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castle

“Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.”
Psalm 96:2

I arrived at the beach recently to see this intricate sand castle. It sat behind my chair, so I could see people admiring it throughout the day. One Dad called to his young daughter to come look. As she approached he asked if she wanted to go look at the castle. She gazed for a bit and said no! No? Why would she say no? And then she gave her reason. She wanted to go get Mommy and the others first, so they could see it, too.

I love her desire to share something good. That morning I was reading an excerpt from Michael Youssef’s latest book Fearless Living in Troubled Times. He mentions that we were saved to make God’s name known. Our salvation is so great and so humbling that we should be continually sharing it with others. Let’s not keep it to ourselves.

The world is desperate for good news, and there is no greater news than salvation through Jesus Christ providing cleansing of sin and relationship with God. His Kingdom is no sandcastle temporary Kingdom like those of the world. It is glorious and eternal. Let’s ask God for opportunity to share the good news. As Romans 10:14 says,

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Thank You, Lord of heaven and earth, for the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came to save us from sin and free us from Your wrath to come.

T

The Lord knows one of my favorite things is to be in the spiritual delivery room as He births something to advance His Kingdom through the body of Christ. My dear friend, author, and speaker Teresa Skepple has released her new study Mysteries of the Kingdom Revealed: A Study of the Parables of Jesus for Women. I have read it, and highly recommend it. If you love mysteries, love truth, and want to grow in your relationship with Christ, this is a study for you. Hope you’ll consider it for your individual study, group study, and your churches. To find it and learn more about Teresa, please click here.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

It’s been a joy to be part of a devotion writing project for the verses we’re memorizing at Church. Since I’ve had to step away from the Isaiah blogs to take care of some other ministry opportunities, I thought I would use one of those devotions to remind us of our good, good Father. (Song link provided below!)  Lord, teach us!

God’s Yes’s and No’s

Unknown

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.”
Psalm 84:11

I was talking with a neighbor when her son peeked out the door to find out more information about some cookies he found in the kitchen. His mother said they were left over from an event, and that he may have two. A spiritual analogy hit me later about God’s yes’s and no’s. What if those cookies had been for an upcoming event? This loving and wise mother would have had to say, you may have none. Does she love him more or less in either scenario? Of course not! God may at times allow us to have something we ask for, and at others times He may allow us to have none. We can be sure that a yes or a no is equally loving; for our good and His glory.

Psalm 84:11 holds a special place in my heart. During a hard season, it felt like God was holding out on me. I’ve learned that we can, and must, take our hearts to Him no matter what shape they’re in. With reverence, I was able to tell Him that I felt like He was holding out on me, but that I knew His Word is true, and He never withholds what is good from His children. The truth sets us free, and it does us good to bask in it.

We are blessed to be called to the family of God through Christ. No matter how we may feel, we can know He is our bright light and protection; always providing what is good. We may be allowed two or none, but either way we can be sure that He will never withhold what is good. His every move toward those in Christ is favor and honor, that others might be drawn to Him, too.

Good Good Father Chris Tomlin

matthew cover bleed

Cover Illustration Josh Sauerman

Because the Lord provided a zealous and encouraging crew this summer, I am grateful to announce that A Focus on Christ Through the Book of Matthew is ready to share! I hope you’ll consider picking one up to do on your own or with your church, neighborhood, or group.  All profits go right back into Abide in Him, Inc.

This study is dedicated to a former board member who is already with Jesus. Earl came to Christ later in life, and was a different person saved than he had been before. (Every believer can relate.) Once Earl caught sight of Christ, there was nowhere else He would rather look. Jesus was his favorite subject as he sought humbly to learn more about His Lord. But Earl would be the first to correct me if I let this post be about a man. Let the focus always and forever be on our Hero, Jesus Christ!

About the Book:

Why is God’s Kingdom above all others? The answer lies in its King. The King of kings left His throne in heaven to be born as a Man to die on a cross to save a wayward people. A Focus on Christ Through the Book of Matthew travels verse-by-verse through this amazing book to watch and hear this King. We’ve heard the question, “What would Jesus do?” But unless we get to know Him, and follow Him through Bible Study and prayer, we really have no idea.

This eighteen week study provides five lessons per week, memory verses, and prayer and journaling opportunities as we seek to learn about Him and from Him. As we study our Savior’s every move we will hear what He says, see what He does, and learn how He handles things, so that we can be His true witnesses today.

Please click here to check it out, or contact us if you have any questions.

others

We’re heading into six “woes,” proclaiming great sorrow or distress.

“ 8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
9 In my ears the Lord of hosts has sworn, “Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
Even great and fine ones, without occupants.
10 For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine,
And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain.”
Isaiah 5:8-10

Are we seeking the furtherance of God’s Kingdom or our own?  This passage likely has to do with the disease of greed and disobedience. The sinful desire for more, more, more can land us in want, want, want. God had allotted, through Joshua, land for each tribe and family. In His wisdom, He instituted the Year of Jubilee. Every 50 years, debts were cleared and land was returned to the one to whom it was originally assigned!

This was NOT a socialist move to gather wealth to be spread through a government, or a mandate against wealth. This was NOT a call to cease being wise with one’s finances.  I think we CAN see:

• mercy, forgiveness, and prospering God’s Kingdom rather than their own.

• preventing a growing gap between the rich and poor that could cause cultural and social problems through oppression.

• avoiding inevitable desolation and lack.

• using one’s blessings to bless others and advance God’s Kingdom, rather than seeking to build and grow for one’s own glory.

Whether it’s wealth, time, talent, etc. let’s use our resources for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom, rather than adding to our own desires for our own glory. In that we will not find ourselves desolate or alone, because He is with us!

good or evil

“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”
Isaiah 5:7

The well cared for vine was the people of Judah who were God’s delight. He, the Lord of armies who is powerful and mighty and merciful and just, gave them everything they needed to bear fruit for their good and His glory. They could have been a nation bearing and proclaiming His saving nature; His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23.) What a wonderful place to raise children!

But instead of justice, there was bloodshed! Instead of righteousness, there was a cry of distress! Something went terribly wrong. Rather than humbly relying on God, they were doing whatever seemed good to them; they wanted to be like the other nations. I think a footnote in the ESV Bible is so poignant, “…sin does not simply fail to reach a standard; it distorts good into evil.”

That theme can be seen today.

In third world countries some are hearing of Christ and receiving Him with open arms – actually asking why someone didn’t tell them about Him sooner. In first world countries, where God has given us everything we need to enjoy His ways and His wisdom, some are wanting to go their own way and give humans the glory for all that is good. Rather than asking why they haven’t heard the good news before now, they are asking to not be told again. They think they are gaining freedom, but they are creating a snare.

Lord, please give us revival that Your name would be known and honored in all nations.

Blog

I’ve enjoyed gazing at our True Vine, and our loving and faithful Vinedresser. Now, because of the sacrifice of Christ, the Vinedresser will receive a good harvest. It’s through salvation in Christ that we abide in Him as one, receiving from Him the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the fruit bearing God has planned for our lives. Let’s see what God does with the worthless vine in Isaiah 5.

“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
Isaiah 5:5-6

The vine in Isaiah 5 had to be removed.

The True Vine, Christ, will never be uprooted.

The world exalts man’s way above God’s and it is crumbling; unstable; provides fear and insecurity. Those who remain attached to evil by refusing the free gift of salvation in Christ, will be uprooted and trampled down when Christ returns to destroy evil forever. Rather than rejoicing in having a wall, a strong tower, a provider, and One working to grow them and care for them, they reject it all.

The ultimate harvest is drawing near. The Vinedresser is perfect, and now He has a perfect Vine bearing eternal fruit. Those who come to Christ for salvation are the branches abiding in that secure and steadfast Vine. Abiding in Him gives us peace and security. God desires to reveal His glory by bearing much fruit through the redeemed, and they will never be uprooted.

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