Archive for the ‘1 Up and 1 Down’ Category

Nehemiah 9:19 You in Your great mercy forsook them not in the wilderness; the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day to lead them in the way, nor the pillar of fire by night to light the way they should go.

This verse serves as a great reminder of God’s mercy, grace and patience. Ezra for 11 verses states all that God has done for his people. Then he spends 3 verses describing the response of the people. But 1 up verse 18 sets the stage or somewhat summarizes where these people were at by saying, “Even when they had made for themselves a molten calf and said, This is your god, who brought you out of Egypt, and had committed great and contemptible blasphemies,”

It’s in spite of the “Even then” and Ezra reminds the people of all the great things God has and is doing for them. In verse 19 he says,  The pillar of the cloud departed not from them which correctly said would be, “the pillar of the cloud departed not “from over them.” This cloud was a miraculous cloud! It was the symbol of the Divine presence of God. It took on three different positions during the time it was with the Israelite camp. This must have really impressed Ezra as he actually mentions it in verse 12 as well as here in 19.

1. The first was as a cloud in the form of a pillar, it went before them when they traveled, to point out their way in the wilderness.

2. The second as a pillar of fire, it stayed with them during the night, to give them light, and to be a gathering point for the whole camp in the night season.

3. Thirdly it was as an extended cloud, which hovered over them in their encampments, to refresh them with its dews, and to keep them from the burning heat of the sun.

1 verse down continues in the same vein saying, You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and withheld not Your manna from them, and gave water for their thirst.”  The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and the Spirit of Christ in them. They spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said was to be received accordingly.

What i am hearing from this verse is that God gave them much more than they deserved and has done the same for me. i have everything i have needed just as they had everything they needed. They “reveled” in God’s great goodness, which literally means that they “luxuriated” in God’s provision.

God has given me everything i need. 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given ed everything he needs for life and godliness through his knowledge of Him who called him by His own glory and goodness.” Am i “luxuriating” in God’s goodness today? Or, am i taking Him for granted?

This verse serves Nickel as the same reminder it was to those whom Ezra was speaking to. Today luxuriate at every opportunity. For me it sounds like  more of Be Still and Know that I AM! I really like that word “Luxuriating”. This is a day when we will be removing Onething’s belongings from the original prayer room. Feels and looks like going backwards so it will be a good day to “luxuriate” in God’s provision. Nehemiah, Ezra and Nickel are reminding me of all the great things God has and is doing for them.

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Isaiah 55: 1-5 1WAIT and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy]. 3Incline your ear [submit and consent to the divine will] and come to Me; hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant or league with you, even the sure mercy (kindness, goodwill, and compassion) promised to David. 4Behold, I have appointed him (Him) [David, as a representative of the Messiah, or the Messiah Himself] to be a witness [one (One) who shall testify of salvation] to the nations, a prince (Prince) and commander (Commander) to the Peoples. 5Behold, you [Israel] shall call nations that you know not, and nations that do not know you shall run to you because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.

Well this one is an undertaking as it covers 5 verse. Isaiah expresses the fullness, freeness, excellence, and everlasting nature of the blessings of the word, and it speaks again about the enlargement of Messiah’s kingdom. Verses 1-5 leads the prophet as God’s voice to exhort all to seize the opportunity of sharing in such blessings, which were not, however, to be expected without repentance and change.

Verse 1. Every one that thirsteth come to the waters. Some view the word “waters” as referring to the doctrine of the word, and others to the Holy Spirit. i believe along with the words, “waters, milk, wine, bread,” includes all that is necessary for spiritual life. The metaphors are from those kinds of food which are in daily use by all of us. As i am metaphorically, nourished by “bread, wine, milk, and water,” so in like manner my soul is fed and supported by the Word, the Holy Spirit, and other gifts of Christ. i cannot exist without water. Equally it is impossible that i can exist without the word. The law is compared to wine and milk. To wine because the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. To milk, because milk is the subsistence of the child. The words of the law are the nourishment of the soul that walks in divine teaching, and grows up under it. Basically you could say it, “everyone that would learn, let him come and learn.”

Verse 2. Wherefore do ye spend. This is in a spiritual sense. Unsaved people have nothing to support themselves or pay off their debts with, though they think they have, and they think they stand in need of nothing. But sensible people know they are poor and needy. Regardless, they are invited to come where provisions are to be had for free. Come everyone, buy and eat, come to the teachings, share in them freely, and feed upon the provisions that they have made.

Verse 3  Incline your ear. God leaves nothing undone which is to correct and arouse our tardiness. There is an implied scolding. What must so excessively run my life, that when i am so gently called, i do not instantly obey. This is a  passage, from which we see that our whole happiness lies in obeying the word of God. When God speaks like this i should be able to see that He is leading me to life. When i do not incline my ear the blame lies completely with me, because i disregard the saving and life­giving word. I will make an everlasting covenant. I will make a covenant of eternity with you. Didn’t the Jews previously enter into an everlasting covenant with God? These words appear to promise something that is new. But there is nothing new here. This is simply a confirmation of the covenant that the Lord formerly entered into with his people. It’s a renewal of the covenant, so that the Jews would not think that the covenant of God was made void on account of the long ­continued exile.  They were removed from the country that had been promised to them. They had no temple or sacrifices, or any signs of the “covenant” except circumcision. Who wouldn’t have thought that it was all over with them? Isaiah assured the people, that the covenant into which God entered with the fathers was firm, sure, and eternal, and not changeable or temporary.

Verse 4 Behold, I have appointed him. The mercies of David. That is, “The MESSIAH, called here David as it is written, “David my servant shall be a prince over you.” Messiah is a “leader.”  He’s a teacher. He teaches his people and leads them in the way they should go. As a king He guides his people with the skilfulness. As a general he leads his armies to battle. As a shepherd he leads his flock to good pastures. He leads his people out of their own ways into his ways. He is a “commander” and as such He commands his subjects, and is to be obeyed. Those commands are written on the hearts of His people. They are not grievous, though they cannot be performed in their own strength. It is not designed that my life and salvation should be obtained by the observance of them, but are done to testify of my submission to Christ, and gratitude to him.

Verse 5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation which thou knowest not. Isaiah explains more about what he previously touched on with a single word. He declared that Christ shall be the “leader.” Not of a single people, but of all the Peoples. “To call” here means possession. There is a mutual relation between the words “call” and “answer.” Christ therefore “calls” in the exercise of authority, as one who is invested with supreme power. He “calls” the Gentiles, that he may bring them into a state of obedience, and may cause them to submit to his word.

1 Down – Verse 6 admonishes me to, Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near. After having spoken of the good success of the word among the Gentiles, who formerly were strangers to the kingdom of God, he urges the Jews to be ashamed of loitering while others run. Since they were the first who were called, it is shameful that they should be last.

Lot’s of words but for 6 verses not bad. This passage is filled with truths and Billy if you spend the next few years just digging at these words you will be wise. I see these verses as understanding for what God desires to do through you. So i repeat verse 6 to you Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near. Treat this with urgency and let nothing distract you!

James 1:22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

This verse is quite capable of standing on it’s own and it would be hard to take it out of context.

 The people heard the word, and they believed it, but they put it to no practical use. Not so different form today? They believed that Christians were freed from the moral law, by virtue of grace. They put an inactive faith in the place of all moral righteousness.

Deceiving your own selves – Imposing on your own selves by evasive, elusive, deceitful arguments. They had reasoned themselves into a state of sinful security and James was, to awake them.

1 Up says, “get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.”

Uncleanness and wickedness signifies any impurity that attatches to the body. When applied to the mind, they imply all impure and unholy attachments, such as those outlined in James 1:15 pollute the soul.  The word of life has been sown in the land, many receive salvation. Others not so much. Then there are those who appear to have taken up with other beliefs, from which they got no salvation. James warns them or i should say me, to not only receive the doctrine of Christ, but to live it out. Those who were Jews, and who had been originally planted by God as altogether a right vine, received the faith of the word. It represented being ingrafted on right stock, the pure knowledge of the true God and his holy moral law. This indeed was a good stock on which to implant Christianity. i have been ingrafted on the right stock!

For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;  24For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.
 
A simple metaphor, but very expressive. Man wishes to see his own face, in its natural state.  He looks into a mirror, by which his real face, with all its blemishes and imperfections, is seen. He is moved by his own appearance. He sees deformities that might be remedied, spots, and impurities, that might be removed. While he continues to look into the mirror he is moved, and wishes himself different.  He makes plans on  doing what he can to change what he sees. He leaves, goes about his daily business and soon he forgets what he saw. The mirror is removed, his face is no longer reflected to himself, he no longer remembers how he appeared. He also no longer remembers his own resolutions for improving his look.
The words of God, faithfully taught, are such a mirror. When i hear them i cannot help discovering my own character, and being moved by my deformity. Yes i am saddened, and  i purposes to change. But when the teaching or the word is over, the mirror is removed.  i become careless in living out my salvation. The perfect law of liberty, or not continuing to look within, i soon forget what type of man i am. Or i cling to some unscriptural trust in God’s mercy, i reasons myself out of the necessity of repentance and changing my life, and thus deceive my soul.
 
 Things don’t really change much about man, regardless of how many warnings or years are given. It’s important for my eyes to be fixed on me and not on everyone or anyone else. i must upon hearing the word taught do something immediately to ensure that it becomes established inside me and is given the chance to mature. For me that means immediate application. i can’t wait a day or two or until i get more understanding. i must begin with the hearing. It takes discipline and purposed effort. It started for me back in 1980 when i first went to a church that taught the word every time the doors were opened. i was so fascinated with it that i would get there an hour before service to get a front row seat. i was fascinated with the teaching. It was so different than anything i had ever heard in spite of being a Christian for many years prior, but then there was the need to see these men of God up close and personal as if i was expecting to see something different than what they taught. i have journals from those days that still serve me well today. i never heard the word without taking notes. i have a hunger for the word in my life but just as James had to awaken people in his day i am also in need of being reminded that just hearing the word is not enough. Just knowing what it says serves little purpose if not applied to my life actions.
 
Thanks Ann Marie for the reminder. It is easy to study or do a daily blog and forget about the application because it becomes form and function. Information, Meditation, Application. While those three words may sound like form and function they are anything but. i see them as being a doer of the word and not a hearer only. James could have spoken them just as easily as he said to be a doer of the word, not a hearer only.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And so faith, hope, love abide [faith–conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope–joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love–true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love.

i’ve decided to begin with verses 8 thru 10 and i switched to the Message. Less words.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

It’s all great stuff but that last line is stirring my heart. “When the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. my initial thought is, of course when Jesus returns all of mans or my incompletes will be canceled. But, i don’t see this as something i’m waiting for, but rather something that i experience every day since being born again. Not a destination, but the journey of a lifetime. In my life are many incompletes, as the Complete arrives daily, it exposes the incompletes one by one, day by day, minute by minute. As i recognize them and repent from them they are canceled. i may have to revisit this one day.

 11When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. i shared recently that sometimes i am a warrior and other times a child.

Gurgled: to flow in a broken, irregular, noisy current.

Cooed: to utter or imitate the soft, murmuring sound characteristic of doves.

So like a child means irregular, noisy, at one moment and then soft sounding like a dove. Reminding me of my expected trip to see family. Three grandsons and our two children that all fit that description in a way. Gurgling and cooing?!

12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 There is incompleteness that i don’t see. There could be a couple of reasons for that. It says, like a fog or mist. The fog or mist could be other things that have captured a portion of my attention and so i do not see the Complete as it is. Then the fog or mist could be the Complete prophesying to what is coming. Giving  me just a glimpse of incompletes in my life. At the same time letting me know that He is here to assist me in canceling them. Either way at some time, the Complete will be clear, as will the incompletes and the opportunity for the incompletes to be canceled will be in my hands.

 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

It says, “we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation.”  i am not to sitting around waiting for this to take place but in my, trusting steadily in God, hoping unswervingly, and loving extravagantly, i am in the process. Actions of faith for me at this point. i trust, hope, and love by faith. The Complete comes, i repent (turn away from) my lack of trust, my deferring of hope and my unwillingness to love. The Complete cancels my incompletes. Love is not the answer but the assignment, “love–true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us”.  i realize that my hope, my “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation,” deferred has made my heart-sick. my lack of trust “conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things,” has set my course in a wrong direction.

Much thanks Evie for your choice of this verse. I think i need to put on my “Headphones” and continue to meditate.

The verse for today is Isaiah 26:3 but i’m going to go directly to 1 up. 2Open the gates, that the [uncompromisingly] righteous nation which keeps her faith and her troth [with God] may enter in.

The captive people are returning, and this cry is made that the gates of the city may be thrown open, and that they may be permitted to enter without obstruction. This is because during their long captivity and contact with pagan nations, they did not waiver from the true religion, but adhered firmly to the worship of the true God. i may be off but i think these words also say, let sinners be encouraged to join to the Lord.

3You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace says, if my mind has confidence in God i will not be agitated by the trials to which it will be presented with. Not  persecution, poverty, sickness, or want. The word “perfect” is used, to contrast a false and imaginary peace. The word perfect is not in the Hebrew text, there it says “peace, peace.” It’s written twice to mark the certainty of it.  Peace, peace also is intended to expand my thoughts regarding the many different types of peace, which God grants to me, and keeps for me.

Whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, speaks to my thoughts themselves, or my mind that forms the thoughts. The words, “is stayed on thee,” according to those wiser than i say, it does not actually express the idea that the mind is stayed on God, but it isonly  implied. The Hebrew says,  whose mind is stayed, or supported. i think it’s more than an implication. i would think it  is obviously, supported by God. i am not aware of any other support but God. More simply put, it would say “whose mind is “fixed” on the love of God. 

4So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Trust in the Lord literally translated says, Trust in “Yahweh” and is meant to express, in the greatest way possible, the majesty, glory, and holiness of God.

Everlasting: eternal duration, incessant, constantly recurring, continuing for an indefinitely long time.

Rock: a firm foundation or support, something resembling or suggesting a large mass of stone. Rock should say, Rock of ages. That is to say that God is firm and unchangeable.

The word i get from this for Megan is that she is being led to “peace peace.” It is not always easy to find that double peace and not easy as well to abide in it for any length of time. i was not even aware of it till about a month ago. I think i have found in the past a “peace” in God which for sure is refreshing but nowhere near to a more recent experience with “peace peace.” If only for a few moments, hours or even days i believe i have experienced the “peace peace” of Yahweh. It’s different as i said. It is far more expansive and takes in much more of my mind, will and emotions. i’m not even sure my words can express it. It may be another one of those things that i say is experiential. Familiar or understood things seem to pass away and if but for a glimpse all things become a new. This is what God is doing in you at this hour. Yahweh wants to introduce Himself to you and spend time with you in “peace peace.” No thoughts, no revelation, no new understanding, no deep truth, no tears, nothing but “peace peace” through time… i was going to say with, but i feel corrected to say “IN” Yahweh.

i have had an uncommon peace for a little while, but as i prepare to click the publish button, i sense something… a rumbling. It has been with me for a couple of days. This inspite of not being aware of anything going on?

John 3:16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

And the first question many ask is why? Why would He do that? And why would He do that for me? The answer, a single word that many do not understand… love.

Webster’s dictionary defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection. Is it any wonder that with that definition love has been devalued to where it is today. A feeling of warm personal attachment?  Really? The other things Webster describes as love are sexual passion or desire.

The true meaning of love, as defined in the Bible, has been corrupted in the common usage of our English language and society. Most often, love is confused with infatuation – that elated, “high” feeling we get when we “fall in love.” This kind of “love” is something that lasts typically less than a year, and unless replaced by true love, results in broken relationships.

 i recently heard a sports person talking about the community he lived and played in and he said to those listening, “I love you all.” NO you don’t! You don’t even know me. Come on even according to Webster you don’t love me. You don’t have feelings of warm personal attachment for me. There is nothing personal between us. At best if i had met you at some sporting event you might be an acquaintance. Sorry but that’s the best i can do and that’s a stretch.

Webster says an acquaintance is a person known to one, but usually not a close friend. Yep that’s the best i can do and i will not get started on the word friends. Facebook has destroyed that word as well. Five hundred friends? Come on.

 The bible mentions love 697 times in the NIV translation. The Bible indicates that love is from God. In fact, the Bible says “God is love.” Love is also one of the primary characteristics of God. Likewise, God has endowed us with the capacity for love. This capacity for love is one of the ways in which we are “created in the image of God.”

In the Greek it  uses two different words to describe and define love. The most commonly used Greek word translated “love” is “agape.” This love is represented by God’s love for us. It is a non-partial, sacrificial love probably best exemplified by God’s provision for our sin.”For God so (agape) the world. The gift of God’s son as a provision for sin was given to all humans. God’s love is unconditional.

In contrast, our love is usually conditional and based upon how other people behave toward us. This kind of love is based on familiarity and direct interaction. The Greek word “phileo” defines this kind of love, often translated “brotherly love.” Phileo is a soulish (connected through our emotions) kind of love – something that can be experienced by both believers and non-believers. This is in contrast to agape, which is love extended through the spirit. Agape love requires a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, since the non-renewed soul is unable to love unconditionally. Agape love gives and sacrifices expecting nothing back in return.

As a young man who sees this as a favorite verse you have a great opportunity to live the two types of love out with the correct actions for both. When you phileo love from the relationship of agape love you will have relationships that glorify and honor God. Then your relationships will be strong and long-lasting.

God loved and gave! Believe in! Have eternal life!

Philippians 4:13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

By looking 1 verse up i can see that Paul has learned a valuable lesson. One which i would love to learn as well as he has. He says, “I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.”

At first glance i would say that it would be from the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, that he comes to the general conclusion that he could “do all things.” He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil, and meet all the temptations and any condition of prosperity or adversity. But with Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the result of his former experience. He knew very well where his strength was to be obtained from. This was not a habit which Paul had acquired by frequent exercise, it was a disposition (bestowal) a gifting of sorts, which he had by grace; and he was enabled to do all by the power of the inner being of Christ.

i have shared in the past about me being save from me. While i claimed my abilities to be a gift from God that never translated into an everyday dependency upon God. The short of it was, no personal, intimate relationship. No praying, no reading the word, no listening. Learning and study were confined to Sunday morning, Sunday School and morning service, that was if i could stay awake. Sunday night, ditto, and most Wednesday nights as well. Outside of one of those time slots… i am just an everyday boy trying to live life to the best of his own ability. Thank God that was a long time ago.

For Paul it was all through the strength which Christ had imparted. Paul had abundant experience in that impartation. His whole reliance was there. my strength was in my native ability. my strength was all pressing through in body and or mind.  i depended on my own resolutions.  For Paul it was in the strength that he derived from the Redeemer. He was enabled to bear cold, fatigue, and hunger, he met temptations and persecutions. So if i am to live life anywhere near where Paul was, i must learn:

(1) that i do not need to be overtaken by any trial, because there is one who strengthens me.

(2) that i do not need to give way or yield to temptation. There is One who is able to make a way for my escape.

(3) that i do not need to be harassed and tortured with improper thoughts and unholy desires. There is one who enables me to take captive such thoughts.

(4) that i do not need to be afraid of what is to come. Trials, temptations, poverty, want, persecution, may await me; but i do not need to fall apart when they come. At every place in my life, Christ is able to strengthen me, and bring me triumphantly through.

I agree in prayer with Paul in verse 20 where he says, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever (through the endless eternities of the eternities). Amen (so be it).”

For the one’s who shared this verse i pray Paul’s words from verse 23 which says, “The grace (spiritual favor and blessing) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).”

Psalm 23:4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

Psalm 23 is about confidence in God’s love, grace and care for me. I Am is my shepherd. In these words, i the believer is taught to express my satisfaction in the care of the Redeemer and Preserver of my soul. With joy i am to reflect that i have confidence in my shepherd Jehovah. i am one of many who is compared to being like sheep. Gentle and harmless, i am to feed in lush green pastures, under the care of a skilful, watchful, and tender shepherd.

The greatest abundance is but a dry pasture to a wicked man, who relishes in it only what pleases his senses. But for me, as a godly man, who by faith tastes the goodness of God, the valley is a lush green pasture.

In the Lord i find peace and contentment in my mind, regardless of what is stirring around me. i am blessed with the green pastures brought about by following His word. For me it is not enough to pass through them, but i want to linger in them and get all i can from them before i must move on.

Psalm 23 1-9 are pictures of knowing that God is always with me. The Holy Spirit, are the still waters by which i am led; the streams which flow from the Fountain of living waters. i am only led by the still waters of comfort, when i walk in the paths of righteousness. Obedience and working in the things of God is to be the pleasant way. The work of righteousness is peace. In these paths i cannot walk, unless God leads me into them.

 Discontent and distrust come from unbelief that God is always near. A rollercoaster life is the consequence of that unbelief. That in mind i must then simply learn to trust my Shepherd’s care, and hearken to his voice. The valley of the shadow of death represents the most severe and terrible affliction, that the psalmist and i may ever could come under.

Between the part of the people on earth and those which have gone to heaven, death for many is like a dark valley that must be gone through while going from one to the other. But even in this there are words in this psalm which lessen the terror. It’s only the shadow of death. A shadow of a serpent will not sting. The shadow of a sword can not kill.

It is a valley, deep and dark, but valleys are most often fruitful, and so is death for me as one of God’s people. It is a walk through it. i will not be lost in this valley, but get safely to the mountain on the other side. When i come to die, God will rebuke the enemy, he will guide me with His rod, and keep me with His staff. Actual death for me is not nearly as scary as facing what lies ahead in living. At this age the physical body begins to fail and the well dressed lies begin to reveal themselves. When it’s time for actual death my vote is for going to sleep… and that’s it.

There is enough in the word to comfort me when i will actual die, because underneath me will be the everlasting arms. i as one of the Lord’s people will feast at His table, because of the provisions of his love. Satan and wicked men are not able to destroy my comforts, while i am anointed with the Holy Spirit, and drink of the cup of salvation which is always full.

So in closing let me speak to Joshua for a moment. Let your past experience teach you to trust that the goodness and mercy of God will follow you all the days of your life.Let it be your desire and determination, to seek happiness in obedience and in service to God. While you are here on this earth, the Lord can and will make any situation pleasant, by the anointing of his Spirit and the joys of his salvation. If you chose to be satisfied with the blessings of His house, then you must also keep close to the duties of it as well. The outcome of this lifestyle will cause you to be a great shepherd to thousands. A comfort to all who cross your path. They will feed in the lush green pasture of your wisdom and find their way through the valleys and toward the Father and His provision of love for them.

 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.

This verses requires more than 1 up and 1 down. i like it when i am refered to as “Little children.” Reminds me that i have a long way to go but that i am not alone as my Father is with me. This verse is a heads up, a word of encouragement and a statement of assurance for me. It’s also a lesson in discernment for me as one who knows God and how i can tell the difference in those who do not. i’m going to use the Message as it just makes these verses so much more clear.

First John is, in many ways, a smorgasbord of theological concepts. There are many opinions as to why this letter was written. For today i only see one. i see the purpose of this letter as that of exposing false teachers which had left the church but were harassing and enticing the church.

Verse one says it clearly, my dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.

This is exactly what i meant when i said that the Message makes things absolutely clear. “Don’t believe everything you hear.” That’s a great word. i often times let my discernment be overridden by my believing the best about people or by pursuing peace at all cost.” Weigh and examine what people tell you.” YES!!!! Regardless of how busy i am, i must examine what people tell me. There are too many well dressed lies running around out there. i want people to do that with me! So often they just accept what i’m saying as if i were some sort of authority. i mean have you read these blogs? i don’t have all the answers, i don’t always get it right, SO WEIGH AND EXAMINE WHAT i SAY. “Not everyone who talks about God, comes from God.” i talk about Italy but have never been there. i know about Italy but that’s it! i have no personal experience only what i have read and heard. Now as for there being a lot of lying preachers loose in the worldoh Lord put a guard on my lips!

Verse two says that with all that stuff in mind here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought! Plain and simple! i just, last Friday, read Max Lucado’s book, Cosmic Christmas. It’s a story that uses this very premise as the way for the “good” angels to expose the truth regarding Lucifer and his other angels. Lucifer could not confess Jesus and thus his plans were brought to an end. Perhaps that should be our greeting toward one another? Hey there Bob, Jesus is Lord of my life, how about you? Of course there would have to some rule that would reject a response back like, ditto, me too or a nod of the head.

Now come the words of encouragement or assurance that the people or more personally i am in need of. My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.

It was some 25 or 30 years ago that i wrote a song with words that said, “When you’ve done all you know to do, and it seems the battles not been won. Just remember the image of who you are and the victories you’ve already won. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against things that we can not see. For greater is He who lives in me, than He who is in the world. Well something close to that… but i used to sing it all the time, to remind me of these verses.

For today’s person i see why these verses are favorites. They are encouraging and they speak to abilities and things already learned. Be encouraged! Be reminded of things you already know. And beware that there are those that claim to know God but have no clue. He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world. It’s time to pay attention. It’s time to trust what you know about and in God and you’ll be fine! There are many battles already won, that you have witnessed and there are more to come. In fact more than you can imagine, so when a battle reveals itself remember that, He the God that you have and still confess as your Lord, is far greater than any battle the world can throw at you. Your favorite song will remind you of all this, so listen to it often. Play it often and yes sing it often.

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

40 long years! Moses wandered in the wilderness.” Then, new direction. The book of Joshua starts with a bang. Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise and go … Joshua 1:2 No beating around the bush. The Message says, “Moses my servant is dead — so get going!”

God was saying, THE PAST IS BEHIND YOU. There’s lesson number one.

Joshua is now the leader and he’s getting instructions from God on how things are going to be in verses 1 through 9. Joshua and the people faced a huge shift. They were about to quit being wanderers and become landowners. They would soon leave their tents and move into homes. They would quit eating manna and start enjoying harvested crops that others had planted. They would go from playing defense to start playing offense. 40 years they had avoided trouble by walking around it. Now it was time to face trouble head-on as warriors. It was time to leave their “slave days” and enjoy days of freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Moses was dead, but God’s purpose was alive. This was no time to stand around grieving — or reminiscing about the good old days — or thinking about all the regrets and the “what if’s” of the past 40 years. It was time to move forward.

Strong and courageous is a real challenge unless you really believe the last part of the verse, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Thus comes lesson number two, THE LORD IS WITH YOU!

Joshua and Caleb were two men who demonstrated their faith in that promise. Forty years prior, they had been part of a group of 14 who went behind enemy lines to spy out the Promised Land. The other 10 came back terrified. That land is full of giants! They whined. Compared to them, we look like teeny-tiny grasshoppers! Only Joshua and Caleb showed strength and courage. They said, Let’s go get ‘em! The Lord is with us! Because the Israelites didn’t believe that they wasted 40 years wandering in the wilderness … while all the time, the Canaanites were trembling in fear.

The result of being strong, vigorous, and very courageous of, not being afraid, or being dismayed, (FOR THIS REASON) believing that the Lord your God is with you wherever you go is that miracles will follow you!

There was a definite change when the leadership passed from Moses to Joshua. During the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel saw God’s miracles every day. God guided them, a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He opened the waters of the Red Sea, then brought the water rushing back when the Egyptians pursued them. Daily they ate Manna that God provided. When they wanted more variety, God sent quail. When they were thirsty, God gave them water from a rock. For 40 years their clothes and shoes never wore out.

Miracles were God’s way of showing them that they could trust Him. The Miracles went BEFORE them. Under the leadership of Moses, they didn’t have to step out in faith because they could see God’s presence daily with their own eyes.

But when Joshua came along, things changed. The guiding cloud and pillar of fire were gone. There was no more manna appearing with the morning dew. There were new opportunities for cobblers and seamstresses because things began to wear out.

Joshua is facing the Jordan River. And once again, God opens those waters so they could cross. But from that point on this group of Israelites were told, OBEY ME, then miracles will follow. From the first battle Joshua fought.  “Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down!” God won that battle for them with a miracle. But the miracle came AFTER they obeyed. 

 There was a man who wanted to demonstrate his Faith in God regarding miracles. He went forward one Sunday in Church and declared that from that day on he would depend on God alone to supply all his needs. He quit his  job. Soon he was forced to move out of his expensive home into a small house in a poor neighborhood. Time went by and he ran low on food.

The 1st night he prayed for God to send him food. The next morning he walked outside expecting to find food, but nothing was there. He figured he hadn’t prayed fervently enough, so he dedicated the 2nd day to praying for God to send food. The next morning came — and stills no food. Again, he prayed all day long, “God, You can do anything. I know you can send me food.” And again he walked outside in the morning — no food. By this time he was getting desperate. He cried out in prayer, “God, send a miracle or I will die of hunger!” When he had prayed all he could pray, he fell back on his bed exhausted. In the silence, he heard a small Voice calling his name.
“I’m here, Lord,” he cried in relief. “Are you finally answering my prayer?” “I’ve been answering your prayers,” the Voice replied. “You’ve just been looking in the wrong direction.” “What do you mean, Lord?” he asked in confusion.
“Walk outside,” commanded the Voice. He walked outside and looked down at the dirty porch, but still saw no food. “There’s nothing here, Lord.” “You’re looking in the wrong direction.” He looked up at the sky but saw only clouds. “I still don’t see food, Lord.” “Look straight ahead,” said the Voice. He looked straight ahead — and there was a sign, pasted on the building across the street: LABORERS WANTED! LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED.

Verse 8 and 9 for me are one. See for yourself. 8This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.

At one time in my life i could be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed by virtue of my ability, stubbornness or pride not allowing me to be otherwise. my past was my now and i was with me. Result no success. i have moved on from my past and am working to believe that the Lord is ALWAYS with me. 8 and 9 are a lifestyle, but, let me quickly add, still a work in progress. Andre learn these lessons well while you are young for when you are old you will lead a people just as Joshua did.