A Christian Journey

Archive for July, 2014

The Lord Is A Refuge

“The Lord will thunder and roar from Zion and utter His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the children of Israel.”    Joel 3:16   Amplified

Talk about scripture jumping from the headlines, that’s todays verse, in my opinion.   It speaks to believers as well, as it states that the Lord is our refuge and a stronghold to His children.

In Joels time a swarm of locusts had brought about a great famine.  The Amplified Bible says a heathen and hostile nation of locusts, illustrative of a human foe, had invaded the land.  During that time and now God calls on His people to repent and turn to him so their broken fellowship can be restored.  As it was then and is now the Lord is jealous for His land and had pity on His people. 

In verse 2:32 it says, “And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant of survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”   This verse reminds me of John 3:16 and it tells me that when people call upon the Lord they are saved, then He calls them for His purpose.

The book of Joel is considered prophecy, heed the warning and call upon the Lord and be saved, then be ready for His service.

A Stubborn Heifer

“For Israel has behaved stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer. How then should he expect to be fed and treated by the Lord like a lamb in a large pasture?”  Hosea 4:16    Amplified

Today I’m stepping a bit out of our study of the 3:16 verses in the Bible by looking at Hosea 4:16.  One reason is that there isn’t a 16th verse in the third chapter of Hosea.  The other reason is because I read our verse today thinking that it was 3:16 and was so impressed by what it said.

How would you like being called a stubborn heifer?   As indicated in the introduction to the book of Hosea, God’s love for backsliding Israel is the theme of this book.   As believers I think this message is for us as well.  Do we ever want our own way?  How many times are we pulled away from the Lord and doing what’s pleasing to Him, versus what we want to do in our flesh?   We always try to excuse our choices with, well the Lord will forgive me or I will get right with God later.  We need to have spiritual eyes to see the warfare going on around us for our souls and the souls of others.

God speaks through Hosea in verse 4:6 saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”   The knowledge He is speaking of is not worldly knowledge but godly knowledge.   The next verse, to me, sounds like He’s speaking also to America, “The more they increased and multiplied in prosperity and power, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory to shame.”

Let’s not be like a stubborn heifer refusing to obey the Lord. Let’s instead seek Him for our every breath and be the lamb in the large pasture.

He Is Able To Deliver Us

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point.”  Daniel 3:16  Amplified

It’s interesting to me that these three young men answered the king by telling him they weren’t going to answer him!

Of course we all know the story of the three Hebrew children, as they are often called, who were thrown in the fiery furnace, but survived.  Daniel is the primary figure in this book, sometimes people get confused and include him as one of the men in the fiery furnace.  It was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego whose real names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They were renamed because they were being held captive by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon.  In verse 1:20 it states, “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king asked them, he found them ten times better than all the learned magicians and enchanters who were in his whole realm.” 

In our verse today, Nebuchadnezzar has made a statue of himself for all the people to worship.  The three young men wouldn’t bow down to his statue, which of course made the king mad and likely embarassed him, so he had to throw them in the fiery furnace.  In fact he was so mad that before he threw them in he commanded the furnace be heated up seven times more than normal.   It was so hot that the men who threw the three Hebrews in the furnace were burned up.   To the kings surprise when he looked into the furnace he didn’t see three men walking around, but four whom he said looked like a son of the gods!  Then he shouted to them telling them to come out, when they did the fire had not touched them at all.  Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of these young men and set aside his decree saying there is no other God who can deliver in this way.

Persuction of christians is getting “hotter” around the world and we may soon see it much worse in America.  This story encourages me to take a stand for the Most High God I worship, because He will deliver His servants who believe in, trust in, and rely on Him!

Wait And Be Quiet

“And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me.”  Ezekiel 3:16  Amplified

Our verse today is from the vision Ezekiel had as God was calling him to be a prophet to Israel while they were in captivity.  At this point he is sitting by the river with those in captivity for seven days saying nothing.

I believe this speaks to us about waiting and being quiet.  The Lord is always wanting to speak to us, speak life into us, speak wisdom into us, but we must be quiet.  As one who likes to talk, it’s hard sometimes for me to be still, the Lord and I are working on that.

Waiting is another problem area for most people today.  In our hurry up, get it quick life today we don’t want to wait.  We get stressed if we have to wait, and then that causes us more problems.  The people in the old and new testaments were often called to wait and it usually wasn’t just seven days, but often it was many years.  Times have changed and now we have all this technology, but we are still people just like them, we’ve just gotten used to instant gratification.   Maybe it’s time to slow it down.

I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait for the Lord, who expect, look for and hope in Him, shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles mount up to the sun, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”

Want a refreshing? Then sit down by the river or wherever is peaceful and be quiet, you will hear from God.

O Jerusalem, O America

“He has caused the arrows of His quiver to enter into my heart, the seat of my affections and desires.”  Lamentations 3:16  Amplified

The book of Lamentations describes the destruction of Jerusalem, it’s believed that the author is Jeremiah the prophet.  He starts out the book mourning the loss of the city, lamenting about what caused the destruction.  God’s hand points to the Israelites and their sin against Him as to why He allowed this to occur.  In the third chapter Jeremiah describes his feelings about it all, our verse today states it felt as though it was a physical pain.

For believers today, especially in America, we can read this with our country in mind and feel the same heartbreak.   Though all seems bad and appears to be a lost cause, God gives encouragement.  In verses 3:22 – 26 the word says, “It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being, my inner self, therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.  The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him, inqure of and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word. It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation, the safety and ease, of the Lord.”

As with Jerusalem, if America, the people, turn from their wickedness and their lack of reverence for God He will restore.

God forgive us.

God’s Presence

“And it shall be that when you have multiplied and increased in the land in those days, says the Lord, they shall no more say, The ark of the covenant of the Lord, it shall not come to mind, nor shall they seriously remember it, nor shall they miss or visit it, nor shall it be repaired or made again, for instead of the ark, which represented God’s presence, He will show Himself to be present throughout the city.”  Jeremiah 3:16

The prophet Jeremiah spends the beginning of this book named after him rebuking the Israelites in forsaking God.  In my vernacular he pretty much calls them scum sucking dogs!  Here in the 16th verse of the third chapter though, he takes a little break in fussing at them to tell them how good they could have it.  Now remember even though Jeremiah is the pen, God is the One doing the talking.  He loves people so much He is always willing to accept them if they will repent.

For the Israelites the Ark of the Covenant was a symbol that represented God.  People generally have a hard time believing in something or someone that isn’t visibly there.  God knows that, and so He gave them, in the old testament, objects that they could look at and see God.  I believe that’s why He sent His Son to earth for our salvation, people still need a physical representation of God to look to and that is Jesus.  Jeremiah told them God would show Himself to be present in their lives.  God is with us today as well, always and everywhere we go.  That’s a good thing, unless you are being disobedient to Him, if so repent and turn to God.

He wants to be a visible presence in your life that other people will see.

Consider & Understand

“Moreover, the Lord said, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks and with undisciplined, flirtatious, alluring eyes, tripping along with mincing and affected gait, and making a tinkling noise with the anklets on their feet.”  Isaiah 3:16

The prophet Isaiah is telling the people who have returned from exile and are living in Jerusalem that they need to turn from their wicked ways.  Like most of us tend to do, they had blended in with the cultures around them.   There is a long list after our verse today describing the ornamentation the people were wearing and Isaiah told them it would be taken away.  

Like money, the ornaments weren’t really bad, but it was the love of these things that made them wrong in God’s eyes.  We must always guard against letting some “thing” become an obsession with us.  An obsession is something that we devote all of our time to.  We must never let some object or event take precedent over God.

In Isaiah 1:3 he says, “The ox instinctively knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib, but Israel does not know or recognize Me as Lord, My people do not consider or understand.”

Who is your owner, master & Lord?  Consider and understand.