Cud chewer or knowledge seeker

Cud chewer or knowledge seeker

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. – Proverbs 15:14

Proverbs 15:9-19

 9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue godliness.

 10 Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined; whoever hates correction will die.

 11 Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!

 12 Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.

 13 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

 14 A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.

 15 For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

 16 Better to have little, with fear for the LORD, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.

 17 A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.

 18 A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.

 19 A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway.

Early in the history of agriculture, sheep, goats and cattle were domesticated by nomadic peoples.

Lands that are not fit or capable of sustaining crops are suitable for grazing domesticated animals. Livestock grazing provides food and income. It is estimated that 85% of grazing land in the United States is not suitable for crops.

What about people who graze?

Proverbs 15:14 The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.

Some seek knowledge and wisdom, others feed on folly or trash. Both verbs are actually agricultural terms. A shepherd seeks good pastures for his flock, but fools feed on folly.

The Hebrew verb translated feed is raah. It normally refers only to animals such as goats and cows that eat fodder in the field. Grazing animals simply roam about randomly nibbling here and there. They haphazardly rummage, scrounge, and munch on grass or fodder. It does not take much effort or thought to graze. It is not purposeful or selective.

In the 21st century, the agricultural idiom of grazing has been replaced by channel surfing, smartphone gazing , and social media. Physical grazing has been superseded by digital grazing. We just kind of follow our noses like sheep or cattle. We take in great quantities of digital fodder, but are we truly nourished? Is 21st century digital grazing a distraction or a blessing?

REFLECT & PRAY

Our souls and spirits are shaped by what we let in.

Father encourage me to rearrange my priorities and spend my time not merely chewing cud.

INSIGHT

Our physical bodies have natural requirements to sustain life. Among our needs are air, food, and water. What of our souls and spirits? What sustains and nourishes the human spirit? Fools have an appetite for folly. The wise and thoughtful hunger for knowledge.

Do you want to live wisely and well? The book of Proverbs is filled with pithy reflections on right priorities and skills for living. These pithy observations are written in Hebrew poetry. Often, they are written in pairs called couplets. The lines of these couplets rhyme not in sound but in thought. One type of couplet is synonymous. It has two lines which say essentially the same thing. The second line uses different words or images. For example: Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined; whoever hates correction will die. – Proverbs 15:10

Another type of poetic couplet is antithetical. The second line contrasts with the first. For example: A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. – Proverbs 15:14

What thoughts are contrasted? The subjects of this couplets are polar opposites: the wise, intelligent, or prudent versus the foolish, stupid, or dullard. The verbs are roughly dissimilar: thoughtful seeking versus haphazard feeding or grazing. The “food” consumed is totally divergent: wisdom or knowledge versus foolishness or trash.

The wise who seek knowledge, “want to learn” and “desire instruction.” And what of fools? For what do they hunger? Rather than wisdom and knowledge, they gorge themselves with folly and garbage.

This proverb is intentionally edgy and harsh. It is crafted to pick at us, even annoy us, to get us to think. How do we spend our time? What do we seek? What do we hunger for? What do we choose to chew on? Are we truly satisfied? Are our spirits nurtured?

Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Psalms 119:103 How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.

Servant mentors

Servant mentors

Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. – 2 Timothy 2:2

Exodus 18:17-24

 17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed.

 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.

 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him.

 20 Teach them God’s decrees and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives.

 21 But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

 22 They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.

 23 If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions.

In Greek Myth and Legend, when Odysseus, a.k.a. Ulysses, left for Troy, Mentor, his trusted friend and loyal adviser, was put in charge of the household of Odysseus. He was given responsibility for the education of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. Mentor soon became the guardian and trusted advisor of Telemachus.

The story of Mentor, became the source of our English word mentor. A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

Mentoring consists of a relationship, frequently long-term, which focuses on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. The mentor is the mentee’s source of direction, wisdom, education, and support.

Mentoring involves the willingness and ability of the mentor to serve. But it also requires the mentees willingness to be guided, directed, and instructed. Absent, apathetic mentors, or reluctant, defiant mentees disrupt the process.

While the word mentor is not in the Scriptures, the Scriptures are replete with examples of people who served as mentors: Jethro -> Moses, Naomi -> Ruth, Mordecai -> Esther, Barnabas -> Paul, Paul -> Timothy.

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was wise and perceptive. He mentored Moses. Moses had taken on himself the sole responsibility for settling disputes between people. Jethro observed the process and recognized immediately that Moses was overextended. Jethro advised him to change his ways. More than that, he provided specific steps of action that proved to be very effective.

Exodus 18:17-24

 17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed.

 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.

 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him.

 21 But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

 22 They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.

 23 If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions.

REFLECT & PRAY

Servant mentors gladly encourage the friendless and dejected. It can make all the difference.

Father thank you for the mentors you have provided for me. May I mentor others, as I have been mentored.

INSIGHT

Barnabas had grown into a remarkable servant mentor. The leaders of the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to mentor the new believers at Antioch. Barnabas asked Paul to assist him. (Acts 11:26). Wherever they traveled, undoubtedly Barnabas encouraged Paul to use and develop his spiritual gifts. Barnabas mentored Paul. We know how that story ended.

Barnabas played a critical role in encouraging John Mark. During Paul’s first missionary journey, John Mark failed miserably and abandoned his responsibilities. Paul concluded that John Mark was unreliable (Acts 13:13). This caused a division in the close working relationship between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39). Paul refused to take John Mark on his second missionary journey.

Barnabas had taken a big risk on Paul. Now he took a risk on John Mark. That is what servant mentors do. He gave John Mark a second chance. John Mark not only overcame the past, he went on to serve effectively (2 Timothy 4:11).

But there is more to the story. If there had been no Barnabas to encourage and mentor, Paul might never have been embraced by those whom he had formerly persecuted. He might never have become the author of thirteen books of the New Testament. If John Mark had not been encouraged and given a second chance by Barnabas, the gospel of Mark might never have been written.

Servant mentors encourage their mentees, believing in them. They often restore them to wholeness and usefulness. An encourager motivates those they serve to believe in themselves and do their best.

When Barnabas met Paul, Paul was blind and friendless. Barnabas introduced Paul to the reluctant and frightened leaders of the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:27-28). Barnabas came alongside the rejected and now dejected John Mark. He took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus to mentor those in need there (Acts 15:39).

So you might conclude that Barnabas acting as a servant mentor was tangentially responsible for the writing of fourteen books of the New Testament.

Servant mentors encourage and train those in their care. Their goal is to work themselves out of a job. They are willing to pour their lives into others, who may eventually go on to have tremendous impact. When the mentee becomes successful, the mentor rejoices in their success.

When Luke records the early travels of Paul and Barnabas together in the book of Acts, he refers to them as “Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:26; 13:2). Luke changes the order after their time in Cyprus together. Throughout the rest of the book of Acts, Luke refers to them as “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:13).

Why? The Father chose to bless Paul’s efforts in an extraordinary way. Barnabas was now playing second fiddle. Barnabas undoubtedly rejoiced in his mentee’s success.

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde

[Ahab] married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. – 1 Kings 16:31

1 Kings 18:14-46

 14 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”

 16 Ahab went out to meet Elijah.

 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”

 18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were perhaps the most notorious American criminal couple of the twentieth century. They were known for their bank robberies and murders. While they preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations, their criminal pursuits were bounded only by geography. Their gang swung in a circle skirting the edges of five midwestern states. They exploited a state “line rule” that prevented officers from pursuing a fugitive into another state’s jurisdiction. Their cagey escapades captured the hearts of much of the American public. They became the focus of the media from 1931 and 1934 during the Great Depression.

They did not hesitate to shoot anyone who got in their way, whether it was a police officer or an innocent civilian. At first, they were treated as folk heroes. But eventually their cold-blooded murders turned the public against them. This ultimately led to their demise. They were killed in May 1934 during an ambush by law officers.

But Bonnie and Clyde had nothing on Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were the most notorious husband and wife team in Scripture. Wickedness and idolatry marked their murderous and infamous reign. But their supreme sin was disavowing the worship of the Lord God Almighty. In its place they substituted the worship of Baal. For the first time in the history of the northern kingdom, the worship of Yahweh was replaced with idolatry. “This represents a quantum leap in the history of apostasy” (Rice).

Paganism now reigned in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. The light of the Father’s truth was nearly extinguished. The prophets of God had contracts on their heads, compliments of Ahab and Jezebel. And the prophets had to flee for their lives. But Jezebel was not satisfied with going after the Father’s prophets, she wanted to exterminate all of His followers. Darkness overshadowed the land. This continued for 14 years until the Father raised up His prophetic challenge.

These were the days of Elijah!

Elijah, the prophet and servant of God was raised up , to directly confront and remove the darkness from the land. Often, he was fearless and courageous. He boldly confronted Ahab and reproved his sin.

What goes around comes around. The Father’s prophets had been targeted for extermination. But the Father had other plans. He put out contracts on the heads of the prophets of Baal. Elijah was sent to execute His judgment.

Elijah’s words and deeds are almost legendary.

REFLECT & PRAY

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when the Father has their back.

Father thank You that even in the darkest times, You always have a plan.

INSIGHT

God’s servants, the prophets, serve many functions. Elijah was tasked to confront and overthrow. He was totally equipped for the job. Every time supernatural power or authority was required, it was provided. When you read the stories of Elijah, you might be prompted to ask the question, “how can this possibly happen?” The answer would always be the same, “then a miracle occurred.”

But how? What was Elijah’s secret? It was all in his name, Elijah means “Yahweh is my God.” He stood in “The Presence.” Elijah stood before the Lord God Almighty whom he served (1 Kings 18:15). The Father’s power flowed through him. He was the channel, the conduit of the Father’s mighty, miraculous work on earth.

Can we be like Elijah? Absolutely! But that is a story for another day.

Was anything special about Elijah, the man? Was he a superhero? Did he accomplish his mission because he had superpowers? The Bible provides an unequivocal answer: No!

James 5:17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!

After God had used him in a dramatic and powerful way, Jezebel’s threats panicked him, and he ran away like a frightened dog with its tail between its legs (1 Kings 19:1-3). Further he was given to complaining and whimpering.

Romans 11:3 “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

You have heard of “The gunfight at the OK corral.” But what about the firefight at Mount Carmel? The Father had arranged this mountaintop event as Elijah’s final showdown with the pagan prophets, all 950 of them. It was the fight of the century, that is, the eighth century BC. Elijah challenged the pagan prophets to a public contest.

Before there was the NFL and trash talk, there was Elijah “smack talking” the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Elijah was the Y-team, Yahweh. His opponents were the A-team, 400 prophets of Asherah, and the B-team, 450 prophets of Baal. There was a total of 950 guys against only one! But Elijah, “Yahweh is my God,” had them surrounded. He had them exactly where he wanted them. Just remember, if Yahweh has your back, that is all you need!

All of the contestants arrived at Carmel. Elijah issued the challenge. It is quite simple really. An animal was laid on a wooden altar. No fire was provided. That task would be the responsibility of the one true God

1 Kings 18:14-46

Elijah laid out the ground rules. “Call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” (1 Kings 18:14)

 1 Kings 18:25-29

 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you.

 26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.

 27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”

 28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.

 29 They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.

It was now Elijah’s turn. He wanted everybody to be sure that he had no tricks up his sleeve. So he had the sacrifice and the altar totally drenched with water three times. All eyes were glued upon Elijah and the altar. What would happen next? Whose God is God?

1 Kings 18:36-38

 36 Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command.

 37 O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

 38 Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!

1 Kings 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The LORD – he is God! Yes, the LORD is God!”

The LORD – he is God! Yes, the LORD is God! The Lord God of Israel, the Almighty answered with fire from heaven.

About 3000 years later, it is said that Elijah was given a nickname. Of course there is no way to verify this. But it is rumored that in the nation of Israel down to this day, some folks still call him Elijah-Houdini the prophet.

Family resemblance

Family resemblance

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son. – Romans 8:29

1 Peter 2:21-23 

 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

Family resemblance is the tendency for children or members within a collective family unit to resemble each other through a variety of different attributes from physical looks to personality. “There is normally a degree of family resemblance between members of a family, where there is multiple siblings, they usually share some attributes” (Psychology Dictionary).

Everyone to some degree or another, bears the characteristics and traits of their family of origin. It is all about genetics, DNA, and socialization. If we act like the devil, there is probably good reason.

When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Father adopts us into His forever family. Before that, whose family did we belong to? The answer is tragic. There are only two families on earth, the Father’s and the enemy’s (John 8:44). This can be a startling, if not an overwhelming realization.

The Father’s intended purpose is to transform us from the inside out. He desires that we lose our old family traits and exchange them for new family traits, His family traits. He desires that we be conformed and take on the characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father wants us to become like his Son (Romans 8:29). He is actively working toward that end.

When we realize what it means to have the Lord God Almighty as our Father, and the great privilege of being part of His family, how difficult is it to allow Him to exercise authority and direction in our lives? He offers us freedom under authority. The enemy proposes that we can have freedom without authority. It did not work out well in the garden. The same has been true for the last 6000 years.

REFLECT & PRAY

What is the secret of not getting angry, getting even, and seeking revenge?

Father thank you for giving us such a wonderful example. Keep tapping on me until I become just like Him.

INSIGHT

It is natural to ask the question, what are the characteristics of the family of God? What is the Father like as a person and how does He act? The Father has a magnificent answer to that question. He left us a perfect example.

Hebrews 1:3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Hebrews 1:3  He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.

The Father wants us to become like his Son.

1 Peter 2:21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

What does it mean that Christ is our example? Paul used a special Greek word to explain.

The Greek word translated example is hupogrammos from hupounder and graphowrite. It literally means to write under. How did Greek children learn the alphabet? They were presented with a model or pattern, an example for imitation, a master copy to imitate.  Faint outlines of letters are often made on their writing materials. Then young pupils traced over them as they learned to write.

The master copy was called the hupogrammos. They would practice forming the letters of the master copy until theirs were identical to it. But there is more.

Many of us as children probably remember a particular handicraft activity. We were given a thin sheet of copper. We placed the copper over an object that we wanted to make an impression of. Perhaps a metal coin or flat ceramic. We laid the copper foil over the image and we gently tapped on it. As we did, the image of the object below began to form in the copper foil. The impression in the copper, closely resembled the object below.

In the Father’s hands, we are the copper foil. The Lord Jesus Christ is the image. When we became His children, He gently laid us over the image of His Son and began to tap. Over time, as he hammers away, the image of Christ is formed in us.

When the Lord Jesus Christ experienced harsh, unfair treatment, how did He respond?

1 Peter 2:22-23 

 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

The Lord Jesus Christ was reviled, insulted, scorned, and despised by many, particularly those in authority, during His earthly ministry. He never lost control. He was a patient sufferer .

Imagine the wounds His gentle spirit and tender heart received through the repeated ugly, abusive speech, rudeness, and haughty contempt. The Lord Jesus Christ never lost it, retaliated, or returned insult for insult. He never made an attempt to settle the score, get revenge.  He confronted, but He was not in the business of getting even (John 8).

How did He do it? He kept entrusting Himself to the Father. He gave over His care and preservation entirely to His heavenly Father. He committed the outcome of the circumstances to his Father, the heavenly Judge. Situations and people were continually and repeatedly handed over to His Life Coach. He invited the Father to exercise complete control and direction in His life.

No matter what, His attitude was always the same: “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Joy or consequences

Joy or consequences

Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! – Psalms 85:10 

Psalms 32:1-5

 1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!

 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.

 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.”

An Affair to Remember is a 1957 American romance film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It is considered one of the most romantic films of all time, according to the American Film Institute

Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) aboard the transatlantic ocean liner the SS Constitution in route from, Europe to New York.

As the ship returns to New York City, they agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months’ time.

On the day of their rendezvous, Terry, hurrying to reach the Empire State Building, is struck by a car while crossing a street. Gravely injured, she is rushed to the hospital. She is to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Meanwhile, Nickie, waiting for her at the observation deck at the top of the building, is unaware of the accident and, after many hours, leaves at midnight, believing she has rejected him.

Terry and Nikkie run into each other at the ballet. Nickie learns Terry’s address and on Christmas Eve pays her a surprise visit. Nickie mentions a painting that he had been working on when they originally met, and that it was just given away to a woman in a wheelchair who liked it but had no money. Nickie walks into her bedroom and sees the painting hanging on the wall. The film ends with the two in a tight embrace.

The Scriptures are replete with love affairs. One of the lesser-known ones is in Psalm 85. But this affair does not involve people. Rather it is about the delightful qualities of unfailing love and truth and righteousness and peace.

Psalms 85:10 Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!

These are four qualities are attributes of the Father. They are personified as two delightful couples engaged in a love affair. Steadfast love and faithfulness are partners, as are righteousness and peace. They meet, embrace, and kiss each other. Can you imagine for a moment love and faithfulness embracing? How about righteousness and peace kissing?

Psalms 85:11 Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.

Truth and righteousness are likened to their offspring. They are likened to the timely refreshing rain of Spring from which the lush, green foliage of the season issues forth.

When you are in love, you want to be your best and do your best for your beloved. The Father’s love for us has given birth to redemption and the forgiveness of sin. They the offspring of the Father’s love for His children.

REFLECT & PRAY

Joy or consequences, the choice is ours.

Father you have invited us into a love affair, a love affair with you! May we feel your embrace and enjoy your kiss.

INSIGHT

What produces joy in your life? What puts a smile on your face? The answers are as varied as people. Young animals of all kinds, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, delightful vistas, wildflowers and lilies, sunlight, moonlight, the stars, the mighty ocean, a gentle breeze, summer rain, winter snowflakes, etc.

For King David the answer was quite different. He had been greatly troubled because he had sinned and experienced great conviction and shame. The burden was too much for him to carry. He did not know what to do so he lifted up his voice in prayer recognizing his sullen and depleted condition.

Psalm 32:3-5

 3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long.

 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.  

 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.  

The Father is seeking to forgive us and cleanse us of all from our impurities. We need only to ask. When David stopped hiding and pretending, he confessed his wrongdoing. And his devoted Father God gently removed the heavy burden, exchanging it for joy.

Psalm 32:1-2

 1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven; whose sin is covered!

 2 How joyful is the man the LORD does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit!

David’s anguish and groaning, his repeated deep emotional and physical unrest made him a physical and mental wreck. But now all the torment has been swapped for something unbelievably magnificent, exuberant joy. The joy bursts forth into praise and worship. He wants everyone to hear and know what the Father has done for him. What a relief, what a release.

David had been a fool trying to hide and cover. He had become a physical and mental wreck. The fact is, “God does not permit his children to sin successfully” (Spurgeon). Sin makes us miserable. Forgiveness and cleansing make us joyful.

Joy or consequences, the choice is always ours.

Getting forgiven

Getting forgiven

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Colossians 2:13-14

 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, was the commencement speaker at Morehouse College in May 2019. During his speech, he announced that a grant was established to pay off all student loan debt for Morehouse graduates in the Class of 2019.

Each graduate’s student loan debt would be paid in full. There were approximately 400 students and the gift is estimated at about $40 million.

Smith gave the ultimate graduation gift – total debt forgiveness!

What is your first thought? “I wish I were a member the graduating class,” right?

Well, if you are one of the Father’s children, you too are a member of a very special class, His forever family. The Father is far wealthier than Mr. Smith. And He has established a grant for each of His children to eliminate all of their sin debt. There was a high price to be paid. But His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, gladly paid that price. Now forgiveness is available.

In 33 AD, when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, all of the sins that each of us would ever commit were still future. We would not be born for overs 1900 years. He lumped them all together into one long list. Paul calls it a certificate of debt. Christ paid for all of our sins before we ever even committed them. He paid for them all at once and once for all.

The Father gave the ultimate eternal gift – total sin-debt forgiveness!

Colossians 2:13-14

 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

 14 by canceling the certificate of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The Greek word translated certificate of debt or record of debt is cheirographon. It literally means made with hands.It comes from cheir hand, and poieo to make. It refers to a handwritten record of debt, a record of indebtedness. Paul uses this term to describe God’s record of charges against individual people for breaking His law. In our culture, we would call it the list of charges against us. Each of us has his own list. The Lord Jesus Christ took each of our individual lists and nailed them all to the cross. When He died, He announced for all time, tetelestai, “it is finished,” “paid in full” (John 19:30).

The entire debt was paid in full.

REFLECT & PRAY

Psalms 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven; whose sin is covered!

Father how remarkable it is that all of our sins have been paid for. Thank You that we have been forgiven and continue to be forgiven as we recognize our sin and receive forgiveness and cleansing. What a wonderful plan!

INSIGHT

Forgiveness has a bit of a strange implementation. It comes in two phases. A rough analogy is buying a home or a car and making payments over time. First you make a down payment, one lump sum. Then for the term of the contract you continue to make monthly payments until the debt is paid in full.

Do you remember the freedom from bondage you experienced when you paid off your first loan? And that was only financial bondage. What about the bondage of sin? Do you think there is a way to actually pay off or work out of the bondage that sin has wrought? The debt is too great! And there is too little time. And additional sin debt continues to accrue to your account. It is simply beyond human ability alone.

The Father knowing this in His great love, paid your debt Himself. Regardless of your motivation, trying to pay off your debt will lead in frustration and ultimate failure.

“There is nothing you can to do make God love you more! There is nothing you can do to make God love you less” (Stanley)!

When we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Father made something like a down payment. But what He provided was far more than a down payment. He made a one-time gift or endowment. He provided one large lump sum of forgiveness for each of us. He deposited all of the forgiveness we would ever need into our personal forgiveness accounts. At the moment we accepted Christ, we made one large withdrawal from our forgiveness fund. At that moment we were totally forgiven for all that we had done up until that time. Some of us can recall the tremendous relief of the burden being removed.

But as we all know, life goes on and we keep right on sinning. What happens then? All of our sins have been paid for. No further payment can be made.

But we no longer feel clean. Sometimes we feel totally alienated and separated from the Father. Sometimes circumstances, disappointment, tragedy, anger, or rage get the best of us. Yet all of our sins have already been paid for. All of forgiveness we will ever need is already available. We do not need to acquire more forgiveness; we need only to experience the forgiveness we already have.

That is where the lump sum endowment comes in. There is enough forgiveness to fully pay off every sin that we would ever commit. The barrel has no bottom. Morning by morning new mercies are seen. It is impossible to draw down past God’s mercy and forgiveness.

All we have to do is make a withdrawal. We draw down our forgiveness through the act of confession. The Father simply applies forgiveness to our current sins. We are forgiven at that moment in time. We experience cleansing and restoration. Unfortunately being fallen creatures we will undoubtedly continue to sin. As we sin, we confess, and the Father applies the forgiveness we already have to our lives.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confession clears our hearts spiritually and makes it possible for us to once more to experience deep fellowship with God. Unconfessed sin makes us weak, discouraged, and ultimately miserable (Stanley). The need to confess new unconfessed sin is an important reminder to always keep our record clean and straight.

There’s no place like home

There’s no place like home

We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. – Philippians 3:20 

Acts 7:6 God also told him that his descendants would live as aliens in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I warn you as aliens and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

Hebrews 11:13  All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads.

There is no place like home. Figures provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration show that it is dangerous to drive near your home. The NHTSA reports that approximately 52 percent of all accidents occur within a five-mile radius of home and 69 percent of all car accidents occur within a ten-mile radius from home. Only 1% of accidents occur more than 50 miles from home.

Does that mean that it is time to move? Of course not. Statistics only provide information. But correlation does not demonstrate causality.

Since 1967 dual citizenship has been permitted in the United States. Many Americans today have dual passports. That is kind of what it is like for the Father’s children. We are citizens of our native countries and we are also citizens of heaven. Most people down through the centuries lived on earth for less than 100 years.  Compared to eternity that is infinitesimally less than a nano drop of water measured against the Pacific Ocean.

Where is home for the Father’s children?

Philippians 3:20 We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

Heaven is our true and final home. The Bible is quite clear that we are exiles from our true home in heaven. We are as merely temporary, resident aliens on planet Earth. We may have earthly passports, green cards, work permits, visas, etc. but we really do not belong here.

Getting our arms around this can be a life-changing perspective transformation.

But there is a downside. In fact, the world can be quite hostile to the Father’s children. One way or another we are told, “your kind is not welcome here.” In our lifetime, this antipathy is rising to the level of hatred. Are we hated simply because we cherish the name of Christ? Sadly yes! But this is really nothing new.

John 15:18-19

 18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.

 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

1 John 3:13  So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

For most Americans, this sounds a bit “alien.” But perhaps a little less so every year.

And while we are considering hostility and hatred towards those that are associated with the Father God, ponder this prophecy concerning their future persecution in the last days.

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children – all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.

Who are the players here? The Dragon is the enemy of our souls. The woman is the nation of Israel through whom Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. The enemy was unable to destroy Israel or the Lord Jesus Christ. He tried killing Christ. He was successful. But we know how that turned out. Christ Jesus was resurrected from the dead and the enemy’s plan was thwarted. So who is left for the enemy to direct his anger and hate toward?

Who is known for trying to keep the Old Testament commandments? Could it be religious Jews? Who maintains faith and testifies of Jesus? Could it be those who are known in the world as Christians?

REFLECT & PRAY

Right now, the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for us in the Father’s home (John 14:2-6).

Father there is no place like home. Thank You for adopting me and making me part of Your family. My home is not where I live, but where my family is.

INSIGHT

Well if we are citizens of heaven but temporarily confined as resident aliens to the earth how should we live?

Perhaps the advice of Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon is the same advice he would give us.

Jeremiah 29:5-7 

 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens and eat the food they produce.

 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!

 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

Rather than planning on going home anytime soon, they were to settle in and carry on life as usual. But Jeremiah does not stop there. He raises the bar. The exiles were to strive for the peace and welfare of the city of Babylon and not work against it. On top of that they were even to pray for the Father’s blessing upon it! They were to pray for their enemies.

Praying for barbarous Babylonians? What a strange and revolutionary idea!

But indeed, this is the standard for all of the Father’s children and. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Why should the Father’s children work for the peace and prosperity of the city? The practical straightforward answer is that their welfare is linked to the welfare of the city. When the city prospers, they prosper.

Jeremiah does not tell the people to seek peace in the city; he tells them to seek the peace of the city.  

Could this possibly work? The answer is unequivocally yes!

“What unusual advice for Jeremiah to give his exiled countrymen! History shows that in all the centuries of their world-wide dispersion, the Jews have tried to follow this pattern. They have identified themselves with the country of their residence, while at the same time looking toward eventual restoration to their native land” (Feinberg).

“This passage reflects something that becomes an important component of Jewish and Christian life in the centuries that follow. In most cases, these believers have found themselves to be the minority in their society. They have little influence over the moral and ethical tone of the culture in which they find themselves. They see themselves in a struggle with much in the society. It is important to see what this passage teaches, and what it does not teach. This passage reminds believers that their general economic welfare is tied to the society in which they live. For this reason alone the LORD tells them to pray for the city in which they live. They are not expected to promote or even condone the standards of their society. They are to pray for it for their own sake” (Willis).

We are pilgrims passing through a foreign land. We are in territory dominated and controlled by the enemy of our souls. Our values and beliefs are under pressure from the local culture. We are strangers and stand out because we have absolute values, not relative ones.

The Father requires that we remain firm in our faith and live out the truth we know from the word of God. We are to make the best of our circumstances and live life to the fullest with integrity and righteousness.  

The question becomes, “Father what would you have me do as I live here and now?”

Diligent searching or disdainful sniffing

Diligent searching or disdainful sniffing

“You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 1:13 

Jeremiah 29:12-14 

 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.

 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Anhedonia is the loss of interest in previously fulfilling or pleasurable activities. It seems like the brain’s pleasure center goes dark and shuts down. But does it? Perhaps it is more like a rheostat light switch. We are simply suffering from a reduced capacity for pleasurable experiences. At any rate the byproduct is boredom and disinterest where there used to be excitement and passion.

David, a man after God’s own heart eagerly pursued and sought personal time with the Father. He panted for it like a thirsty deer (Psalms 42:1). But determined, defiant disobedience entered his heart and the wind was knocked out of his sails.

It is way too easy in our hurried, distraction filled lives to lose touch with our infinite, beautiful, delightful Father God. We turn up our noses and disdainfully sniff at Him and the things that matter most to Him (Malachi 1:13).

When this happens, and it sadly does way too often, how do we get back? Wishing things were better or perfunctory gestures of interest simply will not do. The problem is never with the Father. He is always there and available. He desires, even craves intimacy with His children. Diligence, determination, and wholehearted focus are necessary. Jeremiah puts it like this,

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

The book of Jeremiah was written against the background of the Babylonian captivity of the nation of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple (586 BC).

The history of Israel is sadly replete with rebellion and defiance of the Father. Again and again, the Father sent His servants the prophets to warn the people. For decades, Jeremiah himself prophesied of judgment to come. Finally the ax fell, and the Babylonians swept through Israel in three successive waves 605 BC, 597 BC, and 586 BC. Large numbers of the children of Israel were killed, thousands were taken into captivity. Times were bleak and dark, and all hope for that generation was lost. It was the dark night of Israel’s collective soul.

REFLECT & PRAY

The judgment of God may come slowly, but it will come! But judgment is never the end, often it is only the beginning.

Father, thank You that you have plans for me and those I love. Our future is secure because of you.

INSIGHT

For 28 long chapters of his book, Jeremiah prophesied gloom and doom. After judgment falls, the Father redirected Jeremiah’s message. He flipped 180°. Against the bleak and dreary shadow of dismal darkness, light burst through. The Father spoke of restoration, grace, joy, and a brand-new, wonderful covenant filled with promises that were totally different from what had been given through Moses. It was though Plan M had played its course. It was tried and the results were always the same, failure. It was time to switch to Plan N.

Some of the most beautiful and precious promises of the entire Old Testament are now  uttered through the old prophet’s lips. No doubt Jeremiah himself was totally awestruck with the wonderful assurances he uttered at the Father’s direction.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Nothing that had happened was a surprise or mystery. It was all part of a plan, the Father’s plan. He knew how things were going to turn out in the end. The Father’s goal was for the ultimate good of His people. He has no interest in endless calamity, loss, and defeat.

This is the Father’s way. This is what His heart is like. The problem is never with the Father, He always wants the best for His children. The real problem is that they do not want what is best for themselves, they settle for far less. As long as that continues, they will never receive His best.

The same is true of us, each of the Father’s children. The tough part is desiring His best more than anything else, instead of our paltry, shortsighted desires.

How do we acquire a taste for the Father’s best? How do we get there from here? It is simple but at the same time most difficult. We must seek Him wholeheartedly. We must be all in. We must hold nothing back. We must not compromise. When we do exactly as He asks, He will listen. And we will find Him, and He will lovingly restore us.

Jeremiah 29:13-14  

 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

The Jewish people as a group are very similar to each of us as individuals. Their behavior is intended as life lessons for each of us. When the time of the exile was over, not everybody wanted to go home to the land of promise. They had grown quite comfortable where they were. Consequently, they did not wholeheartedly seek Him. He did not return all of them to the land and the prophecies were only partially fulfilled.

Have you settled for less than God’s best? Have you disdainfully sniffed and have halfheartedly pursued the Father? What have you left on the table?

Invisible forces

Invisible forces

By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. – Hebrews 11:3

Colossians 1:15-16

 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

Much of what exists remains unseen, invisible: radio waves, quantum particles, dark matter, antimatter, air, oxygen, ultraviolet light, infrared, gravity, the mind, or emotions.

Many previously unseen things, have only become known and observable in the last hundred years. For example blood cells, single cell animals, atoms, mitochondria, DNA, distant galaxies and stars.

Dr. Liane B. Russell was a pioneer in the study of the dangers of invisible radiation on developing embryos. Her findings are the reason doctors today ask women if they are pregnant before giving them X-rays.

In 1938, Dr. Russell fled Vienna with her Jewish family when the Germans invaded Austria. She spent more than a half-century at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in East Tennessee. Dr. Russell arrived in 1947, just two years after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States had tremendous interest in discovering the effects of radiation poisoning.

Dr. Russell determined that in humans, developing fetuses were most vulnerable to radiation during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Because women generally do not know right away if they are pregnant, Dr. Russell recommended that non-urgent diagnostic X-rays be taken in the 14 days after the onset of a woman’s menstrual period.

That recommendation was adopted around the world. Hence, doctors routinely ask women of childbearing age if they are pregnant or if they think they might be pregnant, before taking x-rays.

The Father God is invisible to the natural eyes of earthbound creatures. What is He like? How can we know? The apostle Paul provides the answer to this question. The Lord Jesus Christ is separate from the Father in personality, but totally equal to Him in deity. The eternal Son of God entered into the world at the incarnation. He became true humanity, real flesh and blood. If you want to know what the Father is like, look at the Son. He is the exact representation and manifestation of the invisible God.

Colossians 1:15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God

To see what God is like, we look at Jesus. He perfectly represents God to men and women in a form which they can see and know and understand (Barclay).

Think of a family portrait of a father and his son. Sometimes, allowing for the difference in age, they can look like identical twins. So it is with the Father God and the Son of God. If we had a photograph of the Lord Jesus Christ, He would look very similar to the Father.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is the Creator and Sustainer of all things visible and invisible.

Father it is amazing that You sent Your Son to show me what You are like. He is just like You. But the most amazing thing of all is that You have adopted me as Your child He has called me His friend (John 1:12, John 15:15).

INSIGHT

But the Lord Jesus Christ is much more! How can He be more than perfect deity and the exact representation of the Father? It was not the Father who was responsible for creation! It was the Son who created everything! This may be a newsflash for many. But this is exactly what Paul wrote.

Colossians 1:15-16

 15 He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

The apostle John wrote the same thing.

John 1:3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

The Scripture presents somewhat of a conundrum. But it is easily resolved. “This statement is literally ‘all things through him came into being.’ The Greek phrase through him indicates that the Word was the agent in creation, but at the same time the context clearly implies that God is the ultimate source of creation.”

“Similar expressions are found in Paul’s writings and in the Letter to the Hebrews. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 Paul distinguishes between ‘God, the Father, who is the creator of all things’ and ‘Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created.’ Again, in Colossians 1:1516 Paul refers to ‘the first-born Son,’ by whom ‘God created everything in heaven and on earth.’ In Hebrews 1:2 the writer speaks of the Son as ‘the one through whom God created the universe’” (UBS).  

Twenty first century science suggests that most of the creation is actually imperceptible and invisible. When we think small, atoms consist of protons, electrons, neutrons and mostly empty space. The electrons whiz about the center at such high rates of speed that we never know exactly where they are from one moment to the next. They are like blurry clouds that seem to be everywhere at once.

When we think big, the universe seems almost without end. There are billions of galaxies and these galaxies contain billions and billions upon billions of stars. Many of the stars and galaxies are of immense size and move at nerve-racking speeds. Most of them have been undetectable until only quite recently.

But all things big and small move in mathematical precision. Even the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, reveals underlying patterns, repetition, fractals, self-similarity, and self-organization. The Lord Jesus Christ personally sustains them all. He controls and maintains everything He has created.

Upon reflection, would it not be sensible and appropriate to recognize, honor, and extol the Father? He is the transcendent King who is eternal, immortal, and invisible. Nonetheless, this same Lord God omnipotent intervened personally and sent His Son into world to save His children from sin and its eternal horrendous consequences (1 Timothy 1:17).

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on    

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  

Who’s in, who’s out?

Who’s in, who’s out?

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens, and no one will shut, and who shuts, and no one opens. – Revelation 3:7

Revelation 1:17-18

 17 Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Isaiah 22:20-24

 20 And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you.

 21 I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

 22 I will give him the key to the house of David– the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.

 23 He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a nail in the wall.

 24 They will give him great responsibility, and he will bring honor to even the lowliest members of his family.”

Everyone misplaces important keys from time to time, not to mention a wallet or purse. But knowing that does not make it any less exasperating when it happens to you. Berating yourself does not make things better. Resorting to haphazard searches and wasting time are frequently our normal go to routines but they do not get us any closer to finding what we have misplaced.

A better plan is to remain calm and think through where you have been and the actions you have recently performed. Where is the last place you remember having or using the lost item? Go through a thorough and systematic search of the most logical and reasonable places the lost object might be hiding.

It makes sense to start with the messiest parts of our dwelling, office, or vehicle. Of course for some of us, we may have way too many areas to choose from. Lost items tend to get misplaced in the most cluttered areas of your home or workplace. Search these untidy locations systematically, shifting debris off to the side as you search.

In the ancient world, keys would unlock and open access to what was beyond. They could also prevent access. Keys were often a symbol of authority and power. Both the wealthy in general and the rulers and monarchs in particular would entrust the keys to their treasury and other wealth to loyal and devoted servants. The holder of the key yielded the power and authority of its owner.

In the days of Hezekiah the king of Israel, he had a faithful steward named Eliakim. Eliakim was entrusted with the Hezekiah’s key to the treasury. Thus Eliakim Had authority over all of Hezekiah’s household. Further, the holder of the key had special access to the king himself. He alone could prohibit or allow others into the presence of the king. Putting it another way, access to king Hezekiah’s presence was granted through Eliakim alone. In the same way, access to the Father and His presence is through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Hezekiah being of the family of David had a special key. It was called the key of the house of David. Faithful Eliakim was given the key to the house of David– the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them (Isaiah 22:22).

The apostle John uses the same imagery (Rev 3:7). The reference to the Lord Jesus Christ holding the key of David echoes Isaiah. Christ holds the key to the Father’s household and the promised, coming messianic kingdom. Access is granted or prevented through Him and Him alone. He has the power and authority to open and shut the door. The authority of the Lord Jesus Christ is complete and final. The Lord Jesus Christ possesses ultimate and absolute power.

John 5:26-27

 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;

 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

John 14:6 I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

His decisions cannot be reversed. When He opens a door, it cannot be shut. And when He shuts a door it cannot be opened. Christ has supreme authority over death and Hades. As such, Jesus controls death itself and judgment. Regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, today we would say, “the buck stops here.”

Revelation 1:17-18

 17 Do Not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

REFLECT & PRAY

Supreme and final power and authority belongs to the loving and gracious Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you that I have the privilege of calling You Father! Indeed, You are my heavenly Father.

INSIGHT

Have you ever been locked out, or worse thrown out of someplace you desired to be? In the ancient world of this time, Jewish synagogues were just about everywhere. When Jewish people recognized that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Messiah of Israel, the local synagogue had to make a decision as to what would happen to them. Too often Jews who believed in Jesus were excommunicated. In Philadelphia, the synagogue doors were shut to them and they could not enter in. It was as though, the local congregations put up a sign, “Your kind is not welcome here!”

But there’s more. The local synagogues erroneously thought that they had the final say in matters of faith and access to the living God. They did not. Rather, the scales of balance and judgment are in the hands of the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

It is poignant, personal, and touching. Empathizing with their sense of rejection, the Lord Jesus Christ softly reassures the local Jews for Jesus of Philadelphia that the doors to the true and eternal synagogue of heaven are wide open to them and they are always welcome.

When you are personally excluded. How does that make you feel? Perhaps what the Lord Jesus Christ did for those excluded in the synagogue of Philadelphia He will do for you.

The chief priests and Levites were granted sole custody of the temple key (1 Chronicles 9:27). Similarly, they thought that they held the key to David’s house. They could not have been more wrong!

The key of David belongs to David’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Israel. Local Jewish believers may not get into the local synagogues, but what does that really matter? They have box seats in the Father’s true and eternal synagogue.

How tragically ironic. Those who thought they were right, were dreadfully wrong. They were given every opportunity to examine and recognize their beloved and longed for Messiah. But they failed to correctly identify and receive Him. They may have had the keys to the local synagogue, but they wound up being locked out of the Father’s eternal congregation that He had set aside for them. The price of entry was faith. And they failed in their unbelief.

John 1:11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.

Romans 10:1-3

 1 Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.

 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.

 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.

Of all the things that you are sure you are absolutely right about today, could you possibly be wrong about any of them? Sanity checks, self-examination and talking to trusted counselors regarding my “rightness” have become a part of my personal regular maintenance.

What keys are on your keychain?

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