This past weekend, we were entertained by the winter storm known as Jonas. In our immediate area, we had -on average- about 18 inches of snow. It was somewhat of an interruption to our normal routine but when we compare this to what could have been, we have cause to be thankful. The weather that we have is governed by God and what he gives us he knows and approves of.
The snow falling was beautiful in so many ways and watching it fall led me to think of a passage in Isaiah 55:8-11. In that passage we read, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
God’s thoughts and ways are different from ours. I am thankful for that. I would hate to think that we are an equal to God but many look at God in that light and some people place God in a secondary position or just plain ignore him. God controls the weather just as he does everything else in his creation. I am often amused at the ways of man explaining the weather, climate or anything that comes to mind. God has been, is, and always will be in control. Understanding his ways or thoughts is not a subject to debate but to accept and appreciate. Just as the falling snow will be ultimately used for our good so does the word of God go out to never return as useless or of no effect. There is purpose in everything that comes into our lives but we may not see that while we complain or bemoan our circumstance just as we may complain or bemoan an inconvenience as the weather.
As you looked out the window at the snow or as you headed out to shovel, did you think to thank God for sending it? Do you read and study the Bible knowing that “it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” God’s word was sent for you and I. His words will accomplish what he pleases and that may be in conflict with our wishes but after all…he is God. God’s word will accomplish his goals and prosper those in a position to receive. Don’t just stand there looking; be ready to receive what God sends your way. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Have you ever felt tied down, burdened, defeated? In Galatians 5:1, we read “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Paul writing here cautions the Galatians to take heed of the judaizing teachers who wanted to bring them back under the bondage of the law. Today, just as in the day of Paul, there may be some who walk around in bondage. We allow ourselves to be bound by this world and walk away from the liberty God gives us. Satan is at his best when we give in to the bonds of this world. 1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” God’s word says “all that is in the world” is not of the Father…is not of God but is of the world. If we put our desires above God, we have become entangled with the world’s version of the “yoke of bondage.” If we give in to the bonds of this world, we will see our study of God’s Word suffer, our prayer life become nonexistent, and attending God’s house becomes a matter of low priority. Those times that we go to God requesting his help...is our relationship in a proper place to deserve his help?
When we read, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” there is a responsibility on us to not leave the principles of God. Stand fast simply means to remain true to God. Don’t leave, don’t waver, and don't compromise. Clearly, it's not always easy and sometimes, it's just downright hard but God does not ask us to do things we are not able to do in and through him. Being free from the bondage of this world only comes from knowing Jesus as your personal Savior. Mankind will make lofty promises but only God can set you free and then you will be free indeed. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
2 Peter 2:17 “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.”
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. An unbeliever may have great faith in his religion, but his religion can do nothing for him. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that faith will accomplish something, because God always keeps His promises.
Peter uses two illustrations to emphasize the world’s empty offerings. A thirsty traveler is filled with gladness coming upon a spring expecting cool refreshing water, but finds it dry, empty, with nothing to quench his thirst. The dry land waits in anticipation as mists are driven by a storm, yet the clouds drop no rain. So it is with the claims of false teachings. They portray their teachings as “truths” but the reality is that they have only empty promises to offer. They offer a great deal, but produce nothing.
Unlike the world, only the spring of Christ can truly supply living water. But those who would mislead people concerning such a life-and-death issue have perpetrated great evil upon them and the society in which they live. We find in verse 18 that these teachers of arrogance compounded their guilt by leading others astray. “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” People today are willing to believe what a person says and ignore what God has to say. The Word of God is the only absolute today. The Bible is the Life Book for the believer. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Traveling Israel offered many opportunities to see places and areas that I have read about many times in the Bible. Tracing some of the steps of Paul was inspiring and educational. I did have the opportunity to stand in the place that Paul stood when he was explaining and defending his faith to King Agrippa. Let me give you that account.
In Acts 21:8 we read “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.” Paul had traveled to the Caesarea known as Caesarea Martima to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi. In this town there is a Roman amphitheater where all forms of entertainment took place in the time of Paul and still does today. This was also the place referred to in Acts 25:23 as the “place of hearing.” It was in this place that Paul gave testimony of his conversion by Jesus and commitment to Jesus. We can read in Acts 26:1 where King Agrippa told Paul “Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.” Paul begins to give his personal testimony.
In verse 18 he spoke of his work “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Paul was sharing the Gospel among all people and he was sharing that day with King Agrippa and his court. In verse 23 Paul says “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” This is the Gospel message and that message is the same today. Festus was listening and he felt compelled to interrupt Paul and accuse him of losing his mind but Paul with love explained to Festus that these were words of “truth and soberness” and further explained in verse 26 “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” God does nothing in a corner or in darkness. Neither do God’s people. Paul then turned to King Agrippa and said in verse 27 “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.”
King Agrippa knew the words of Paul were true. Yet he uttered some of the saddest words written in verse 28 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Almost…how sad those words are. King Agrippa almost believed in a Saviour who came and offered himself as a remission for sin. God did not send his son for us to “almost” accept him or “almost” follow him. God expects our all. Start your New Year off with giving your “all” to God. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.