Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Having Biblical Discernment

By Benjamin H. Liles

          In my article on Giving God Thanks and Praise, just a couple of days ago, I said I'd write an article soon, that "having important to our walk with the Messiah Jesus." To be honest, I don't always feel mature enough to be discerning, but I can show that because of remaining in God's word you can have discernment and thus become more mature in the process. It is different from feeling you don't have it when you obviously can.

          Studying God's word in and of itself can be very fascinating, but it can also be frustrating, time-consuming, and still be so rewarding you wish you did it even more soon than doing so now. In the latest article, I wrote The Messiah will Come Again I wrote the words, "There is a reason a lot of us as Christians proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus with such fervency and prayer. It is so that no one will perish or be left behind if there is such a case." And I backed up my claim with what Peter said about it in 2 Peter 3:9-10.         

          To show this in effect I remember hearing a bible teacher from an Austin Bible College, as I am originally from Austin, saying, "All scripture in and of itself is circular in nature. Scripture will always back up scripture. I intend to prove this over the course of this semester." I wasn't even following Jesus our Lord and Savior at that time. There is a reason that New Testament writers used their own scriptures to authentic who Jesus was and how He fulfilled Old Testament law, writings, and prophecy.

          So, what is discernment and how can we have it? We're told, "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them" (Hosea 14:9). If none of you knows anything about Hosea I can tell you this: God had Hosea marry a prostitute for the reason that Israel behaved in the same manner. "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord" (Hosea 1:2, New King James).

          The funny thing is, and maybe it isn't so funny, is that we act just like ancient Israel did. Is there any coincidence in that? Or does the God in the Heavens surely know the hearts of men? Again: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made (all) man (kind) on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:5-6, New King James). I know what I'm writing so far has little to do with discernment, but I'll get back to that. I want to show why we lack it.

          If our natural hearts are inclined to evil in His sight, due to the entrance of sin from Adam and Eve, then how much more does God understand our hearts? Moreover, why is it He keeps doing His best to get our attention? Let me be quick to point this out: the times we're living in at this moment the earth is in the beginning stages of birth pains. It longs and desires for the Lord of the Universe to come back. It wants restoration. This planet we live on is convulsing in ways that even terrify us. Recent news of fires in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN, as well as the tornado outbreak due to severe weather in the south should be proof enough this world is falling apart, so to speak.

          We all know God is real, but we deny Him that right to work within and without our lives. I've done it for a large part of my life to date. Ever since I married my wife and have watched her walk in faith with God I got jealous to have a more real and substantial walk with Him myself. Let's see how scriptural that is: "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives" (1 Peter 3:1). My wife has done this. So, now that I have set the precedence that scripture shows we can know for certain we can "know" God, let's dig to how we can have discernment, other than relying solely on Hosea 14:9.

          "The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him" (Proverbs 28:11). We all seem to be wise in our own ways, but we can know and tell if someone is being genuine with us or not. Look at the word just a little after "poor" in the verse. We could easily replace the word "understanding" with the word "discernment." How would that read? "The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has discernment sees through him." It works well within the context. Another verse that would back up Proverbs 28:11, is "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit?" (Matthew 7:16-17, New American Standard).

          Friends, within a very short amount of time and with a handful of verses I have shown, and rather adequately the need for discernment. Without having discernment, you can't know for certain how people are. Those who are unsaved and lost are like a ship buffeted by winds and waves, being tossed about as if on a stormy sea. However, those who follow after God, who desire Jesus in their lives, walking after Him, showing themselves approved by studying and living the word out daily. I want you, the reader, to know I am not calling you out. But time is short and getting even shorter than it already is. I just want to stay on the horn, alarming you to know and see the times for which they are. I feel it is my duty, obligation, done out of love for--first--God on High and then--secondly--for you. I'm not done with this subject but want to give a little time for the words I have written to find their way to your heart.

          Father, I know You can keep me holy and pure as You already are. I desire this. I need this. I have been tired of being filthy as the Prodigal Son was. Sometimes, even though You declare me and clothe me in Your righteousness, I still feel like I roll around in the mud. If I do, I don't really mean to. Help me to be more like You: caring, kind, compassionate, loving, and patient so that others see You within me as well as my heart. Renew me and keep me within You. I thank and praise You for this. In Jesus' name. Amen.

The Messiah Will Come Again

By Benjamin H. Liles

          But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, ~ 2 Peter 3:10-11, NKJV

           Events such as what happen in Revelation and with Jesus coming back for His elect are a hard subject to talk about. Still Peter, Paul, and John knew of which they spoke about. They had seen the risen Lord, Jesus the Messiah, His nail pierced hands and feet, and also watched as He ascended into Heaven. An angel had this pronouncement, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven “ (Acts 1:11, Berean Study).

           We need to understand that as Christians we are to live our lives pleasing to Jesus Christ. It means that when we are saved by and through His merciful and loving graciousness which He gave us at the cross we desire to live a life that pleases Him. It means putting off sin, its effects, and walking in newness of life as He gave it in abundance to us.

           Where with the Lord’s return people will mourn upon seeing Him, the elect (His Church), however rejoice as they know He is taking them up to be with Him forever in Heaven. Many people who are unsaved believe Heaven is a boring place. I can understand how these people can believe that.

          Those who are lost and do not know Jesus as their personal savior, who remain in His word, who live it out in their lives don't comprehend there is much more in Heaven to do than sitting on a cloud and playing a harp. We're told that " the twenty-four elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things; by Your will they exist, and came to be'" (Revelation 4:10-11, Berean Study).

          Ladies and gents, I can't begin to stress the fact that Jesus is coming again soon. I don't know when, nor do the angels, but He will return. Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36, New King James). There is a reason a lot of us as Christians proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus with such fervency and prayer. It is so that no one will perish or be left behind, if there is such a case. Peter himself said, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:9-10, New American Standard).

           I tell you these things so that no one is left uncertain or even left in the dark on these things. These matters deserve a worth looking into. Even if you don't believe, simply looking into the matter could revolutionize and challenge your way of thinking, even maybe the way you live. It might possibly help you to come to God, asking Him to renew, revitalize, and to restore you to Him. It is why it is written, "So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12, Holman Christian Standard).

          Father, I know I still sin even though I don't mean to. Anoint me ever anew with Your Spirit of grace and mercy. Show me great and wondrous things within Your love for others of how You feel towards these people. I actually did get tired of my former life of being without You. I could only remain lost for so long. For Your hand was deep within my heart, showing me things; terrifying things, humbling things. It all brought me low. Then You showed me Your Son, whom the Centurion, a gentile nonetheless, proclaimed, "Surely this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39). I praise You Jesus for dying in my place, forgiving me my sins which were many. Restoring me to the Father as well as giving me the life You lived. I pray this in Jesus' heavenly name. Amen.

God's Mercy Endures Forever

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever. ~ Psalm 136:1, 26, NKJV

           Where would we be if we were still in despair over past sin and bondage without His mercy and love? I don’t know about anyone else but I know I wouldn’t be able to praise, give thanks, or even lift my voice to sing of His goodness. Come to think of it, in this day and age, we’re told – as Christians – that we need to knock off all the “God” talk. I’ll stop talking about God the day He takes me home!

           I mean, why stop talking about His love, His goodness, and His mighty deeds when He does so much on our behalf. With the fact that we sin, and are separated from Him (before being rekindled by His Spirit to become his children), because of that is there any other way to Him? It is only through Jesus we have that access.

          We're told by John, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him" (John 14:6-7, Berean Study). I’m thankful daily for what His Son, Jesus Christ, did for me on the cross at Calvary, for without His deeds I wouldn’t be at peace or have access to the Father through Him.

          I heard this analogy last night, and I do believe it fits: suppose a blind man is walking towards a cliff. how many people would sit idly back and allow him to go over, knowing should he fall over the cliff side he'll die? Would you be comfortable knowing you allowed that to happen to a blind man? Moreover, suppose you're watching him go onward towards the cliff, and you say, "Oh, I'd tell him to stop going that way, but I'm afraid to offend him."

          Friends, the gospel of Jesus our Messiah is offensive regardless how you see it. It will offend some because they don't believe they are blind. Jesus Himself said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17, Berean Study). You can start with a verse you know and know well enough to back up with other scripture to give and explain the gospel. I do. 

           It is for this reason that I am thankful for His strength, for His ability to do what I cannot do for myself: free myself from sin and its effects, death. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying a sinner’s death on my part so I can be with you and the Father upon your return!

          Father, You are so great, wise, and merciful I can't even begin to understand the depths of your love. You in all Your ways not only tell me how far off I am from You. You show me how much I am in need of You. You don't need me, but I do acknowledge I am dependent upon You. Thank You for th gift of life, and extending Your righteousness to me through Your Son Jesus. I praise You in Your merciful kindness to take care of my sin, to making me right with You. It is in this I pray and thank Jesus for. Amen.

Giving God Thanks and Praise

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Give thanks to Yahweh; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:8, New King James

          Just a few short chapters before this David attempted to bring the ark of the Lord from the land of the Philistines into Israel to be put into a temple. What happened was that when one of the men tried to steady the ark he was struck dead by God: "And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God" (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). 

          After that, defeating the Philistine army in chapter 14, and being ever more careful to bring the ark to Jerusalem in chapter 15 - in which Michal despised David for his dancing and playing music - we get to where David is praising God. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd have a hard time praising God having struck down one of the men I was in charge of. But then again, also, Paul reminds us, "Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Berean Study).

          What's the point then? I look at the last part of the Chronicles verse and it says, "proclaim His deeds among the peoples." God brought these people that now inhabit Jerusalem from a distant and foreign land at least a millenia before from bondage in Egypt. What did God do that was so amazing? He had a man named Moses, who left Egypt and its riches, a fellow Israelite--after having murdered an Egyptian (see Exodus 2:11-12)--bring the people of Israel out of Egypt. He, Yahweh God, went before the people as a pillar of fire in the night and a pillar of cloud during the day. He was their protector. Even when it seemed all hope was lost at the sea before they passed through the waters, He kept them from harm (see Exodus 13:21-22).

          The big picture is that God does a great deal for us and He doesn't have to. I look at my life, at how God has sustained me, when I was both His (which is now) and when I wasn't. He has done a lot for me and He didn't have to. Why did He? I believe He did so in order that I may know He is there in any time which I truly need Him. But you can't and haven't directly seen God? Exactly. How do you know He's there and why can you trust in Him? That's what faith is. Hebrews defines faith as "the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1, Berean Study).

          We have Him at His word He did these things on behalf of His people Israel. More than that, by the time Jesus walked the land He went about doing the same He saw His Father, Yahweh God, do: "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me" (Luke 7:22-23, Berean Study). This fulfills the prophecy that Yahweh God gave to Isaiah, which reads, "Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert" (Isaiah 35:5-6, Holman Christian Standard).

          Think about it this way, before God enters our lives to quicken our hearts and souls and minds it is like a desert. Nothing resides there in the least bit. Maybe scorpions and snakes, but nothing lives in a desert. Then comes this "refreshing" and "living" downpour of rain, this can be likened to God's Spirit being poured out and down. So, if water gushes into the wilderness, where streams flow in a desert, wouldn't life rebound? Everything that is recorded in the Bible, even though written by men, is true otherwise God would be a liar. More than that, the death Jesus atoned for us on the cross means nothing. 

          He restored sight to the blind, and I consider myself blind (even though corrective lenses--glasses--assist me to see); He caused me to walk even though I already could. I can walk through His word and see the miracles He made to happen. Where I knew nothing of Him I can now sing and praise Him for. It lines up with scripture. As I heard a teacher of God's word say not too long ago, "We line up our experiences up with God's word. We don't bring God's word to line up with our experiences." But for the sake of this article we give thanks to God for the work He's done within us.

          He brought us from death to life through His Son Jesus the Messiah. He is the reason we have "rivers of living water" (see John 7:38) flowing within us, meaning we are now filled with the Holy Spirit that we are entrusted to give to others. It is our thankful duty to Him who revived and restored us from a life of death and sin to do so out of obedience and love. And that's the thing, the more I obey God on this I find I love Him more, and not the other way around. Faith can lead us to having authentic emotions. Here soon I plan on writing an article about testing the spirits, having discernment as it is important to our walk in the Messiah Jesus.

          Father God, You are so holy, just, and pure that there is no way I can handle Your word accurately or even adequately if I didn't acknowledge Your sovereignty, Your will in my life. Thank You for causing a new heart to beat within this frail body. I praise You for the work you have started and will continue to do throughout my life. Your Son Jesus took upon Himself my sin, which was mine, keeping me from Your wrath thus bringing me to see Your saving hand. He did this so I can have a right relationship with You. I praise and thank You for this work You have done. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Planted in the House of the Lord

By Benjamin H. Liles

          The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. ~ Psalm 92:12-15, New King James

          Is there any one of us who worries about how they will stand before God at the end? I know I do. The psalmist here is talking about a type of person who has endured to stand before God. He likens this "righteous" man, and I'll get to how we can be in that state in a moment, to a Lebanon cedar tree. 

          The Benson commentary says of this tree that it is "constantly green and flourishing, spreads its branches very wide, and grows to a vast size, affording a most refreshing shade to travellers. It also produces dates, a very sweet, luscious, and grateful kind of fruit; is a most beautiful tree, and every way an invaluable treasure to the inhabitants of those hot countries, and therefore a fit emblem of the flourishing state of a righteous man."

          It continues on to say, "The cedars in Lebanon are immensely large, being some of them thirty-five, or even forty feet in the girt, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of their boughs. They flourish for ages, and are always green; and, when cut down, yield a most beautiful kind of wood, inclining to a brown colour, solid, durable, and, in some sort, incorruptible. These then, as well as the palm-trees, compared with the short-lived and withering grass, are a striking illustration of the well-founded, durable, and continually increasing virtue and happiness of the truly righteous."

          Knowing this, about how the psalmist likens a righteous man, we can say alongside the psalmist, "They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright." It is even better, especially in the faith which we have to be found like Abraham. Remember, we're told that "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise" (Hebrews 11:8-9, New King James). 

          You see God who called Abraham righteous due to his faith in Him to do His will, how much more blessed are we when we hear the word of God spoken in our lives? By allowing it to quicken us, leading us to repent of our sins and former deeds so we can also share in His righteousness, sharing the good news of Jesus with others, we will be just like the two trees that the psalmist writes about. 

Offering God Thanks

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence [praise] and godly fear. ~ Hebrews 12:28

           It is best, especially on a day like today – here in the US – that we most often give thanks. Even in the faith with which we walk in Jesus Christ. We show we receive Heaven as our rich and exceeding reward, but it is not because of the gift that we praise and show Him our gratefulness. 

           It is because of Him and His saving grace that the Christian praises, gives thanks, and shows just how much he/she believes and sees the magnificence God is doing within their life. When I say this next part it isn’t to cheapen a Christian or his/her walk.

           A mechanic will fix up and restore a clunker of a car. He takes out the broken parts, the things we don’t need and can’t use (in this case that would be sin in our lives). Next He gets it running, He puts Himself in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, making sure all is well. He makes sure everything is running right, putting His tender love and care into the work He’s giving.

           God doesn’t just do this for one person. He does this for everyone. He doesn’t just test drive one person and then leaves them alone. No. In fact, He keeps retooling, adjusting, tightening things down within the heart of the Christian, thus allowing this person to praise, give thanks, and show Him just how much He matters to that Christian for “fixing” him up.

Circumstantial Contentment

By Benjamin H. Liles

          When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? ~ Ecclesiastes 5:11

          Sometimes I find myself feeling I want something a great deal. Is it really a need that has to be filled? Or am I just longing for something that doesn't bring fulfillment? A lot of scholars believe that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes where others refer to the writer as "the teacher." In this verse we find the writer is talking about how having "things" doesn't bring any kind of fulfillment.

          We can find ourselves doing or even wanting things that don't help us out a great deal. And in this sense it comes across as materialism. My wife and I enjoy watching crime shows, especially American Greed. It shows how the appetites of certain people bring them to ruin. And you almost get that sense with what this writer is saying in Ecclesiastes. 

          In the New Living Translation it reads as "The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth--except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!" Are any of us ever satisfied with what we have and learning to be content? I often chide myself for always "desiring" for more. It's kind of like seeing something and saying immediately, "Ooh, I want that!" But is it good?

          According to Paul, the apostle, "I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances" (Philippians 4:11, Berean Study). It seems that being content regardless of the circumstances is far better. We can't take those things we buy with us, so what use is of those items? To be content in whatever circumstance is of greater value.

          Father God, I thank You for the tender mercies which You give me daily. I thank You for how You sustain me in and with Your word. Thank You Jesus for developing my heart to be more content in and with You. Your words are truth and life to my weary soul. I need nothing but You and the words You give. These are life and they satisfy. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Rooted and Built Up

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. ~ Colossians 2:6-7

          Sometimes I wonder what all I’m truly thankful for. I have a lovely and loving wife, great parents, a good sister, and many friends who care about me. On top of that, I have relatives spread out who I love and who love me as well. But Thanksgiving is more than all that. When Paul talks about this he’s talking about giving thanks for what God has done.

          He talks about being in a union; having a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, reflecting Him and His character, walking in it (not simply talking about it), constantly and consistently growing, being well established in it. And then Paul says, “As you were taught.” Yes, we are taught the word of God, and we’re supposed to live it – towards others within [the faith] and without. Our gratitude towards God should be so intertwined with who and what we are it amazes others.

          Does your walk match your gratitude? Does it match God’s character in you? Are others thankful for who you are? For me, I’m grateful daily for the people who bless me (as well as don’t). I always do my best to take it all with a grain of salt and to show exactly what I’m grateful and thankful for. And it’s why I keep doing what I do here.

Enter In with Thanks

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. ~ Psalm 100:4-5, NKJV

           We’re at the time of year where we give thanks for the things we have, and what we don’t have. Paul says, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:12, NASB). One of the psalmists said it this way, “These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalm 42:4).

           To be honest, up until recently I wasn’t very thankful or content with the things I have and what I don’t have. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, for sure. So, I want to encourage anyone and everyone to be thankful and content with what they go through and have. It is by this we can measure ourselves to God’s standard for us. We can also measure ourselves in the light of whether we belong to Him who desires to bring salvation to us in order that we may not perish. And that’s what I’m ultimately thankful for. He saved me by shedding His blood on the cross so that I have eternal life and access to the Father at all times.

The Peace of God

By Benjamin H. Liles

          And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15, NKJV

           So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. ~ Colossians 3:12-15, AMP.

           I love how in the Amplified it says, “Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].” Walking in peace: what does this mean and what does it look like? I ask because I admit I fall short of keeping His peace within myself as well as walking in it.

           Lately, I’ve been struggling a great deal wondering what am I supposed to be doing in and with my life, as well as wondering how I’m to bless others when I want to be blessed as well. I don’t mean to focus on myself, but I sometimes wonder, “God, did you forget me?” Rather, I think the writer’s intention of saying, “Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]” means that I shouldn’t be tossed about or even buffeted by the waves of life that seem to overwhelm and capsize the boat I’m in.

           If Jesus truly is in my life I wouldn’t be so concerned with my own need; God knows better than I do about my needs, as well as to my desires. I think what Paul is getting at is if some of us are called to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him, and being the person He needs us to be, then those of us who are like that need to remain there. In short, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NKJ). There are so many things in life I cannot control that only God can. It is why I should be and remain at rest, allowing Him to do those things I certainly cannot.

Healing Ties that Bind

By Benjamin H. Liles

          I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:4-5

           I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith]. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:4-5, AMP

           I wonder how thankful we’d all be if we simply just took the time to give this kind of encouragement to one another. I mean, Paul is saying, “I thank God for you, the grace which He gives through the Son, being enriched in all things, through speech, and in knowledge.” That’s the gist of it. In what ways can we extend or even give a better idea of thankfulness and even encouragement? I’ve always heard it said, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

           I also wonder how much we can actually bless one another with the gifts with which we've been given? And what about sustaining one another in faith?  I mean we can use our words to heal and bless. It seems that Paul is doing that here. At least here he's thanking the people in Corinth for the grace that is given them. Later, Paul will deal with how they've become divisive with one another. And it seems when a church gets to that point things can go wrong, so much so that it splits.

          So, it kind of makes me wonder if Paul isn't making this a point on the outside of everything. Kind of like how a darner knits and builds up from something small and unrecognizable, but the more that is done you see the beauty and exquisiteness of the work being done. So, when we see Paul saying, "you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge," it makes me believe he's going to admonish the people of the Corinth church about how they should build one another up.

          And if that's the case then Proverbs 18:21 comes to mind: "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." The one who speaks death usually receives it back at a cost. In another Proverb we're told, "He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles" (21:23). And since this group of people was heading down a path of contention maybe it's best to take Jesus at His word: "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:37).

          So, what then can we do? If honey can catch a fly better than vinegar, maybe we ought to listen to the sides of the argument that got to this place of being divided. Rather than lose our cool we count to ten while breathing, and see if we can't do our best to reconcile one to another. After all, we're not just acting out in our faith, but we're empowered by it as well to be a healing balm. Maybe in this sense, we ought to speak less, listen more, and heal those ties that bind rather than watch them come apart and fray.

A Genuine Repentance

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.~ 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, New King James Version

          There are some times where I believe I understand something well enough to talk about it. Then there are other times where even I stand or sit and wonder, "What does that mean?" Well, I've been wondering about this. When Paul writes this to the Church at Corinth he's not saying he's happy or even joyful they were humiliated in their repentance, which leads to faith in Jesus as Messiah. Actually, he's saying he rejoices with them, that their sorrow led them to godly sorrow over their sin and brokenness before Him. 

          Paul goes on here to say, "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." In other words, these people at Corinth were made alive, made aware of how they hurt and pained God. This "sorrow" over their sins is what godly sorrow is. It's not the kind of sorrow that you know you have caused harm, which "produces death." It's the sorrow over what you have done that leads you to life. 

          I want to see if I can make this better understood. Let's look at Luke 15, where Jesus tells of a son who asks for his inheritance early and leaves his father's home. He goes off, squandering it all. His friends eventually leave him and he falls into hard times. He is in such a state he has to take care of pigs and this is when he "comes to himself." He looks at the food the pigs are eating and the food the pigs are eating looks good to him. How far gone in sin do you have to be to finally realize that too much is that bad?

           This son suddenly has this realization "How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" (Luke 15:17). He has this "Ah ha!" moment in which he realizes his pitiful state and desires instead of being made right with his father, to being a servant. But what does this father do once the son gets back home?

          We're told, by Jesus, "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this, my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry" (Luke 15:22-24). This son has been returned and restored to his position with his father. Why? Because he admitted what he did was wrong. He broke his father's heart. He broke an agreement he had with his father. Realizing and seeing this the father not only accepts the fact his son has come home, but he goes out of his way to "get on with the party" so to speak.

          Yes, there is more to the parable of the Prodigal Son, but that's a different lesson. The one that's being shown here is how to have a genuine and healthy, restored and renewed relationship with the Father in Heaven. Have you realized how much your sin not only separates you from God? That your sin deserves to be punished? God's wrath is on anybody and everybody who does not realize their sin does more than separate them from Him. 

          We need Him to renew to us our minds. We need to see how far apart we are from Him in our sins. And this is what Paul is talking about with those in Corinth. So, really Paul is saying something like this: "Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death" (same verses but in the New Living Translation). 

          It is more than simply just crying over the wrong you did, but that you desire to change and grow from it; to have your relationship renewed and restored. It catapults the one who has been in sin to never want to be found in it ever again.

Sing Songs of Thanksgiving

By Benjamin H. Liles

          It is best, therefore, to give thanks to Him who saved us; offering Him thanks and praise. Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. ~ Psalm 95:1-2

          To come before God in thanksgiving and praise means we remember all the good that He has done for us. At least that’s what the Israelites remember when being “brought out,” as Exodus implies. In Aramaic Exodus means “A going out; particularly, the going out or journey of the Israelites from Egypt under the conduct of Moses; and hence, any large migration from a place” (Webster). 

          To come out from under bondage, which is what Egypt represents, shows that God is gracious enough to hear us in our sufferings. It is a remembrance that God, in His sovereignty, provides a way out from the pressures and cares with which we once had been living in. In the light of this, Jesus Christ sets the captive free through and by the shedding of His blood at the cross of Calvary.

          For this reason it is why we sing songs of thanksgiving and praise to the One who sets us free from sin and its effects which is death. After all Jesus is the rock of our salvation. It is He who calls us out from sin to have life and have it eternally. Hell no more has its hold on us. We are made alive and new in Him who died in our place.

Persecuted for Righteousness

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:10

          As I sat here thinking on how to write this my cats I have with my wife kept hounding me. One ran around howling, while the other simply misbehaved. In this way I feel pained, annoyed, and even harassed. That aside, other terms that are synonymous with the word persecute are as follows: oppress, abuse, mistreat, chase, hunt down. Noah Webster defined the word persecuted as "Harassed by troubles or punishments unjustly inflicted, particularly for religious opinions." Those who helped put the King James Study Bible together have this to say: "the plural use of "ye" (which is you) in v. 11 indicates that He foresaw this persecution as touching all His followers."

          How do we, as believers, in Christ hold on to not only our faith in Him who died in our place, but also to His righteousness that He imparts to us? What are we to do when things get tough? Peter wrote, "For if anyone endures the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God, this is to be commended" (1 Peter 2:19, Berean Study). In other words, because we are made aware of our lives before God, we will endure pain and suffering, but Peter says, "it is to be commended." How can we remain blessed and assured our prayers are heard?

          Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to blur any lines or even get around by not answering those questions I posed. Rather, I have this illustration to offer to show what life in Christ is like. Imagine a flower that has been growing for some time. It goes through seasons in its life where it gets drenched heavily by rains, and then there are times it seems to wilt as the sun beats down on it continuously. And still it thrives. Why? What is the secret of this tender little flower that blossoms and grows so that others see it? the roots of that flower go deep. Those times it rained continually? That water is a reservoir to the flower when no other source is found. Those times where not a drop of rain has dropped, so much that there's a drought? That flower has an ample supply due to the reservoir of water that is so deep.

          As Christians, especially those who are more mature, if we allow God the right to work in our lives our "root system" can become so deep within Him nothing seems to move us. When those times of mourning, pain and loss seem to be unending (the rain) He is there to uphold us. When it seems the trials of life, where people misunderstand us, berate us, and even come against us (just as the sun in a drought) He sustains us.

          I love how James, the brother of Jesus says this: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 1:12; 5:11, Berean Study).

          Those answers I was going to give to those questions are thus:

1) We can hold on to our faith and the righteousness our Messiah gives to us because He first endured and suffered before we ever did. He was taken before the Roman government in Judea, was condemned to die a criminal's death, crucified, died, and was buried. But also take heart for He rose again on that third and glorious day. We have life with Him because His life was first given on our behalf.

2) When things get tough, especially in the case of that flower, we can dig deep. We rely on the word to get us through. By careful meditation on God's word, calling forth scripture to help us bear through, delighting ourselves in Him, and thanking Him for all things can we come through any thing.

3) We can remain blessed and assured that our prayers are heard because before Jesus went to the cross we see Him in Gethsemane praying alongside us, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words" (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44). He's been there. He took it all for us.

          Perhaps the most telling of what it's like to prosper and remain bless during persecution comes by way of Paul. He wrote, "Now I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:10-13).

          Father God, You know all things. You see us in our distress. You are here with us in our suffering and in our pain. You hear us and You subject Yourself to the same as You did so many years ago on our behalf. I'm not saying You allow Yourself to be crucified again in our place. I am saying, though, You are near us. Your kingdom is ever close to us. Your Son helps and strengthens us. He revives our souls. Thank You Jesus for being with me even in this hour. I praise You for your feet took the strike which was meant for me. Your hands took the nails I was suppose to bear. You took God's wrath upon Yourself, and You gave me Your life. Thank You. I know I will come through this as You did too. The Father upheld You and brought You back to life. So I know I will see You and be with You. My faith is made full. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Prologue - Hope for Nations

Prologue - Hope for Nations

          For this is what the LORD says: "When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. ~ Jeremiah 29:10

          In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. ~ Daniel 9:1-2

          He (the man Gabriel, Daniel 9:21) gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” ~ Daniel 9:22-27

          For me this is more than going to be a series event. I have wanted to understand the vision Jeremiah was given, which Daniel was given understanding upon, thtat Jesus the Messiah gave reference to, and that was revealed to John on the island of Patmos. It is as if God gave me the title for this. Hope for Nations. Why? There is not much in the verses preceding the statements I am making that God is our Hope for nations. But look again. "And they sang a new song: "Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood You purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" Revelation 5:9, Berean Study, bold mine).

          Here's the thing: God doesn't ever desire the destruction of people or nations, but rather to see people come to salvation to Him through His Son, Jesus the Messiah. Here's a small tangent: I always call Jesus Christ "the Messiah" as Christ in Greek means "Messiah." The Hebrew equivalent is Maschiach and it means the same thing: Messiah. It's important to know Jesus is our salvation.

          The reason is that God came to Mary telling her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:30-33). I know I jumped ahead completely to explaining Jesus and why is who He is, but we need to understand that He is God's Son given for us. I believe this needs to come first so as to understand what Jeremiah and Daniel were shown.

          Many commentaries will tell you that because Israel's overall sin was great and terrible that when God decreed for a time for her punishment, such as being taken into captivity to Babylon and how long she would be there (70 years), it didn't mean necessarily seventy years. Look at what the angel tells Daniel: "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week" (Daniel 9:27). How long is a week? It is seven days long. When the Angel tells Daniel "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress" (Daniel 9:25), it means there are sixty-nine (seven and sixty-two) seven year periods: a total of four hundred eighty-three years to be in exile in Babylon.

          There was an edict given by four Median-Persian rulers (I found this at Cyrus Decree to Rebuild), which says: "In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we find four royal commands issued by Median and Persian kings that could possibly qualify as the "commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." The first command was by Cyrus in Ezra 1:1-11. The second was by Darius in Ezra 4:24 and 6:1-12. The third was by Artaxerxes in his 7th year in Ezra 7:7-26. The fourth was also by Artaxerxes in his 20th year in Nehemiah 2:1-8. A careful examination of these four royal commands and what the Bible says about the kings that gave them reveal that the decree by Cyrus in his first year was clearly the command that fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27."

          Isaiah, who lived before Jeremiah and Daniel, prophesied on God's behalf: "Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places; who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers’; who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid" (Isaiah 44:26-28). It is recorded:

          "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,

          "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:

         All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:1-4).

          There are other verses that support the claim Cyrus was God's in having Jerusalem rebuilt: 
         Jeremiah 25:12, "And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, saith the LORD…"

         Jeremiah 29:10, "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place."

         II Chronicles 36:21, "To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbaths, to fulfill threescore and ten years."

         II Chronicles 36:22-23, "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God is with him, and let him go up."

         Then when did Cyrus reign over Persia? He reigned over Persia from 559-530 BCE. Knowing this we can deduce that in the first year of his reign would be 538 BCE. Add 490 years to this date and Jerusalem would have been rebuilt by 48 BCE, prior to the birth of Jesus.

         We are also told that this Messiah "will be cut off and have nothing," Even Jesus himself told the disciples, in regards to the temple of Jerusalem, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2). This lines up with what scripture says: "and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary," and this happened in 70 AD, not very long after Jesus had been crucified and buried. 

         So, where is this "Hope for Nations" then? How is there any hope when so much destruction talked about within the pages of God's word? Isaiah says of Jesus, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6-7).

         "And the government will be upon His shoulder." what an adequate description of what Rome did to its prisoners of war. It is indicative that the crucifixion Jesus went through had His shoulder against a wooden beam. It was ordered by Pilate, in a sense of the word, a prelate of Rome to concede to the Jews demanding Jesus be crufied (see Luke 23:21). Through scripture and countless articles I have written on the person of Jesus and how He has worked in my life we can see how He fits God's word on Him being the Hope for nations. The hope that He is should be seen by and through the Church, His bride.

Abiding in God

By Benjamin H. Liles

          How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. ~ Psalm 1:1-2

          I sit here this morning reading these verses and reading about a man who sat in public office in the 1930s. And I can hear it now, What does this have to do with Psalm 1:1-2? In 2008 a book was published by Max Lucado titled On the Anvil. In the book he wrote about a justice who presided over the New York Supreme Court in New York County. His name? Joseph Force Crater. Crater was born in Easton, PA on January 5, 1889. The court which he presided over is actually trial court, not an actual supreme court where decisions are declared "final." That being despite the case the end of Crater's story is as follows.

          A man named William Klein "testified that "the judge got into a taxicab outside the restaurant about 9:30 p.m. and drove west on Forty-fifth Street," and this account was initially confirmed by Sally Lou Ritz: "At the sidewalk Judge Crater took a taxicab." Klein and Ritz later changed their story and said that they had entered a taxi outside the restaurant while Crater had walked down the street" (, Last Known Sighting tab). I'm not much for changing a story as it implies lying. But there's far more.

          The truth is when there are conflicting stories about someone's disappearance, more than one suspect appears in that case regarding this person's whereabouts. I did a bit more studying on the issue. Apparently, what happened was he simply disappeared. Although this is disputed since he had numerous flings with women, two of whom left New York and one died. So, what does this have to do with the David's pen on his life?

          David is saying, "The blessed man delights in the word (the law, commands) of God, and he remains in the word meditating on it day and night. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor does he stand with sinners or sits in the seat with scoffers (making light of the law). The point is before Justice Crater disappeared it was found that he made a mockery of what a justice is supposed to do. He had shredded documents in his office, cashed out two checks for more than $5,000 (over 73,000 in 2013), and had his assistant carry two locked briefcases to his apartment. He wrote a letter, concerning his state of mind, to his wife, "I am very weary. Love, Joe." Then he vanished. He was declared dead nine years later as authorities never found him.

          What happens when someone changes the laws for their own advantage? Don't they realize that by corrupting their behavior and character that they are saying where they are at? I find rest in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For others they find living hard and most likely unrewarding. When those who find themselves so bone-weary from life, doing things contrary to their character or behavior it shows a lack of being upright and abiding by the law. David is basically saying, "The upright hold God's laws. They walk in it. They have peace." We see this where David says, "His delight is in the law of the Lord."

          How can we appropriate David's word into the fabric of our lives? We rend our hearts before a God who is mighty to save. We open ourselves up to Him. We allow ourselves to become less than we believe ourselves to be, becoming humble and contrite. More than this, it is a daily attitude than only God sustains and bears with us in all things. This was David's posture. It is the posture of one who delights and walks in His ways.

          Father, I come to You this morning seeing the radiance which You shine upon me. This is Your glrious favor, Your countenance toward me. I admit I am unworthy to behold You, even in being before You on the cross. It is too much to bear. Thank You for what You have done on my behalf--taking my sins, my former ways, and life so I may have life with and in You. I ask that You come into my life, making me whole and pure as only You are. Thank You, Jesus, for going to the grave on my part, forgiving me, as well as loving me; thus extending Your righteousness even though I don't deserve it. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

God's Word Lights My Ways

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

          I'm doing something a little different today than usual as I thought on what Jesus the Messiah did for the people He was around. There is a key verse, although many are enough to bring my main point home, which says, "The people were astonished at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22, Berean Study). Why is this verse so important in understanding Psalm 119:105?

Contented Anguish

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights. ~ Psalm 119:143

           If we delight ourselves in God’s word, our struggles seem rather light. In the three years of His ministry, Jesus Christ only suffered twice: once at the end of a forty day fast – in which Satan then tempted Him – and the second right before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. And this is where I want to focus. On the Mount of Olives, before His arrest, Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). If we notice what is done, we see that an angel appears and strengthens Him. 

           So what can we learn from this? In those moments where we lack strength, where we just pray, God will give and restore us to strength. It’s not our strength, however. His word not only delights us, but shows us just how much more God loves us even in those moments where we’re weak, where we’re suffering, or even when we’re struggling. And this isn’t the same kind of struggling or suffering we go through as though we’ve sinned and repented. No. This is the way we go so that God may be glorified.

           I love how Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed: he “Begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). But we need to notice what God says to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9a). It is why Paul was able to “Glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong” (12:9b, 10).

           In those moments in which we feel so weak, that we can’t carry on, we just need to keep our eyes on Him who overcame on our behalf. And rest in the fact that His strength cancels out our weakness. His power rests upon us if we are like Paul on the matter glorying in our weaknesses.

Christ's Righteousness Credited

By Benjamin H. Liles

          For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, ~ 1 Peter 3:18, NKJV

           What Peter is getting at in this verse is that Christ's righteousness is credited to us even though we aren't deserving of it. It brings back to my mind where Isaiah is before God, having just had a vision of Him. He's seen God's holiness and is unworthy of the Heavenly sight. An angel of the Lord has to come to him, Isaiah, and purifies him with a piece of coal (see Isaiah 6:1-7). In several Old Testament passages we see those who have touched something unclean become unclean (Leviticus 22:4, Numbers 19:22, Hosea 9:4, and Haggai 2:13).

          So, why isn't this piece of coal that touches Isaiah's lips not made unclean and what does it represent? The reason is twofold. The first thing that is impressed upon me is that those things which are set apart as holy remain holy, regardless of what it touches. If a piece of coal that touches a man's lips makes him pure, as in Isaiah's case, then it doesn't become tainted by sin. The second thing is what the coal represents, which is an illustration of what Jesus the Messiah does for us.

          We need to be made aware of what Jesus did on behalf of those who came to Him to be healed. He didn't just forgive people of their sins. Those who He touched or who touched Him were made whole and clean. Their uncleanness never made Him unclean. Why? It is because Jesus never sinned. Since He was sent from Heaven's throne to become one of us He would do all that the Father was accomplishing on our behalf (see Matthew 14:35-36, Mark 6:56).

          What's truly being said in all of this? How can we apply these verses to our lives? Since Peter is saying that Jesus brings us to God coming to suffer and die on our behalf we are brought to life in Him. The life He had and laid down for us becomes ours. Not only that but because of His resurrection we have life eternal. He overcame death and the grave; the result being that we can partake in that life as well.

          Therefore the application we come away with is that we can put off our old ways. We can have a new life in Jesus. We become part of His church. A church isn't made up of buildings, but of people. With the death Jesus provided on our behalf He only suffered once and even then put the principalites and powers on display. All of these having been put under His feet means we don't have to be afraid of what men can do, but to have a healthy fear of Jesus who will judge those who have done wickedly (see Psalm 118:6, Matthew 10:28).

          Father God, even in your holiness You have found a way to bring us back to life. You call us clean when we're unclean. You bring us into relationship with You. You heal us through Your Son, Jesus who is also God in the flesh. We thank you for the deed You did in our place. I ask that You keep watch over your people. I also praise You for the goodness that You are. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Be a Blessing

By Benjamin H. Liles

          For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:15-16

          I wonder some times if I fully understand how to bless others. It's not that I don't. I just wonder if I use my words right and well. Then there are times where I know I have blessed others, but what do my actions say? I talk a great deal about faith, how I live my life, how to avoid death and hell, God's gift of grace through Jesus the Messiah, and how much I enjoy encouraging others. But I often wonder am I truly helping others, like you--the reader, beominc and being more in the eyes of God.

          In a different version of the Bible, the writer of Proverbs says, "A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water" (11:25, Holman Christian Standard). I also like what Peter said to a man who was lame: "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!" (Acts 3:6, Berean Study). Am I doing enough to feed and clothe others within my Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah?

          In Matthew, after Jesus came out from his wilderness experience is tempted, he tells the accuser, "It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3). If then the word of God is the bread of life for our weary soul, then it is this same word which refreshes and satiates us when we need drink too. His word sustains and fills us, and at the same time produces that "living water" (see John 4:14).

          So, what are some things we can do to be a blessing to others? To be a help to one another? I think it takes a willing heart to truly listen. I mean we have two ears and one mouth. If we take the time to shut our mouth and listen twice as much we can truly be a help. Also, we have two hands. If we see someone in need, such as a family needing food and you help at a food bank, give them food. In these ways we not only help, but at the same time we're doing exactly what the Lord commands: to love one another.

          This then is the full measure of what Jesus said about the law and the prophets being sunnarized, "Love God with your whole being; this is the first and greatest command. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37). Jesus the Messiah also says, "When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." (Matthew 6:3-4, the Message). The whole point is that in being a blessing, we're to do it because we enjoy doing it. It's not done for accolades, fame, or even prestige. It's done simply because we cherish others from the bottom of our hearts.

          Father, you are far more giving and wonderful than I ever could be. You blessed me and my life in ways I never could understand. You are holy when I am not. You are loving when I cannot. Thank You for the love you gave to and for me through Your Son, Jesus. He took upon Himself my sins. He took my punishment, which was mine to bear. I praise You for the life I have, which is found in and from Jesus. I ask that You help me to be more loving as You are, and to be a continual blessing to others. In Jesuis' name I pray. Amen.