God is Not Done With Israel

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Zephaniah 3:9-17 (NIV), “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord. They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Even though God’s chosen people have rebelled and turned away from Him over and over during the span of history, He has always kept a remnant, those few who loved Him and were faithful, or those who were lowly and not haughty. He did this for David’s sake. He had promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David many things concerning His people and He always keeps His promises. He also did this for His names sake as well. He wants the world to know that He is good, that He is forgiving, and that, no matter what, He loves. He promises to gather them back together as a shepherd gathers His flock. Over the years, many times, it may have looked like God had totally forsaken Israel, but that was never the case. The plans and the purposes that He had for them never changed. His desire for them to be His children and to call Him “Father” always remained the same. He consistently sent deliverers until finally He sent His Son as the final deliverer. They will see Jesus for who He is and they will turn their hearts to the Father. Doesn’t God promise that in His word?

Jeremiah 46:27 (KJB), “But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.”

Jeremiah 23:3 (NIV), “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.”

Isaiah 25:9 (NIV), “In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

So what do we do as believers? We accept all God has for us, showing the Jews how good God is and what Jesus has done for us. We are to make them jealous enough that they seek after Him.

Romans 11:11 (NLT), “Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves.”

We also are supposed to be praying for them.

Psalm 122:6 (NASB), “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”

Sound the Trumpet

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When Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem, after getting permission from the King of Persia, Artaxerxes, he faced opposition. There were those who didn’t want the wall to that beautiful city repaired.

The people “had a heart and mind to work,” they all worked together, from officials, to perfumers, gold smiths to their daughters, priest and merchants. We all know that many people make quick work. They all worked together in family units to repair what the enemy had destroyed years ago.

Word got back to Nehemiah that their enemies planned on attacking while they worked. So he ordered the workers to work with their swords strapped to their backs. They worked with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other. Notice- he never told them to stop working. Too many times when we are under attack, we drop everything “to do battle.” We stay home from Church, we don’t show up for the outreach we promised to help with, we stop helping our neighbors and say we are fighting the enemy. God says, do both.

Nehemiah also realized that there were gaps in the wall between families. They were separated by some distance. So he tells them, “Whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

They were to “blow a trumpet” when help was needed and the others were to rally to their aide. But how many of us are too proud, too self-righteous, to even admit we need help. We think that us being in a battle somehow constitutes spiritual weakness or a lack of faith. The priests were working on that wall; the spiritual leaders were in the battle right along with the rest of them. If you think your Pastor doesn’t face opposition, invite him or her over for dinner one night and ask them about it. We all battle. It is never a lack of faith to ask for help. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. When we do “God fights for us!”

Are you facing a temptation that is threatening to overtake you?
Blow the trumpet!
Are you fighting a physical battle that has you worn down?
Blow the trumpet!
Have you made a mess of your life and feel unworthy of help?
Blow the trumpet!
Sound the alarm-help will come and God will fight for you!

Chronicles of the Kings

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God called David, “A man after my own heart.” He made a promise to this young shepherd-turned King, to always keep one of David’s heirs on the throne. This line started with David’s son Solomon and went all the way to Jesus (who still happens to occupy the throne and hold the title of “King.”) Starting with Solomon, David’s heirs were not faithful to continue in their father’s footsteps. During Solomon’s reign he worshipped false Gods and led the people astray. So God separated His Chosen People into two groups, Judah who kept the throne of David and ruled in Jerusalem and Israel who ruled in Samaria. Israel had a string of leaders who mostly fought for the throne, while Judah continued to have David’s seed as their kings.
Read Kings and Chronicles as well as the prophets and you will quickly see that the very people that God had chosen to have as His own, turned their backs on Him. They built altars to foreign gods, worshipped and sacrificed to false gods; they even profaned the temple that David had dreamed of building for the Lord. They went as far as even sacrificing their own children to Molech, by throwing them into the mouth of the idol, which was a fiery furnace. Over and over through the lineage of those kings from Judah and Israel we read how they “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and led God’s people to do the same.
Every now and then there was a light in the darkness, a prophet who really heard from God, a king who “did good like his father David.” They were few and far between and all but one, never removed one hundred percent of the idols and temple of the false gods, or restored the temple worship, sacrifices and the law. Only Josiah, who was only eight years old when he became king, did. He tore them down, pulled the altars to false gods out of the temple, crushed them into dust and let them wash away in the river. Then at the ripe age of sixteen he is given the book of the law that had been sitting unused in the temple. Once again God’s children renewed their faith in Him and they repented and followed the practices set up by God.
At his death, the next king, his very own son, “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” I read all of this and the one thing that stands out the most (no, not the stupidity of the people) is God’s patience! If I was Him, I would have given up after Solomon…So why did He keep trying? Why did He come when they remembered to call on Him? Because of the promise He had made to King David, all those generations ago, generations of unfaithful, hard hearted, stiff necked and rebellious people, that a son of David would always sit on the throne.
So even in His anger, when He used other nations to chastise the people and scatter them from their own land, He preserves the seed of David and a “Remnant” of His people. God was faithful to an unfaithful people. He preserved the line from David all the way until Jesus, the Son of David.
So what has God promised you? He is faithful. If He said it, He will bring it to pass. It might not always look like its coming, or come when we want it to, but it’s there. He is always watching over his word to perform it, (Jeremiah 1:12). Beware- don’t sin as the children of Israel and Judah did and expect God to move on your behalf. He clearly states in Zephaniah 3:12, that the remnant He preserved were, “A humble and lowly people and they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.” Those are the ones who inherit the promises.

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Comfort and Compassion
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…” Isaiah 40:1
There are a lot of hurting people in this world, the result of the fall, Satan’s attacks and our own stupidity and wrong choices. Jesus comforted the hurting and had compassion on their plight. He told the woman caught in the very act of adultery that he didn’t accuse her. He told the woman at the well, who was living with her wrong choices, that he had living water for her that would change her life. He fed thousands who had empty bellies and empty hearts.
We see in the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus standing in the Synagogue in Nazareth where he was raised and quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” Then he tells them that he is the fulfillment of this scripture.
What is the good news? That God loves us that his son came to show us that love and how to love others. Jesus demonstrated compassion and comfort. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:1-2, “Are you strong because you belong to Christ? Does His love comfort you? Do you have joy by being as one in sharing the Holy Spirit? Do you have loving-kindness and pity for each other? Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions.” The good news is that what we have received from Jesus, we can share with those other hurting people. His compassion and comfort came out of a heart filled with love. His compassion healed the man with the withered hand in spite of the consequences he would face from the religious people. His compassion drove the demons out of the Gaderine, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers and it forcefully nailed him to the cross. The compassion of Christ was so great that the grave couldn’t hold it, or the five hundred others that came up with him.
Jesus told us that we are to preach this good news of God’s love and compassion. The wonderful news that he sits on the throne of grace in all authority and power then gives us the same authority and power her on earth. The good news that he hasn’t left us here alone, but has sent the Comforter, His Spirit to guide us and teach us. Jesus never put conditions on his love; he just wanted to help people. Search the scriptures and you’ll see he never turned anyone down. Sure, in his home town, in the same chapter quoted above in Luke, he said a prophet couldn’t do much for his own, because of their unbelief, but he still wanted to help them. He never said, “It’s your own fault, deal with it,” but he did tell us, those who say we love him, “what you’ve seen me do, you do it!”
We could reach the world this way – could change the world this way. One person at a time, one smile, one hand reaching out in love, one crust of bread, one warm blanket at a time…

Book Review for “Iscariot” by Tosca Lee-Christian Fiction

Tosca Lee is a talented writer. I have read her joint efforts with Ted Dekker and this is the first book I have read by her alone. I can’t say enough about this book. The best book that I have read in years. It totally made me think about so many things on so many levels. Her retelling of the story of Judas Iscariot is based in the bible and historical writings, where history was lacking in the storyline; Tosca fills in the missing pieces with the liberty of fiction writers and painted a poignant story of one man’s struggle with his self-righteousness and self-condemnation. The main theme is the Love of Christ. Just loved it! I highly recommend this book for teens and up. If you read any book this year, read this one. I give it 5+ stars. One of my new favorite authors.

http://www.amazon.com/Iscariot-A-Novel-Judas-ebook/dp/B008J27ISS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1375229414&sr=1-1&keywords=iscariot

Book Review for “Gods and Kings” -Christian Fiction

Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin was a great Christian fiction read. It tells the story of a time in the history of Judah when they had turned their backs on God and even brought false gods into the temple. It includes biblical history with creative fiction and spans a few generations. There are more in the series and I will probably read them all. Lynn Austin knows how to tell a good story. I give this book 4 stars.

http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Kings-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004X7B8QQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1373985011&sr=1-1&keywords=gods+and+kings+by+lynn+austin#_

Keep Walking

Luke 13:31-34 “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”
The Pharisees had been trying to trap Him into saying something they could call Him on. They had just berated Him for healing a woman on the Sabbath, and now they are “warning” Him not to go into Jerusalem, saying that Herod would kill Him. (They didn’t want Him there, too many people to see His undeniable proofs of who He was). But it was Jesus’ response that pierced my heart today. “Tell that fox, I am working at my Father’s business! And I will be perfected.” Perfected sounds great right! He is talking about His death. Then He goes on to say, “I have to go to Jerusalem because prophets don’t die outside of that great city, and I am not there yet, so I will walk, and walk and just keep walking until I get to the cross.” Is He bitter? No, He cries out for Jerusalem in His love. They have spurned His love. What is He thinking about on the way to the city that will cry out for His blood. He is thinking of His End and His Love, and how in death He will be Perfected! He intends to keep working and walking until He arrives. Until He can say, “It is finished!” So when we are feeling overwhelmed, beat up, beat down. When we feel like giving up, or the end is just too far away, or maybe not what we had planned. What do we do? We work and we walk. Cast out devils, cure the sick, do what God has called you to do. Keep on the path! God knows the end. In the end, (if we keep working and walking) is PERFECTION!