Many places throughout the Bible we are told to Honor our Father and Mother. But for many, this is a most difficult thing to do. Maybe you didn’t even know your Dad. He abandoned your Mom early on and was absent most of your childhood…popping in a few times, but then disappearing only to reappear months or years later. You were then left with feelings of confusion, shame, and invalidation…wondering what you had done to make him leave. Or maybe your Dad was part of your family but very distant and unattached. You longed to have a relationship like everyone else had, but every time you tagged along…he shunned you. I can understand completely your reluctance to honor someone who has hurt you…but look at it from this angle. Romans 12:10 says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” This type of honoring is unselfish, self-sacrificing, and looking for the good in people despite what they’ve done to you honoring. It’s simply showing common respect, kindness, and decency from one human being to another…and that’s what God wants us all to do.
Isaac was Abraham’s son of promise…a dearly loved son in his old age, but more importantly, the future promise of the Jewish Nation. But here, God is asking Abraham to surrender this precious promise, not out of temptation, for God cannot be tempted, nor tempt anyone to do evil (James 1:12-13) but in order to refine Abraham’s character. God was asking Abraham to totally give up this promise…to relinquish all rights to it…and to remain loyal and obedient to God, not the promise. Maybe the Lord has asked you to do the same thing…surrender a promise He’s given you to see where your loyalties lie…in that promise or in Him.
It’s in our hearts that the natural knowledge of God resides. (Romans 1:21) And it’s within our hearts that God’s Agape love for us is truly realized. This knowledge and influence moves us on as the glory of God shines through the face of His Son Jesus Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6) And it’s through Jesus that we develop the character of perseverance. For Jesus is the perfect example of endurance, patience, and suffering in the faith without surrender…it’s hope under pressure with steadfast certianity, or as David prayed in I Chronicles 29:18, “Lord, keep our hearts loyal to You.”
Spiritual adultery was the first sin God’s people committed. They willfully turned their backs on God and followed after their own devices…leading us to the second sin. Cisterns were pits cut out of limestone rock and lined with plaster to collect rainwater. God tells His people here that their attempt to circumvent His authority and rebel by trusting in their own understanding would only result in cracked and leaky cisterns that wouldn’t hold water. Jesus talked about this to the Samaritan woman drawing water at the well when He compared how its water could only temporarily quench thirst, compared to the spring of water welling up to eternal life – called Living Water – that would quench one’s spiritual thirst forever. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of Salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)
In this short beginning sentence of his letter to Titus, we can see the transforming power of God’s infinite grace and mercy in Paul’s life. This is the same man that was once an enemy of God… doing everything in his power to persecute Christians in the early Church. But now he writes that he freely places himself under the Will of God and the Gospel Ministry of Jesus Christ, having been called and set apart to preach the Good News and plant Churches. Paul’s transformed life now one of unswerving trust, devotion, and confidence in the Lord.
Our great and magnificent God has existed before eternity…His majestic holiness is without equal and completely perfect in every way. But He chose for His Name to dwell among us. So how can we gain access to His Presence? It tells us right here…humility. Psalm 51:17 speaks clearly to this, “The sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” For when we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will exalt us (Matthew 23:12)…intervening on our behalf to mend and mold (Psalm 147:3) as we gain new life through His Word.
When the guilty sentence was handed down for Jesus to be crucified, Judas wasn’t prepared for that. Maybe he thought Jesus would just get a slap on the wrist or be thrown into prison. Either way, when Judas heard that Jesus’ life was going to be violently and forcibly taken from Him, it says he was seized with remorse. But the Greek word for that phrase is interesting and not what you’d think. The type of remorse written about here has no change of heart or turning back to God connected to it. Sure there’s a wish that what had been done could somehow be undone…but it’s a selfish remorse… and a dread of the consequences to come. For at that terrible moment, Judas knew he also had been condemned through his own selfish actions.
If you’re familiar with the story of Job, you could find this verse at the end of the Book almost inconceivable. If anything bad could happen, it happened to Job. He suffered pain, sorrow, total financial ruin, loss of all his children, and finally, great physical affliction. But it says God blessed the final part of his life more that the former. So how come and why? If you read the entire Book of Job you’ll see Job’s faith and trust in God never wavered and he persevered when everyone else around him doubted. And in the end, God changed his outcome. For many of us our past has been riddled with anguish, turmoil, loss, and pain…but be encouraged, our former state is in the past and what’s in the future is entirely in the Lord’s hands.
The glorious radiance and luminous Presence of Jesus had left Saul blind…and it tells us that he was that way for three days… neither eating or drinking. Saul had been headed to Damascus to take prisoners of Believers…but the Lord had other plans and blinding Saul certainly got his attention! Suddenly his world became very small, forcing him to reexamine his life…allowing time for retrospection of his beliefs…compelling him to look closely at the significance of his past actions and the current condition of his soul. And not surprisingly, it tells us that when Jesus called Ananias to go lay hands on Saul to heal him, Jesus told him that he’d find Saul praying. The Lord has a way of boxing us in at times, shining the bright light of Truth on our situation, and forcing us to come to terms with hidden sins in our life. And if we listen, there will be honest re-evaluation, repentance, remorse, and restoration.
Do you have a Prayer Partner? A trusted friend that you can go to and vent your frustrations, spill your guts, and openly confess your sins? Confession is acknowledging, admitting, and taking personal responsibility for our actions, but many times we gloss over this part when we pray individually. It’s only when we share our personal struggles with someone else can true healing take place…for what was in the dark has been brought into the light. And the prayer of a righteous man has great strength and effect when it is accomplished, that is, when God answers the prayers of His people with incredible feats….for He listens to Godly men who do His Will. (John 9:31)