Thursday 11/8 ~ Rescued

The scripture for today, November 8 (11/8), is Proverbs 11:8 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Joseph-Cover-Thumbnail“The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead.”

We know that God does not always rescue us from trouble here on this temporary earth. He certainly didn’t rescue Jesus from all his troubles.

Sometimes God has an assignment for you just as he did for Jesus.  He may want you to be in the midst of trouble ~ war, an enemy at work, an obnoxious neighbor, death of a loved one caused by a reckless driver, a government worker demanding a bribe ~ so you can demonstrate to the world the contrast: God’s ways vs. Satan’s ways.

Eventually, the boomerang effect will take place on those following Satan. What they inflict on you will be inflicted on them.

And eventually, if you have followed God’s ways even in times of trouble, he will indeed rescue you. He will welcome you into his home ~ heaven ~ safe for all eternity.

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Tuesday 10/30 ~ What is forgiveness?

The scripture for today, October 30 (10/30), is Hebrews 10:30 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnail“For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ “

In the Law of Moses, people were expected to avenge those who did not follow the law. The vengeance was to be carried out by the person who had been hurt. Some things were even punishable by death.

But Jesus told you to forgive people so that God, in turn, will forgive you (Matthew 6:14).

What is forgiveness? It is not condoning the bad someone did. Forgiveness is letting go and letting God do any punishing that may be required. Forgiveness is wishing the other person well. You may not trust the other person to not do the bad thing again, and you may forever fear that person. But you can always hope and pray that their lives and hearts will change for the better someday. No one is so bad that you cannot wish them well and pray for them. That’s forgiveness.

Vengeance only prolongs the pain; vengeance is hard on you. So, as the old saying goes, “Let go, and let God.” God will do his part ~ the hard part. He has left the easy part for you.

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Sunday 10/28 ~ God gave each of us an assignment

The scripture for today, October 28 (10/28), is Matthew 10:28f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”

This scripture indicates that sometimes God’s allows you to “fall to the ground” ~ your body suffers, or you are killed. How can that be? After all, God is so loving. Surely a good God would not allow any harm to come to someone if he truly loves them.

But we all have our assignment from God in this war between Good and Evil. Just as Job in the Old Testament lost his entire family and entire wealth and then his health, he refused to blame God. He even said, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).

Satan causes bad to happen to you. Why? In order to get you to blame God for it. Your assignment is to refuse to deny God. That way, Satan loses one more battle, and God wins one more.

There is an old Christian song called “Victory in Jesus.” How can you have victory in Jesus if you do not have something to be victorious over? Romans 8:37 says we are more than conquerors. How can you be a conqueror if you have nothing to conquer?

Stand strong and say with James (1:2) that you consider it pure joy whenever you face trials. Hard to say? Of course, it is. But it could turn your life around.

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Sunday 10/7 ~ Why would a good God condone violence?

The scripture for today, October 7 (10/7), is Joshua 10:7f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-LUKE-KINDLE Cover-Thumbnail“So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.’ “

We today cannot imagine a good God condoning violence, let alone promoting it. But think back. Mankind was quite barbaric in the centuries and millenniums before Christ. For example, when Alexander the Great got offended at what a friend said to him, he cut off his nose and ears and put him in a cage for the rest of his life.

God never runs very far ahead of mankind, or else mankind would not understand, and not even try to follow God. By the time Jesus came, God was saying, “No more violence.”

In this scripture for today, God was telling Joshua to attack people in the Promised Land ~ Canaan. This brings up another question: Why would a good God allow one group of people to kill off another group of people? God told Abraham centuries earlier, “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Genesis 15:16). By this time they were sacrificing children to their gods.

In Leviticus 18:24, 28, God warned the Jews through Moses, “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled…And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” So God warned the Jews that, if they got as bad as the previous people in Canaan, he would drive them out too. (Eventually they did, so God did.)

Further, in Old Testament times, God often punished people immediately. Why punish them? Partly to get them away from the good people. And God used armies of believers to do the punishing for him.

Today God does not expect us to do the punishing. Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ says the Lord. On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry feed him…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Thank God, he has taken the terrible task of vengeance away from us. We can just forgive our enemies and hand things over to God to take whatever steps need to be taken. In the meantime, we can read the Old Testament and learn that God takes notice when people are doing bad things to us. God does take care of us. God does love his children.

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Thursday 9/27 ~ Oppression is a good thing?

The scripture for today, September 27 (9/27), is Nehemiah 9:27 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Michel-COVER-Kindle-Thumbnail“So you handed them over to their enemies who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed, they cried out to you. From heaven, you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.”

What was going on here?  The Jews had started worshipping false gods, putting some of their altars in the temple of God, and even offering their children as sacrifices to the fire god. Jehovah God let their enemies take them captive until they stopped their horrible practices and started praying only to the one true God. Then he rescued them those enemies.

Do you know anyone who could care less about God? The only exception is when they feel oppressed by something or someone in their life? More than likely, they blame God because Satan has convinced them he does not exist and therefore did not cause their problems.  

Wait!  Don’t be so hard on your friends. That can be a good thing. Perhaps they hadn’t given God a second thought since their last calamity. But now they’re thinking about him. They may be angry at God, but at least they’re thinking about him. Now is your chance to approach a broken, desperate, but softened spirit.

Let us thank God for times of oppression. Sometimes that is what it takes for God to get their attention. Then perhaps God can show them he wants to be their friend.

 

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Sunday 9/23 ~ Are you a coward?

The scripture for today, September 23 (9/23), is Luke 9:23 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail” Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’ “

There is another verse similar to this: II Timothy 3:12 ~ “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Have you been playing it safe? Have you been associating only with other Christians and thereby sheltering yourself from persecution? Have you been withholding the gospel from people who might be persecuted if they believe, even if they will be saved by following it?

I know a Christian convert in Afghanistan who keeps telling his Muslim friends about Jesus and his life has been threatened three times now over a period of six years. He says, “I will not stop until they kill me.”  I know a Christian convert in Iraq whose wife’s relatives beat up because he became a Christian. I know a Christian convert in another part of Iraq whose mother-in-law locked her in a room and beat her every day, trying to get her to return to Islam.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). To do that, you must seek out the lost and try to save them, even when they do not think they are lost. It will end in persecution sometimes ~ you, them, or both. That’s a fact.

Dare to not play it safe all the time. Or are you a coward?

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Saturday 9/8 ~ Governments and Martyrdoms

The scripture for today, September 8, is Daniel 9:8 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“O Lord, we and our kings, our princes, and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.”

Daniel was what some might call the prime minister of Babylon.  He was part of the government. Before that, he was of the royal house of the Jews in Jerusalem. He was part of the government there too.  Both governments needed prayer. Have you prayed for your government lately?  I Timothy 2:1 & 2 says “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone ~ for kings and all those in authority.”

At the time of this writing, Nero Caesar. The first-century historian Tacitus said this about Nero in his Annals 15:44: “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called “Christians” by the populace.

“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

“Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

If the Apostle Paul could pray for such a government leader, can’t you follow his instructions? Why don’t you stop and pray for your own government right now?

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