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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Compassion, loving kindness, favor, love, faithful love of God

 

Hesed (Hebrew): Compassion, loving kindness, favor, love, faithful love

"the Divine Love condescending to His creatures, more especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness."

- Delitzsch

Seen in the act of creation and how God maintains us:

"He loves righteousness and justice, the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord." - Psalm 33:5

Specially Shown To Those Who Fear Him:

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love."

- Psalms 33:18

Pray for in hope:

"Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you." - Psalms 33:22

Have you experienced hesed in 2013? I am sure you have. Make it a point of thanking Him for it and praying that He will continue to show it to you each day.

 

 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Life Long Resolution

As we come to the end of 2013, many start to think of what resolutions they want to carry out or attempt for the "new" year. Elsewhere I have written why I don't believe in resolutions, but if there is a resolution for me, it is found in Joshua:

"Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the Lords servant gave you: to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." - Joshua 22:5

Breaking down the verse there are several resolutions. All of them are centered upon obedience to the Lord. These "resolutions" or determinations call us to be careful or diligent in obeying God's instructions as given in the Bible. This could over whelm some people since we know there are many commands to keep but this verse simplifies things.

1. Love God: "love the Lord your God."

Jesus said all the commands of God can be summarized in loving God and loving others. If we love God we will do the second command as well. We often associate love for God with obedience which is accurate but this verse doesn't mention it until the end. Notice that love for God is to give all of our affections to Him first. He should be our priority, our ultimate priority to love. Everything else springs from there.

2. Pattern Your Life After His Lifestyle: "walk in all his ways."

It may seen vague but our lifestyle, the way we comport ourselves should match what we believe about God. Asynchronous life-style is hypocrisy. We cannot pick and choose what we want to and what we don't want to believe. Our lifestyle should reflect "God's ethics." Walking in His ways involves living our life for God every moment and every day of our lives. Only when we walk in all of his ways do we become a living testimony for God unto others.

3. Obey His Commands: "keep his commands."

The two over arching commands are to love God and love others but there are many specific commands given to us, especially in the New Testament. We are told to obey them because our lifestyle needs to conform to God's standards. God's standards (God's "world-view" as seen in His Word, The Bible) bring life, love, joy, peace and keep us from death and destruction (see John 6:63Psalm 19:7-8).

4. Be Faithful to Him: "remain faithful to him."

Being faithful to God is a daily decision. Every day we are faced with decisions, big and small, yet these need to reflect our desire and resolution to remain faithful to God. In our modern society, this is a difficult task due to the many distractions and constant push from the culture to conform to its standards. Our goal should be to remain faithful to the Lord, day by day, every day.

5. Serve Him Whole Heartily - "and serve Him with all your heart and soul."

Only when we love God, pattern our life after His, obey Him and are faithful, can our life be of service to Him. Again, notice we serve Him. We serve others but it is an act of service to God. We are not humanitarian because we are so good in of ourselves. We serve God where ever we are; we are an extension of God. We are his workmanship (his poem, master piece) in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Our service to God is not mediocre, it involves all of our heart and soul.

As we welcome 2014, let's us keep these things in mind and make them our life-long resolutions.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who is My Neighbor? The Lonely, The Elderly, Those in Need and Hurting


It often behooves me how it is possible for us to live our lives not caring for those in need. And I am not talking about our friends or family. It is easy to be friends with those who love us and can reciprocate. But what about those who we don't know and can't reciprocate? Are we to befriend them and care for them? I believe so. Jesus said:
"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" - Matthew 5:46-47 (ESV, emphasis mine)
As you can see the standard for Jesus' followers is quite high.

On another occasion Jesus is interrogated by an interpreter of the Law (lawyer) and he wants to know how to obtain eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey all the commands of God. He narrows them to two: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer attempts to trap Jesus and asks him who is his neighbor. It appears to be an obvious question with an obvious answer. But Jesus answers by telling him a story of a man who is robbed, beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite (both of them involved in temple worship) pass the man by. I am sure they both had "good" excuses. A third man comes by, a Samaritan, a half-breed hated by the Jews. He is moved with compassion, gives him basic care and takes him to an inn to recuperate. He takes care of him for a full day. The Samaritan even pays ahead for his care as he leaves until he comes back again. Likely, the Samaritan was going to make sure this person would be well before leaving him. Jesus asks, the lawyer who does he think proved to be a neighbor and he answers correctly. "And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise"."

It is clear from this that our neighbor is not someone we know or even met. It is a stranger in need that is befriended and cared for. The word hospitality in the Bible means to care for strangers. In Middle Eastern culture it was customary and even expected to be hospitable to strangers, even enemies (see Genesis 18). I am sure that by the time of Jesus, things had changed a bit. The religious leaders with their "new" interpretations of God's Law had modified it quite a bit (see Matthew 5:21-48)

Our neighbor from across the street passed away early morning after been in the hospital for over two weeks.. She was a widow who lived a very lonely life. Her only brother died not too long ago, and she had no immediate family except her adult son. She spoke very little English and didn't know how to drive. Up to a year and a half ago she was walking with my wife around the neighborhood. My wife did as much as she could for her, doing her groceries, taking her to doctor appointments, cutting her toe nails, giving her food, etc. She also came to some events at our home. It is sad because living in a place surrounded by people, no one befriended her until we moved in the area. She even suffered from panic attacks perhaps due to the fact she was alone all day long.

Our other two neighbors who lived next to us were also elderly (God seems to put them in our path and we love them. Read here.), were also lonely and had no one to care for them. We did as much as we could. Simple things like turning their mattress over or fixing their remote control were things they needed help with or just someone to say hi and ask how they were doing. I remember when Joe's brother came to visit him and died of a heart attack in his living room. The paramedics and ambulance came and yet no one came out except us. Sad. I remember Joe, a Veteran who battled Alzheimer's, crying, hitting his head because he couldn't remember things and calling himself stupid. I remember the small conversations we had in our front yard. I don't remember anyone befriending them.

I run almost every day and get to see who are my neighbors. They see me as well as I am pushing my three-year old on the stroller and my nine-year old running ahead of me. This is a way I getting to know my neighbors. Some say hi to me, some don't. Some think it's cute (some may think it's crazy) that I run with my children. The important thing is that I am aware of who my neighbors are and that I am ready to show neighborly love: saying hi, a simple wave, or a simple smile is a start. I appreciate when they do it to me. These are my neighbors. Which are yours?
God puts people in our path, but sometimes we just go ahead and ignore them in our busy lives. This Christmas let's be mindful of everyone not just our friends. There are many Carmen's and Joe's out there who need a friend.

Here are a few more verses from the Bible to reminds us of caring for those in need:

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27 (ESV)

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15 (ESV)






Friday, December 20, 2013

Learning from Pilgrim's Progress: In The Grip of His Grace

Reading Pilgrim's Progress is very instructive for me and for any Christian. A part about grace called my attention today. It involved Interpreter showing Christian excellent and profitable things. He leads him through a room where there is a fire strongly burning even though there is a man is in the back that continues to put water to quench it. No matter how much water he puts in it, it burns hotter. Interpreter explains to Christian that this is The Devil trying to quench the work of grace in man's heart. There is another man behind a wall who puts oil to keep the fire going.
Interpreter explains:

"This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still. [2 Cor. 12:9]"
Thank God for our Lord who intercedes on our behalf and keeps us in His grace. We are pleasing to God because of His grace.Interpreter explains why Christ is behind the wall:

"And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, that is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul."
Yes, it is indeed a mystery how our Lord keeps us in His grace. It is in His grace that we stand.

Material is copyright by egaldamez. Permission given torepost or reproduce without editing the content.Disclaimer: The contents of all personal web pages and blogs published are solely my responsibility. Statements made and opinions expressed on personal pages are strictly those of the author and not of any organization, church, or school.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jesus Son of Abraham, Lord and King!

When God called Abraham to leave his home, he gave him a promise of giving him a new land, bringing out of him great nations and kings (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-7). He said to Abraham: "I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Genesis 17:16 (NIV) At this time Abraham laughs, and I probably would have as well, if I was 100 years old and my wife was 90 and I was told my wife would have a baby and out of him would come nations and kings, especially The Messiah, King of Kings. Yet God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Isaac is born and out him comes Jacob and the twelve patriarchs. Israel is born after over 350 years. Four hundred years later Israel comes out of Egypt, spends 40 years in the desert and inherits the land God promised (Joshua). But this was only the beginning.



Over four hundred years (I am using estimation. A timeline of Israel can be found here), Israel is a nation until the deportation of Judah in 586 B.C. Then Israel is ruled by a number of nations for another 400 years.



The Gospel of Matthew opens this way: "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham." (NIV) Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy from Abraham to Joseph of Arimathea who was a descendant from the tribe of Judah, the royal lineage of David. But Jesus was also the Son of God who would save his people from their sins: "This is how
the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be
married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be
with child through the Holy Spirit.
..She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."



(Matthew 1:18, 21) - NIV



God's plan was that the King would come humbly (Philippians 2:7-12). He was no ordinary King. This King would not come with a sword but as a servant, the suffering servant (see Isaiah 63). A servant who by the sovereign will of God would give his life as a sacrifice for the salvation of those who would believe. At the age of 33, he was killed by unrighteous men, was buried and rose from the dead. He did this to save us from our sins. Those who have put their faith in Christ as their Messiah and King are now Abraham's children. The promise given to Abraham that he would be father of many nations was fulfilled: "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed
to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but
also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us
all. 
As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." (Romans 4:16-17) - NIV



After Jesus rose from the dead, he showed himself to his people for over 40 days and then he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3). He sat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). He is Lord and King. Yet his rule is not physically evident:

"...the exalted Christ pervades all of creation with His controlling power.
God directs all things to their appointed ends in His eternal plan to
make His reign manifest over all creation and unite everything in heaven
and earth in submission to our Savior." (The Fullness of Christ, Ligonier Ministries).

The time will come when Jesus will put everything under his rule and hand over the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).  The question is whether we are willing to submit to him under his rule now or later. Everyone will one day call him Lord (Philippians 1:9-11)






Sunday, December 08, 2013

Persecution, Preaching, Peril - Acts 8 - Part 1

Here is the recording for Acts Chapter 8:1-25 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church. Note: The ending is a bit awkward since it ends in a question for discussion.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

When God Gives You Up To Your Desires

There comes a time when after people insist on not following God's path, even though the evidence of his calling is irrefutable, God gives them up to that which they want. This happened with Israel. It happened when they insisted on a king thus rejected God: "And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." (1 Samuel 8:7) KJV

God gave them what they desired and it wasn't great.
Then it happened when they continually followed other gods in spite of seeing the power of God manifested in their lives.

In Exodus 32:1-6, they made Aaron make an idol that would replace God. They worshiped something they had made after seeing the power of God. How foolish! They worshiped something they made instead of the God who made them and saved them. This happened over and over again until God gave them up to their desire.

God turned them over to their sinful desire, their desire to worship someone other than God.  He let them have what they wanted and thus worshiped and sacrificed to the gods of other nations (read here about Moloch one of the gods they worshiped). See Acts 7:42-43.

God let them go their way. Psalms 106:36-39 reads:

They served their idols,
    which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
    and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
    the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
    and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
    and played the whore in their deeds. (ESV)
 
This is happening now as well. Lest we think that we are not idolaters as Israel read Romans 1:21-26, 28:

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (ESV)

The god of our generation may not be made of gold or in form of an animal but it is a more sophisticated one. It is the god of pleasure and the god of sex. Our pleasure-driven, sex-driven generation bows down to these gods and refuses to worship God the Creator even as the evidence of His Divine goodness is evident.

The words "God gave them up" applies today.

See/hear/read this titled "When God Abandons a Nation"