365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: September 2021

Rescued From Darkness!

Psalm 12:1 – Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race. (NIV)

A common thread amongst the prayers that make up the psalms is this: The wicked seem to be winning!  This psalm opens with a cry for help, and then a proclamation that all of the faithful people have vanished from the earth.  Certainly, the psalmist uses a little hyperbole, but we can understand the emotion for we have been there ourselves.  Just as the psalmist often laments the lack of good people, when life hits us hard we are prone to do the same.  If we were to stay with such an emotion, depression and hopelessness would soon direct our every step.  

Because we live in a fallen world tainted by sin, we must look beyond the evil that often surrounds us.  There is much that is flawed in our world, but like the psalmist, we must look to God, for “the words of the Lord are flawless” (verse 6).  The lesson from Psalm 12 is that when we are feeling overwhelmed by the evil in the world, we must stop and remind ourselves that God is our protector and will keep us safe (verse 7).  We cannot let the woes of this world keep us down.  The Apostle Paul told us in Colossians 1:13 that God, “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son.” 

Today, no matter what is going on around us that would seek to bring our spirits low, let us remember that while there is much wickedness around us, God is our protector.  We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness!

Posted by Ramón Torres

Through It All

Isaiah 43:1 – But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. (NIV)

Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke to the ancient Israelites who found themselves captives in a foreign land.  As the years passed, some began to look elsewhere, abandoning the God they had known since their childhood.  They saw others who worshipped foreign gods, and their lives seemed to be going well.  I suppose the grass does, at times, look greener elsewhere.  We soon discover, however, that the rain falls on everyone.  Hard times come to us all, no matter how strong we are in our faith.  Because of this hard fact of life, it’s important to note what God says in this passage. 

God has never told us that we can escape life’s troubles, but God does tell us that through our troubles, God will be with us. In today’s reading, God tells us that God is with us when we pass through the waters, when we pass through the rivers, and when we pass through the fire.  I suppose we would rather not pass through such difficulties at all, but such is life.  The Good News is that we are never alone, God is with us!

Today, let’s praise God for God’s presence, even when the waters rise and the flames get hot.  Maybe as you praise God, you will sing these words made famous by Andrae Crouch.

Through It All

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Chorus
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Do Not Be Deterred

Luke 13:31 – At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!”

32 Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33 Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!

34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 35 And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (NLT)

In today’s reading, some of the Pharisees warn Jesus that he may be in danger for his life.  While some have believed that these religious leaders were sent by Herod, I believe it simply shows that not all Pharisees opposed Jesus.  (He was buried in the tomb of a Pharisee).  However, what I would like to focus on is a seemingly insignificant term that Jesus uses when referring to Herod Antipas.  Jesus calls him a fox, and we understand that term to be referring to someone who was cunning.  In ancient times, and in rabbinical literature particular, the term often had a different meaning.  Calling someone a fox meant that they were unimportant. The meaning here is that Herod, or anyone who stood in opposition of Jesus, was unimportant to Jesus.  He would not be deterred by opposition.

Are we easily deterred by opposition, especially when it comes to the things of God?  Do we allow threats and name calling to slow our resolve to live out a Christian life?  Do we act less than Christian around certain people because we know if we oppose their unchristian words or ways, they will argue with us?  Do we laugh along with the off color jokes because it’s easier to go along than to stand alone?

When it comes to living a Christian life, let us remember who it is that is our Lord.  Jesus is the One who is important.  We should not totally disregard any human being, however, when it comes to how we live out our daily lives, those that oppose the things of Jesus are unimportant.

Today, let us not be deterred by those who stand in opposition to the things of Christ.  Let us resolve to live out our faith in word and action. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Doing All That We Can

Luke 13:10 – One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God! 14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” 17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did. (NLT) 

John Wesley, the founder of all things Methodist and Wesleyan, wrote the following in his Rules of Conduct for Christians: “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” Jesus taught us the same thing by his examples and words.

In this particular passage, Jesus is once again confronted by the religious leaders for what they believed to be a transgression against the Sabbath law.  The Sabbath is God’s gift to us.  We should all have a Sabbath, a time to draw closer to God.  What better way, however, to give glory to God than by doing good for someone!  We serve God by serving others.  If we can’t show kindness, love, and compassion to others on the Sabbath, then when can we?

This teaching, however, goes beyond Sabbath teaching.  It speaks of the many people who are held in bondage of one type or another.  Even the leader of the synagogue was held in bondage, for he was not really interested in sharing God’s healing power.  We, too, are called to share God’s healing power.  Few will ever have the power to heal as Jesus healed, but we can all share God’s power that heals us from the bondage of sin.  There are people around us who have been held in sin’s bondage as long, or longer, than the woman in this reading.  They are waiting for someone to share with them God’s healing.  Jesus told us in John 14:12 – “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing.”

For those of us who believe, let’s stay busy doing the works that Jesus did.  Let’s do all the good we can for as long as we ever can! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Guest of Sinners

Luke 19:1 – Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (NIV)

The religious people of Jesus’ day had a problem with reaching out to people who were not connected to the religious establishment.  I wish things had changed in two-thousand years, but for many, this hasn’t changed.  Jesus didn’t merely tell people that they needed to get to church, and the doors were open if they chose to go.  He went to the people who needed a relationship with God.  He entered into their homes.  He built relationships with them.  

Today’s passage reminds me of the story of Jesus calling Levi (Matthew) to be his disciple.  The story is in Luke 5.  We are told in that story that Levi was also a tax collector, and that Levi held a banquet in Jesus’ honor, and invited many of his tax collector friends.  The religious people weren’t too happy with Jesus at that time either.  Remember, tax collectors worked for Rome, and were judged to be traitors by the Jews.  Jesus did not care what label the people gave, he sought out all people.  

We are told in verse seven above that the people said that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a sinner.  Praise be to God that Jesus sought out – and seeks today – sinners!  All are lost without Jesus, for all are sinners.  Jesus has chosen to have a relationship with you and I – sinners all.  Like Jesus, we must seek out those who do not have a relationship with Jesus.  We should never avoid anyone due to any label our world has given, for we all wear the label of sinner.

Today, let us open ourselves to all people, regardless of any labels.

 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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