Saturday, March 30, 2013

He intercedes for us


For we know that the whole creation groans and 
suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the 
first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan 
within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption 
as sons, the redemption of our body. 

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is 
seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already 
sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, 
with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.   

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; 
for we do not know how to pray as we should, 
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings 
too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts 
knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because 
He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together 
for good to those who love God, to those who are called 
according to His purpose.
Romans 8:22-28

The Merciful Wisdom of Jesus

Solomon and Jesus

Long ago, a young king of Israel wrote, 

“Blessed are those who find wisdom,....she is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” 
Proverbs 3:13-15

The Wisdom of Solomon:  To this day, we still tell the story of how God appeared to him in a dream and offered him the desires of his heart (1 Kings 3:5-15).

Instead of asking for personal wealth, a long life, or the death of his enemies, Solomon admitted that he felt like a little child who was not up to the challenge of leading the nation entrusted to him.  So he asked for an understanding heart to be a good ruler and judge.  God responded by assuring the king that he would get his request and far more.  Then Solomon woke up and realized that he had been dreaming (3:15).

Wisdom for justice’s sake The dream came true.  As evidence, the Bible introduces us to two troubled persons who asked Solomon to settle a dispute (3:16-28).  

The Bible tells us they were harlots with a maternity issue.  Both had recently given birth.  In the middle of the night, one of their babies died.  The distraught mother switched infants as the other mother slept.  Now both were claiming the living baby.  Neither could provide a witness to support their story or credibility.

So what would a wise king do?  After listening to both sides, Solomon called for a sword.  His decision was to divide the baby.

One woman responded with a plea for the child’s life.  She offered to give up her claim for the sake of the baby.  The other woman agreed with the king saying it would be better to give the baby to neither rather than either.

At this point, Solomon said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him;  she is the mother.” (3:27)

So we are told, “All Israel heard of the judgement which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.” (3:28)

But what begins well does not always end well.  As great as Solomon’s wisdom was (1 Kings 3:12; 4:29-34), what started with a dream ended like a nightmare. Late in life, he went so far as to build altars to the gods of his pagan wives on the hills overlooking Jerusalem (11:1-13).  Although he had been given wisdom to offer justice to others, he ended up needing mercy for himself.

The Wisdom of JesusOne of the first things the Bible tells us about Jesus is that, as a young man, He grew “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)

Later, however, the Teacher from Nazareth was sharply criticized by religious leaders who didn’t buy His brand of wisdom.  In response, Jesus likened His critics to children sitting in the market place playing a game that sounds similar to one children still play. (7:31-32)

In the modern game of Simon Says, whatever “Simon says,” you’re supposed to do.  If you get caught doing something that Simon doesn’t say to do , you’re out of the game.

Jesus however, was not playing a game.  He wouldn’t do what the Pharisees wanted Him to do.  Instead, He suggested that His wisdom would be seen in its results.  In a thought-provoking proverb, He said, “wisdom is justified by all her children.” (7:35)

What kind of wisdom was Jesus talking about?  Who were her children?  The gospel writer doesn’t leave us wondering for long.

Wisdom for mercy’s sake:  According to Luke, a religious Pharisee by the name of Simon invited Jesus home for a meal.  Later, as they sat at the man’s table, an unnamed woman who had heard that Jesus was there, invited herself in.  All Luke tells us about her identity is that she was “a sinner.”

Overwhelmed with emotion, this woman went to her knees at Jesus’ feet, washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then poured expensive perfume on them.

Meanwhile, according to Luke, the Pharisee was thinking to himself that if Jesus were a prophet, He wouldn’t allow Himself to be touched by such a woman.  Knowing the man’s heart, Jesus told His host a story about a creditor who mercifully forgave two debtors.  One of them had owed far more than the other.

With this much of the story told, Jesus asked Simon which of the two debtors would have a greater love for the one who showed mercy to both of them.  The Pharisee saw where Jesus was going.  Those who are forgiven much, love much; while those who have been forgiven little, love little. (7:47)

In these few words, Jesus foreshadowed the scope of His wisdom. He would go on to win our hearts not merely by His justice but with His mercy.  On the very hills that Solomon built altars to false gods, Jesus would offer Himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Father in heaven, we will be eternally grateful that You did not leave us with merely a wisdom of justice.  Like Solomon, we desperately needed the merciful wisdom of Your Son.

By Mart DeHaan, April 2013, Been Thinking About

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Do you have a trail of tears?

The Trail of Tears

A very severe and tragic event in US history was the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans in the early 19th century.  Native American tribes, who had struck treaties with and fought alongside the burgeoning white population, were driven out of their ancestral lands.  In the winter of 1838, thousands of Cherokee were forced to embark on a brutal 1,000-mile march westward known as The Trail of Tears.  This injustice resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, many of whom had little or no clothing, shoes, or supplies for such a journey.

The world continues to be filled with injustice, pain, and heartache.  And many today may feel as if they are leaving a trail of tears --- tears that go unnoticed and grief that is not comforted.  

But our Lord sees our tears and comforts our weary hearts.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

He also declares the hope of a future time not marked by the stains of sin or injustice.  In that day and in that place, 

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”.  
Revelation 21:4

The God who offers freedom from tears in the future is the only One who can fully comfort our tears now.

----Bill Crowder

Loving Father, thank You that our hurts and pains matter to You.  Thank You for the promise of a n eternity without tears and a life forever with You. Amen.

When God permits trials, He also provides comfort.

From Wednesday, December 12, 2012, Our Daily Bread

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shout to the North

Men of faith, rise up and sing

Of the great and glorious King

You are strong when you feel weak,

In your broken-ness, complete.

Shout to the north and the south.

Sing to the east and the west.

Jesus is Saviour to all,

Lord of heaven and earth.

Rise up women of the truth

Stand and sing to broken hearts

Who can know the healing power

Of our glorious King of love? 

We've been through fire,

we've been through rain.

We've been refined by the pow'r of His name

We've fallen deeper in love with You.

You've burned the truth on our lips.

Rise up church with broken wings;

Fill this place with songs again

Of our God who reigns on high.

By His grace again we'll fly.

By Martin Smith

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Romans 8:28 Marriage

Excerpts from Shari at "But who do you say I am?"    I encourage you to view her whole post:

My husband and I [Shari] just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. To remain married that long is indeed an accomplishment to be celebrated these days as sadly, so many marriages end in divorce. We truly must have had a marriage made in heaven…right?

I wish I could say that. At least it certainly did not begin that way, nearly ending in divorce after only ten years. 

Pull up a chair and allow me to share with you why I call our marriage a “Romans 8:28 marriage”.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)... 

....For years, I prayed for God to change my husband, but nothing seemed to be happening. I was growing frustrated and disheartened by his lack of attention and affection toward me, let alone spiritual leadership. I used control and manipulation to "get even", attempting to b-e-n-d him into the man I needed him to be. Then the Spirit of God urged me to change my prayer to, “Lord, change me”, revealing to me that my critical spirit worked only to drive my husband further away from me and from God.  
God honored that prayer, as I surrendered not only my life, but also my marriage to God, I began to witness small miracles taking place in my marriage. Hard hearts began to soften, defenses were dissolving, and respect was being restored. What the enemy intended for evil, God used for good. And a strange thing was happening; I was falling deeply in love with my husband. 
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)

The Bible promises me that "my God shall supply all my needs", not my husband. It never was his job!  

From a marriage once darkened by sin and selfishness, now shines a Light that comes from the knowledge that through Christ, God truly works all things together for our good and His glory when our affections and desires are toward Him, rather than toward ourselves or the world... 

All glory and power and honor belong to our God!....


Praising God! Thankful to the LORD for His life changing power! 

In all things cry out to God!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Obedience

1 Peter 1:3-9, 13-16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy has caused us
to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead,

to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable
and undefiled and will not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the
power of God through faith for a salvation ready
to be revealed in the last time. 

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little
while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various
trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious
than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire,
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and
though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him,
you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full
of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith
the salvation of your souls.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action,
keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely
on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ. 

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the
former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 
but like the Holy One who called you,
be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 
because it is written,
You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Take Time to Be Holy

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

By William D. Longstaff


Sunday, March 17, 2013

His Precious Treasure

Broken Cups
"But this precious treasure - this light and power that now 
shine within us - is held in a perishable container, that is, 
in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power 
within must be from God and is not our own."    2 Corinthians 4:7

I was Spring-cleaning with a friend the other day. While reaching 
into the recesses of the cupboard, she accidentally dropped a cup. 
It didn't shatter, but the fall to the counter was enough to cause 
a crack. I wondered whether to save it, but in the end decided 
to trash it.

God, on the other hand, saves broken cups. In fact, broken 
vessels are often His most useful tools. The verse for today reads 
like His fix-it manual. It tells us God pours His treasure into 
fragile vessels that are prone to shatter. That way everyone will 
know God is doing the "living" in us.

A broken neck has taught me this. But so has a broken heart. 
At times, whether in my paralysis pain or emotional pain, I have 
gone to God and sighed, "I give up. I can't do anything right. 
I have no idea how to pull myself out of this mess." The world 
would say, "Yep, you're useless." The devil would say, 
"Told you so." But God says, "I've been waiting for you to come 
to Me in your brokenness. Here, let Me heal you. You need My 
help; for without Me, you can do nothing."

What's more, Psalm 51:17 tells us God will only use a life that 
is broken: 

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite 
heart, O God, you will not despise."

Don't be ashamed of being shattered. God is looking for broken 
vessels like you through whom He can showcase His splendor. 
Remember, when it comes to God's grace, even broken cups 
can be filled to overflowing.

Thank you, God, for not throwing away my broken life but 
treasuring it and redeeming it. Use my brokenness to help 

Joni and Friends

Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's in your heart?

This finds us in the middle of Jesus teaching
while He is speaking the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:21-30

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;

but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

You are more than your choices

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
...don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Tenth Avenue North

Titus 3:3-7
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient,
deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures,
spending our life in malice and envy, hateful,
hating one another.
But when the kindness of God our Savior
and His love for mankind appeared,
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have
done in righteousness, but according to His mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewing
by the Holy Spirit,
whom He poured out upon us richly through
Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified
by His grace we would be made heirs according to
the hope of eternal life.

We are more than the choices that we make.  Praising God with you!