Monday, September 30, 2019

Whom Can We Trust?

Psalm 146

What a feeling of letdown and disappointment.  The person you were counting on and depending on for help has not come through for you.  It could be a friend, relative, or neighbor. Perhaps a business associate, banker, or politician.  Sometimes these disappointments are just minor irritations or inconveniences such as a ride to the store or an appointment, or help in fixing up the garage.  Other times it could be something very important such as getting the loan that was promised or a company’s promise of pension payments. We’ve all been letdown by others at some point in our life, sometimes even left wondering who, if anyone, we can trust.  Our psalm for today addresses such an issue, and also points us to the one we can trust.

Every few years there are elections for congressmen, senators, members of parliament, and other government leaders.  They make all sorts of promises to hopefully ensure their election. Sometimes these promises are for very important issues such as social security and medical care for the elderly and those in need.  Perhaps we have worked at a company faithfully for many years with their promise that after retirement there will be a nice pension. A bank or a financial company has promised that our investments are secure.  Each of these can, and sometimes has let people down, many times with serious consequences. Man is an inadequate savior to put our hope and trust in, whether it is a government agency or leader, or an individual we rely on for help, as our psalmist warns us (vs. 3-4).  They are a false hope, and usually cannot deliver what they have promised.

So who can we trust and hope in?  The psalmist answers this question in verse 5.  God is the hope and help of anyone in need. Are we oppressed?  Are we hungry, whether literally or figuratively? Are we bound in any type of prison?  The Lord God is our hope (vs. 7). He is there for the blind, the discouraged, the stranger or alien, and the fatherless and widows (vs. 8-9).  God cares for the poor and afflicted (Luke 4:18-21; 7:21-23).

People are fallible.  We all make mistakes, and we are all limited in what we are able to do and accomplish, which is why we are often disappointed and let down when we trust in our fellow human beings.  Our trust is best placed in God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and who reveals all truth to us (vs. 6). He mercifully reaches out to those in need, and they can put their confidence and belief in Him.

God takes note of those who mistreat others, who take advantage and abuse the trust that was misplaced in them.  The psalmist says that God turns the way of the wicked upside down (vs. 9). God’s plans overturns and upsets the way of the wicked, because His values are the complete opposite of those of society.  The unsaved just cannot understand believers when we live by Biblical standards and values.

Our psalmist both began and ended this psalm with a call-out to praise the Lord.  He must have known from experience that when we make a habit of praising God, it takes our minds off of our problems and shortcomings, and focuses instead on God.  When we are praising God we consider and appreciate His character. Praise causes us to look away from all of our earthly concerns and matters, and to look instead to heavenly and eternal matters.  The Lord God, alone, is the one whom we can fully trust and rely on, and He is worthy of all our praise.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Finding Faith Where It's Not Expected

Joshua 2:1-21

When people are talking about their ancestors, they might like to happily bring up some famous, well-liked ancestor.  They proudly state that they are related to George Washington, or Thomas Edison, or William Shakespeare. How many people would be quick to point out that they were descended from a murderer or a well-known prostitute?  If we were asked to compose a list of people we consider our heroes, would we put someone like that on the list? Not many people would. Yet when God inspired Matthew to compile his genealogy of Jesus, He was careful to include that Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, was an ancestress of the Savior (Matthew 1:5).  When God inspired the author of Hebrews to compile the list of great heroes of the faith, only two women were mentioned by name, Sarah the wife of Abraham, and the other - you guessed it, the prostitute Rahab (Hebrews 11:31). Let’s take a look at this woman whom God sought to honor in this way, and see what we can learn from her life and faith.

After the death of Moses, Joshua was made the new leader of the people of Israel.  God commissioned him to lead the people across the Jordan River and to conquer and take possession of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.  The first place they came upon was the walled and fortified city of Jericho. As part of his strategy, Joshua sent two spies into the city to gather information.  Rahab ran a sort of inn from which she also gave some “extra favors” probably for an additional fee. The spies went to the inn because they knew they could gather information easily at such a place, without being noticed.  Her house and inn was built into the city wall, and was an ideal location for a quick escape. The Lord God also was instrumental in sending the spies to her because her heart was open and tender to Him. God uses people who are open to Him and have simple faith.

Rahab, along with all the people of Jericho and throughout the land of Canaan, had heard of the mighty acts of Yahweh.  They had heard about the parting of the Red Sea, the miraculous provisions in the wilderness, the defeat of the mighty kings of the Amorites and Bashan.  The others in Jericho and Canaan were greatly afraid, but Rahab had the beginnings of faith and trust in Yahweh. As she heard more from these spies, her faith started to grow.  When Rahab knew that they were going to conquer and destroy Jericho, she agreed to hide the spies and safely send them on their way in exchange for her and her family to be protected.  Because of their evil practices and intense idolatry, the Canaanites were a stronghold of rebellion against Almighty God. They were a threat to godly living, and had to be removed just like a cancerous growth is removed to preserve a healthy body.  God greatly desires pure and holy living.

Rahab was willing to risk everything she had for a God she barely knew.  That shows great faith! She knew Yahweh was not an ordinary God. He is all-powerful.  The people of Jericho were afraid because of His power, but only Rahab turned to the Lord for salvation.  Her faith gave her the courage to hide the spies and save their lives. She took a great risk doing that because she knew they had a God worth trusting.  God rewarded Rahab by rescuing her and her family. He rewarded her, and she is remembered in the Bible, because of her faith, not because of what profession she once had.  Rahab distinctly verbalized her faith in Yahweh (vs. 11). She then showed her faith by hiding the spies (James 2:25).

Genuine faith can sometimes take root in unlikely places, as it did in Rahab’s heart.  She had heard enough to believe, and the Lord saved her. Rahab ended up marrying one of the spies, Salmon.  He was the son of Nahshon, a prominent ruler of the tribe of Judah. How did a pagan harlot marry into that family?  How did we, sinners that we are, become the Bride of Christ? Salmon looked beyond her past and saw her beautiful faith.  God sees us as those His Son came to save, shedding His Blood for us.

Rahab chose to leave her past life, her pagan ways and culture, and turn to the one true and living God, Yahweh.  No matter what our past is, when we turn to God, He will welcome us into His family and give us a future with Him.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Unjust Steward

Luke 16:1-13

Today’s Scripture passage from the Gospel of Luke is the Parable of the Unjust Steward, a sometimes puzzling parable to understand.  At first glance it might seem that the parable is commending a crooked and cheating employee. Would Jesus actually say something like that?  Let’s look into this rather enigmatic passage from Luke.

The parable that Jesus told his disciples was about the steward in a rich man’s household.  A steward was the chief of a household, the household manager. He would manager his master’s provisions and resources.  When the wealthy man found out that his steward was squandering his money and household supplies he fired him (vs. 1-2).   The steward, hearing about the loss of his job, is concerned about what will happen to him now. Obviously he hasn’t been too good with his own finances either, as he doesn’t seem to have savings to carry him over until he could find another position.  The steward quickly came up with a clever but very dishonest way to provide for himself for the future. He used his cunning ingenuity to make sure his wastefulness and dishonesty will not leave him friendless and unprovided for in the future. The steward arranged to give large discounts to his master’s debtors (vs. 5-7).  By reducing their debts the steward gained their indebtedness to himself. Thus they were obligated to take him in when he was put out.

So how did the master react when he found out what his dishonest former steward did?  Outwitted, the master applauded the steward’s cunning (vs. 8). His admiration for this former employee’s criminal activity showed that he, too, was criminally inclined.  Unbelievers often admire criminals, the unjust, unscrupulous, and the corrupt. We often see this in Hollywood movies and TV shows, when they make “heroes” out of criminal characters.  Jesus commented here that most unbelievers are wiser in the ways of the world than some believers are towards the things of God. This steward used his master’s money to buy earthly friends.  Believers should use their Master’s (God’s) resources to gain friends for eternity, meaning that we need to invest in bringing the Gospel to others in order to bring sinners to salvation (vs. 9).

Some people have mistakenly believed that Jesus was commending this type of dishonest behavior, which is not true, as that would go contrary to everything that He continually taught.  Jesus only used the steward as an illustration to show that the children of this evil world system are shrewd enough to provide for themselves against coming evil. Believers should be more shrewd concerning eternal matters.

Jesus proceeded to give a teaching about money and our attitude, use of, and desire for riches (vs. 10-13).  The Pharisees believed that earthly riches signified divine blessings. They felt rich people were God’s favorites.  However, Jesus denounced man’s love and devotion to wealth and money (vs. 13). Money can easily take the place of God in our life.  Money is a hard and deceptive master. It promises power and control, but doesn’t always deliver. It cannot provide health, happiness, or eternal life.

Faithfulness in small assignments for the Lord qualifies us to serve in greater ways (vs. 10).  If we are not trustworthy with our money here on earth, regardless of how much or little we have, we will be unfit to handle the riches of God.  We must not let our integrity slip in small matters. Money is a good test of our faithfulness to Christ. We should use our resources wisely because they belong to God and not to us.  Money can be used for good or evil. It has power, so we must use it carefully and thoughtfully. As believers, God wants us to use our material resources to help spread His Kingdom.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Our Only Mediator

I Timothy 2:1-8

For whom should believers of Jesus pray for?  Of course we pray for our family and friends, but do we have any obligation to pray for others?  Sometimes there are just some people that we might not really care for. Should we be praying for them?  And how about our political leaders? Should we be praying for leaders that we disagree with, or those who are corrupt or even evil?  Some have wondered why we should even bother to pray, as doesn’t God know everyone’s needs anyway? The Apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, has given us God’s Word in this matter.  Let’s look into this Epistle from the New Testament.

So why should we pray for people or needs we have when God knows all?  He doesn’t need us to inform Him about anything going on. Although God is all-powerful and all-knowing, He has chosen to let us help Him change the world through our prayers.  We are to pray for each other and for our leaders in government (vs. 1-4). Our earnest prayers will have powerful results (James 5:16). The Lord God wants us to pray for our leaders in government, that they will lead godly lives and make wise decisions according to the Word and the will of God.

One very important thing believers should pray for is for the salvation of the lost.  We should want people to come to a knowledge of Christ. In verse 4 we read that Paul says that God desires all men to be saved, and the Apostle Peter says the same in II Peter 3:9.  This does not mean that all will be saved.  The Bible makes it clear that many reject the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13-14; John 12:44-50; Hebrews 10:26-29).  Though Jesus’ death was for all and His death was sufficient to cover the sins of all people, only some choose to accept it, thus only some are saved.  Believing that God will save unrepentant people who reject Christ means believing that God is lying about salvation in His Word.  His Word, the Bible, does not lie (Titus 1:2). There are many who reject Him, and hell for those who do.

Paul continues on in verse 5-6 by reinforcing the doctrine that there is only one God, as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.  Jesus is not another deity, but is God Himself, who has also become our Mediator, one who brings two parties together in peace.  Humans are separated from God by sin. There is only one Person in all the universe who is our mediator between us and God, and can bring us together, and that is Jesus Christ.  He is both God and man. He did that through His sacrifice on the cross, giving His life a ransom for sin. There is no other way of salvation except through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

A mediator is someone who intervenes between two parties to resolve a conflict or to ratify a covenant.  Jesus is the only one who can restore peace between God and sinners. He is the only One who is able to bridge the gap between man and God.  Jesus took the death we deserved. Only the perfect God-Man could bring God and man together. Through Jesus we can draw near with confidence to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).  Jesus will faithfully represent us and lead us in His way (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-15; 7:22-8:6). When we say “in Jesus’ Name” we are not just saying a Christian phrase to show we’re done praying.  We are taking hold of the Name that carries the power of the most precious Man and His sacred death.

As Paul wraps up this passage he reminds Timothy that he was appointed by God to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles (vs. 7).  And he reminds us that when praying, if we have anger, major doubts, or disputings, these can put a block between us, our prayers, and God (vs. 8).  We need to get those things taken care of before we seriously pray for others and ourselves.

In conclusion, let’s remember that God has called upon all of His children to pray for each other and for our leaders, both for their needs and for their salvation.  We also need to remember that Jesus is the only Mediator we have between ourselves and God. There is no one else.

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Heavy Price To Pay

Psalm 137

Psalm 137, our psalm for today, is a difficult one to read and understand today, with its hard words.  It is one of over a dozen Imprecatory Psalms, which are psalms that have verses in them that call down God’s judgment and curses upon the writer’s or the nation’s enemies.  Some people would like to just eliminate these psalms as inappropriate in today’s world. However they are a part of Sacred Scripture, and as we read in II Timothy 3:16 - “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.  Thus, this Psalm is inspired by God, and there must be a message and lesson from Him for us in this passage. Let’s take a look at this passage and see what we can learn.

The setting of Psalm 137 is in the land of Babylon, where the Jewish people have been taken captive and exiled, following the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s overthrow of the Kingdom of Judah.  While there, some of the native Babylonians requested that the Jewish people sing some of their songs, which must have been known to them (vs. 1-4). The Jewish people could not sing, they could not be happy.  They were exiled in a foreign nation, away from their homes. They had heard that their beautiful capital, Jerusalem, and the Temple had been destroyed. As they said, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?  It can be difficult to praise and worship God when our circumstances and surroundings are grim. However, God wants us to praise Him at all times (I Thessalonians 5:18).

In verse 7 the people call upon God to remember how the Edomites reacted when Jerusalem was conquered and destroyed.  The Edomites were descendants of Esau. Esau was the brother of Jacob, a son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, so they were related by blood to the Israelites.  From the early days of the Jewish people’s history when they came out of Egypt until this day when the Babylonians conquered the nation, the Edomites had regularly fought against them.  Obviously the Edomites did not regard kinship with the people of Judah and Israelites, as they joined in with the Babylonians in destroying the Jews. Here these “cousins” of the Jewish people were gleefully rejoicing when Jerusalem was destroyed.

The psalm concludes with some very harsh verses, where the author wishes the destruction and death of the Babylonians, who have taken his people captive (vs. 8-9).  He cries out for judgment, asking God to treat the Babylonians the way they had treated them. These verses represent an imprecatory psalm at its strongest. The author calls on God to destroy his and God’s enemies.  The author doesn’t take matters into his own hands, but asks God to take care of the matter. He was invoking God’s wrath and judgment against His enemies. This did happen, as God destroyed Babylon and its offspring for their proud assault against Him and His people.  The Medes and the Persians conquered the Babylonian Kingdom in 539 BC.

None of this would have had to happen to the Hebrew people if they would have remained faithful to Yahweh, obeyed His law, and worshipped only Him.  The Babylonian captivity and the cruel treatment they received at their captors hands was God’s judgment upon them for their sins.  The results of sin are difficult to bear. For many generations the Jewish people had refused to follow and obey God.  God had sent dozens of prophets and preachers to urge them to return to Him, and worship only Him, but they wouldn’t.  If there is one lesson that we must all learn from this psalm, it is that there is an awful price to pay for persistent and willful sin.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Message From Amos

Amos 8:4-12

Today’s Old Testament reading from this week’s Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer is a passage from the Book of the Prophet Amos.  Amos was originally from the southern Kingdom of Judah, but the message he preached was to the northern Kingdom of Israel. Amos did not start out his adult life as a preacher or prophet, but was originally a herdsman and a farmer of sycamore figs (Amos 7:14).  The Lord called him from this career to bring His message to the apostate nation of Israel. His message was one of calling the people to put away their idols and false pagan gods and to turn back to Yahweh, the one true God, and also to show righteousness and justice to each other, and especially the poor.

As our Scripture passage opens, Amos is calling out those who outwardly keep the Sabbath and other holy days, but are anxious for the days to be over so that they can get back to the business of making money for themselves (vs. 5-6).  The people kept the Sabbaths and holy days, but not in spirit. They couldn’t wait to go back to making money, and often at the expense of the poor. They were taking advantage of the poor, both with the high prices, and also by overworking and underpaying their workers.  They were also short-changing their customers through the quality of their goods, including adding chaff to their wheat. Times have not changed much today, either, as we see a lot of the same behavior today.

The message that Amos brought the Israelites is one that can be asked today - is our heart in our worship, or is making money more important?  There used to be a time when most businesses were closed on Sundays, and then the corporate business world realized that more money could be made by being open 7 days a week.  How many people sit in church, frequently looking at the clock to see how many minutes until they can get out and get to the stores and restaurants? Worshipping God should not be a burden we endure, but rather a privilege we look forward to and enjoy.

Amos also chastised the people for their false and deceptive business practices.  Throughout the Scriptures God frequently called upon His people to be sure to use honest weights and measures, in other words, for businessmen and merchants to not cheat the people.  He told them He wanted His people to measure correctly, and not to cheat the people. Of course this should hold for people today, especially for Christian businessmen and merchants. Don’t sell merchandise that falls apart as soon as it gets to the house.  Don’t cheat the public, pay an honest wage, and don’t take advantage of the poor.

The prophet continues on, bringing a prophecy of an event that happened during the crucifixion of Jesus centuries later, when the sky would turn dark for several hours (vs. 9-10).  In these verses Amos prophesied a day when there would be darkness at noon. It would be a darkness like night, not just a heavily cloudy day, or even a dimming of the sunlight as during an eclipse.  When Jesus hung on the cross the sun was totally darkened for three hours (Matthew 27:45). This was not an eclipse, as the period when the eclipse is total is only a few minutes, gradually getting lighter.  This was nighttime darkness at noon, as nature mourned the death of the Son of God.

Amos closes our passage with another prophesy of a coming time when there would be a scarcity of the Word of God (vs. 11-12).  This occurred during the period of time between Malachi’s prophecies (around 432 BC) until the appearance of John the Baptist (around 27-28 AD), a period of over 400  years. During this time there were no prophets who brought God’s Word to the people. Today in many places there is also a drought of hearing the Word of God. Many preachers in churches today, and especially many TV evangelists, only preach “feel good” messages, and do not preach the whole Gospel of Jesus.  They fail to preach about sin, as people do not like to hear that, and only preach what people want to hear.  Amos predicted this, and Paul also spoke of it (II Timothy 4:3-4). This is stunting the growth of the Church, causing it to decline and lose its effectiveness.  Without the Word of God we are lost, and our souls are starved. If we only eat one type of food, and not a well-balanced diet, one will become malnourished. Be sure that you are fed daily from the whole Word of God.

Friday, September 20, 2019

I Once Was Lost

Luke 15:1-10

Have you ever lost something important or valuable?  I have occasionally misplaced my keys or some piece of mail, but fortunately they were never lost for long.  However if someone loses something that is really important or valuable, it can be a very frantic time while they desperately search to find it.  They will turn the whole house or office upside down in their attempt to locate that item. They may even offer a reward to the one who can find it.  How about a lost person? Have you ever lost one of your children, perhaps in a store or a large crowd? Or maybe you have an elderly relative with dementia, who wandered off?  That can be a very frantic time trying to find them before they get hurt or possibly abducted. In today’s Scripture passage from the Gospel of Luke, we read the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin.  As we read these parables that Jesus told, we will see to what lengths God will go to seek out that which is lost.

As our Scripture passage opens, we see the Pharisees once again criticizing Jesus for talking to, associating with, and ministering to sinners (vs. 2).  Jesus was not ashamed to be known as a friend of sinners. He came to offer salvation to them, and to show that God loves them. Jesus didn’t worry about the Pharisees accusations.  He continued to go to those who needed Him, regardless of what these religious leaders said to try and tarnish His reputation. The Pharisees, those self-righteous religious leaders, had many misconceptions about God.  These parables that Jesus proceeded to tell, showed that God loves all people, and He wants everyone, especially sinners, to come to Him.  God doesn’t play favorites, and He rejoices when anyone turns to Him.

In the first of the two parables (vs. 4-7), Jesus tells of a shepherd who has 100 sheep.  At night the shepherd would bring his flock in from the fields, into the safety of the sheepfold.  As they would enter, he would count them. When he notices that one of them is missing, the shepherd goes out into the wilderness searching for the lost and wandering sheep.  He leaves the 99 safe within the sheepfold to seek out the one who is lost and in danger. When the lost sheep is found, he calls his friends together to rejoice with him.

The second parable Jesus told is similar (vs. 8-9).  It is of a woman who lost a coin, and carefully searches throughout her house until she finds it.  Women in Biblical times were often given 10 silver coins as a wedding gift. They were valuable, both monetarily and sentimentally.  Losing one might be similar today to losing one’s wedding ring. That is why she searched so diligently.

Each sheep in this parable, each coin, is of high value.  God’s love for each individual is so great that He seeks each one out, and rejoices when they are found.  He cares about individuals. God views us as special treasures. He sacrificed His Son to purchase us, and treasures each one of us.  Jesus is passionate and takes great joy in redeeming the lost (vs. 10). When we repent, God forgives us joyfully.

Even after we have come to Jesus for salvation, and become a believer and follower of His,  we can wander off just like sheep do. A sheep often wanders off looking for better fields, and we often wander on to a path that falsely seems to lead to better opportunities, drifting farther from God.  Some people willingly and rebelliously go from the Shepherd. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, and not pursue anything except His will.

Each of us is a lost sheep, a lost coin, until God finds us.  It is never too late to repent and be found by Him. There is no sheep that has wandered too far off, no coin that is too lost and hidden, that Jesus cannot find them and restore them to a right and loving relationship with God.  God is calling. He is waiting. God never stops looking for us.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jesus Came To Save Sinners

I Timothy 1:12-17

As we look through history, we can all pick out some really bad, really rotten people.  In our own time there seems to be no shortage of those types of people. In your mind some particular people may have popped up, maybe a cruel despotic ruler, someone who has cruelly murdered his family, or hurt multiple children.  There is no shortage of evil people. Now, if someone came and applied for the position of pastor, deacon, or other Christian worker at your church, would you consider them if they admitted they had been such a person in their past?  Most congregations would not want to even give them an interview. Can a vile sinner get saved? Is there anyone who is too wicked to truly find salvation? And if they do, can their past prevent them from being used by the Lord? As we read our Scripture passage today, we will see what God’s Word has to say.

Our reading for today comes from a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his protege and fellow worker in spreading the Gospel throughout Greece and Asia Minor.  Paul was arguably the greatest missionary and evangelist in the early Church. We read in the Book of Acts of his missionary journeys, spreading the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world, and we have many of his letters to the early churches he established in the New Testament which help to establish us in sound doctrine and Christian living.  It would be difficult to find anyone who would argue that Paul wasn’t a great Christian, and yet there are those who would say that it would be “impossible” for some people to get saved, as they are just “too evil”. There are also some people who feel that they, themselves, have too bad a past to ever be accepted by God.

Let’s take a look at Paul’s past.  Paul, who at that time was called Saul, was an enemy of the early church, hating Christians and the Name of Jesus.  Saul was a devout Pharisee, and in the early years of the church he had the authority from the High Priest to go from village to village hunting down Christians and have them arrested and put to death (Acts 9:1-2; 22:4-5; 26:9-11).  He was one of the most zealous of persecutors to the early church. Paul had scoffed at and blasphemed against Jesus and His teaching, and had hunted down and killed Christians. Can such a one as that get saved? Can God forgive, love, and use a person like that?  As we see, yes He can! There is no one who is too sinful to be accepted by the Lord!

Paul had a miraculous conversion (Acts 9:3-8), and he became a most passionate and faithful witness and evangelist of the Gospel.  Paul received Jesus’ forgiveness, and God used him in a mighty and special way. No one is too bad a sinner that they cannot be forgiven and used by God.  If God would save Paul, who tried to destroy the church, then He will be willing to save anyone who believes. It is not because of our goodness that we are accepted by Jesus, but because of His love and sacrificial death on the cross.

The foundation of our eternal salvation is the free grace of God, as shown in the mission of Jesus.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That was His purpose (vs. 15). No sinner is beyond His saving power, no matter how heinous they are!  Jesus didn’t come just to show us how to live a better life, or challenge us to be better people. He came to bring salvation to those who call upon Him.

Paul turned from self-righteous works to faith in Christ alone.  He knew and understood God’s grace. He knew that it was only because of that that he was able to preach the Gospel.  Paul knew where he had come from, and he was moved by God’s love and mercy to praise Him (vs. 17).

No matter how shameful one’s past may be, God will still save anyone who comes to Him through His Son Jesus, and He will use them in His kingdom.  Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-11), and he will keep reminding us of our past mistakes and sins. If you are a believer, you have been forgiven.  Rebuke Satan and believe the Word of God. If you have never turned to Jesus for salvation because you feel you are just too sinful, remember that the whole purpose Jesus came was to save sinners (vs. 15).  He will save you if you call upon Him. Do not wait another day!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Will God Forgive My Sin?

Psalm 51

“I’m sorry!”  These are words we often hear.  We hear them from public figures, from friends and acquaintances,  and from family. Sometimes when we hear the apology we might wonder if the person really means what they are saying.  Are they truly sorry for what they did, or are they just sorry that they were caught? That is a good question, and many times what they are really sorry for is that their sin became public knowledge, that they were found out, and not truly sorry for what they did.  Our psalm for this week is a psalm of repentance, of one man’s true and deep sorrow for the sins he had committed against others, and most importantly, against God.

The background of Psalm 51 is King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba.  In addition to his role as king of Israel, David was also the commander in chief of his army.  However, during one period of time when he should have been out leading his troops, David remained behind in Jerusalem.  It was then that he fell into sin by having an affair with the wife of one of his top soldiers named Uriah. When he found out that Bathsheba became pregnant, David at first brought Uriah back from battle, so that the child might be mistaken as his.  When that failed, David had Uriah put on the frontlines, and ordered him abandoned by his fellow soldiers, so that he would die (II Samuel 11).

Adultery and murder.  These were the sins that David had committed.  For a year David ignored his sins. He had taken Bathsheba as another wife, and he carried on as if nothing had happened.  Finally the prophet Nathan, who basically served as David’s chaplain, confronted him about his sin, and David confessed and repented.  As we see in the Scriptures, David’s confession was genuine, not one where he was just sorry he got caught.

As we go through this psalm of repentance, we see that David realized that, even though he knew he had wronged Bathsheba and Uriah, along with his own family, his ultimate sin was against God and His holy law (vs. 4).  Sin hurts us and others, but it chiefly offends God because sin in any form is a rebellion against God. David knew his sin was not God’s fault in any way (vs. 5). The source of his sin was his fallen nature, which all mankind has.

Hyssop (vs. 7) is a leafy plant that priests used.  They dipped it in either blood or water to sprinkle on people to ceremoniously cleanse them.  David wanted to be cleansed from his sin and forgiven. There is only one way to deal with sin, and that is through the Blood of Jesus.  Believers may, and will, fall into sin. However, if they turn sincerely to Jesus for forgiveness, He will forgive (vs. 9).

We can never lose our salvation if we genuinely came to Jesus by faith.  However, we can lose the joy of our salvation because of sin (vs. 12). Confession and reliance on the Holy Spirit can return His peace to our lives.  God wants us to be close to Him, and to experience His full and complete life. Sin that remains unconfessed makes that impossible. Confessed sin will bring back the joy our our relationship with Jesus.  And then when forgiveness and restoration with God happens in our life, we need to reach out to others who also need forgiveness and reconciliation (vs. 13).

Ritual without genuine repentance is useless.  Sacrifices without a right heart attitude were not acceptable to God (vs. 16).  If our heart attitude is not right, outward actions will never please Him. We must be truly sorry for our sins, and genuinely intend to stop.  God desires a broken and contrite heart above and beyond any sacrifices (vs. 17).

No sin is too great to be forgiven.  God can, and will, forgive any sin. When we are at our lowest point, God is very close to us, and promises to save those who are crushed in spirit.  He does not abandon us in our time of crisis, or in our darkest times.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Be An Intercessor

Exodus 32:7-14

How quickly some people forget things, important things, such as significant events or crucial lessons one should learn.  Consider people who so quickly forget the kindness and help that others have given them, or the person who continues to make the same disastrous mistakes in their life over and over again.  In our reading today from God’s Word we see how the people of Israel quickly forgot the many wonders and miracles the Lord had shown them, fell into sin, and how the intercession of Moses spared their lives.

The setting of our passage in Exodus is at the base of Mt. Sinai where the people of Israel had gathered, while Moses went up upon the mountain in communion with God, receiving the Ten Commandments and the Law.  Only a few short weeks before this, the Lord God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. God had shown His power and love for the people by judging the Egyptians with the ten plagues, and then parting the Red Sea when He brought them out of captivity.  They had all witnessed these miraculous events. Yet now they were sitting at the base of Mt. Sinai, getting impatient for Moses to return. What did they do? They decided to make an idol, a golden calf, and began to worship that.

How quickly they forgot the Lord God, who such a short while ago had brought them such a great deliverance!  The people of Israel chose to worship something that their own hands had made, rather than the eternal God of the universe.  They chose to worship something that had no power. They chose a relationship with a lifeless object over God. Didn’t it occur to them that only the day before, this golden calf didn’t exist, that they had fashioned it with their own hands?  How could this idol have delivered them from Egypt? Do we ever do something similar by putting some material object or person on the throne of our heart, where only the Lord God belongs? When we do that we, too, grossly dishonor God. We should never turn to something that will one day be destroyed, and put that first and foremost in our lives.  These things cannot help us when we are in need. Instead, choose the everlasting God.

When God saw that the people had so quickly fallen into idolatry He wanted to destroy the whole nation (vs. 9-10).  God told Moses that He would raise up a great nation from him. What did Moses do then? This would be his great moment, a nation coming from his descendants.  Instead of jumping at this chance, Moses chose to pray for the people, to intercede for them to God (vs. 11-13). Moses reminded God (who doesn’t need to be reminded, as He never forgets) of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Because of Moses’ prayers, God relented of His anger and showed mercy on them (vs. 14).  God did not change His mind like humans do. He changed His behavior to be consistent with His nature.  When God wanted to destroy the people, He was acting consistently with His justice. When Moses interceded, God relented in order to act consistently with His mercy.  God often tells people that if they change their ways He will not condemn them. When Moses preached to the people against their sin and the golden calf idol, most of the people repented.  Thus God relented of His punishment, as He promised that He would.

Our Scripture passage today shows how powerful, important, and life-changing intercession can be (James 5:16).  Frequently Moses stepped into the breach, interceding for the people of Israel, sparing them from the judgment they rightly deserved from the Lord.  Many times throughout the Bible we see powerful intercessors - Abraham, Samuel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul, to name a few. That is something that God wants us to do, as well.  He wishes for people to step in and be an intercessor for others, no matter how seriously into sin they may have fallen. Be a Moses, and intercede on behalf of others, that they would repent.  As we faithfully intercede, God may have mercy on them, as He did on the unfaithful Israelites.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Making A Commitment To Jesus

Luke 14:25-33

Counting the cost and commitment.  Both are important qualities to have.  How many people start a project, whether something small like a sewing project, or something larger like a home remodeling, but find out they do not have what it takes to finish it, whether money or commitment?  In our Scripture passage from the Gospel of Luke, we read how important commitment to the Lord Jesus is.

As our passage opens Jesus was leaving one location to journey on to teach in another, some of the group followed Him.  Jesus then turns to these people and gives some very hard lessons. Jesus’ aim was not to gather great, cheering crowds, but make true disciples.  He did not adapt His message to please people, but plainly declared the high cost of discipleship. Many preachers today tailor their messages to please their congregation, giving sermons that make people feel good about themselves, and what they want to hear.  Jesus was certainly not like that.

Jesus then says something that must have been rather shocking to these people, something that is still shocking to us today, if we misunderstand what He means (vs. 26).  Jesus says here that if we do not hate our father, mother, spouse, and family, we cannot be His disciple. What did He mean? Do we really have to hate members of our family, those we really love, if we want to follow Him?   Didn’t God tell us to honor our parents, and to love everyone, especially our family? Jesus was calling His disciples to cultivate such a devotion to Him that their attachment to everything and everyone else would seem like hatred by comparison.  Jesus is saying that we cannot become His disciples unless we place Him as our top priority, which could cause unbelieving parents or other relatives to reject us. Some people have put off a total commitment to the Lord Jesus in order to please their family.  Jesus doesn’t want people to give Him only half-hearted loyalty because of family.

Jesus proceeds to tell us that we need to take up our cross and follow Him (vs. 27).  A criminal was forced to carry their cross to their execution site. This showed submission to Rome.  Jesus was telling the enthusiastic crowd to really think through their supposed desire to follow Him. Following Jesus means total submission, perhaps to the point of death.  We cannot take up our cross if our hands are full with our worldly passions, belongings, or desires.

The Savior then gives an example of someone who has a building project, and how he must have enough funds to complete it, or of a king who decides to go to war against another king, and how he should have a big enough army to do so (vs. 28-32).  Not considering the cost of building, or inaccurate estimates may leave a building left half built. Will our Christian life be left abandoned because we did not count the cost of commitment to Jesus? Some possible costs one should consider are perhaps a loss of social status or wealth, loss of a career, control of their time, hatred by others, and loss of love from their family.  The cost of discipleship is high. One must do a careful inventory before declaring their willingness to follow.

When we decide to follow Jesus, we must count the cost, give up worldly goals, and come wholeheartedly.  Only those willing to carefully assess the cost of discipleship and invest all they have in God’s kingdom are worthy to enter (vs. 33).  This is more than merely abandoning material possessions. It is an absolute, unconditional surrender. True disciples make no demands, hold on to no cherished sins, and treasure no earthly possessions.  The commitment should be without reservations.

This was a hard saying for those who heard these words from the Lord Jesus, and it is no easier for us today.  In summary of our lesson, Jesus taught that to be His disciple a person could not love anyone more than Him (vs. 26), could not love one’s life more than Him (vs. 26-27), nor be unwilling to give up all they have for Him (vs. 33).   Let us lay all on the altar for Jesus.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Forgiveness And Acceptance

Philemon 1-20

Today’s Scripture passage from this week’s Lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer comes from a short personal letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a fellow believer.  Philemon was a wealthy man and probably an elder in the church of Colossae, which met in his house. At the time of his writing, Paul was a prisoner in Rome. While there he came into contact with a runaway slave named Onesimus, who had fled from Philemon, his master.  At this time Paul was possibly under house arrest, and not in an actual prison, and he was allowed visitors. While meeting with Paul, he led Onesimus to saving faith in the Lord Jesus, and Onesimus was an immense help to him in various ways.

At this time, slavery was legal in the Roman Empire and throughout the whole world.  In addition Onesimus had stolen from Philemon, and Paul knew this must be set right. Onesimus was afraid to go back, but now as a believer, he, too, knew that wrongs needed to be set right, and that was the purpose of this letter.  Paul was seeking to have Philemon take Onesimus back with no harsh consequences, to welcome him back now as a brother in Christ. Paul had led Philemon to the Lord years earlier, and was in a sense his spiritual father. In addition, Paul was an Apostle, and had the authority to tell Philemon what was right to do.  However, he appealed to him as a friend in love, to accept Onesimus back with love. Paul wanted Philemon’s actions to send a powerful message to the church about the importance of forgiveness.

Though afraid to return, Onesimus did the right thing and returned to Philemon.  Running from our problems, like Onesimus did, will not solve them. We, today, should not avoid the difficulties of life, but instead obey God.  Both Philemon and Onesimus needed to follow and obey God, the one to return and restore what was stolen, the other to accept the other back in love.  God wants our willing and joyful obedience, not grudging submission. If we believe His way is best, we will have no trouble obeying Him.

The main theme in this Scripture passage is one of forgiveness and love.  Philemon needed to forgive Onesimus for fleeing and for stealing either money and belongings, and to show Christian love to him.  Onesimus needed to forgive Philemon for any harsh treatment he received. Paul sought to free both from anger, bitterness, wrong attitudes and behavior.  He urges Philemon to offer grace rather than demand justice.

Has someone betrayed or offended us?  Has someone walked away from us? We may need to learn the lessons that Philemon did.  Christian relationships must be full of forgiveness and acceptance. We are to forgive and restore our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, even as Jesus has forgiven and restored us.  As Christians, we should forgive as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:31-32). Jesus calls us to treat the one we’ve forgiven as we would want to be treated.

The name Onesimus means “useful”.  He had hardly been that to Philemon.  But now Onesimus had been radically transformed by God’s grace.  In his letter to Philemon, Paul uses a play on words (vs. 11). He told Philemon that Onesimus was once unprofitable or useless, but now he is profitable or useful.  Before coming to Christ we were all unprofitable to God, but now, like Onesimus, we are profitable and useful to Him.

Another message in this letter of Paul to Philemon is that salvation is not determined or affected by  a person’s station in life. God accepts anyone who comes to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, whether they are rich or poor, well-educated or not, regardless of their race or nationality.  God accepted the slave Onesimus just as readily as He accepted the wealthy Philemon. In Christ we are one family. No walls of racial, economic, or political differences should separate us. All fellow Christians are our equals before Christ, regardless of any differences in wealth, education level, nationality, etc.  How we treat them reflects our true Christian commitment.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Night Of Peaceful Sleep

Psalm 4

Just about everyone can remember some times when they just couldn’t fall asleep due to worries and cares.  There have been plenty of nights I have spent tossing and turning, the worries hounding my mind, and been unable to fall asleep, or times when I woke up after about an hour or so sleeping, unable to fall back asleep because the worries and fears attack any peace.  David also experienced nights when sleep just would not come because of the fears and worries that he had.

Psalm 4 was written after one such night.  The psalm could have been written after one such night during the many years he spent fleeing the murderous rage and attacks of King Saul, who sought his life.  Perhaps it was years later, during the weeks and months when David’s son, Absalom, orchestrated a coup, forcing David to flee his capital city, Jerusalem, and fight to regain his throne.  There must have been plenty of other times during his reign as king when worries, cares, and fears bothered him, and he couldn’t get to sleep. What did David do then? Did he get his doctor to prescribe him some sleeping pills?  Did he drink several glasses of wine or other alcohol to make sure he was plenty drowsy, and to also drown those worries? Was the carpet in his bedroom all worn out from pacing back and forth night after night? Let’s look into Psalm 4 and see how David handled his worries and sleepless nights.

In the opening verses of Psalm 4 we see that David called out in prayer to God.  First he recognized and acknowledged the proper relationship he needed with God, by calling Him “God of my righteousness” (vs. 1).  Our God is a God of righteousness, and it is only through His righteousness that we have salvation and deliverance. He it is who delivers us from distress and troubles.  David knew and acknowledged this in his prayers.

One of the many worries that David encountered numerous times in his life was attacks from enemies.  For many years he was on the run from King Saul, and later his own son, in addition to fighting various nations as king.  However, David knew that he could turn to the Lord for help (vs. 2-3). He knew that God would hear him when he called. Our enemies may have plans for us, but God’s plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11).  For those who follow Christ, we can be confident, too. He has forgiven us through Jesus, and He will hear us.

David knew that our problems and concerns can make us angry.  That is human nature, and he must have experienced that numerous times.  We can lie in bed at night, and as we think of so many things, we can get angry.  David tells us that it is okay to get angry, but we must not allow that anger to lead us to sin (vs. 4).  As he would lie in bed, he allowed his prayers and meditations to calm him down. David also knew that more important than empty religious ceremonies was a right attitude of submission and obedience to God, along with heartfelt praise (vs. 5).  God preferred the sacrifice of righteousness more than that of sheep and oxen. We now must come to God through the sacrifice of Jesus’ Blood.

When we go through difficult times, our enemies might taunt us, asking in a mocking way where our God is now, with all of our problems.  They may imply that He has forsaken us. That happened to David, as well, but he knew that He hadn’t. David knew that God would give him rest in the midst of trouble, and pour out His blessings (vs. 6-8).  We, too, can have total confidence in God in the middle of trouble. David knew that the peace that comes from God is more valuable than any material gain (vs. 7). He knew that joy is more to be sought after than just happiness.  True joy comes from knowing and trusting God. Happiness is a result of pleasant circumstances. Joy is steady, as long as we trust God. Happiness is unpredictable. Joy defeats discouragement. Happiness tries to cover it up. Joy is lasting, whereas happiness is temporary.

At the end of another day of pressure, pain, and persecution David had this conversation of Psalm 4 with God, which led to relaxation.  Despite difficult and stressful times, David was able to sleep well because he knew the Lord would keep him safe. During our sleepless and worrisome nights we need to put the same kind of confidence and trust in God to give us peace.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Most Crucial Decision

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Life is filled with choices.  Every single day we make all sorts of choices.  Some might be very critical, however many are rather unimportant.  They are still choices. When we get up we decide whether we will eat breakfast or not, and if so, what we will eat.  Eggs or cold cereal, coffee or cocoa. We decide what to wear, what to watch on TV at night, what book to read, and what movie to see.  At work we might have to make some more critical decisions, such as which contractors to hire for the building we are designing, or which advertising firm to go with.  We have to decide who to marry, or if we are going to marry at all, and whether to buy a house. All decisions we need to make throughout our life.

In our Scripture passage today God is calling us to make a very important decision, the most important decision of our life.  This decision is one whose effects will last for all eternity. None of the choices and decisions I listed above are anywhere near this important, as they are not life and death decisions.  However, the one God is calling us to make in our Scripture today is that important.

At the time this passage from Deuteronomy takes place, the nation of Israel has spent the last forty years passing through the wilderness, after having escaping slavery in Egypt.  They are on the east side of the Jordan River, ready to enter the Promised Land. Moses gives them some final words before he dies, including this passage where he implores the Israelites to make the important decision to follow and obey Yahweh, the one and only God.

Moses presents the two choices to the people.  They can choose life and good on the one hand, or they can choose death and evil on the other (vs. 15, 19).  Choosing to follow Yahweh was life. Choosing to turn their back on Him and follow the pagan idols of the neighboring nations was to choose death.  It was as simple as that. Did they want blessings and life, or curses and death? Though all of Israel was invited to take part in God’s covenant, only those who chose to obey that covenant agreement received His blessings.  To choose against God brings emptiness, pain, and death.  To choose God brings blessings, fulfillment, and life.

This is the exact same decision that Jesus calls on us to make.  We are each given the opportunity to choose either life or death.  The one who believes in Jesus has the promise of eternal life. The one who refuses to believe in Jesus, who does not ask Him to forgive their sins, and to be their Savior faces eternal death.  Everyone has the same decision to make.

On the banks of the Jordan that day, some decided to follow Yahweh, and many did not.  Some only half-heartedly accepted Him, but as soon as they moved into the Promised Land they succumbed to the temptations to follow the false pagan gods.  Today we find the same. There are those who outright refuse Jesus. There are those who may claim to follow Jesus, but He is really only a name for Christmas and Easter, for weddings, baptisms, and funerals.  Then there are those who wholeheartedly accept and follow Him. Those are the ones who have chosen life. The others have chosen death.

God challenges us to choose Him, to choose life and His blessings.  He doesn’t force His will on anyone. God lets us decide whether to follow Him or to reject Him.  In reality this is a life or death decision, one that will last throughout all eternity, a choice between an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.  If you have not already made that decision, I urge you today to decide. Choose Jesus and choose life!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Who Do We Invite?

Luke 14:7-14

Have you ever heard of “The Social Register”?  This is a book published annually in the United States since the 1880’s that lists upper-class, well connected, established families, those that “polite society” wishes to associate with.  It is compiled for the wealthy, old-money, patrician families to know who to associate with, which families to allow their sons and daughters to see, which country clubs to join, who to invite to their parties, and so forth.  If your family’s name was not in the Social Register, you were not worthy to be friends or associate with. Though it’s influence was much stronger in the past, it is still considered an important guide for many proud, elite, and exclusive upper-class society men and women.  In our Scripture passage today from the Gospel of Luke, the Lord Jesus speaks to such thinking. Let’s look at what the Savior says here.

In every age there are those who want to see and be seen.  When they go to any social function they want to be sure that they have the best seats (vs. 7). They want to be properly announced and acknowledged because they feel that they are “somebody”. When going into a restaurant they want the best table available, certainly one that is away from the riff-raff, the “common people”.  Jesus said that this can easily lead to a humiliating fall. What if someone more important comes and then you are asked to give up your prized seat, and have to find a less desirable one? (vs. 8-9). How much better it is to have a humble attitude, and then be invited to take a better spot at a social gathering (vs. 11).

Many people, both in Jesus’ day and today are eager to raise their social status.  They want to be with the “correct people”. They are sure to dress for success. Everything is done with the purpose of keeping up the aura of wealth and propriety, to be seen as a good member of high society, of that Social Register.  True followers of the Lord Jesus, instead, should be looking for ways to serve, rather than aiming for prestige. Service is more important in God’s kingdom than status is.

Jesus continues on in His teaching, and speaks some admonitions and teachings that are in direct opposition to the whole thinking of the elite society of His day, and ours today.  When someone is planning a big dinner party, and thinking up the guest list, who do they consider inviting? Of course, we think of our friends and/or business associates. And if we are wanting to make an impression on important people, or to get our name in the society columns of the paper, we try to get a big name business or political person, or some famous entertainer to come.  Won’t that make us look good! However, will that impress God? Will that make us look good to Him?

Jesus says, instead, that one should invite the poor, the sick, the handicapped, basically the forgotten and overlooked people (vs. 12-13).  This is not a prohibition of inviting your friends to fellowship with. However, when one does this, that cannot truly be classified as a spiritual act of true charity.  Your friends can, and do, invite you back. I invite her, she invites me, then I invite her again, and it goes back and forth. Our grocery bills balance out, so there is no real charity being given.  If I invite someone to a nice dinner, someone who really has no means of inviting me back again, that is an act of love and caring to the poor, and something that God notices and takes account of (vs. 14).

These acts of charity do not have to be limited to just dinner invites.  It could be encouraging our child to invite home an underprivileged child for an afternoon of fun.  Inviting a needier family on the block to join you, expense paid, at an activity your family is going to.  Acts like this are examples of laying up treasure in heaven. Any deed we do for others without a selfish motive, but done in Jesus’ Name, will be rewarded in heaven.

Jesus teaches us to not be exclusive about who we invite, who we associate with.  As we know, those of the world only want to be seen with those who make the social register, but that should not be the case with His followers.  God’s invitation is for everyone. He doesn't call just those who are of a certain economic level, who live in the best neighborhoods, or carry the best names.  We need to remember that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). Those who exalt themselves will be brought down.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Never Alone Nor Forsaken

Hebrews 13:1-8

As we get older, many of us find that very few people or things will give us real security and stay true for us.  We hope to find someone or something that we can really count and depend on. How many times do we find that people we know seem to change over the passing of time; they just aren’t the same as they were before.  What can be even more painful is when we experience a friend or loved one leaving, either through death or abandonment. Psychologists say that one thing both men and women crave is for security. Knowing that family or friends are there for us is important.  In our Scripture passage for today the author of Hebrews shares with us Someone we can count on who will never leave us, and who also will never change. Let’s look into this passage and find out more about this truth.

As our passage opens, the author of Hebrews teaches that true Christian love will produce some actions.  One thing that he encourages believers to do is to show hospitality to others (vs. 2). Several times Old Testament saints had unknowingly entertained angels, thinking they were just being hospitable to other people.  Abraham was an example of this (Genesis 18). We are also encouraged to have empathy for those in prison or who are being mistreated (vs. 3). Jesus said His true followers would represent Him as they visit those in prison (Matthew 25:36).  The author also teaches that marriage vows should be respected (vs. 4).

Another thing that he wants to teach believers is that they should be content with what they have (vs. 5).  Many people believe that the larger their bank account is and the more material things they own, the more security in life they will have.  They also believe that they will find security and their heart’s content in a spouse, children, or close friends. There is nothing in this world that will give us complete and unfailing security.  Spouses may leave you. Jobs will end. Bank accounts empty out. Homes foreclose or fall apart. God is our only true security. God can sufficiently supply our needs. When we become materialistic, we are in essence saying that we don’t really believe that God can take care of us.  He is the only one who has promised that His presence will be with us eternally, no matter where we go or what we do. We do not need to fear whatever challenges may come.

During difficult times we may be deserted by family or friends, but the Lord has given us a sure and solid promise that He will never desert us (vs. 5).  Knowing that Jesus is always with us should give us comfort and courage, regardless of our circumstances.  What can man do to the one who belongs to the Lord? (vs. 6).

In addition to relationships that don’t hold true, bank accounts that dwindle, and possessions that disintegrate, we also find that, even if they remain with us, things and people that we once counted on change.  Friends and family say one thing, but do something completely different. The company we once trusted and relied on now has shady leadership. Even our hometown doesn’t look the same anymore! Where do we look for something or someone who is trustworthy?  Someone who will give us their word, and never go back on it? Who in this world can we rely on? There is one Person, though, who we will find that never changes, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 8).  Jesus is completely consistent. He does not change. Jesus is the Eternal God (Deuteronomy 33:27).   His ways are everlasting (Habakkuk 3:6). He does not change (Malachi 3:6). Jesus remains the same forever.  That is why we can have confidence in Him.

Sometimes during the dark nights of our life we may not feel that the Lord is with us.  We may feel abandoned by Him. We may feel that His love for us has changed. We should not build our life upon feelings.  Our feelings are unstable and ever changing. Instead, stand upon facts. One fact is that God has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  We can also hold fast to a sure anchor in the storm, and that anchor is that Jesus never changes.  Do not choose a foundation that isn’t stable.  When we fix our hope in Jesus, we can be sure that the anchor holds.