Heart of Wisdom

 

Psalm 90 is about time, and more importantly, it is about what we need to do with our time. In the Psalm, we are reminded of God’s eternal existence and our seemingly insignificant blip on His timeline. No time management course will change reality. In verse 2 it states, “Before the mountains were born, or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God”. The descriptive names of God used throughout Psalm 90 include the concepts of God being eternal, almighty, and great. The writer describes man’s existence to grass growing in the desert. The early reader of this Psalm knew that in one day, from dawn to dusk, grass could bloom, grow and wither. The message is clear that our time, in relation to God’s time, is short; seventy or maybe 80 years at most and unfortunately, many spend those years worrying about the next day.

We can’t control time because we don’t really know how much time we have left. We are in control of nothing and we need to ask God to teach us how to use time wisely. God is in control of time, and so we need to ask Him to teach us how to properly apply the time that we have so as to gain an understanding of His wisdom. The wisdom that He has chosen to share with us through His word. The wisdom revealed to us when we study the knowledge that is found in the bible. We know that before we were born, before Adam and Eve fell, and before the earth was formed, God was and so was the Word. And, the wisdom of the Word is: when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s plan will be realized, and we will share days eternal with God Almighty.

In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the foolish rich man who put a plan into action to gain more wealth for his future. The man tears down what he already has built, so he can rebuild to get more. Jesus reminds us in this story that the problem with trying to plan our time that it is not ours to plan. When we tear down the barns we already own, to follow a plan focused on building some legacy to God, we forget we do this on gifted time.


The problem with thinking that we can control time is, we get into a habit of thinking we will always have more. 


We do not use our days wisely because “we think we have tomorrow”. We’d rather watch a ball game than read our bible or pray because “we think we’ll do those things tomorrow”. We don’t spend time with our family because “we think we have tomorrow”. We try to remain part of the world and enjoy it as long as we can because “we think we can join God’s world tomorrow”. We put off giving all to Christ today because “we think we can keep some control now and give the rest tomorrow”. Some put off repenting and accepting the Lord today because “they think they will have more tomorrows to change”.

James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”.

Before time is up, look up and ask God “teach me O God to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom”.

Walking daily with God

When we chose to be a follower of Jesus we did so because God woke us to His presence. When Jesus invited the Apostles and others to follow Him, most had already known about God. They went to the temple, heard scripture, read and participated in the religious ceremonies. They, however, did not know Jesus or what he was going to share.


When each was chosen Jesus did not say “Look into my eye, look deeper … when I snap my finger you will understand, have faith and wisdom”.
No! He said: “follow me” and they did.


For three years many walked with Jesus daily, listened to Him talk about God, heard Him read scripture and explain it, watched Him perform miracles, and saw how he interacted with all parts of society, including the disenfranchised and the sinner. The daily life of Jesus’ initial followers involved a lot of listening, watching and doing and that has not changed for present-day followers.

Just because we made a declaration that Jesus will be our Lord and we want to follow Him, does not mean our lives will be different. Just like the apostles, we need to learn what Jesus said and apply it to our own lives. We need to learn to live a similar life to the apostles and the early church and those we can recognize as true followers. We need to incorporate Jesus’ teaching into our daily life.

The prophet Micah made a very simple statement about God’s behavioural expectation to the Kings of Israel and the King of Judah. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8b NIV). The people of his time were living terrible lives, ignoring God and making choices that took them further and further away from God. Despite being familiar with God’s expectations, even before Micah arrived on the scene, they had become self-focused, and the rulers were evil and cruel to their own people. They chose not to live with God daily. Micah warned them they would be punished and in fact, he was around to see and record the destruction of Judah and Israel. Micah promised that they would be saved if they changed their ways because God does not abandon us.


How may we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?
Consider adopting these tips:

  1. Read your Bible daily. Do not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy your conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart. It comforts, guides, corrects, encourages – all we need is there.
  2. Learn the secret of prayer. Prayer is communicating. Every prayer that you pray will be answered. Sometimes that answer may be “Yes” and sometimes “No”, and sometimes it is “Wait”, but nevertheless it will be answered.
  3. Rely constantly on the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8), and what a comfort that should be to the weakest of us. Stand aside and let Him take over all the choices and decisions of your life.
  4. Attend church regularly. The visible church is Christ’s organization upon the earth. Christians need one another, we need to gather together to worship God and nothing can take the place of church attendance.
  5. Be a witnessing Christian. We witness in two ways: by life and by word – and the two, where possible, should go hand in hand.
  6. Let love be the ruling principle of your life. Jesus said to those who followed Him, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.
  7. Be an obedient Christian. Let Christ have first place in all the choices of your life.
  8. Learn how to meet temptation. Temptation is not sin. It is yielding that is sin. Let Christ through the Holy Spirit do the fighting for you.
  9. Be a wholesome Christian. Our lives and appearance should commend the Gospel and make it attractive to others.
  10. Live above your circumstances. Don’t let your circumstances get you down. Learn to live graciously within them, realizing the Lord Himself is with you.

WHY DID GOD CREATE US?

Why did God create us? This is a question that many have been discussing for centuries and you may have even asked it yourself. We have heard God created us for His glory, to have people to love, to demonstrate His greatness, and so on. These are all certainly true, but have you thought God may have also created us for fellowship.


“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB). 


In Greek, the word “fellowship” is koinonia. It is also translated as “communion.” God wants to have an intimate communion, a close fellowship with us. Remember the garden of Adam and Eve and when they sinned? Who hid themselves? Adam and Eve. Who went looking for who? It was God looking for them. After the expulsion from the garden, after the flood, and at the time of the Exodus, God says to the people, “And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” Again, who is seeking to dwell with who? It is God seeking man. John 1:1, 14 shares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… 14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” is the Greek skano-o and it also means to tabernacle, to tent, to dwell among. Again, it is the Lord who is seeking us, who is dwelling among us. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), and this signifies that the Lord is in us and with us.

This simply tells us that God is a God of fellowship, that He desires to have people to be with and to love. God is love (1 John 4:8), and the nature of love is to give (John 3:16). God desires that we have an intimate relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus.

Do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Do you spend time with Him talking to Him? Do you seek the relationship and fellowship with God that He desires and has shown throughout history, especially on the cross?

Seek Jesus. Have fellowship with Him. It is what God wants.

Live NOW!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16


“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12



Do you remember being in the kitchen when your mother baked a cake? You watched as she carefully added the ingredients into a bowl and then stirred them with a whisk, or electric mixer, or depending on your age, a wooden spoon. She may let you grease the pan or ensure the oven was on, and you were eager to do so because you wanted to help get that cake in the oven as soon as possible. When the cake was baking the smell would waft throughout the house playing with your senses teasing and creating anticipation of what is to come.

God offers something wonderful for those who choose to be true disciples of Christ. A true disciple is one who believes in Jesus teachings and seeks to learn more about them and apply them to their life. They want to know Jesus through a relationship with Him and they desire to tell others about Him. The reward for those true disciples is adoption into God’s family and eternity with Him. There will be a time when God will bring about the new heaven and new earth. Until then, His children eagerly anticipate the return of Jesus but not without tasting and experiencing some of the good He has to offer. Jesus spoke of a time to come when all of creation would be reconciled to God and brought back to the state God intended. However, He also said we can experience a taste of the Kingdom to come now. We are offered the joys of a relationship with Jesus and the power and wisdom to live out every day with hope on this sometimes, troublesome planet. He says we can be changed and experience fruit from our relationship which comes in the form of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

While the cake was baking you were often given the chance to taste something good while waiting for something even better. There were the spoons or beaters to lick for those who choose to stay beside their mother, listen and learn from her instruction and help prepare the cake. God offers something now while we await eternity and He wants you to have and recognize His grace and blessings daily while you wait for eternity’s call.

HE RISES

Jesus had told his disciples in advance that he would rise again on the third day after his death. He had been buried in a tomb guarded by a huge stone and guarded by soldiers so that no one could steal the body. When some women came to visit the grave on that Sunday morning, they found that the huge stone had been moved and the tomb was empty. Jesus was seen that day and for several days later, and revisited old friends who realized what had been prophesied had come true. Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and so all he said before and after the cross must be true.

Read Matthew 28 – Mark 16 – Luke 24 and John 20.

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ.
Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?
You also must decide whether he was who he said or not.

FINAL REFLECTION

WHAT DOES EASTER MEAN 

  • God loves you.  John 3:16 

THE PROBLEM IS 

  • All of us have done, said or thought things that are wrong. This is called sin, and our sins have separated us from God.  Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ABOUT 2,000 YEARS AGO 

  • God sent His son to die for our sins.  Romans 5:8 

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO ASK JESUS CHRIST TO FORGIVE YOUR SINS AND BE YOUR LORD AND SAVIOUR

If you have never considered asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life, consider:

PRAYING:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave to give me life. I know you are the only way to God so now I want to stop disobeying you and start living for You. Please forgive me.

If you believe but have not followed through with your heart and actions, consider:

PRAYING:
I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and as a result, I have sinned against you. I thank you that you have forgiven my sins through your death on the cross. I now invite you to again take your place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as you commanded me to be filled, and as you promised in your word that you would do as I ask in faith. I now thank you for directing my life and filling me with the Holy Spirit.”

Regardless of which one of these two prayers you may have prayed today, share your decision with a friend or your pastor so you can have someone to encourage you on your walk with Jesus.

Walk to the Cross – Holy Week devotionals

All four Gospels provide accounts of the activities that occurred during the week leading up to crucifixion, death and resurrection. The daily devotionals below try to capture the week based on scripture and traditional understanding of events. Some events may not have occurred on the date we identify but every event noted occurred during the final week. Please don’t let the date distract you from the purpose of this walk with Jesus.

May we boldly say that these devotionals may be worth sharing with family and friends. They offer some insight into the final week of Jesus’s earthly ministry.

Walk to the cross – HOLY WEEK

Between the Promise and the Fulfilment of the Promise

On Saturday, a Sabbath day, the high priests and Pharisees gathered together before Pilate and asked him to have Jesus’ tomb sealed until the third day. So, Jesus’ body lay in the tomb guarded by Roman soldiers.

Nicodemus had helped place Jesus’ body in the tomb on Friday before the Sabbath began, and had even paid for the burial spices for Jesus. Like Joseph of Arimathea, he was a member of the Sanhedrin. This was the court which had condemned Jesus Christ to death. Both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. Similarly, both were deeply affected by Christ’s death. They boldly came out of hiding, risking their reputations and their lives because they now realized Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah.

Do you live your faith is secret? Do you think something more important hinges on your need to hide your faith in Jesus?

Read Matthew 27:62-66. Saturday was the day between the promise and the fulfilment of the promise. Jesus had not only predicted He would be crucified, but also that He would rise from the dead. Our salvation is based on that promise.

Consider this prayer: “Heavenly Father, today as I think about that short period of time that your son was in the tomb, I know that eternity was at stake. Thank you for keeping your promise to Adam and Eve despite their disappointing behaviour in the garden. Thank you for arranging this act or reconciliation so I will not have to spend eternity separated from you. Thank you that despite how often I disappoint, you love me enough to allow me to acknowledge, repent and ask forgiveness for my sins. Thank you that the tomb did not hold Jesus. Amen”

IT IS FINISHED.

Writer and Pastor John Ortberg once stated there was no beaker moment in human history than when mankind thought it would make sense to kill the creator of the universe. The events of Friday began with Jesus’ betrayal early in the morning at the Garden of Gethsemane. The arrest was followed by six different trials:


Trial 1: Annas, whose name means “The grace of Jehovah” was one of the original antagonists against “The Son of Jehovah”. He briefly interrogated Jesus and subjected Him to the initial physical abuse.

Trial 2: In front of the current Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas (son-in-law of Annas) and the Sanhedrin Court where Jesus was again physically abused.

Trial 3: All the Jewish elders, including the High Priest, scribes and whole Sanhedrin interrogated and mocked Jesus. They decided to ask the Roman government to kill Jesus.

Trial 4: Hearing before Roman governor Pilate, who initially declared: “I find no guilt in this man” and passed Him onto Herod.

Trial 5: A hearing before Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who had jurisdiction over Galilee. Jesus refused to answer any questions, so Herod returned him back to Pilate.

Trial 6: Pilate repeatedly tried to release Jesus, but the Jewish leaders continued to object. Pilate physically tortured and beat Jesus beyond recognition seeking to satisfy the Jewish leaders. However, the Jews demanded that Jesus be crucified. Pilate resisted but eventually gave the order to execute Jesus.


The arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ all took place on Good Friday. It may be hard to understand what was good about that day, but it was on this day that truth was revealed. The world would have us believe that there is no such thing as evil and with the right mindset, we can work it out and avoid suffering and eternal consequences. Jesus showed us that Evil really does exist and suffering really does hurt, but what was good about that Friday was the realization that God can take even the worst events and make them good.

Read Matthew 26:47 to Matthew 27:61.

Consider this prayer: Lord, I may not have been standing in the crowds when you were being judged, but it is because of my sins that you went through the trials and abuse. I may not comprehend the humility and ill-treatment you faced, but I know that you were not ashamed to have done it for me. Holy Spirit, I do not want Jesus’ sacrifice to be for nothing. Will you help me see, understand, and accept the truth that lead to my salvation so that I can stand before Him and thank him face-to-face. Amen.”

THE UPPER ROOM

On Thursday Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem so He could celebrate the Passover with His disciples. The evening was filled with many symbolic acts as Jesus continued to teach and share His love. Just after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrated by example how they were to love one another. Jesus also instituted the Lord’s Supper this night.  As the Lamb of God, Jesus fulfilled the meaning of the Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. Using bread and wine to symbolize His body and blood, He asked us to remember His sacrifice by participating in communion in the future. The supper concluded with the singing of a hymn and a trip to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Gethsemane was a place familiar to Jesus as He and His disciples previously visited, and it was used by Jesus as a place of prayer. That night it also became His place of obedience as He surrendered His will to the Father. Later that night, because His betrayer knew Jesus’ preference for the garden, Gethsemane became Jesus’ place of capture.

Read Matthew 26:17-75 and identify and reflect on the examples of proper behaviour that Jesus displays through the evening.

  • Can you humble yourself before others? 
  • Will you work with those who are weak and may betray you or God? 
  • Can you respect and serve even on your worst days?
  • Will you give your will over to God knowing that unpleasantness may result?
  • Will you pray when life is good as well as when it is going poorly?
  • Will you surrender your desires to God’s purpose?

Consider this prayer: Lord, forgive me when I put my needs ahead of others, when I seek my way instead of yours, when I fear the path, I know you want me to take because it may require sacrifice and suffering. Give me grace and strength to trust that if necessary, I may have to enter the valley of the shadow of death but can trust that I will come out stronger and in better shape to reflect your glory. Amen.”

BETRAYED

Wednesday has been called “Spy Wednesday” by some who speculate that this is the day Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer, agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which had been prophesied in Zechariah 11:12 with the wordsSo they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.” 
Note – thirty pieces of silver was the going rate for a slave at that time.

Read Matthew 26:15 and ask yourself, have you ever sold your faith for something else you wanted. Have you ever put off prayer, reading scripture, going to service because something else came up?


Wednesday may also have been the day when Jesus, who was relaxing in Bethany, was anointed with expensive perfume by a woman. When some disciples expressed concern about this alleged waste, Jesus shared that her actions were to prepare Him for His death.

Read Matthew 26:6-13. Have you ever second-guessed the motives of a ministry? Have you abandoned your brother or sisters because the secular world has? Do you care more about how they served God or why?

Consider this prayer: “Holy and merciful God free my heart from temptations of evil thoughts and actions that cause me to betray your followers in my words or actions. Help me see the actions of others as pleasing to you so that I can grow. Cleanse me so that I may become a fit habitation for the Holy Spirit to use me for your Kingdom’s work.  Amen.