Feb. 1, 2023: Calmed by the Word

Read Joshua 1:1-5.

"Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people,

unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel" (v. 2).

Today people seek inner peace through various means: self-actualization, positive thinking exercises, transcendental meditation, the practice of non-attachment, finding an inner light, chakras (spiritual powerpoint), seeking a spiritual guide, and using crystals, herbs, and so forth. The problem for those using these methods is that the result is never completely satisfying and quickly disappears. Besides these, Satan has many other options for those foolish enough to use them.
The Word of God, however, has a calming effect on troubled souls who look to God for peace of heart and mind. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” This suggests that we have control over whether our heart is troubled or not. Jesus is telling us not to allow it to become troubled.
The question we face then is, “How do I exercise control over my spirit, so it is not troubled?" A foundational truth that must be accepted for this to be possible is understanding that peace is not the absence of trouble. True inner peace is only found in the presence of God. Peace comes from knowing that circumstances are temporary and that God is eternal. Peace comes from exercising faith in the character of the eternal God and His Word. Therefore we choose peace rather than fear or worry. In faith, we lean upon God and His promises instead of leaning on our own ingenuity. (Gayle Woods)

True inner peace is only found in the presence of God.

2023-02-01T20:29:13+00:00February 1st, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Jan. 18, 2023: The Lord Gives Sight

Read John 9:1-7.

“And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is, by interpretation, Sent.)

He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing” (v. 7).

 

   There is no promise in Scripture that God will remove all our trials. After all, God is the Creator of the Universe – all-wise, all-seeing, all-knowing…but NOT a vending machine. We glean from today’s passage that God does what He does for reasons more important than our comfort. He desires to build character and prepare us for the next life, not to grant us ease in this one. God acts in ways that best bring glory to Himself, not us. Sometimes the “sight” He gives is the ability to see Him above our circumstances.

That said, while on earth, Jesus did choose to provide physical healing for many. In today’s reading, yet another man’s sight was restored. Jesus did not just hand this man his healing, though. The afflicted man was given instructions. He obeyed, and only then did he receive his sight.

I take from this account two thought-provoking insights. One is that when we ask for healing, we should also make sure we are living in line with God’s Word. Obedience is one of God’s “love languages,” so to speak. Is your will aligned with His?

A second point is that Jesus handled each situation differently. He did not use mud on every blind person’s eyes. My story will not look like your story. God is God. His methods are His business; obedience is mine. Of one thing, I am sure – ALL healing comes from Him! (Shawna Wright)

 

"It is truly wonderful what the Lord has done!

Glory to His name!"

--- Barney E. Warren

2023-01-16T20:58:10+00:00January 18th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , |0 Comments

Jan. 11, 2023: Satisfied With God’s Goodness

Read Psalm 65:4-13.

 

Satisfied With God’s Goodness

“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple” (v. 4).

 

I have to believe God ordered my life even before I knew Him. Several examples of God’s goodness to me over my lifetime flood my mind. At the age of 3 months, my mother was no longer physically able to care for me, so I was placed not in an orphanage but in another family home. When I left that home, I was far from God. I had had good principles taught to me, for which I am still very grateful. They have helped to make me who I am. I was taught to take care of the things I owned so they would last. I never had an allowance, so had little concern about money. At Bible school, I learned to take spiritual struggles to God, not others, so now, as I draw near to Him, He draws near to me.

Truly, I am satisfied with His goodness. Dissatisfaction seems to be rampant in our world today. Dissatisfaction with home, parents, and siblings. With spouses, children, and income. With teachers, bosses, jobs, our have’s and have not’s, our church or pastor, our talents, or the talents of others, and beneath it all, dissatisfaction with God.

Gratitude is one of the stepping stones to satisfaction with God. The more the Israelites complained, found fault, and blamed Moses, the more God regretted making man. (Margaret Heilman)

 

An attitude of gratitude goes a long way.

2023-01-10T15:55:52+00:00January 11th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , |0 Comments

Jan. 4, 2023: Jesus Forgives and Heals

Read Mark 2:1-12.

Jesus Forgives and Heals

“Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” (v. 9).

   “And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them…and he preached the word unto them” (v. 2). Jesus was surrounded by people with needs. He knew the hurts, griefs, struggles, and longings of each person in the room, so He offered them exactly what they needed: He preached the word unto them.

While the physical need of the paralyzed man who came in through the roof was immediately apparent, Jesus understood that the man needed forgiveness even more desperately than he needed a physical touch. Jesus preached the word unto them, offered forgiveness, and brought all the healing the man needed — soul and body.

In fact, each person in that room needed the same thing. They all needed the healing of forgiveness. The scribes needed healing for their spiritual blindness. Everyone needed Jesus to preach the word unto them. Through His teaching, His physical healing, and His revealing the thoughts of their hearts, Jesus demonstrated God’s goal for each of us — forgiveness and healing. (Karen Speak)

I lay my wants on Jesus; All fullness dwells in Him.

He heals all my diseases; He doth my soul redeem.

I lay my griefs on Jesus, My burdens, and my cares.

He from them all releases; He all my sorrows shares.

--- Horatius Bonar

 

“He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions”

(Psalm 107:20).

 

 

 

2023-01-04T20:06:48+00:00January 4th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Dec. 14, 2022: The Disciples’ Lack of Faith

Read Mark 9:14-22.

"And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not" (v. 18).

 

An occasional lack of faith seems to be a common problem among Christ-followers. Especially when something for which we were believing didn’t happen quickly. On more than one occasion, I wondered if I was out of line, believing for God to work in certain situations when I wasn’t seeing results for my praying. My doubting wasn’t so much doubting God’s power as it was doubting my connection to Him, a questioning of knowing if I was praying according to His will. Beyond that, however, I must recognize that there was a lack of faith, a lack of trust that God heard or cared about my burden, a doubt that He cared about what I cared about. There have even been times when the “don’t trouble the Master” or “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?” syndrome has popped up in my heart. I am glad that when I cried out to Him with these things, He understood my infirmities and was there to heal, even amid chastisement.

It is easy to understand the discouragement of the disciples and the disillusionment of the desperate father in this story. May we, in such times, be willing to cry out like the father did, recognizing the tenuous hold that we have on faith, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Tim Brubeck)

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

2022-12-12T16:51:10+00:00December 14th, 2022|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , |0 Comments

Dec. 7, 2022: Jesus Gives His Disciples Power

Read Matthew 10:1-15. 

 

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:

freely ye have received, freely give” (v. 8).

 

Every good gift is from above; and oh, how liberally God has spread His gifts upon all…rain and sun on the good and the evil; the gift of salvation to the repentant; the gift of the Holy Spirit upon those who ask Him.

But this sentence indicating the gift that Christ gave His disciples is quite amazing. I mean, the sick are everywhere, the lepers are not to be touched, the devils are fierce and entrenched…and the dead…well, they are dead. These are the ultimate result of Satan’s conquest of humanity and his intent to dethrone God. But never forget that “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”

Jesus came (1 John 3:8) to destroy the works of the devil (Spanish: to undo what the devil has done), and so he sends his disciples, weak in themselves but empowered by heaven, to destroy the devil’s works by healing, cleansing, raising, casting out. And they are to do so because they have received so much from God that now they freely give gifts to the unworthy. (Leonard Sankey)

“What shall I give Thee, Master? Thou hast giv’n all for me; 

Not just a part or half of my heart: I will give all to Thee.” 

                                                                       --- Homer W. Grimes

 

2022-12-06T16:51:58+00:00December 7th, 2022|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , |0 Comments

Sept. 22, 2021: Clear Guidance

Read Isaiah 30:19-26.

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (v. 21).

I am thinking about a young man who was hired to do oil changes in a mechanic’s shop. Excited to be working on cars, he did his work well. When he was caught up on his work, he spent his time first watching, then helping a mechanic. Before long, he was doing minor repairs. A few years later, he was the lead mechanic for a dealership that sold multiple lines of new and used vehicles. He grew in his knowledge, understanding, and abilities involving auto repair.
From the moment of conversion, Christians begin experiencing spiritual growth. We learn a lot about serving God as we read His Word, pray, and listen to Bible-based preaching. Regardless of our strength or maturity, we sometimes face questions or issues in life when we don’t know the answers. In those times, as we seek God’s guidance and will, God leads us.
The Holy Spirit, who lives in every born-again person, seldom uses an audible voice. Instead, He reminds us of what the Bible teaches, what we have learned through preaching, Bible reading, and study. Sometimes we find what seems to be a “new truth” in the Bible when in reality, it has been there all the time. (MDA)

Following Jesus produces spiritual growth and maturity.

2021-09-03T19:03:02+00:00September 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Sept. 15, 2021: The Priority of Obedience

Read 1 Samuel 15: 16-23.

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (v. 22).

   We often make decisions based upon what our priorities of the moment may be. Sometimes an immediate decision may reflect a momentary crisis or desire that is not in keeping with our long-term goals or intentions. This is often the cause for later hardship in our lives. The compulsive spender often bemoans his inability to save for larger purchases, the impulsive speaker often regrets the damage caused to relationships due to their quick tongue, and the person that has lived their life only for self regrets their loneliness in their latter years.
While obedience should be an automatic response for those serving God, we must recognize that there are times in our lives that it must be an intentional response. The demonstration of priority is often reflected in the promptness and completeness of our response to God. Most Christians usually desire to obey God but often will delay that obedience until a more convenient time or in a more convenient manner for them. They will often offer some type of service (or sacrifice) in place of an immediate complete response. A token type of obedience is often exposed as a heart disobedience by the excuses and justifications surrounding it (think of Cain’s sacrifice) and is not accepted by God as true obedience. (Tim J. Brubeck)

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

 

2021-09-03T19:00:51+00:00September 15th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Sept. 8, 2021: The Gentleness of God

Read Isaiah 42:1–4.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth” (v. 3).

   What an incredible prophecy of the coming Messiah! Reading the words of the text made me think of ll Samuel 22:36 and Psalm 18:35, where David’s ode to deliverance from Saul mentions that God’s gentleness had made him great. Paul claims the gentleness of Christ as he entreats the Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:1) and also reminds us that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Isaiah, then, in inspired vision, sees our Savior coming to seek and to save that which was lost, taking care to not further damage a reed that has been bruised nor to quench the wick that is barely smoldering. He seeks to save, not to destroy. A rebuke, perhaps, to our sometimes imperious observations about the “lost,” especially the backslider. Our tendency to scorn the battered and beaten flies in the face of Christ, Who, while He could declare “woe” on the hypocritical, yet would see in the multitude (Matt. 9:36) those who were fainting and who had been “flayed” by religionists; He would see them and have compassion.
In the gospel, there is an urgency relating to judgment to come and the reaping of what man sows, but there is also time and space to “let our hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God” (Bob Pierce) and show to the bruised world His compassion. (Leonard L. Sanky)

“…tell the wanderers of One who can lead them back to the Father.”
— J. Wakefield MacGill

2021-09-03T18:56:48+00:00September 8th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

9/1/2021: A CHOICE FOR WISDOM

Read I Kings 3:5-9.

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (v. 9).

   He could have asked for anything! Among all of his brothers, Solomon had been chosen to be the king of Israel. Appointed and anointed, his wishes would be largely heard as commands. Then God spoke to him and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Feeling the weight of his new position, the responsibility that was being laid upon him, Solomon bypassed many of the kingly aspects he could have sought and requested, “an understanding heart to judge Thy people.” Wisdom: The ability and insight to use knowledge in a fair and practical manner. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Prov. 9:10)
A church to pastor? A Sunday School class to teach? A committee to chair? Under divine direction, James wisely advises us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally … and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) The Wise Man said, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7) Have a family to raise? A neighbor to win? A vocational task to fulfill? Wisdom is needed in every case, so ask God for wisdom to do His will His way always! (Rodney B. Stearns)

The choice, to ask wisdom of God,
Is to include God so that you can act wisely.

2021-08-16T05:35:34+00:00September 1st, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

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