“4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance” February 28

 

4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance

When the Nation of Israel followed God’s commands to observe a Sabbath year every 7 years and a Year of Jubilee every 50 years, God provided so much on the 6th year that it sustained them for 3.

With all the talk today about hard economic times, how can we learn to rest in God’s provision? Here are 4 ways to enjoy true abundance whatever the circumstances around us.

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 25
Psalm 28.6-9
Proverbs 10.19-21
Mark 6.30-56

 

4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance

 

Leviticus 25:

True Abundance & the Year of Jubilee

 

The idea of a Sabbath has always been an important principle in the Bible. God rested on the 7th day and has instructed us to take time to rest, as well. Sabbath isn’t just about rest, it’s also about refocusing on God.

The children of Israel were not only to observe a Sabbath each week. There was to be a Sabbath year every seven years. This was a year for the land, as well as the people, to rest. This allowed the nutrients in the soil to be replenished while it kept the people focused on God. It was a reminder that everything, including the land, was the Lord’s. They were merely stewards over it. That is still true today with whatever the Lord has blessed us: jobs, property, talents, even our children.

Then every fifty years, after seven sets of seven years, there was to be a year of Jubilee! This was an additional year of rest from labor, but even more importantly, all the Israelites who had fallen on hard times were to be restored, released from indebtedness and given back family property. This would be even more important once they had gone in and taken possession of the Promised Land because God would allocate land to each of the twelve tribes for an inheritance.

An amazing thing would take place leading up to the year of Jubilee. On the sixth year God would provide such abundance that it would sustain the people for three years! What a beautiful picture of God’s provision!

With all the talk today about hard economic times, what does the year of Jubilee picture for us? What can we do that will help us rest in God’s provision? Continue reading

“Lessons from a Fish’s Belly” December 18

 

Important Lessons from a Fish's BellyYou may think you know the story of Jonah, but there is so much more for us to learn from his book. There is the fact that disobedience and running from God can land us in some pretty nasty circumstances. But there is, also, a great lesson in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive in the rest of the story.

Our New Testament reading is from Revelation 8 with the beginning of the seven trumpet judgments. The first four are horrible enough, but before the fifth one sounds an angel cries, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet …”

 

Today’s Readings:
Jonah 1-4
Psalm 144.1-8
Proverbs 30.6-9
Revelation 8.1-13

 

Lessons from a Fish’s Belly

 

Jonah 1-4:

The Real Lesson from Jonah

 

Most of us grew up hearing the story of Jonah in Sunday school or at least had some vague idea of what it was all about. But there is so much more to be learned from this little book.

Jonah received a call from God to go to the capital of Assyria, the city of Nineveh. The Assyrians were the enemies of Israel and Judah. Instead of obeying God he got on a ship going in the opposite direction only to have God bring a fierce storm against the ship. He ended up being thrown overboard, though reluctantly, by the crew when they realized that it was the only way to save the ship and themselves. Jonah 1:

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

They recognized God’s hand in what was happening, and the text says they feared Him and offered sacrifices to Him. Even God’s judgment can cause people to turn to Him.

Back to Jonah himself. Don’t you wonder what it was like to be inside that fish’s belly for three days and three nights? God knows just how to get our attention. We don’t know everything that went through his mind, but chapter 2 gives us some insight:

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said.
“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

Even though he had been disobedient and was running from God, he turned back to Him in his time of trouble.

He knew God was faithful:

4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

7 “ When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD.”
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Chapter 3:

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

Notice, God did not say, Continue reading

“Three Denials Later” June 10

 

Three Denials Later - God’s Word has much to say about pride, humility, and wise living. When we heed its counsel, it can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to embarrassment, humiliation, or disaster. Even within Jesus' inner circle, prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him. Yet, three denials later, as he heard that rooster crow, he must have experienced the worst grief and humiliation of his life!God’s Word has much to say about pride, humility, and wise living. When we heed its counsel, it can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to embarrassment, humiliation, or disaster.

Even within Jesus’ inner circle, prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him. Yet, three denials later, as he heard that rooster crow, he must have experienced the worst grief and humiliation of his life!

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 7 & 8
Psalm 72.8-16
Proverbs 18.12-13
John 18.19-40

 

Three Denials Later

 

John 18.19-40:

rooster

I couldn’t help thinking about today’s passage from proverbs when I read John 18 about Peter’s denial. Prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him (Jn. 13.37).

Jesus had answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (Jn. 13.38).

Now here in chapter 18 Jesus has been arrested:

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

Verse 25:

25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”

He denied it and said, “I am not!”

26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.

Can you imagine, three denials later, when he heard that rooster crow and the words of Jesus came flooding back? The heartbreak Peter must have felt! The shame!

 

 

In our pride, we too, often think we could never sin in “such and such” a way, so we let down the guardrails, pridefully thinking we can handle “it.”

So we start having lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex, because … we’re just friends.

We contact an old flame on FaceBook just out of curiosity.

We go out with an unbeliever. After all, we’re not getting married! It’s just a date!  Continue reading

September 21 “When life hurts”

failureIn this life we’ll be hurt and mistreated, at times, sometimes even by those closest to us. The temptation is to give in and become bitter or vengeful. But our example is Christ who prayed even for His betrayers.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 33 & 34
Psalm 109.1-5
Proverbs 25.25-26
2 Corinthians 12.1-21

 

Isaiah 33 & 34:

God’s provision for the faithful

Chapter 33.15-16 says:

15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment, He makes provision for those who remain faithful.

But I couldn’t help noticing the two phrases in verse 15, “who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed” and “and shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” I don’t believe that means we shut our eyes and ears to the reality of evil and the need to know what is going on in our country and our world. But it seems to me it would apply to seeing and hearing those things for entertainment or enjoyment. I think each of us must think about what that means in respect to our movie, TV, and video game industries and even our own habits. Continue reading

June 10 “Wise living & God’s provision”

God’s Word has much to say about wise living and, if heeded, can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to disaster especially in tough economic times.

wise living

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 7 & 8
Psalm 72.8-16
Proverbs 18.12-13
John 18.19-40

1 Kings 7 & 8:

God’s gracious provision in tough economic times

God often used famine to bring judgment on rebellious nations, but He always provided for those who kept their eyes on Him.

You remember, in yesterday’s readings, Samaria was suffering from a terrible famine because the Syrians had the city under siege. It was a common method of warfare to cut off all the supplies to a city to starve them out. But now, at God’s instruction, and without a battle, the siege comes to an end and the famine is ended.

Then in chapter 8, the writer injects another story about famine and God’s provision. For a number of reasons, many Bible scholars believe this was something that had actually happened earlier chronologically. The famine in both cases came as a result of God’s judgment on idolatry and apostasy, but in both cases, we see God’s provision. In chapter 7 the provision came as a result of God’s decree and without any requirement from His people. He simply extended grace to the whole city.

But in chapter 8, we see a beautiful illustration of God’s provision even in the midst of continued national judgment. He not only warned and provided for this woman, but when it was over, restored everything she had lost.

wise living

As believers, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord and trust in His provision. But we also need to heed the warnings that He provides, primarily through His written Word. God’s Word has much to say about wise living and, if heeded, can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to disaster especially in tough economic times. Continue reading