Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:10-12)
A Word for Today: 27 June 2020
We are in a war. But the the battle is not against the people, but against the hosts of wickedness that have set themselves up in heavenly places against the Holy One. The trumpet has sounded. Yet we can so easily lose our focus during the spiritual battle that are raging. We, who have chosen to follow the Lord are commanded to be strong, but not in our own strength. We are commanded to be strong in the Lord and His power and to fight the good fight.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself,is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)
Within this portion God instructs His children to love as HE loves. God's love is not fleshly at all. His love also was not just mere words but became a deed as He sacrificed Himself for us. Godly love is humility in action. A man of God once remarked: "I have obtained an LLL degree, which stands for being the least, the lowest and the last". Those living with him day by day could testify that he indeed had obtained this degree. No wonder God could use him mightily. Such a person will be willing to suffer long, to be kind, not envious, not being puffed up and not seeking its own.
May we likewise follow in the same footsteps.
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (Mark 14:10-11)
A word for today: 25 June 2020
Having a business mind Judas was torn in two. On the one hand he was one of the chosen disciples, and on the other hand he was looking to gain interest wherever he could. A clever and cunning businessman. He was probably disgruntled by the disciples' and Jesus' lack of 'business sense', yet kept it hidden in his heart. Weighing his options he thought he had a win-win situation. He could gain access to quick gains while also be promoted in the eyes of the pharisees. He thought he had nothing to lose. Yet through this cunning transaction he exchanged his Savior for money, and so squandered his place for all eternity. The way he thought was the most profitable costed in the end his own soul...
This example sets out a firm warning, not to exchange our Savior for anything this world has to offer.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25-26)
God's thoughts are not our thoughts. Humans like to keep records of right and wrongs... and to remain unwilling to forgive. Yet, we are charged to forgive, and do so freely. Here is Stephen the first martyr an example. He interceded for those busy stoning him, and by doing so he was following Christ's example. If Stephen refused to forgive, the doors of Heaven would have remained shut for him. If Jesus did not forgive, the doors of Heaven would have remained shut for us for all eternity. For us there is therefore no other option, than to look at the Cross and realise how He suffered on your behalf... and how He intercedes for you...and then to forgive freely...
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil 2:3&4)
Within the book to Philippians, Paul referred in verse 1:1 to himself and Timothy as bondservants of Jesus Christ. Timothy taking after Paul must have lived up to such a high calling. A calling to do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit. Conceit means a type of self-love or vanity. On the contrary we are to esteem others better. Those working with us, we are called to esteem better than ourselves. It is such a life that brings a blessing wherever such a person goes. If we want to take after Godly men, we also need to follow this instruction, as Timothy did.
And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41)
Within this portion Jesus points out the importance of our priorities. Our priorities are driven by the way we see things. Martha was worried, and her anxiety caused her trouble. She wanted things to go right. There were guests, and they need food, and... and... and. In our hurry to get things right, we might end up in getting things all wrong, and even trouble others that tried to focus on what the Lord have to say to them. Mary realised the urgency of the hour. She realised that she need to drink in every word Jesus is speaking. This portion leaves us with a question. Are we also like Mary focused to hear the Shepherds voice?
Then the master said to the servant, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper (Luke 14:23-24)
Within this text we find both grace and wrath, for the time of grace has gone by for those that were invited. Those that were invited had lost their place. Their place were handed over to others. Those that are aware of their own unworthiness. Because they knew that they were not worthy, the servants had to compel them, for the master's house needed to be filled. It is indeed a fearful thing if the time of grace has gone by. Make haste, for maybe there is still a few moments left.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me... I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)
This portion captures the heart of the Gospel. Blessed are those who are forgiven, and who's sin is covered by the Blood of Christ. Who's soul has been washed by His Blood, so that no deceit remains. There is no need for own devices of cover-ups. There is no need to deceive anyone and live a life of pretense. While we have sin in our hearts, one's whole being is in sorrow. There is a heaviness of God's hand. He put pressure on us, so that the sin will come to the open. As with a boil, sin remains not hidden, but show that there is something festering inside. God adds His pressure to bring to light things hidden within the heart. As He does this; blessed is the one who acknowledge the sin (confesses it). He who asks forgiveness receives so freely. Have you unburdened yourself, and brought your sins into the open? The prayer of a righteous man is heard. It is a help to search out such a person to pray with one, as one deals with these things that God show us.
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)
There is a saying that our weapon for attack and defense is to keep on doing God's will. His will is set out for us in His words. If we love Him, we will also love His commandments. And what He commands is not burdensome, but brings life. Sin is so much the opposite. It is easy to sin if we love ourselves. Then we are a law and a command unto ourselves. It is a survival of the fittest game which in the end brings death.
However, within this portion we find the secret; to hide His word in our hearts. One man of God once said: this Book will keep us from sin, and sin will keep us from this Book.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. (Ps 91:14-15)
The placement of our love is important, for it guides our thoughts, decisions and actions. God's eyes searches through the world to seek someone whose heart is undivided towards Him. During this lock-down it is important for us to ponder on this and search our lives. What have we been so busy with? We can so often focus our attention or our tasks and work. Yet, He looks upon the one who loves Him and who lives for him even while doing the daily duties. Is there some priorities that you need to shift around today?