, who lived from 1770 – 1831 is responsible. He postulated an entirely new philosophical perspective on truth which he called dialectics. Hegel suggested that truth is not absolute but relative and always changing.

For children of the King, the Absolute Truth of Scripture never changes. It can never be compromised. It can never be synthesized. The Father’s Truth is true Truth and never varies. Our Father has provided a firm foundation upon which to build our understanding of reality and base our faith.

Psalms 119:89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.

Times of stress and crisis separate true Truth from false truth. They reveal the true Truth upon which we base our lives.

The Lord Jesus Christ provides an excellent illustration of permanent and lasting foundations. Rather than talking about philosophical constructs, He talks about home construction. One house is built on a weak foundation of sand. The other house is built upon a firm foundation of rock.

Each house in the Lord Jesus Christ’s illustration looks secure. However, severe testing reveals the true quality of the builders’ work. Torrential downpours were and are common in Israel. Wise men build to withstand them (Constable).

Matthew 7:24-25

 24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.

Proverbs 10:25 When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

“Only a house whose foundations are firm can withstand the storm; and only a life whose foundations are sure can stand the test” (Barclay). The Lord Jesus Christ demanded two things of all children of the King: they are to listen and to do (Barclay).

“Knowledge only becomes relevant when it is translated into action. It would be perfectly possible to pass an examination in Christian ethics with the highest distinction, and yet not to be a Christian. Knowledge must become action; theory must become practice; theology must become life.”

“There is little point in consulting a doctor about our health unless we are prepared to act upon the things we are told. There is little point in going to an expert unless we are prepared to act upon the advice given to us. And yet there are thousands of people who listen to the teaching of Jesus Christ every Sunday, and who have a very good knowledge of what Jesus taught, and who yet make little or no deliberate attempt to put it into practice” (Barclay).

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Prevaricator in chief

Prevaricator in chief

The devil was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44

2 Corinthians 11:14-15

 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,

 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Many commentators and wonks agree that the year 2018 could be characterized by one word, “misinformation.” There are unintended consequences of the information age. One is misinformation, closely followed by disinformation. Misinformation often involves delusions, lies, and blind, adamant beliefs. Prevarications proliferate from Russian troll farms, media, Facebook, Congress, and the White House. Consider the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The reality of evidence-based objective truth was brought into question.

On Aug 19, 2018, Rudy Giuliani acting as a lawyer for the White House declared “truth isn’t truth.” Truth it seems is inherently partisan and becomes whatever you prefer to believe. The goal of misinformation and propaganda is to create doubt about the obvious. So much misinformation pervades storylines, with alternate explanations, interpretations, and views that the facts are simply crowded out.

The Father has given us something unique in the world, Absolute Truth. Absolute Truth never varies, never compromises, never synthesizes. It stands alone in opposition to all other conflicting opinions and points of view.

How do we know when we are being told a lie? We test all information by the standard of the truth of the Word of God. This of course necessitates that we actually know what the Word of God says. Therefore, it is important to be in the Word, reflecting and meditating on what we read, and internalizing it in our hearts and minds.

A staff member at a major university quipped he could always tell when his boss was lying. There was one simple giveaway, his lips were moving.

The enemy of our souls is the father of lies and the ultimate master of misinformation and disinformation. He commands an army of demonic double-agents. The devil loves darkness and falsehood and ultimately inspires every lie. Deceit and deception are the very center of the devil’s strategy. Duplicity is employed to accomplish the devil’s work. Darkness hates the light; falsehood hates the truth and tries to destroy it.

The devil leads those that follow him to death and eternal separation from the Father. The enemy murders goodness, chastity, honor, honesty, beauty, and all that makes life lovely. The enemy of our souls murders peace of mind and happiness and even love. Evil routinely destroys. In stark contrast, Christ brings life, and Christ leads to life. He provides the Way, and the Truth, and the Life which leads to the Father.

John 8:44 [The evil one] speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

When the evil one speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature. The Greek phrase which is translated from his own nature is ek ton idiom. The enemy of our souls speaks from his own stuff, his own nature, and his essential character. He is doing what comes naturally. He disassembles and prevaricates.

REFLECT & PRAY

Each of us can remember when we were confused and immature regarding the truth of the Father’s Word. For some of us, that might not have been too long ago. It may still seem so.

Father kindle within me the desire and energize me to get into and remain in the Word of Truth. Let the truth of Scripture permeate my mind, and soul, and spirit.

INSIGHT

The enemy and the Lord Jesus Christ are complete opposites. The Lord Jesus Christ loves us and desires our best. The enemy hates us and seeks our worst. The Lord Jesus Christ brings life and light. The enemy offers death and destruction.

The ultimate battlefield is the mind. The apostle Paul emphasizes the need for preparing and training the mind to engage in spiritual warfare. We are to take captive every thought and bring it into agreement with the Truth of Christ. We wage war against invisible, intangible spiritual forces. Satan is behind these forces. Satan is repeatedly spreading misinformation, propaganda that contradicts the Father’s revealed Truth. His half-truths often appear lofty, erudite, enlightened. But in fact, they are hollow, pretentious, and fallacious. Embedded within are despair, misery, and death.

It is incumbent upon each child of the King to develop a sophisticated Truth filter. We must equip ourselves to separate what is precious and useful from what is worthless, tangential, and base.

Jeremiah 15:19 If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.

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Where’s the beef?

Where’s the beef?

James 2:18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

James 2:17-20

 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

“Where’s the beef?” is a catchphrase in the United States and Canada, introduced as a slogan for the fast-food chain Wendy’s in 1984.

The original commercial featured three elderly ladies at the “Home of the Big Bun” a fictional competitor of Wendy’s. Clara Peller receives a burger with a massive bun. The other two ladies poked at it, exchanging bemused comments, “It certainly is a big bun. It’s a very big bun. It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.”

As one of the ladies lift the top half of the bun, a comically minuscule hamburger patty with cheese and a pickle is revealed. The small patty prompts Peller angrily to exclaim, “Where’s the beef?”

The catchphrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets. During the 1984 presidential primaries, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale used the phrase to sum up his arguments that program policies championed by his rival, Senator Gary Hart, were insubstantial.

Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event, or product.

Down through the centuries, people and particularly theologians, have debated the relationship between faith and works. If we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, how can we know for sure if we have been redeemed? Is our faith adequate and genuine? Where’s the beef?

REFLECT & PRAY

“For James, ‘faith alone’ means a bogus kind of faith, mere intellectual agreement without a genuine personal trust in Christ that bears fruit in one’s life” (ESV notes).

Father thank You that You have provided salvation by faith alone. Encourage and strengthen me to bear the fruit of my faith.

INSIGHT

The apostle Paul unequivocally stated that salvation comes by grace through faith and it is not the result of any effort on our part.

Ephesians 2:8-9 [NLT]

 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 [NAS]

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Salvation is the Father’s gracious response to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our acceptance of Him as our Savior. Before the birth, life, and death of Christ, children of the King believed in the promises that the Father made in the Old Testament. The best illustration of this is Abraham.

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.

The Father made promises and Abraham believed them. That is when he became a child of the King (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6). However, how did he demonstrate that his faith was real? That came years later.

He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, whom he dearly loved. His response to this seemingly over-the-top command showed that his faith was real. He prepared to do just as he was told. Just as he was about to carry out the Father’s request, he was stopped by an angelic messenger.

Genesis 22:12 He said, “Don’t lay a hand on the boy! “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Abraham’s works, good deeds, efforts, and willingness to carry out the Father’s command demonstrated that his faith was real. Works are the outward demonstration of the inner reality of faith.

But there is more. The Father provides an inner awareness through the work of the Holy Spirit to confirm that our faith is real and that we are His children.

Romans 8:16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Anyone can say they have faith. But saying you have faith is not enough.

James 2:20-24

 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.

 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

Our actions do not make us right with the Father, our actions demonstrate we are right with the Father.

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Do you have an undiagnosed heart condition?

Do you have an undiagnosed heart condition?

The LORD does not see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

Ezekiel 36:26-27

 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

In the summer of 2016, former Miss North Dakota, USA Samantha Edwards, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition. Had Samantha been aware of it, she might well have survived. Her autopsy revealed that she had a genetic undiagnosed heart condition: right ventricular arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. This gives rise to a question: How do you know if you have an undiagnosed potentially harmful heart condition like this in advance?

On planet Earth, many people are born with genetic physical abnormalities, deficiencies, or defects. But sadly, the entire human race has a deadly spiritual heart condition. It has been diagnosed by the Father and He has provided a treatment plan for anyone who would take it.

When the Father looks at our hearts, what is His diagnosis?

Jeremiah 17:9-10

 9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

 10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.

“President Calvin Coolidge came home from church one Sunday, and his wife asked, ‘What did the preacher preach about?’ ‘Sin,’ the President said in his usual concise manner. ‘What did he say about it?’ Mrs. Coolidge further inquired, and the President replied, ‘He was against it’” (Wiersbe).

The Father is also against deadly spiritual heart abnormalities. Based upon the Father’s diagnosis, He desires to perform spiritual heart surgery. The natural human heart is damaged beyond repair. The only solution is a new heart, a transplant created in labs of heaven. The Father alone is capable of spiritual heart transplant surgery.

However, people themselves are often totally unaware of this fact. “The human heart is deceptive; we may think we know why we do something, but really we may be doing it for another reason. It is naturally sick, really totally depraved, and in need of healing. No one really understands his or her own heart, nor do we understand why our hearts behave as they do” (Constable).

REFLECT & PRAY

Do you have a heretofore undiagnosed heart condition? The Father knows your heart completely. He is aware of all of its secrets and machinations.

Father thank You that You have given me a new heart. I desire to have a willful submission to Your guidance and direction.

INSIGHT

Born in the 18th century, William Carey was a sickly child. Humanly speaking, it was doubtful that he would be successful in life. His future did not look bright at all. But the Father had plans for him. He called him to become a pastor and missionary to India. He became an educator, translator, social reformer, and cultural anthropologist. He set the pattern for modern missionary work which many Christian missionary organizations have followed ever since. 

David, son of Jesse, outwardly was an ordinary young man. He was the youngest of his brothers. He spent most of his time caring for sheep near his home in Bethlehem. But then something marvelous happened. The Father sent the prophet Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. All of his older brothers were rejected. This young, insignificant shepherd lad was the one. The Father saw David’s heart. David had a heart for God. The Father told Samuel to anoint David as king. And Samuel did so.

At that moment, the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on (1 Samuel 16:13). The insignificant shepherd had become the next king of Israel. Not only did he have a heart for God, but now he had a heart from God. And he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was supernaturally empowered to be king. “The ‘heart’ in Scripture refers to a person’s inward moral and spiritual life, including the emotions, will, and reason” (ESV notes).

The way a person looks on the outside is no predictor of who they are on the inside. Their outward appearance is purely superficial. The heart is the most important part of any human. That is what matters most to the Father.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Pause for a moment and consider, “What does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart?” Such an individual would be in complete harmony with the Father. Their primary motivation would be to please the Father.  What mattered to the Father, would matter to Them. What the Father disapproves of, they would also.

Such children of the King practice a willful submission to the Father’s guidance and direction. “When He says, ‘Go to the right,’ you go to the right. When He says, ‘Stop that in your life,’ you stop it. When He says, ‘This is wrong and I want you to change,’ you come to terms with it because you have a heart for God” (Swindoll).
 
All children of Adam and Eve struggle from spiritual heart conditions. Their hearts are by nature stony, stubborn, and willful. The Father’s treatment plan is spiritual heart surgery. He provides a new, transplanted heart that is tender and responsive to Him. The Father places His spirit within every child of the King. As a result, our prognosis is drastically altered (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

We have the privilege and ability to walk in the spirit.

Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you will not be doing what your sinful nature craves.

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