Psalms 89:3-4 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. [Selah in Hebrew means “pause and ponder this!”]Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David [in the Hebrew New Testament it’s written - Yeshua HaMashiach ben David], the son of Abraham.
New Testament genealogies of Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Christ) all identify Him as the son of king David. It was universally understood from the Tenach (OT) that the messiah would be descended from David and that he would restore the Davidic monarchy to its ultimate and most universal expression, even that this king would reign and sit on the throne forever.
Why was Yeshua's identification with David so significant? One reason is that David is the only man in the Bible about whom the Lord said, this is “a man after My own heart”. Yet we know well David's imperfections ... adultery and murder -- so why would God say this about him? I believe it was David's lifelong love for and abandoned worship of the Lord, and also his contrite heart (Ps. 51) and the depth of his sorrow and repentance which showed this relationship to be the most important and precious in his life.
God isn’t expecting perfection from us -- His Son has provided that. Yeshua alone is the Man whose heart and actions are flawless. But David exemplified a man whose love and respect for his God were constant, if imperfect, a man after God's own heart. And this is the heart that God is seeking today, contrite, worshipful, and filled with respect and love for our God.
David provides a wonderful example for us who are as imperfect as he was. We may fall and fail miserably – but its how we get up that makes the difference. Our constant desire to preserve this most precious of all relationships will show that we too have a heart after God. I know I want to hear Him say, "Yes, you are truly someone after my own heart!"
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
We raised our children for many years on a large piece of land that had once been farm property. We built a home, put in a garden, and created a pond behind the house.
The pond had a dock and the Extension Service helped us to stock the pond with bass, catfish, and blue gill. The kids loved to fish. One time our daughter caught two fish on one lure!
But with the joy, came some issues. One of them was algae growth. Oh my, it was concerning to see the green “globs” increase and threaten to overtake our beautiful fishing spot.
My husband went to the feed store and talked with one of the men there. He recommended a product that, with just a small amount poured into the water, could swiftly destroy the algae.
The product was amazing. Within short order, every bit of algae was gone. No more masses of green organisms choking the pond. The water was clear and pristine again.
I thought of this recently in relationship to ministering to people with difficult emotional problems. I spend time with recovering addicts, helping them to get free. The life they have led, the pain experienced through personal choices, and the harsh things that have been done to them often result in a spectrum of spiritual attacks on their minds. Feelings of rejection, shame, isolation, abandonment by God and others, and many more distorted thoughts threaten to suffocate the clear living water of the Spirit and the presence of Christ for them.
Just as the algae attempted to overcome the clear water of our pond, so these thoughts, alien to God’s thoughts, threaten to suffocate the hearts and minds of people oppressed by them. Even many mature Christians struggle.
But we have a “product” too, that can, even with a small amount, slip into the clouded waters of our thoughts and eat away the lies. That product is the word of God. The Lord has reminded me recently that though it is unpleasant to have to do spiritual warfare and get up and fight yet again, the truth of the matter is the One who will really do the fighting is Him. When we feel beset by cloudy, hurtful, or unhealthy feelings, all we need to do is run to His arms, pick up the Word, and once again drop some of it into our circumstances. So we decree:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
“I am accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
I say, “I am loved and I belong to God. I am righteous in God’s sight always as a believer in Christ Jesus.” These new, true thoughts begin to consume and drive out the lies.
When we just put a drop of truth into our minds by decreeing the Word instead of giving into the relentless attack from the enemy, (which we think is simply our emotions) the waters of our mind’s thinking begin to clear. God fights for us and we get back up on our feet, reinvigorated, hope restored.
Fight like a saint!!
When entering my home, a vase of flowers greets you at the door. It is set there to bring color and honor to my house. In my kitchen, however, a completely opposite vessel stores my trash. It is of value to me, but in a different manner. Both, however, are vessels in my house - one for honor, one for dishonor.
This is the same picture the Apostle Paul painted for the Romans and to Timothy, his son in the faith, describing the vessels in God's kingdom. He said,
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor." (2 Timothy 2:20)
The great house represents the kingdom of God. The vessels describe the different types of people in God's kingdom. And this is where some get confused... why would God create some [people] for honor, and others for dishonor?
The first thing we must understand is Paul's choice of words. The word honor is also translated as noble, which can be used to describe rank or title; but in this instance, it is more appropriately used to describe an exalted moral or excellent character. The word dishonor can be translated as ignoble - a word we rarely hear or use in this day and age. But it simply means inferior, base, or of low character. So, one example describes a person of maturity, the other describes a person of less development.
Here's the interesting point: you would think it silly if you entered my home and found a trashcan greeting you at the door with a dozen roses. Thus, my trashcan cannot decide it wants to be a vase, anymore than I can effectively make it one. But this principle is not true in the kingdom of God. Paul said,
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
Did you catch that? He said, "If anyone cleanses himself from the latter..." The "latter" is the last example he gave - his description of a vessel of dishonor. The Apostle Paul said in God's house there are many vessels, some set out to bring honor and glory to God, others for base tasks. Yet, BOTH are in the house, meaning they belong to God.
We, as God's children, are vessels in His house. Yet, unlike my vase and trashcan that have no ability to change their function, God has given us complete freedom to decide. "If anyone cleanses himself, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master..." In other words, if anyone matures his character from his or her base beginnings, that one will be a vessel of honor in the King's home.
Paul used this same illustration in his letter to the Romans, but with a different example. He reminded them of how God used Moses and Pharaoh, showing mercy to one and hardening the heart of the other. Then he says,
"You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?' But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed, say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" (Romans 9:17-21)
These are very good questions.
The scriptures clearly indicate God hardened Pharaoh's heart, so it would seem the same would be true of people today, would it not? Yet, there is one major difference - JESUS. His life, death, and resurrection tore down the middle wall of separation between God and man, thus changing all the dynamics of God's house. And this is why the Apostle Paul said you and I now have the ability to choose whether we are vessels of honor or dishonor.
Going back to Paul's question to the Romans about the potter having power over the clay, we find Paul did not leave it unanswered. He reminded the Romans of the many places in Old Testament prophecy where God said,
"I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people," there they shall be called sons of the living God." (Romans 9:25-26)
In other words, God prophesied of this era in which we live, where unlovely and rejected vessels would be brought into the house and given the ability to become beloved children.
It's up to you. When you received Jesus as your Savior, you were brought into the house, no longer an outsider or an orphan. And in His great love, God said, "Now you decide... will you cleanse yourself from the dishonor and bring honor to my Name? Or will you continue functioning in the base character in which I found you?" It's the one time the Potter gives the clay a chance to decide his or her function. So, like a teacher asking one of her young students, I ask you, "What will you be when you grow up?"
As a child me and my friends stood knee-deep in restless water at the ocean’s edge, jumping over each incoming wave, squealing and laughing as we held hands and learned the art of not getting knocked down.
As we got older we ventured deeper and instead of jumping the waves, we rode them. The precise timing of wave riding challenged us to be in sync with the rhythm of the ocean. Too far behind the rise of the wave and you go nowhere. Too early ahead of the wave and you get creamed by the churning, white, foamy aftermath, sometimes pummeled to the ocean floor in its harshness. However, when we strategically positioned ourselves just behind the cap of the wave and were propelled by the current’s natural forces; we commandeered a smooth ride to shore.
At times, I feel like I am in life’s ocean. The first few waves are pretty rough, then a few small waves; and then it seems the waves are trying to drown me.
Have you felt this way at times? That life is determined to beat you up? That it's difficult to get a moment between the onslaught of waves to catch your breath? Well, hallelujah! Let’s rejoice! With the help of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we’re going to become great surfers!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 NLT
How can we rejoice at times like these? Because we know our God is the Master of the ocean of our lives. He provides the Holy Spirit to give us courage and strength to position ourselves as professional wave riders, expecting the waves of life to keep coming and looking for opportunities to ride each wave triumphantly to the shore.
As young believers, we jump over life's little turbulences holding on to Jesus’ hands. When we get knocked down a bit, we learn Jesus is still standing with us, His hands steady us as we get back up and try some more. Our trust builds in Jesus’ ability to keep us from drowning. Our familiarity with waves in our ocean deepens our understanding of life. Who can be mad at the ocean for having waves? It’s part of being an ocean. Who can be mad at God for having troubles? It’s part of life on earth.
As our walk with Christ becomes deeper, He gives us joy. We find happiness in the ocean of our lives and we learn the rhythm of life’s seasons of calm seas and rough seas. The gentle waves give us quieter times to simply enjoy the ocean. When the large waves come rolling in, we position ourselves in the palm of God’s hand and know the ride to shore will be an adventure that will not destroy us but will improve our surfing skills, our ability to live the abundant life.
God does not seek to destroy us with rough seas. However, the evil one would like us to think the waves will be our undoing. Satan's purpose is to have us focus on and fear them. God's purpose is the opposite.
The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 NLT
For all of us who are feeling the effects of rough waves, we can agree together these waves will not overtake us. Almighty God, Jehovah, is the master of the ocean of our lives and gives us the victory through our faith in his only begotten son, Jesus, who was sacrificed for our sins and rose again to rule the oceans and the universe with his righteousness. We welcome the waves in His name. Surf's up!
"But man is freer than all the animals, on account of his free-will, with which he is endowed above all other animals.”
- St. Thomas Aquinas
One of the gifts God gives us because He loves us is free will. If we did not have free will, then we would have no responsibility, either. We could wander through the days like robots waiting for the next thing to happen to us. But God did give us free will, and this puts tremendous responsibil¬ity on us. it also opens up to us possibilities of total joy and fulfillment.
God will give you all the tools you need on earth to fulfill the great plans He has for your life. But it's up to you to take up those tools and use them effectively. We are partners with God. We never have to do anything without His help, but He also expects us to make a willful choice to do our part.
Many are called to do great things, but not everyone is willing to take the responsibility for what they are called to do. God helps us, but He does not do everything for us. My brother died at age fifty-eight in an abandoned building in Los Angeles because he wasn't willing to take responsibility for his past mistakes and do the work involved in seeing his life restored. As long as someone else did everything for him he was fine, but as soon as he had to make right choices on his own, he always drifted back to living for the moment instead of making hard choices that would produce good results in the future.
I wanted to help my brother, but he would not help himself. God wants to help us, but we must do the part He gives us to do. We have free will, and we can make right and good choices just as easily as we can make bad ones. The choice is ours either way.
Love Yourself Today: “Thank You, Lord, for the gift of free will. Help me to exercise wisdom as I make my choices.”
If there's one truth that has the power to guide you into the fullness of life available to you in Christ, it's that God is present. Psalm 139:7-10 says,
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
No matter where you go, no matter what you do, God is with you. And he isn't just with you in an abstract sense, he is available for you to tangibly and powerfully experience. Psalm 23:4 says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of comfort. Throughout every season of your life, he is there ready to empower you, encourage you, strengthen you, and love you. He longs to meet you where you're at and provide all the guidance, love, comfort, and fatherly encouragement you need.
You see, when God meets with us he both satisfies our emotions and transforms us. He heals our hearts and empowers us to live the life he has planned for us. As our Father, he not only comforts us when we need him, but guides and helps us through the various seasons of life. God is present not only to love you emotionally, but practically as well.
Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." As a father teaches his son or daughter how to walk by upholding them, your God longs to uphold you through whatever decision, trial, season, or pain you are presently experiencing. He is not a distant God who just gives his children rules and tells them to go through life on their own. He is not a far-off Creator who leaves his creation to its own devices. He is working presently in our midst to shepherd us toward the fullness of life Jesus died to give us. There is no more present, loving, or powerful father than our God. There is no greater helper than the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. And there is no greater life than one lived in constant communion with our Creator.
Whatever season you find yourself in today, press into the heart of your heavenly Father. As you enter into guided prayer, allow God to fill you, satisfy you, comfort you, and love you. Allow him to shepherd you, empower you, uphold you, and encourage you. Experience the nearness of your heavenly Father and walk today in constant communion with your God who is present.
Guided Prayer:1. Meditate on the fact that God is present. Allow Scripture to fill you with the faith to encounter your heavenly Father today.
"Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?' declares the Lord." Jeremiah 23:23-24
"The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil." Zephaniah 3:15
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
2. Where do you need God to be present in your life? Where do you need his encouragement, love, guidance, and empowerment?
3. Ask God to make his presence known to you. Ask him to fill you with his love and nearness. Rest in his presence and allow him to love you and speak to you.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27-28
"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." 1 John 4:16
A vital part of Christian spirituality is making time to simply fellowship with God. Resting in the presence of the Lord puts all of life in perspective. It places God at a higher value than whatever else we could spend our time pursuing. It empowers us to live peacefully and purposefully. And it lays a foundation of God's love on which we can live out the calling given to us by our heavenly Father. Take time throughout your day to receive God's presence. Allow him to flood wherever you are with his love and encouragement. May your day be transformed by the nearness of God.
Extended Reading: Psalm 139FIRST 15 CALENDAR
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Tristan da Cunha Island is famous for its isolation. It is the most remote inhabited island in the world, thanks to the 288 people who call it home. The island is located in the South Atlantic Ocean, 1,750 miles from South Africa—the nearest mainland. Anyone who might want to drop by for a visit has to travel by boat for seven days because the island has no airstrip.
Jesus and His followers were in a somewhat remote area when He produced a miraculous meal for thousands of hungry people. Before His miracle, Jesus said to His disciples, “[These people] have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way” (Mark 8:2-3). Because they were in the countryside where food was not readily available, they had to depend fully on Jesus. They had nowhere else to turn.
God can certainly meet our needs, whatever our circumstances.Sometimes God allows us to end up in desolate places where He is our only source of help. His ability to provide for us is not necessarily linked with our circumstances. If He created the entire world out of nothing, God can certainly meet our needs—whatever our circumstances—out of the riches of His glory, in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
Dear God, thank You for all that You have provided through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You know what my needs are. Please reassure me of Your care and power.
We can trust God to do what we cannot do.
INSIGHT:The exact location where Jesus fed 4,000 people with only seven loaves of bread is unknown, but the fact that it was a remote site is an important detail because it indicates a lack of access to food. In this passage, as in so many others (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 20:34), Jesus acts compassionately toward those in need. The setting of this event allowed Jesus to show His great love and affection to hungry and weary people.
"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." John 15:15
You do not choose to be a friend of God. That is by invitation only. Only two people in the Old Testament were specifically described as “friends of God.” Abraham walked with the Lord so closely that God referred to him as His friend (Isa. 41:8). Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks with his friend (Exod. 33:11).
By His very nature God is a friend to us. He loves us with a perfect love and reaches out to us with salvation when we can offer Him nothing in return. It is quite another thing when someone has a heart so devoted to Him that God initiates a special friendship. David’s heart was totally devoted to God (1 Kings 11:4). Although David was not sinless, he loved God. David hated sin (Ps. 103:3); he loved to worship God (Ps. 122:1); he took genuine delight in God’s presence (2 Sam. 6:14); he loved to speak about God (Ps. 34:1); he was keenly aware of his transgressions (Ps. 51:3-4); and he delighted in offering gifts of song, thanksgiving, and praise, asking for nothing in return (Ps. 100). So closely did David walk with God that his words were on Jesus’ mind as He hung upon the cross (Matt. 27:46).
Jesus called His disciples friends. He said He would disclose to them things that the Father had shared with Him, because they were His friends. There developed such an intimate friendship between them that He would share what was on His heart with His friends.
If you cannot describe yourself as a friend of God, commit yourself to seek after God with all your heart.
Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me." Mark 14:18
Surely I would never betray the Lord! Each disciple earnestly pled his loyalty to Christ. As they reclined together in the comfort and security of the upper room, in the presence of their Lord, the disciples could not imagine themselves ever wavering in their loyalty to Christ. Yet Jesus looked at them and said, “One of you who eats with Me will betray Me!” How was it possible to share such an intimate and profound moment with the Savior and then rush so quickly toward betrayal and spiritual failure?
During the intense pressures of Gethsemane and the cross, the disciples did things they never thought they would do. They had no idea how cruel and hateful the world around them would be to their Lord. Jesus had cautioned them that the world would hate them because it hated Him (John 15:18-21; 16:33).
But only Jesus knew the full extent of the temptation they would face. In the pressure of the moment the heart does surprising things. Scripture had predicted Judas would betray Jesus, despite having walked with Him for over three years. But Peter, too, would deny Him, and all would forsake Him.
How quickly the surroundings of your life can shift from the security and tranquility of an upper room to the harsh reality of Gethsemane and the cross. Guard your heart. Listen now to the Lord’s gentle warning: the failure that was possible with His first disciples is also possible with you. You, too, are capable of forsaking Jesus, just as the first disciples did. If Jesus is warning you of an area in your life in which you could fail Him, heed His words today!
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15
Perhaps you consider yourself a forgiving person, but you are now facing someone whom you cannot forgive. Whenever you struggle to forgive, you need to revisit what you were like when God first forgave you. Ephesians 2 indicates you were a “foreigner” and a “child of wrath.” Yet God forgave your most grievous sin and rebellion against Him. While you were still rejecting God, Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8). This being so, how can you refuse to forgive those who sin against you? Forgiveness is not a spiritual gift, a skill, or an inherited trait. Forgiveness is a choice. Jesus looked down on those who had ruthlessly and mockingly nailed Him to a cross, yet He cried out: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). How, then, can we refuse to forgive those who have committed offenses against us?
Jesus said that the measure in which we are forgiving is the same standard God will use in forgiving us. God’s ways are very different from ours. God’s forgiveness is not based on standards we determine, but on the standards He established in His Word. God allows for no exceptions when it comes to forgiveness.
As we truly understand God’s gracious forgiveness in our lives, we will naturally want to express this same forgiveness to others (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Before you ask God for His forgiveness, take a moment to examine the condition of your relationships. Would you want God to forgive you in the same way you are presently forgiving others?
1 Thessalonians 5:11