Advice

“Only the wise can give good advice; fools cannot do so” – Proverbs 15:7

31118_000_034_06At some point in our lives we seek advice from others.  Sometimes we get good advice and sometimes we get bad.  Some people mean well while others don’t.  It is up to us to decide which advice to follow.

After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became the ruler of Israel. When Jeroboam heard about Solomon’s death, he returned from Egypt where he fled to escape from the former king.  Jeroboam was summoned by the leaders of Israel and he and all of Israel went to speak to Rehoboam.  They said to him, “your father was a hard master.  Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us.  Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

Rehoboam told them to go back in three days for his answer. The people went away and the king went to discuss the matter with the older men who used to counsel his father, Solomon.  “What is your advice?” he asked.  “How should I answer these people?”

They replied, “If you are good to the people and show them kindness and do your best to please them, they will always be your loyal subjects” (2 Chronicles 10:1-7). Very sound advice.  But Rehoboam rejected it.  It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  How many of us reject good advice because it doesn’t please us?

Rehoboam went to his friends and asked for their advice. They said to him, “This is what you should tell those complainers: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist—if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I’ll be like.  Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher.  My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions” (verses 10, 11).  This was very foolish advice.  No one in their right mind would follow this.  But Rehoboam did.

When the people came to see him three days later he repeated the advice his friends gave him. As a result the people refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.  They shouted, “Down with David and his dynasty.”

In Rehoboam’s case, this turn of events was the will of God so that this prophecy would be fulfilled,But I will not take the entire kingdom from Solomon at this time. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and laws, I will let Solomon reign for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you.  His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name.  And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires” (1 Kings 11:34-37).

But when we make bad decisions based on bad advice we cannot blame the consequences on God or anyone else but ourselves. We are to be wise.  We are to seek godly counsel first and then it is up to God if He wants to help us through another person.  If Solomon had followed his father David’s advice and not worshipped other gods but remained faithful to God, his son Rehoboam would not have been influenced to make a bad decision which had long lasting effects.

We have to be careful whom we seek advice from. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”  Rehoboam’s friends did not give him good advice.  He was led astray and God allowed it to happen.  Sometimes bad things are allowed to happen to teach us a lesson.

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Indebted to Jesus

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Thank-you-Jesus-for-saving-my-life-1I was reading this passage and thinking of how we are all indebted to Jesus.  We have done terrible things in our lives but He showed us such love and grace that we could only respond in humility and gratitude.  There are times when my past comes back to haunt me but then I remember Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Paul writes to Timothy about his past.  He shares how he was once an enemy of the church.  He blasphemed the Lord and persecuted His people but it was done in ignorance.  How many of us have not done things that we later regret out of ignorance?

Paul spoke of how Jesus poured out His grace on him.  “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”  How many of us are called into ministry after the Lord has shown us mercy?  I have heard of men who once on the wrong side of the law become pastors.  At a Women’s Ministry program, a speaker shared her testimony of how life was for her before she found Jesus.  She used to be a drug addict.  

It doesn’t matter where or how we encounter Jesus.  What matters is that once we surrender to Him, He can do remarkable things in our lives.  When people see how the Lord has transformed a person you never would imagine would become a Christian, they can’t help but be amazed and curious.  When Paul began preaching after his conversion, many people were amazed.  They couldn’t believe that it was the same person who used to a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.  In his eyes, he was a chief sinner among the sinners whom Jesus came to save.  I can almost hear the regret in his words but he sees something positive in this.  As the worst sinner of them all, he can be used to demonstrate how patient Jesus is towards the worst of sinners.  He, Paul will serve as an example to all who in the future should trust Jesus for eternal life.

We, like Paul, are indebted to Jesus for His love, kindness, mercy, grace and patience.  He loved us even when we were rejecting Him.  All that time when Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus loved him.  He knew Paul’s heart.  He knew that Paul was acting out of ignorance and He knew that He could redirect that zeal.  This explains why Paul was so passionate in his work as a minister.  He testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).  It is as if he were working hard to show Jesus that His mercy toward him had not be in vain.

Let us show the Lord how much we appreciate His grace toward us.  Let us do this by the way we live, how we treat others and in whatever work He has called us to do.

Thank You, Jesus for saving us and using us to bring other lost souls to You.

Heavenly Wisdom

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When I read this I thought of heavenly wisdom as spiritual because it comes from God while earthly wisdom is carnal. The heavenly wisdom puts others first–before self while earthly wisdom is selfish. It’s all about self. What is best for us no matter what. It is the kind of wisdom that people use to live how they want, believing that they know best and doesn’t listen to wise counsel. They lean on their own understanding. They seek to please themselves. Take Eve for example. She wanted to be wise like God.

The wisdom she was seeking was not heavenly because it didn’t come from God. It was demonic. It was self-seeking. She was seeking it at the instigation of the Devil. The religious leaders thought they were wise in their own eyes because they didn’t allow themselves to be fooled by Jesus whom they felt was a false teacher. They rejected His teachings even though He taught with authority, something which they lacked. They thought themselves wise because they didn’t fall for His miracles and signs. They even attributed His miracles to the Devil. They envied Him and that envy led to murder plots.

Earthly wisdom leads to eternal separation from God. King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, wrote, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Eve didn’t see anything wrong with wanting to be wise like God but in her quest for godly wisdom, she had stepped outside of God’s will and smack right into the Devil’s trap. Her self-seeking led to spiritual and physical death. The kind of wisdom we should be seeking is the one that comes only from God.

James told us how we can acquire this. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Solomon said that heavenly wisdom is more precious than gold, silver and above rubies. It is precious and it gives life to those who have it (Ecclesiastes 7:12).

This kind of wisdom has many benefits and James lists them in order: pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. These attributes sound very much like those of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23).

Heavenly wisdom produces good fruits because it is not self-seeking. It puts God and others before self. It is quick to listen and slow to speak. It is the soft answer that turns away wrath. It is what Jesus used when dealing with the religious leaders when they confronted Him. He countered their envy, jealousy and hypocrisy with wisdom.

Heavenly wisdom surrenders to God. It humbles itself. It accepts godly counsel, reproof, discipline and instruction. And it leads to the correct way of thinking, feeling and acting. God’s wisdom is available to us. All we have to do is ask for it.

The Healing of Aeneas

Acts 9:32-35

peter heals aeneasImagine being bedridden and paralyzed for eight years!  It must have seemed like a lifetime for Aeneas.  However, his life was about to change.  Peter went through parts of the country and stopped off at Lydda where Aeneas was.  I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Peter actually went looking for Aeneas or it could be that someone told him about him.  The point is, he found Aeneas and he said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.”

Aeneas responded in faith.  He immediately got up.  I can imagine him dancing and leaping with joy like the lame man whom Peter and John healed at the gate (Acts 3:1-10).

Peter made it clear to Aeneas that it was Jesus who healed him, not Peter.  When we reach out and help someone or minister to them, it is imperative that they know that what they have received is from God, not us.  We are but vessels through whom He works wonders.  So, Peter gave the credit where it was due.  The word, the touch and the name of Jesus bring healing.

When the people in Lydda and Sharon saw that Aeneas was no longer paralyzed, they turned to the Lord.  Our ministry should lead people to the Lord.

When God does something wonderful in your life, do you give Him the credit?  Do you tell others about it?  Has the Lord ever used you to lead others to Him?  Will you tell someone today that faith in the name of Jesus will bring healing, peace, joy and hope?  All of these things Aeneas received that day when, in faith he was able to walk again.

 

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:21-23).

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It’s hard to believe but there are a lot of Christians who believe that the good works they are doing will get them into Heaven.  However, Jesus made it clear that this is not the case.  He specifically said that those who get into Heaven are those who do the Father’s will.  It doesn’t matter if you are ministering to the homeless, helping the poor, active in church or your community or distributing literature.  If you are not practising what the Bible teaches you are not right with God.  God wants people who are obedient and whose lives are in harmony with His Word.

Jesus said that those who claim to prophesy and cast out demons in His name also practice evil and that is why they will not enter the kingdom.  They are living in disobedience.  “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).  Anyone who practices evil or lawlessness does not have the Spirit of Christ in him or her, therefore the Spirit cannot testify to their spirit that they are children of God (Verse 16).  As long as we walk in the flesh, we will not please God.  It doesn’t matter how often we go to church, are involved in ministries or how well we know the Bible, if we are not keeping ourselves unspotted from the world or walking by the Spirit, we will have no part with Christ.

Everyone thought I was living a godly life based on how I was so passionate about serving the Lord in church and in ministry but they never suspected that I was having relations with another church member.  We were both single.  No one knew what we were doing – name withheld

If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, no one would have suspected anything – name withheld

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples.  He went out with the others and preached that people should repent, cast out many demons, and anointed many who were sick with oil and healed them.  However, he turned out to be a thief and would be the one who betray Jesus.  Following Jesus didn’t make Judas a true disciple just as being in church doesn’t make a person a true Christian.  We may be able to fool others but we can’t fool the Lord.  He sees what is on the inside.  He knew the real Judas (John 6:70, 71; 13:11, 21, 26, 27).

Just as Jesus places more importance on right living than on good works, God ranks obedience above sacrifice. When Saul went ahead and made an unauthorized sacrifice to God, Samuel chided him saying, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).  Today, we could ask a similar question.  “Has the Lord as great delight in prophesying, casting out demons and doing wonderful works?  As in turning away from evil and doing His will?  Behold, to obey is better than all of these things. ”

These people were trusting in their works.  They were asking, “Lord, didn’t we do all of these things in Your name?”  What is the point of doing all of these things and not living a godly life?  They are like wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They give the appearance of being Christians, doing good works but in reality they are living in sin.  They are not practising what the Bible teaches.  God would rather have them bear fruit worthy of repentance than bearing fruit to make themselves look good.

This reminds me of when the Israelites asked God, “Why have we fasted and You do not see?  Why have we humbled ourselves and You take no notice?”(Isaiah 58:3, MEV).  Their fasting did not please God.  Why?  It wasn’t the fast He had chosen for them.  “Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family?” (verse 7, CEB).

Did Jesus ask these people to do all of these things in His name?  Wouldn’t He have preferred if they stopped practising evil and repented?  Instead of serving the Lord, examine your life and see if there are any areas where you haven’t brought yourself completely under His control.  If there is any sin or lifestyle you are holding on to, let it go and let Jesus give you the victory.  Don’t gamble with your eternity. The most terrible words anyone could ever hear are, “Depart from Me.  I never knew you” when they had the opportunity to change.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Paul’s Testimony

Galatians 1:13-17

paul-king-agrippa_1219951_inlIn his letter to the Galatians, Paul shares how he became a Christian. It wasn’t something he ever dreamed would happen. He was a staunch believer in Judaism and its traditions. He was filled with a jealous zeal to protect his religion and was determined to stamp out any other religion he believed was contrary to God and His law. He was bent on destroying the church. He thought he was doing God a favor. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking of Paul when I read these words of Jesus, “They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he is offering a service to God. They will do these things to you, because they have not known the Father nor Me.  I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them (John 16:2-4, MEV).

Paul was there when Stephen was stoned to death. He kept the clothes of those who stoned him. It was clear that he agreed with what was happening. The scripture stated, “And Saul was consenting to his death” (Acts 8:1). The stoning of Stephen seemed to add more fuel to his fight to destroy the church. It says that while devout men carried Stephen away to bury him and lamented over him, Saul ravaged the church, entering house by house and dragging out both men and women and committing them to prison (verses 2,3) .

Before his conversion, Paul was on fire. He was like a dragon, breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He was determined to stamp out what he perceived to be heresy so he went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any there of the Way, either men or women, he might arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1, 2). This was an attack on religious freedom. People were being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith. Satan, through Paul was impeding the work of the saints and the Lord had to intervene. His people had to be free to carry out His commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

So, on his way to Damascus, Saul encountered Jesus. This experience changed his life forever. Jesus got his attention in a big way. As Saul was nearing the city, a bright light shone from Heaven shone around him and he fell to the ground. Then, Jesus spoke to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” It doesn’t occur to people that when they persecute Christians, they are persecuting Jesus too. It’s the same as when we neglect to care for the needy. When we neglect doing good to others, it’s as if we are neglecting Jesus too. When the people rejected Jesus during His ministry, they were rejecting the Father who sent Him. When Saul asked Jesus who He was, Jesus said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” There was no room for doubt. Saul was persecuting Jesus when he persecuted the church, after all, Jesus is the Head of the church. Saul was attacking the body of Christ.

Can you imagine Saul, who a moment ago was breathing fire, ready to hunt down and throw Christians into prison or do worse, was now trembling like a leaf and in total shock? Probably sounding like a man who realized now that he was fighting a losing battle, he asked, “Lord, what will You have me do?” When Jesus points out something we are doing in our lives that needs to be changed, do we ask, “Lord, what will You have me do?”

Jesus said to him, “Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” What a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness. Saul had been wreaking so much havoc on His people yet Jesus did not condemn him. Instead, He reached out to him, opening his eyes to what he was doing—that instead of working for God, he was working against God. And Jesus was going to use him. The Lord always has use for us—He will by no means cast us aside once we humble ourselves before Him and are willing to do whatever He asks of us. Saul was willing to do whatever Jesus asked of him. So, now Jesus will find good use for him. We learn in Acts 26:16-18, that Jesus revealed His plan for Saul to him. “For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness both of what you have seen and of what I will yet reveal to you.  I will deliver you from your people and from the Gentiles to whom I now send you,  to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me’

All the time Saul was there on the road in the light, his eyes were closed but when he opened them, he couldn’t see anything. He was physically blind but could see spiritually. His sight was restored and he was baptized. And he began preaching. There was some skepticism of course as people remembered that this was the same man who had done many evil things to the believers at Jerusalem (verse 13). There are a lot of times when we are shocked to see certain people become Christians. We never saw that coming but we forget that with God all things are possible. If anyone could change people, He can and He does. Saul became Paul and his letters are what we have today to help us in our walk with the Lord. That day on the road to Damascus changed not only one life but many.

What is your testimony? How did Jesus reveal Himself to you? Are you willing to share your testimony with others as Paul did?

Hearing and Doing the Word

James 1:23, 24

man looks in mirrorWhen you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Do you stand there observing yourself?  Do you move closely to the mirror and examine yourself, to see if there are any blemishes, spots or marks that you need to fix? Or do you just take a quick glance and then turn away?

James wrote about a man looking at himself in the mirror.  This person represents a hearer of the Word.  He looks at himself, observes himself, goes away and forgets what he observed.  He is a forgetful hearer.  He hears the Word but does not do it.  So, the Word is not in him.

The person forgets what kind of person he was.  It is like the person observes himself, sees what he sees but does nothing about the changes that he needs to make.  It is like a person hearing the Word of God and does not make the changes that it brings to light.

Are you a hearer only or a doer as well?  When you study God’s Word and it points out something in your life that you need to change, do you act or do you simply turn a blind eye?  Do you refuse to see yourself as you really are?  James says that the man views his natural face.  There is nothing to cover up what is there in plain sight.  He sees his natural self with all of its flaws.  This is what the Word of God points out.  It shows us our true selves in all of our unattractiveness and imperfections and calls for us to do something to change this.

Today, take a closer look at your life and be honest with yourself.  See things as they really are.  Don’t deceive yourself.  That is like trying to cover up a blemish on your face.  It might not be visible but it’s still there and won’t go away until you apply to proper treatment.  Like the mirror, the Word is there to reveal things about ourselves that we need to address.  And once we start making the necessary changes, we will be transformed and we will like what we see when we look in the mirror.

Three Lives

Mark 5

praying_woman_in_churchYesterday, I read how Jesus affected three lives in one day. The first was the demoniac man who was tormented day and night, forced to live among tombs, cutting himself and crying out. Then there was the woman with the flow of blood, a condition that she suffered with for twelve years. Ladies, can you imagine having a discharge of blood for such a long time? Nothing the doctors did helped and her condition was getting worse. And then there was Jairus’ twelve year old daughter who was gravely ill. Three different situations.

Only Jesus could help them. And He did. He drove the demons out of the man and at their request, sent them into herd of pigs feeling near the mountaintop. When the villagers came they found man clothed and in his right mind. The woman reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and immediately she was healed. While Jesus was with her, news came that Jairus’ daughter had died. Jesus encouraged the heartbroken father to have faith and then He went with him to his house where Jesus raised the little girl back to life.

The man who had been possessed by the demons wanted to go with Jesus but he was encouraged to stay and testify to his community what the Lord had done for him. The woman had taken a chance and gone looking for Jesus, believing that He would heal her. It was her faith that had made her well. And Jairus had faith that Jesus could save his daughter’s life.

Are you suffering? Are you hurting? Why don’t you go to Jesus in faith, believing that He can help you? Just as He delivered the man from his demons, the woman from a life of misery and a girl from death, He can deliver you from whatever you are going through. And when He does, tell everyone what He has done for you.

The Proper Way

2 Samuel 6

levitescarryarkjpgThe ark was not carried the proper way the first time.  It was placed in a cart drawn by oxen.  Uzzah put out his hand to steady it when the oxen stumbled but God struck him dead in anger.  Why?  Numbers 4:15 explains that while the sons of Kohath could the furnishings of the sanctuary–the things in the Tabernacle of Meeting, but they could not touch any holy thing or they would die.  Uzzah died because he touched the ark.  He acted impulsively and it cost him his life.

Verse 13 says that there were those bearing the ark of the Lord.  Who bore the ark this time and in the proper way?  We read this in 1 Chronicles 15:12-15. David acknowledged that they did not consult God about the proper procedure for carrying the ark. The Levites were to bring up the ark.  They were to sanctify themselves and their brethren.  So, the Levites sanctified themselves so that they could bring up the ark of the Lord.  They bore the ark on their shoulders by its poles as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord (verse 15, Exodus 25:14).

God had told His people through Moses the proper way to carry the ark and had they done as instructed, Uzzah would not have been struck down.

We must always do things the way God tells us to do them instead of doing them our way.  Going against God’s wishes or failing to follow His instructions can have serious, even fatal repercussions as David learned.

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