Whenever something big happens in our lives; like getting that job that we really wanted, that raise, your child’s graduation, escrow closing on that dream home, that once in a lifetime vacation, learning that you're cancer free, I could go on, when those life changing things happen we say and often shout GOD IS GOOD!
Yes God is good, and we thank Him when the big things happen. But God never changes so He's good all the time even in the small things.
James 1:17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I confess that I I don't often say “God is good” for the small things like waking up, being able to breath, being healthy enough to go for long walks on Tuesday or Thursday, having enough to eat, having good friends, my mother still living at 96 (that’s a big thing), and the other things we take for granted.
What Does it Mean that God Is Good? 5 Examples in Everyday Life
Carrie Lowrance - Crosswalk Contributor
We often hear the phrase, “God is good.” It is used in songs, sermons, and is sometimes used as a response when both good and bad things happen in our lives, for example: a person who avoids tragedy due to car trouble or a delayed flight. Other examples are good things that happen to people, like circumstances aligning perfectly for them to buy a house or replace their old car when previously things looked very bleak. In all these things, we often say, “God is good.”
Still, what does this mean? According to Merriam Webster, the definition of “God" is “the being in perfect power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe," however; isn’t he more than this? God is good in so many ways--the way he provides for us, guides us, and watches over us--but it goes even deeper than that. God's goodness is who he is, and we are created in his image, so, therefore, we share his goodness.
God’s goodness shows up in our lives every single day. Although we often think of his goodness when something big happens, his goodness abounds all the time--in every hour, minute, and second of the day, in the smallest of things around us. Here are five examples of his goodness in our everyday lives.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” Luke 18:19
1. Waking Us Up
Every day that God wakes us up is an example of his goodness. This means we are still working towards the purpose and gifts he has given us. It shows us that he isn’t finished with us yet and that we still have a mission to fulfill. We shall not grumble and complain about getting out of bed and going to work. We should be happy that we are still breathing and living for him. Many are worse off than us who need to see our light shining in the world every day.
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." - Psalm 143:8
2. Pouring His Favor on Us
On the days when we are surrounded by the smallest and most significant of blessings, we know that God is pouring his favor on us. This can be anything from your coworker bringing you your favorite coffee to your boss calling you in their office to discuss a raise or promotion. We need to pay attention to all the little things in our day, both big and small, that are a blessing to us. A lot of times, it’s the little things that mean so much.
“God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ-which is to fulfill his own good plan.” Ephesians 1:9
3. Protecting Us
We have all heard about the woman who had car trouble and missed being in a massive pile-up on the interstate. We have heard about the disease/cancer detection that almost did not happen due to a practically-missed appointment. These are the significant ways he protects us, but he works in the smaller things too: for example, the gossip that is going around that never reaches your ears or the coworker that is trying to sabotage you but your boss, instead, sees the honest and hard work that you do. These are all ways he protects us on a daily basis.
4. Speaking to Us through Prayer
Prayer is our most powerful connection to God. It is how we express our thanks and gratitude, make our petitions known, and intercede for others. Sometimes we get an answer of “yes,” sometimes, “no” and sometimes, “wait.” Sometimes, he gives us specific instructions and, sometimes, he is silent. Other times, he speaks to us and provides us with an answer in the most surprising of ways. No matter what, he always answers, and we need to look for those answers every day. In issues big and small, he will often nudge our hearts and draw our attention in the right direction.
5. Guiding Us
We make a thousand little decisions a day, everything from deciding whether we will do our job well or whether or not to take on a client. Sometimes, we have to determine whether an opportunity is right for us and if we should follow a particular path. In these moments, God is guiding us. We need to stop, take a breath and pay attention. How do we feel in our hearts? How do we feel in our gut? We need to be still and listen to that small voice we know so well. Listen to him whispering to our hearts about what choices are right for us. Pay attention to the signs he sends us. This is his way of guiding us and nudging us to our best selves, so that we may live in the gifts we have been given and the purpose he has for us.
Are you concerned that you will get too busy and miss the signs of God’s goodness in your life?
Psalm 106:1-48 (NLT2)1 Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.2 Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?3 There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.4 Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.5 Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.6 Like our ancestors, we have sinned. We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly!7 Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the LORD’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them. Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.8 Even so, he saved them— to defend the honor of his name and to demonstrate his mighty power.9 He commanded the Red Sea to dry up. He led Israel across the sea as if it were a desert.10 So he rescued them from their enemies and redeemed them from their foes.11 Then the water returned and covered their enemies; not one of them survived.12 Then his people believed his promises. Then they sang his praise.13 Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! They wouldn’t wait for his counsel!14 In the wilderness their desires ran wild, testing God’s patience in that dry wasteland.15 So he gave them what they asked for, but he sent a plague along with it.16 The people in the camp were jealous of Moses and envious of Aaron, the LORD’s holy priest.17 Because of this, the earth opened up; it swallowed Dathan and buried Abiram and the other rebels.18 Fire fell upon their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.19 The people made a calf at Mount Sinai; they bowed before an image made of gold.20 They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull.21 They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt--22 such wonderful things in the land of Ham, such awesome deeds at the Red Sea.23 So he declared he would destroy them. But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the LORD and the people. He begged him to turn from his anger and not destroy them.24 The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.25 Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the LORD.26 Therefore, he solemnly swore that he would kill them in the wilderness,27 that he would scatter their descendants among the nations, exiling them to distant lands.28 Then our ancestors joined in the worship of Baal at Peor; they even ate sacrifices offered to the dead!29 They angered the LORD with all these things, so a plague broke out among them.30 But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped.31 So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.32 At Meribah, too, they angered the LORD, causing Moses serious trouble.33 They made Moses angry, and he spoke foolishly.34 Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land, as the LORD had commanded them.35 Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs.36 They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall.37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder.39 They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the LORD’s sight.40 That is why the LORD’s anger burned against his people, and he abhorred his own special possession.41 He handed them over to pagan nations, and they were ruled by those who hated them.42 Their enemies crushed them and brought them under their cruel power.43 Again and again he rescued them, but they chose to rebel against him, and they were finally destroyed by their sin.44 Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries.45 He remembered his covenant with them and relented because of his unfailing love.46 He even caused their captors to treat them with kindness.47 Save us, O LORD our God! Gather us back from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you.48 Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting! Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
God's Unfaithful People
The author of this Psalm is unknown but it is a song of national confession and grief and sorrow.. It points out God’s longsuffering mercy in dealing with His people.
The psalm has four major sections.
1.Praise and Confession (verses 1- 6) The author issues a call to praise, followed by an expression of extreme blessing, a personal prayer, and a confession of national sin. He includes the current generation along with the past ones, in that confession and blessing.
2. Murmuring and Disobedience (verses 7 - 33) In this section the author recounts the times that the nation muttered and disobeyed during the wilderness wanderings after being freed of Egyptian slavery .
3. Backsliding and Unfaithfulness (verses 34 - 36) Even after entering Canaan, the nation continued in its unfaithfulness. First of all they did not destroy the nations of the land as God commanded. This lead to them being influenced by the pagan people left in the land. In mingling with the inhabitants, they learned new sin. They not only served idols but they now joined in the abomination of human sacrifice. God although compassionate and merciful was completely justified in His punishment. God's compassion notwithstanding, punishment.
4. Prayer and Praise (verses 37 - 48) The Psalm ends with prayer and praise. The prayer is a request for mercy and restoration. Even with all the rebellion God is still merciful and blesses His people. Yes there are consequences and there is punishment for sin but God is longsuffering in His mercy. When we realize our sin and confess it God hears us, forgives us and blesses us.
1 John 1:9 (NLT2)9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
The author’s praise is based on his confidence that God has heard his confession, on behalf of the nation, and that He will forgive and then bless.
10 Signs You are Emotionally Overwhelmed (And What to Do about It)
RJ Thesman, Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
*All Scripture inserts mine
Medical experts tell us multi-tasking does not work. Although we may feel more productive, multi-tasking actually confuses the brain and causes more stress. Likewise, when we are emotionally overwhelmed, our inner health is affected. Our souls become scarred and creativity flails. We lose energy even as the desire to help others becomes overshadowed by resentment.
How can we tell when we are emotionally overwhelmed? And how should respond we recognize this in our own lives.
1. We can't think.
We become confused at work, forget where we put the car keys—again—or completely space out during an important activity. Trying to come up with a new project or creative idea seems taxing, almost impossible. We may lose the capacity for routine tasks such as brushing our teeth or remembering to add soap to the laundry.
What you can do about it: During the overwhelming brain freeze, it’s important to realize you’re probably not heading for early-onset Alzheimer’s. You are just overwhelmed by the stresses of life and the burdens of others. Take a deep breath. Make a list and slowly accomplish one thing at a time. Give yourself grace and ask forgiveness when you forget your child’s soccer game.
Matthew 6:33-34 NIV But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
2. We can't sleep.
Although we feel exhausted by the burdens we bear, restful sleep seems as far away as next year’s vacation. We wake up in the middle of the night, worry about the latest problem and try to pray for everybody whose name starts with “J.” We climb out of bed and pace for a while until we feel tired enough to try sleep again.
What you can do about it: Keep the electronics away from your nightstand and turn off the computer at least one hour before bedtime. Before you climb into bed, cast every care on the One who never sleeps. Ask God to deal with any problems while you rest. Breathe deeply and focus on the peace Christ promised us. Try not to let troubles climb into bed with you.
John 14:1-4 NIV “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Proverbs 3:21-24 NIV My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (emphasis mine)
3. We feel impatient.
Waiting in line at the grocery store or twiddling our thumbs during a stop light. The computer rep on the phone puts us on hold—again. Doesn’t she know we’re busy serving the Lord? Number One son needs help with his math homework, but he can’t seem to understand basic algebra. The boss adds another task to the already overloaded calendar. Impatience makes us snap, because peace has left the building.
What you can do about it: Give yourself time to finish projects. Don’t over-promise anything. Fight against the perfectionism that leads to self-doubt and self-sabotage. Read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Shauna describes herself as being “exhausted and isolated, soul and body sick.” Then she learned how to pull back, how to protect her emotional energy and how to choose only the projects that fed her soul.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (emphasis mine)
James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (emphasis mine)
Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
4. We can't pray.
Communion with God suddenly feels like a rote experiment. We may read our required devotion every morning and repeat the usual “Thank you, God” prayer, but communication seems frazzled. God feels far away. We wonder if we have committed some terrible sin, or we may think God is pruning us for future service. But the One who promised to never leave us seems to have checked out.
What you can do about it: Read Psalm 59:3, especially in the Amplified version. “Fierce and mighty men are banding together against me, not for my transgression nor for any sin of mine.” This season is not your fault. When you’re emotionally exhausted, it’s difficult to communicate with anyone: spouse, friend, child, even the Yorkie terrier. When you can’t pray, it’s a signal from your soul: time to schedule a retreat and get away from all the mess.
Romans 8:26-27 NIV In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
5. We feel overburdened.
Like a heavy blanket, we know the struggles are piling up. Too many people with too many problems. So many meetings to attend and problems to fix. Shoulders feel tight and a migraine threatens. A coronary episode feels imminent. Is it time for a physical? You canceled the last one because the denominational conference seemed more important and you had to give the opening devotion.
What you can do about it: Talk to a close friend, someone you can trust. Release the burdens and let your friend help you pray. When Moses felt the burdens of battle, Aaron and Hur helped to lift his hands (Exodus 17). They were beside him for the duration. Their strength added to his power and the Israelites won.
Exodus 17:10-13 NIV So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
6. We don't want to be around people.
Emotional overwhelm may manifest in people resentment, especially for introverts. We’re already dealing with family dynamics and church problems. Another friend is in spiritual trouble and screaming for help. Our teenager just discovered her first zit and screamed, “Make it go away, Mom!” But we simply do not have the energy to come up with solutions for all the problems in our world. Our service well is completely dry.
What you can do about it: It’s time to build healthy boundaries. The word “no” is just as spiritual as, “Sure, I’ll help.” You don’t have to answer every text or read through every email. You can say, “Hmm, I’ll get back to you later.” Take a rejuvenating nap. Fight for self-care and avoid codependency. Remember the example of Jesus. When the people pressed around him, he rowed across the lake and took a nap. He protected his emotional reserves. You can learn to do the same.
Luke 8:22 NIV One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.
Luke 5:15-16 NIV Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
7. We become moody.
A snarky attitude begins to take over. We find ourselves snapping at the news anchor because he only reports the bad stuff. We yell at the kids even though they’re just being kids when they run through the house or spit out vegetables. We yell at the cars next to us and use words that are better left unspoken. We hope nobody from church finds out we just cussed at the school crossing guard. All those negative emotions are trying to spill out. They need a release valve. If you don’t do something soon, you will either explode or you’ll internalize which can lead to emotional implosion.
What you can do about it: It’s time to do something physical. Go to the gym and beat on the punching bag. Take a brisk walk around the block — alone. Talk out your emotions as you walk. My favorite release is to beat a cardboard box around the back yard using my son’s baseball bat. Sometimes I label the box with the name of a situation causing me grief. I have destroyed numerous boxes but afterward, I felt better.
John 21:1-3 NIV Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
8. We feel numb.
The numbness of emotional overwhelm is actually more dangerous than moodiness or the expression of negative behaviors. Numbing means we’ve internalized the emotions and now we’re in danger of major problems. Especially for people in ministry, numbing seems like a protective device. But later, sometimes years later, another emotional overload adds to the enormous burden. We find ourselves trying to self-medicate and doing things we never would have imagined. We suddenly realize we are the ones in trouble.
What you can do about it: Find a credible counselor, someone you can trust and someone who is skilled. This may be the time to consider medication to help you get over the hump and give you the ability to function. Visit your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist who can prescribe antidepressants if they are needed.
Proverbs 11:14 NKJV Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 19:20-21 NKJV Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord ’s counsel—that will stand.
Ecclesiastes 4:13 ESV Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.
9. We stop having fun.
The kids want to go to a movie or out for pizza but we just want to take a nap. The family wants to schedule a vacation but we can’t think of a single place to go. Game night becomes boring. Date night seems impossible. The usual sitcom that makes us laugh now offers no relief. We punch through the channels and consider getting rid of cable because nothing’s on TV anyway.
What you can do about it: Make just one change. Sometimes one change begins a stepping stone of transition to help you climb out of the pit. One change may release some of the tension. Even a change in routine might bring back some enjoyment in life: a different coffee shop, a new outfit, a fun hair color. That single action may you help make it through a difficult season.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (emphasis mine)
Proverbs 17:22 NIV A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
10. We suffer with chronic illness.
A series of colds or flu or a strange virus suddenly attacks. This can happen even months after the emotional trauma eases. The body has carried too much for too long and becomes toxic. It unloads those emotional poisons. Unfortunately, many of us wait too long for this wake up call. As ministry exhaustion flayed my emotions, I began to notice monthly colds. Just as I conquered one, another one attacked. Then bronchial pneumonia set in and it was four months before I could sleep without coughing.
What you can do about it: Pay attention now to the rest your body needs. Take care of yourself with regular doctor visits and proper nutrition. Nuts or a magnesium supplement can help restore energy. Make daily exercise a priority. Self-care is a vital spiritual discipline.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I’ve written a number of posts on burnout and of the importance of rest as defense against it. In several of those posts I’ve pointed out that that God commands us to rest and He did it when He issued and wrote the 10 Commandments. The commandment with the most written about it the one to remember the Sabbath, the day of rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 NIV “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
In observing thus commandment you are doing what God did after He created everything.
Genesis 2:2-3 NIV By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
The Hebrew word shabbāt, translated as Sabbath means intermission. It is from a root word, shābat, that means, to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, cause; rest, rid, still, take away.
The ultimate Sabbath is that promised in Hebrews that we are urged not to miss
Hebrews 4:1-11 NIV Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
This rest is our redemption and the main reason for us to remember the Sabbath our rest from works of the flesh.
10 Concise Reasons to Remember the Sabbath
Having enjoyed yesterday another Sabbath, where my soul was rejuvenated and my heart made glad, I thought I would encourage you with ten concise reasons (five coming from the Old Testament and five from the New) as to why you should honor the Lord's Day.
First and foremost, remembering the Sabbath is a command. From the first week of creation (Gen. 2:3-4), to the formalizing it in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8-11), to the prophets urging the people to honor it (Jer. 17:27), the Sabbath Day is a command given to God's people.
The Sabbath offers rest to you. The word Sabbath means "rest," the fourth commandment calls people to rest from their labors on this day (Ex. 20:10), and it is a promise that God will give rest to his people (Ex. 35:2).
The Sabbath is a sign of spiritual realities. In Exodus 31:12, the Lord told Moses to instruct the people, "Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you." The Sabbath is a sign of wonderful blessings the Lord desires to give to his people.
In particular, the Sabbath is a sign promising redemption. In the two places in the Bible where the Ten Commandments are listed (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21), dual acts of God are given as reasons for observing the Sabbath. The first act is the creation of the world (Ex. 20:11) and the second is redemption from slavery (Deut. 5:15). The One who made the world, then watched mankind plunge itself into sin and slavery, promises via the Sabbath that he will redeem his people.
The Sabbath prophesied that Christ would bring this redemption. The prophet Isaiah, as he looks ahead to the age of Christ, equates the Sabbath Day with the Day of the Lord (or the Lord's Day), and anticipates great blessing to those who observe it faithfully.
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Is. 58:13-14)
In the Old Testament, the term "day of the Lord" was used to signify a visitation of the Lord to bring judgment on his enemies and deliverance to his people. Isaiah is seeing the Sabbath become an ultimate time of victory and blessing for the Lord and his people.
Jesus kept the Sabbath. As the New Testament opens up with the gospel accounts, we see that our Lord Jesus observed the Sabbath himself (Luke 4:16), told us he was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and taught the day was made for us (Mark 2:27). Knowing that Jesus kept it gives us both precept and example to do likewise.
Jesus used the Sabbath to preach and bring redemption. Jesus was most active on the Sabbath, to the Pharisees' chagrin and to his Father's delight. He preached and taught on this day (Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:14-15). And he especially healed on the Sabbath, bringing restoration to such people as the man with the withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14), the demon-possessed man in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-37), the woman bent double for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17), the man suffering from dropsy (Luke 14:1-6), the man born blind (John 9:1-17), and the man who had been an invalid for 38 years by the Pool of Siloam (John 5:1-17). The One that the Old Testament Sabbath signified would come bringing redemption has arrived!
By virtue of his death and resurrection, the Lord transformed the day of rest to the first day of the week. The Old Testament Sabbath was on the last day of the week. Yet with Christ being crucified on Friday, in the grave throughout Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath), and being raised early Sunday morning, we see that the old Sabbath with its shadows and sacrifices died with Christ. But Christ was raised on the first day of the week to show his victory over sin, death, and Satan, fulfilling what the Sabbath Day promised. Sunday then marks a new Christian Sabbath, or the Lord's Day, as he defeated our enemies and delivered us from our sins.
Repeatedly in the New Testament, the Lord indicates that the first day of the week is now the new holy day for Christians. We see this a number of times in the New Testament.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples on the first day of his resurrection, Thomas was not there. To overcome his doubts, Jesus appeared to him a week later on Sunday and Thomas worshiped the risen Lord (John 20:24-28).
Pentecost is the day the Lord sent the Holy Spirit to the church (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost was an Old Testament feast day celebrating the first fruits of harvest, and it derives its name from the number 50. By coming fifty days after the Passover, or "on the day after the Sabbath" (Lev. 23:11), clearly Pentecost fell on the first day of the week. The Lord sending his Spirit to the church and reaping a gospel harvest on the first day of the week is significant of his desire for worship and preaching to occur on this day.
The New Testament testifies that the early church began meeting on this day for worship, preaching, giving, and prayer (Acts 20:1 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Rev 1:10).
The Lord's Day points us to the great coming Day of the Lord. Hebrews 4:9 tells us that "there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." Every time we gather as the church for worship on the Lord's Day, we should be reminded, examined, and prepared for the great day of judgment and consummation that yet awaits us as Christ will return (Matt. 25:31-46).
With these reasons in mind, how we should set the Lord's Day apart for worship, rest, mercy, and preparation for heaven to take place!
This article originally appeared on GentleReformation.com. Used with permission.
Matthew 22:37-40 NIV Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
There is much debate among Christians about our requirements for obeying the Law as presented in the Old Testament. The Law they are talking about is really all of the rules and regulations that God gave Moses (including the Ten Commandments) during the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites.
The key to understanding the relationship betweening the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17,). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system Numbers 15). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules Leviticus 11, 13, 19, ). The Old Testament law is not binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law.
Romans 10:4 NIV Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:23-25 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Ephesians 2:14-15 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
Christians are under the Law of Christ, not the Old Testament Law
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ a summary of Jesus’ response to a question about the greatest Commandment.
Matthew 22:34-40 NIV Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This doesn’t mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor.
The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). If we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.
Romans 7:7-12 NIV What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Galatians 3:23-24 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us.
Romans 3:21-22a NIV But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Here's the problem;
Romans 7:14-20, 25 NIV We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Here's the solution;
Romans 10:9-13 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Salvation is not by the Law
The gospel message is that we can receive forgiveness of sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. It was Jesus who kept of the law perfectly and never sinned sacrificed His life and died for our salvation.
1 Peter 2:21-22 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
Christians have "died with Christ"
Romans 6:4 NIV We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
That means that they have also died to the law
Romans 7:4-6 NIV So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Therefore, Christians are not obligated to keep the law in order to be saved. But, when we love God, love our neighbor, and love one another, it's love that fulfills the law.
Hebrews 13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NIV If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
Imagine if I planted a tree in my front yard, but after awhile, I decided it would look better in my backyard. Then after a few months, I realized it would be better in the front yard. So I dig it up and plant it again in the front yard. Not only will that tree fail to flourish, but it also will struggle to just survive.
Yet some people are like that with God. They decide to go to church, read their Bible, and pray regularly. They do this for a month, and then they uproot themselves and disappear for a few months. Then they come back again. Then they uproot themselves and go back to the old life again. Eventually they come back and are at it again. But they never will grow spiritually that way.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). That is the secret of spiritual growth: to abide. To abide means to stay in a given place. For believers, it means to maintain unbroken fellowship with God. It is regularity. It is consistency. And it results in producing lasting fruit.
Another way of abiding is walking with God. As 1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” Walking speaks of consistent motion. That means making time for the Word of God and for prayer every day. If you are too busy, then get up earlier. Go to bed earlier. You will find time for what is important.
The true mark of conversion is the test of time and results in your life. Are you producing spiritual fruit?
Taken from “The Secret of Spiritual Growth” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission
Hold on, don't get to excited. Yes I know that without the cross and Jesus’ death,His sacrifice, on it, that our sins would not have been forgiven. I know that by His stripes we are healed. I know that He was bruised for our transgressions. I know all that. But what if He was never resurrected. His death would have been just like the sacrifice of the goat on The Day of Atonement. The other goat used that day symbolically carried the sins of the people away from God into the wilderness. This had to take place over and over every year.
Leviticus 16:6-10, 34 NIV “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.
I have often said that Jesus’ resurrection was the proof that the Father had accepted His sacrifice as the last one needed to cover mankind’s sin. Jesus was the last sin offering and the last scapegoat. Although the Holy Spirit had made this crystal clear to me I had never been able to explain it to others in a way that was clear and concise.
I know that Resurrection Day (Easter), is long past, this year but I need to share what I read in my quiet time.
No Salvation Without The Resurrection
Excerpts from "Death Is Dead, Christ Has Conquered" by Sam Allberry
Too many of us view the resurrection of Jesus similarly—as little more than a nice, happy conclusion to the gospel story. As if after all the darkness of the betrayal, denial, and death, Spielberg was brought in to do the ending. Somewhere in the background a lavish sunset blazes away.
But the Easter story isn’t just “what happens next” to Jesus after his death. It doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. In fact, there really is no story without it. It’s not just a matter of chronology but theology—vital, glorious theology. Without it we have nothing, and are nothing. The resurrection saves us. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday.
The resurrection doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday.
No Resurrection, No Salvation
Paul reveals the necessity of Easter in a striking way: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
He connects the resurrection to our justification. He’s not saying we’re half-saved by the cross and half-saved by the resurrection. But he is saying without the resurrection, we are lost. No resurrection means no justification: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
If Jesus is dead, our sin debt remains unpaid, and we remain under sin’s dominion. If there was no Easter life for Jesus, there is no new life for us. The blood of Jesus saves us because he is now alive.
But why exactly do we need the resurrection for these things to be certain? The wider story of the Bible shows us. The raising of Jesus from death is significant because death is significant. Only when we understand what death means will we be able to grasp what Easter means.
Sin Births Death
Death is the consequence of sin. Adam was told this as far back as Genesis 2—eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and “you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). God is life, so turning from him is fatal. Sin both earns death (Rom. 6:23) and births death (James 1:15). Death is what sin chooses, what sin receives, and what sin deserves.
This accounts for why we have such a strange perception of death. Death is, when we think about it, one of the most normal things about life in this world, as sure as our birth. Yet we can’t reconcile ourselves to this reality. Death never really feels natural. It feels wrong. So we put huge effort into living as though death is not going to happen.
Our unease with death indicates we know perhaps more than we realize. Death (like sin) does not belong here. It’s something we were’t meant to experience. But sin leads to death, and so the existence of death proves the reality of sin.
As we grasp the significance of death, we can start to see the significance of resurrection. Raising Jesus from the dead was not an arbitrary stunt by God the Father. It wasn’t just a mega-miracle to prove he’s still there and still bigger—though that is true. No, the resurrection has meaning. The resurrection is the outworking and proof of our salvation because death is the outworking and proof of our sin. Jesus’s new life shows us the cycle of sin and death has finally been broken. There is new life to be had. Sin has been conquered.
It is therefore the resurrection of Jesus—and can only be the resurrection of Jesus—that assures us of salvation. Only the resurrection proves that our sins have been fully dealt with, that death is no longer our destination but a gateway to perfect, endless life.
The cross is not a starter pack. God doesn’t drum up most of what we need only to leave us fishing around in our pockets to provide the rest.
By dying and rising for us, the Son has closed the deal. In raising him from the dead, the Father has signed for it.
This article originally appeared on TheGospelCoalition.org. Used with permission.
In the past couple of months I’ve published several posts on ministry burnout (See Burnout). Last week I read two devotions written by Rick Warren “God’s Gifts for Now”, and “Life Is About Relationship, Not Acquisition” in it he wrote that the secret to contentment is to learn to enjoy what God has already given you. One of the reasons that we experience burnout is that we feel that we have to work and work and work to earn the things from God that will result in our enjoyment. Once we get them we think that we have to keep working so that we can enjoy them. We are never content and happy with the material spiritual blessings we receive through the gifts and talents He has given us.
While we will receive rewards, in eternity, for the things that we do in this life, the gifts, talents, and blessings from God are for us to enjoy for His glory now.
2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Philippians 3:12-14 NIV Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
God’s Gifts for Now
By Rick Warren
“If God gives us wealth and property and lets us enjoy them, we should be grateful and enjoy what we have worked for. It is a gift from God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19 GNT).
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17 that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (NIV). That’s the kind of God we serve. He gave us the world for our enjoyment! But here’s the problem: We’re so busy getting more that we don’t enjoy what we’ve got.
The secret of contentment is to learn to enjoy what God has given you. Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “If God gives us wealth and property and lets us enjoy them, we should be grateful and enjoy what we have worked for. It is a gift from God” (GNT). Pay more attention to what you do have. Open your eyes, appreciate what God has already given you, and enjoy what you’ve got.
One of my favorite things to do is watch the sunrise from the slope in our yard. I put a deck chair out there almost 20 years ago. I think I bought it at Target, so it’s not expensive. It’s faded, and a couple of its slats are broken. I love to sit in that ratty, old chair and watch the sun come up. It gives me great pleasure!
Would I have any more joy watching the sunrise if I were sitting in a diamond-encrusted Barcalounger instead of a ratty chair from Target? No. It would not increase my joy one bit. In fact, there is an advantage to not having a diamond-encrusted Barcalounger. It’s better to have a ratty chair on the slope. Why? Because nobody steals it!
You need to ask yourself, “What am I not enjoying right now?” Most of us get into what I call “when and then” thinking — “When this happens, then I’ll be happy.”
“When I get a boyfriend, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get married, then I’ll be happy.” “When I have kids, then I’ll be happy.” “When my kids go off to school, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get married again, then I’ll be happy.”
You are as happy as you choose to be. Happiness is a choice! If you’re not happy now, you’re not going to be happy later. I could take you to some of the worst places in the world and show you two people living right next door to each other. One is miserable, and one is happy. Why? Happiness has nothing to do with your circumstances. It has everything to do with your attitude. If you’re not happy living on what you’re living on right now, I can guarantee you that you’re not going to be happy with any more. Because you’re always going to want a little bit more.
Happiness is a choice. Choose to enjoy what God has given you right now for your enjoyment!
Life Is About Relationship, Not Acquisition
By Rick Warren
“But as for me, my contentment is not in wealth but in seeing you and knowing all is well between us. And when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face-to-face” (Psalm 17:15 TLB).
Life is not about things. You’ve got to maintain the right perspective about possessions, or you’ll be possessed by your possessions. You’ve got to realize none of it is going to last.
Jesus says in Luke 12:15, “Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be” (GNT).
Never judge your self-worth by your net worth. Never think your value is related to your valuables. Realize that the greatest things in life aren’t things. You didn’t bring anything into the world, and you’re not taking anything out of it. Life is not about acquisition or achievement. Life is about relationship and learning how to love God and other people.
The best way to remember that your life is not about things is to build your life on eternal priorities. Focus on what will last forever. Every possession is temporary, so don’t build your life on acquiring possessions. Only two things are going to last forever: the Word of God and people.
You’ve got a choice to make. The world is telling you that you’ve got to get more to be happier, more successful, more important, more valuable, and more secure. You’ve got to decide if you’re going to listen to Madison Avenue or the Master. Are you going to listen to culture or Christ? Are you going to listen to the world or the Word?
One will make you dissatisfied the rest of your life; one will make you truly happy. Before you can move toward financial freedom, you have to ask yourself, “What is the primary purpose of my life? To just get more? What do I think about, talk about, and give my most to? What am I living my life for?”
There was a famous millionaire in Orange County who took her own life many years ago. At the funeral somebody said, “I don’t understand it. She had so much to live for.” I thought, “No. She had so much to live on. She had nothing to live for.”
You may have a lot to live on, but do you have anything to live for? Do you have a relationship with God? The myth of the world is that you can have it all. The truth is that you can’t have it all. And more importantly, you don’t need it all to be happy. You’re as happy as you choose to be.
The secret of contentment is finding your security and your satisfaction not in what you have but in whose you are. You find it in Christ.
Psalm 17:15 says, “But as for me, my contentment is not in wealth but in seeing you and knowing all is well between us. And when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face-to-face” (TLB).
Both devotionals © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit pastorrick.com!
Contentment With Peace
Contentment will keep you from working yourself to into burnout, and cure it if you're already there.
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
And with this contentment comes peace.
John 14:26-27 NIV But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Philippians 4:8-9 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Psalm 41:1-42:11 (NLT2)1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble.2 The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.3 The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.4 “O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.6 They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!”9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.10 LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.13 Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
In this Psalm, David expresses his thanksgiving after going through desperate situation which he believes was caused by his sin. His thanksgiving corresponds to Jesus comments “Blessed are the merciful” from His Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:7 (NLT2) God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
He had been delivered, preserved, blessed, and strengthened by God. God has delivered him and he has recovered from the desperate situation.
His enemies were reveling in his circumstances. Even his best friend had turned against him. This brings to mind Judas’ betrayal of his Friend Jesus.
John 13:18 (NLT2) “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’
Acts 1:16 (NLT2)16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David.
He prayed that God would give him the strength to punish those who took advantage of him, which is certainly different from Jesus’ response to Judas. Jesus washed Judas’ feet as the did the other disciples, and He allowed Judas to confirm His identity with a kiss.
John 13:1-5 (NLT2)1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.
4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
Luke 22:47-48 (NLT2)47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of his twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss.48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Wounds from a friend cut deep. David and Jesus have both felt this pain. At the Last Supper Jesus quoted David’s words of Psalm 41:9 “The one who eats my food has turned against me.’” As the Son of God, Jesus intimately knows all people — including their sin and shame — yet he loves them anyway. Jesus’ followers are commanded to love like this. Love is a choice, and in times of hurt and betrayal, it will not be easy. Yet through this act of love for others, Jesus says that the watching world will recognize his followers.
John 13:35 (NLT2)5 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
People know that even their closest friends might abandon them if they knew the truth about their sin. But not Jesus. Jesus loves with a perfect, unconditional love. He never gives up on his people. And through this great love, his followers are redeemed.
Ephesians 1:7 (NLT2) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
People have always used the Bible to justify their actions, whether those actions were what we would consider good or evil. You can justify almost anything by taking a verse or several verses of scripture out of context. Things like slavery, genocide, racism, murder, suicide, or the separation of illegal immigrant families. This may not be accurate but it seems to me that there is more use and abuse of scripture used to justify political positions or policies in the last two years than in the past. That includes those on both sides of the abortion and homosexuality arguments. This post is not to take a position on those issues.
This post includes a guest editorial for Herald-Mail Media, written by Don Stevenson is an adjunct instructor of philosophy and ethics at Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, Maryland. It points to the use of scripture to justify the zero tolerance arrest and prosecution policy on those entering the United States illegally, specifically the separation of minor children from their parents, as an example of the abuse of scripture to do something that is opposition to the overall narrative of scripture which is the love of God for mankind.
The use and abuse of the Bible
When sacred stories of the Bible are harvested by those who have selfish, mean-spirited and cunning attitudes, then this great book becomes a victim of human abuse and degradation.
The Bible is an assemblage of faith stories and messages that hold themes of truth and goodness that a loving God bestows. It is not a history or science book, per se, though it may and does include some historical and scientific data. Specifically, the Bible is a spiritual book reflecting the faith quests of a people at certain stages of development, as they searched to understand holiness and their destiny.
The Bible also includes cultural taboos, desires and perspectives of the time in which it was written. Such is why we need to carefully study and discern what the Bible’s core message is and discard those obvious cultural bents that many parts of the Bible contain.
Admittedly, the Bible holds a number of rather weird admonitions that are not compatible with its larger message — the acts of a benevolent and loving God.
Exhortations like “Purchase slaves, sell your daughter as a slave, and make sure the slave submits to the master, even cruel ones” (Leviticus 25:44-46; Exodus 21:7-8; and 1 Peter 2:18) are demeaning. And, “have rebellious children stoned to death” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) or “be pleased when little children are dashed upon the rock” (Psalm 137:9) are horrific statements, to say the least. Or, “Cut off the hand of a woman if she grabs the genitals of a man who is fighting with her husband” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) is a bizarre directive. Interestingly, some biblical passages would have us ban cheeseburgers, subs and ham sandwiches (Exodus 23:19, Leviticus 11:12 and 11:4). Also, “Women should not teach in houses of worship,” and “blind people, dwarves, and the lame are not allowed at the altar” (1 Timothy 2:12, Deuteronomy 23:1, Leviticus 21:17-23) are equally insane and insensitive injunctions. To repeat, passages like these reflect the culture of the time and not the essential message of the Good Book. Therefore, serious Bible study happens when the reader/interpreter understands that not every sentence of the Scriptures breathes the breath or holds the blessing of a loving God.
The attorney general of the United States recently used a piece of a Bible verse that he thought gave support to the government’s behavior regarding immigrants coming into America along the Mexican border. What Mr. Sessions did was what many people do with the Scriptures — “cherry-pick” to support personal purposes and/or a desired public policy. When this occurs, and it happens too frequently, the Bible can be used as a cherry tree, wherein one selects the fruit that savors their own taste bud, or is supportive of their own views or biases. And this selection process makes the sacred book so very vulnerable to skewed attitudes of every Tom, Dick and Sessions. Yes, to understand the central message of the Bible, all readers have the task of selecting or “cherry-picking” the Bible, as Mr. Sessions did. It just so happens, he picked the fruit that agreed with his stuff and not necessarily the universal message of goodness, truth and a loving God, which is the Bible’s dominant and greater message. Consequently, he forgot or chose not to use, many other verses of the Bible, which call for “a welcoming of strangers,” not a dispersing of them.
Often, humans lift and import words and phrases out of the Bible to support their cause. It is not that they use the source to enlighten their understanding of something but rather to support an understanding they already have or want. And this is a manipulative use and abuse of a book of faith. A better use of the Judeo-Christian Bible is that it be a spiritual guide and resource
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.