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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seek God, See God

But from there you shall seek Yahweh your God, and you shall find him, when you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
— Deuteronomy 4:29 WEB*

We know that our truly seeing God is reserved for the future (1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4). Even so, we can still see much of God now.

Consider David, the shepherd boy whom God anointed king of Israel. While David had his failings, Samuel described David as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Why? Could part of the answer lie in the fact that David both sought God and saw God in everything and everyone around him? The songs of David suggest that, when David wasn’t seeking God, he was seeing God.

David sought God as he fled from his son, Absalom (Psalm 3).

David sought God in his evening prayers (Psalm 4).

David sought God in his morning prayers (Psalm 5).

David sought God’s mercy (Psalm 6).

David saw God as he carefully considered the nighttime sky (Psalm 8).

David saw God as his deliverer and gave his thanks to God (Psalm 9).

David saw God as his refuge and defense (Psalm 11).

David sought God’s help against the treacherous (Psalm 12, Psalm 13).

David sought God to deliver him (Psalm 16).

David sought God to protect him (Psalm 17).

David saw God as his deliverer from his enemies and King Saul (Psalm 18).

David saw God as he meditated on the endless cycles of day and night (Psalm 19).

David sought God to give him victory over his enemies (Psalm 20).

David saw God as his deliverer (Psalm 21).

David sought God in his anguish, and yet saw God as his creator and ruler of all (Psalm 22).

David saw God as he cared for his father’s sheep (Psalm 23).

David saw God as the king of glory (Psalm 24).

David sought God for protection, for guidance and for pardon (Psalm 25).

David sought God’s protection and saw God as his vindicator (Psalm 26).

David saw God as he watched the powerful thunderstorms roll in from the Mediterranean Sea (Psalm 29).

David saw god as his deliverer and praised God for his escape from King Abimelech of the Philistines (Psalm 34).

David saw God as his judge and sought God’s mercy (Psalm 39).

David saw God as his sustainer (Psalm 40).

David sought God as David confessed his adultery with Bathsheba and David’s murder of her husband, Uriah the Hitite (Psalm 51).

David sought God as he and his troupes hid from King Saul and his army in the cave (Psalm 57).

David saw God as he spent his days and nights of exile in the wilderness of Judah (Psalm 63).

David saw God as he contemplated his very creation (Psalm 139).

As you seek God, are you seeing God in everything and everyone around you? I pray that you are!



* WEB – the World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: http://ebible.org

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bible Study: Lydia

On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay.” So she persuaded us.

— Acts 16:13-15 WEB*

On his second missionary trip, Paul visited the Roman colony of Philippi (FILL-uh-pie) along with Silas, Luke and Timothy. Philippi was on the famous Egnatian Road—a trade route from Asia to Rome. The city was important during the New Testament due to its agriculture, location, functioning gold mines, and Roman status.

Lydia was a businessworman whose name may have come from the Hellenistic district where the town of Thyatira (thigh-uh-TIE-ruh) was. Thyatira had a Jewish settlement where Lydia may have learned of Yahweh, the LORD. Thyatira was famous for purple dyes made from murex shellfish, or less expensively from the juice of the madder root. Lydia sold purple cloths in Philippi.

Few Jews lived in Philippi, so there was no synagogue. Jewish law decreed that a synagogue could be formed when there were 10 males who could attend regularly. Otherwise a place of prayer was organized by water. Lydia met to pray with other Jewish women outside the city gates by the Gangites River.

While Lydia believed in God, she didn’t understand the full message of the Gospel. When Paul spoke, the Lord, “opened her heart”.

Lydia invited the missionaries to stay at her home. She provided for their needs, allowing them to use their time preaching and teaching. Her home may have later become the center for the church in Philippi.

Welcoming people into your home, helping someone move bringing a meal to someone who is sick—all these are ways of being nice. These acts are not very glamorous, yet they are absolutely necessary to show Jesus’ love to others. It’s how a Christian is known.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. — James 5:13-17

Lydia’s simple act of hospitality was a reflection of the love she had for Jesus. Not only was she being nice to Paul and his friends she was freeing them up to spread the Gospel.

Being nice to others is motivated by Jesus’ love. It is showing His love to those around you.

Ask Jesus for His help to let His love flow freely from you. Just as He used Lydia’s gift and talents to help Paul, He has given you gifts and talents to use to show love to others.

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* WEB – the World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: http://ebible.org

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bible Study: Dorcas

Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which when translated, means Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and acts of mercy which she did. In those days, she became sick, and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. As Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Peter got up and went with them. When he had come, they brought him into the upper room. All the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out, and knelt down and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand, and raised her up. Calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. He stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.

— Acts 9:36-43 WEB*

The seaport city of Joppa was 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Known as the seaport of Jerusalem, Joppa had the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Ptolemais in the southern part of Phoenicia. It was at this port where Jonah tried to escape God’s plan for him (Jonah 3). Today it is known as Jaffa, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Many poor people lived in Joppa. Sailors and fishermen often met their deaths on the Mediterranean. This may account for “all the widows” for whom Dorcas made garments.

Joppa was both a Gentile and a Jewish town. People often had a Hebrew or Aramaic name and a Greek one. The woman's Aramaic name was Tabitha, which means gazelle. Tabitha also means “one who sees clearly.” Tabitha had many Greek friends. They called Tabitha by their Greek word for gazelle, Dorcas. In Greek, Dorcas also means beauty and grace.

Dorcas was called a disciple (Acts 9:36). This is the only time the feminine form of the Greek word for disciple is used in the New Testament.

Dorcas’s body was washed in preparation for burial according to custom. Because there was no embalming among the Jews burial usually took place the same day a person died.

Peter was called from Lydda, about 12 miles southeast of Joppa. He was present at each of the three recorded incidents where Jesus raised people from the dead (Matthew 9:18-25; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:1-44). It was God who raised Dorcas, not Peter. Because of this miracle, “many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42).

Some days the news can be full of people in some type of a crisis. The crisis doesn’t even have to be far away. It could be someone close to you. It’s common to want to help. Sometimes you feel like you would do anything to make the situation easier. What is your first reaction when a crisis arises in your home or community?

The one thing we can all do at any time is pray. It should be the first thing that we do.

Both Dorcas and Peter helped others. Think about what Peter did—he got down on his knees and prayed. God healed Dorcas!

Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the LORD. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the LORD will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. — James 5:13-17

You may never know how your prayers will impact someone. But your prayers are the most important way you can help!

Pray for the many people and situations the Lord brings to your mind.

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* WEB – the World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: http://ebible.org

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Monday, January 2, 2017

God is Faithful

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.

-- Lamentations 3:22-24 KJVB

The Book of Lamentations tells of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which took place over 587 and 586 BC when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar overran the city. The surviving inhabitants either fled to other countries, were carried away to Babylon as slaves or remained under the brutal rule of an occupying force.

Lamentations is a collection of five poems. It does not name its author, but it is generally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. For many years, Jeremiah had warned the people and their leaders about their unfaithfulness to God. Jeremiah knew that being chosen by God did not translate to a free pass. He knew that actions had consequences. If God's people were not faithful to God's instructions, bad things would happen.

But even when surrounded by death and destruction, Jeremiah still had hope. He knew that even if the people were not faithful in their commitment to God, God would still be faithful in His promises to them.

The third poem, Chapter 3, speaks of hope for God’s people. In verse 22 the writer speaks of God's "loving kindnesses" and "compassion." The first term is the Hebrew word transliterate as checed (pronounced "KHEH-sed"), meaning "favor," "good deed," "kindly," "loving-kindness," "merciful kindness," "mercy," or "pity." The second word, racham ("RAKH-am"), meaning "tender love," "tender mercy" or "pity." Both words tell of God's faithfulness to express His kindness, His love and His mercy toward His people even when they do not deserve it or return it.

Then, in verse 23, the writer observes that God’s love, kindness and mercy are new every morning. The writer uses the Hebrew chadash (“khaw_DAWSH”), which means “fresh” or “a new thing,” and he uses the Hebrew boqer (“BO-ker”), meaning “day,” “early,” “morning,” or “morrow.” Here Jeremiah recognizes that with each new day, God’s love, mercy and kindness are brand new; that God never tires in his faithfulness. God’s captive people were first-hand witnesses to His faithfulness a few decades later, with the overthrow of Babylon by Persia in 538 BC, the return of the people to Judah, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Beyond those events, God’s people would ultimately witness His faithfulness in the coming of His Messiah, Jesus.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Song

O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory.

The LORD hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
-- Psalm 98:1-3 KJVB

This passage is an excerpt of one of the Royal Psalms (Psalms 93 through 99), which God is praised as the King of His people. In this song of praise, “victory” and “salvation” allude to the same thing. The word translated as “victory” in verse one is the Hebrew word transliterated as “yasha” and meaning “to save” or “to deliver.” The word “salvation” in verses two and three are the Hebrew word transliterated as “yeshuah” and meaning “salvation” or “deliverance.” And so the passage is a song of salvation.

For the Christian, the work of God’s redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ is a work of wonder. Consider all of the steps, from before the beginning of time through its consummation, and beyond. It is God’s doing and it is truly marvelous!

Consider, too, the difficulties appointed for and overcome by Jesus, God in human form. Consider His setting aside of power, His service, His discouragement, His suffering, and His death. Let us praise Him for fulfilling the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament. God gave Jesus, His Son, to be not only a Light to the Gentiles, but the glory of His people Israel.

Let us put away our old, vain and petty songs for new songs of joy and thanksgiving. Let our lives celebrate and praise Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

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