Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
This passage declares that God would demonstrate his sovereignty by overthrowing the Chaldean Empire and bringing the Jews back to Palestine. He was the same God who made a path through the Red Sea for the Hebrews of the Exodus, and drowned the Egyptian chariots that pursued after them. But his coming deliverance was to eclipse even that in glory. For he would conduct the liberated Jews through the parched Syrian Desert, and cause it to put forth streams of water to quench their thirst (probably figurative for the sustaining provision he would grant the pioneers through their early years of privation and suffering).
This new beginning was going to be so great that they were to forget all that had happened in the past.
Jesus said a similar thing when in answer to a question John the Baptist’s disciples asked about His disciples not fasting. He answered, in essence by saying you can’t mix a new thing with the old. If you both the new and old will be destroyed.
Matthew 9:14-17 NIV Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
At another time Jesus told His disciples that they are living in a time that the prophets longed to see.
Luke 10:24 (NLT) I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
New Wine in New Wineskins
We need new wineskins because God has new wine for us. Our mindsets cannot contain what God wants to do in and through us. It means letting go of what’s comfortable, what we can understand and do well, what we want to do – and letting God lead us into a whole new world of experiences. Jesus said “What I am bringing cannot be contained in your thinking right now”.
New Wine, New Wineskins helps African American congregations understand and benefit from the cultural shifts we are now experiencing. Many African American churches once thought they were immune to the cultural shock waves in our streets and neighborhoods. They simple argued that they have always been all about participation and being relational; yet like many churches, their numbers continue to decline. African American churches must find a way to reclaim their missional orientation, while at the same time remaining true to their historical identity and witness of speaking truth to power. The worthy goals of justice and bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ in this time, requires new practices and fresh ideas―new wine. The old framework just won’t work any more. We need new wine skins.
We are told that we are let the Holy Spirit to develop His fruit as we grow and mature as Christians.
Galatians 5:19-23 (NLT) 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Bold mine)
The more the fruit develops the more we are able to think as Christ.
Philippians 2:5-6 NIV In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
When we have the mind of Christ we think only good things;
Philippians 2:5-6 NIV In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Philippians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
The problem is that when we try to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, or think good things when someone cuts us off in traffic, curses us out when we make a mistake, we become seriously ill, lose a job, or any other difficult time; we don’t think good things. Instead we often strike back at and sometimes we strike back at God. Then we have to ask forgiveness. Thank God He always forgive. The point is that we can't develop the fruit of the Spirit, or have the mind of Christ, or always think good thoughts on our own. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us.
Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Can We Produce Fruit through Our Own Actions?
For years I tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus Christ wanted to achieve through me—in other words, I attempted to produce fruit by doing good works. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me to act like the branch that I am and just abide.
The Holy Spirit's job is to live the life of Christ through us. This process is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these monikers describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God." The apostle meant those words literally.
Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But don't get the idea that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn't sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ's wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit does not pop out of believers through effort; Christians bear fruit through surrender. We "take root" in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That's not passive living; it's an abiding life.
Taken from "The Abiding Life " by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).
The Fruit Of The Spirit Begins With Salvation
This is an excerpt from The Reason for My Hope: Salvation by The Reverend Billy Graham who went to be with the Lord on February 21, 2018.
I have often emphasized that becoming a Christian is more than making a decision to live a better life or to attend church more regularly. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, something happens supernaturally. Christ comes to dwell in our hearts and gives us His own supernatural life—eternal life. But it is a mistake to imagine that from then on we are automatically and almost magically victorious over sin and doubt. Not so! Each day we must have the same trust we experienced when we first came to know Christ. This is made possible by the fact that He becomes the predominant Person in our life and empowers us to think differently, to walk in truth, and to follow an upright path. The Bible says,
“Now the just [the righteous] shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back . . . but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38–39)
We cannot do this in our own power, nor does the power come before we receive Jesus as Savior. It comes when we receive Him as the Lord and Master of our lives, and we cannot live this kind of life apart from Him. This is what it means to be a Christian. And this is the secret of living the Christian life—everyday faith, trusting Him every moment. Each day we renew our faith in God’s assurance that He will give us the faith to follow Him.
—Billy Graham, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (2013)
“God is aware of everything you’re going through. Although there are moments in your life that appear as if God’s time is taking a long time, remember God always comes through on time in every situation you encounter in life. God’s timing and your obedience to follow Him is linked to your victory! At those times when it appears that God is taking too long He may in fact be training you to accomplish His specific purpose for you.”
This is the final post on God’s Training Program that include excerpts from the the YouVersion, “God Comes Through On Time”, Reading Plan provided by Kennetra A. Bryant, Ed.D. You can find the complete Bible Plan and Discussion Questions at BRYANT EDUCATIONAL PLANNING & CONSULTING.
God created and implemented a salvation plan exclusively for you before the foundations of the earth were established. God loves you so much that He planned and predestined His timely salvation plan for you through His Son, Your Savior, Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
In Christ we are redeemed through His powerful blood. The Blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, paid for the penalty of our sins and resulted in the forgiveness of our sins in accordance with the riches of His grace which He lavishes on us.
Ephesians 1:3-11 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
If you didn’t know already, you are a part of God’s will and family, set apart, chosen, and claimed by God as His very own. You were chosen by God before you ever thought about needing a savior, deliverer, redeemer, and shepherd. God had you covered and established His redemptive plan for your life by and through His loving grace and mercy. By accepting Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior, receiving His loving gift of salvation, following Him, aiming to continuously align and live a life that purposefully targets to obey God’s will, word, and way, you are faithfully and actively walking in God’s salvation plan for your life as a believer.
You are special in God’s sight and He has a dynamic plan and purpose for you, but you must receive by faith His free loving gift of salvation established exclusively for you. God knew every aspect and outcome of your life before one of them even came to be and loved you enough to send His one and only son to die for your sins so that you will be saved and have eternal life if you believe in Him. Don’t entertain the thoughts that you are unlovable, unforgivable, or unsaveable, because God came through for you already in timely salvation!
Psalm 139:13-16 NIV For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
What a powerful, awesome, and loving Father we serve that prepared for our beginning, present, and eternal destiny. Receive all of God’s promises for your life today, because God’s timely salvation is available for you for every area and aspect of your life. Jesus’ blood has already redeemed you. It’s time to believe, receive, and possess the promises and inheritance our heavenly Father has bestowed on us.
God always comes through on time for you. Faithfully obey His instructions, develop in His training, and receive His loving gift of salvation as you triumph in victory, wisdom, and encouragement.
Last month I published the post “Why Should I Go To Church?”. In it wrote that the Church was a place to belong, and a place to believe. "Those who isolate themselves from other believers do so at their own peril, because the Bible tells us that it is important to get together, encourage one another, and correct one another.". . A true Christian will want to be around other Christians. After all, why should God go to your house if you won't go to His? A lot of us want all of the fringe benefits of Christianity without applying ourselves. - Greg Laurie (from "What Makes an 'Authentic' Christian?")
Dr. Charles Stanley gives us another reason to not “not neglect our meeting together”, Life Principle 28 of the YouVerson Reading Plan, Dr. Charles Stanley Life Principles To Live By, 30 Day Reading Plan from InTouch Ministries..
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Together in the Christian Life
Life Principle 28: No Christian has ever been called to “go it alone” in his or her walk of faith.
In Hebrews 10:25, the author makes it clear that believers should not stop meeting together. God wants us to regularly meet with other believers—He wants His people in church! There are those, however, who don’t take this admonition seriously. I’ve often heard this refrain: “I can worship God at home. I don’t need to go to church.” Many believe the sole reason we meet together is to worship—and understandably so. After all, we call it a worship service.
If worship were the only reason we’re commanded to meet, then those who claim they can worship at home would have a strong argument. But worship isn't the sole reason. Nor is it so we can be taught God’s truth. We can turn on our radios, televisions, and visit websites to hear sound biblical teaching. On the surface, it seems that anything we can do at church we can do just as well at home.
So why are we commanded to meet? Why go to church?
The writer of Hebrews says it’s to safeguard against drifting. We’re the body of Christ, and when we’re with other believers, we’re doing what comes naturally and what we’ll do for eternity—being together in His presence. We make up the church, and together we provide strength for one another through prayer, fellowship, and encouragement.
Enemy forces are always at work around us, seeking to blow us off course. Sheer individual commitment is not enough to keep us in line. We need the presence and accountability of other believers—and they need us. When we surrender our lives to Christ, He uses us in countless ways we may never know.
The accountability and encouragement found in church anchor us against the tides that work to sweep us away. To neglect the regular assembly of fellow Christians is to miss out on this essential element in the development of our faith.
Regular church attendance should never be viewed as something you do to gain God’s merit. Instead, it should provide the catalyst for spiritual growth. Ask God to lead you to a church that teaches the Word of God without compromising His truth and demonstrates His love, grace, and forgiveness to all. When He does, you will find He's led you to a church you can truly call home.
There is no biographical information on the prophet Habakkuk; in fact less is known about him than any other writer of the Bible. His name comes either from the Hebrew word חבק(khavak) meaning "embrace" or else from an Akkadian word hambakuku for a kind of plant.
He is described as "the prophet," and it is possible, therefore, that he not only had the gift of prophecy but that he was one of a professional group of prophets.
Habakkuk 1:1 (NKJV) The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
The central message of Habakkuk's prophecy is that "the just shall live by his faith"
Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV)4 "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
This is basis of Christianity’s belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and the beginning of the concept of the believer’s faith.
Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV)35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
Galatians 3:10-11 (NKJV)10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
The structure of this prophecy is unique in the Old Testament, The first two chapters is a dialogue between Hanukkah and God, in which the prophet not only complains of evil, but even challenges Him as to how He, can tolerate such evil. He is surprised to learn that the Chaldeans are God's choice to punish Judah
Habakkuk’s prophecy starts with with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why His chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity.
Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NLT)2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.3 Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you”
Habakkuk 1:5-11 (NLT)5 The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.6 I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.7 They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like.8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.9 “On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.10 They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them!11 They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening”
Habakkuk 1:17-2:1 (NLT)17 Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests? 1 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint.
God answers him again with more information ending by belling the earth to be silent before Him.
Habakkuk 2:2, 20 (NLT)2 Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.20 But the LORD is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”
The prophecy ends with a prayer expressing Habakkuk’s strong faith in God even in the trials of the nation.
The application of Habakkuk’s prophecy to us today is that it’s okay to question what God is doing. It’s not always evident what’s going on especially when we have suffered for long periods of time, and those who show no love for God appear to prosper.
Habakkuk affirms that God is sovereign, omnipotent and in control. We need to stay focused on this:
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Today, February 21, 2018, Billy Graham, the most famous American evangelist of the 20th century went to be with the Lord. Several years ago Evangelist Graham said “When I die, tell others that I’ve gone to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—that’s where I am.” Billy Graham, who preached to millions of people all over the world in his life, was known as “America’s Pastor” because he preached during a time when the United States was less polarized politically and culturally. He became a spiritual adviser to presidents, developing friendships with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, the Bushes and Bill Clinton.
I want to share a devotion written by Dr. Graham and originally shared by faithgateway.com, devotionalsdaily.
God is Love
by Billy Graham
Who can describe or measure the love of God? Our Bible is a revelation of the fact that God is love. When we preach justice, it is justice tempered with love. When we preach righteousness, it is righteousness founded on love. When we preach atonement for sin, it is atonement necessitated because of love, provided by love, finished by love.
When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the abiding presence of Christ, we are preaching the power of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.
No matter what sin we have committed, no matter how black, dirty, shameful, or terrible it may be, God loves us. We may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves us with an everlasting love.
The proof? Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, went to the Cross for us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Please visit the Billy Graham memorial website (https://memorial.billygraham.org) to learn more about his life and legacy
Amen is a Hebrew word that comes from the Hebrew root ‘AMN’ which stands for stability and means ‘so be it’/’I agree’/’let it be so’. Thus, when we say ‘Amen’ at the end of our prayers, we are actually asking God to ‘please let it be as we have prayed’.
Saying amen at the end of our prayer is powerful. It states that whatever we may be talking to God about, it shall be so. We are telling God to let whatever we are concerned about be. Let it be and put it in God’s hands. We are transferring our burdens onto Him and granting Him to have it be as God wants it to be.
Saying amen gives me hope. This word teaches me that I am not figuring life out by myself. Every situation I find myself in, I can say amen, let it be so. I can say this because God is so loyal and trustworthy. There is no one else I would want to trust my burdens and prayers in. God is perfect and His will is perfect, therefore, let it be so in His grace.
Saying amen gives me peace. I have struggled with anxiety since I can remember. Anxiety has played a huge role in my life and has controlled me for years. When I am trusting God with my plans and dreams for my life, I am saying “so be it”. I am saying amen to God because I cannot control my life on my own. When I say amen, I am conquering anxiety. I am conquering my constant desire to be in control. My soul is at peace when I say amen.
Saying amen reminds me I am not in control. No matter how much I hate the fact that I am not in control, I love it. God controls my life and has a plan for my life. I make decisions, yes. I choose things, yes. But ultimately, God has supreme power over my life. I know that I am going to go through really hard times. I know that I will struggle. But, most importantly, I know that I can say amen in every circumstance. I know I can say “so be it”, because God never fails us.
Saying ‘Amen’ at the end tells God we’ve said a prayer that we really meant. It shows that we believe God has heard our prayer and will answer it in His perfect way.
Last year I published the post “Jesus Is God”. In it I wrote that there are 200 or so names and titles that give us insight into Jesus’ character. I said that we Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised by God. The Old Testament tells us that the Messiah is God.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (ASV)5 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness.
Isaiah 9:6 (ASV)6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus Said That He Is God
I know that many people say that Jesus never claimed to be God. It’s true that scripture never records Jesus as saying the specific words “I Am God”, but that doesn’t mean the He didn’t proclaim Himself to be God.
John 10:25-30 (HCSB)25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me.26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.” (Bold mine)
When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. (the word one is not masculine—one person—but neuter, oneness of being).- The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The Jewish leaders knew exactly what He was saying. He was saying that He is equal to God. Matter of fact, He was saying that He IS God. They knew that’s what He was claiming to be and they intended to kill Him for it.
John 10:31-33 (HCSB)31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him.32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?”33 “We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”
The Apostle John said that nothing came into being apart from “the Word of God” (Jesus) which means that Jesus was not created and if He was not created He must be the Creator.
Was Jesus Created?
In John 1:1 the writer states plainly that “the Word was God.” In verse three he provides backup support for this claim. John writes, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
John says the same thing in two different ways for emphasis and clarity: Everything that ever came into being owes its existence to the Word, Who caused it all to happen. If the Word caused all created things to come into existence, then He must have existed before all created things came into existence. Therefore, the Word could not have been created. Jesus is the uncreated Creator, God.
Those who deny the deity of Christ offer this rebuttal, though. "Wait a minute, Greg. You didn’t read the verse carefully. You missed something in the text. Notice the phrase ‘apart from Him.’ The apostle excludes Jesus from the count. If you said, ‘Apart from Billy, the whole family is going to Disneyland’ you wouldn’t mean that Billy wasn’t part of the family, just that he wasn’t included in the count. Every member of the family is going to Disneyland with the exception of Billy. In the same way, every created thing was created by Jesus with the exception of Jesus Himself. Jehovah created Jesus first, then Jesus created everything else. Jesus is not God.”
Note that this rebuttal turns on the ability to replace “apart from Him” with the phrase “with the exception of Jesus.” Allegedly they’re synonymous. Okay, let’s try the replacement and see what happens. The verse then looks like this: “With the exception of Jesus, nothing came into being that has come into being.”
If your brow is furrowed trying to figure this out, I’m not surprised. The reconstructed phrase is nearly nonsense. Strictly speaking, it means that Jesus is the only created thing that exists. Read it again and see for yourself. Obviously, the phrase “apart from Jesus” can’t mean “with the exception of Jesus.” These phrases are not synonymous.
“Apart from Him” means something entirely different. It means “apart from His agency.” It’s the same as saying, “Apart from me you’ll never get to Disneyland. I’ve got the car.” Apart from Jesus’ agency nothing came into being that has come into being. Why? Because Jesus is the Creator. He is God. That makes perfect sense in the context.
Taken from “Never Read a Bible Verse” by Greg Koukl (used by permission).
Psalm 127:1-5 NIV Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Children are a heritage from the Lord , offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
The Virtue Of God’s Blessing
Psalm 127 was written by King Solomon.
The emphasis is placed upon the futility of human effort without God's help. King Solomon was an architect and great builder. Although Solomon’s father King David designed the temple and all its furnishings it was Solomon who directed its construction. Solomon is also credited with designing and building other great structures during his reign.
1 Chronicles 22:7-10 NIV David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. But this word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
1 Kings 7:1 NIV It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.
1 Kings 7:8 NIV And the palace in which he was to live, set farther back, was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.
2 Chronicles 8:1-6 NIV At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built the temple of the Lord and his own palace, Solomon rebuilt the villages that Hiram had given him, and settled Israelites in them. Solomon then went to Hamath Zobah and captured it. He also built up Tadmor in the desert and all the store cities he had built in Hamath. He rebuilt Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon as fortified cities, with walls and with gates and bars, as well as Baalath and all his store cities, and all the cities for his chariots and for his horses —whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.
being strengthened or rebuilt by Solomon, include Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer
It doesn't matter if it’s a house, a building, a city, nation or family, nothing can succeed if God is not included in the plans and efforts. Even the most diligent person who works their hardest 42/7 can’t hope for success without God's blessings and approval.
The concept of the necessity of dependence upon God is carried over into the building of a family Recognition that marriage was created and sanctioned by God and that children are His gift is the basis for building a successful home. Joy and protection are pictured, in Psalm 127, as the results of fruitfulness in the bearing and raising children. Another result are children who can protect and provide for their parents in their old age.
I’ve had to write a post like this one much too often. I said it first in a post in June 2015 “Enough Is Enough...Lord Heal This Land”.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Yet another unspeakable tragedy has shaken us. How can it be? Our hearts are broken over the shooting in Parkland and for the community and every person and family whose life is forever affected by the shocking violence and indescribable loss.
We here in in the United States have seen this scene play out much much too often. Think about it. There have been too many instances of mass killings in this country going back nearly as far as the founding of this nation. The following is from Wikipedia - Mass Shootings in the United States
The frequency in which mass shootings occur depends upon definition. In recent years, the number of public mass shootings has increased substantially, even though there has been a massive decrease in gun related deaths. Studies indicate that the rate at which public mass shootings occur has tripled since 2011. Between 1982 and 2011, a mass shooting occurred roughly once every 200 days. However, between 2011 and 2014 that rate has accelerated greatly with at least one mass shooting occurring every 64 days in the United States.
A comprehensive report by USA Today tracked all mass killings from 2006 through 2017 in which the perpetrator willfully killed 4 or more people. For firearm mass killing instances, it found 271 incidents with a total of 1,358 victims. This equates to a mass shooting approximately every 16 days. roughly 22.5 per year, with a mean of 5.01 victims per incident.
The following are the 20 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history (c. 1950 forward). This list does not include the shooting in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018
No this post is not a rant about gun control although those of you who know me know my position on gun control. It’s not a rant about race relations in this country although those of you who know me know my position on race relations. It’s not a post to defend my political or social or moral ideologies, although those of you who know me know my positions on these things. It is not a post to defend my religious beliefs or to convince you to accept them. I’m not going to ask if you are saved or want to be saved in this post. I will ask it in others but not this one. This post is a plea to all of us white, black, red, yellow, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, independent, Christian, non-Christian, atheist, straight, gay, to take a look at ourselves and this nation, and start making those changes within ourselves, changes that end these horrific acts. That may sound like an impossible task, and it may be, but it’s worth a try. With the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit our efforts will result in change.
I know that at the root of these kinds of things is the fact that there is evil in this world as a result of Adam’s sin. I also know that evil will continue until the return of Jesus to this world. However while we wait there are some things we can do to make that wait more bearable and one is to turn our attention to the One who does have the answers. That One is our heavenly Father who has given us promises and survival tools in His Word, the Bible. I know that I said that I will not defend my moral ideology, or my religious belief in this post but when I’m looking for a answer to the most difficult problems I don’t know any better place to go than to the source of all the answers and for me that’s God and His word, the bible.
It all boils down to our going to Jesus.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We need Jesus. He is the only One who can bring peace, hope, and restoration to our broken, hurting world.
We Need You, Lord
by Max Lucado, from God is With You Every Day
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. — Matthew 6:9-10
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.
We are sad, Father. And so we come to You. We don’t ask You for help; we beg You for it. We don’t request; we implore. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories, and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”
Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away.
Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
Most of all, do again what You did at Calvary. After Your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday.
Do it again, Lord. Turn this Calvary into an Easter.
Let Your mercy be upon all who suffer. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.
And look kindly upon Your Church. For two thousand years You’ve used her to heal a hurting world.
Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
Excerpted with permission from God Is With You Every Day by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.