Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lessons From The Battlefield Pt. II-The Power of Praise

Last week we read about how King Jehoshaphat chose to face the threat of the vast, advancing army of the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites (2 Chronicles 20:1-17). He chose the path of faith, instructing his people to seek the LORD and to trust Him for their deliverance. God responded by telling them, through the mouth of the prophet, that He would fight on their behalf. What happened next was an amazing account of the power of praise!

“18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, 'Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.' 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.' 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” 2 Chronicles 20:18-23

When we praise GOD, we diminish the strength of the enemy by exalting the name of the LORD. King David, Jehoshapat's forefather, stated, “1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1. Psalm 22:3 tells us that GOD is 'enthroned' in the praises of His people; the Jerusalem Bible states, “Yet you, the Holy One, who make your home in the praises of Israel.” GOD's presence abides in our praise! No enemy can withstand Him, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,” Psalm 68:1. Praise propels us to walk by faith, not by sight. Praise changes the outcome and brings victory!

Join us next week for the final instalment of our series, “Lessons From The Battlefield Pt. III: The Power of Victory,”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Talk Tuesday-Lessons From The Battlefield Pt. I: The Power of Faith

Have you ever faced a challenge that seemed insurmountable? Did it cause you to shrink in fear and trepidation? We are launching a 3 part series on 2 Chronicles 20, entitled, 'Lessons From The Battlefield.' We hope that these scriptural truths will equip you with strategies for a victorious life in Christ!

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, was described as a man whose, “...heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD,” 2 Chronicles 17:6. The Bible tells us that God was with him him,“...because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel,” 2 Chronicles 17:3-4. One day Jehoshaphat received a report that a vast army was coming to make war on him-the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites. “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek Him,” 2 Chronicles 20:4. In the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat prayed, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand you,” 2 Chronicles 20:5-6. He recounted what God had done for them in the past, acknowledged his own desperate situation and declared in an act of faith, his trust in God. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you,” 2 Chronicles 20:12. The LORD responded with the words, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's,” 2 Chronicles 20:15. He issued instructions to them, then said, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, the LORD will be with you,” 2 Chronicles 20:17. 

When facing a battle, our plan of action should always be to seek the LORD first. This is an act of faith in which we acknowledge the power, sovereignty, faithfulness and might of the God we serve. As we fix our eyes upon God, we are able to, “...walk by faith not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7. Remember how He answered prayer in the past. Confess your fear, worry and concern, then sit and listen in His presence. You will hear His promises spoken from the Word, through the Holy Spirit. God's Word tells us that we do not have to fight the battle, but to trust in the One who will fight for us! God's Word exhorts us to stand firm in faith, wait, and see the deliverance He will bring to those who trust in Him. Remember to HOLD ON TO JESUS in whatever situation you are facing today and you will live a victorious life!

Join us next week for the continuation of our series, “A Lesson From The Battlefield Pt. II: The Power of Praise.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Talk Tuesday-The Deceitfulness of Sin

Who doesn't love an action-spy-thriller?! I mean, one of those movies where you're on the edge of your seat, with your pulse racing and your mind trying to untangle the web of deceit that is an inevitable part of international espionage! Are you hooked as yet? Well, I almost was...to the point of sin.

It was one of those lazy Friday afternoons when I was at home by myself. I was surfing through the cable company's on-demand selection and found another instalment of my favourite action-spy-thriller. I paid the customary $4.99 and then settled in for an evening of high octane entertainment. The first five minutes were gripping. I was barely breathing when I suddenly heard the name of Jesus Christ used as a profanity. I paused the movie, and sat still. The war instantly began to rage in my soul. I felt shocked and confused. I thought, “I need to continue watching this, I need to see what happens next!” So, I began to reason within myself, “...after all, I'll just be left wondering how it all ends!” Then the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit began to speak. “How could you watch a show that uses the name of Jesus Christ as a profanity on Friday, then go and sing about that same name in reverent worship on Sunday?” You see, it was my turn to sing a solo at church that weekend. My song of choice? 'Worthy Is The Lamb' by Darlene Zschech of Hillsong. The first verse starts off with, “Thank you for the cross Lord, thank you for the price You paid, bearing all my sin and shame, in love You came and gave amazing grace,” then it crescendos with the chorus declaring, “WORTHY IS THE LAMB, SEATED ON THE THRONE, crown You now with many crowns, You reign victorious.” That day I turned the tv off. I decided that the $4.99 and the short term pleasure were not worth the pain of guilt that I would feel later. That was a poignant moment for me spiritually and for my growth as a Christian.

Hebrews 3:12-13 warns,“12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Sin's deceitfulness always starts off small, masked as harmless entertainment, an idle thought, a curious glance, a careless word, or an unintentional gesture. It is often accompanied by the thought, 'just this once,' or 'I deserve this.' One time becomes two, two become three and then hardness of heart leads to habit, or habit leads to hardness of heart. Thankfully, God has given us the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and one another for accountability. Let us guard our hearts diligently, encourage one another regularly, read the Bible daily and listen to the Holy Spirit constantly. And remember, JESUS died for your sins, so if you fall, repent and get back up because you are washed in the Blood of the Lamb!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Talk Tuesday-Hold On To The Truth

A new season is here. Fall has arrived. School has begun. Work is ever increasing and our responsibilities remain. Yet, the world we live in is changing. We hear of wars, rumors of wars, plagues, diseases, religious persecution and extremism at its most inhumane. We are told that Global Warming is destroying our planet. What will our world look like in 20 years from now? Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, Social Media is the new norm of communication, and we have begun to feel more self-reliant than ever.

As a teenager, I can remember reading Romans 1:21-25, and really wondering about verse 25. "21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." Romans 1:21-25. I naively thought idolatry to be an outdated concept, and mused about what it could look like in the future. Fast forward 20 years later. In today's popular culture, I hear much talk of 'The Universe'. At first I was confused, until I realized that people were praying to 'The Universe', putting things out there into 'The Universe' and that 'The Universe' was responding by 'granting' them their wishes.

Here's another thing that puzzled me in my youth: the concluding verse in the Parable of the Persistent Widow from Luke 18:1-8. The parable tells of a widow who seeks justice from a judge who neither fears God nor man. Her persistence moves him to action, “...yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!” Luke 18:5. Jesus uses this as teaching moment to remind us not to give up when we pray. “6 And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” Luke 18:6-7. Why, then, does He ask such a haunting question afterwards? “8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?'” Luke 18:8.

In a season when the earth is groaning, times are changing, evil seems to be prevailing, and darkness seems impending, HOLD ON TO THE TRUTH. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. An exchange between Pontius Pilate and Jesus about truth goes like this: 

"36 Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.' 37 'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.' 38 'What is truth?' retorted Pilate." John 18:36-38.

Here is a summary of TRUTH; The Apostles' Creed.

I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Movie Monday - The Apostles' Creed