Friday, April 24, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Following the Lord Wholly (Deuteronomy 1:36)



except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’ (Deuteronomy 1:36 ESV)

What does it mean to follow the Lored wholly as Caleb did?  I can think of a few things.

1. It means trusting in God in spite of overwhelming odds.  There were giants in the land!
2. It means being willing to take the heat and stand up for something that is different than what the crowd wants to do.  The others said it was too hard and they would be defeated.  But Caleb said the opposite.
3. It means looking at the possibilities instead of the difficulties!  It was a land flowing with milk and honey.  They brought back a giant bunch of grapes that took two men to carry on a stick between them. So optimism instead of pessimism is in order. 
4. I'm sure this was true of Caleb:  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30 ESV)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Two Unstable Environments (Psalm 46:1-6)



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. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. (Psalm 46:1-6 ESV)

Two unstable environments.  The earth and the nations/kingdoms are the two unstable environments mentioned here.  We live in both of these unstable environments.  

Our national security is at risk.  Terrorism is abundant and causes great instablitiy all around us.  Crime on our streets is increased.  A simple trip to the grocery store could turn into a hostage situation.

The earth is unstable.  Natural disasters can happen at any moment wiping out whole towns.  

When you stop to think about it, we humans who so much like our security and everything to be stable really have very little stability around us.   How are we to respond to this instability?  How are we to live with this without going crazy?

This passage gives us the solution to how to live with instability.  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  We do not need to fear.  He has got this!  Did you catch that?  He is a very PRESENT help in trouble.  He is not a God who is afar off watching from a distance.  He is PRESENT and He is a PRESENT HELP in trouble.



Monday, April 13, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Forgiveness



Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

Think about all God has forgiven you in Jesus Christ and then think about the one who has wronged you. Why are we so quick to accept God's forgiveness for our own great sins against Him, but so unwilling to extend that same mercy to our fellow man?

Forgiveness doesn't mean absolving another of responsibility in all cases.  Nor does forgiveness mean putting yourself back in a place where you will be hurt.  It means that you will not hold onto your anger, grudge or the need for vengeance against that person.  

Who do you have something against?  Set down your grievance and be merciful toward them.  

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Guarded by God's Power (1Peter 1:3-12)

        
,Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:3-12 ESV)

I am intrigued by the fact that this does not say we will be guarded from trouble or persecution. It indicates instead that our salvation is guarded by God's power through faith.

he has caused us to be born again...who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire...

If God has genuinely saved you and me we will have trials and the purpose of those trials is to prove the genuiness of our faith.  God will guard the salvation of our souls through these crises of faith that we will endure.

Many preachers make the mistake of "selling" Jesus to people on the premise that He will take care of all their problems. He will fix a broken marriage. He will fix your financial problems. He will heal your body. They make becoming a Christian look like some sort of fairy land.

Sorry Charley, but that is heresy. For many people the trouble starts when they are saved. Those Christians in the Middle East and beyond are exiles. They are persecuted for their faith. One day we may be called upon to suffer in a similar fashion. The good news is that God will guard the souls of His people through it, refine their faith, prove their faith as genuine and wean them off the world to cause them to look for the prize of the high calling of God.  God will guard our souls in the fire of trials.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Things Devoted to Destruction (Joshua 6:18)

                


But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. (Joshua 6:18 ESV)

This was Joshua's instructions to the people of Israel before they took the city of Jericho.  You can look around in any number of areas of life and see this principle lived out.

Here are some examples:

Our nation has embrace all kinds of sin from murder of babies before they are born to sexual perversion between same sex couples and others. We tolerate corruption in our government and other places of leadership and our children are taught that there is no absolute truth. It's only a matter of time before our freedoms are stripped from us and this great nation falls.  Our nation has been made into a thing of destruction and has had trouble brought upon it.

In the marriage relationship, when one of the marriage partners decides to engage in sexual promiscuity or a secret obsession with pornography...things devoted to destruction...it makes that marriage into a thing of destruction and brings trouble upon it.

When a child, whether young or adult engages in deception, whether he or she out right lies or just choses to keep back information in order to make his or her parents or boyfriend or girlfriend to think something that is not true, it makes those relationships into things of destruction and brings trouble upon the trust relationship that had been there.

When an employee is dishonest with an employer he makes that job and work relationship into a thing of destruction and brings trouble upon it.

You begin to get the application here.  This principle of taking things or actions that are displeasing to God and devoted for destruction and making them part of your life makes you and your relationships or in the case of nations and groups of people, into things of destruction and brings trouble to them.

What areas of life have you been engaging in acceptance of things devoted to destruction? What can you do about it?  Will you do what needs to be done to fix it?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Marsha's Musings: My Prayer as I Grow Older

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:9, 14-15, 17-18 ESV)

My prayer as I grow older.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Marsha's Musings: When the News Worries Me, Remember This. (Psalm 4:6-8)



There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:6-8 ESV)

The news is often bleak. Our Facebook feeds are full of bad news. The nightly news on TV is bad. The newspaper headlines are bad. I have often said, "Why don't they ever report good news?!"

The Psalmist says there are many who say the same thing. “Who will show us some good?"  Life gets scarier every day and we wonder if it's even safe to travel anywhere....even to the store!  

But the last verse of this Psalm sums it up nicely.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

God alone keeps us safe and He will not let anything take us out of this world until He decides it is our time to go.  With that knowledge and assurance I can lie down and sleep in peace.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Forgiveness Psalm 130:3-4

                     
     

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 ESV)

Where would we be if God kept track of all our sinfulness?  Not one person on earth would make it into heaven. But God in His infinite mercy made a way for forgiveness through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Marsha's Musings: When God is Covered in Darkness (Psalm 18:11)



He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. (Psalm 18:11 ESV)

Do you ever feel as if God has hidden Himself from you?  Have you felt like you were walking all alone in darkness and that life is closing in on you?

God often covers His presence in our lives in a shroud of darkness.  It is during these times that we are forced to walk by faith.  He forces us to pick our way carefully when we can not see the way. It can be a dark and lonesome path and we may feel that God has left us.  

Take heart!  He has not left you!  He will not break His promise to never leave you!  He is only hidden by a covering of darkness for a time. He is still there right beside you even if you don't "see" or hear Him.  Walk on through the darkness in faith and soon enough you will see the Light again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Marsha's Musings: God's Kingdom (Matthew 13:24-33)




He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:24-33 ESV)

If you are like me, you get discouraged at how things are going in the world and you get impatient for God to set up His kingdom. Here are three parables that talk about this.

1. God has planted His fields but there are weeds growing among with the wheat.  We see this in the Church today.  One day God will gather His people and those who are not part of His harvest will be burned.

2. God's kingdom begins as a tiny mustard seed that grows and becomes very large.  But notice how it starts small. It takes time to grow to the size God wants it to be.

3. God's kingdom takes time to grow, like leaven must take time to raise the dough.  

The point?  We can't expect God to establish His kingdom quickly. He has his own time table. Good things can't be hurried.  Patience is a godly virtue that I need as I watch things develop the world around me.  The growth of God's kingdom will not come easy. It comes with great difficulty like that of a mother giving birth. God is purging His Church around the world.  Only those who He planted will remain faithful and stand unashamed before Him.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Unfulfilled Expectations (Luke 4:13-20)




And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. (Luke 4:14-20 ESV)

This was a prophecy of Isaiah that was fulfilled in Jesus, but it wasn't fulfilled in the way the Jews expected. They thought Messiah would come and rule over them and there would be utopian peace all around and health and prosperity for all. He didn't fulfill that expectation so they crucified Him later.

How often do I get grumbly when things don't go as I expect? How often do I get angry and shake my fist at God because He isn't fulfilling my dreams and expectations?  I need to keep myself in check and realize that God never promised to fulfill my expectations and dreams. In fact, He may have a reason...lessons I need to learn by not getting what I want.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Marsha's Musings: A Lost Art (3 John 1:13-14)




I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: -3 John 1:13
But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. -3 John 1:14

Another reminder of the importance of speaking directly to the people you know and love.

It's becoming a lost art.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marsha's Musings: An Example To Follow (3 John 1:12)





Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. -3 John 1:12

John has good things to say about Demetrius. We should strive to be more like him and less like the guy in the previous verses!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Trouble Makers in the Church (3 John 1:9-11



wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. -3 John 1:9
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. -3 John 1:10
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. -3 John 1:11

There are several things here:

1. There are those in the church who think they know best and everything should be done their way. They go about stirring up people to see it their way and try to impose their will on the people.

Some work until they have achieved a church split, while others only manage to gain a small following and they eventually take their football and their small following and leave. Either way, they make sure they harass the pastor as much as possible.

It seems Diotrephes was like those described above, however, he was able to achieve some status and was very influential among the congregation.

2. Remembering the deeds of church trouble makers as well as telling others so they may be warned, as John did in this letter, is not malicious gossip nor is it unforgiving.

It is important to remember their deeds, so as to not be taken in by them or others like them.  

It is also important that when you see them at work you warn others of what they are doing.  This means that you should not report hear-say, as that could be gossip.  But if you have first hand experience with them trying to lead you astray or observe them doing it to someone else, then warning others is not gossip, it is saving another from going down the wrong path.

Matthew 18, dealing with disagreements and offences should also be employed. Sometimes confronting these people is hard as they will not listen.  But it needs to be done.

3.  We are not to follow those who do evil in the church.  We are to follow those who do good in the church.

4. The last line is a real stickler.  
He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. -3 John 1:11
 
What does this say about those who persist in splitting the church or gaining a following for their agenda?  It says that person has not seen God.  Tough words. But we must be careful what we do with these words.  

Not everyone who follows these trouble makers is a non-Christian. They have just been led astray by them. Also, not every trouble maker is a wolf in sheep's clothing...some of them just have serious misunderstandings and need correction.  The ones who refuse correction are the ones we have to have serious doubts about. 

If they are in disagreement over doctrinal issues that are not essential to salvation, they just need to either decide to agree to disagree but be silent about it if it is not the position the church holds to or they need to go find a church they agree with.  

If their disagreement stems from procedure and how things are done in the church, it's fine to bring these things up to the leadership and if it's not agreeable with the church leadership then they need to let it go and not stir the pot.  

Those that get on their high horse and stir the pot until they either drive the pastor out, split the church or take a faction with them are not obeying Scripture and their faith is suspect, especially when they display obvious bitterness in their words and actions.

I need to guard myself against such things.