Never Give Up

In 2016 did you go through feelings of disappointment? Did you ever get frustrated because you felt like you kept stumbling in your walk with God? If so, please understand that you are not alone. Servants of God that we can read about in the Bible found themselves going through the same types of things.

  • Moses, the great leader of Israel, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because there was an occasion when he disobeyed God. When Israel was thirsty and begging for water, Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it like God commanded (Numbers 20:8-12). God allowed water to still come out of the rock, but He was very angry with Moses’ decision.
  • Samson broke his vow to God by telling Delilah about his covenant with God. Because of his disobedience God took his supernatural strength from him and allowed the Philistines to capture him (Judges 16:1-27).
  • Eli invited God’s judgment on his entire household because he did not rebuke his sons for the sins they committed in the tabernacle. Eli was a good priest and judge, but a terrible father (1 Samuel 3:10-14).
  • David (a man after God’s own heart) committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to cover his sin by having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle (2 Samuel 11and 12). He also took a census of the people toward the end of his reign. This greatly angered the Lord (maybe because it showed David trusted more in his army than in the Lord). This decision brought the judgment of God upon the kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 24).
  • In an effort to save his own life, Peter denied the Lord three times (Matthew 26:69-75). This was something he promised he would not do (Matthew 26:35).
  • Saul of Tarsus went from house to house dragging Christians out of their homes and throwing them in jail. He also consented to the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:1-4).

These are examples of servants of God who made some serious mistakes in their lives. They went through moments of disappointment and defeat. But the great thing about their stories is that they did not let those moments utterly destroy their faith. They took responsibility for their mistakes. They repented. They picked themselves up and continued to serve the Lord.

(1) Even though he himself would not be able to enter, Moses still equipped Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land after his death (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). (2) Samson was vindicated by God against the Philistines (Judges 16:28-30). (3) Eli accepted his punishment and continued to serve God (1 Samuel 3:18). (4) David repented and also accepted his punishments (2 Samuel 12:13; 24:10-14). (5) Peter turned back to Jesus and went on to preach the gospel (Acts 2). (6) Saul of Tarsus became a Christian and an apostle and went on to write much of the New Testament (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Like these servants of God, there will be times when we go through moments of disappointment and defeat. But we must never abandon our faith. We must always pick ourselves up and return to Jesus (1 John 1:8-10). The ultimate failure is not when we fail, but when we give up as a result of having failed. Even after our failures, God can continue to use us for His glory. The question is, if I have been failing God will I continue feeling sorry for myself and come up with excuses as to why I am not where God wants me to be? Or, will I get up, dust myself off, seek God’s forgiveness, and trust in His ability to still use me?

– Shawn Jeffries

Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 3

If you were blessed to have your name mentioned in the Bible, what would be said about you? What impression would people have as they read what the Holy Spirit revealed about an aspect of your life?  Would the information given make your family proud and inspire faithfulness to God? Or, would it be embarrassing and be used in sermons about how one ought not to behave?

Throughout the Bible we are given examples of both. Sometimes the Bible says nothing but good about an individual (see Samuel, Daniel, and Nehemiah). Other times an individual is mentioned only to help us learn from their unrighteous behavior (see Nabal, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira).

One particular person to have some of the most commendable words spoken about them in the scriptures is Moses.

Moses was one of the most important people to ever walk on this earth. He was born into the world during a time when Israelite male babies were being murdered by the Egyptians (Exodus 1:22). Through His providence, God made a way for Moses to survive this massacre and actually be raised by the daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:1-10). God wanted Moses’ life to be spared because He would have some important work for him to do in the future.

Moses lived to be 120 years old. His life story can be broken down into three distinct parts,

  • For the first 40 years he grew up in Egypt as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Hebrews 11:24). During this time he became learned and acquainted in the ways of the Egyptians.
  • Due to him killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses was forced to flee from Egypt and spend the next forty years of his life as a shepherd in the land of Midian (Exodus 2:11-25). This would prepare him to shepherd God’s people later.
  • Once Moses turned 80, God miraculously called him to go back to Egypt and deliver His people (the Hebrews) from slavery (Exodus 3). Although he was reluctant, Moses obeyed God. He went before Pharaoh several times speaking the message of God. After a series of plagues sent by God throughout the land, Pharaoh was forced to release the Hebrews. For the next forty years Moses would serve as deliverer and leader of Israel.

The significance of Moses in Bible history cannot be overstated. Not only did God use him to deliver His people from hundreds of years of slavery, but he was also a counselor, judge, and lawgiver for Israel. He wrote the first five books of the Bible (John 1:17; 7:19, 23; Luke 16:29; 24:44). He was a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15). He is mentioned in almost 80 verses in the New Testament!

Many good things can be said about Moses, but probably none any better than these three that have been preserved in the scriptures.

  • So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.    – Exodus 33:11
  • But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. – Deuteronomy 34:10-12
  • By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.                         – Hebrews 11:24-26

If you had your life story preserved in the Bible, would you want the things said about Moses also said about you? Would you want it said that you were a friend of God? Would you want it said that you were a person of faith? Would you want it said that you sacrificed worldly rewards to follow God?

Moses’ story is finished. But yours is still being written. Live for the Lord and ensure it reads well for you on the Judgment Day.

– Shawn Jeffries

Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 2

If there were a Mount Rushmore of Bible characters, Abraham’s face would definitely be on it. Abraham is first mentioned in Genesis 11. Four thousand years ago while living in Haran (and after the death of his father Terah), God spoke to Abraham and made three significant promises to him. In Genesis 12:1-7 God promised to make a great nation from his seed, this nation would take possession of a wonderful and special land (Canaan), and through someone from this nation all families of the earth would be blessed (a reference to Jesus). The rest of the Bible story is about God fulfilling each of these promises.

  • God built the Israelites into a great nation while they were slaves for 400 years in Egypt. By the time they made their exodus they had become the nation He promised Abraham (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:1, 7-9).
  • Not much later, God gave the nation the piece of land He had promised in Genesis 12:7. This was the land of Canaan. By the end of the book of Joshua Israel is a great nation and they have received all of the land which God had promised (Joshua 21:43-45).
  • The rest of the Old Testament (from the end of Joshua all the way to Malachi) is about the people of Israel waiting for the fulfillment of promise #3. This was mentioned in Genesis 12:3, that through someone in Israel all nations of the earth would be able to become the children of God.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of this final promise. The first verse of the New Testament connects Jesus to the family of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Also, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” It is through Jesus that every person now is able to be adopted into the family of God and have their sins forgiven. This adoption takes place when one is immersed into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).

Many wonder why God chose Abraham to make these important promises to. There are many possible explanations, but the main reason has to do with Abraham’s faith. Abraham’s life is a great example of faith that pleases God. In fact, he is called the father of them that believe (Romans 4:11).

Consider a few lessons about Bible faith we can learn from Abraham.

  • Faith requires belief in the promises of God. When it came to the promise of Abraham having a son in his old age, Paul says, “Even so Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).
  • Faith requires action. Contrary to what many believe, faith is not merely belief in God. But rather it is belief connected with trust and obedience to God. It was by faith that Abraham “obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). It was “by faith he lived as alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land…” (Hebrews 11:9). It was by faith, “when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17). Abraham is the prime example of James 2:26, where James says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
  • Faith requires patience. When Abraham was 75 years old, God promised that eventually he and his wife Sarah (who was 65 years old at the time) would have a son. This promise was not fulfilled immediately. Rather, God waited 25 years to fulfill it! Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Abraham believed in what God was going to do, but he had to wait until God fulfilled the promise in His time.
  • Faith always has trials. Despite being a servant of God, Abraham went through many trials. He had to live as a foreigner in Canaan and Egypt (Genesis 12). He had to rescue his nephew Lot and his family when they were kidnapped by kings (Genesis 14). He had to endure sending his son Ishmael away (Genesis 16). He had to face the possibility of God wanting him to offer up Isaac (Genesis 22). He also had to experience losing his wife Sarah (Genesis 23). Abraham went through many rough times, and yet, through it all he continued to serve God.

Indeed Abraham left behind a great legacy of faith. In fact, his legacy is so great that he is mentioned by the New Testament writers almost 60 times!

Where are you in your faith? Is it weak? Is it lacking? If so, apply the great lessons from Abraham. Doing so will only enhance your relationship with God.

As we continue building the Biblical mountain, in our next blog we will fast forward in time several hundred years and consider the great servant of God, Moses.

– Shawn Jeffries

An Extra Day

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Leap Day! Leap Year! An extra day! What would you do with an extra day?

Joshua’s prayer for an extra day is an amazing Bible account.

The prayer was a dynamic mixture of God’s determined will and mankind’s bold request. The result was a miracle.

“Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies…So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel,” Joshua 10:12-14.

The Lord fought for Israel and protected her against her enemies, the Amorites. The Lord was with Joshua and the troops, He even rained hail down on the enemies (Joshua 10:11). The hail killed more Amorites than the sword!

That day was special. There has been no day like it. But what was more special than the sun stilled was the prayer prayed! There has never been another day where the Lord heeded the voice of a man like that.

Joshua wanted more time, an extra day, to fulfill the Lord’s determined will. The Lord fought for Israel and Joshua fought for the Lord. It’s exciting to see that when the Lord reveals His will, and His people are eager to obey, the only thing yet required is the time to do it. And God supplies the time!

For New Testament Christians, the apostles teach us to consider each day as time God has given to serve Him. Time is a valuable and limited resource. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” Ephesians 5:15-17.

It’s safe to say that Joshua understood what the will of the Lord was in his day (Joshua 10:8).

So, it’s not beyond Christians to understand what the will of the Lord is either. The Scriptures teach us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What remains for us to attain is an attitude of faith like Joshua. An attitude that says, “I will spend today serving God. I will not procrastinate but I will ask God to give me all the time necessary to accomplish His will. And if I get another day – even an extra day – I will use it in the same way: for the glory of God.”

Make the most of your leap day, make the most of every day!

By Andrew Roberts

Three Gifts You Never Exchange

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Confession time: I know I don’t always give “the perfect gift” to my loved ones. My family is so gracious, I’ve probably missed even more often than I realize.

Even with the best of intentions, I’ve fallen short in creativity or attention to detail. My second-guessing and insecurity about this is heightened during the holidays, so I save receipts. They can always exchange a gift when it is the wrong color, wrong size, or otherwise unwanted. And there are no hard feelings about it. I’ve chosen to exchange gifts myself. Haven’t we all?

But God is not this sort of gift-giver. Rather, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Our good Father gives us exactly what we need when we need it (Matthew 7:11). There are no genuine exchanges for something better. Better gifts do not exist! In fact, only deception, foolishness, or selfishness would move people to exchange God’s good gifts for the devil’s inferior and damnable knock-offs. Let’s notice three of God’s gifts that the Bible warns us never to exchange.

  1. Never Exchange the Truth of God for Lies. The Wise man advised his son, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it; Also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). The apostle Paul explained that wicked, idolatrous societies have exchanged the gift of Truth for lies and reap the disastrous results. “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:24-25). God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) and Scripture is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Perhaps we fail to recognize that every word from God is a gift from Him, the gift of Truth. The Bible is a good and perfect gift from God.
  1. Never Exchange The Faith for Worldly Philosophies. There is only one faith, one gospel, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:5; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9-10). Paul exhorted the young minister Timothy to guard the faith and don’t exchange it for fashionable worldly philosophies. “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). Likewise, Christians at Colosse were warned. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Let us respect Christianity as it is revealed in Scripture and not attempt to wed it to worldly philosophies or discard it in favor of man-made religions. The Faith is a good and perfect gift from God.
  1. Never Exchange Salvation for Sin. The greatest gift that God gives us is salvation in Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This gift is priceless because it is only obtainable by the precious death of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:26; 1 Peter 1:18-21). Yet Temptation often offers us something in exchange for our salvation. The Hebrew writer warns Christians to view temptation to sin like Moses, these things are only “passing pleasures” and not worth exchanging our eternal reward (Hebrews 11:24-26). Furthermore, learn from Esau not to be shortsighted by the selfishness of the flesh to exchange our birthright of salvation (Hebrews 12:15-17). Salvation is a good and perfect gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10).

God only gives perfect gifts. He doesn’t include gift receipts. The devil tries to fool us into thinking he can make an exchange for something better. But remember that no matter how Sin wraps the package, it only contains error, apostasy, and death (James 1:14-15). Never exchange God’s good gifts for that.

By Andrew Roberts