1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

1 JOHN - The Defense Rests

The judge peered down at me.

"Do you have anything to say in your defense?"

What could I say? I was guilty of every sin that had been brought against me.

My Adversary was good…very good.

He had used witnesses against me…He had used Scripture against me. And he had used truth – I couldn’t deny one word of his accusations. I was guilty…

"No, Your Honor. The defense rests."

"Then I suggest you begin your closing arguments."

I had no closing arguments. How can you argue, when you know you're guilty of every wrongdoing, every errant act, every thoughtless word – I had SINNED!

I was about to stand up and plead guilty, when a note was passed to me. It read: "Someone is here to speak for you."

I turned and looked into the softest eyes of the strongest face I have ever seen.

And He began to speak for me.

He used His own witness…He used Scripture. And He used truth. He finished with a simple, yet profound, statement:

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

"Agreed," said the judge, as he pounded his gavel. "Not guilty."

I thought of this little courtroom drama when I read this week's "Bible Pick 'Ems." It comes from the book of I John:

"My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous." (1 John 2:1)

John offers reassurance to us when we're feeling guilty and condemned. We know we have sinned. And Satan wastes no time in pointing fingers at us.

"For the accuser of our brothers and sisters…[is] the one who accuses them before our God day and night." (Revelation 12:10)

He is good…very good.

But don't give up hope!!

We have the best defense attorney in the universe!

And He is pleading our case!

Jesus is our Advocate, our Defender – and He speaks His truth. He has already suffered the penalty in our place. We can't be tried for a case that no longer exists.

"Who then will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us." (Romans 8:34)

“He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25)

So, don't be afraid to ask Jesus to plead your case – He has already won it!!

What is the biggest "case" that Jesus has won for you?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

EZEKIEL - The High Cost of Pride

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" lands us in the middle of Ezekiel, a very interesting book.

Ezekiel was one of the Major Prophets in the Old Testament. He had clear and vivid prophecies and visions. However, very little is known about his personal life. He was one of the thousands of young men deported from Judah to Babylon. Up until those tragic days, Ezekiel was being trained for the priesthood.

Like Isaiah, Ezekiel had a shocking encounter with God.

He was never the same!

Whereas Isaiah had warned Judah of the coming storm – Ezekiel spoke in the middle of it. He prophesied in the middle of terrible defeat.

God described Ezekiel as a watchman on the walls of the city, capturing the personal nature of his ministry. Dangerous, responsible, crucial…

A central part of Ezekiel's message was the importance of each person's accountability before God. He taught the exiles that God expected personal worship and obedience from each of them.

Today's verses are a reminder of what happens to the disobedient:

"…you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian…Your heart was filled with pride because of your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground…All who knew you were appalled at your fate. And you have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more." (Ezekiel 28:16-17, 19)

Some of the phrases in this passage describe the human king of Tyre. Tyre was the powerful capital of Phoenicia. It was a highly prosperous and beautiful city. However, pride caused its ruin.

At times, though, Ezekiel describes the king in terms that could not apply to a mere human.Therefore, he may have been condemning not only the king of Tyre, but Satan, who had tempted and motivated this king to sin.

And we all know that pride caused his ruin.

I take two messages out of this passage.

First of all, there will be an end to prideful ways,and haughty people. There will be an end to Satan's rule. The long fall from Heaven is only the first judgment of God against our enemy. He has a final judgment day ahead of him. And after that day, he "will exist no more." I take comfort in that fact.

God cares about justice. Wickedness will not win out in the end.

The second message I take out of this passage is a warning. God exacts punishment against those who proudly set themselves up. He will not tolerate those who do not yield to His Sovereignty. He demands fearful worship, and a heart yielded to His purposes. Pride will cause ruin.

"Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)

Proud people are rarely aware of their weaknesses. They think they are above the frailties that plague others. However, in this state of mind, they are easily tempted – they are easily tripped up.

Proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem.

So, it's time to take inventory. It's time to let Ezekiel speak to us.

Are we proud of our *beauty* our accomplishments, our success? Do we love splendor and money more than God? Have we sacrificed our wisdom in favor of wealth?

Listen to the warning – return to true worship.

Avoid the long fall from grace.

"I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions."(Psalm 101:5-6)

Oh Lord, count me among the faithful…count me among the humble.

It's time to do some personal accounting - are you *overdrawn* in the pride column?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

1 KINGS - The One and Only

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" comes from the book of 1 Kings.

The verses are taken from the beginning of King Solomon's prayer of dedication for the newly-built Temple in Jerusalem. After hundreds of years, a permanent home for the presence of God was finally completed!

It was a joyous time of celebration.

Solomon's Temple was a glittering spectacle, displaying the riches of a prospering nation. As a dwelling place for God, it was fitting for the Temple to be beautiful.

In the final climactic moment, when all the building was complete, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Most Holy Place, and "…the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple." (1 Kings 8:11)

Then Solomon gathered the people of Israel together to dedicate the Templebut he also wanted them to rededicate themselves to God's service.

I can almost hear his voice resounding across the centuries:

"Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed.
'O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion…
(and to the people of Israel)…And may you be completely faithful to the LORD our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today.'" (1 Kings 8:22-23, 61)

Solomon declared that even the highest heavens, the far reaches of the universe, could not contain God. His majesty shines brighter than any light in the sky, and His riches far surpass any man-made structure.

Can you imagine what it was like when the glory of God filled the Temple?

But have you ever stopped to think about your own heart?

Isn't it amazing that God is willing to live in the hearts of those who believe in Him and love Him?!

We are blessed indeed.

So where is God's presence?
He's here, in my heart,
Directing my pathways
As He has from the start.

Where is God's presence?
He's here! Don't you see?
The Most High of the Universe
Dwells within me.

© Sharon Kirby, October 4, 2000

Let us walk in wholehearted devotion to Him – obeying Him always, just as we are doing today…

What does it mean to you to have the presence of God within you?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

MICAH - Light at the End of the Tunnel

Ever feel just OVERWHELMED?

Like you're in a dark valley, unable to crawl out, surrounded by troubles?

(Please tell me I'm not alone down here - dark valleys love company...)

I feel like that sometimes - I hate to admit it, but I'm one of those "glass half-empty" kind of people! And, to tell you the truth, sometimes I don't even see ANY water in the glass at all!!

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" comes from the book of Micah in the Old Testament. Micah was a prophet, a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. Amidst his prophecies of doom and gloom, Micah presents a true picture of God - the Almighty Lord who hates sin and loves the sinner.

Micah offers hope to those who turn toward a gracious God.

"As for me, I look to the LORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light...The LORD will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. Then my enemies will see that the LORD is on my side...with my own eyes I will see their downfall." (Micah 7:7-8, 9, 10)

All too often, circumstances and struggles really get me defeated.

I cave in, I fall down, and sometimes I give up. Darkness overcomes my spirit like a shadow. Satan finds a way to gloat over me, accusing me in my weakness, and never letting me forget that I am small. He shouts me down, and I collapse.

(I would NOT make a good contestant on "Survivor" - just sayin')


Micah showed great faith in God. He proclaimed that he would wait on God because He hears and saves us when help is needed. God would bring His people through the worst circumstances, upholding them when times were tough.

We, too, can have a relationship with God that will allow us to have confidence like Micah's.

On Friday, my "Fan the Flame" word was confident.

(You can find the post on my other blog, Sharon Sharing God)

And a dear bloggy buddy left such a wonderful comment, that I'd like to reprint that here:

"I discovered that I had missed the whole point of confidence by neglecting the heart of the word: confide. We have confidence in God because we confide in him. It's really impossible to have "haughty confidence" in the truest form of the word(s) because the words are scriptural opposites. Both Hebrew and Greek words for confide are all wrapped up in trust. We would never confide in One we didn't trust completely. We tell God the deepest secret places of the heart, because He knows it anyway, and we know that not only will He cover them in silence, but that He is capable to do more than we can even think or imagine with our confidence. With God as my shield, I can fight like a warrior!!"

Oh, AMEN to that!

Yes, Micah, the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train!

The Light is the Glorious LORD, who is on my side.

I will not be defeated...

"For though I fall, I WILL RISE AGAIN!"

"When in doubt, search God out!"