Tuesday, June 30, 2015

AN ALMIGHTY FRIEND OF THE CONTRITE



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In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

And it will be said:

“Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of My people.”

 For this is what the high and exalted One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Isaiah 57:5a

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

One thing is certain in life.

We make lots of mistakes. Lots of them.

We’re an imperfect people when it comes right down to it, born into sinfulness and prone to fall prey to its tempting, tempting that bring us to wrong against God and others.

We all do it and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. Too good.

But here’s something we haven’t gotten as good at.

We haven’t quite gotten as good at saying we’re sorry as we have at committing misdeeds.

It’s true, right?

We easily make a mess of things in our relationship with the Lord and relationships with those He brings into our lives but when it comes to being contrite, we can’t bring it upon ourselves to be humble and admit we were in error.

Why is this so hard when we all know we are all imperfect people? What’s so hard in confessing we have made a mistake?

Perhaps because we have allowed pride to be greater than humility, silence greater than seeking reconciliation, grace, and mercy. All when we know that we serve a Lord who expects us to admit our transgressions and then turn away from doing them again.

In other words, God expects us to be contrite. In fact, He rewards it. We know because of our scripture passage today from Isaiah 57. Look again at these words here:

And it will be said:

“Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of My people.”

 For this is what the high and exalted One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  I
saiah 57:5a

Indeed, our Almighty Lord sits upon His throne in the heavens, a high and holy place where He rules and reigns over all creation. But this doesn’t mean that He is detached from us here on earth, not by any means.

Rather, He comes down to the person who has bowed down in humble confession before Him, those who have allowed their spirit to be lowered in apology for their actions, those displaying genuine contrition for the wrongs they have done.

And note the Lord doesn’t come down to chastise and rebuke this repenting person into oblivion. Rather, He comes to revive the person’s lowly spirit and resuscitate their broken heart. He seeks to pick us back up again and put our feet back onto the path of righteousness where we can walk in His ways once again while serving Him and others in accordance with His word, will, and way.

Friends, we are receiving absolutely great news from these two verses today. For the Lord God Almighty cares for you and me, in spite of our tendency to commit wrongs against Him and others. He understands our imperfections, even more than we do. And all He desires is for us to come to Him in contrition and repentance when we have allowed transgression to get the better of us.

When we do, we will experience the full truth of this word for today as the almighty friend of the contrite, God Himself, will come low to where we are to revive our hearts and spirits.

Let us all give thanks to Him for His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration today and every day.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

A BLESSED SPARING



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

Isaiah 57:1-2

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

My wife has lost three brothers in the last eight months. I continue to read or hear of other people every day who have has loved ones pass as well. In fact, just two weeks ago, nine Christians were gunned down in a bible study at a Charleston, SC, church by a stranger they had welcomed into their midst.

Death is inevitable for all of us. That’s a fact of life but it’s never easy when it comes, no matter how you cut it. We often look for words of comfort and peace from others but we usually find that there is no better source of assurance and solace in the midst of grief than what we find in the blessed word of God.

Today, we have one such passage. Look again at these words as we find the Lord putting death in a new perspective for us, one that proposes death as a blessed sparing, a final act of mercy that the Lord grants us before as this earthly life ends and we await the eternal life to come:

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.  Isaiah 57:1-2

From the very dawn of our existence, we belong to the Lord God Almighty. We are His from conception to birth through life and after death when we have placed our faith and trust in His Son Jesus as Savior. Those who have made that choice are not only Christians but counted among the righteous, those who have decided to trade in their sinful, wicked ways for the ways of Christ, ways that are perfectly right and faultless. Those who walk the path of righteousness with Jesus in life carry themselves uprightly before God and others. Their ways are pleasing in their Father’s sight because they are carrying out His will while serving Him and others. Their actions always result in glory and honor attributed to His holy and precious name until that day when He decides their life here on earth is over, their mission accomplished.

And then He takes His devout followers away.

But why does He take them?

Our scripture passage tells us that no one understands the real reason why.

This is because those who have lost loved ones rarely see that a blessed sparing has been taken place, a blessed sparing where God has removed His child from the evil of the world and granted them peace and rest. Indeed, when the time comes for us to perish and depart life here on earth, we will be set free from all the things that afflict us in this worldly existence. We will have no more pain or affliction or hardship or heartache or stress or worry or fear. All will be gone along with the sin that plagues us all.  

It really is a perfect peace in the Lord and a peace that will ensure forever through the salvation promise we have in Christ Jesus.

Friends, this is what makes the gatherings after the deaths of Christians celebrations of life, not funerals. We come together to rejoice in the times we had to share with our beloved who have been taken by the very God who made them and we come to give thanks to God for His blessed sparing, praising Him for freeing the departed from the evils of this world and bringing them to a peaceful rest.

I don’t know about you but there isn’t anything in this world that makes me feel like I would pass up eternity to stay here. When my time comes to depart, I will be more than ready to go and enter into a life more fantastic and glorious than I can even imagine, a time when I will be able to see my Heavenly Father and His Son, my Savior, face to face and dwell with them forever just as my dearly departed loved ones will be doing.

It’s going to be an amazing reunion. 

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com

Sunday, June 28, 2015

INDICATORS OF WICKED LIVING (PART 12)



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
** Become a Follower of The Christian Walk at http://the-christian-walk.blogspot.com
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; indeed, they are your lot. Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings.”

“In view of all this, should I relent?”

“You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.”

“You went to Molek with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the very realm of the dead! You wearied yourself by such going about, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.”

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?”

“I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away.”

“But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”

Isaiah 57:6-13

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Today is the final devotion in this twelve part series on the indicators of wicked living and, appropriately for a Sunday, the central focal point is on false and inappropriate worship.

Unless you have never spent much time in the Old Testament, you know that this matter of improperly worship was at the heart of what got the Israelites in trouble with God over and over again. Going back to when they took control of the Promised Land, you may recall how the people of Israel disobeyed God by not ridding the land of people who were already abiding in it. That mistake would be a critical one as the pagan religious practices of the existing peoples within Canaan infiltrated the Israelite culture before long and persisted all the way through until God had finally had enough and sent His people into a seventy year exile to Babylon. It’s on the brink of that judgment that we find God speaking in our scripture passage for today from the 57th chapter of Isaiah:

“The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; indeed, they are your lot. Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings.”

“In view of all this, should I relent?”

“You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.”

“You went to Molek with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the very realm of the dead! You wearied yourself by such going about, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.”

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?”

“I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away.”

“But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” 
Isaiah 57:6-13

Note here that the people of Israel had adopted idol worshipping in their religious practices, a direct and blatant violation of one of God’s main commandments:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Exodus 20:3-4a

God expected His people to be faithful to Him just as He was faithful to them but instead of offering their best to God, the One who had given them everything, they instead poured out their offerings to idols. They crawled into bed with false gods and gave them all the desires that were to be reserved for God and God alone. And although they had descended to the realm of the dead through their sinfulness, they thought everything was fine.

Sadly, we have not learned much from mistakes of those Israelites from more than 2,000 years ago. Instead of devotion ourselves in worship to God, we choose to worship the things of this world more. We chase after the things we want to chase after and anything goes, when it comes to fulfilling our deepest wants, whether it’s right in God’s sight or not.

So what will come of this? What fate awaits those who choose spiritual infidelity and sinfully reject and disrespect the very God who made them and reigns supreme over them and all creation?

God gives us a clue because the fate of the disloyal and spiritually adulterous is the same as it was in the times of Isaiah. For God will not reward people who willingly choose to live wickedly. He will expose their sinfulness and nothing they do will benefit them. They will find themselves unfulfilled and when they turn back to God for help, He will show them what life is like separate from Him for idol worshippers will be left to call on the idols they worship, idols that will never answer or respond in any way because they are just as dead in spirit as the people showing devotion to them.

It’s not a pretty picture but note where God opens up a window of hope at the very end of this passage. For those who have gone astray and were disloyal to God have a chance for redemption. All they need to do is repent and turn back to the one true God, the Lord God Almighty, Maker and Master of heaven and earth. All they need to do is put all idols and false gods aside and devote themselves fully to God and God alone, allowing Him to abide in them as they abide in Him.

When that happens, when those who have turned from God turn back to Him and make Him their refuge, then and only then will they find themselves delivered from the cusp of hell to an inheritance that will never perish, an inheritance that can never be taken from them as they one day are able to reside with God and His Son Jesus forever.

Question: What are you worshipping in your life?

If it’s anything except the Lord, it’s an indicator of wicked living.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

INDICATORS OF WICKED LIVING (PART 11)



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
** Become a Follower of The Christian Walk at http://the-christian-walk.blogspot.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“You sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.”

Isaiah 57:5b

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Lacking God’s vision, knowledge, and understanding. Complacency, lethargy, and laziness. Never being satisfied with what God has provided. Seeking to go one’s own way separate from the Lord. Never being satisfied with what God has provided. Choosing to abuse substances. Looking to the world to try and make life better. Making a mockery out of the Lord. Rebelling against God and His ways. Giving into lustful desires for things of the world.

These are ten indicators of wicked living that have been revealed to us by God’s word through our study of the final verses of Isaiah. Chapter 56, and the opening verses of Isaiah 57. And although any of these lifestyle choices is displeasing to God, perhaps the one we will see today is more heinous and horrific than them all. Look at today’s verse:

“You sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.”  Isaiah 57:5b

We know that the people of Israel had allowed pagan worship practices to infiltrate their culture, so much so that in the years before being taken into exile by the Babylonians, the practice of sacrificing one’s child to the false god Molech was widely taking place. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel joined Isaiah in speaking out against the sinful acts which were not simply confined to the everyday people. Scripture details how two kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, sacrificed their children in what God’s word labels as detestable practices (2 Chronicles 28, 2 Kings 21). And these were Jewish people who supposedly followed God.  

Today, we don’t hear of people sacrificing their children but we do hear about children being abused by the very parents that God entrusted their care to. That abuse might be verbal or physical or both. It might even be neglect where the needs of a child are not being met. Either way, a child of God is not cared for by their providers and know this, God will not stand for it. He will not tolerate His children being mistreated.

You see, all children belong to God when it comes right down to it. He ordains a child to be conceived from the very start and sees that child through its time in the womb until it emerges into His creation. From that point on, the child is placed in the hands of people to care for His child. They are the child’s parents but that child is not truly theirs but God’s. They will raise that child up until he or she becomes an adult and is able to serve God on their own. And possibly, that adult will get to be a parent themselves as God provides one of His children for them to care for.

This truth is critical for us as we get the privilege to have God’s children in our care. For if we truly see that child as being God’s, then we would see the great obligation we have to give that child our best for he or she is one of the greatest gifts God could have ever given us. And when we raise them up with that view, then guess what? We will raise up an adult who will see their children the same way when they get the opportunity to have them. Seeing children as a rich blessing from God perpetuates across the generations.

Friends, the scriptures are speaking loudly today, especially to parents, and the message from God is clear:

“Do not abuse or mistreat My children.”

Instead, treat them as they truly are: the richest gifts possible from a gracious God who is the Father of all.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com