In this first episode of season three, we are diving right into an important topic: training to be a Christian. Today we’ll focus on what we give up.
Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Today we’re doing something a little different: a simple reading of a chapter in the Bible. May it bless you like it did me.
Today we explore what it means to love God – what does that look like?
John 14:20-21 (WEB) In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”
God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good, right? So what about when things don’t go well? Today I’ll share my own personal experience with four flights, three semis, two rude reps, and a car accident.
James 1:2 (NET) My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
While I was traveling on business this week, I came to a strong realization that all that happens is to glorify Him. We’re just going to begin this topic this week, and next week you’ll hear the rest of the story – something you won’t want to miss.
Our verses today are:
Romans 11:36 (NET) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.
Psalm 19:1 (NET) The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork.
Proverbs 30:8 (NET) Remove falsehood and lies far from me; do not give me poverty or riches, feed me with my allotted portion of bread, 9 lest I become satisfied and act deceptively and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I become poor and steal and demean the name of my God.
In this week’s episode we are continuing our discussion on prayer that we began last week. We’ll spend time in the following scriptures:
James 4:2b (WEB) You don’t have, because you don’t ask. 3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.
1 John 5:14 (WEB) This is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. 15 And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (WEB) Pray without ceasing. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.
Does God Answer Prayer? This is a question many Christians ask, and today we’ll start to uncover the answer.
Genesis 25:21 (WEB) Isaac entreated Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren. Yahweh was entreated by him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her. She said, “If it is so, why do I live?” She went to inquire of Yahweh. 23 Yahweh said to her, “Two nations are in your womb. Two peoples will be separated from your body. The one people will be stronger than the other people. The elder will serve the younger.”
James 5:16b (WEB) The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.
In the podcast this past week, we talked about how it is of greater value to stand at the threshold of the house of the Lord than to live in the tents of the wicked. While this is such a powerful visual, the entire passage I quoted in this podcast, Psalms 84, speaks to the greatness of dwelling in the house of the Lord. Look at the first few verses:
Psalms 84:1 How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. 4 How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.
This psalm is not written by David, but the sons of Korah. In it, the author seems to be speaking to the difference of a world without YHWH as our God and world with Him as our God.
Our hearts yearn for Him, even before we know what they are yearning for. Birds find their house and swallows their nest, and in those places they are happy, but for us, there is no true happiness until we find our God. And then, and only then, we are blessed as we will dwell with Him forever.
I am amazed at how much I am getting from this one psalm, and perhaps it is speaking to me because I need to be reading it right now. I’m not sure what God is trying to tell me, but my ears are open and ready to hear Him.
Psalms 84 has come to my attention more than once lately, and I am finding a real richness in one verse in particular. In verse ten we are reminded how much better it is to be in the presence of the Lord than anything else out there.
Psalms 84:1 How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. 4 How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. 5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! 6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. 7 They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. 9 Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Your anointed. 10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
In 1 John 2:3-11, we learn of a commandment that is not new, but it is a bit different.
1 John 2:3 (NASB) By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
* Some of you noticed that an episode didn’t get published last week. Consider that a lesson learned on my part! I was traveling for business, and I found out what didn’t work well on the road. Hopefully that won’t happen again.