How to Praise
on February 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm
It has been said that we cannot truly praise God without letting go of our hearts because genuine praise comes from the heart rather than the head. Here are a few essential principles of praise. Be open. If you find yourself struggling to praise God, spend some time thinking about why. Ask God, What fears or concerns do I have that keep me from praising You? He will open your eyes and ears to things that may stand in your way. Be timely. It has been said that praise has a best-before date, so don?t wait too long to offer your praise. When you see something to praise God for, do it then rather than waiting and forgetting. Be sincere. Take the time to praise with sincerity rather than just a moment of hurried chatter. Candidly open yourself to who God is, and approach Him with a true sense of heartfelt appreciation rather than come from the standpoint of an exercise needing to be completed. Be committed. Make a commitment to find something new every day for which to praise God. Doing so will help you to develop the practice of recognizing God?s presence in the here and now.
The Good Shepherd
on February 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm
The Scriptures frequently refer to the Savior using the Shepherd-King metaphor. In the Old Testament the prophecy of the coming prince, a descendant of David, is clearly pointing to the Messiah who would come to shepherd God?s people. For example, Ezekiel 34 is a prophecy against the shepherds of Israel who have let the sheep get lost and go hungry (please read the whole chapter to get a glimpse of how God feels about us, His sheep!). After denouncing the shepherds for their carelessness, God promises the forthcoming Shepherd-King: ?Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd? (Ezekiel 34:23). This prophecy was written many years after David?s death, and it refers to a coming descendant of David. When Jesus, the awaited Davidic king, came to live and die for us, He identified Himself with the metaphor of the Good Shepherd. ?I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep? (John 10:11, 14, 15). Yes, my dear friend, Jesus knows everything about you, and He will take care of you. Your Shepherd intimately knows you, and He has laid down His life for you. That?s how much He loves you!
Jesus and Joy
on February 25, 2020 at 12:00 pm
A young woman sold fruit at her stand in the market, and every Saturday she closed shop because of her Sabbath-keeping belief. One of the regular customers thought it was foolish of her to do that. He argued that every day is equal before God, but she defended her doctrine. One day the man came by and again wanted to make his point. The young woman was busy serving others, so he simply lined up seven grapefruits and, catching her attention, pointed out that they were all alike. Cleverly, the young woman snatched the last grapefruit and placed a juicy orange in its place. The man caught on without the need for many words: the seventh day is sweeter than the others. The biblical account says that Jesus went to the synagogue to teach the Word of God on a Sabbath day. In an earlier chapter of Luke we read that it was His ?custom? to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath, for it was the house of God (4:16). On one of those Sabbaths, Jesus healed a woman who had been afflicted for eighteen years. According to the passage, some were angry with Him for working a miracle in her behalf. Why were they angry? Did Jesus disobey the law of God when He healed the woman on the Sabbath? How does the Sabbath relate to joy, happiness, and peace? In the previous study we saw the role of the eternal law of God and the transforming power of Christ that gives us the capacity to live in harmony with the spirit of the law. That law is the basis of His government.
The Church is God's Vision
on February 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm
In Ephesians, Paul declares that God has ?made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.? The apostle?s commission was ?to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery.? In past ages the mystery had been ?kept hidden in God, who created all things.? But now it was time to reveal the secret plan, to bring God?s vision and purpose to light: ?His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord? (Ephesians 1:9; 3:9?11). The vision includes all of God?s strategies, plans, and efforts to save this planet and its people and assure the unfallen worlds of Yahweh?s keeping power. God?s vision has its beginning in heaven, before the foundation of the earth, and will meet its complete fulfillment on earth at the end of the struggle. His vision is not just a forecast of future happenings. It is the living, active instrument of salvation for the planet and its inhabitants. It is His will, and that is already done. And God stepped out in space and said, ?Let there be light!??the first recorded words (Genesis 1:3). God will not leave any unfinished business, any question unanswered. In the midst of eternity the Creator measured off the time given over to the rescue operation. Then Deity brought the church on the scene to play its part in the mission. There is a time line, a beginning and an end time of probation.
The Big Five
on February 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Have your ever heard someone talk about the ?Big Five? in Africa? The Big Five refer to five animals that were considered by hunters as the most dangerous and difficult animals in Africa to track and hunt on foot?the lion, the elephant, the cape buffalo, the leopard, and the rhinoceros. Sadly, for many years hunters have traveled to Africa with the purpose of killing these increasingly rare animals for sport. When I traveled to Africa with my wife several years ago, we spent two weeks on several different safaris in three different countries. The only difference is that I didn?t have a weapon; I had a camera. I bought a special telephoto lens just so I can zoom in as much as possible to photograph these wonderful animals as they roamed around their natural habitat. My goal when I went to Africa was to see how many of the Big Five I would be able to see and photograph. In the end, we were able to see four of the ?Big Five? during our time there. The only one we didn?t see was the most elusive one?the leopard. Seeing animals in their natural habit was one of the most unique experiences I?ve ever enjoyed in my adventures. Let me tell you though, it was not easy to find all of them. Of the four we saw, the hardest one to spot was the rhino. We spotted one on the very last day, and I felt blessed and rewarded at the end of my two-week search for these animals. Sometimes the good things in life require us to seek them out; rarely do they come and find us. In the book of Matthew we are reminded that every day the most important thing we should seek out is God?s blessings. Don?t just automatically assume that you will be blessed in every single thing you do. Connect with God daily. Talk to Him; share your thoughts and worries and goals with Him. God has wonderful things in store for you today; seek Him out!
From the Lions' Den to the Angel's Den
on February 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm
The deliverance of Daniel from the lions? den is among the most beloved stories of the Bible. From a literary perspective, it parallels the story of the deliverance of the three Hebrew worthies from the blazing furnace (Daniel 3). Both narratives show God?s faithfulness by empowering His servants to remain faithful amidst the most harrowing trials. Both showcase captives challenging a royal decree and demonstrating their loyalty to God at the risk of their own lives. Both contain a divine messenger entering the fray to support and deliver them. And interestingly, just as Daniel?s whereabouts are not known when his companions went through the fire, we are not told where his friends were when Daniel spent the night with the lions. But wherever they were, they would have, like Daniel, retained their integrity. After all, they relied on God, not on each other, to face life?s predicaments. The story implies that Daniel?s integrity and loyalty to public service had the new king planning to appoint him over the whole kingdom, provoking the jealousy of Daniel?s colleagues. Resorting to subterfuge, they crafted a scheme to get rid of him, only to have it blow up in their faces. As the narrative shows, God was with Daniel and vindicated him before his enemies and the king. Daniel?s experience models a lifestyle for the ages and shows that God remains faithful to His people. He may not deliver everyone from physical pain and death on this earth, but everyone will eventually be vindicated when the great controversy comes to a close.
The Holy Ones of the Most High
on February 21, 2020 at 12:00 pm
To every Christian comes the word that was addressed to Peter, ?Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not? (Luke 22:31, 32). Thank God we are not left alone. This is our safety. Satan can never touch with eternal disaster one whom Christ has prepared for temptation by His previous intercession, for grace is provided in Christ for every soul, and a way of escape has been made, so that no one need fall under the power of the enemy. Satan is preparing many and strong temptations with which to assail the people of God. He is represented as walking to and fro like a roaring lion, seeking for some unguarded soul whom he may be successful in deceiving through his subtlety, and may finally destroy. We are not safe without Christ for a single step. But what comfort is treasured for us in the words, ?I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not?! Satan does not sift chaff; it is the wheat that he desires to have in his hands. Then let us take courage and pray at all times. ?That I May Know Him, p. 286.