Where is our confidence?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Isaiah 9:18-21

 For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.

  Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another.

  They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm,

  Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

The prideful and arrogant bring upon themselves the consequences of overconfidence.  It is the very nature of pride.  This is why the wise have taught pride goes before a fall.  We place trust in our own abilities and training and do not pay close attention to our limitations as the ones created; we are not our own creators.

If on the other hand we are careful to use the gifts and abilities God has given us for His work; seeking his will and giving him glory, we find ourselves blessed in spite of our shortcomings.  There is a very real danger in believing we are self-sufficient.  There is also a difference between confidence and pride when that confidence is placed in and comes from our relationship with God.  He is our source for all things.

It is good to be aware of the pitfalls of pride.  It is also good to be aware of a forgiving God.  We can turn from pride to confidence in Him and we will be blessed.

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Can you say, “He delights in me”?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Psalm 18

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.

 ​​The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

​​My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

​​My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

 ​​I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;

​​So shall I be saved from my enemies.

 ​​The pangs of death surrounded me,

​​And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

 ​​The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;

​​The snares of death confronted me.

​​In my distress I called upon the LORD,

​​And cried out to my God;

​​He heard my voice from His temple,

​​And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;

​​The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,

​​Because He was angry.

 ​​Smoke went up from His nostrils,

​​And devouring fire from His mouth;

​​Coals were kindled by it.

 ​​He bowed the heavens also, and came down

​​With darkness under His feet.

 ​​And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;

​​He flew upon the wings of the wind.

 ​​He made darkness His secret place;

​​His canopy around Him was dark waters

​​And thick clouds of the skies.

 ​​From the brightness before Him,

​​His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.

The LORD thundered from heaven,

​​And the Most High uttered His voice,

​​Hailstones and coals of fire.

 ​​He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,

​​Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.

 ​​Then the channels of the sea were seen,

​​The foundations of the world were uncovered

​​At Your rebuke, O LORD,

​​At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

 ​​He sent from above, He took me;

​​He drew me out of many waters.

 ​​He delivered me from my strong enemy,

​​From those who hated me,

​​For they were too strong for me.

 ​​They confronted me in the day of my calamity,

​​But the LORD was my support.

 ​​He also brought me out into a broad place;

​​He delivered me because He delighted in me.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Psa&c=18&t=nkjvp>

 

O may we delight the Lord to the extent he does the same for us.  What causes that delight?  We call on Him and seek Him and no other.  What visuals we see here!  Fire-breathing , smoke billowing give images of dragons, volcanoes spewing forth, great storms.  Nothing quiet here!! Images of greatness and intent to instill awe in the observer are versed.  When the Lord comes, we know it!! So do our enemies and so does the enemy  of our soul.  What do we do under fire?  We call upon the Lord and He responds.  He is on our side because he delights in us… He delights in us because we call upon Him.

“…I will love You, O LORD, my strength.

​​The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

​​My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

​​My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold….”

“…​​He delivered me because He delighted in me….”

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The fire of His love…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Hosea 11

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,

​​And out of Egypt I called My son.

As they called them,

​​So they went from them;

​​They sacrificed to the Baals,

​​And burned incense to carved images.

“I taught Ephraim to walk,

​​Taking them by their arms;

​​But they did not know that I healed them.

I drew them with gentle cords,

​​With bands of love,

​​And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.

​​I stooped and fed them.

 ​​“He shall not return to the land of Egypt;

​​But the Assyrian shall be his king,

​​Because they refused to repent.

And the sword shall slash in his cities,

​​Devour his districts,

​​And consume them,

​​Because of their own counsels.

My people are bent on backsliding from Me.

​​Though they call to the Most High,

​​None at all exalt Him.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?

​​How can I hand you over, Israel?

​​How can I make you like Admah?

​​How can I set you like Zeboiim?

​​My heart churns within Me;

​​My sympathy is stirred.

​​I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;

​​I will not again destroy Ephraim.

​​For I am God, and not man,

​​The Holy One in your midst;

​​And I will not come with terror.

“They shall walk after the LORD.

​​He will roar like a lion.

​​When He roars,

​​Then His sons shall come trembling from the west;

 ​​They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,

​​Like a dove from the land of Assyria.

​​And I will let them dwell in their houses,”

​​Says the LORD.


God’s Charge Against Ephraim

​​“Ephraim has encircled Me with lies,

​​And the house of Israel with deceit;

​​But Judah still walks with God,

​​Even with the Holy One who is faithful.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Hsa&c=11&v=1&t=NKJVP>

History is recounted over and over.  Truth is spoken.  The pains brought are spoken.  The resulting anger is reviewed.

“…My people are bent on backsliding from Me.

​​Though they call to the Most High,

​​None at all exalt Him….”

And within it all the love of God shines forth.  His love for his people overrides the pain, rejection, denial they hand him.  His love overrides his anger at their arrogance, greed and pride.  Ultimately it comes down to, he is God.

“…​​For I am God, and not man,

​​The Holy One in your midst;

​​And I will not come with terror. …”

We can apply these principles to our own lives.  God offers forgiveness and so can we.  We have His love within us and it allows us to override the anger, pain and rejection we often receive at the hands of others we hold dear.  He demonstrates for us the power of His all-consuming love.  This love burns the trash and leaves the gold.

“…“How can I give you up…​​How can I hand you over,…How can I make you like …

​​My heart churns within Me;

​​My sympathy is stirred.

​​I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;…They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,

​​Like a dove from the land of Assyria.

​​And I will let them dwell in their houses,”…​​But Judah still walks with God,

​​Even with the Holy One who is faithful….”

We sow seeds of unrighteousness and face the fire of his love.  We are consumed and rise from the ashes in beauty.

Coals of fire….purify

Ezekiel 10:1-8

And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, “Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he went in as I watched.

Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’s glory. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks.

Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” that he went in and stood beside the wheels. And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man’s hand under their wings.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=10&v=1&t=NKJVP>

The vision contains the same creatures found in Ezekiel’s first vision.  The difference is that they are now in the temple – a place the Lord calls his sanctuary.  This place that the elders of the people, the leaders who should be leading in the worship of Almighty God, have placed idols that are images worshipped in place or instead of God.  God has called these images and the worship of them abominations in one translation and desecration in another.  The people have left worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and turned to the gods of their neighbors and Egypt.  We are given a clear understanding that this is definitely displeasing to God, so much so that he is willing to bring destruction upon them, a curse rather than a blessing.  Again the repeated theme is noted.  For sin there is a consequence, death.  To avoid that consequence we have one option.  God sent his son to provide that option and give us a covering for the sin we are born into.  Receiving the atonement of Christ for our sins covers us and gives us the mark mentioned in yesterday’s reading.  It protects from the spoken curse of sin.

This passage gives pause to consider today’s sanctuary.  Is it still a place where God’s presence can be found?  Or has it been littered with ‘idols’ from our own time and space?  Do we enter to worship Almighty God or are we distracted by other forms?  What about our inner selves?  The word tells us our bodies are his sanctuary.  1 Corinthians 3:16 states:

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Consider the coals.  Fire purifies, burns off the dross and leaves the pure element behind.  The Holy Spirit is often referred to as fire.  This is the fire that enters us and purifies our inner selves leaving us pure, a place where the Lord himself can reside.

picture taken from: http://smartsayingsfortoday.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/stirring-up-strife/

Let’s spend some time searching our lives and our beings for signs of anything that is being placed ahead of God.  Is there

anything “we can’t live without”?  Let our ‘sanctuary’ be free of any ‘idols’ that would grieve the heart of God.

Fire and peace; strange bedfellows…

Luke 12:49-53

 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.  Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!  From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.

‘Father will be divided against son

and son against father;

mother against daughter

and daughter against mother;

and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law

and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’ ”

 Jesus quotes from Micah 7:6 as a description of the division between world-held beliefs and Biblically based beliefs.  With His coming the division between the creation and the Creator deepens and widens.  Jesus provides a way back to unity and peace with God; a way that is despised by the enemy of creation. 

 Fire spreads and fire consumes.  Fire gives light and warmth and fire destroys.  Opposites? Yet the same agent.  Peace on earth? Or division?  Peace comes with unity in Christ and reuniting with the Creator.  That peace brings division between those who accept, believe and follow and those who choose not to.  Opposites? And yet same agent.  The suffering to be endured to enable the peace and fire was looked forward to because it was driven by love for the creation; mankind.  The result of that suffering, unites giving peace and ignites a fire that gives light and warmth; yet also a fire that consumes and destroys the self within us that would divide and destroy the creation.

 I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called — his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.  I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.  This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the  heavenly realms.