While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
On a high mountain with Peter, James and John, when Jesus was transfigured and spoke with Moses and Elijah who appeared there, Peter had plans of his own and he voiced them, but was stopped by the Father in heaven, who explicitly told him..... “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Are you listening to Jesus? He once said.... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.....
Jesus knows what's best for you. Listen to him. Let not your own voice or the voices of people crowd out the voice of the Savior. Look to him, listen to him, live for him. Be blessed and be a blessing.
But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy, and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public custody. But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night, and brought them out, and said, "Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." (Acts 5:17-20)
By the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people after Pentecost. More believers were added to the Lord. They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some of them. Great multitudes also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed. The rulers were unable to control the works of the Apostles, so they put them in prison. But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night, and brought them out, and said, "Go stand and speak in the temple to the people........"
Despite oppositions, the work on the kingdom of God has progressed from Pentecost until today. Many have become martyrs for the Lord; others have labored and have entered in to glory after their work and time on earth were over.
The baton has been passed on to our generation by them who have preceded us. Despite sufferings, persecutions and hindrances, the Word of God has gone to most corners of the world. The Holy Spirit of God is guiding believers in to the work that needs to be yet done. God is using his chosen vessels and large numbers are being added to God's family each day.
Are we fulfilling our calling? is a question that we should ask ourselves.
At the end of our earthly journey, will we be able to hear the sweet voice of the master say.....
'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' (Matthew 25:23)
Blessed are they who know even now, that they will hear this from their wonderful Savior when the time comes.
This morning as I went out for a walk, I noticed a few birds hopping and bathing in the small water pools, near our residence. The water came from a sprinkler system that watered the grass on the lawns. As I watched, the bigger birds time and again scared away the smaller birds like the sparrows by charging at them. There was enough water for all but the attitude of the big birds was surprising. The water was not theirs, it was freely given, yet they were not willing to accommodate the smaller ones. We can forgive them, for they are just birds; not as wise or intellectual or with reasoning power as us humans.
Looking at this from a Christian point of view, the blessings that come from accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior are for every Christian to experience and be blessed. The river of blessings flow because of Jesus' atoning work on the cross. The big birds should not look down on the smaller ones, for the price was paid by Jesus. God has released the blessings because of the obedience of his son. God is not limited by denominations or human reasoning. He says, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. (Romans 9:15, 16)
God is interested in details, that's for sure. Consider the minute details of many things that he has included in his Word, especially in the Old Testament books. Some of us skip through these to more interesting portions. Reading the book of Ezra this day, I noticed the author writing about the number of silver and gold articles that were brought back to Jerusalem by them who were released from captivity. I don't think anyone would have objected if the author had just mentioned that the gold and silver articles that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem were brought back. But God, the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to mention the numbers.
This was the inventory: gold dishes 30, silver dishes 1,000, silver pans 29, gold bowls 30, matching silver bowls 410, other articles 1,000. In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:9-11)
God is interested in the details of our lives too. Things that people may consider trivial are important to him. Not only the big matters, we can take our smallest issues to our Lord....He will hear...he will care.....that's for sure.
Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, because he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (Daniel 6:3-5)
Daniel's enemies examined his life to find some fault, so that they could bring accusations against him to the king, but they could find nothing. They found that he was faithful and without error. Yet, they did not stop there. They knew that Daniel was a true Israelite and worshiped his God faithfully, so they devised a plan to trap him in that aspect. They made the king sign a royal statute that whoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except the king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
Daniel did not swerve from his devotion to Almighty God and prayed and worshiped him, as was his routine; as a consequence, he was thrown in to the lion's den. His enemies were happy and thought that, that would be the last they saw of Daniel, but God Almighty had other plans; plans of not only rescuing Daniel and destroying his enemies, but more importantly, making his power and glory known to a gentile king.
Daniel had a testimony; the king had a decree to proclaim....
Daniel said......My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me; because as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt.(Daniel 6:22)
The king decreed.....in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed; and his dominion shall be even to the end. (Daniel 6:26)
End of story......Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 6:28)
If God has blessed and exalted you, know that the enemy is jealous of you and would want to put you down, as he did in the life of Daniel, but be assured that the plans of the enemy will not materialize for you have found favor with God. Another blessing awaits you.
I was pondering how much a change the Holy Spirit brings in our lives once we come to Christ and submit to the Word Of God. While in college, there was a time when bad language and coarse jesting dominated my life, perhaps not when with family, but when with friends and colleagues. It became a way of life, so as to say, for the company was so. But when I accepted Jesus as Savior, things started changing. The Spirit of God used the Word to cleanse me and the words that came to my mouth were filtered before they were uttered.
Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (Proverbs 4:24)
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4)
and a few more guided me in the right path regarding this.
James, the writer of the epistle by his name, writes....
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
The Lord watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.... (Psalm 121:5)
When Abraham stayed in Gerar, he said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." So Abimelech, king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman." Abimelech had no bodily relations with her, so he said, "Lord, I am innocent. The man told me she was his sister and she said, 'he is my brother', 'I have done this with a clear conscience'." Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die."
Abimelech and his men were very afraid. When Abimelech confronted Abraham as to why he had lied to him, Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'I see no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Moreover, she is my sister as we have the same father."
"Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, "My land is before you; live wherever you like." To Sarah he (with some sarcasm) said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated."
Abraham and Sarah had their limitations and short comings. They harbored fears. They tried to rely on half truths to protect themselves. Yet God was watching over them for their good. Things could have gone wrong very easily, but God was in control of the situation here, for Abraham. As he told Abimelech, "I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her."
God is watching over us too,...and at all times. He is there to intervene on our behalf in all situations of our lives. But let us not rely on half truths for our safety. The one who has called us in to the fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ is faithful. Let us look to him each day and sing what the Psalmist sang, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.(Psalm 121:2)
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. (Isaiah 28:16)
Stone....Tested stone....Precious cornerstone......None other than Jesus Christ, who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. What a great privilege it is to serve the living God.
The prophet writes..... the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. The NKJV says....... Whoever believes will not act hastily.
For whatever reason it be, those who wait on the Lord will be rewarded eventually. Waiting on the Lord is very important for every believer.
The Psalmist David sings..... In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.(Psalm 5:3)
The Apostle James writes.... As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11)
Let us then wait upon the Lord for all our needs, for he who has called us is faithful and he will never leave us nor forsake us. He will answer our prayers.
Reading about William Tyndale recently, I realized that many are the heroes of the Christian faith, some among them martyrs, who have paid the price for the translation, printing and publication of the Bible in English. Tyndale, called by some as "The father of the English Bible", underwent immense persecution, imprisonment and finally was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536 for translating the Bible in to English.
At a time when Bible translation was prohibited by the church, he had a burning desire to make available the Bible in English, so that the commoner in England could easily read it. Educated in Oxford and Cambridge, he could speak seven languages and was good at Hebrew and Greek. He traveled to Hamburg, Germany and worked on the New Testament and got it printed in Cologne, but the press was raided; he however escaped with the printed pages to the city Worms where the New Testament was soon published. Around 6000 copies were published and smuggled to England. King Henry VIII was furious. Some bishops burnt the bibles, others bought them to destroy them. Another called it the "Testament of the Antichrist."
Tyndale hid in Antwerp and began translating the Old Testament while the King's soldiers searched England and Europe for him. Finally, Henry Phillips, an Englishman, who befriended him, betrayed his trust and Tyndale was captured by soldiers. On October 6, 1536 he killed by strangling and burning. Some say, his last prayer was "Lord, open the eyes of the King of England." Around 3 years later, King Henry VIII ordered every church in England to make a copy of the English Bible available to its worshipers. Around 90% of the King James Version and 75% of the Revised Standard Version are from the Bible translated into English by William Tyndale.
I believe when he was burnt at the stake, Jesus was welcoming him in heaven saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21)
An old pastor used to visit my clinic in Kerala, India, a few years back. He was in his nineties, short, bald and very frail. It was on the insistence of his children that he used to come for check ups. The moment he stepped in to the clinic, I knew he was there, because he always had a song in his mouth regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of his songs were regarding eternal life and life with Jesus in heaven. It seemed that he was already living in heaven though on earth. Hope and confidence ++. Not that he was in the best of health, yet the praises were flowing. I marveled at his love for the Lord. Later, one day, his son, also a pastor, called me to tell me that his father had passed away, the previous night. He continued, "Last night, my father called us as a family to his bedside and told us that his time was up and he was ready to meet his Savior. He spoke of angels coming to take him and breathed his last with a smile on his face." I was at his funeral and testified regarding my observance of this holy servant of God. Praise God for such confidence, such hope........
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)