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He Shakes The Foundations

He shakes the foundations.
 

“He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull”.

Ps 29:6 GNB

 
A few hundred years ago a man called Copernicus came out with the strange idea that the earth went round the sun. His thoughts shook the world of human ideas and challenged many previously-held beliefs. It had always been assumed that the earth was flat like a table and that it rested on foundations.
Mount Hermon is a high mountain which can be seen from most parts of northern Israel since it dominates the skyline. Mount Lebanon is close by. Before the Israelites came to the land the locals had regarded it as the abode of their gods. So violent was the storm that it seemed that God was even shaking it to its foundation as he played with it, making it jump and run like frisky young calves. The poet rejoices at God’s might in thus expressing his total superiority over other lesser gods. Whilst marvelling at what we would call the strength of nature, he revels in the thought of God’s all-dominant supremacy.
We understand much more about the working of the universe now. But the occurrence of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and droughts brings home to us the unpredictable character of some aspects of nature, and our dependence on God. We do not worship nature but we do worship the God who created it and recognize our frailty when the earth is shaken to its foundations by some terrifying upheaval. Such an event also reminds us how normally dependable this world is that God has created. Storms come and go but God maintains a reliable system so that we can plan, use and manage it for our benefit and to his glory.

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Made To Soar

Made To Soar

When I visit the zoo, I skip the eagles’ cage. I can’t stand the pain of seeing those majestic birds sit there on their perches day after day, their burnished brown wings draped over them like an ill-fitting old coat. They were created for the heights, to dance among the clouds, not to be prisoners in a cage. Those birds were made to fly.
Many people who profess that they are Christ’s men and women are like those caged eagles. They are made to live as free citizens of heaven, but they are imprisoned by their own sin. Their condition must break God’s heart. He knows what they could become, but they have put themselves in a cage. And the irony is that it is a cage with open doors.
The apostle Paul said that we who have put our trust in Christ have died with Him to the sin that confined us in our old life. And we are now alive in Him. We are not the person we used to be. Therefore, we must stop facing life as we used to face it.
Think long about those truths. Remind yourself of them often. Through Christ, you have been set free! You were never meant to be imprisoned in a cage. Confess your sin and trust God anew. You were made to soar.
Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner, Elizabeth
Christ is the open door out of the cage of sin.

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Never Too Old

Never Too Old

Look at what some people have accomplished despite advancing age. When Grandma Moses was 100, she was still painting. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play at 94. Arthur Rubinstein gave a great recital at Carnegie Hall when he was 89. And at 82, Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
The Bible tells of many godly people who didn’t let the advancing years stop them—Caleb and Moses, for instance. At 85, Caleb (one of the men who had spied out the land of Canaan) entered the Promised Land and drove out the Anakites (Josh. 14:6-15). And Moses continued to lead the people of Israel faithfully until he was 120 (Deut. 34:5-7). The secret of their success was faith in God and an attitude of steadfastness until God called them home.
There are many people who have lived far beyond the 70 years mentioned in Psalm 90:10. They are still bearing “fruit in old age” (Ps. 92:14) by encouraging others and using their energy in God’s service. Others, however, far younger, have decided to coast home.
As long as we have strength, we need to dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service. Then, no matter what our age, we can “rejoice and be glad.”
Growing old but not retiring,
Lord, the battle still is on;
I’ll go on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.
To stay youthful, stay useful.

Please stand by

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to [His disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been granted to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As a Christian teenager, I heard this message a lot: God calls each of us. I’ve repeatedly sought His call for me over time, through university, embarking on a career, and starting a family. Yet when I asked Him, “what is my call?”, I still heard back, “Please stand by”.
I had no doubt I had a calling. Yet as gratifying as that was, it was also terrifying. I could imagine God one day presenting me with an IOU for His many favours rendered. Then He would require me to pay Him back by calling me to some difficult mission overseas. God had the right to ask this of me, but I would not like it. I’d have to uproot my family, abandon my career, and give up my lifestyle.
I recently heard the message again: God calls each of us. This time the emphasis was: He prepares us for our calling, calls us to something we want to do, and that call provides us opportunities for personal growth.
A week later God revealed to me His call for me. It was something I could do and something I passionately wanted to do. Six months later, He continues to confirm my calling by the opening of doors and by the maturing I’ve had to do to meet this call.
“Please stand by” until tomorrow’s devotional to find out what my calling is.

Remember your Bethel

“I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel”.

Gen 31:13 GNB

Many Christian believers have an encounter with God that changes their life. From being doubters they become believers. No longer self-centred, they focus on others. Instead of thinking that they themselves are the centre of the universe they now know that God is. And many live to serve him above all things.
Jacob was such a man. Fleeing from his brother, God entered Jacob’s life and from then on Jacob knew that he was God’s man, that God was working his purpose out through him and that that divine destiny was bigger than he was. That happened at Bethel. But long years of toil and tribulation followed when it must have seemed that God had forgotten about it all, that he was leaving him to “stew in the juice” his earlier choices had caused. Doubts must have eaten away at Jacob’s faith. But that night at Bethel, the dream, the ladder, the call of God, would not go away. That encounter had defined who Jacob was. And it went with him down the years, reassuring him in loneliness, comforting him in trouble, pointing him forward in sickness and weariness. It was not just the place where God had made his home in Jacob’s heart (the name Bethel means “Home of God”) it was the totally overwhelming sense of God that went with him. And whenever he wavered, or wandered, or wondered if it was all just a figment of his imagination, he recalled the God who grasped and gripped him there.
Do the same. Go back – in your memory – to your own Bethel and let Christ renew his hold on you. And go forward in joy and faith again.

Anyone for grief management?

1 Corinthians 15:35 – Some will ask, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?

Do you know what I heard on the radio last week? An ad for a local funeral chapel, totally serious and in painfully good taste.
“When your loved one dies, come and see us about our new Grief Management Program.”
Grief Management?
Someone you really loves dies, and all the world can offer is Grief Management? Give me a break! What belongs to Christians is as far from Grief Management as a diamond is from a charcoal briquette.
It’s the dead raised to life, not the floral arrangement for our last public appearance. Newness of life, not a tastefully printed obituary.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though they die, yet shall they live.” John 11:25
Unless anyone still wants to sign up for Grief Management …
Prayer: Dear God, we all know that we will die someday but we’d rather not speak of it now. Help us with the little deaths that will meet us today, to know them, face them, accept them and find in them the life you offer out of them. In other words, O Lord, help us through these deaths to find the life you offer, and we still receive, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The higher providence

“God has taken flocks away from your father and given them to me”.

Gen 31:9 GNB

Life is never easy. It is always difficult. Many people find so much going wrong so much of the time that they say there is truth in what is called “Murphy’s Law” which states: If anything can go wrong, it will. It is nothing new. Some people in the Bible knew all about it as well.
Jacob was one of them. Having crooked his twin brother Esau, he had to flee for his life. Then, having found the woman of his dreams, her father “pulled a fast one” on Jacob. And one trouble followed on top of another. But whilst his father-in-law worked swindle after swindle on him, Jacob worked on, believing that he was ultimately not the victim of Laban, but the servant of God. He was right. Above and beyond the crookery that surrounded him, there was a higher providence – the will, the power and the love of God. Striking a bargain on his working conditions, things ended up with the balance tipping heavily in his favour, far more than he could ever have imagined.
Jesus too knew that beyond and above the enmity of the priests and other religious leaders, the scheming of Judas, the weakness of Pilate and the jealousy of Herod, God was working out a higher purpose in his life and destiny – the salvation of the world. That same higher providence is working for you. Whatever exploitation, suffering, deprivation, frustration or cruelty you may have to endure, know that God is working some purpose of hope and of love in your life. You may not be able to see the end he has in view right now, but trust him anyway.

Just for the Joy of it

Matthew 13:44 – The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and covered up; then in great joy goes and sells everything and buys that field.

Have you ever wondered why people do the things they do? The good things, I mean.
An old teacher of mine said “You can make someone do something once through guilt. You can bring them a few times more through obligation and duty. But give them joy and it will be a thousandfold!” How much can be done when there is joy in it. How little when there is none.
Where do we get such joy? Joy is something larger, more wonderful and more marvellous than you are. Joy comes from being part of it all and knowing it too. Joy is less the emotion you feel and more living your life in the greater circle of God’s amazing ways.
Joy is something you can’t do on your own. It’s not by yourself. Joy comes from others and most of all from God.

Find the good in the bad

“Your father … has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not let him harm me. Whenever Laban said, ‘The speckled goats shall be your wages’, all the flocks produced speckled young. When he said, ‘The striped goats shall be your wages’, all the flocks produced striped young”.

Gen 31:6 – 8 GNB

Some people complain that nothing ever goes right for them. You know it can’t be true and suspect them of looking for sympathy. Others claim that everything goes so well all the time that you suspect they are just boasting of their own success in order to make you feel less competent than them.
Jacob was himself an arch swindler. Then he himself was the victim of some dirty tricks at the hands of his father-in-law, Laban. So he decided to make his getaway and return to Israel where he had come from. In sharing his intentions with his wives, Rachel and Leah, Jacob showed how his faith had sustained him through all the years of trouble. Despite the tricks Laban had played on him he also saw that God had been good and had provided him with wealth and prosperity.
It is not always easy to find the good when there is so much that is bad. Faith in God enables you to see them both and the difference between them. It also enables you to appreciate with gratitude the good things God is doing in your life all along – whether the bad things are hitting you hard or giving you a break. If the going is rough at the moment ask God to help you to get through it and to show you the good he has sent you in the past and is sending you now.

One At A Time

Matthew 6:34 – Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

An elderly man bought a small farm, and after two years, his son visited him. They stood together on a small hill and looked over several acres of trees. The young man exclaimed, “Dad! How did you ever plant all those trees?” The father smiled and answered simply, “One at a time, son.”

 

How much energy we waste, thinking about the tasks before us as unmanageable and endless. Even the longest hike is accomplished by taking one step at a time. Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Each day’s cares are sufficient for one day.” Yet we demand today that God give us strength for the activities of the whole week. We must become more obedient to God, depending on Him for the power to do each task in turn, by the power of His Holy Spirit. It really helps to talk over the things you’re doing, with God, listening for His help and advice, receiving re-assurance and strength. If this sounds foreign to you, you may be asking, “How do we begin this kind of relationship with God?” By placing our trust in Him, in the only moment we have… NOW.