“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1.8
There are some verses that you read and you say, “I like that.” Some you read cause you to say, “I love that.” And some cause you to say, “Wow, I so believe that!” This is just such one of those verses. The God Who spoke these words became so real to me today after the message that our grandson, who had battled for life from day one (over two years ago) went to meet his Creator today. I came to realize anew and afresh that although life if filled with changes – some welcomed and some not – but our God is ALWAYS the same. THAT is comforting!
“I am Alpha and Omega …” Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – starts and ends with Him. Although this baby boy will be so desperately missed, as I pillow my head tonight, he is whole and he is safe in the arms of Jesus. That old song, “Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time” became a little more real for me today. So many I have loved are already there – they are waiting for the rest of us to come.
The last two words of this verse speak volumes to me: “the Almighty.” Can you, even in your wildest imagination, think of something that God CAN’T do? Neither can I. He IS the Almighty One! Tomorrow I may face something that I can’t handle – but He can! I may face a temptation that I will struggle with greatly, because I don’t want to yield – and He will be the Almighty One to see me through it. Life is TOO short to have to go through it with a God who is Not ALMIGHTY. But we don’t have to. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1.3
What is a lively hope? So often we read Scripture without giving any thought to what we have just read. Peter reminds us that when we were born again, we were born unto a lively hope. One translation uses the word living for lively. This hope that we have is a living reality. Peter speaks of something I doubt we think about often. Look at these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … ” What does it mean to bless God? How about this … we bless God when we give our total allegiance to Him and we do so from a heart that is overwhelmed by His goodness, grace, and mercy.
This new life that we are enjoying is a product of God’s abundant mercy. Let’s remember that mercy is not getting what we deserve. The very act of being begotten into the family of God should stir up within us a sense of total freedom from the Law and a freedom to act in grace to those we encounter every day. Why would we not want to share this living hope? There are so many people that we encounter on a daily basis who are living lives totally void of any hope whatsoever.
The “resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” sealed for us this living hope and all we had to do was to accept it. The next time you ponder the resurrection of Christ from the dead, just remember that without His resurrection, you and I have nothing but an empty hope rather than a living hope. I shudder to think of my life without this living hope. Just my thoughts …
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7.9
These words were addressed to Moses as he was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. They had spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness and it had been difficult for Moses for a lot of reasons. While Moses does not get to go into the Promised Land, he will take them to the bring and give them over to Joshua.
Give attention to how God starts this conversation: “Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God … ” we might ask why God is reminding Moses of this truth? Think back to the time when God told Moses to take a message back to the children of Israel. Moses asked God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3.13-14)
In the passage quoted above, God is once again giving His servant some words of assurance. God says to him “the Lord thy God, he is God.” Moses was being assured that his God was THE God. Not only is He THE God, He is “the faithful God … ” Guess what? This God who was assuring Moses that He was THE God is also OUR God. Take heart … Moses did.
This is the God who “ keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him … ”This covenant making God has never broken His covenant with anyone. And He won’t start now. God wants something in return from His children. He wants us to (1) love Him and (2) keep His commandments. Is that too much for God to ask of Israel or us? I think not. Just my thoughts …
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5.22-23
When you think about fruit, you realize it must come from some source – a tree, a vine, etc. We are told in this verse that the fruit about which we speak is from the Holy Spirit. He is its source. You will notice that the verse speaks of “fruit” singular, rather than “fruits” plural. So, when we receive Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and wants to display the fruit that demonstrates that He is living within us and we are allowing Him to control our lives.
You will notice that there are nine (9) elements to this fruit. When you open most fruit, there is one or more seeds inside that make it what it is. It is one piece of fruit but there are elements that let you know from whence it came. In the preceding verses of this chapter (vs. 13-21) Paul is pointing the fruit of the flesh – when we are unsaved the only thing we CAN do is sin. By contrast, these verses above show us that which our lives should reflect.
The first element of this fruit that is mentioned is love. Allow me to suggest that without this first element, none of the elements are possible. Love allows us to rejoice. As a matter of fact, when I am committed to loving others with this unconditional love, it involves my heart, my mind, my will, and my emotions. It describes a deliberate effort that we can only make with the help of God. We must never seek anything but the best for others, even when they seek something far worse for us.
Love is joy rejoicing. Peace is love in repose. Longsuffering is love being patient. Goodness is love at work. Faith is love believing. Meekness is love on its knees. Temperance is love restraining. Think on these elements of the Spirit’s fruit in our lives. Just my thoughts …
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3.16
Paul is giving sound advice to us in this verse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom … ” The ONE thing that ought to be primary for every believer is that the Word of God is a necessary part of our lives. We would never think of going through a day without meals – in fact, most of us want to eat at least three meals a day. We feed this physical body in order to keep it functioning. Doesn’t our spiritual life need spiritual nourishment too? Of course it does. I am not trying to guilt someone into reading the Bible everyday. But I am seeking to get us to realize just how important it is to our ongoing spiritual walk with God.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and a song is repeating over and over in your head? I do, almost every day. We are able to learn a great deal of doctrine and practical living through “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs … ” One of the great joys for me is singing in our worship services at the church I attend. There is a blend of the old hymns and some new praise and worship songs, but I can learn from all of them.
So how do we fulfill this next phrase? “ … singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The key phrase here is that we are singing to the Lord. Sure, other people around us may hear us singing, but my praise and my worship is directed to God … anything else is just a side effect. How do we reflect grace in our hearts? One translation says this: “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I believe every one of us can be thankful to God that He has redeemed us! Just my thoughts …
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8.1-2
No condemnation … let those words sink in for just a moment. What would enter the mind of a horrific criminal if the judge said to him, “No condemnation”? It could not possibly be put in the same category as the “sinner saved by grace.” So, how does this state of no condemnation happen? Here it is … we “are in Christ Jesus”. Can you say “Amen”?
Now Paul gets very serious and very practical, so we need to really listen: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit..” We live in a world that tells us everyday, “You need to look out for old #1. It’s your life – enjoy it.” That would be walking in the flesh. Even though we are saved eternally once we receive Christ, Satan is the master at making us feel condemned when we sin and fail to confess it. When we walk after the Spirit, that means we yield control of our life everyday and allow Him to govern our choices, our feelings, and our attitude.
Hang on to your seat – this is powerful: “2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Wow … no condemnation and free from the law of sin and death … God is all about caring for His children. So often we allow our feelings to control what we think about God as our Heavenly Father, but the truth of the matter is this; our feelings can be wrong but the truth is based in the relationship that we established with God through His Son Jesus, and no feeling of condemnation can ever change that. So, live THIS day remembering that we have no condemnation and we are free from the law of sin and death. Just my thoughts …
“I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20.35
I think we have heard parents say to their children (in jest), “Don’t you know the Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive?” Of course, most of us are thrilled to be able to give gifts to our children. But that is not the context here.
Paul is speaking here to the leaders of the Ephesian church (vs. 17-18). He took great pains to teach this church all they would need to know: “I have showed you all things …” Would you agree that sometimes we are moved by our emotion rather than our spiritual connection to God through the scriptures? Paul told them (and us) “ … how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak … ” When believers are struggling – whether with a physical or spiritual weakness, they don’t need for us to say to them, “That’s what you get for … ” (you fill in the blank). No one on a battlefield would kick a wounded soldier when he was down. We would do everything we could to get him the care he needs. But there are times when believers have no conscious problem of kicking a wounded Christian soldier when he/she is down. Paul tells us in Galatians 6.1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are SPIRITUAL (emphasis mine), restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
It is next that he reminds them: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Don’t just gloss over that phrase. Most of us have substantial resources to help brothers and sisters in Christ when they are struggling. Whether it is groceries or spiritual grown, let us give what we have. Just my thoughts …
“And the LORD he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31.8
The setting for this verse is when Moses is handing the leadership of the nation of Israel over to Joshua (about 2 million people). Take notice of the words of encouragement that Moses uses here with Joshua: (1) The Lord will go before him, (2) The Lord will not fail him, (3) The Lord will not forsake him, and (4) Joshua has no reason to fear or be discouraged. I would like to know how Joshua felt after he received these words from Moses.
Let’s take a moment to examine these words and see if they can apply to us. Does the Lord go before us as we journey with Him? And can we count on Him not to fail us? Yes to both questions. Psalm 23.1 David says: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The name LORD refers to Jehovah, the eternal Self-existent One. One key thing to know about a shepherd is that he never takes his sheep to a place where he has never already been. He makes sure there is enough food supply and that the enemies of his sheep have been driven away. Look at this phrase: “Thou preparest a table before me in the PRESENCE (emphasis mine) of mine enemies.” The enemy may be watching, but the shepherd has the protection of his sheep well in hand.
Can we count on God not to forsake us? Indeed we can. Since God is Omnipresent, there is NEVER any place we can go that God is not already there. Since God will never forsake us, we can count on His Omnipotence to protect us, and His Omniscience to have the answer to any problem we will ever face or could ever IMAGINE.
Finally, we have no reason to fear or be dismayed (discouraged). That fact that God “IS” means that God DOES all we will ever need. If I did not believe this truth, my life every day would be filled with despair. BUT I do believe it and my despair is no longer there. Just my thoughts …
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1.9
The context of this verse brings great encouragement to me. Moses had died and Joshua had been given the responsibility to oversee 2 million people. God had just told Joshua in the preceding verse: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” So this man of God had two resources: (1) the written Word of God and (2) the spoken Word of God to guide him.
If we stay in context, we learn that Joshua had big shoes to fill. IF we move beyond the context in our application, we learn that God still uses the same two methods of communication for us today. All of us who are followers of Christ have ACCESS to the written Word of God and we all have God’s Holy Spirit living within us to communicate to us how to apply what we learn from God’s Word.
Just as God knew what was in Joshua’s heart, He knows what is in our hearts. God says to him and us: (1) be strong, (2) and be of a good courage, and (3) do not be afraid, and don’t be dismayed (lose courage). God NEVER wants us to live in constant fear, as though He cannot do battle for us. Fear of any difficult situation is normal; fear that God does not know what is going on and cannot handle it for us is a lack of trust.
We can claim God’s promise to Joshua today: “ for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” So lean back, let go, and let God be God. Just my thoughts …
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust. 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” Psalm 91.1-3
Have you ever just longed for a place where you and God could just be alone and you could pour out your heart to Him and He would just listen? I have. The psalmist here reminds us, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Do YOU have a secret place? If not, would you like to have one? Ask God to show you where your special place can be. Then, spend some time just abiding there.
I love the words of the next verse: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress … ” Wow – refuge … a place to run to when the enemy is after you; fortress … a place of safety where you can be defended and feel safe. THAT is what God is able to provide for us. You will never feel safer than when you are in your secret place with God.
“ in him I will trust.” Trust in God is never misplaced. I remind us all that we never know if God is enough until He is all we have.
Look how v. 3 begins: “Surely … ” Need some assurance that your God is able to do what you need? Here it is: “Surely … ” There was NO DOUBT in the mind of the psalmist that God could do what he needed. So what is it that He will surely do? “ … he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence Whatever the evil one puts in your path, God is your answer to that situation. Before you finish with this blog, go back and read those verses again out loud. Let those words soak in. Just my thoughts …