He delivers and rescues…

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.

Daniel 6:25-28

 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you.

 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.

 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”

 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

 

Throughout the Bible are events that have been written down to be passed on to the generations that follow. These events share common themes and teachings. One principle that appears often is stated this way; when we set a trap for someone else we will more than likely end up caught in it ourselves. Unfortunately we also see another principle here; what we do  affects those around us, usually the ones closest to us. The men who were attempting to eliminate Daniel motivated by jealousy, were given the same treatment but not just them; it extended to their families. They did not have a faith in God to protect them; their hearts were devious and evil and it came back on them without mercy. God’s mercy, grace and love is extended to all . We must seek it and receive it to possess it. We should be grateful and ever praising the Lord for that mercy and grace.

 

he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,

 

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Where is the focus?

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.

Ezra 4:1-8

 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.”  But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.  And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.  In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.  Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:

God moved upon the heart of the leader of the people; they were given grace and a directive to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  They got as far as the foundation in the building then took their eyes from the God who sent them and permitted those already in the land to intimidate them.  The work stopped and the favor they had been granted was lost.

Do we find favor, begin a work then allow a hindrance to enter and the work falls?  “Keeping our eyes on the mark of the high calling (the target), let us move forward to the prize…”  Avoid hindrances, keep our eyes on Christ and we will be overcomers!  The battle is ours, we cannot lose our focus.

 

Disclaimer:  if ads are appearing anywhere on this page it is because they are placed there by WordPress not by me.  I have read the information on ads and in order to be ad free now, Word Press charges a fee.  I apologize for any inconvenience these ads may cause you and if they are inappropriate please message me.  Thank you, gracie

No one is greater…

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.

I Corinthians 12:12-31

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

 

Even in the gifting  and calling we receive, God is our authority.  And in those giftings and callings, no one is greater than the other.  We determine what our gifting is through much prayer and carry it out in the Lord answerable only to him.  We rejoice in what we receive and we fulfill the will of the Lord in so doing.  When we have this attitude, there is no division among us and we are demonstrating the love of God and neighbor that  we have been commissioned with.

Gifts and graces…

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.

Romans 12:1-8

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;

the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Are we any better than anyone else because we possess something they don’t?  The truth presented here is no, we are not.  Are we different from one another?  Do we possess different gifts?  Are some believers and some  not?  Yes.  Those differences are not comparative.  They do not elevate one above another.  They simply are.  And in that mix it is possible to do great things for the kingdom of God.  In that mix it is possible to encourage, develop, and bless one another.  In that place, God is pleased. So whatever  gift we possess let us use that gift for the glory of God and not ourselves. Let us also be mindful that what we have, any ability or gifts were received from God.  Keeping that perspective, we then become valuable to each other and to the Lord.  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The olive tree and its branches…

Romans 11:22-24

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

The sovereignty of God is displayed.  He shows goodness and he shows severity. (other translations state sternness)  The Gentile is grafted into his family because they believe, the Jew has been cut-off from their place because they do not believe.  It has nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with faith.  When we believe, we are grafted in and become a member of God’s family.  That holds for both the Gentile and the Jew.  We are not there by birth, by race, because our parents’ had faith.  The only requirement for being grafted into the olive tree of God’s family is to believe Him.  He took care of the rest.  So the family of humanity all equally have opportunity to enter the family of God.  What is required is faith.  He shows goodness and severity dependant upon our belief.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.” 

 

We are all branches…

Romans 11:11-21

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,  if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.  For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,  do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

olive branch

There is hope. That hope is part of faith.  That hope says when we believe and receive the  gift of grace; God’s forgiveness, mercy and redemption, we are grafted into his family.  The illustration of the olive tree gives fair warning.  The branches broken off and removed were broken because of lack of faith and belief.  They were not broken to graft in the new branches.  Paul warns us

do not be arrogant, but be afraid…”  (NIV version)

There is a fear that is proper for it reminds us of who and what God is.

  “Do not be haughty, but fear.”

Remember that if

 “God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either…”  (NIV version)

Again a reminder, the natural branches, those of the Israelites, were not spared due to their lack of faith and belief.  Consider this:

 ” remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

Rather we thank him for the privilege of being grafted into his family through faith.  Thank him for the nourishment received from him the root of the tree. There is a proper attitude when standing before Almighty God.

“…you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

 

The olive tree

Submission demonstrates freedom…

Acts 21:17-26

And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.  When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;  but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except  that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”   Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

 Showing submission to the leadership of the day and time, Paul complies with the request.  The question remains; if Paul was teaching one direction why did he act out its opposite?  If Paul taught we are free to worship in spirit and truth as Jesus said, we are free of the bondage of the law, then why did he comply with the laws?  Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.  All the other elements of the law stem from these two.” (My paraphrase)  We comply out of love for God and one another even if we are free from its bonds.  Paul could either refuse or comply, he chose to comply.  He chose to love and encourage, he chose to defer to the wishes of the others and in doing so demonstrated his total freedom, to do or not to do.