Posts Tagged ‘Lord’


women are powerfulIn preaching through 1 Peter, I find myself staring at chapter 3 and wondering how I can possibly make it relevant to 21st Century American women. I know that most women under the age of 40 will hear these verses and inwardly think, “no way…, you don’t know the man I’m married to” or “if I do that I will be taken so taken advantage of.” These verses run so counter to what schools and media portray to girls and young women that I thought it would be best to re-write the Scriptures to reflect how most American women are taught to think. If you think I am wrong, let me know, but I think this is very accurate. The bullet point is the verse restated in 21st Century societal practice.  woman power

1 Peter 3:1-6

(1)  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

  • Likewise wives, get along with your husbands, as long as they obey the Word, and do not interfere with your rights,be a woman a man needs

(2)  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

  • for they must earn your respect and will be treated as they treat you.

(3)  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—

  • Keep up with all the latest fashions, for you must present a visually successful and attractive image to influence others and keep your husband’s attention.

Woman wth meek and queit spirit(4)  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(5)  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

  • And remember this is the 21st century, and women have been empowered to lead and succeed, and no longer have to follow behind men. Your power to succeed is within you.

Sarah called Abraham Lord(6)  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

    • You no longer have to follow antiquated stereotypes, for you have the power to be your own woman. In marriage as in life, view yourself equal to men

    • So, you think I am being ridiculous? No, the idea of a 21st Century American woman being a “Sarah” and calling her husband “Lord” is ridiculous to 98% of Christian woman. This notion is laughed out of Evangelical churches. Perhaps “Godly Women” give it lip service, but in reality this is a foreign idea in modern America. Woman who follow this are looked down upon with scorn and even derision. So how does a Pastor teach this with authority and application that makes sense in modern America? He can’t without sounding either crazy or chauvinistic. However, I believe there is a way to teach 1 Peter 3 so it makes sense to a modern woman. In order to do so, we must view these verses in light of the “template” that Peter wants us to place over these verses. It is a template that came to frame his whole way of living. Stay tuned…resilient woman

      woman has to fight for it

 

woman or power

  • WE CAN DO IT WOMAN POWER

  •  
Advertisements

True Thanksgiving

In 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul.

That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. That is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day.

Jonah Eats Fish at Thanksgiving

The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover.

But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)

1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

How did Jonah come to experience True Thanksgiving in the belly of the Great Fish?

1. Remember God (even when your life stinks)

Jonah:

The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;

Jonah sunk to the bottom of the sea. He saw where the mountains started. He was being choked by seaweed, he was losing consciousness.

He remembered God and cried out.

He thought he could run away from God, but Jonah realized that God was there, even when he was rescued by the fish.

Prodigal Son

He was lying down in pig slop, which if you ever smell will cause you to quit eating bacon for a long while.

Even there he realized he needed his Father. Even in that stench he remembered the love his father had even for servants.

2. Realize God is your only hope of steadfast love.

Remember the song “Looking for Love in all the wrong places?” It is so true for most people. Adam and Eve had all the love they could want, and it wasn’t good enough.

King David had all the women, all the wealth, all the power he could ever want, and it wasn’t good enough. He got into a mess of trouble because he committed adultery with another man’s wife, and then had him killed to cover it up.

We see this today…people making stupid decisions for the hope of love. People’s lives ruined because of choices, choices they think will bring them love, excitement, acceptance.

Jonah made a decision to run away from God rather than witness to some terrible enemies. He put himself and his selfish desires before God. He hoped he could get away from God.

What are you hoping in? Are you running away from God? Are you avoiding Him and hoping He goes away? Are you facing difficulties in your life today because of poor choices in the past?

Let me assure you, even though you are trapped in a stinky mess, being tossed to and fro, facing hardship after hardship, there is a Creator God who made you, knew every one of your poor choices, knew every one of your sins, and yet He desires to take you in his arms and cover you with His steadfast love.

Jonah discovered that God still loved him when he was at the bottom of the sea, breating his last breath. He discovered God’s love when he was in the belly of the great fish. Seaweed and fish guts were all over him. I can’t imagine the stink. Yet God’s steadfast love was there.

What is the secret to discovering God’s steadfast love even though you are covered in rotten seaweed and stinky fish guts? Jonah discovered it, but Paul reveals how we get there, covered in guts and stench:

Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

NOT EXPERIENCING GOD’S LOVE?

So if you are wondering why you are not experiencing God’s steadfast love in the midst of your trials and hardships, understand what is preventing you from experiencing God’s steadfast love:

A.You have a problem honoring God.

Whatever you believe about the great men who founded this nation, it is super evident in 95% of their writings that they lived their lives with a principle that is missing in our leaders today. Our founding Fathers honored God as Sovereign God over the affairs of men. They realized God has the final say so in our lives.

B.You have a problem allowing God into your life.

Not only do we not honor God’s sovereignty, but we fail to give thanks to him in every aspect of our lives. We thank him for the rain, we thank him for winning the lottery, we thank him for food. Do we thank him when we lose our job. Do we thank him when we lose a loved one? Do we thank him when our friends turn against us?

Paul says that when we fail to honor God and allow Him ownership of all that happens in our lives (by giving thanks) our hearts become darkened and our minds become futile (or wasted or stupid) in our thinking. We exchange the glory of God for something stupid like a woman, a car, a job, a house, anything we put before God and say this is mine!

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

3. Return your life to God

Have you given God ownership of your life?

It is one thing to say God is sovereign, but it is quite another to allow Him to be sovereign over all of your life, family and possessions. Can you honestly say that God is in control of everything in your life? Is there anything in your life that you are trying to keep control of, apart from what God may want to do? If you found yourself in the belly of a fish, covered with fish guts and seaweed, would you worship God’s sovereignty over your life, or would you be screaming “Get me out of here!”

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

  • „ The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by the expression of the Sovereignty of God?
  • „ We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15).

How do you return your life to Sovereign God?

A. Confess and declare that GOD is SOVEREIGN OWNER OF YOUR LIFE.

  • When you declare that God is sovereign over your life, you affirm His right to govern your life, your world, your family just as He pleases, because you were made for His Glory.
  • You affirm that He is the potter and you are the clay: that He may mould you into whatever form He chooses.
  • You affirm that God is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His decisions to you are anyone else.

Jonah discovered he could not get away from the sovereignty of God. So Job made a decision to accept the Sovereignty of God over his life. When he did, when Jonah prayed with thanksgiving in his heart, Jonah experienced the most amazing miracle. He experienced the love of God in the most horrible of circumstances.

B. Sacrifice with Thanksgiving (todah)

Jonah 2:9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Discovered the power of tôdah Thanksgiving![1]

Psalm 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

There are two pictures presented by “TODAH”

1. ADMIT

Tôdah has a deeper meaning than simply thanksgiving or gratitude:

At its core, todah is to admit.What a concept! The gist of thanks is to admit – but what are we admitting to? When we say tôdah, we are admitting that we are lacking and that someone else is giving to us. We are admitting that we could not do something alone. We are admitting that you helped us accomplish something. We are admitting, that we have been given “more than [our] rightful share” thanks to God![2]

This is why Joshua told Achan to confess to what he had done by admitting and confessing the Glory of God over his life.„

Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise (todah) to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

The psalmist pictures the need to confession in proclaiming thanksgiving unto God:„

Psalm 26:6-7 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

To give “todah” to God always involves a sacrifice or offering on your part. You give your life to God. You allow Him to own your life. Admit it to Him!

2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah said, Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord; come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.

Jonah had to sacrifice his will, his pride, his prejudices against the Ninevites, and admit that he needed to follow God, he needed the provision of God and yes, he needed the sovereignty of God over his life!

2. WORSHIP LOUD!

“Todah” pictures thanksgiving to God so great that you start shouting and singing at the top of your voice!

Picture a huge Choir Singing thundering Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. Can you hear the SHOUTS of thanksgiving! When Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God.

Nehemiah 12:27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate.

Two great choirs were on opposite sides, with the rest of the people in the middle. It was like the battle of the choirs, each one trying to praise God louder than the other. It was the ultimate thanksgiving celebration!

Are you experiencing true Thanksgiving this year? I am not speaking of “blessings” or anything you can attribute to what you have done. Millions of families celebrate a thanksgiving based upon how fortunate they have been, or how much they have because of good luck and hard work.

I want you to experience True TODAH Thanksgiving.

Todah Thanksgiving happens no matter how messed up your life is!

Remember…Realize…Return…Admit and Worship.

Believers

If you have already been born again, take this time to examine your life, and remember God and His sovereignty. If you have gotten away from Him by putting other things first, Realize that He is the only source of genuine love. Return your life to Him, Admit your need for him and lay your life on the altar and say God do as you wish with my life. Then Worship Him Loud. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid your friends will hear. WORSHIP LOUD!

Lost in sin

Remember, life is a journey, and no matter where you are in your journey, God is there. Realize that He loves you even with all of your rebellion and ugliness and stench.

Run to your creator God, just like the Prodigal Son ran home.

Admit you need God, that you have made a mess of your life through your pride and sin and rebellion. Admit you need Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Worship God by believing that He has your life, that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you and made you right with God.

Allow your Worship to be with you whole life, with your whole voice, Constantly give thanks and praise to God out LOUD! Allow the light of Jesus Christ to break through the darkness over your heart.

John 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Do you love darkness rather than God’s light? Have you accepted the stink of your sinful, rebellious life? Wake up and take a good sniff! It is time for you to cry out with Jonah: Salvation is of the Lord.”


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “tôdāh”


I have recently spent a great deal of time with young teenagers. I had many struggles myself, but nothing compares with what our kids are facing today. Peer pressure is stronger than ever, and the divide between God’s way and man’s way is deeper and broader than ever before. Young David began writing the Psalms as a teenager. He made a decision to follow this unseen God with all his heart and life. I believe that decision was with him through every struggle and mistake he faced.  David was my hero as a young man. Sure, he was flawed, but to me that meant he was real. If you have a teenager struggling with peer pressure, with temptations, with their identity, take them through these Psalms. I believe they may hold the key to a life that will be blessed. The decisions that young teens make will determine where they will end up when they are 50 and 60. These select Psalms are an excellent guide to making the right decisions.

The importance of right thinking

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

From my conversations with young teens, bad thoughts and bad words are a real struggle, even from “Christian” teens. Every day they are subjected to profanity, mild pornography, insults, slams to their appearance, and insults to their character. David struggled with insults from his brothers. He struggled with gossip, slander and even death threats from close friends, his Jewish brothers. Embracing, reading, meditating on the Word of God is the only way to cleanse the impurity of our thought and words. We must believe in the power of the Word of God, for it is living! The Word of God ministers LIFE to our soul! Learn to embrace the power of the Word of God. Here are some powerful Psalms that speak to the issues you may face as a teenager.

How can my life matter?

Psalm 1:1-6 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Life is a Choice. Do you want to be like wheat chaff, which simply blows away and is gone? Or do you want to be like a mighty tree, whose leaves never wither in spite of heat or drought, but always has fruit to give to others in his season.

If you want to be like that mighty tree, you must decide to build your life on the Word of God, and meditate in it day and night. You must also decide not to associate with people whose lives are contrary to God’s standards.

Who am I? Why am I here?

Psalm 8:1-9 1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Learn to marvel at God constantly all day long. Learn to call upon His name (Jehovah) and declare His majesty! Learn to see Him in everything you look at, nature, the heavens, your friends, your parents (even when you are having conflict!) God is constantly watching you, loving you and thinking about you! He has crowned you with glory and honor, but you will only realize it as you declare His Glory! Realize he uses the mouths of babies to defeat the enemy! Because of God you are amazing! You are here to be used of God for His glory!

Does God care about me?

Psalm 16:1-11 1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Learn that for God to have a relationship with you, you must make a decision to follow Him as Lord of your life. Realize He wants you, desires a relationship with you and will communicate with you. He listens when we call upon Him! He will counsel you when you start to pay attention to His Word. Learn to set the Lord God always before you, at your right hand, a place of honor. With Him at your right hand, you will not be shaken no matter what happens. When you pay attention to God and decide to honor Him with your life, He will make known to you His pathway of life!

Why should I follow God?

Psalm 24:1-10 1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

He is the King of Glory! The earth and everything in it and on it is His! You are His! He hands out Blessing to and righteousness to all who seek him and follow Him! Keep your hands clean and your heart pure, do not lie and swear. He is your King of Glory!

Does God care when my life sucks?

Psalm 25:1-18 1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. 6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 12 Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Young David had some really horrible days. People were gossiping and telling lies about him, and some wanted to kill him. His life was really messed up. He went from being a hero to a less than zero. But he learned he could always trust in God. He could always tell God how much he hurt, how lonely he felt. And he knew that God would teach him if he paid attention to the way that God worked. He learned that God could actually lead him. Sure, David messed up a lot, but God forgave the sins of his youth, for God’s love is always there for those who have made a decision to follow Him as Lord. Learn to fear (respect) God. Learn to reverence Him. Speak up to your friends when they use God’s name in a wrong way. Learn to turn off movies and shows that use God’s name in bad ways. When you fear and reverence God, He will be your friend. Keep your eyes always on God! He will turn to you when you are lonely and going through tough times.

What about when my life really, really sucks?

Psalm 31:12-24 12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side! — As they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14 but I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! 17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. 18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. 19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! 20 In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. 21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. 22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. 23 Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. 24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Learn that your times are in God’s hands. There will be really low times. There will be times when it seems even your best friend has turned against you. Call upon God; tell Him “You are my God!” Ask Him to rescue you, ask Him to shine His face upon you and save you in His steadfast love! He will put the wicked to shame. Maybe not right away, but God will intervene on your behalf. You will look back on those times of trouble and they will seem so minor. Learn to be strong and take courage in the Lord! Praise Him in the midst of the storm for the abundance of His goodness!

Live life God’s way – trust, dwell, delight, commit, be still and wait!

Psalm 37:1-11 1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

God is cool, and He wants you to be cool. When you follow God, you don’t need to stress about all the (crap) that swirls around your life. Parents being mean? Friends getting away with all sorts of stuff? The bad guys bothering you? Teacher against you? Kids making fun of you? I know it is tough, but God has a better way. He wants you to trust in Him. He is always on the throne. He will always make it right. That doesn’t mean life will always be cool and stress free. What it means is you will always have the “Big Gun” on your side! Don’t fret (fall apart), trust that God is in control, find something about God to delight in, commit what you want to happen to God, then trust Him to act! He will cause you to shine in His timing, and you need to man up and wait fro Him. Do not take things in your own hands. Don’t get mad, don’t start lashing out, it will just get you in more trouble. Wait upon God and you will watch Him give you everything you need. He will give you abundant peace!

Be still, and take time to know God

Psalm 46:1-11 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Never underestimate the Power of God! He truly is our refuge and strength! Instead of allowing fears to dominate your heart, see yourself in the City of God, surrounded by the Fortress of God, His holy habitation. Be still before Him and know that He is God! Learn to see that He is with you even in the worst of times, when it seems your world is falling apart. He is right beside you, a very present help in times of trouble. He wants you to take time to be still and know Him. He is not an “in your face” kind of God. You must take time to know Him.

Do not be a fool

Psalm 53:1-6 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. 2 God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? 5 There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them. 6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

No one thinks they are a fool. Most teens think they are pretty smart. Not being a fool is not about head smarts, street smarts or anything you think is smart. You become a fool when you leave God out of your life. You are a fool if you say ‘no” to God! If you ignore God or deny that He is watching over your life or even leave Him out of your life, you will become corrupt and foolish in the sense that you are going you own way. You are missing out on what “wisdom” is all about. Wisdom is living your life from God’s point of view, with God set before you.  If you say no to God, you are living by your standards, and you will be a fool to God. Seek after God, for He is looking down from heaven to see if anyone understands Him, if anyone will follow Him.

Learn to cry out to God when surrounded by lions

Psalm 57:1-11 1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! 4 My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Never try to face your problems alone. Always ask God to stand between you and your problems. Never think that He doesn’t care about what you are going through. CRY OUT TO GOD! He will send out His steadfast love! Don’t worry about what will happen to you, simply Exalt God and ask for His Glory to come from your situation! Kneel before Him in the shadow of His wings and take refuge! Cry out to Him and ask Him to work His purpose for your life. He will save you! Desire His glory to be over all the earth!

Learn to praise the Lord and find His blessing!

Psalm 67:1-7 1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Learn to praise the Lord at all times. God shines His face upon those who praise Him! The blessings of God inhabit the praise of His children!

Make the Lord your dwelling place and no evil will come upon you

Psalm 91:1-16 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

When you are growing up, fear is all around you. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing your parents, fear of what your friends think, fear of being unpopular, fear of life, and even fear of yourself and what you might do or say. God wants you to dwell in Him, to make Him your confidence and shelter. Allow His faithfulness and sheild to reinforce your soul. Through faith in His protection you will learn not to fear what may happen, or what is unseen. God will protect and will prevent any evil from taking you. He will be your guard. Hold fast to God in love and He will protect you, because you know His name!

GOD LOVES CRAZY!

Psalm 98:1-9 1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

God loves crazy! So get crazy sometimes! Bang on some pots, make some noise, shout a little, shout a lot! Make a joyful noise to King Jehovah! He loves to hear us! He loves to see us get excited about Him!

Learn the importance of boundaries

Psalm 101:1-8 1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. 6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. 8 Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

To follow God as your Lord and King, you must set some boundaries around your life. Walk with integrity in your home, and do not allow anything that is worthless in front of your eyes. Value endurance and loyalty; never fail to do what you said you would. Do not allow perverseness into your heart. Do not tolerate slander or gossip. Do not allow liars and deceivers into your life. Always see the need to struggle against sin!

Learn to Bless the Lord!

Psalm 103:1-22 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Keep track of all the Good things in your life, and Bless the Lord every chance your get. God forgives us our sin and heals our diseases. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. He crowns his children with His steadfast love and mercy. He will work righteousness and justice in your life when you come to Him as one who is oppressed and cast down. He shows compassion to His children, to those who reverence Him. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Make a decision to be righteous

Psalm 112:1-10 1 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. 5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 10 The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!

Who you want to be requires a decision to fear the Lord and walk in His righteousness. The righteous are never moved, but firmly established where ever God leads them. The righteous one is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm and trusting in God. The righteous one is not afraid, for he looks in triumph upon his adversaries. The righteous endures forever! Make a decision to follow the righteousness of the Lord! You will still struggle, you will still fall. But when you make a decision to follow God and His righteousness, He promises to always hold your hand! This is God’s promise:  The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)

How can a young teen keep their way pure?

Psalm 119:9-16 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Seek God with all your heart. If you give some of your heart to a girl, some of it to sports, you will be divided and be subject to temptation. You can even make sports an idol. You can make a young girl an idol. You can put them before God. Your way can then become impure. Give all of your heart to God. Give any girl you like to God. Give any sports you like to God. God wants to be Lord of everything in your life. His Word should be our first love! Through His Word we can keep our ways pure!

No one knows you like the one who designed you!

Psalm 139:1-24 1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Your Creator God knows you better than anyone in the universe. He designed you. He ‘knit’ you together in your mother’s womb. He knows what you will say before you even say it. He watches you at all times. You cannot hide from Him! His thoughts toward you are more numerous than the sands of the seas. Ask Him to search you and remove any evil thoughts and desires from your life. He will lead you in the way everlasting!

Never stop praising God!

Psalm 150:1-6 1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Even when things look bad, or you really messed up, bring God into your circumstances through PRAISE! Do not fret, God is always God, and when you turn to Him in praise, He will respond! He becomes LORD GOD when we praise Him!

Take the Thirty Day Challenge

Unsure of which way to go? Take this 30 day challenge. Memorize Psalms 1. Then meditate on all six verses as you lie in bed, before you go to sleep. Substitute your name when it says ‘man’ or ‘his’. Also substitute your name for ‘wicked’. See yourself in those verses. Do that for thirty days and then see which way you want to walk.


Jacob had left Beersheba and was on his way to meet Esau. He had sent his family on ahead, so that perhaps Esau would soften and his heart and not kill him as he had threatened years ago. Tired, he picked out a nice rock to lay his head on and get some sleep. He had a dream about a ladder that stretched from earth all the way to heaven. And on this ladder, angels were descending and ascending. At the top of the ladder was the Lord God. In his dream, he heard the voice of God:

“I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Have you ever gone through some trial and thought, Surely God was in this place and I did not know it?)

And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” Genesis 28:10-22

STEADFAST LOVE

As we peer closely at the Real Jesus, the Jesus of Revelations One, we see another aspect of Divine Love expressed in His appearance.

John saw his golden sash (Agape love that sacrifices all), his white hair (enduring love that lasts through the tests of life), his eyes of fire (discerning love that sets boundaries), his feet of bronze (uncompromising love that desires the strength of His righteousness), and his voice of many waters (distinguishing love).

Now we see his right hand, and in his right hand are seven stars. The stars are the messengers to the churches, which could be angels but more likely represent the Pastors, or those responsible for God’s messages to the churches.

Specifically, the seven stars in His right hand means that Christ holds the power of the churches in His hand. The church age is His age; it is when He is at work among the nations. His kingdom is at work through the church.

His right hand is the hand of power, and the church is to know His power!

  • Ex 15:6 your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, you right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy
  • Ps 17:7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
  • Ps 48:10 Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
  • Ps 63:8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
  • Ps 139:10 your right hand shall hold me.
  • Isa 41:13 For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you”.

The Question we must ask ourselves as we examine our Love for the Lord,

  • Do we hold His Right Hand?
  • Do we hold it with steadfast love?
  • Or do we reach for him only when we are in trouble?

Ps 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken”. To have steadfast love is to have a love for Christ that is fixed in intensity and direction; it is steady, unwavering, marked by determination.

The right hand represents strength, it represents steadfastness. When you hold His hand, you will never be shaken.

Jesus commends the steadfast love of the Philadelphians in verse 10: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance”

Patient endurance is hupomoné; to persevere, remain under. A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. It refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial[1].

Christ is writing to a church that has a steadfast love that is determined and fixed upon Him, and because of that steadfast love, they are enduring; they have not let go, they have not turned aside, they continue to lift up His name with everything they have, even if Jesus says it is little.

First love is steadfast love, and Jesus Christ demonstrated that:

  • John 13: 1 …”he loved them to the end”
  • Jeremiah 31:3 … “I have loved you with an everlasting love”

Divine Love is triumphant love, love that is steadfast and sure, love that holds on no matter what it encounters or suffers through.

God calls to us in Isaiah 55:

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Isaiah 55:3

Jesus is before the Church of Philadelphia, and in his hand is no rebuke, no call for repentance, only the reminder of His promises for them.

This church was not a big church. It would be considered a rural church in a small farming town on the edge of a fertile valley. There is still a farming town there today. Although just a church in the country, and not a big city church with prestige, the church in Philadelphia was special to Jesus. Therefore, He reminds them of His Promises.

Steadfast Love is always based upon promise

Marriage is always begun with a promise. Marriage is to be a display of God’s steadfast love, yet we all know the tragedy of marriages in America. Steadfast love has been re-defined to mean 5 years, 10 years, or until I find someone better. Well, with God, Steadfast Love is to be for a Lifetime!

Marriage to me is like the word to Philadelphia – He that overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.

My Mom and Dad - Jim and Clare Tompkins

I am proud of my Mom and Dad for the example of being a pillar of steadfast love. They were far from perfect, and their marriage was very strained at times, but underneath it all was a steadfast love that withstood the trials and tests of time. I am so proud that we have in our church such pillars of steadfast love. I hope and pray that each of you will see the need to be pillars in this society of ours, to hold forth an example to your children of steadfast love. America is only as strong as our commitments to our families and our spouses.

The Promise to Philadelphia, and the Promise to you and me

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Revelation 3:12

Yet, we read in Revelation 21:  “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof” (Rev. 21:22).

There is no temple, God is the temple. Therefore, the Pillars will be in God Himself. You will always dwell in the heavenly Jerusalem. No more will you go out. You will be one who counts with God!

All who are of the character of Philadelphia, marked by steadfast love, become strength in the place of God’s dwelling and in His interest. To be of great importance to God, in the presence of God, important in the Church, which is the New Jerusalem – love is the thing that must characterize us.

It is not money, title, office, pedigree, or social standing. These things may give importance in this world, but in God’s Kingdom, it is love. It is steadfast love when you are weak, steadfast love when you are persecuted, steadfast love when you are barely able to hold on.

DO YOU WANT TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING BEFORE CHRIST?

The way to be something for God is not based on how much you know, how much you have studied, or even how many verses you have memorized.

Understand this about what God Values: He says in James 5: 11 – Behold, we call them blessed which endured. God will often take us through something that is designed to bring us to a feeling of nothingness. He wants us to love Him not because of what we have, but simply because of who He is.

You do not want to be loved because of what you are able to do. You want to be loved for your own sake.

When it is like that, and we get away from all our ambitions, all our craving for recognition and reputation, and we love the Lord for His own sake, we have attained a place of tremendous importance – pillars of strength in the things of God, in the temple of God, in the presence of God. Love is the key to all spiritual significance.

What matters to God is not the number of our trials, but that we reach God’s goal through them. That Goal is steadfast Love for God no matter what we have or do not have. It is pure love for Jehovah God.

So with the background of Christ wanting us to see that Divine Love is Steadfast Love, let’s look at this letter.

The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. Revelation 3:7

True and Holy

The one who has the sure right hand wants us to see Him as the true one, the holy one. This true refers to the fact that He is the real Jesus, the real God, he is no man made idol, no figment of man’s imagination.

The real Jesus is Holy, He is sacred, He is set apart, and He is God! So when you pray to Jesus, when you talk about Jesus, remember the real Jesus is no Christmas ornament, He is Holy, He is righteous, and His Holiness is essential to love Him with steadfast love.

Key of David

The real Jesus holds the key of David. He has the authority of the throne of David, which is the throne of God! The promises of God to David are held in the key of David. Jesus Christ is coming soon, and He will be holding the key of David. He will have authority to sit on the throne of David and rule the world.

This is a reference to an incident recorded in the 22nd chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah. In the days of Hezekiah the king there was a courtier (we would call him a chief-of-staff, for he was in charge of the palace) whose name was Shebna. He had been caught in a personal scam run for his own benefit, and as a result God says a very unusual, very descriptive thing about him: “I will take him and whirl him around and around (like a discus thrower), and hurl him into a far country,” {cf, Isa 22:18}. It was a prediction that he would be sent into Babylon. He would be replaced by a godly man named Eliakim, of whom God said,

“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts, no one can open.” {Isa 22:17 NIV}

Our Lord refers back to that passage in Isaiah and applies it to himself: “I am the one who shuts and no one can open, and opens and no one can shut”. His will cannot be opposed. He governs the events of history on earth. He will open some doors; he will close other doors… Jesus has the authority to open and to close. That which He opens, no one shuts, that which He closes, and no one opens.

We have the privilege to partner with Christ here on earth through our prayers.

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:18-20

These verses come on the heal of the teaching on church discipline. They form the foundation for church discipline. That foundation is that when we are united in prayer and are agreed on God’s will, what we pray to be bound will be bound, and what we pray to be loosed will be loosed.

The key is coming together, being led of the Holy Spirit to pray in unity about something. In the case of church discipline, the church comes together to deal with someone who is unrepentant. If the church is led to close the door of the church to that person, then he is bound in heaven. The doors of God’s care and fellowship are shut.

The church has great authority here on earth, and in truth, God partners with His people in effecting His will. However, we fail to partner with God because our eyes and hearts are not open to see the injustice in the world, or we do not desire God’s will.

Our love for God must be steadfast, it must be resolute, always desiring His will here on earth. We must never retreat into thinking there is nothing we can do, that it is hopeless. We have the power to shake the Key of David through our prayers!

The Open Door

I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8

Jesus knows their works, but He does not detail them as the other letters did. However, they are good, because Jesus sets before them an open door, which no one can shut. I believe this door is complete access to Jesus, it is complete access to His power and glory and love! No one can shut it; no one can take it away.

The Door is Always Open

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

The church of Philadelphia has a special door to Christ, one that no one can shut. I believe we all have a special door to Christ. I believe He lives in each of us. The problem is that we shut the door of our heart to Him. We are the ones who are not steadfast in our love and devotion to Him. We are the ones who let go of His right hand, and go our own way.

The church at Philadelphia had a door that was always open because they have kept His Word and not denied His name.

O they were weak in numbers, weak in power, but their love was resolute. They were steadfast in their devotion to His Word and to His Name! To such the Door to Jesus is always open!

Little Power

However, I want you to note something: Jesus said they had little power. These Christians were clearly no Elijah, able to pray fire from heaven. They were no Paul, able to be bitten by a poisonous snake and simply shake it off and go on preaching. They were no Moses, facing off against a mighty ruler and bringing him to his knees.

No these folk were like you and me, struggling to make a life in a small town, where money and opportunities were slim. Yet they did have a little power, they did have an open door, they did have a steadfast love for the Word and for the Name of Jesus. They wore His name proudly in their forehead. They obeyed His Word no matter the cost or sacrifice.

God is the God of LITTLE THINGS

We think we cannot do anything for Jesus because we do not know too much, or we think we have no ‘spiritual power’, but the truth is that Little is Much when God is In IT!

LITTLE THINGS WHICH ARE GREAT IN GOD’S SIGHT.

  • Two or Three Gathered in His Name, Matt. 18:20.
  • Only a Cup of Cold Water, Matt. 10:42.
  • In addition, a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:43
  • Little Children, Matt. 18:1-5 (“little” used 7xs in 18:1-14).
  • A Little Money with…
    • Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16
    • Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. Proverbs 15:17
    • Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. Proverbs 16:8
  • A poor, little widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:43

Little is Much when God is in it!

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Are you laid aside from service,
Body worn from toil and care?
You can still be in the battle,
In the sacred place of prayer.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Those that speak against you will learn

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9

Obviously, there were Jews who were making fun of this little church. They were saying that God loved them, that these Christians were noting to God.

The Church that loves with Steadfast Love can always count on opposition!

The Philadelphia letter reminds that any true church at any time, and especially during the last days, meets Satanic opposition…through imitation, religious ritualism, and hypocrisy—opposition strengthened by mixture of worldliness and religiousness.

Jesus says, remember, the door is always open to me. I will make those “Jews” come and bow before you. They will learn it is you I have loved, and not them.

We should not make fun of small things. We should not think less of one church just because they are small in number. What counts is the Love of Christ. I would rather pastor a church of 20 and know we are beloved of Christ than to pastor a church of a thousand who walked in their own way.

Because you Have endured with steadfast love

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:10-11

Remember the Door is always open

There is a trial coming on the world, a great day of tribulation.

Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!

But Jesus promises these weak but steadfast Christians that they will escape, they will go through that open door and not face the tribulation that the world will endure.

Because of their faithfulness, the Christians in Philadelphia are promised that they will be kept from the hour of trial which will come upon the earth as a divine judgment.

But the promise to the church is specifically that it is to be delivered from the hour of trial. Actually, the word is not “from”, but “out of” — to be delivered out of — not just the trial but out of the very time of the trial! This is one of the clearest promises in the Bible of the catching away of the church before the great tribulation begins.

The time of trial and trouble described in Revelation 6 to 19. This time of tribulation will overtake the entire world, as God inflicts His wrath upon unbelieving Gentiles as well as upon Christ-rejecting Jews. The Philadelphian church is therefore promised deliverance from the time of trouble, which will overtake the world but will not overtake them.

He is coming soon

Hold fast what you have. Even though your strength is weak, even though the trials have sapped your strength, keep holding on!

Your crown is at stake, the crown of steadfast love!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Reward

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:12-13

“A pillar in the temple of my God.”

We read, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof” (Rev. 21:22).

It indicates a fixed and unchangeable state. He shall go no more out. They have now overcome. They are partakers with their Lord in all his glory. They abide in his presence. They rejoice in his kingdom, and their joy no man takes from them. Oh how unspeakably happy is this prospect!

A pillar is a symbol of triumph.

And what a triumph has the Savior accomplished for me! He spoiled principalities and powers for me, in his death on the cross, triumphing openly over them there. Every saint a separate illustration of his power. All the saints a combined demonstration of his all-conquering grace.

A pillar is an instrument of commemoration.

Living monuments of his works of grace. What testimonies do they give! What evidences do they remain forever! In the history of each of them, what wonderful chapters have been written, and are to be read hereafter! They are thus pillars of record. Upon them are inscribed such histories of grace and power as the universe has never seen but in them.

A pillar is a place of Sacrifice

Jacob sacrificed atop the pillar he made. There he pledged Jacob’s pledge.

A pillar is an instrument of support.

There is an end of all schisms in the body–of all separations of feeling or affection. Each saint is a cordial supporter of this happy union among the people of God. They unite in one song of praise. They engage in one heavenly worship. They surround one throne and one Lord in one common affection and obedience. The many tongues of earth are all forgotten in the one song of heaven. Each saint is a supporter of Divine authority.

New Name

A pillar sometimes has an inscription or an identifying mark chiseled into it by the stonemason. Jesus promises to write upon the pillar (the faithful Christian) the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Christ’s new name.

A change of names would be meaningful to the Philadelphians because that city changed its name twice in its history. It called itself Neocaesarea when Tiberius helped it; and later on, in honor of Vespasian, one of the Flavian emperors, it changed its name to Flavia. (It later resumed the name Philadelphia.) Thus these people understood what it meant to have a different name.

In addition to this promise Christ gives them a threefold assurance that they will be identified with God, because

They will have the name of God, “the name of my God”.

This is a promise that believers will be made godlike. “Godliness” is a shortened form of the word “godlikeness”. The purpose of the Spirit in our lives is to make us godly or godlike.

They will have the name of the city of God, the new Jerusalem.

And, “I will write [on him] the name of the city of my God.” The last two chapters of Revelation give a vivid description of this wonderful city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven “as a bride adorned for her husband” — a beautiful bride meeting her husband. That again is a picture of loving intimacy; someone captured by the beauty and goodness of another and longing to be with him or her. That is the second promise given to those who hold on, who stand fast in the midst of a decaying world. They will know the intimacy of a husband’s love for his beautiful bride.

They will have a new name belonging to Christ.

“I will also write on him my new name.” What is that? Since a name symbolizes one’s character this is a reference to the fact that when our Lord’s work of redemption is finished he will have a new name. Everyone wants to know what that new name is, but in Revelation 19:12 we are told that when Jesus appears he will have that new name written upon him, but it is a name that no man knows.

The Choice is yours:

You can be a pillow Christian, choosing the comfort to your pillow when it comes to seeking after Christ, or you can be a Pillar Christian, steadfast in your love for Jesus, proudly bearing His name regardless of Satan’s attacks, or trials, or testing’s. You may not be strong in your own ability, but you are strong in Christ. Your faith allows you to see Him at work, and allows Him to make you a Pillar in the Temple of God.

A Pillar Christian always holds the strong right hand of Jesus Christ. He holds eternity, He holds the churches, He holds the Holy Spirit, yet He can hold your hand. When you hold the hand of Jesus, you hold on to all that power, you are holding on to eternity!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.


John Baptist by MeltonJohn the Baptist was an only child. His parents were very old when he was born, and he may have been orphaned at an early age. We don’t know much about John except he was STRANGE! Funny clothes, funny food, he was an outcast in hygiene conscious Israel. There was something about his message though. Crowds from all over Israel came to hear this strange looking man speak. His message was harsh, demanding, Holy. People responded, and those that responded with insincerity he rebuked. He feared not what man could do to him. He was focused on the Word from God. He was a prophet of God. He had a job to do.

Anyone looking at John knew instantly that he was the Elder Brother Type. Hard, demanding, disciplined, driven, purposeful. His task was to prepare the way for one mightier than he – the Messiah. It was a task only an Elder Brother could do. John threw his heart and soul into his task. Then, one day, he saw this one whom he had been preaching about. At first he refused to baptize Jesus, but the Messiah insisted, and John obeyed.

Jesus-Baptized-09Such an honor for an Elder Brother. They enjoy being in the limelight. They enjoy accomplishing their mission. They hate the thought of failure. Such thoughts were on John’s mind later on, after the lights had faded, and he found himself in prison. There was no fanfare now, no admiring crowds. John the Elder Brother was at the end of his mission, his life, yet he had not seen the Messiah come forth with power as he had presumed.

John_the_Baptist003The doubts were eating at John. He considered himself a failure. This was not how it was supposed to end. He imagined the Stellar Rise of the Messiah, with the crowds hoisting John on their shoulders as they sang his praises for preparing the way. Yet no Messiah came forth, the crowds were off following others. He was imprisoned, forgotten.

Word came to our brooding Elder Brother about Jesus of Nazareth and the amazing things He was doing. John the Elder Brother was anxious to know if he had done his task well, to hear encouraging words, perhaps even a thank you. Scriptures record:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:2-6

Jesus refused to answer John directly, but closed his remarks with “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me!” What kind of answer is that? This doesn’t sound like a very loving Savior! This is no way to treat the one who prepared the way for you!

Jesus blessed are youJohn’s response is not recorded, but if you understand Elder Brother’s, you know how he responded. Elder Brother’s love accomplishment, and through His message Jesus revealed to John that his mission had truly been accomplished. His disciples delivered this word from Jesus and expected Johnt to be upset, but John just laid back down and started laughing. Jesus had just reminded him of something he had said in the wilderness, when his disciples asked him about Jesus baptizing at the same time as John.

In John 3:30, John had said “He must increase, and I must decrease!” In one swift blow Jesus had assured John and had thanked him as well! John had let the Elder Brother in him get the best of him. He had started to get offended because things weren’t going as John had thought they should. Jesus reminded John that He is Lord! And John is blessed when he doesn’t get offended at what the Lord is doing!

Wow! This is a lesson that EVERY Elder Brother must learn. Elder Brothers like things under control, according to their plan. But Jesus wants us to learn that He must be in charge, His plan is what is important, and we will be blessed if we realize He is Lord!

john-the-baptist-imprisonedFor a moment, John the Baptist was being the Elder Brother, and focusing on his situation and what he supposed was or wasn’t going according to schedule. He was frustrated, depressed, concerned, even bewildered. Elder Brothers will get that way because we are so intent on getting our way and accomplishing our tasks.

BUT JESUS!

Elder Brothers, look to Jesus, and surrender what you want to Him! And then DO NOT GET OFFENDED when He does things differently than what you want! Jesus must increase, and we must decrease!

Father: Everything I want to accomplish today I surrender to you, Father! Your will and purpose are supreme! May I not get upset or offended when things do not go my way! Keep everything going YOUR WAY!