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Psalm 34:1-3 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD
“He Received Him Joyfully and They All Grumbled” – Luke 19:1-10
For some reason Pastor James’ discussion about this week’s fighter verse, and the need to humble ourselves brought to my mind the situation of someone with even worse problems than ours– Job. God allowed Satan to test Job to the point of making his life completely miserable, to the point of his being in complete pain and discomfort. He also allowed his friends and family to alienate him, so that he was facing his difficulties alone. Job did have three “friends” come to visit him, who entered into lengthy discussions about why Job was in his predicament. They basically argued with Job about the nature of God, and gave their opinions as to why God was punishing him.
Throughout the discussion Job maintained that he had attempted to live as God had instructed His followers to live. He had tried to respect God and His laws, treat others with respect and love, give to help others when he saw need, and speak the truth about God. Basically, he was right– he had tried his best to be a faithful, upright Godly man. Throughout the long argument that carried on between Job and his friends, one quality seemed to be lacking in Job– humility. Near the end of the book, God speaks directly to Job, reminding Job of who He is and what power He possesses. In Job 42:1-6 we see that Job finally learns true humility:
“Then Job answered the Lord and said:
‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’”
God also spoke directly to Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in verses 7-9. He basically informed them that Job had indeed spoken the truth about Him, while they did not. To restore themselves, they were told to make a burnt offering in front of Job, and allow him to pray for their forgiveness by God.
What was the result of Job’s trial and prayers?
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.
And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:10-12).
Like Pastor James, I feel overwhelmed at times. I wonder about my, and our, future. I don’t know where the situations we are facing will take us, or when they will end. But somehow, I don’t feel like I will experience anything like the misery and alienation Job faced. As Job found, the answer to our problems is to be found with an honest and loving relationship with God, and humility before Him. I am thankful that as believers we have submitted ourselves to the need for Christ’s sacrifice to save us. He suffered and died for us, and rose again. With His grace and the Holy Spirit, I pray that we can all return to God in prayer with a humble attitude to draw closer to Him and the comfort He brings. He listens and answers.
This week’s fighter verse is 2 Chronicles 7:14. I have been thinking upon this verse for the last week or so. And it took me a while to share it with you today. The video is a little longer than what I had planned. But I encourage you to think through it with me and put it to memory the best you can. Helpful ways to put it to memory is by reading it and reading it some more each day; write it out; think through it before you fall asleep each evening; and of course, do it. Do what the verse says to do.
I am thankful for these weekly verses. Without the year we are having it is likely that we would not being doing something like this each week. A friend reminded me this morning that no matter what, we always have the choice to praise God. Think on that for a moment. The Scriptures tell us that at all times, in all circumstances to give thanks, to give praise. Endless praise be Yours, God Almighty.
This Sunday we will be in Luke 19:1-10.
On Sunday, November 8, we will gather at the Lord’s Table for communion. If for some reason you cannot be here that Sunday for communion, let me know. We can arrange to have a time together for communion.
Psalm 46:1-3, 7 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.
HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD “Let the Blind Rejoice” – Luke 18:31-43
It has always been easy to believe that Jesus’ twelve disciples had the easiest and best way of learning about Him, His role in God’s plan, and how best to be like Him and serve Him. Our fighter verse this week, Luke 18:31b, reminded me that they may certainly have had the best way to learn about Him, but not necessarily the easiest way. By accompanying Him as He ministered to those in need, and taught about the kingdom of God and salvation, they saw the firsthand results of His word and power. As believers today we do not have the same personal teaching and knowledge that the twelve had in traveling with Him.
At the same time we are blessed in a way that His twelve disciples were not. We have the completed Scriptures to teach and guide us. We can pick up our Bibles and read of God’s history back to creation. We can read of how He ensured that His plan would produce the Messiah to carry out the plan for our salvation. We can read the accounts in the Gospels of those who knew Him, listened to Him, saw His miracles, and learned to reach others. We can also read the teaching and commentary of Apostles and close followers who are able to help us understand the meaning of the Old Testament in reference to the Messiah Jesus. The twelve did not have the privilege of access to the same complete information we have.
The Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the books of poetry that make up our Old Testament certainly existed in their day. They existed in the form of scrolls that were kept at the Temple and synagogues. Only priests, rabbis and teachers of the law had access to them. The Scriptures that they may have heard in teaching were those that the rabbis and teachers chose to bring to them in messages. Common Jews didn’t have the ability to pick up a version of the Scriptures at home to search for explanations and understanding. Perhaps more importantly, the interpretation of the Scriptures that they heard was that held by the rabbi or teacher.
In Luke 18:31-33 Jesus makes some shocking statements (as the disciples would have understood them) about Himself. Possibly even more shocking to the disciples would have been the idea that these statements, promising that He would be punished and killed only to rise again on the third day, were prophesied in the Scriptures. The common teaching regarding the Messiah was that he would come in triumph, a conquering hero who would restore the nation to its former glory alongside God. The promised Messiah as one who would conquer and rule on a throne was taken quite literally. They would have been familiar with this expectation. Verses in prophecy that created the expectation of His suffering and dying, probably not. Yet Jesus promised that all of the prophecies about Him were true– not just the positive ones that they might expect to be true. This situation produces the reaction that we read in verse 34:
“But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”
The idea that Jesus would suffer and die, and then be raised to life again was totally beyond the disciples’ comprehension. We have the benefit of hindsight and the complete text of the Bible to help us understand. With what we have read and had interpreted for us by the writers of the Gospels and the epistles, the ideas that Jesus presents in Luke 18:31-33 clearly state what we know to be true from history.
Paul writes a reminder to Timothy that teaching and faith, and learning the scriptures led him to salvation.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)”
We may not have the experience of firsthand observation of Jesus at this point in our lives, although in eternity we will realize that goal. But I am ever thankful that we have the Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and faithful teachers to lead us to salvation and help us to mature and prepare others in turn. God did not leave us alone, unprepared, and unable to understand!
This week’s fighter verse is Luke 18:31b. “…and everything written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” And as with the previous fighter verses, put this one to memory. It was mentioned Sunday morning that this is the most important fighter verse in a year when divisions are still wide, tensions are still high and patience is still thin. Why? Because Jesus is the eternal, sovereign King!
And be praying. I would like us to pray for three specific things: First, the lost, specifically the salvation of the lost. This is something we mentioned during last Sunday’s baptism. Be praying in all kinds of ways related to reaching the lost – evangelism as a church family; evangelism personally, etc. Oh, that we would see people get saved!
Second, keep praying for Dave Greenspan. Again, he is our representative to the Ohio state assembly. And he is a kind hearted man. Be praying for him. Scripture demands we pray for our government leaders. Read 1 Timothy 2:1-2 right now. Then read 1 Timothy 2:3-4, what Paul writes after instructing us to pray for our government leaders! Now, I am asking that we pray for Dave Greenspan because of a conversation he and I shared. But who else are we to be praying for? Prayer is a mighty weapon in the hands of God’s people. And to think, God then calls us to use this weapon to pray for our President, Congressional leaders, the list goes on. And you might not know what specifically to pray for these authorities. Pray Scripture for them. Look at the platforms of the political parties with your Bible in hand and pray! How about this idea? Instead of watching the news this evening, use that time to pray for our leaders.
Third, pray for our nation. Praying for our nation begins with us simply praying. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14). This is not a verse about praying for our nation, but that God’s people being a praying people affects the nation. How amazing is that?!
One more thing: I love Sunday mornings; there is so much happening. I love seeing how you welcome one another. I love seeing how you come with so much gladness. I love seeing you pray together and talk with one another. I love seeing you get ready to minister to one another. This Sunday we will be back in Luke 18:31-43.
Psalm 96:1-4 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
Philippians 2:1-3 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD “See, We Are Going Up To Jerusalem” – Luke 18:31-43
As you have probably noticed, there is a picture this week. A couple evenings ago I was walking in the Frostville Museum area of the Rocky River Reservation of the Metroparks. As usual I brought a camera, this time with a macro lens mounted on it. Macro lenses can be used for any type of photography but are specially designed to take up close pictures of small things. This season brings a huge reduction in the number of bugs available as good subjects for pictures. I walk around scanning for movement among the plants and flowers. One of my rewards was this insect.
It is a green soldier fly. They are only around a half inch long. They might be green like this one, black, or even striped like a bee. In midsummer I saw many of them gathering nectar from flowers. That is part of their service to the order of things. Another is that their larvae feed voraciously on decaying waste of any type. This is the only one that I saw that evening. The green ones are noticeable because they have a green iridescent sheen to their bodies.
It wasn’t until I returned home and later looked at the pictures I took that I really appreciated this soldier fly. Although I had a fairly close up image, I cropped it in closer to make the insect appear bigger. When I did the smooth green sheen melted away and was replaced by what looked like thousands of tiny bright glowing jewels. I was honestly amazed by what I saw. I had never taken the time to look at one closely before. I have learned over the years to appreciate insects more than I did when I was young. We tend to see flies as icky carriers of disease, and normally don’t notice them unless they are bothering us in some way (I still do my best to avoid horse flies and deer flies).
Looking at this picture taught me another lesson about the beauty that God put into even the smallest of creatures. Even insects that we overlook 99.99% of the time show His handiwork and joy in creating them. We can readily appreciate the beauty of many birds, fish, and animals. Flies and spiders, not so much.
Let us remember the words of Job:
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).
When taking a close look at the fly, how many noticed that it is missing an antenna? I wonder what kind of battle or accident caused its loss? I will never know, but it doesn’t diminish the beauty of the remaining parts. We can definitely learn a lesson from this tiny soldier fly. If such a small creation of God is endowed with so much beauty, how much more have we been endowed with, being made in His image? Like the fly we have beautiful physical traits. We also have a purpose in the natural order of God’s world. More importantly, we have many of His traits to a lesser degree. We also have a soul, an ability to love, and a desire for eternity that separates us from all other creation. Especially as His children we have a desire to please Him and trust Him above all else. These qualities give us the beauty that God loves, and that we should love too.
Do you what might be a good idea? It is to remember the fighter verse. Not only should we remember the fighter verse for this week, but the fighter verse from last week and the week before it and the week before it. How might we do this? Well, reading the fighter verse each day is a good start. The more you read it the more likely you are to remember something from that verse. But also, write it down. Keep track of the fighter verses! Post each reference on the fridge. Keep a journal. Do something!
Our fighter verse for this week is Mark 10:21. I am remembering this: Jesus loved him.
This Sunday we will be in Luke 18:31-43. The timing of these verses is perfect! This fits so well with the celebration of baptism this Sunday.
And so as we get prepared for Sunday…
Think through the fighter verse.
Be praying for Sunday.
Look toward Friday. This is when the worship guide is made available. It is always made available here on the church blog. Sit down and look through it, pray through it and perhaps you will find yourself singing through it.