Monday, January 20, 2014

Trust. Do. Dwell. Feed.

Psalm 37:3  (NKJV) Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Trust. Do. Dwell. Feed. All imperatives, aka, commands. Trust in the Lord, AND do good. It sees that doing good comes from trusting in the Lord. And rightly so. We cannot do good when we do not trust in the Lord.

Dwell in the land. FEED on HIS faithfulness. I love that. Feed on God's faithfulness. One definition for that word can also be "graze." Graze on God's faithfulness. Don't just feed once or twice a week. Graze on His faithfulness daily. How do we do that? Spend time with God in prayer and in His Word. Focus on what God has done for you.

He provides us food. He provides us fuel for the car. He provides work. (Yesterday He got me into a car with a baby locked inside.)

May God fill you with a hunger that can only be satisfied by and through Him.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Seventh-day Adventist Philosophy of Music

A Seventh-day Adventist Philosophy of Music

Monday, November 11, 2013

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Here is something I've been working on. It's not done yet. I will update it as I go and when it's done.

Matthew 6:33
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Seek first the kingdom of God. Seek FIRST the kingdom of God. But only only that, seek the righteousness of God also. Then God will provide what you need. God wants to provide for you. Eternally More important than that, however, is that God wants a relationship with you. But that can’t happen if we are not focused on Him. That’s why He tells us to seek Him first.
But what does it mean to seek God? In the original Greek, the word for seek means to seek in order to find; to seek after, aim at, strive after. More interestingly, it also means "to crave, demand something of someone." This word is also an imperative, meaning it’s a command. It isn’t one of those things where you say, “Do you think you could, maybe, possibly, with cherries on top, seek God?”
Jesus is commanding us to seek God. And as already stated, this is not a normal seeking. Seek God as though He is your only chance at life, because He really is your only chance at life. Seek God like you would when you rip the house apart looking for your missing wallet. But don’t stop there. Crave God. Crave His presence. Crave God’s wisdom. Crave His love. Crave time with Him first thing in the morning. He wants to be found of you. He wants to spend that time with you. All you need to do is take that first step.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”  Have you fallen away from God? Seek Him and live. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Not only will God meet you where you are; not only will He forgive your sins; not only will He embrace you with open arms; but God will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” And to me that is awesome. The God of all the universe sings over me. Me, of all people.
 Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Seek - to seek in order to find; to seek after, aim at, strive after; TO CRAVE; kingdom - royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; So could one say, "Crave first the royal power of God?" Crave God. Crave His power for your life. Crave His transforming power. Crave His blessings. Crave His love. Crave God.
To be the subject of a kingdom, means you have, at least to some degree, a relationship with the king of that land. He is the king, you are the citizen. He is the ruler, you are the servant. So one could also say it this way: “Seek first a relationship with God, and His righteousness.” God wants a relationship with each and every one of us. He wants us to be in His Kingdom. But that cannot happen if we are not seeking God and seeking to have a relationship with Him. You don’t get to know someone if you do not have a relationship with them. You cannot be close to someone, even someone thousands of miles away, if you do not have a relationship with them.
But keep in mind that God is not a vending machine. He can and does provide for us. He can and does grant us some of our hearts desires. But God wants us to crave HIM. We need to crave God. We need to crave His presence. We need to crave Him so much that we will stop at nothing to have that blessed and sacred time with Him.  There is so much more to being a Christian than what God can do for us. (Imitation is the highest form of flattery). So to, the ultimate form of worship is to be like God.
But how do you seek God when things are going wrong? How do you seek Him when you are looking for a job, but can’t find one? How do you seek God when you just don’t want to?
Job was a person who did just that. Job 13:15 says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” It’s safe to say that Job was going through a very difficult time. If anyone would’ve been expected to complain about his circumstances and to avoid God, it would be Job. But he did the opposite. He still praised God. He still sought God. He refused to give up that relationship with God.
Another great example is also the prophet Daniel. Evil men were after him trying to get him out of the way. His friends were thrown in a furnace. Daniel himself was thrown in a den of hungry lions. But these men still kept seeking God, and His righteousness. And as a result, not only were they saved out of their dire predicaments, but God used them to be a powerful witness to many people.
There will be times where trials will come our way to test us. Will we seek God during these hard times? If we do, we will come out of these trials stronger in our faith in God. If we do not, then we cannot expect to become closer to God. It’s vital to praise God and seek Him in these hard times. Often it is in these hard times where we can receive some of the greatest blessings from God, if we will just trust Him, praise Him, and seek Him.
To add a personal story here, being unemployed is not easy. It’s difficult when you know you won’t have enough money from just one paycheck to pay all of the bills. It’s especially difficult when your child is in a private school that costs half of what you pay in rent for your home. But God is faithful. It is during this time that I need to seek God, especially when I feel like I don’t want to. But again, it is during times like these that I can receive some of the greatest blessings, if I just make the choice to seek God, instead of wallowing in self-pity. Some days it’s easier and others it’s not so easy. The devil will not let it be easy. But we must persevere. God will give us the strength that we need if we seek Him first. By looking at God and seeking Him first, everything else will be less difficult to deal with. There is nothing that God and you can’t handle. Just seek Him first and put Him first.
Seeking God in every circumstance is vital. We cannot have a relationship with Him if we do not. It’s the same in marriage. The marriage will not work if you do not tackle problems together. If one makes a mistake, the marriage will come out stronger if the other is forgiving and loving. Seeking God includes being reconciled to Him.
Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We seek after God because He made the first move, and sought after us. He is reconciling us to Himself “by the death of his Son” and as a result, “being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” 
Talk to Him. Let Him talk to you through His word. Tell Him all of your joys, sorrows, troubles, everything. Talk to Him as you would your best friend. To quote John Piper, get alone with God every morning. Preach His word into your heart. Preach his word into your heart until you sing with confidence that you are new and that you are loved. God’s word is His chosen means of communicating with us. Everything we need to know about life is contained in that Holy Book. Every lesson we need to learn, a solution for every problem that we face, is contained in the Bible. Do you think that God would give us His Holy Word without including in it everything we need to know? God is too loving to withhold any good thing from us.
Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” And again God’s word says, in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Every piece of knowledge and wisdom necessary for life, is found in the Bible. But we must mine it out.
Ellen White says this: “There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures.... The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden. They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort. Those who take only a surface view of the Scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk of the contradictions of the Bible, and question the authority of the Scriptures. But those whose hearts are in harmony with truth and duty will search the Scriptures with a heart prepared to receive divine impressions. The illuminated soul sees a spiritual unity, one grand golden thread running through the whole, but it requires patience, thought, and prayer to trace out the precious golden thread.” The Faith I Live By, p. 11
Talking with God is vital. We need that communication with Him. “Opening the Heart to a Friend—Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him. {Pr 8.4} When Jesus was upon the earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon Him. And the assurance He gave them that their petitions should be heard, is assurance also to us.—(Steps to Christ, 93.) {Pr 8.5}”
Prayer and study of the Bible is how we can get to know God. It is how we seek God. It is how that relationship between God and us is formed. It’s like having a pen pal. You write to someone whom you’ve never met in person, but through letters, you get to know them. The Bible is God’s letter to us. It is God’s love letter to us. If we want to know how God feels about us, read the Bible. If we want to know what our duty to God is and to our fellow man, read the Bible. It’s all there, everything we need to know.
The service of God is to be our highest interest. When Jesus was speaking the words of Matthew 6:33 to the crowd on the mountain, many were wondering how following Him would help their worldly persuits. But that view is all wrong. We are to make Jesus and a relationship with Him our highest goal. When we do this, the promise is that God will provide for our every need.
Is your bank account low? Or under? Seek God. Are your kids addicted to drugs? Seek God. Are you addicted to drugs? Alcohol? Pornography? Seek God. No matter what the problem is, seeking God is, quite literally, the answer to all of life’s problems and successes. Trust me, I know how hard it is to seek God in the difficult times. When hard times come, the last thing I want to do most times is to seek God. But this is the only way the problem will be solved.
When I seek God, when I make knowing God my highest priority, then God does the rest. He will provide a job for me that He wants me to have. He will provide the money we need to pay the bills. God will be there and provide as long as I seek Him.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Joash the King of Judah

I finished reading the story of Joash this Sabbath morning. It is an interesting story. You can find it in 2 Chronicles 22-24. Joash is hidden because an evil lady killed "all the royal heirs of the house of Judah." (2 Chronicles 22:10). In verse 11, Joash is hidden by Jehoshaeath, the wife of Jehoida the priest. They kept him hidden "in the house of God for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land." (2 Chronicles 22:12).

Then Jehoiada and the people made a plan and made Joash king. Of course this made Athaliah very unhappy and so she yelled, "Treason! Treason!" (2 Chronicles 23:13). But she was taken and killed. "Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the Lord’s people." (2 Chronicles 23:16).

And as long as Jehoiada was alive, Joash did well. It was when he died that Joash strayed. In 2 Chronicles 24:15, Jehoiada died. In verse 17-18, "the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass." (2 Chronicles 24:17-18).

They left the true God to serve idols. I don't get it. Joash was doing good. But when Jehoiada died, and the leaders of Judah came to him, he abandoned his faith. I find it interesting that it was the LEADERS of Judah that encouraged Joash to go astray.

But God was merciful. He allowed things to come their way to bring them back to Him. When we stray, God allows things to come our way to get our attention back on Him. He loves us and wants nothing more than for us to be in Heaven with Him. But we can't do that if we are not following Him.

But God not only allowed things to happen to Judah, "He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen." (2 Chronicles 24:19). God spoke through Zechariah the son of Jehoiada saying, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’”(2 Chronicles 24:20). But Joash the king commanded him to be put to death.  

It's interesting how it was the leaders of the kingdom who lead the people astray. It was the king who commanded Zechariah to be killed. People who refuse to give up their sins don't like the people of God. The people of God point out things that are sinful (in a loving but firm way) and those who don't want to give up those sins don't like to hear it.

This story is in the Bible as a lesson for us all. God does not want us to abandon Him but He does not force our will. He allowed the people to make their own choices. He tried to bring them back to Him, but again, He allowed them to choose what they wanted. He does not force people to follow Him. 

I know I've gone astray several times in my life. But God is always there to welcome me back.

 But one day God's people will no longer have to worry about being persecuted. One day, earth will be purified from sin. Jesus is coming soon folks. :-)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Come Unto Me

Come Unto Me…
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus speaks these words to us all. He desires to give us rest. Rest from temptations. Rest from trials. Rest from heartache. The list goes on. Whatever it is, Jesus wants to give us rest.
This is a promise that offers multiple blessings. We may find deliverance from temptations. We may find strength for trials. And we may find healing for heartache.
Everyone who is a son or daughter of Adam is burdened. For instance, we are all burdened with sin. But we are not left to bare this burden alone. These are a few of the promises we may find in the Bible where Jesus is offering to save us from sin.
John 6:37 – “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”
Psalm 103:2-5 – “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
And finally,
Isaiah 43:25 – “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
There are many more than this. Jesus wants to save us from our sins. He died to save us. He paid the highest price possible. Because of His death, we can be saved. Will we let Him save us?
By resting in Jesus, we may also find rest from temptations. Sure, they will still come. But by resting in Jesus, we can resist them. By resting in Jesus, temptations lose their power. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Jesus resisted temptation the very way we are to resist it. He rested in God. In Matthew 4, to every temptation the devil threw at Jesus, Jesus responded with an “It is written.” When tempted to turn the stones into bread, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Even Job said, in Job 23:12, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”) When tempted to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus responded with, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” When tempted to worship the devil in order to receive the riches and kingdoms of the world, Jesus said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
We may also find rest from heartache. Jesus wants to heal us from our heartaches. Has your heart ever been wounded? I know mine has. And it doesn’t matter how deep the wound is. Jesus will heal us if we will let Him. All we have to do is ask in faith. The centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant. The nobleman asked Jesus to heal his son. Jesus healed paralytics, lepers, those who were possessed, and many others.
In the book Desire of Ages, page 329, author Ellen White says,
“The Elder Brother of our race is by the eternal throne. He looks upon every soul who is turning his face toward Him as the Saviour. He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are our wants, and where lies the strength of our temptations; for He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He is watching over you, trembling child of God. Are you tempted? He will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. Are you wounded? He will heal. The Lord “telleth the number of the stars;” and yet “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:4, 3. “Come unto Me,” is His invitation. Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden Bearer. The rest that Christ offers depends upon conditions, but these conditions are plainly specified. They are those with which all can comply. He tells us just how His rest is to be found.”
In 2 Kings 19 King Hezekiah faced an attack from Sennacherib. When he received the letter from his enemy, he was distressed. But He did the right thing. He took this letter and spread it "before the LORD." He placed his troubles in God's hands. And God delivered. An angel came down and destroyed Sennacherib’s army.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced a similar issue. He faced annihilation from an army composed of three different nations. These armies were bent on destroying Judah. But Jehoshaphat, like Hezekiah, did the right thing. He placed his troubles in God’s hand. I like how he said it. In verse 12 of 2 Chronicles 20, he said, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.
We may not know what to do in times of trouble. And we don’t have to know. We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus and rest in Him. And He will tell us what to do. With Jehoshaphat and Judah, God told His people to sing and He would take care of their enemies. And that’s exactly what happened. Judah sang, and God conquered their enemy.
We are powerless to defend ourselves from sin and all that comes with sin. We were born sinful and thus have no power of our own against it. That is why we need to rest in Jesus. He is our way out of temptation. He is our way to healing. He is our salvation from sin. Only through Jesus can we get out of this life alive. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the Gentle Healer.
To borrow another quote from the book, The Desire of Ages, page 528:
“To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly,” 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience.”
            We may face discouragement, temptation, heartache, and a million other things. But by resting in Jesus, by claiming the promise in Matthew 11:28-30, we may know by faith that Jesus is near to us.
            This is a promise I struggle all the time with accepting. It’s hard for me to accept that Jesus is here, that He wants to offer me all of these blessings. It’s a daily battle for me. And it may be the same way for many of you. And that is all the more reason for us to claim this promise. We need that rest in Jesus. We need His power. We need His forgiveness. We need to be totaltly and completely dependent upon our Savior and Redeemer.
            Just in closing, I want to tell you these words to the chorus of the song Unredeemed by the group Selah. Speaking of all of the situations in life that have caused us pain or other trials, all of the reasons why we need to rest in Jesus…the chorus goes like this:
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

            Let us all rest in Jesus.