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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Perseverance

I keep hearing a certain word: perseverance. It came up when I was writing a devotion on The Sower and the four kinds of soils (Luke 8:5-8, 11-15) for the website www.Digdeeperdevotions.com. I saw it again today in a devotion about a blind dog and the lessons to be learned concerning perseverance from another website: www.Christiandevotions.com.

As I write a book on aging, I find perseverance is a very important part of “maturing.” Persevering doesn't mean hanging in there, gritting your teeth and getting through whatever comes along. It means having a source of strength that doesn't depend on physical or mental strength (Philippians 4:13). Our source must be God who strengthens us, empowers us through the Holy Spirit no matter what's happening around us.

God can soften our hard hearts so we can hear Him, God can help us grow deep roots in Him that can't be uprooted, God can cause us to grow as we persevere through the thorny parts of life. God causes us to bear fruit as we persevere. Some translations use the word patience which brings to mind long-suffering—all related. Persevering may seem passive because God and the Holy Spirit play an important role, but we have to not give up.

One of the results of suffering just as others are suffering is that we become compassionate and merciful toward one another. “Oh you have that problem too; I thought it was just me.”

I'm reminded of another verse, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Run your spiritual race with perseverance. There's incredible joy to come!






Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prophetic Fulfillment


For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:7-8 ESV)


My husband and I once climbed to the top of a small mountain where we were able to see not just where we had come from, but down the other side as well. How different our mountaintop experience would have been if a helicopter had simply placed us there! We would have still seen the wonderful vista, but we would have missed something along the way. We remembered the twisty trail over rock and stream that we'd climbed up. And we saw what lay ahead for us where we would go down the other side.

I thought of this climb as I was attempting to read through the whole Bible in order and went from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New. I felt like I was on top of a mountain with two views. Having recently read the prophets, I could imagine what Matthew must have felt as he wrote, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:22 quoting Isaiah 7:14

Hundreds of years after Isaiah died, his prophecy was fulfilled. Though the Hebrew word virgin could mean “a young girl,” it also meant “a girl who had never had sexual relations with a man.” Matthew told the story of how God fulfilled the prophecy given to Isaiah through Mary and Joseph, a young couple—they were engaged but did not have sexual relations until after she gave birth to a son conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew1:18-25).

Matthew is full of the fulfillment of prophecy. God gave over a hundred other prophecies recorded in the gospels foretelling the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. Why had God given these prophecies?

The prophets lived in troubled times: political upheaval, natural disasters, failed leaders—including religious leaders. The people rebelled and didn't want God telling them what to do. Their worship was hypocrisy. They said to God's prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:9-11 ESV).

But the prophets faithfully presented God's words. Those who listened and believed God were encouraged. They received hope that no matter how bad things were, God had a plan. In the prophecies, they saw God's sovereignty, His control over everything that happened, His faithfulness and loving-kindness toward His people. They saw God's promise that one day He would send a child, a son, a Mighty God, a Savior who would save His people from their sins.

As we read the Bible, we are on the mountaintop looking at both the past and the future of  God's people. Have you seen God's plan as it enfolded in the past and as it promises to enfold in the future?


Questions for Bible Study :


The people not only refused to hear God's prophets, they appointed false ones who would tell them what they wanted to hear. Read Amos 8:11-12. How did God respond? When did He break the silence?  See Luke 1:5-23, 57-79.

Read Luke 4:16-30. How did the people react when Jesus claimed He fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-3?  (Note He purposely left out part of verse 2 “the day of Vengeance” which refers to His Second Coming.) What was He claiming? Why couldn't they believe Him?

Read Isaiah 1:1-20. As you compare the times of the prophets and our own times, what likenesses and differences do you see? What do you know of God's plan for the end of the age in which we live? Does His plan for Jesus to return as Conqueror and Judge frighten or reassure you?






Monday, August 5, 2013

Perfect Husband

Who can find the perfect husband?
A man of noble character—
His worth beyond measure?
A man who inspires our full confidence,
and brings us good, not harm, all our days?
There is One . . .
Though not handsome or wealthy
He is the answer to all our longings.
From early childhood He learned scriptures;
He taught with wisdom and authority.
From His earthly father He learned carpentry
He spoke with His heavenly Father intimately—
long talks, even in the middle of the night.
He gave up glory in heaven and came to earth
To prepare His Bride
for an eternal, glorious life together with Him.

Published in Power for Living July 15, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013



I'm determined to start writing blogs on a weekly basis beginning NOW, probably on Sundays. I especially want to write up Bible Study notes. So come back in a week and see what I've written!


Preview of Bible Studies to come:

Major Themes in the Major Prophets

Major Themes in the Minor Prophets