Saturday, November 30, 2019

When Peace Will Come

Isaiah 2:1-5

Today marks the beginning of the Christian season of Advent, the first of four Sundays prior to Christmas.  Advent is the season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, Jesus’ nativity, and also expectant waiting for His return at the Second Coming.  The word Advent in English comes from the Latin word “adventum”, which means appearing or coming. Jesus appeared on earth the first time in human flesh as an infant, and it is His birth we celebrate at Christmas.  He will appear on earth a second time as the returning King to judge the living and dead at His Second Coming. That future event we eagerly await. Our Old Testament Scripture passage for this week comes from the prophet Isaiah, and pictures some events that will happen at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming, which we look forward to.

The city of Jerusalem was built upon several “mountains” or large hills.  Upon one of these hills King Solomon built the Temple, where the people came to worship Yahweh for several centuries until it was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity.  Another temple was built upon the Temple Mount when the Jewish people returned from captivity. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Isaiah prophesied a day when God’s children will flock to this mountain in worship of the Lord (vs. 2).  This day has not happened yet, but will occur when Jesus returns the second time.

This world is desperately seeking peace.  Politicians promise to work for peace. Religious leaders preach about peace.  Organizations are founded to try and bring peaceful relations between people and nations.  Counselors and therapists try and work for peace between individuals and within oneself. So many people desiring peace, and yet this world does not see it happening.  So many nations have a giant arsenal of weapons stored up, ready to use at a moments notice. People are so ready to clobber each other at the slightest hint of a supposed insult.

Yet here we read from the prophet Isaiah of a day coming when there will be peace between nations and individuals (vs. 4).  We all want this to happen. When will this day occur? The day that Isaiah prophesies about will happen when the Lord Jesus returns.  There will be wars until the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) returns to earth to put an end to them. When Jesus reigns, peace will come to the earth.  The instruments of war will be turned into instruments of farming. Instead of killing, they will be turned into something that will bring life and nourishment.

When Jesus, the Messiah, reigns from His throne, which will be established in Jerusalem, the world will enjoy peace.  At this time Jerusalem, which has been the sight of so much conflict and bloodshed for numerous centuries, will be exalted, as Jesus will reign from there.  In Jesus’ messianic kingdom, all people will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the world (vs. 2-3).

In addition to peace between nations, there will also be peace between individual people (vs. 3).  People will come together and desire to learn about God and worship Him in truth together. We will be taught God’s laws, and all will obey them.

Isn’t this a day that we eagerly look forward to?  In addition to looking forward to Christmas, Advent points us to look forward to Jesus’ return.  Though world peace won’t happen until He returns, we, as His children, can live in that way with each other.  When we follow and obey the Lord’s Word, we will walk in His light (vs. 5). Without God, we can only grope in the darkness.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Never Too Late, Never Too Wicked

Luke 23:35-43

Is anyone too bad or sinful to be saved?  Is it ever too late to get saved? These are questions that many people ask at one time or another.  As Scripture teaches, the answer to both questions is a resounding NO! In our passage today from the Gospels, Luke gives an account that shows that no one is too wicked that the Blood of Jesus cannot cover their sins, and that it is never too late to turn to Jesus, either.

As our Scripture reading begins, Jesus has been crucified, and many of the onlookers were mocking and scorning Him (vs. 35-37).  When men were crucified, often the reason for their execution was written on a placard and hung on the cross. This was done for Jesus, as well, and Pilate had “This is the King of the Jews” written (vs. 38).  This sign was meant to be sarcastic. Here was someone the Jews had rejected and cruelly executed, and the sign calls Him their king!? Yet in a few short moments He would be coming into His Kingdom. He is the King of the Jews, the Gentiles, and the universe.

Not only did the crowds gathered around the cross hurl mocking insults at Jesus, but initially both criminals crucified with Him reviled Him, just like the religious leaders and others did (Mark 15:32).  However, as some time passed, one of the criminals began to have a change of heart. He observed Jesus hanging there, praying for those who were putting Him to death, for those who rejected and mocked Him.  That was certainly not the usual response for people who were executed! Perhaps this man had at an earlier time heard a bit about Jesus, maybe even heard Him teach. This criminal looked at Jesus and looked at himself.  His conscience convicted him, and he repented.

As he spoke to the other criminal, he admitted that they both had done things that deserved the punishment they received, but Jesus had done nothing wrong (vs. 40-41).  The man then turned to Jesus and asked that He would remember him when He comes into His kingdom. The criminal knew that Jesus was not a mere man, but was divine, and would reign as King forever.  He must have believed that Jesus held the power of life and death, and that the inevitable death that was upon them in a matter of moments would be temporary, and Jesus would come to His kingdom.

What was Jesus’ response to this condemned criminal?  Did He say that it was too late? Did He say that the man was too wicked?  No! Jesus promised this dying criminal that he would be with Him in heaven (vs. 43).  This man did not have a chance to do any good works. He could not go and get baptized, or give a lot of money to the church or charities.  He couldn’t start treating his family right, volunteer at a homeless shelter, work with the boy scouts, or teach Sunday School. There was no opportunity for any good works.  He was literally moments from death. Yet Jesus did not tell him, “Sorry, too late for you, buddy!” Even in His own misery and agony, Jesus had mercy and love for others, and He forgave and accepted this man.

This dying thief had more faith than most all of the disciples did at that moment.  All of them, except John, had fled and gone into hiding. Their hopes of Jesus’ kingdom were shattered.  This man, as he was dying, and knowing the crucified Jesus would also die soon, acknowledged that Jesus would come to His kingdom.  At that moment, it sure didn’t look like there would be a kingdom. Yet he believed, and that belief, not any good deeds, saved him.

This man pleaded with Jesus for mercy.  He knew he had no hope but divine grace, and that the dispersing of that grace lay in Jesus’ power.  Did the criminal deserve to be forgiven? No. None of us do. God’s grace saves us, not our merit. Jesus turned to him and affirmed that man’s salvation.

Our deeds do not save us, as that man’s life clearly showed.  Our faith in Christ does. No one is too wicked that the Blood of Jesus cannot avail for him.  Also, it is never too late to accept Jesus as Savior. As long as there is breath, one can be saved.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

From Darkness To Light

Colossians 1:12-20

One theme of historical legends is that of some people who were taken captive by an enemy king, and then some knights coming in to rescue them from the enemy kingdom, bringing them home to their own kingdom.  That is a similar scenario to one of the two major points that Paul brings up in our passage today from his letter to the Colossian Christians.

Ever since Eve took the first bite from the forbidden fruit, mankind has been held captive by Satan.  Satan’s kingdom is not a place one would want to be in. From the outside it might look nice and pleasant, but once inside the walls of that kingdom, we find it is one of darkness, deception, and wickedness.  We were held captives, just like prisoners taken captive by an evil medieval king. However, God did not want to leave mankind in that condition. We have been rescued by God from Satan’s kingdom (vs. 13-14).  Jesus defeated Satan through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. We are redeemed from Satan’s kingdom through the Blood Jesus shed upon the cross. For those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, they are redeemed, ransomed from slavery to sin, and brought out of Satan’s kingdom of darkness into God’s glorious kingdom of light.

Through the Blood of Jesus we have been transferred from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from guilt to forgiveness, from the power of Satan to the power of God, and from a rebel kingdom to serve a righteous God.  For those who choose to accept the rescue provided by Jesus, He brings us into God’s kingdom, making us His children. Jesus then makes us qualified to share in His inheritance (vs. 12), and brings us forgiveness of our sins.

The second topic that Paul addresses in our passage is that of the deity of Jesus Christ (vs. 15-18).  The Colossian church was being threatened by a spreading heresy that denied the deity of Jesus. We see that a lot today, as well.  There are cults that say that Jesus was not God, as other religions also teach. Many people today say that Jesus was “a good man”, maybe even admitting that He was a “prophet” or some other “religious teacher”.  That is not what God’s Word, the Bible, teaches. It says here that Jesus is God.  He is the image of the invisible God, God’s perfect image and very form.  Jesus came from heaven, not from the dust of the earth (I Corinthians 15:47).

Jesus is supreme over all creation.  He is eternal, having existed before anything else.  When the universe began, Christ already existed, and He is exalted over it.  Jesus not only created the world, He sustains it (vs. 17). Everything is held together and protected by Him.  Jesus prevents creation from disintegrating into chaos, maintaining the power and balance necessary to life’s existence and continuity.  Jesus ranks over all creation because He is the Creator. The fullness of deity was not spread out among created beings, like the Colossian heresy taught, but completely dwells in Christ alone (vs. 19).

Paul uses the human body as a metaphor for the Church (vs. 18).  Jesus is the head, controlling everything. The Church has its origin in Jesus.  He gave His life for it. Jesus was the first to be resurrected, never to die again.

Before we were saved we were alienated from God, rebellious, enemies, completely separated.  When we accept Jesus as Savior, His death brings a reconciliation (vs. 20). Man is reconciled to God when Jesus restores a right relationship between us and God, and those who believe are no longer at enmity with our Creator. If you haven’ t already, accept Jesus as your Savior now, to be reconciled with the Lord and become a joint heir with Jesus.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Psalm 48

Go in to any library and you will be able to find in the nonfiction area books on famous or important big cities.  Online tourist sites abound with tours of the famous and historic cities of Europe, the U.S., or East Asia. Many people, myself included, keep a mental list of cities they would love to visit if they had the time and money to do so.  Our psalm today tells of a city that was beloved by the psalmist, and he believes, by God as well That city was Jerusalem.

In Old Testament times, Jerusalem was the city seen as where God had set His earthly presence in the world (vs. 2).  Jerusalem was where King David set up his capital, and it was there that God set the site for the Temple. Jesus visited and taught in Jerusalem on several occasions during His earthly ministry, and it was right outside the city walls where He shed His Blood in sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Believers will gather in the last days in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2). It will be the spiritual home of all believers, where God will live among them (Revelation 21:2-3).

Throughout the psalm we read of “Zion” and also “Mount Zion”.  Zion is another name that Jerusalem has often been called. Mount Zion is one of several hills in the city, and sometimes referred to the whole city.  Though the psalmist’s love for Jerusalem is evident, he was not calling upon the people to praise the city itself. Rather, he was calling upon them to praise God, who had selected Jerusalem to be His city, and where His Temple was located.

Reading through this psalm we see in verse 8 where it says that God will establish His city, Jerusalem, forever.  This is not referring to earthly Jerusalem, but instead to the New Jerusalem, which we read of in the Book of Revelation, where God will live with all believers.  As we know through history, the city of Jerusalem has been destroyed several times. When Jesus returns, and sets up His earthly capital, He will rebuild a New Jerusalem, which will be established forever.  In verses 4-7, we see how enemies had come to destroy Jerusalem and the God of Mt. Zion. However the God of Zion is powerful, and He always destroys those who fight against Him.

The psalmist speaks in verses 12 - 13 of the people going around the city, giving what would seem to be an inspection of the buildings and walls.  After a battle, an ancient city would go around and inspect the city’s walls and defenses. After a spiritual battle we need to inspect our spiritual defenses, as well.  Is our foundation sure? How about our faith in God, knowledge of His Word, and prayer? As believers, we need to praise God for His protection of us, no matter where we are.

As our psalm closes, we read where the psalmist is thankful that God is His guide (vs. 14).  When traveling, we use maps of different types, and sometimes also use a guide. Maps give us landmarks and directions, and a guide is a companion with intimate knowledge of where we are going.  God has given us both a map and a guide for our life. The Bible is the map, as it shows us where to go, with landmarks and directions. The Holy Spirit is our companion and guide. We need to make sure we use both map and guide throughout our life.

God’s presence is our joy, security and salvation.  He is our defender and guide, even to death. Even if everyone else abandons us in life, Jesus will remain with us to the end (Matthew 28:20). 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Good And Bad Shepherds

Jeremiah 23:1-6

When we send our children to school, we expect that our children will be taught true and honest lessons.  We expect that the information imparted to their eager minds is correct and accurate. No one would want their child taught that the world is flat, or that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.   Also, when we leave our children with a babysitter, we want to make sure that the sitter we pick is someone who will watch over them, taking good care of them, not someone who will ignore the child, and instead is watching TV or the internet.  God is the same way about His children. This week’s Old Testament Scripture selection is from the prophet Jeremiah, and he brought a message from God about those who were tasked with watching over and teaching God’s children.

As our passage begins, the Lord, speaking through His prophet Jeremiah, is angry with the shepherds who are not properly and attentively watching over His sheep (vs. 1-2).  The shepherds here were false religious leaders and teachers. They had failed in their duty to lead and teach the people God’s truth. When a shepherd is put in charge of a flock of sheep, he is to lead them to fields that have good, fresh grass, and streams with clean, cool water.  They are also to watch over and protect the sheep from predatory animals and any other dangers, including keeping the sheep from straying. These shepherds had failed miserably in their duty. They were not instructing the people in the Word of God, which led to many of the people turning to false, pagan gods in worship.

This is not just a problem in Old Testament times.  The Church has pastors, Bible teachers, evangelists, and other leaders who are also like shepherds.  They have a responsibility to lead and teach their flock. There are many shepherds who are faithful and true to the Good Shepherd, teaching their flocks the Word of God in truth.  However, there are some who are just like their Old Testament counterparts, who are not true to the Scriptures. They are not leading the flocks to good pasture, but instead are allowing them to graze in fields of false religious and philosophical beliefs.  They are not protecting them from the wolves sent from Satan. God warned the Old Testament shepherds, and these today, as well, that He will attend to them for the evil of their doing (vs. 2). There will be harsh judgment on religious leaders who lead God’s flock astray.  They are held responsible for those He has entrusted to their care.

As our passage continues, God has promised that He would send true shepherds.  He would send shepherds who will teach the people the Word of God in truth (vs 4).  This has found ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, the Messiah, who is our Good Shepherd. Christian pastors and teachers today are under-shepherds, under the leadership of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  They are instructed to feed the flock from God’s Word, and keep them from any fear from attacks of the enemy. God’s flock should not be lacking from any spiritual nourishment.

As the prophet Jeremiah continues his message from the Lord God, he brings a prophecy of the coming Messiah (vs. 5-6).  The Messiah is pictured here as a branch or shoot from David’s family tree. David’s family tree was large and extensive, one line of which contained the kings of Judah.  Each of us has a family tree, usually containing both some good and some not so good members. Though there were some kingly descendants of David’s that lead the people astray, God had promised that the Savior of mankind would come from David’s line.  Here that promise is stated again. Jesus would be a branch from David’s family tree, a branch of righteousness.

All mankind are sinners.  We have no way of pleasing a holy and righteous God on our own.  Jesus came and lived a sinless life, and took our sins upon Himself, paying with His Blood upon the cross our sin penalty.  All we need to do is to call upon the Lord Jesus as our Savior, taking and claiming for our own His payment for our sins and His forgiveness. He took our penalty, we take His righteousness. He is Yahweh Tsidkenu - the Lord our Righteousness.

Friday, November 22, 2019

When Persecutions Come

Luke 21:5-19

Life is not easy, as we all can attest to.  Little children often wish they were grown up, but once we get there, we see how difficult life is.  Often it is filled with troubles and even persecutions. Christians are certainly no exception. The Church has faced persecution right from the start, and for true believers, the struggle has not stopped since then.  Looking back over the centuries, we can see that the path of the true Church is in reality a trail of blood, the blood of martyrs. In our Scripture passage today we read how Jesus warned His disciples of what they would face in the days and years ahead.

As our passage opens, Jesus is in Jerusalem, just days away from His crucifixion.  As He and His disciples are walking through the streets of the city, they draw near to the Temple, and they point out to Jesus what a magnificent building it is (vs. 5-6).  This was not the original Temple building which Solomon had built centuries earlier. That one was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. A second Temple was constructed, being completed in 515 BC.  This second Temple underwent a major renovation and expansion under King Herod the Great, beginning in 20 BC. It was this Temple, including renovations, that the disciples praised. Jesus then spoke a prophecy of the coming destruction of the Temple by the Romans, which occurred in 70 AD.  Since that time, there has been no Temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus proceeds to warn the disciples of the persecutions and troubles that will come their way because of their faith in Him.  The first thing He warns them of is that there will be false messiahs, those who pretend to preach the truth, but in reality their message is damnable heresy (vs. 8).  These false messiahs have come and gone for centuries, and we still see some of them preaching their unbiblical message today. Jesus warns us not to be fooled by them or be led astray.

Jesus also warns us that there will be natural disasters and persecutions to come.  However, through them all He will be with us, and will protect us. God will always remain in control.  Every detail in our life is safe in His hands. Jesus wasn’t saying that Christians would be exempt from suffering.  Believers and followers of Jesus will suffer persecution in this world, but not a hair on our head is touched without God’s permission (vs. 18).  Even if we die for Jesus, it will be according to God’s purpose and timing. Our eternal life with Him is secure. Believers can never suffer spiritual or eternal loss.  We are saved for eternity. We do not need to worry, but stand firm in our faith.

One persecution that some Christians face is the possibility of family members and assumed friends betraying them to the authorities during a time of severe governmental persecution (vs. 16).  Even when they abandon us, the Holy Spirit will remain with us. He will comfort us, protect us, and give us the words we need when called upon to give an official defense to those in power (vs. 14-15).  Knowing this should give us courage and hope to stand firm.

God can use persecutions to be opportunities to spread the Gospel message.  Paul made use of his imprisonments to further spread the message of Jesus to the lost (Acts 9:15; Philippians 1:12).  The Church has always grown and gotten stronger during times of persecution.

Conditions in this world do not seem to be improving any as time goes by.  Things actually seem to be getting worse. In many parts of the world Christians are being actively persecuted, even killed.  In other areas the persecution is more subtle. Jesus has warned us this would happen, but also gave us words of encouragement.  He will be with us no matter what we go through.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Discernment In Fellowship

II Thessalonians 3:6-15

Today’s New Testament passage brings us to the end of Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica.  In this passage he finishes his teachings to the believers with two basic instructions, one about with whom believers should be fellowshipping, and the other about idleness.  Let’s see what the Lord can teach us today.

Parents often teach their children that they need to watch out with whom they associate with, that someone’s bad character can easily rub off on to them, influencing their conduct and behavior.  This is not only true with children, but with adults, as well. As our passage opens, Paul instructs the Thessalonian Christians to withdraw from fellowship with other believers who are “walking disorderly”, meaning they are consciously not following what the Bible teaches (vs. 6).  Paul considers this instruction important enough that he repeats it at the close of this passage, as well (vs. 14-15).

The Bible teaches us to not associate with those who deliberately, and purposefully sin.  To do so could draw us into their behavior. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he also instructed the believers to cut off fellowship with someone who was living blatantly in sin, refusing to amend their lifestyle (I Corinthians 5:9-13).  Jesus, too, gave instructions on how the church was to handle those in sin, by bringing them before the church leadership, and then if they refused to listen, to disfellowship from them (Matthew 18:15-17).

Paul instructs that when the church leadership confronts a straying brother or sister, it is not to be done in a contentious or hateful manner, filled with self-righteous pride and condemnation (vs. 15).  The purpose of disfellowship with sinful believers is not to be a final, permanent rejection of them. Rather, it is to hopefully lead the person back into repentance.

The second issue that Paul brought up as he finished his letter to the Thessalonian church was about a problem that was happening with some of the Christians there.  Some Thessalonians believed that Jesus’ return would happen real soon, so they quit their jobs to sit and wait, and to be rescued from their struggles and persecution.  Because they were not working, these believers were becoming dependent on other believers, and a burden to the church which was forced to support them. They were wasting time which could have been used in helping those who truly were in need.  They were also becoming busybodies and gossips, spending their idle time spreading rumors and hearsay (vs. 11-12). They may have thought they were more spiritual by eagerly waiting for the Lord’s return, but they were only drifting into sin.

Paul then gave himself and his fellow associates as examples (vs. 7-12).  Paul and the other missionaries definitely believed that Jesus would one day return.  However, they didn’t just sit back and idly wait for that to happen. They worked hard.  Paul had the right as an apostle to receive support from the churches he established. However, he chose to earn his own living and to be an example (vs. 8-9).  We also, today, believe that Jesus could return at any time. That is not an excuse to be lazy. Contrariwise, it should spur us on to be diligent workers for the Lord.

The hard-working Christians in Thessalonica were tired of supporting these lazy ones, and were ready to give up all charity.  Paul, though, reminded them that there were still some who were genuinely in need, and these should not be neglected (vs. 13).

We should never give up in doing good to those in need, even if there are some who might misuse Christian charity.  And as obedient Christians, we need to be careful of our fellowship with habitually disobedient believers, and those who follow false doctrines and teachings.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The King Returns

Psalm 98

The psalm selection for this week is a relatively short one.  It is a psalm of praise to the Lord, specifically in anticipation of the coming of the Lord to judge and rule on earth.  Let’s read through the psalm, and see what God might say and teach us.

As we know, Jesus came to earth the first time, being physically born in Bethlehem in approximately 4 BC and raised in Nazareth.   He conducted a public ministry for about three years, and then was crucified and rose again in approximately 30 AD. Jesus came the first time to earth to bring salvation to all who accept Him as Savior.

There will be a second coming to earth of the Lord Jesus, when He returns.  This could be at any time, whether today or many years in the future. This second time that Jesus comes will be to judge the world, and it is this coming that our psalm is specifically addressing.  It is for this return to earth that our psalmist instructs and encourages us to sing joyful praises to God for.

When Jesus first came to earth, as we read in the Gospels, He came in peace and love, telling us how much God loves us and wishes us to turn to Him in repentance for forgiveness of our sins.  He showed His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins, and wishes everyone to accept His offer of salvation. This is the loving Jesus we frequently picture in our minds, holding the lost lamb in His arms.

At His second coming, however, Jesus will return as a conquering king, and as a judge of the nations of the world.  Jesus will be the Warrior-King, coming to judge the people and nations who have not accepted Him the first time He came.  There is no question that King Jesus will be victorious over all. As verse one proclaims, His right hand and His holy arm will gain the victory.  Jesus will have victory over the nations which fought against His people in the end times (Zechariah 14:1-15; Revelation 19:11-21). At this time Jesus will establish His righteous kingdom on earth (vs. 2).

Many people feel fear and trepidation if they are to go before a judge.  It is not something that they look forward to. Actually it really depends on how you feel the judge will rule, whether in your favor or not.  At this time we can be certain that God, as the Judge, is both perfectly loving and perfectly just. He is merciful when He judges and punishes, but He also overlooks no sin when He loves.  God will once and for all judge sin, and those who have willfully and deliberately rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. At the time of Jesus’ first coming, God provided the only way for our sins to be wiped away and made atonement for, through the shed Blood of Jesus, His Son, on the cross.

For those who have accepted Jesus, His return is a time of great joy and gladness, just like we picture a returning hero and king to a country that has sorely missed him.  Cheers ring out, welcoming King Jesus (vs. 4-6). Even the different parts of nature will rejoice when Jesus returns (vs. 7-8).

For those who have rejected God’s Son Jesus, that will be a day when they receive the harsh judgement of the returning King.  When a legal case goes to court today, the judge rules one way or another, either in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. We hope that his ruling is fair and just, though sometimes it might not be.  However, we know that God will judge the world with righteousness and equity (vs. 9). All of His judgments will be true and fair, and for that we can rejoice and sing praise, as this psalm encourages us to do.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

God's Book Of Remembrance

Malachi 3:13-4:6

Most people like to be remembered.  No one wants to be forgotten. When the invitation lists to birthday parties, weddings, or holiday parties are written up, we all hope our name is there.  We also hope our boss will remember us when he makes a list of the employees he wants to retain when a company downsizing takes place. In our Scripture passage today, from the last several verses of the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi, we read of a type of list that God has made.  Let’s look into God’s Word and see what He has to say to us.

As the prophet Malachi begins this passage, Yahweh, the One true God, is speaking to His people, as they have been complaining openly and vocally that serving God is just not worth the trouble, that there are no rewards for obedience to His Word (vs. 13-14).  They felt that it was a waste of time to serve God, because the wicked prosper, but not God’s servants. That is immature faith, placing trust in material blessings, rather than in Jesus Christ. What these people were really asking was what good does serving God do for me.  These people hypocritically made a show of repenting from their sins, but complained that religious activity was useless.  That is a selfish focus. We should be serving God because He is God, and deserves to be served. The wicked put God to the test, to see how far they could go in doing evil (vs. 15).

However, God has not forgotten those who fear and obey Him, and who meditate on His Name (vs. 16).  He has made a Book of Remembrance, with the names of all those who love and obey Him written in it. This Book of Remembrance could be a reference to the Book of Life, which records the names of all the believers in Jesus (Revelation 13:8; 21:27).  Very few people are remembered as each generation passes into history. Only a handful will be remembered after 100 years pass. Most of us are forgotten by then. Even names on a gravestone wear away in a couple hundred years. However, God remembers those who remain faithful, who love, fear, honor and respect Him!

We may feel like we have been forgotten.  We may feel like our life is useless, that we are no more than just junk.  However, God says that those who have accepted Jesus as Savior belong to Him (vs. 17).  We are His treasured jewels. When I have gone to the Natural History Museum in Chicago, I enjoyed going through the Hall of Gems, where valuable gems are displayed, the rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.  God has said that His children are like them. Diamonds come from carbon. Coal also comes from carbon. We may feel like our life is worthless, that we are like a chunk of coal, but God will make us into a diamond, a gemstone!  That is how He looks at us, His loved ones, His treasured jewels!

Not everyone is one of God’s jewels, though.  God’s wrath will burn like a furnace to the wicked (vs. 1-2).  The day is coming, a day of punishment for the wicked, and of deliverance for the godly.  All who refuse to turn to Jesus will be cast into the fire of hell. For those who do turn to God, they will feel the warmth and healing of His love.  Jesus is the dawn, bringing light to those in sin’s darkness.

As Malachi closes this passage, it is actually the final words in the Old Testament.  Then followed approximately 400 years of silence before John the Baptist came on the scene, calling for repentance and a returning to Yahweh.  John the Baptist was like Elijah, both in appearance and in his preaching of repentance and reconciliation with God (vs. 5). Jesus even said that John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy of a coming again of “Elijah” (Matthew 11:13-14; 17:11-13).

God will not turn a blind eye to the wicked and those who are guilty of corrupt worship.  He will rebuke them, and they will be punished. However, He will remember those who love and fear Him.  Their names are in His Book of Remembrance. God’s memory is eternal. He will never forget us! Be sure that your name is written there!

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Sadducees' Question

Luke 20:27-38

Sometimes when a witness is testifying in court, an attorney will try to trick them into saying something that is damaging to their side.  That way the trial may swing in this attorney’s favor. Jesus had many enemies among the Jewish religious leaders. Many members of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the two main Jewish religious groups of that day, hated Him, and wanted to trap Him in His words.  Though they both wanted to bring Jesus down, since these groups didn’t care for each other, they didn’t join together to accomplish this goal. Frequently in the Gospels we read of various Pharisees arguing with Jesus. In today’s passage we read of an occasion where some of the Sadducees tried to challenge Jesus with their arguments.

As a religious group among the Jews in Jesus’ day, the Sadducees were a more religious elite group than the Pharisees, tending to be wealthier, and also had many members from the Jewish priesthood.  They did not accept the oral traditions found in the Talmud, nor did they believe in either the resurrection or angels. They were a more intellectual group than the Pharisees, though they were less popular with the common, everyday folk than the Pharisees were.  After the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the Sadducees died out. The Pharisees beliefs became the foundation for Rabbinic Judaism.

The Jewish leaders feared Jesus’ popularity.  They did not want to see all of the people flocking to Him and being taught by Him, rather than by themselves.  They also feared that the Roman authorities might get suspicious of the crowds Jesus was attracting, so both groups wanted to bring Him down.  On this particular day, the Sadducees came to Jesus with a trick question. They posed a hypothetical situation where a woman married a man, who died soon afterwards, with no children.  According to Jewish law, if the man had a brother, he would have to marry her and raise up children in his name. This was called a levirate marriage, and is described in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.  This was to insure that the family lines were kept intact, and the widows cared for. In this hypothetical scenario, the woman marries a man who dies, and his brother marries her. He dies, too, so she marries a third brother who dies, then a fourth, all the way through seven brothers.  The Sadducees, in a mocking way, ask Jesus whose wife she would be following a resurrection, which they didn’t even believe in (vs. 28-33).

Jesus’ response teaches us several things.  First, marriage is an institution that God gave for man to enjoy here on earth (vs. 34).  However, in heaven, the marriage institution does not exist. The relationships that we have here on earth are not the same that we will have when in heaven (vs. 35-36).  Jesus did not say that we would not recognize our spouses in heaven, but we must not think that heaven is an extension of our life here on earth, as we now know it. Relationships will be different from what we are used to here and now.  I have known several people whose spouses died, and they remarried, and then that spouse died, and they remarried again. Will they have three wives in heaven? No! Though there is perfect love for everyone in heaven, the relationships are not the same.

Another thing that some people believe, is that when we die we become angels.  People sometimes like to say and believe that their deceased mother is now an angel in heaven, or their deceased child is now an angel.  That may be a warm, fuzzy, comforting thought, but it is completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. No where in the Bible does it say that the dead become angels.  No one becomes an angel after death.  What Jesus is saying in verse 36 is that we are now eternal, like angels are.  Angels do not die, nor do they have marriages or bear children.

Finally, as the passage wraps up, Jesus instructs the Sadducees, proving to them through the Scriptures that there is, indeed, a resurrection (vs. 37-38).  When speaking to Moses at the burning bush, God used the present tense when He called Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:2-6). God did not say He was, but He is.  I AM, not I WAS!    As Jesus said, God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.  No one is annihilated when they die. All people still exist after death, and will be for eternity, either in heaven or hell.  If you have not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior yet, now is a good time to call upon Him, and be sure that your eternity will be with Him in heaven.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Stand Fast For The Lord

II Thessalonians 2:13 - 3:5

When I was a young girl, back in the 1960’s, one game that was sometimes played by the children during school recess was “Red Rover”.  Two teams, each with their teammates holding tightly to each others hands, would face each other. One person from the opposing team would run and try to break through the opposing team’s interlocked hands.  Your team would have to stand fast to prevent that from happening. We see the idea of standing fast in American football, where one team tries to knock down the other players in order to get the ball and make it across the field to their goal.  The players want to stand firm and not let their opponents pass. Outside of games and sports, I saw that general idea given in the speeches of Winston Churchill to his countrymen during World War II. He urged the people at home to not despair, not give up, but stand fast until victory would come.

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul tells the believers to do the same as they bear up under persecution from the enemy.  The Thessalonian believers faced persecution for their faith, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. It had gotten so bad that Paul had to flee the city for his life (Acts 17:1-10).  Paul did not want the believers there to despair, and he wrote to encourage them, urging them to stand firm against any opposition. He wrote to remind them that God loved them, and that He knew from the beginning that they would come to salvation (vs. 13).  Salvation begins and ends with God. We can do nothing to be saved on our own merit, other than to accept God’s gift of salvation. God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies us, setting us apart for His purpose and use, and through the process of Christian growth, His Holy Spirit makes us like Christ.

God has elected to use us humans to spread the message of salvation to others around the world.  If we fail to do our duty, God’s message will not reach as many people. When the Word of God is preached, some will accept its saving message, and others will oppose it.  Sometimes the opposition can be strong, as with Paul, who had to frequently flee for his life (vs. 2).

Opposition and persecution can be discouraging for believers as they seek to tell others about salvation through Jesus Christ.  We can be tempted to just give up, to keep our mouth closed and say nothing to anyone. We can even be tempted to give up the faith. The temptation to waver from the faith is sometimes strong because of persecution, false teachers, worldliness, or apathy. However, that is like letting go of your teammate’s hand in Red Rover, when you see the opposing team member come running.  That is the football player moving over to the sidelines so as to avoid being tackled, and letting the opposing team closer to their goal. Paul tells us not to do that! We are to stand fast and not give up (vs. 15). Hold on to the truth we have been taught.

Our main defense from the enemies of Christ, both in the physical world and the spiritual one, is prayer (vs. 1-3).   We need to pray that God will protect us and strengthen us to stand fast for Him. We also need to pray for our Christian leaders and workers who spread His Word.  There are so many to reach.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.”  Stand fast, then, and do not give up the fight!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Be Careful What We Say

Psalm 17

“Oh, I wish I hadn’t said that!”   So many times I have said or thought that, after I opened my mouth and blurted out something stupid!  Perhaps you have thought that, too. As I read through the psalm selection from this week’s lectionary, one verse jumped out at me, that of verse 3.  In this verse King David said “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress”. Several verses, in addition to this one, speak of the mouth, and what we speak.  Verse 1 mentions deceitful lips, verse 4 speaks of God’s lips, verse 6 about our speech, and verse 10 speaks of mouths that speak proudly. Let’s look into this psalm together, and see what we can learn from God’s Word.

Scriptures call King David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), however that didn’t mean that David never made mistakes now and then.  Every one of us will sometimes say some things that we shouldn’t, things that God doesn’t approve of, and that disappoint Him. It is so easy for us to speak before we really think through what we should say.  We just open our mouth and out tumbles words that we shouldn’t have said, words that often we wish we could take back. David knew that he needed to make a concerted, conscious effort to watch his mouth and his speech (vs. 3).  He did not want to offend God or to offend others by what he said.

All through his life, David turned to the Lord in prayer.  With all of the trials and turmoil in his life, he depended on that prayer connection with God.  David also knew that if his life was filled with unconfessed sin, the Lord would not hear his prayers (Psalm 66:18).  As this psalm opens, David comes to God in prayer, and he knows his prayer will be heard, as it does not come “from deceitful lips” (vs. 1).  He was careful not to be guilty of lying, either maliciously, or just being insincere to others. He did not want to be guilty of craftiness, falsehood, or especially treachery.  When David prayed to God, he wanted the words he spoke to the Almighty to be truthful and forthright, and not coming from one whose words could not be trusted.

David also knew that God sees and hears everything in our life.  Nothing we say or do is hid from Him (Psalm 139:1-4). He knows every word on our tongue, and as David says here, He hears our speech (vs. 6).  When we lose our temper with others and lash out with hard words, when we lie to our boss or our spouse, when we tell that off-color joke, the Lord God hears it all.  David wanted to be sure that when he needed to call out to God, there was nothing in his speech he needed to be ashamed of.

As David thought of those who do not follow God and His Word, the wicked, and those who were his enemies, one thing that came to his mind was that they speak proudly (vs. 10).  A proud person doesn’t feel that they have to abide by the same standards or rules that everyone else has to. They feel that they are special, and that, if there is a God, He will make exceptions for them, because they are better than others.  They might even challenge God. Their lives certainly don’t follow His ways, and the words they speak are proud and haughty. Even though he was the king, David did not want to be like them, or to speak like them. Instead, he wanted to follow the words from God’s lips (vs. 4).  He follows and trusts in God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures.

As the psalm continues, we see that God delights in those who place their trust in Him.  Just as we protect the pupils of our eyes, the “apple”, so God protects us (vs. 8). God considers each one of His children as the apple of His eye, the objects of His special devotion.  He guards us just like a mother bird protects her chicks, by covering them with her wings (Deuteronomy 32:9-12).

One problem with the wicked is that they believe their reward is in this life (vs. 13-14).  They don’t think God will hold them accountable, or that there even is a judgment after death.  David lived as a man who knew that one day he will give an account to God. One day we all will see Jesus, and we will give an account of our life to Him (vs. 15).  For those who have placed their faith and trust in Him, we will then be transformed into His glorious image (I John 3:2).

Saturday, November 9, 2019

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Job 19:23-27

Everyone goes through some degree of afflictions throughout their life.  This is common to all mankind, regardless of who you are. There are some people, though, who seem to have more than their share of troubles.  They seem to keep coming and coming, like ever increasing ocean waves, rolling over them again and again. Some of these folks give in to the despair and hopelessness they face.  Others are able to look up and grab hold of their Redeemer in faith and hope. In our Old Testament Scripture this week we meet Job, a man who, in spite of his troubles, saw some hope, as we will see from today’s passage.

The Book of Job does not indicate when the events written took place.  However, many Biblical scholars believe that Job lived during the time of the patriarchs, a contemporary of Abraham or Isaac, and that he also lived somewhere in the Middle East.  Job was a believer in the one true God, Yahweh, and was a very wealthy man, with thousands of herds of sheep, oxen, camels, and donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.  Everything was going fine in Job’s life until Satan attacked him with swift, severe, and vicious attacks. All at one time he lost all that he had - all of his flocks and herds of cattle, and the lives of each of his children (Job 1:13-19).  Shortly after this Job’s health gave out, as he was afflicted with a painful and devastating skin affliction (Job 2:7-8). His friends and neighbors kept their distance from him, including his wife. Even his three closest friends argued and debated with him about what had happened.

With all of this happening in Job’s life we can understand why he was so depressed, why he was upset and angry with God.  There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t have felt the same way. Yet, in the midst of all of his pain and suffering we see Job clinging to the hope of God as his Redeemer. 

Job had lost all hope for this life.  He had lost everything. He had lost his possessions.  He had lost his health. Job had lost his whole family, except for a wife that now lashed out at him. His friends did the same.  Yet in our verses today Job was confident that after he was dead, his God would vindicate him with a physical resurrection, where he would have fellowship with his Redeemer.

At the point of Job’s greatest despair, his faith appeared at its highest, as he confidently affirmed that God was his Redeemer (vs. 25).  Job knew that God would vindicate him in the last day of judgment.

Though things didn’t look good now, Job looked ahead, knowing that God would make all things beautiful.  He knew God would remove all the pain he now had, all of the sorrow, tears, adversity, and death. Job knew, just as Paul would say centuries later, that “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5).  Job could endure today by envisioning tomorrow. He understood that he had a big God who was in control, and that one day, when all the suffering was over, he would understand more fully.

We, too, can share this same hope.  When all of the storms of life come crashing down on us, when the troubles are more than we can bear, we can look to our Redeemer, as Job did.  We don’t serve a dead god, a lifeless idol. We serve a living God, who will redeem the lives of His Blood-bought children.  Job believed in the resurrection. Though his body would face corruption, he would be resurrected to stand before God (vs. 26-27).  Everyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ will one day see Him face to face. When we do, we will be like Him (I John 3:2).  On that day God will wipe away all of our tears, and all of our troubles will fade away like a dream that is quickly passed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Salvation Comes To Zacchaeus

Luke 19:1-10

Do you know someone in your neighborhood or your workplace who is very unpopular? No one seems to like them, and perhaps for some very good reasons.  They may do things to irritate or anger others, and be very ill-tempered. People in town or at work tend to avoid this person. Then one day you hear that this person has accepted the Lord as Savior.  You may be surprised, as they might seem like the last person you’d expect to hear that about, but what a change you see in them! Today’s Scripture from the Gospel of Luke gives such an account.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the last time, and He was passing through the city of Jericho, which was about 16 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  Zacchaeus lived in Jericho, and was the chief tax collector there. Tax collectors were despised by devout Jews, who looked on them as collaborators with the enemy Romans.  They were also hated as they frequently took more taxes than required, keeping the balance for themselves. Zacchaeus, being the chief tax collector in town, and also very rich, was probably especially hated.  He was also a very short man, which would likely bring additional ridicule for him.

Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus was coming to town, and he really wanted to see him.  However he was used to being on the outside of society, and felt there was no way that he would be able to get close to Him.  Even seeing Jesus as He would walk down the street didn’t seem likely because of his short height. An idea came to Zacchaeus - he could climb up into a tree right along the street Jesus would go down, and he could see Him that way, and also be away from the people who hated him, and that’s what he did (vs. 1-4).

As Jesus walked by He looked up and saw Zacchaeus in the tree, and He called him by name.  Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name, and called him by that name.  He didn’t ignore Zacchaeus, or call out “Hey you!”  Jesus knew him personally. He knows us personally by name, and cares about us!  We are valuable in Jesus’ eyes, not because of what we do, but by the fact that He created us.  Zacchaeus could not hide from God, and neither can we. He sees us. He knows us, and knows where we are.  Zacchaeus may have thought that Jesus wouldn’t see or notice him up in the tree, but God misses nothing. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history, dying on the cross for our sins, yet He stopped to minister to a spiritually needy man.

Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down, because He was going to stay at his home.  The fact that the Messiah noticed him, knew his name, and wanted to be with him was transforming for Zacchaeus, turning his life around.  After he came to saving faith, he realized his life needed straightening out. Zacchaeus made restitution to those he cheated, and gave to the poor (vs. 8).  He demonstrated inward change by outward action. When there has been true salvation, there should be an indication by a change in the life. Where there is root, there should be fruit.

Jesus came to earth to seek and save the lost (vs. 9-10).  His coming was God’s seek and save mission, in order to help those who are lost find the right way home.  Jesus indicated that one could be of the physical lineage of Abraham, but still be lost, which was not a popular thing to say to His Jewish listeners.  A person is not saved by a good heritage, or condemned by a bad one. Jesus came to save the lost, no matter what their background or previous way of life (John 3:16-18).  He did for us what we could never do on our own.

Jesus saw in Zacchaeus a soul to be saved and the man he could be.  Zacchaeus received God’s grace and mercy, and his life was transformed.  Zacchaeus was a sinner, then a seeker, and then a follower.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Persevering Through Persecutions

II Thessalonians 1:1-12

The New Testament reading for this week from the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer brings us to the second letter or epistle that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica.  Thessalonica was the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia. A major highway, starting in Rome and going well into Asia, passed through the city. Thessalonica also had a thriving seaport.  It was one of the wealthiest and flourishing trade centers in the Roman Empire. The Apostle Paul, along with his co-workers in the ministry, Silas and Timothy, had established the church in Thessalonica on their second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-10).  Paul had to quickly flee for his life because of persecution by the Jews in the city.

Paul begins his letter, as he did most of his epistles, with thanking God for these believers (vs. 3).  He thanked God for the Thessalonians spiritual growth, and then proceeds to urge them to persevere through the persecutions they were experiencing, the same ones that had caused him to flee and more, and to wait patiently for Jesus’ return.   The Thessalonians were experiencing increased persecution because of their faith. Instead of that weakening their faith, the believers there remained strong and unified, their faith, love, and patience growing.

Some believers, both back in the days of the early church and today, falter when persecution comes.  They cannot bear up under it, and their faith weakens. They question God, even growing angry and turning their back on Him. In our passage today from God’s Word, Paul instructed the Thessalonians and us today, to go through persecutions with perseverance and faith (vs. 4).  God is fair and just. He will not forget us. In His perfect timing He will relieve our suffering, and punish those who persecute us (vs. 6-10).

The Thessalonian church wondered why God allowed this persecution.  Contrary to what some people teach, troubles and persecutions are not necessarily the result of sin or lack of faith (vs. 5).  They may be a part of God’s plan for the believer. They help us to look up to God, and build strong character. They may be an indication that we are taking a stand for Jesus.  We can gain relief during suffering, knowing we are being strengthened, and also knowing that everyone will one day stand before God. At that time, all wrongs will be righted, and judgment pronounced (vs. 6-7).  God will vindicate us in due time. Until then, we, like the Thessalonians, await Jesus’ return.

The Thessalonians were not self-centered believers.  Their focus was not on personal comfort, fulfillment, or happiness.  Instead, it was on God’s glory and doing His will. Afflictions are to be expected if we are following God’s Word.  It doesn’t mean God has forsaken us, but it shows He is with us, perfecting us. God will repay those who persecute believers.  We need to remember, though, that vindication and retribution are to be done by God, not by us. If it doesn’t happen in this lifetime, God promises that it will happen when He returns.

There are some false teachers that say when unbelievers die, they just cease to exist.  That is not so, according to the Scriptures, as we see in verse 9. Believers will be in heaven with God.  Unbelievers are in everlasting destruction, according to Paul here. The Book of Revelation describes an eternal lake of fire that is never extinguished (Revelation 20:15; 21:8).  With that in mind, we need to be spreading the news of salvation through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, so that our loved ones, friends, and neighbors will not face that for eternity.

With the day of Jesus’ return drawing closer and closer, persecutions will increase.  As the Thessalonians experienced, we cannot handle life’s struggles by ourselves. We need to lean on God for guidance, strength, and wisdom.  One day we will be with Jesus in heaven. In the meantime, we need to turn to Him for help and support.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Bits And Bridles

Psalm 32

Attempting to ride or even being around an untamed horse can be dangerous.  To bring a wild stallion under control the horse trainers put a bit in his mouth and a bridle around his head and neck.  A dangerous dog will have a muzzle put over his mouth and be on a very short leash, and a fractious bull is kept in line with a cattle prod.  What about when a believing Christian gets away from God’s will, falling into sin and disobedience? In our psalm for today, King David describes one such occasion in his own life.  Let’s take a look at what he says, and see what we can learn.

Both Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 were written following the occasion when David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his generals.  Then when he heard she was pregnant, he had her husband killed at the front lines of battle. A horrible sin, which David tried to ignore for many months.  Psalm 32 describes how he felt during those months of hiding his sin. It also tells of the joy and relief we feel when we do turn to God, confessing the sin, and receiving His forgiveness.

Coming to God, asking for and receiving His forgiveness will bring us true joy.  That is the only way to relieve the guilt one feels. David expressed the real joy he felt when he confessed his sins and received God’s forgiveness.  God wants to forgive our sins, if only we come to Him in repentance and ask for forgiveness (vs. 1-2).  It is part of His nature.

For a while following his adultery with Bathsheba, and then ordering the death of her husband Uriah, David tried to ignore his sin.  He married her and she gave birth to his baby. Outwardly everything seemed fine. However inwardly his sin was making him sick (vs. 3-4).  God was not going to ignore this trespass, and as long as David refused to repent, He was not going to leave David alone. God would have to use a bit and bridle, a cattle prod on David until he would confess.

Finally David came to his senses, confessing and repenting of this sin (vs. 5).  When we refuse to confess our sins to the Lord, we can end up feeling miserable, weak, discouraged, and ultimately isolated from God.  We need to repent from our sins because it destroys our closeness and relationship with Him. To confess our sins means to agree with God, acknowledging that He is right in declaring that what we’ve done is sinful, and that we are wrong in desiring to do it.  Confessing also includes intending to abandon that sin, and following God more faithfully.

Some believers, rather than letting God guide them throughout their lives, acting stubbornly and going their own way (vs. 8-9).  If God wants to keep them useful for Him, He must use discipline and punishment. An untrained horse must have bits and bridles to guide them because otherwise they fight against the directions of the trainer.  The Bible uses these examples of how some animals need to be brought under when stubborn as an example of a stubborn, sinful person (Proverbs 26:3; James 3:3). If we refuse to submit to God’s commands He may have to use a measure of adversity to guide us to do His will.  God wants us to willingly come to Him and obey, not fight against His will. God would rather guide us with His love and wisdom.

David continues on, telling us to be spending time with God in prayer (vs. 6).  We should not use prayer as a last resort, when all else we’ve tried has failed.  We need to pray before the storms of life come, at all times, and in all situations.  God is our hiding place, a refuge for us when we need safety from trouble (vs. 7).  He surrounds us with songs and shouts of deliverance when we need to be rescued (vs. 11).

God’s eye is always on us (vs. 8).  His eye is a loving, caring one, providing all we need, and protecting us.  The Lord is willing and able to guide us if we will let Him. He will lead us along life’s path with a steady and sure hand.  Our part is to follow in obedience, and not make a bit or bridle necessary.