Jesus' Footprints

Archive for May 2011

In Revelation 14:6,7, part of the first angel’s message, calls for us to give glory ot God.  What does it mean to give glory to God?  How do we do that? 

Before we answer the other two questions, we should ask ourselves, What is glory?  One  definition says:  it’s a state of high honor.  In the New Testament, it is always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory.  Basically, the expression “give glory to God” means to honor Him.

How do we give glory to God?  We reflect on who He is, His greatness, majesty, goodness, loving and forgiving nature and all the wonderful things He has done.  We honor Him for all of these things because He is worthy.  He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for us.  He came up with the plan of salvation so that all of us who believe in His Son will not perish but will have everlasting life.  He forgives our sins once we confess and repent and He wipes the slate clean, meaning that He doesn’t keep score.

He is a caring Father who watches over us and guides our steps.  He chastises us when we  need it because it’s for our own good.  He disciplines us because He loves us and wants to rid us of any undesirable traits or behavior.  He always has time for us.  No matter what time of the day or night it is, He is there for us.  We can go to Him anytime and expect to have His undivided attention.  He blesses us; comforts us; teaches us and answers our needs.  We can be frank with Him.  We can be ourselves with Him.  He loves us faults and all. 

Even if others desert us when we need them to most or reject us, God will always be there–ready to help us.  David could attest to this.  “I call to You in times of trouble, because You answer my prayers” (Psalm 86:7, TEV);  “God is our Shelter and Strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, TEV); God Himself promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  Even if our own loved ones turn their backs on us, we have God to turn to.  “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up (Psalm 27:10).

God is a good God.  Before met my husband mentioned how after he and his ex-girlfriend broke up and that out of spite, she vandalized his car.  Understandably angry, he wanted to retaliate and do the same thing to her car but the Lord warned him not to do so.  My husband let it go and carless, he started to take the bus and it was when he was taking the bus, he and I met.  Two years later we were blessed with a son.  Before we met, my husband used to pray every night, asking God to bless him with a family.  God answered his prayer–not the way he expected.  If his car had not been vandalized, he would not have had any reason to take the bus and we would not have met.  So, out of bad, God brings good.  He delights in giving us what we ask for–provided it’s for our good.

How could we not give glory and honor and praise to such an amazing God?  He helps us with things that matter to us.  He is always there.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  He knew us since we were in our mother’s wombs.  We are precious to Him.  He is patient and longsuffering because He desires that everyone should be saved.  He loves everyone, even those who don’t acknowledge Him.  He is our Creator.  We are His special creation.  We are the only ones made in His image and who could fellowship with Him.  He created such beautiful things for us to enjoy and appreciate.

To God be the glory, great things he hath done! 
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice! 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

Give God the glory He deserves.  We can do this by the way we live our lives.  We live in obedience to Him.  Daniel glorified God in his diet and in his worship.  Joseph glorified God by refusing to sin with Potiphar’s wife.  Daniel’s friends glorified God by refusing to bow down to an image.

We give glory to God by the works we do.  Jesus encouraged us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We must always conduct ourselves in such a way that it will bring honor to God.  Daniel is a good example.  He was such a good, upstanding citizen that the men who were jealous of him could not accuse him of any wrongdoing or find any fault with him so they had to come up with another way to get back at him.  They ended up using his faith against him (Daniel 6:4, 5).  Job is another example.  He lived such an exemplary life (Job 1:1-5) that even God commended him (Job 1:8.). 

Peter encouraged believers to “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12, NLT).   We are to be blameless.

We must honor God in our actions, words and thoughts.  Each day, let us purpose in our hearts to give God the glory He deserves.   Let us join nature and sing:  “You are worthy, O Lord,
      To receive glory and honor and power;
      For You created all things,
      And by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

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What does it mean to “fear God”?  Many people fear God because they do not know Him.  They believe that He is a stern, judgmental Being who is just waiting to strike them down if they slip up. 

The men who were on the ship with Jonah feared the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry [land].  When they discovered that Jonah was the reason for the tempestuous sea, they didn’t want to throw him overboard even though he told them to.  Instead they started to row back to land.  They were afraid of what Jonah’s God would do if they threw him into the sea even though he had disobeyed God.  They soon realized that the situation was getting worse so they cried out to God 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.” Then they took Jonah and cast him into the sea.

After they tossed Jonah off of the ship, the rough waters of the sea became calm.  Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows (Jonah 1:4-16).   That day, these men, who before they met Jonah did not know the God of heaven, responded to His mighty power with reverence and godly fear and promises to serve Him.  They were in awe of Him.  He had delivered them. 

Revelation 14:6 says, “Fear God and give glory to Him”.  Fear in this instance means to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience (Strong’s Concordance).  To fear God is to respect Him. 

To fear God is to refuse to commit any sins against Him such as adultery (Genesis 39:9); murder (1 Samuel 24:4-7) ; idolatry (Daniel 3:16-18).  Solomon said that the duty of man is to fear God and to keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

In Proverbs 15:33, Solomon wrote:  The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.  What does this mean?  Matthew Henry explains it in his Bible commentary:  “The fear of the Lord, as it is the beginning of wisdom, so it is the instruction and correction of wisdom; the principles of religion, closely adhered to, will improve our knowledge, rectify our mistakes, and be the best and surest guide of our way. An awe of God upon our spirits will put us upon the wisest counsels and chastise us when we say or do unwisely. 2. To stoop to our brethren, and keep up a respect for them. Where there is humility there is a happy presage of honour and preparative for it. Those that humble themselves shall be exalted here and hereafter.”  

Solomon also wrote, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).  It is also the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).  The heart must be principled with the fear of God; that is the beginning of wisdom.  A reverence of God’s majesty, and a dread of his wrath, are that fear of him which is the beginning, the first step towards true religion, whence all other instances of it take rise. This fear may, at first, have torment, but love will, by degrees, cast out the torment of it. (2.) The head must be filled with the knowledge of the things of God” (Matthew Henry, Commentary).  This knowledge comes from reading His Word; hearing the testimonies of others and having a  personal relationship with Him.

It’s hard not to respect or stand in awe of the God who created the world out of nothing and spoke things into existence (Genesis 1, 2); went before the people in a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21); parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16-22); sent bread from heaven to feed the people (Exodus 16:14-16); used ravens to feed His prophet (1 Kings 17:1-6) and most importantly, sacrificed His Son Jesus in order to save the world (John 3:16).

In these last days, we are to fear God and to give Him the glory that is due to Him only.

We are in the end times and we are called to share the three angels’ message in Revelation 14:6-11.   It is a very important three part message and it is to be declared, without delay to the world. 

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

 
The first part calls for the following:

  • Fear God and give Him glory
  • The Hour of His judgment is come
  • Worship the Creator

This angel is carrying the Gospel with the message that is to be preached to everyone who dwells here on earth.

The second part of the message predicts the fall of a false religious system.  The third part of the message warns about what happens to those who worships the beast and receives its mark.  The beast represents a false religious system and its mark has to do with worship.

The recent predictions that the world will come to an end beginning on May 21, 2011, while not scriptural because the Bible clearly states that no one knows the hour in which Christ will return, it is a wake up call for us.  We must get ready to spread the everlasting Gospel with the world and make sure that we are prepared so that when Jesus returns we are not left out in the cold like the five foolish virgins.

The religious leaders called themselves the children of Abraham, yet they showed no compassion for the sick and suffering. 

Abraham had compassion for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah.  He interceded for them (Genesis 18).

They called themselves the children of God, yet they had no compassion for those whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath like the cripple who was sick for 38 years (John 5 ); the woman who was bent over (Luke 13:10-17) and the man born blind (John 9).

The religious leaders had turned God’s Sabbath from a delight to a burden.  When they saw the man who had been healed at the pool carrying his mat, they objected.  They said to him, “It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed” (John 5:10).  If this were true, Jesus would not have told the man, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (verse 8).  Jesus would have been encouraging the man to break the law but it is clear that taking up one’s mat is not a violation.  This was a man’s law, not God’s.

In the Good News Translation, it says, “This is a Sabbath, and it is against our Law for you to carry your mat.”  Note they said “our law” because they had added so many restrictions to the Sabbath. 

They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath yet they broke the law themselves by plotting to kill Him on the Sabbath because He healed someone on that day (John 5:16).

Let us not be like the religious leaders and become so particular and nic-picking that we neglect what is truly at the heart of God’s law.  The law was summed up into two commandments:  love God and love your neighbor.  God desires mercy and compassion from those of us who call ourselves His children.  When someone is in need we help them.  It doesn’t matter if this happens on the Sabbath day. 

The Sabbath is rest from secular work not charitable work.  Jesus was doing charitable work.  He was restoring God’s creation through healing.  When His disciples were hungry, He allowed them to pick corn to eat.  The religious leaders objected, of course.  Why didn’t any of them offer to provide these men food?  They were always quick to criticize and condemn but never offered any compassion.  They were hypocrites.  They would sooner help an animal that was in trouble than a person.  

When they begrudged Jesus for healing the man with the withered hand, He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11, 12).  They placed more value on animals than on people. 

God’s children place the needs of others first and don’t bog them down with do’s and don’ts.   Like Jesus, we must do the work of our Father, especially on the Sabbath.  Be like Jesus, who was a true representation of His Father.  In everything He did and said, Jesus showed that God is love.  He showed that God is merciful, compassionate and forgiving.  We must never rest from doing good unto others.

This morning I read the parable Nathan told David who had committed two grievous sins–adultery and murder.  His sins had hardened his heart so Nathan, the prophet had to find a way to get through to him.  He used a parable. 

“There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.  And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

What was David’s response?  He became very angry and called for justice for the poor man.  “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!  And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

Then Nathan revealed to David the purpose of the parable.  It was to point out that David was the rich man who wronged the poor man.  He said, “You are the man!”  Then, Nathan related God’s message to the king, reminding him of how God had anointed him to be king and how God had delivered him from Saul and all the other things God had done for him.  “Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.” 

David learned what his punishment would be.  “From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.   “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view.  You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.” 

It was at this point that David confessed,  “I have sinned against the LORD.” And we see God’s mercy.  “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”  David confessed and God showed him mercy.  Perhaps this is what David was referring to in Psalm 32:1:  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  This also illustrates what the apostle John wrote in his first epistle.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  However, even though David was forgiven his sins, there were still consequences.  The child that was conceived in adultery would die (2 Samuel 12:14).

We read that God struck the child and he became ill.  David prayed and pleaded with God for the child.  He fasted and lay on the ground all night.  This lasted for seven days.  On the seventh day, the child died but the guards were afraid to tell David.  They were afraid of what he would do.  However, when David realized and confirmed that the child was dead, he reacted in a way that baffled everyone.  He got up from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshipped. Then he went home and requested that they set food before him.  And he ate.  

When the servants questioned him about fasting while the child was alive and eating now when the child is dead, he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12).

Even God showed David mercy when he confessed, there was still a penalty for the sin he committed.  The wages of sin is death and unfortunately, his child died.  Although David’s sins were forgiven, he had to live with the consequences.  His other children paid for his sins–his daughter Tamar was raped by her half-brother Amnon;  Absalom murdered Amnon;  Absalom rebelled against his father, slept with his father’s concubines in public and plotted to kill his father and seize his throne.  In the end, Absalom was killed by David’s general, Joab.  For one night of lust, David paid a heavy price.  

Nathan succeeded in getting a confession out of David by using a parable.  He didn’t confront David.   Instead he allowed him to see the injustice a poor man suffered at the hands of a rich man so that he could appeal to David’s sense of what was right and what was wrong.  It worked.  David confessed.  His life was spared.  He was pardoned.  And God’s judgment was still passed. 

We read in Psalms 32 and 51 of David’s acknowledgement of his sins, his confession and repentance and God’s cleansing.  This teaches us that confession alone is not enough–repentance must follow.  The person must turn away from their sins and to God who will create in them a clean heart renew a steadfast spirit within them (Psalm 51:10).

God does not ignore nor overlook sin but He covers it.  Covers in this sense means that its (sin’s) guilt is no longer to be imputed, or brought against, the sinner when it is repented of.  God can forgive and cover all sin. His grace not only forgives sin but accepts the repentant sinner as though he or she never sinned! That is the power of Jesus, our Substitute, upon whom God lays the sin. In this way Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the repentant sinner.

“David’s repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened, inspired his prayer. But he saw the enormity of his transgression against God; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance. 

(http://www.ssnet.org/qrtrly/eng/11b/less07.html).

Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s Day.  I was able to spend some time with my mother and watch her and my son together.  He is her only grandchild and I am grateful to God for blessing me with him. 

I was among the fortunate women whose mothers are still around.  I thought of my co-worker who lost her mother a while ago and how difficult this day must be for her and others who have lost their mothers.  Their losses made me thankful and appreciate my mother more.

I think about my aunt inEnglandwho was a lively person but now seems to have lost the will to live and is just waiting for her end to come.  I feel sad because I remember what a joy she was to be around. 

I think of mothers who don’t know what it’s like to celebrate mother’s day because they are poor and struggling to raise their kids or mothers who don’t know what’s like to treated special on this day.  All they know is a life of misery and heartache.  They may get flowers but after a beating. 

I think of women who died before they had a chance to celebrate mother’s day.  I think of the women who die in childbirth because they don’t have access to the care they need.  I think of how blessed I was to have had a safe pregnancy and childbirth because of the care I received. 

I think of the virtuous woman whom Solomon wrote about and the kind of mother she was.  She provides for her family.  Her children call her blessed.  If she were around today, she would had celebrated mother’s day with her family.  Her husband who praised her would gladly go out of his way to make the day very special for her.   Had Moses been around today, no doubt he would celebrate the mother who gave birth to him and the mother who raised him.  Both women loved him and did what they believed was best for him.   Isaac must have been close to his mother.  Genesis 24:67 says that Rebekah was a  special comfort to him after the death of his mother.

One of my co-workers told me how excited her son was to bring home some chicken wings for her because that was what she had told him she wanted when he asked her.  It’s heartwarming to hear how a child is happy simply because he did something that would make his mother happy.

Mother’s day is all about showing the women who raised us how much we love and appreciate them.  We want them to know that they will always have a special place in our hearts.  I can now appreciate what it means to be a mother. 

For God, it’s important that we honor our mothers (Exodus 20:12).  We must not look down on them when they are old (Proverbs 23:22).  I will never forget the story of the man who kept his mother in the garage even though there were empty bedrooms in the house.  To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (Proverbs 29:15).   We are not to neglect our mothers’ instructions (Proverbs 6:20).  No matter how old we are, we should not discard our mothers’ advice.

I think we should celebrate our mothers everyday.

Yesterday morning I read about King Uzziah and how he started off on such a positive note.  Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king of Judah.  He was a man of God and as long as he sought Him, he prospered.  Through God, he accomplished a lot of things such as breaking down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod; building cities around Ashdod and and among the Philistines.  God helped him against the Philistines, against the Arabians who lived in Gur Baal, and against the Meunites.  Also the Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah. His fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong.  

Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the corner buttress of the wall; then he fortified them.  Also he built towers in the desert. He dug many wells, for he had much livestock, both in the lowlands and in the plains; he also had farmers and vinedressers in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved the soil. Verses 11-15 tells us more of his accomplishments but verse 15 stands out because it says, So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong.  Note the words till he became strongThis indicates that things are about to take a turn–in a bad way.

Sure enough, verse 16 says:  But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.  Humility was replaced with pride once Uzziah became powerful–famous.  He forgot his God who had prospered everything he had done.  He turned away from Him and adoration and obedience gave way to apostasy and rebellion. 

Uzziah was not a Levite yet he had entered the temple to burn incense on the altar.  For this blatant disregard for God’s statues, he was confronted by Azariah the priest and eighty other priests.  “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the LORD God.”

What was Uzziah’s reaction?  Remorse?  Guilt?  No!  He was furious.  He had a censer in his hand to burn the incense.  He was going through with it regardless of what they had to say.  He was angry with them.  And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar.  And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.  Sadly, this man who started out good and then allowed pride to get the better of him, was a leper for the rest of his life.  He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD (2 Chronicles 26).

What a sad ending to a life that had so much promise.  God had been with him since he became king at the tender age of sixteen.  God had blessed him and helped him and prospered him.  Then his heart was filled with pride, leaving no room for God.  And great was his fall.  He became a leper and and an outcast.  This reminds me so much of Solomon whom God blessed with wisdom, wealth and peace from his enemies but his love for foreign women turned Solomon’s heart and worship away from God.  Lucifier, a beautiful being who was clothed in precious stones and had the gift of music, allowed pride and envy to rule his heart and senses and as a result, he was cast out of Heaven.

“Pride [goes] before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). 

Moses warned the people of Israel not to forget who was behind their prosperity.  “So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, “houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–[then] beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).

Always give God thanks for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do in your life.  He is the One who prospers and keeps you.  Don’t make the mistake Uzziah did.  Always give God the glory.



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