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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Daily Devotions

Are We Willing to Take Our Uniform Off?

2 kings 5_11

2 Kings 5

In this narrative, Naaman, the top general of the Army of the Syrians, had been stricken with leprosy. He had taken himself and his entourage to see the prophet Elisha to be healed of his disease. He clearly came expecting that the Prophet would run out of the door, and with honor, pomp, and circumstance and heal the great general.

That is not what happened at all; Elisha never even came out to meet Naaman. He sent a lowly messenger out to relay some simple instructions on how to be healed. Naaman was “wroth;” basically he was exceedingly and greatly angry. He clearly didn’t want to be healed in the way of some common man; he wanted to be healed in a manner appropriate to his station. Who was this prophet to tell this great general to take off his fancy regalia and take a swim in the the muddy Jordan River?

We are like that, too, are we not? God issues simple instructions and we balk at them when they do not fit our preconceived notions of ourselves. We want to be given the “big” callings, but not the small ones. We want to be seen, and we certainly do not want to be seen lowering ourselves to a place below what we believe our station to be.

When God give us instructions, are we willing to take off our uniform and do what He asks?

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They Will Mock You Too!

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2 Chronicles 30:1-12

Hezekiah was the 13th King of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and the son of the evil King Ahaz. During the time of the divided Kingdom, some kings were good Godly kings, and some were not. As we can see in the beginning of the passage, this good King had made a decision to bring the nation of Judah back to worship of the One True God.

Hezekiah sent out messengers to all the corners of his Kingdom in an effort to bring them all to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, which had fallen into disfavor in prior years. His command for the people to come was met with some general success in the Southern Kingdom of Judah; however the response in the King’s outreach to some of the Jews in the Northern Kingdom of Israel who had not been carried away by the Assyrians was not nearly so positive. In fact. their response to the messengers was to laugh at and mock them.

We are told elsewhere that there is nothing new under the sun, and is a true statement to this day. Even now, God has a message for those who have turned their backs on Him. Even now, God sends his messengers to tell them of sin, repentance and redemption. Even now, God’s messengers are laughed at and mocked.

What will we do when that happens? Hezekiah did not give up. We can see from more study onward in this story, that the King did bring the nation back to God. He never became perfect, and he made mistakes along the way; however, Hezekiah in his heart was always in the right place with God. How about us? What will be OUR reaction?

 

Do We Recognize Jesus?

John 1_29

John 1:6-34

In his day, John the Baptist was what we might call a “big deal.” This man living in the desert, wearing clothes made from skins and living on locusts and wild honey was something special. We know he was because God’s Word tells us he was; any person called by God for a mission is something special. He must have been special, because the crowds thronged to the Jordan river to hear his message of repentance and to be baptized. He was a big enough deal that the Pharisees came out to harass and question him; John was a big enough deal to make them nervous.

John the Baptist, of course, understood just who he was and what his mission was. He was to “make straight the paths of the Lord.” When Jesus showed up this day, John immediately recognized and affirmed just exactly who Jesus was, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In another gospel account, John the Baptist even said he, as big a deal as he was, was not even worthy to tie the shoe laces of Jesus.

How does the world react to Jesus today? Like John, we have seen the revelation of Him; we can all see it in the created world, and we can all read it in Scripture. We even have more than John the Baptist; we have history from the past and changed lives from today to testify of Jesus.

But, no, the world doesn’t react that way at all. “What sin?” we scream. “I don’t need some God to run MY life!” we yell. None of this matters. We have all sinned, and whether we own up to it or not matters not even a little bit. Jesus IS the lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world, and each of us individually. Believe on Him today, and He will take away yours as well.

 

Me and My House

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As we see this great sermon by Joshua to the people of Israel things were changing for the people. Moses had died, and now Joshua was in charge of the Israelites as they prepared to enter the promised land. His purpose here was to encourage them as they prepared to do this. Millions of words have been written on this, so mine are not significant or especially new, but just the vague thoughts in my mind as I read this verse, which I do often as it is one of my favorites.

Joshua was openly firm and committed to his position. He was, after all, speaking to the entire nation. No one listening could have possible been unclear about exactly where their leader stood in this issue. He did not waffle, or seek approval; he simply stated precisely where he stood.

Joshua was intentional. He said: “We will.” That status of Joshua and those he was personally responsible for was going to be no accident. He was planning the future based on the faith and obedience of those he was responsible for on a personal level.

Joshua set the tone and direction for his family. He never said, “They can decide,” or “They can sort it out for themselves and let me know.” Joshua declared with no shame the direction his family would go. He clearly stated his intention of taking them that way, and their obedience or lack of would be their own decision ultimately, but he was at least going to make his direction and leadership firmly known.

Joshua did not care what anyone else decided to do; he and his were going with God. He basically said, “You can all do whatever YOU want, but WE are going God’s way.” He did not seek the approval of the nation, or they vote or anything else. Joshua didn’t care what the rest of the nation did.

How many of us are like that? If we are the leaders of OUR families are we setting the tone and direction, or are we just letting them go whichever way the wind of culture and society blow them?

Be Sincere

Philippians 1_10

Paul, in this great Epistle on Christian joy, was offering numerous exhortations and encouragements to the believers at the church at Philippi. In this verse, Paul exhorted these believers to be “sincere.” Like many words we see translated into English from original languages, this one has far deeper meaning than just a cursory reading of the word. I am about as far from any type of Biblical linguist as one can be, but I hope I can capture some of the vividness this one simple word carries, which gives it far more color than just a simple reading of the word!

The simplest rendering in the English would be: free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings, and that certainly fits what Paul was exhorting these believers to be. From what I can glean the Greek word here also carries somewhat the same meaning. It apparently is from two Greek words meaning “sun,” plus “judge,” strongly giving the picture of holding up something in the sunlight to judge its quality. The English word sincere actually comes from a Latin word “sinceros,” meaning “without wax.” This is where things get interesting.

Pottery making, of course, was a big business in the Roman world as pottery items were used much in ever day life for many things. Then, as now, quality would have been important to those buying these items. Good potters would create items pure and unflawed; those artisans less skilled would often try to hide imperfections in their work with some combination of was and perhaps dust, in an effort to shade the imperfections temporarily while a purchaser ran home with their new item. Obviously use and exposure to heat and light would eventually show the flawed creation. Therefore, to be certified as “without wax” was a statement by the seller that the item for sale was pure and of high quality.

Isn’t that interesting? Are we sincere? Are we, “without wax,” in our Christian lives? Are we the real deal, or are we attempting to pass ourselves off as something that we are not? When we are exposed to the light and heat of both God’s Word and scrutiny by the non believing world, what is revealed?

What Are We Working For?

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Isaiah 65

Work stinks, right? I mean, the honest truth is that the things we do to earn our keep in the world just aren’t always that great, fun or fulfilling. We work too much, we don’t make enough or we have lousy bosses. We work ourselves to death to buy stuff we don’t actually need, get promotions we cannot deal with and even to “keep up with the Jones.” Oftentimes it seems almost as if our work were…..cursed.

It is cursed, of course. We all know this happened back in Genesis Chapter 3 when God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and told them just what their labors and toil would be like for the remainder of their days.

Genesis 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

It wasn’t meant to be that way, and it will not be that way forever. As with an earlier post, I am not interested in and eschatological debate; I speak of this within the context of what I believe the Bible teaches. Isaiah wrote a great deal, more than any other writer, of the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus on the Earth someday.

During this 1000 year reign of our Lord on the Earth, we will still work. God’s Word never really spells out just what everybody will be doing, but it is clear we will have duties, or work. This will be labor the way God intended it before we messed it all up. We will see the direct fruits and physical reward of our labor, and it will no longer be in vain.

Some days, that sounds so very good.

An extra thought

Work is good, and honorable in the sight of God; It will not, however, get you to Heaven

Looking Forward to Jesus’ Return – Yes and No

Acts 1_11

I bet 90 percent of the Christian blog world has just jumped up, looked at their phone or computer, and said: “Hey! What is that numbskull talking about?” Please, allow me to elaborate.

Of course I am looking forward to the return of Jesus. I am not really writing a dissertation on eschatology here, but I believe some day Jesus will come back and reign on the Earth for a 1000 years, followed by a New Heaven and Earth and the Eternal age of Heaven. That’s good stuff, and wonderful to contemplate. But on the Just a Thought post I did yesterday with that same scripture on it, J David Peever made the following comment:

it’s tough to look forward to our eternity but still see others that don’t have the same hope – how can life be worth living with out real hope?

That was a very sobering comment. It makes a point. There is a Christian so burdened by the idea of lost souls NOT going to Heaven with him, that he might actually wish that event be delayed. Wow. Now, my friend David is clearly excited about the return of Jesus himself, but also feels a great burden for the lost.

Of course when we actually do enter Heaven we will not be sad over the lost we left behind as God will “wipe away every tear.” What about now, though? Are we sad over the lost? Do we carry a burden for those who won’t be entering heaven with us, or be there waiting when we arrive?

An extra thought

If we don’t feel a burden for the unsaved, maybe we fail to actually understand just what we ourselves were saved from.

 

 

 

Every Ministry Counts

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Read 1 Kings 17:9 – 18:1

The great Prophet Elijah must have been puzzled. Early in our story he had apparently confronted the evil king Ahab and delivered God’s message of judgment in the form of drought in the land. Surely the prophet knew something great was coming! Then, immediately, he was sent to the brook Cherith, where he stayed for possibly a year being fed by a raven. Then, he was sent to the city of Zarepath to reside with a widow woman and her son. There, the great two year miracle of the flour and oil took place.

Surely Elijah wondered just why he was at this woman’s place for those two years.

She trusted. Elijah trusted. God provided. Think about this. If Elijah was by the brook for something approaching a year, and the drought lasted three years, then Elijah and that woman lived on nothing but the provision of God for two years!

What can we learn here relevant to reviving us as servants of God, and seeing revival in our families and churches?

God has a mission for each of us. It may be a difficult, challenging mission for which we feel totally unequipped. God will equip us. He does not, however, necessarily just hand us the stamina and ability to accomplish this mission. Sometimes we have to learn these things, and sometimes the lesson may seem painful.

If God calls us for a mission, and we accept and obey, He will provide for us what we need in order to be taken care of. It may not be the things we would have preferred, but it will be sufficient for our needs.

If God says it, it will happen. It may not be on our schedule, or in accordance with the way we would have done it, but it will happen.

A final note. This may be simply my personal spin on this, but it struck me as relevant. Elijah was there in that house, several meals a day, for possibly as long as two years. During that time, the flour and oil would deplete, then it would fill up. It would deplete, and it would fill up. It, however, never went dry. What do you think Elijah, the widow, and her son did all day? They were probably NOT watching TV. Is it possible they spent their time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another? If we spent more of our time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another perhaps, like the flour and oil, we would never become empty but be constantly refilled by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we would become REVIVED!

A extra thought

God may have a big plan for us, but if we are not willing to do His small plans we may never find out what the big plan is.

 

Good Friends, Bad Friends

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Yesterday, I wrote a bit about what a good friend might be. My good friend Insanitybytes popped over and left this(her blog is worth reading, by the way):

I have a terrible habit of winding up with all the wrong friends. Sometimes I joke about my life being a bit like starring in a really cheesy after school special on how not to have relationships. One reason why I can talk to kids about their relationship issues is because I’ve been there and done that at least a dozen times. One thing I do know, our friends are a good predictor of our future, our social groups influence us. It’s okay to have one flaky friend, but if they’re all like that, you’re in trouble.

What she has said there has substantial Biblical truth for sure. Obviously, we need to be out in the world telling people about Jesus, but that never means we fail to exercise discretion and common sense when we choose the people who will walk with and beside us in our daily lives. I don’t have much to say on this, as God has done a good job of explaining this really well. He mentions it a lot, which means two things in my experience. One is He means it. Two is we have a tendency to blow it.

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

Proverbs 22:24, 25 “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”

An extra thought

Pick your running buddies carefully, where you all run may stick with you for a long time

 

 

 

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