Psalm 150:1-6 (NLT) 1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp!4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
As a member of the Praise & Worship Team for several ministries throughout the country I was often disappointed, and amazed, at the lack of interest in corporate praise and worship before Sunday Services, Prayer Service, or other corporate gatherings of the local congregation. Usually when we started praise and worship there were less than half the people present that were there at the end of service. In the ministries where more people participated in praise and worship, there seemed, to me, to be greater spiritual as well as numerical growth. Where the numbers remained low for praise and worship spiritual as well as numerical growth was slow or non-existent.
If I was a part of the team leading praise and worship, or got there in time to participate, I found myself fully engaged and waiting for the blessings that I would receive at that service. I seemed to better grasp the pastor or leader’s message as well. If I didn’t get there in time to participate in the full praise and worship time, or missed it altogether I felt that I could never catch up and I left the service feeling that I missed the complete blessing that God had for me that day.
I could never understand the low level of interest in corporate praise. Most of these people would come rushing in just before the end of, or just after, praise and worship, often causing disruption or periods of dead time while we waited for them to get settled. When I asked why they didn’t get to church in time for praise and worship I would get answers like;
I would try to explain why I thought they were really missing something by not joining in praise and worship, but my explanations never seemed to work.
I read something in my time of devotion today that my help to explain the benefits of praising God, not just before a church service but everyday, and I want to share it with you.
It is an excerpt from the Seven Prayers Devotional Journal by Stormie Omartian. The title is The Prayer of Praise
The Prayer of Praise
I used to hurry into the church twenty minutes late on Sunday morning. By the time I found a seat and settled into it, the worship and praise time was over and the pastor was preaching. I wasn’t concerned about this because I was there for the teaching. Yet my mind wandered everywhere and didn’t settle into the message until the sermon was half over.
On the days I arrived in plenty of time to get a seat before the service started and was a full participant through the entire worship time, I found I was open to receive the message as if God were speaking directly to me. My heart was made soft and receptive to what the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me because of the twenty or thirty minutes I had spent praising God. Negative attitudes I had come in with were melted away and replaced with ones more in alignment with what God desired. I was made ready and open to receive from God.
Worship invites God’s presence, and that’s where deliverance happens.
Two men in prison were singing praises to God when suddenly the prison doors flew open and their chains fell off (Acts 16:26). In the spirit realm when we praise the Lord, the prison doors of our lives are opened, our bonds are broken, and we are set free.
Praising God opens you to experience His love, and it will liberate you.
The Prayer of Praise Brings Healing and Transformation
The more time we spend praising the Lord, the more we will see ourselves and our circumstances grow in wholeness. That’s because praise softens our hearts and makes them pliable. It also covers us protectively. The more the pliability and covering are maintained, the more quickly our hearts can be molded and healed.
Praise and worship of God are always acts of will. We have to will to praise God even when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes our problems or the burdens we carry choke out our good intentions, so we have to make the effort to establish praise as a way of life. And it becomes a way of life when we make it our first reaction to what we face and not a last resort. Now is the time to lift up a prayer of praise to God for everything in your life. Thank Him for His Word, His faithfulness, His love, His grace, His healing. Thank Him for what He has done for you personally. Keep in mind that whatever you thank the Lord for — peace, financial blessing, health, a new job, an end to depression — will start the process of its being released to you at that time.
In the Old Testament, the people who carried the ark of the covenant stopped every six steps to worship. We also have to remind ourselves not to go very far without stopping to praise and worship. For emotional healing and restoration, we have to be six-step persons and continually invite the presence of the Lord to rule in our situations.
We all have busy lives, but it is important to make time to praise God throughout the day. Write down ways you can make time to worship God in your daily routine. If you make a point to spend time with God during the day, you will create a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Him.
Excerpted with permission from Seven Prayers Devotional Journal by Stormie Omartian, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Psalm 149:1-9 (NLT) 1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.2 O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.3 Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.
4 For the LORD delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.5 Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.6 Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands--7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,8 to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains,9 to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones. Praise the LORD! (Bold mine)
This Psalm was traditionally sung at the end of the Passover meal.
The opening verses 1-8 of the Psalm show the contrast between God and everything else. These things can’t speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk, or make any sound at all. The people who follow these idols are just like them spiritually. They have no life.
Because God is alive and has shown his unfailing love and faithfulness we can trust Him to help and protect us. He will continue to bless us as He has in the past.
Glory To God Alone
Psalm 115:1-18 (NLT)1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.2 Why let the nations say, “Where is their God?”3 Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound.8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.9 O Israel, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield.10 O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield.11 All you who fear the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield.12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the people of Israel and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron.13 He will bless those who fear the LORD, both great and lowly.14 May the LORD richly bless both you and your children.15 May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.16 The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity.17 The dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave.
18 But we can praise the LORD both now and forever! Praise the LORD!
Recently I heard someone say that baptism in a requirement “to go to heaven” and “baptism seals your salvation” in other words a requirement for salvation. I’ve heard that comment before and I’ve been asked “If I haven’t been baptized does that mean I’m not saved”? I had been taught that baptism was an act of obedience that occurred after salvation but was not a requirement for it. I’m not sure that my answer to the question was adequate so I decided to go to the Bible for an answer that I can give the next time I’m asked.
I found a question, in the Bible, that goes right to the heart of the matter. When Paul and Silas were in jail in Philippi and, while they were praising God there was an earthquake that caused all the prisoners to be released from the chains holding them. The guard, thought they would all escapades he be held responsible so rather that dealing with the punishment he was going good to commit suicide. The guard knew that something miraculous happened so he asked Paul and Silas what he had to do to save? Here their answer.
Acts 16:25-31 (NKJV)25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Bold mine)
That’s pretty clear right?
Let’s go a little deeper and look at God’s plan of salvation.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NKJV)1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Bold mine)
According to this God’s plan is through His grace received by those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. God enables a person who is spiritually dead to believe, through that person’s faith which is an act made possible by the work of God. Therefore, the whole work of salvation by grace through faith is the work of God not of themselves.
Jonah 2:9 (NKJV) But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." (Bold mine).
Revelation 7:9-10 (NKJV)9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Bold mine)
If as scripture says salvation is of the Lord and by faith not works it means that baptism, which is a work, is not a requirement for salvation. What is required of us is belief in the word of Jesus on the cross. Nothing else.
Romans 10:8-13 (NKJV)8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Salvation Through Christ Alone - No Add-ons
John 14:6 (NKJV)6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 3:14-18 (NKJV)14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Jesus Did Not Baptize And Didn't Require It For Salvation
While Jesus was baptized He did not baptize. Remember Jesus said that He did not come to change the law but to fulfill it.
Matthew 5:17 (NKJV) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Jesus was born a Jew. The rite of baptism was a ritual in the Jewish culture from the beginning. Ceremonial washing of priests and the dipping temple utensils into water was part of the law. For instance, a priest was "baptized" into his office as a priest and it was to dedicate and identify the priest in his position. This baptism set apart the priest to take part in the temple worship and sacrifices. The baptism of the utensils set them apart for a specific use in worship. When John the Baptist came on the scene, Jews came to him to be baptized for the confession of their sins. This was not for salvation because the LORD Jesus Christ had not yet paid the price for sin. The baptism of John the Baptist was an Old Testament economy baptism and it only signified the participant's willingness to confess his sin and therefore, John the Baptist's baptism was for repentance not salvation. -John MacArthur Grace To You - Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
Here’s what Jesus said to one of the criminals who was crucified with Him. That man who received salvation through His belief in Jesus died before he could be baptised.
Luke 23:39-43 (NKJV)39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
This man acknowledged his sin, and responded in faith in acknowledging Jesus. This is the gospel message, the message of salvation and it happened without baptism.
Some Scriptures Seem To Indicate The Requirement Of Baptism For Salvation
I must admit that there is scripture that seems to indicate that baptism is a requirement for salvation, while other scripture is clear that salvation comes with the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, through faith alone. Because I believe that the Bible and Jesus don’t contradict themselves we need to take a good look at some of those scriptures.
Matthew 3:11 (NKJV)11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
It is also possible to take the clause "and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" as parenthetical. Support for that interpretation comes from that fact that "repent" and "your" are plural, while "be baptized" is singular, thus setting it off from the rest of the sentence. If that interpretation is correct, the verse would read "Repent (and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of your sins." Forgiveness is thus connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament
Luke 24:47 (NKJV)47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
John 3:18 (NKJV)18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Acts 5:30-31 (NKJV)30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Notice that the basis for condemnation in that verse is not the failure to be baptized, but only the failure to believe. Baptism is mentioned in the first part of the verse because it was the outward symbol that always accompanied the inward belief.
The English word "baptism" is simply a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means "to immerse." Baptizo does not always refer to water baptism in the New Testament
So Peter is not talking about immersion in water, as the phrase "not the removal of dirt from the flesh" indicates. He is referring to immersion in Christ's death and resurrection through "an appeal to God for a good conscience," or repentance. Again, it is not the outward act that saves, but the internal reality of the Spirit's regenerating work -John MacArthur Grace To You - Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
Baptism Is An Act Of Obedience After Salvation
Baptism is not necessary for salvation only Jesus can save us. But baptism is very important.
Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments and one of His commandments is that we be baptise.
John 14:15 (NKJV) "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Baptism is is a public declaration that we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we immersed under the water and raised out of it, we are symbolically that our old life of sin has been buried, and that we have been raised to new life in Jesus—just as He died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life again.
Romans 6:1-14 (NKJV)1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Water baptism is certainly important, and commanded of every believer. However, the Bible does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.
This is the seventh post in the series “Who Is God”.
1 Samuel 1:3 (NKJV) This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
1 Samuel 1:3 (NLT) Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the LORD at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas.
My proper name is Donald, but I’m also called dad, father, grandpa, son, uncle, brother, nephew, and pastor along with others. Each of these is a name for me which describes certain attributes. God’s proper name is Jehovah, but as with you and me His is known by other names that describe Him.
Jehovah is translated as "The Existing One" or "Lord." The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning "to be" or "to exist." It also suggests "to become" or specifically "to become known" - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Sabaoth(se bâ'ôt) means "armies" or "hosts." Jehovah Sabaoth can be translated as "The Lord of Armies". This name denotes His universal sovereignty over every army, both spiritual and earthly. The Lord of Hosts is the king of all heaven and earth. - Blue Letter Bible
Jehovah Sabaoth is mentioned over 270 times making it the most frequently used compound name of God in Scripture.
Jehovah-Sabaoth is my favorite name for Jehovah. No, on second thought my favorite name for Jehovah is Jesus, but that’s another blog series (Who Is Jesus).
Have you ever wished you could just call on someone who would not only fight your battles but calm your fears too? Have you ever wanted the just give up and let the experts take over? That’s Jehovah-Sabaoth.
Jehovah-Sabaoth is our ever present help in time of trouble.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT)1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
Jehovah-Sabaoth fights our battles for us.
Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT)13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.14 The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Jehovah-Sabaoth will prepare the way for us
Isaiah 40:3-4 (NLT)3 Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!4 Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
We can run to Jehovah-Sabaoth and we will be safe.
Proverbs 18:10 (NLT) The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.
There is nothing Jehovah-Sabaoth can’t do, nothing He doesn’t know, nothing He can’t control, no enemy He can’t defeat, no heart He can’t heal, no miracle He can’t perform.
Jeremiah 32:17 (NLT) “O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
With all His power Jehovah-Sabaoth still hears our prayers.
Psalm 80:19 (NLT) Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
Jesus is Jehovah-Sabaoth
Jehovah-Sabaoth is always there for those who come to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jehovah-Sabaoth the one who commands the armies of heaven is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord of hosts, He is Jehovah-Sabaoth
Joshua 5:13-15 (NLT)13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.
Revelation 19:11-16 (NLT)11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Jesus works in our lives and on our behalf He is Jehovah-Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts!
Two weeks ago the FTE Psalm of the week was Psalm 124. This week’s Psalm like Psalm 124 was sung as pilgrims, who had come to Jerusalem for the annual feasts went to the temple. A good analogy would be worshipers singing together as they entered the sanctuary. It is analogous to the congregation singing together as they enter the sanctuary. In verses 1-3 they sing that their trust in God is unshakable because of the strength of His presence symbolized by the hills around Jerusalem. The rule of foreign powers would not be permanent so the righteous would not be tempted.
In verses 4 and 5 the writer of the Psalm prays for God's favor upon the faithful, whom he identifies as the good and upright, in contrast to the unfaithful who will be banished from the house of the Lord. The psalmists final words are his prayer for the peace of Israel.
For the believer today this psalm assures the safety of the believer in Christ. Once the believer accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior they are forever safe.
Proverbs 18:10 (NLT) The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.
John 10:28-29 (NLT)28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
Those who refuse to come to God through His Son will be those who will be eternally banished.
Matthew 13:40-42 (NLT)40 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Today we still pray for the peace of Israel and the world.
The Safety Of Those Who Trust In God
Psalm 125:1-5 (HCSB)1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken; it remains forever.2 Jerusalem—the mountains surround her. And the LORD surrounds His people, both now and forever.3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous will not apply their hands to injustice.4 Do what is good, LORD, to the good, to those whose hearts are upright.5 But as for those who turn aside to crooked ways, the LORD will banish them with the evildoers. Peace be with Israel.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)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!
Yesterday I re-posted a something that I wrote last year about rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in the wake of tradegy. Today I read a devotion, It's a New Day: The Choice is Yours, excerpted from the book Let the Journey Begin written by Max Lucado. In it Max says that he chooses to let the fruit of the Spirit direct his response to everything that happens to him throughout the day.
The elements of the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, all come from the God of love. God is not just about love His nature is love, He is love. When we allow the elements of the fruit of the Spirit dictate the way we respond to everything then we can rejoice, pray, and give thanks no matter what.
It’s A New Day: The Choice Is Yours
by Max Lucado
It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.
Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical... the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful-ness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
This devotion is excerpted with permission from Let the Journey Begin by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Nothing is impossible with God”. This is something I’ve said and heard more times than I can count. I’ll bet anything that you’ve heard it too. The scriptures that we use for saying this are:
Matthew 19:26 (NKJV) But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Mark 10:27 (NKJV) But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
Luke 1:37 (NKJV) For with God nothing will be impossible."
Luke 18:27 (NKJV) But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."
While it is true that absolutely nothing is impossible for or with God, the Creator of everything, with exception of the Luke 1:37 scripture which is what the angel told Mary about the Holy Spirit’s ability to impregnate a virgin, the other statements, all of which were made by Jesus refer to God’s ability to save mankind and provide a way for them to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Let’s look at the statement in the context in which Jesus made it.
Matthew 19:16-26 (NLT)16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Bold mine)
Mark 10:17-27 (NLT)17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Bold mine)
Luke 18:18-27 (NLT)18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good.20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”21 The man replied, “I’ve carefully obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 But when the man heard this he became sad, for he was very rich.24 When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”26 Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?”27 He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Bold mine)
It’s obvious in each instance that Jesus was attempting to change the perspective that what man considers valuable has no value when it comes to salvation. Salvation is determined by God and Him alone and only under the circumstances that He dictates. Throughout His time on earth Jesus announced God’s terms.
John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
He also said that there were no other prerequisites.
Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
John 3:14-17 (NLT)14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Healing For The Deepest Wounds
Scripture is full of stories of broken people made whole by God because nobody is so messed up that they cannot be saved. Truly nothing is impossible for God who is able to save to the utmost those that mankind considers unsavable because of what they’ve done or who they are.
Sheila Walsh in her book 5 Minutes with Jesus: Quiet Time for Your Soul recounts the story of one person who thought that she was so unworthy that not even God wanted her. That story is in the section Healing for the Deepest Wounds. .
She just needed a little money to finish college. The price was steep, but she reasoned to herself that she wouldn’t pay it for long. She was only ten units away from earning her degree.
But the price is always steeper than expected when the Enemy is offering the solution to our problems. Before she knew it, she was the one wearing a price tag.
When she finally escaped the man who had trafficked her, she still didn’t have the money for college. Instead, she was completely broken and had a baby on the way. It was difficult to believe that anyone or anything had the power to heal her heart’s deepest wounds.
Then Jesus stepped in.
“He helped me to see that I could never be too far gone and that He came to die for people just like me,” she said.
“When I thought He had given up on me, I look back now and realize that in my darkest moments, He was right there next to me.”1
I don’t know what wounds you carry, but maybe you have doubts about whether they can be healed, like this young woman did. Am I too far gone? Has God given up on me?
Maybe your heartbreak is so overwhelming that you can’t imagine healing and relief. I understand. I’ve been there.
But this truth is eternal: nothing is too hard for God.
God wanted to be sure you knew this was true, so He included in Scripture countless stories of shattered lives that He made whole.
David had a child through adultery and had his lover’s husband murdered, yet he went on to become known as a man after God’s own heart. Mary Magdalene was possessed by demons, yet she was delivered from them and, later, was the first to see the risen Christ! The Samaritan woman had a long line of broken relationships, and her bad reputation made her a social outcast. But after she met Christ, she became the first missionary to her village.
We could go on and on to make this point: God restores people.
What about you? Do you want to know that God’s healing power is enough for you too? Come into His presence and risk asking this question: “My God, can You heal the deepest wounds of my heart?”
Then open your heart to hear His sweet response:
All things are possible with [Me]. — Mark 10:27
There is no place so dark that the love of Christ can’t find you and heal you.
1.“Her Story,” Trafficking Hope Louisiana, updated January 26, 2016, http://www.traffickinghopela.org/hope-updates/.
Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus: Quiet Time for Your Soul by Sheila Walsh, copyright Sheila Walsh.
The Example Jesus Gave With Zacchaeus
Although Zacchaeus was a notorious sinner, Jesus didn't say, "Clean up your act, and then I'll come to your house." We're called, not to fix people but to share the transforming gospel of Christ.
Luke 19:1-10 (NLT) 1 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town.2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Although surrounded by a crowd, Jesus stopped and took notice of one particular man perched in a tree. Zacchaeus was hated and rejected because he was a tax collector. Although he was rich, there was something missing in his life, and Christ recognized his need. There are people all around us "hanging in trees"--needy, empty, and searching for hope. But too often, we're preoccupied with our activities and don't even notice them.
How are you doing at serving those around you? Maybe it's time to slow down and open your spiritual eyes to see all the needy people. God places opportunities all around us, but if we're not attentive, we'll miss them. Sometimes you just have to look up to see who’s in the tree.
Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history: our redemption. Yet He stopped to have a meal with a spiritually needy man. What could be so important that it keeps you too busy to give others what they need most--your time? - Dr. Charles Stanley The Requirements of Servanthood
Every year I peach a sermon on gifts of the Spirit. There is a category, Motivational Gifts, which are practical in nature and, reveal the personality of God. Included in this category of gifts is the gift of Helps or Service.
Helps is the divine enablement to attach spiritual value to the accomplishment of physical tasks within the Body of Christ. This is a special anointing by which one stands alongside and serves, in a very personal way.
People with this gift are absolutely essential to the life of the church. They are the ones who flow to the obvious needs automatically. They don't need a lot recognition, just appreciation. They are the ultimate team players of Christ's church.
Jesus Christ had this gift along all the other Spiritual Gifts and is the perfect example of dying to serve. His sacrifice was the ultimate one in that He gave His life to meet the need of mankind as the perfect sacrifice for sin. In order for that sacrifice to result in a harvest of of redeemed humanity for the kingdom of God He had to die. He described his death as one of a seed being planted, dying, multiplying itself and resulting in a tremendous harvest.
John 12:23-26 (NLT)23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
Dying to be a Servant A Parable
Charles Stanley has written a devotion that is one of the best explanations of the Christian making the decision to use the Spiritual Gift of Helps.
Once upon a time there were two grains of wheat lying on the floor of a warm and cozy barn. But one day, the farmer came in and told them, "I want to take you out of this comfortable barn and plant you in the earth. I'm going to place you in the cold ground and cover you with soil. It will be dark, and you will die. But I promise that you will multiply and become very fruitful."
The first grain of wheat turned down the suggestion. "No way!" he said. "Count me out. I like my comfort, and I don't want to die." But the second one, after carefully considering the pain and discomfort of dying, decided the promise of a future harvest was worth the sacrifice. So the farmer took him outside and planted him in the ground, while allowing the first grain of wheat to remain inside the barn.
A few days later, a small green sprout appeared over where the seed had been planted. Then it grew and became a tall stalk of wheat that produced one hundred more grains. For the next forty years, the farmer planted all the seeds that had originated from that first grain of wheat, and year after year, the harvest multiplied. However, the grain of wheat that stayed in the barn remained there by itself, never multiplying--but he was very comfortable.
Which grain of wheat are you? Are you playing it safe, or have you let Christ plant you in the world? The only way you'll ever become useful and fruitful in God's kingdom is to abandon your own selfish desires, get out of your comfort zone, and serve the Lord by serving others.
This Psalm was sung by pilgrims as they went up to Mt. Zion. They were expressing great trust in God.
Their song started with a question about their source. They looked to the great hills that surrounded Jerusalem and asked a rhetorical question (a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer). They knew the answer to the question of where their help came from. Jehovah was the source of all their help.
Not only was Jehovah their help, He was also their keeper (protector). The Psalm is full of words that emphasize Jehovah’s protection; help, watches, stands, protects.
The Psalm ends with the confidence that Jehovah will be with the pilgrims as they return to their homes.
The Great Safety Of The Godly Who Put Their Trust In God’s Protection
Psalm 121:1-8 (NLT)1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.5 The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.7 The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Bold mine)
5 Truths From Psalm 121 That Give Us Hope For Today
Debbie McDaniel in her Crosswalk.com blogspot for Debbie McDaniel of Fresh Day Ahead applies the truths of Psalm 121 for us today.
My Help (Cometh From The Lord)
(Written by Jackie Gouche Farris)
I will lift up mine eyes to the hills
From whence cometh my help,
My help cometh from the Lord,
The Lord which made Heaven and Earth.
He said He would not suffer thy foot,
Thy foot to be moved;
The Lord which keepeth thee,
He will not slumber nor sleep.
Oh the Lord is thy keeper,
The Lord is thy shade
Upon thy right hand,
Upon thy right hand.
No, the sun shall not smite Thee by day,
Nor the moon by night,
He shall preserve thy soul
Even forever more.
My help, my help, my help,
All of my help cometh from the Lord.
This is the sixth post in the series "Who Is God?
Jeremiah 23:6 (NLT) And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
Jeremiah 33:16 (NLT)16 In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’
My proper name is Donald, but I’m also called dad, father, grandpa, son, uncle, brother, nephew, and pastor along with others. Each of these is a name for me which describes certain attributes. God’s proper name is Jehovah, but as with you and me His is known by other names that describe Him.
Jehovah is translated as "The Existing One" or "Lord." The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havahmeaning "to be" or "to exist." It also suggests "to become" or specifically "to become known" - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Tsedek(tseh'-dek), from which Tsidkenu derived, means "to be stiff," "to be straight," or "righteous" in Hebrew. When the two words are combined - Jehovah Tsidkenu - it can be translated as "The Lord Who is our Righteousness." - Blue Letter Bible
Jeremiah prophesied that although God was going to punish Israel and Judah for its disobedience and idolatry, He would not forget His promise to David that one of his descendants would reign as king. This was a prophecy of the coming Messiah. His name would be Jehovah-Tsidkenu, (The Lord is our Righteousness).
This prophecy included the salvation of of Judah and the safety of Israel. The amazing thing about this prophecy is that Jeremiah said that there would come a man called Jehovah. What they didn’t realize, at the time, was that Jehovah-Tsidkenu would not only come to save them from a foreign, occupation, nation but this man would bring salvation of the soul and spirit from death, the penalty of sin. This is more evidence that the Jesus, the Jew’s Messiah, is God. (See my blog series Who Is Jesus)
We know who that man, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, was the Messiah, Jesus, David’s descendent. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king He told him yes but His kingdom was not of this world.
John 18:33,36 (NLT)33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. 36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Pilate believed Him and announced it on the cross.
John 19:19 (NLT)19 And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Jehovah-Tsidkenu has become our righteousness. The word righteousness means “the quality of being right”. The only way we could be made righteous was receiving righteousness as a gift from the only righteous One, Jehovah-Tsidkenu. Not only do you have Jehovah Tsidkenu but you are tsidkenu (righteous).
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NLT)16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (Bold mine)
Ephesians 4:20-24 (NLT)20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Bold mine)
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
All of this was made possible by Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
Words: Robert Murray McCheyne
Music: Gordon, by Adoniram Judson Gordon
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see--
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Savior must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free--
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!
Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This watchword shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life's fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.
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.