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Humble Beneath the Heavens


We’re told in Psalm 128:2 that when we eat the fruit of the labor of our own hands, we will be happy. The problem happens when people go beyond happy and become arrogant. While God has created the world according to “the law of the harvest,” we must remember that He is still “The Lord of the Harvest.” He allows us to have the fruit of our labors as a blessing, not just because we deserve it.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden of “The School of Christ,” we get a reminder that God still rules in the kingdoms of men.

Infinite Supply Image for November Fourteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Fourteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 14

The Most High Rules

“The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men.”
DANIEL 4:17

Christ is increasing and filling all things. Have you seen this? If you have, then embrace it, submit to it, cooperate with it, be in harmony with it, order your life around it, demonstrate it to the world around you, and pray for its fulfillment.

Get aligned with something and Someone higher and greater than yourself. For when you see God’s Purpose, and you adjust your life according to that Purpose, and you consistently pray for the fulfillment of that Purpose, then His Purpose cannot be stopped; His Will cannot be frustrated; His Kingdom cannot be defeated. Heaven singles you out and Hell trembles with fear. You just became undefeatable! You just joined the Remnant.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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The full context of the Scripture referenced by the author is where Daniel interprets two visions of King Nebuchadnezzar where God issues a warning to him about his future. We can see from the king’s personal statement near the beginning of the chapter (Daniel, Chapter 4) that he still doesn’t understand who God really is. He tells the reader, in verse 8, the following…

“His name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God.”

So, he knows that the Creator God is holy, but he doesn’t yet know Him as his own. Daniel warns him that he can repent and stop sinning, and maybe then God will remove the future curse from him, but Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t get it. To the contrary, by verse 30, he says…

“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

I have built”? “My mighty power”? “For my majesty”? Those things make it pretty clear why the curses from the visions had to come to pass. The king ended up having the mind of a wild animal and crawling around in a wet field until his hair and nails over-grew. By the time it was over, the king knew who God was. In verse 34, he declared something quite different from verse 30…

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever.

What he first claimed as the result of his own power, he realized was only the result of God’s power–even over a king and kingdom. As God told him in the vision, “The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men.” Even when we work for it and earn it, or even when we receive it as an inheritance or a gift, our position on this earth is never above God and never without God. When we understand that, we will be humble beneath the Heavens instead of feeling the need to exalt ourselves, and our humility will bring us more power. As Chip says, if we align ourselves with God and His purpose, we become part of the remnant of the undefeatable.

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When God Builds Walls


Me, I’m not so good at dealing with walls. How about you? For me, a wall automatically seems like an invitation to stop and give up. I can press on over bumps and hills, but pressing through walls is a different story. Often, I feel guilty for not fighting harder. But what if I’m feeling guilty for nothing? What if walls going up have purpose in my life?

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden from The School of Christ made me think of thinks a bit differently…

Infinite Supply Image for November Tenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Tenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 10

Why God Resists Us

“God resists the proud.”
JAMES 4:6

Our automatic assumption is that anything which resists us or hinders us is of satanic origin. Yet we learn from James 4:6 that there is Someone Else who can resist us. There is Another Who carefully watches what we do, and frequently hinders us from making progress. It comes as a shock and surprise to some Christians to see one day that God, not the devil, is resisting them. The Lord Himself resists us, closes doors, causes things to be unfruitful, and spoils all our plans. How so? Because “God resists the proud.”

This resistance from God is insurmountable. It is a fearful thing to fight the Lord. We spend most of our lives wrestling with God instead of cooperating with God, and in the end we have nothing to show for it. So much time and effort is wasted because we proceed in our own, stubborn way. We attribute all difficulties to the devil, or to other people, or our circumstances, or our environment, and fail to recognize that the Lord Himself is resisting us.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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I am in total agreement with the author that most of us consider resistance an attack from the enemy. We also tend to think that if things go easy, it must be a sign from God that we’re headed in the right direction. However, when we look at the secular world and see all the things that seemingly “go right” for so many there, we can see the flaws in our thinking. It rains on both the just and the unjust, and the sun shines on both the good and the evil. Some things just happen, but some things are a sign. So how are we to know?

I believe the author’s message, and the message of Scripture, hold the clue. If we couple the fact that God resists the proud with the knowledge that He disciplines those whom He loves, we can see that His resistance could possibly only be against the proud of those who love Him. That may be why we see unbelievers seemingly “getting away” with all their bad deeds. However, when we who serve Him are running full steam on our own power and forgetting Him, He just might build a wall to protect us from the destruction our pride could bring. After all, this Scripture is written to believers even though it’s to believers who are engaging in all kinds of sin.

So, next time you run into a wall, if you are a believer in God Almighty, consider the fact that He might be the Builder. If He has put some resistance in your path, it may simply be an invitation to slow down and pray. Seek His perfect will for your life, and become humble that you can find His grace…and maybe even a new door to walk through.

November 11, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet and Salty


Salt Dough Heart by Flickr User Elin B, CC License = Attribution

Salt Dough Heart by Flickr User Elin B, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Which flavor do you think God likes the most? Do you suppose He likes sweet things because He made so many fruit trees? Or do you suppose He likes salt the best because He called us the salt of the Earth? He also made sweet vegetables, sugar cane, stevia, and bees that make honey. Then again, the oceans are filled with salt, and many chemical elements (such as phosphorus) are types of salt. Salts are also necessary for many of our bodily functions, but I’m not certain how necessary sugars are for us to keep living. When you break down all the different properties of salts, it gives a new meaning to God’s children being salt of the earth and the urgency to not lose our saltiness.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 2:7 through Leviticus 2:16 (the end of the chapter), we have a few more details on the grain offering. We already know the grain is to be offered without any type of leavening agents, but today, we learn that every grain offering is to be seasoned with salt. So far, there is no reason given, but I wonder if it is to make sure the priests eat enough salt to retain water for life in the desert–especially a life that requires the amount of labor the priests were required to perform.

The other thing we learn today is that no offering should be given with any honey put on it. Leavening and honey are never to be sent up in smoke to Yahveh. I’d have to do an experiment or talk to a scientist to find out if there is a chemical reason for that, like maybe that honey would coat the nostrils of those breathing the smoke and somehow harm them, but my mind takes this in another direction. I’m thinking that since leaven represents pride, honey might represent a false sweetness. In Proverbs, we read about the adulterous woman whose lips drip with honey, but her feet go down to death and Hell.

If what I’m thinking is at least part of God’s reasoning for wanting an offering to be given with salt and not honey, then I imagine that means He is pleased when we come before Him with tears more than with eloquent words of praise. Could it be that He make our tears salty instead of sweet for this reason?

March 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hail or No, We Won’t Let You Go


Leaves and Hail by Flickr User Michael J, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Leaves and Hail by Flickr User Michael J, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

What is it about stubbornness that makes so many people hold onto it so strongly? I mean, Pharaoh has had far more than three days of trouble. All he had to do was let the people go for three days, but because he remained stubborn and hard-hearted, he is getting ready to suffer yet another plague. And we can be pretty sure that he is blaming all of these plagues on God, on Moses and Aaron, and/or on the people of Israel. But all the blame and justification in the world will not change the fact that a simple act of obedience, and maybe a little compassion from Pharaoh toward Israel, could have stopped all of Egypt’s troubles.

In today’s reading from Exodus 9:17 through Exodus 9:35 (the end of the chapter, and the end of this week’s portion), God is having to issue yet another warning to Pharaoh. This time He tells Pharaoh that He is getting ready to send a terrible hail storm on Egypt that will be worse than anything they have ever seen. But, this time they actually have another way out. Anyone who brings their slaves and animals inside and out of the field will not lose them. But every human and animal left out in the field will die from getting pelted by the hail stones. Those among Pharaoh’s servants who believed Yahveh brought their slaves and animals inside.

When the storm begins, it comes with thunder and fire as well. From the way it’s worded about flashing up, I’m guessing the fire is lightning, but I can’t be sure. The storm destroys plants and kills animals and people, but in the land of Goshen where God’s people stayed, there is no storm at all. As I’m typing this, I’m imagining Goshen to be in the eye of the storm and thinking how this would be like saying they were being watched by God as the storm was going on around them. If we trust in God, we too can have the promise of His eye watching us and of His protection in our midst. If we keep our eye on Him, then we do not have to fear no matter how severe we see the storms raging around us.

Now this next part almost made me laugh. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron with a confession. He says, “This time I have sinned.” What? This time? So he’s not only stubborn and hard-hearted, he’s an idiot too? Maybe the plagues are finally starting to wear him down, but why would a person need to be scraped along the bottom before he decides to look up? And why, when he does finally look up, does he look through half-closed eyes instead of confessing and forsaking all his sins so he can be set free from them? It makes no sense to me, but then pride never has made sense since–from the time Lucifer used it at the throne to this moment. It always comes before destruction, but we humans continue to push the boundaries anyway.

Still, after Pharaoh pleas for deliverance, God does stop the storm. Moses even gives Pharaoh the good news that the crops which had not yet blossomed would still come up for him. And yet again, when Pharaoh is no longer uncomfortable, he hardens his heart like a big piece of hail, and he changes his mind again about letting the people go–just as God told Moses would happen. And this is the end of the week’s portion, and the news of the seventh plague. Shabbat Shalom.

January 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Good Gifts Go Bad


The last half of today’s reading from Genesis 11:1-32 is the genealogy of Shem, the oldest son of Noah. But before we get to that point, we get to hear a story about good gifts being used for the wrong purposes. The key verse here is Genesis 11:4 where it says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that has its top reaching up into heaven, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.’ ” The rest of the story is the familiar tale of “The Tower of Babel” (aka “The Tower of Confusion”) where God confused their languages, so they could no longer work together to create things for their own name.

In this story, God has given men the whole earth and all they need to create a life for themselves. He has given them language to communicate with each other. He has given them bricks and mortar to build shelters for themselves. He was their Ultimate Provider then just as He is our Ultimate Provider now. But they forgot that even when they had to work for something, It was God who created the ability to work and the products to work with or from.

With all those gifts, including the gift of unity that was so strong even God said it could make nothing impossible for those who worked together, where do you hear any words of praise echoed to God, or any thoughts of working with His will or plans? You don’t. Instead, these men took God’s provisions as their own, built with them according to their own will, and then used them to make a name for themselves as if it were all their own from start to finish. They forgot that God is the Author and Finisher. They failed to realize that unless The Lord builds the house, all labor is in vain. (See Psalm 127:1.) They allowed the fear of being scattered to overtake them rather than asking God where He would have them to go. They let all the good gifts of God end up being used for selfish, prideful, fearful, and other bad reasons.

Today, there are many gifted people doing the same with the gifts God has given them. They become haughty and act as if the world cannot live without their gift of entertainment or prophecy. If something they have to offer is that important, it’s even more important that they keep it in line with God’s perfect will. Even our faith must be an act of obedience, so if we’re obeying our Creator, where do we get bragging rights? I pray frequently that God will keep me in check when someone positively comments on something I have done–be it singing and writing or helping and encouraging. I know I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, and I also know I can do nothing apart from Him. I know that, even when I am doing His will and accomplishing things through Him, it is only by His grace. According to His word, even my desire to serve Him is from Him. Philippians 2:13 in the Easy-To-Read version states it this way: Yes, it is God who is working in you. He helps you want to do what pleases him, and he gives you the power to do it. So, there is nothing to boast in except Him. May we always keep that perspective that none of the wonderful gifts He pours out on us will go bad.

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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