“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our warhorses. Never again will we say to the idols we have made, ‘You are our gods.’ No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy.” The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”
Hosea 14:1-9 NLT
Hosea was a minor prophet but spoke major things to both Israel (called Ephraim often) and Judah. Israel was the northern kingdom and Judah was the southern kingdom when the nation was divided.
The prophet’s name means “salvation,” likely a reference to Hosea’s position in Israel as a beacon of hope to those who would repent and turn to God because of his message. Following the command of God, Hosea married Gomer, a bride God described as “a prostitute” (Hosea 1:2) and a woman who bore Hosea three children, two sons and a daughter (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9). Their names were:
1. Jezreel - a son (meaning - "God Plants")
2. Lo-ruhamah - a daughter (meaning - "not loved")
3. Lo-ammi - a son (meaning - not my people")
God wanted His children to be planted where He wanted them to grow and prosper. He loved them and He wanted to identify them as His people. However, their sins had separated them from Him and He used the marriage relationship of the prophet Hosea with his wife Gomer to speak to the divided nation about their spiritual prostitution. The names of the children indicate the spiritual condition of the nation. In spite of their unfaithfulness to God, He took them back and even paid the price of their enslavement to sin. He loved them!
Here's some commentary from Chuck Swindoll:
Where Are We?
"In Hosea 1:1, the prophet identified the kings that ruled during his prophetic ministry. The first four—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah—reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah from 790 BC to 686 BC, while Jeroboam II ruled the northern kingdom of Israel from 782 BC to 753 BC. This indicates that Hosea lived in the middle to late eighth century BC (755–715 BC), making him a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Micah.
Hosea directed the early portion of his prophetic warnings to Jeroboam II, a descendant of the house of Jehu whose son, Zechariah, would soon come to ruin (Hosea 1:4; 2 Kings 15:8–12). Because this prophecy against the descendants of Jeroboam involved the birth of Hosea’s children, we can conclude that he lived in the northern kingdom, where the names of his children would have had the greatest impact."
Why is Hosea So Important?
"More than any other prophet, Hosea linked his message closely with his personal life. By marrying a woman he knew would eventually betray his trust and by giving his children names that sent messages of judgment on Israel, Hosea’s prophetic word flowed out of the life of his family. The cycle of repentance, redemption, and restoration evident in Hosea’s prophecy—and even his marriage (Hosea 1:2; 3:1–3)—remains intimately connected to our lives. This sequence plays itself out in the lives of real people, reminding us that the Scriptures are far from a mere collection of abstract statements with no relation to real life. No, they work their way into our day-to-day existence, commenting on issues that impact all our actions and relationships."
What's The Big Idea?
"Structured around five cycles of judgment and restoration, the book of Hosea makes clear its repetitious theme: though God will bring judgment on sin, He will always bring His people back to Himself. God’s love for Israel, a nation of people more interested in themselves than in God’s direction for their lives, shines through clearly against the darkness of their idolatry and injustice (Hosea 14:4).
Throughout the book, Hosea pictured the people turning away from the Lord and turning toward other gods (4:12–13; 8:5–6). This propensity for idolatry meant that the Israelites lived as if they were not God’s people. And though God told them as much through the birth of Hosea’s third child, Lo-ammi, He also reminded them that He would ultimately restore their relationship with Him, using the intimate and personal language of “sons” to describe His wayward people (1:9–10; 11:1)."
How Do I Apply This?
"Do you know the saving power of God, now offered to us through His Son, Jesus? If so, as a redeemed child of God, have you offered “redemption” or forgiveness to those in your life who were once under your judgment? Not only does the book of Hosea provide an example of God’s love to a people who have left God behind, but it also shows us what forgiveness and restoration look like in a close relationship. The book of Hosea illustrates that no one is beyond the offer of our forgiveness because no one sits outside God’s offer of forgiveness. Certainly, God brings judgment on those who turn from Him, but Hosea’s powerful act of restoration within his own marriage set the bar high for those of us seeking godliness in our lives."
No matter how far you've traveled or what you may have done, God is faithfully, mercifully, and gracefully waiting for you to come home. In fact, when sin had enslaved you and placed a price on your head, He came with love and forgiveness and paid the price of your sin. All He wants is for you to come home where you belong.
Child of God, come home!
Church, come home!
America, come home!
Stop the prostitution and turn to the Lover of your soul!
The Faithful Father waits for you! Come Home! The table is set, the plate is full, the cup is brimming, and the chair is pulled out awaiting your acceptance of His grace. Stop going to the mirage of this world! Come to the oasis of God! Only then can you be filled! Come Home!!
Curtis R. Norris
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. If people crush underfoot all the prisoners of the land, if they deprive others of their rights in defiance of the Most High, if they twist justice in the courts— doesn’t the Lord see all these things? Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, “We have sinned and rebelled....”
Lamentations 3:20-42 NLT
Jeremiah the prophet laments the destruction of Jerusalem, the beloved city of Israel, after the Babylonian invasion of 586 B.C. His heart sinks in sorrow as he looks at the condition of his beloved homeland.
Lamentations is a book of weeping by the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah. He grieves over the place he lives that now lies in ruin and under enemy control. What happened? Israel continually ignored God’s law and judgment has come.
What about us? What is happening? God has allowed the nation we love so much to be inflicted with this awful plague and we watch as the news casts continually feed us with negativity and fear. Our land has been assaulted and we are reeling as we stagger in response to this blow. We, too, like Jeremiah should be broken in our hearts as we see what is happening. We must repent of our sins, turn to God in fasting and prayer, and cry out for His mercy. His mercy alone can redeem us from destruction. Only God can resuscitate us and stabilize our condition. When He does, we will recover! We must pray for our President, Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, our Congress, our Supreme Court, our many designated leaders of various departments, our Governors, State and Local authorities, our Pastors, and each other.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT
The hope we have is in Jesus Christ!!! His mercy can save us!
What we must do is turn from our stubborn, sinful ways and return to righteousness.
“Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:12-14 NLT
This is the true path to restoration!
Will you join me in repentance, prayer, and fasting? Will you take time as we near Resurrection weekend to humble yourself and seek the face of God in prayer and fasting? The church needs to beseech the the throne of God’s grace for the mercy we need to overcome.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Hebrews 4:16 NLT
This should not be done for selfish reasons. We must truly repent of our own sins and the sins of our nation. May I remind you that we expelled God from the classroom in 1962, slaughtered over 60 million babies in abortion since 1973, ordained homosexual marriage in 2015, and the churches are assaulted by an ungodly, unbiblical ideology. We are a stanch in the nostrils of God. We need repentance!! True preachers cry out against this wickedness! True churches recognize the deplorable condition of our nation. True believers should be heartbroken as we look out across the landscape and consider our plight.
Now, let me conclude with this:
I am not afraid! God is with me and all who truly know Him. Yes, I am broken and my heart aches as I look at society. However, I know that God is able to do exceeding and abundantly above all that I ask or think.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:18-21 NLT
For those whose hearts are right with God and who seek His kingdom, good things can come because of their prayers.
God is looking for such people.
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him...."
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
Luke 12:32 NLT
Are you one of them? Are you walking in step with the Master? Is your life lived in submission to His Word? Are you truly aware of your own sins and the sins out our beloved land? If so, please join me in genuine repentance on behalf of our churches and nation. Push back from the table as the Holy Spirit gives you instruction and seek the face of Jesus. Let’s move from association to consecration!
“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.””
Jeremiah 29:12-14 NLT
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:31-34 NLT
Will you seek God with me? Please join me in this most needful discipline before God!
Curtis R. Norris
“This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk: I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy. I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise. His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden. Pestilence marches before him; plague follows close behind. When he stops, the earth shakes. When he looks, the nations tremble. He shatters the everlasting mountains and levels the eternal hills. He is the Eternal One!
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights...."
Habakkuk 3:1-6, 17-19 NLT
Habakkuk prophesies prior to the Babylonian invasion. He knows that God sees all the treachery in the land and judgment will come. He fears the awesome power of God rather than the hosts of men. No matter what accomplishments we may claim to ourselves we are but finite creatures under the sovereign hand of Almighty God! He sees all, knows all, and has all power. We must not think for a moment that we are somehow beyond His reach, both in judgment and in mercy. God can, in an instant, bring us to our knees or raise us up to our feet. May we cry out to God today and beg for His mercy. Regardless of the circumstances, let us praise God for who He is. He is the GREAT I AM! He is from everlasting to everlasting. His reign is righteous, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light! We can't outlive Him and we can't live without Him. He can't be voted in, voted out, impeached, or die. He is the ETERNAL GOD!
The question is this:
Will we turn to Him for healing and restoration? I pray so!! I don't know about you but I am crying out to God in humility and repentance. I seek His face, not His hand. Right standing with Him is our safe refuge! Let's run to Him and find shelter beneath His wings. He will be our protector from the assaults of the enemy. He is our HIgh Tower! We must praise Him regardless of the conditions of life! He alone is our salvation!!!
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude”
Psalms 46:1-11 NLT
Today, rest in His care, not the uncertain situation around you! Run to Him!
Curtis R. Norris
“What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem, the city of violence and crime! No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God. Its leaders are like roaring lions hunting for their victims. Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time, who by dawn have left no trace of their prey. Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain. Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions. But the Lord is still there in the city, and he does no wrong. Day by day he hands down justice, and he does not fail. But the wicked know no shame. “I have wiped out many nations, devastating their fortress walls and towers. Their streets are now deserted; their cities lie in silent ruin. There are no survivors— none at all. I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now! Surely they will listen to my warnings. Then I won’t need to strike again, destroying their homes.’ But no, they get up early to continue their evil deeds. Therefore, be patient,” says the Lord. “Soon I will stand and accuse these evil nations. For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy. “Then I will purify the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the Lord together. My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia will come to present their offerings. On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me. I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you. There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain. Those who are left will be the lowly and humble, for it is they who trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will never tell lies or deceive one another. They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid.” Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” “I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more. And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Zephaniah 3:1-20 NLT
Chuck Swindoll makes this commentary on Zephaniah:
"Like the writings of many of the prophets, the book of Zephaniah follows a pattern of judgment on all people for their sin followed by the restoration of God’s chosen people. Zephaniah’s primary target for God’s message of judgment, the nation of Judah, had fallen into grievous sin under the reign of their king, Manasseh. Zephaniah’s prophecy shouted out for godliness and purity in a nation sinful to its core. The people of Judah had long since turned their backs on God, not only in their personal lives but also in their worship. This reflected the depth of their sin and the deep need for God’s people to be purged on their path to restoration."
Here's the application:
"Those living in Judah had turned the worship of God into a fiasco. Not only had they built their own places of worship to revere other gods (called “high places” in the Old Testament), but they had begun to desecrate the temple, which at that time was the dwelling place of God (Zephaniah 1:9).
"As modern-day believers in Christ, we, too, make a mockery of worship when we live in open sin. Do you come before the Lord with a false face, week in and week out, looking the part without acting it? Allow Zephaniah to remind you how seriously God takes your life and your relationship with Him. And if you have failed, remember the message of Zephaniah 3—God is always a God of restoration and hope."
In light of all that is taking place in our nation, let us, as God's chosen people, return to God in authentic, genuine worship. Let's lay aside the facade and get real.
Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of a good king of Judah named Josiah. He was also the great-great grandson of king Hezekiah (see Zephaniah 1:1). Josiah reigned from 640 B.C. to 609 B.C. He was only eight years old when he became king of Judah.
“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.”
2 Chronicles 34:1 NLT
His predecessors were wicked, evil men (Manasseh and Amon - see 2 Chronicles 33).
The nation had fallen away from God. However, because of Josiah's heart toward God, the impending judgement that God was about to place on the land was stayed until his reign was over.
“During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem. He did the same thing in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and in the regions all around them. He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God. They gave Hilkiah the high priest the money that had been collected by the Levites who served as gatekeepers at the Temple of God. The gifts were brought by people from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the people of Jerusalem. He entrusted the money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they paid the workers who did the repairs and renovation of the Temple. They hired carpenters and builders, who purchased finished stone for the walls and timber for the rafters and beams. They restored what earlier kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. The workers served faithfully under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the Merarite clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam, Levites of the Kohathite clan. Other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, were put in charge of the laborers of the various trades. Still others assisted as secretaries, officials, and gatekeepers. While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses."
"When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’” So they took her message back to the king.”
2 Chronicles 34:3-14, 19-21, 26-28 NLT
Zephaniah grew up during an evil political and spiritual time. Now, under Josiah's reign, He is a prophet during a righteous king. God spoke to him of restoration for the land because of this righteous king.
God has been speaking to my heart as well, for sometime now. I believe that He has heard the cries of His remnant in America. He has given us a president, Donald Trump, that is sympathetic to our cause, is trying to restore our lost religious freedoms, and has led the nation to a time of financial strength. Although we are currently experiencing the effects of the corona virus (COVID-19) I believe that this is a time of purging and preparation for the church. God is getting our attention. He is calling us to look to Him more than we ever have in this generation. He desires to restore the land and promote His gospel to this world. I believe He is going to restore us better than before and the result will be the opportunity to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all nations. This will not be done as a result of sinful men. In fact, evil men will continue to pursue their devices. In spite of the wickedness around us, this will be a result of God's merciful intervention on behalf of the "Josiah's" whose hearts are His. This intervention will stay the judgment for our time and allow us to preach the gospel to the world. The end will come soon thereafter.
“Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24:4-14 NLT
Curtis R. Norris
“David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!””
1 Samuel 17:45-47 NLT
Goliath - the giant of the Philistines who was almost 10 feet tall. This giant was intimidating and caused fear in the hearts of all the soldiers of the army of Israel. He was an undisputed, undefeated warrior champion. He was a pagan and heathen man. This giant felt invincible and was lifted up in selfish pride to the point that he defied the God of Israel. For 40 days he strutted and taunted the army of Israel until a ruddy, teenage shepherd boy named David was sent with food from his father, Jesse, to his elder brothers and the captain of the Israeli army. When he arrived at the place of the battle, Goliath appeared and, once again, spewed his arrogant defiance to the army of Israel. David was immediately infused with righteous indignation and began to question the soldiers about what would happen to the man who defeats this giant (see 1 Samuel 17:26). The soldiers rehearsed the particulars of the reward to David (see vs. 27). In verse 28 his oldest brother, Eliab, scolded David for his inquiry. Eliab began belittling David and telling him to go back to tending the sheep. Eliab was a soldier. David was a shepherd boy. David was undeterred by the sibling down talk. He proceeded with his intent of fighting this giant. When word reached Saul, the king of Israel, that David was willing to fight this giant he ordered David brought to him. When David came before him, Saul told him that he could not win against this giant because he was a shepherd boy and not a warrior. Saul touted the prowess of the mighty champion Goliath. Although Saul was, himself, a larger man than most, he was considering natural ability and was focused on the physical comparisons between David and Goliath. David was looking to God for victory. His faith was in God, not his own physical strength. David had a heart for God and His spirit was determined to defeat this wicked, pagan, giant. He testified to Saul that he had slain a lion and a bear that had come to devour the sheep while he was on guard. He proclaimed that the same God who had given him victory of the lion and the bear will give him victory over the pagan giant. After seeing David's persistence, Saul accepted David's proposal and said "May the LORD be with you" (see verses 31-39). Saul tried his own armor on David to give him the physical protection he would need but, after trying them on, David replied that he could not wear these. Two things here:
1. Sauls armor was personally suited to his own stature. Saul was head and shoulders taller than anyone.
“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.”
1 Samuel 9:1-2 NLT
Can you imagine how big this armor must have looked on David?
2. David could not fight in the strength and ways of man to defeat this giant.
“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
David took off the armor and utilized the weapon that God had already trained him in - the sling. He gathered five smooth stones (smooth stones fly more accurately) from the stream and placed them In his shepherds bag (see verse 40). He started out across the battle field to engage this enemy. Can you imagine what this scenario must have looked like? A young, teenage boy walking across the battlefield with no armor on, dressed in shepherds clothes, a shepherds staff, and carrying a shepherds bag. I can almost hear the jeers from his own people as he marched out to the battle. I can almost hear the jeers and laughter fro the Philistine army. This was going to be entertaining, at least they thought! David, without hesitation, moved in for the kill. He was not fighting for victory! He was fighting with victory! He knew that this was a seemingly impossible task in physical strength but he knew that it was but a small matter to God. His complete trust was in God, not himself!
As the giant saw him approaching he began to poke fun at him and asked if he had come to fight a dog with a stick (see verse 43). Goliath began cursing David in the name of his pagan gods. In verse 44, he tells David that he will feed his flesh to the birds and wild animals. Not once did David flinch! In verse 45, David replies to the giants taunts.
He proclaimed to Goliath that he had come with sword, spear, and javelin but that he (David) had come in the name of the LORD of Heaven's Armies. In verse 46 David proclaimed, with absolute boldness, that today God will conquer Goliath, that he (David) would kill Goliath, cut off his head, that the dead bodies of the men of the Philistine army will be fed to the birds and wild animals, and that the whole world would know that there is a God in Israel! Verse 47 tells us that God saves, not by means of fleshly warfare (sword and spear), but by His mighty power!
David recognized that the battle belonged to the LORD!!!
David went on to be forever known as the giant killer. However, the real truth is that God is the giant killer!!!Remember, David himself recognized this fact in verse 46. God is our victory, not any human means! As we face the challenges around us in this hour, we must also recognize that God is our victory!!!
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT
If Jesus has defeated sin and death, what else is there to conquer? In Jesus we are fighting with victory, not for it! Rest in His victorious power! He is the all time, undefeated, undisputed champion!!!
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Romans 8:31-37 NLT
Can the church say AMEN??
Curtis R. Norris
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Revelation 21:1-4 NLT
A new day is coming dear brothers and sisters! Jesus has made it possible for us to live forever on a new earth where all things will be made new. We were made from the dust of the earth.
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”
Genesis 2:7 NLT
We were created to govern the earth.
“Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.””
Genesis 1:28 NLT
God wanted us to have the distinct privilege of enjoying His creation. He made all of these things for us. Mankind is the apex of His creative work. In fact, man is the last thing created in the order of creation.
On the sixth day of creation God made the land dwelling animals (see Genesis 1: 24-25).
On that same day He created man, but man was last.
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:26-27 NLT
God placed the man in the garden to dress and keep it.
“Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.”
Genesis 2:8 NLT
This was the most beautiful place man has ever experienced. There was absolute tranquility as man walked with God in this place of majestic splendor. One thing was yet to be provided: Woman. Man had no suitable helper in this paradise. God put Adam to sleep, without anesthesia, and took a rib from his body and made this beautiful specimen.
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”
Genesis 2:21-25 NLT
Together, as man and wife, they were to have dominion over the earth and everything in it. God had delegated this responsibility to them. Theirs was a place of harmony in marriage and all the world around them celebrated the life God had given. They were unashamed and naked. Perversion had not yet found its way into this paradise. Rain never fell from the sky.
“Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land.”
Genesis 2:6 NLT
There were no cloudy days, only brilliant sunshine. Depression, despair, discouragement, defeat, and death were not known. All of these were absent from there vocabulary. River branches flowed through this exquisite garden and brought life giving water to this place of grandeur.
“A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches. The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found. The gold of that land is exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there. The second branch, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush. The third branch, called the Tigris, flowed east of the land of Asshur. The fourth branch is called the Euphrates.”
Genesis 2:10-14 NLT
This was in the geographical area we call Iraq today. What a contrast! Things have certainly changed!
Man and animals lived together in perfect harmony. Man didn't eat them and they didn't eat us. Neither were carnivorous. In fact, Adam named these creatures.
“So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals..."
Genesis 2:19-20 NLT
Can you imagine the intelligence of this man? His brain was operating at full capacity. Sin had not yet tainted his life. He named all of the creatures and enjoyed fellowship with creation in perfect harmony. Death had not yet entered this paradise. Can you imagine how handsome Adam was? Can you imagine how beautiful Eve was? This was an amazing place.
One command was the hinge point for this couple.
“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Genesis 2:15-17 NLT
God did not make man as robots, without a free will to choose. They were not puppets on a string. Man was given the opportunity to obey or disobey. This was the real issue! Would man listen to the Word of God and live or would he listen to a deceiver named Satan and die?
“The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Genesis 2:9 NLT
There were many trees to eat delicious and healthy fruit from. In the middle of this paradise were two trees:
1. Tree of life.
2. Tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Notice that this was a "central" issue. Central to life is obedience to God! Man could eat from every tree, except one. This one tree was called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" for a reason. Man had not yet known evil, only good! This tree was representative of the world of darkness that would unfold if they chose to disobey. Satan manifested himself in the form of a serpent in Genesis 3 and began his deceptive dissection of God's Word. He twisted the truth and spewed his venomous lie upon Eve. Eve was enticed. She partook the fruit and then presented it to her husband Adam. He then ate. This is where it all changed!
“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.”
Genesis 3:1-7 NLT
It is very important for us to recognize that mankind didn't die until Adam are the fruit.
Adam was made in the image of God. The woman was made from the man. There was a chain of authority that God had placed in the order of creation. Satan utilized the only way to get to Adam, Eve. You see, the chain of authority was this:
“But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
1 Corinthians 11:3 NLT
In this created order, Satan knew his only chance of claiming this earth as his was through Adam. He knew that Adam was under God's authority. Eve was under Adam's authority. The only possible route for his devious plan to unfold was through Eve. His ultimate goal was to get the dominion that God had given Adam, the governance of the earth. It worked. All of their unborn children died as both of them bowed to Satan's hand. Now, all they can do is eat their meals in sorrow until they sink back into the dust from whence they came. All down through the ages man can hear God calling "Adam, where are you?"
Our hearts have longed to go back where we were meant to be but now we live beneath the curse of sin. In Genesis 3:8-19 we read the fallout of the fatal decision made by the first man and woman. We now live between Genesis 3 and Revelation 19. We long for Revelation 19-22. There we read how the story ends. In Jesus Christ, we win, the world is made new, and heaven comes to earth. There we will live in resurrected bodies, on a resurrected earth, with our Resurrected LORD!!! There, the curse will be gone.
“No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.”
Revelation 22:3 NLT
The only way to experience this is through being born again (see John 3:1-7, 16-18; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:8-10; I John 1:9; Ephesians 2:8-10).
“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
Titus 3:3-7 NLT
I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to going to my homeland!
Curtis R. Norris
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter, ” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 NLT
Unity - United and joined as a whole! That's what we are to be as the body of Jesus Christ. We are to represent One Lord!
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
Ephesians 4:3-6 NLT
God never intended the church to be divided. The divisions we see in denominations are man's creation. There are schools of thought concerning certain doctrinal matters that has caused the distinctions we see in the church world. Whether it is about modes of baptism or predestination there is so much that has drawn lines between those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Sure, we must be absolutely persuaded in the essentials of Christian doctrine. We cannot allow false teaching to invade the ranks of the church. Satan would like to do nothing more than deceive people with something that masks itself as truth when it is really falsehood. We must contend for the faith that has been delivered to us from ages past!!
“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jude 1:3-4 NLT
False teaching must be vehemently rejected!
In regard to unity, we must work hard to maintain union with those who have the foundational principles of the faith correct. Those who are teaching Biblical truth and are striving to serve our One and only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are our brothers and sisters. We are not many faiths. We are one church! Yes, we have preferential procedures and practices but we must be joined at the core of our faith. When the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith and practice are in place we can qualify those people as family of God!
We are called to be the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus prayed for unity among His followers in John 17 prior to His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17:11, 20-23 NLT
Notice how many times Jesus emphasized unity. This was important to Him as He prepared to leave these disciples to accomplish the task of taking the gospel to the world. Unity among the true believers is very important to God!
Listen to this:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT
Unity among the family of God is a beautiful thing.
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.”
Psalms 133:1-3 NLT
Harmony doesn't mean that we all sing the same part. Harmony means that we all sing the same song as we do our assigned parts. There is a stark contrast between unity and uniformity. Unity is the body of Christ in action, serving God efficiently and effectively as we all learn our part and fulfill it well. The misuse of uniformity is trying to make every part look and act the same. We all have our styles, personalities, individual uniqueness, talents, and gifts. Some share very similar traits just like the singers in a choir. There are several bass, tenor, alto, and soprano singers. They all sing the same song. Each group sings the same part. When they wear choir robes they all look alike. This is the proper use of unity and uniformity together. Each category of singers does their part while the others do theirs. At the same time, they all represent one choir. May God help us, as His church, to stay true to His Word, know our respective roles, serve well, and work together. In Jesus name!!! Amen!
Curtis R. Norris
“Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.”
Luke 2:52 NLT
Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. Jesus was the Creator who became a man to redeem us.
“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.”
John 1:10 NLT
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”
Colossians 1:15-17 NLT
“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.”
Hebrews 1:2 NLT
The word "Adam" means "man". The first Adam (man) was created from the dust of the ground (see Genesis 2:7). The second Adam (man) was the LORD from heaven. The Holy Spirit gives us this understanding concerning Him in 1 Corinthians 15:
“The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 15:45-49 NLT
Jesus had to come into the human world through a vessel of humanity (Mary - woman). God, who transcends time, stepped into the realm of time and manifest Himself to us in the form of the Son of God! This is why Jesus has the titles "Son of God" and "Son of man". He was both God and man! Jesus came in the likeness of sinful man (that is, He took upon Himself a human body) to experience life in human form from conception to Calvary!
“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”
Romans 8:3 NLT
Jesus grew up from a baby to a toddler, to a pre-teen, to a teenager, to an adolescent, and to adulthood. He experienced every facet of human life. He did this to identify with us and to overcome the curse of sin that had been imposed upon us from the fall of man in Genesis 3.
In the Old Testament a priest could not serve until he was age 30.
“List all the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who are eligible to serve in the Tabernacle.”
Numbers 4:3 NLT
(see also Numbers 4:23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47).
“Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry...."
Luke 3:23a NLT
Jesus was born to die as the sacrifice for our sins. He had a purpose in His life of just 33 years. He chose His disciples and for 3 to 3 1/2 years He taught them in the school of Divinity. You could say that they all got their Master's degree from the Doctor of Divinity! He lived His human life on earth until the time of His appointed death by crucifixion. The reason He was born as a man had come to full fruition. He was the High Priest of eternity!
“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 5:7-10 NLT
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 6:19-20 NLT
Just a brief note on Melchizedek: He was a Christophany (an Old Testament appearance of Jesus). Melchizedek had no earthly Father and mother and no descendants.
“This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.”
There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.”
Hebrews 7:1-3 NLT
Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils to this High Priest of the Most High God (Hebrew - El-Elyon). You only give tithe to God! In Genesis 14 we read the account of Abraham's encounter with Melchizedek.
Melchizedek served Abram (later changed to Abraham - see Genesis 17:1-8) bread and wine (see Genesis 14:18). These are the elements of communion. This was a foreshadowing of what Jesus - The High Priest would do.
Melchizedek was called "king of justice" and "king of Salem" meaning "King of Justice/Righteousness" and "King of Peace". Isaiah 9:6 says this about Jesus:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 NLT
Jesus is our eternal High Priest!
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”
Hebrews 4:14-15 NLT
We must learn to appreciate and value what our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us! The life He lived, what He did, and what is now available through Him is nothing less than a gift of God - absolute redemption and full, free access to God. In Him we are restored! One day we will get to thank Him face to face.
“And they will see his face...."
Revelation 22:4 NLT
Curtis R. Norris
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
Let's examine these three.
1. Joy - the deep down satisfaction that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit inside the believer.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
The joy we have as believers is not based in the situation or circumstances that surround us. The joy we have finds its source in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy is not happiness. Joy is the satisfaction and assurance of the presence of God in us. Joy is the assurance that comes when we trust in the Person, Power, and Promises of God! His goodness to His children is eternal. Nothing can take that away from us!! When God is with us we need not be cast down or defeated. The storm around us may be raging but Jesus is on the boat with us. He is the Master of the wind and waves.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2-4 NLT
Jesus is our sustainer and supplier. We must trust in Him, not our worldly circumstances, to experience his peace and joy.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.””
John 16:33 NLT
2. Prayer - communication with God.
Prayer is the line of communication that believers have with their Father. We must utilize this divine privilege if we are to navigate through this world successfully. God has provided us with the opportunity to dialogue with Him. WOW! Think about that for a moment! Dialoguing with God! What an awesome privilege! We can cry out to Him in any situation, at any time, in any language. An old hymn says it this way "He hears our faintest cry and He will answer by and by..."
His ears are open to the cry of His saints.
“The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 3:12 NLT
We need to pray, not only to ask God for things on our end, but to listen to what God has to say on His end. Remember, this is a dialogue not a monologue. There must be mutual conversation. Have you ever taken the time to listen to God in prayer? Have you ever hushed long enough to hear what He has to say?
I don't know about you but I can think of some people that call me and dominate the entire conversation. I hate to answer the phone with these individuals because it isn't a healthy, hearty dialogue. The conversation is cumbersome and unhealthy. How many times have we disrespected and disregarded what God has to say because we do all the talking. We take advantage of His patience and we don't give Him the primary place in the dialogue.
Prayer is a critical practice if we are to stay in communication with God!
3. Thankfulness - recognizing God for what He does.
Thankfulness is a proper response to God's merciful and gracious provision. We must not allow ourselves to become ungrateful. Gratitude is what takes us to a higher altitude.
How many times has God rescued us from ourselves and other things in life? How often has He provided what we needed? How about the things we can't buy, like the air we breathe, the beat of our hearts, and the salvation He has given?? We are to be thankful in all things! Stop allowing the circumstances around you to cloud your appreciation for God's great goodness!
Today, take the time to rejoice that your name is written in heaven. Pray to God and take time to listen to Him! Then, express your gratefulness to Him for what He has provided! This will help you stay focused and secure!
Curtis R. Norris
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:35-39 NLT
Let us remember that God's love surpasses all things of this life. Nothing can separate the child of God from His love! We can rest assured in His faithfulness! He will not fail us and He will not forsake us!
"....And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””
Matthew 28:20 NLT
“....For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.””
Hebrews 13:5 NLT
Everything around us may be spinning out of control but He remains steadfast and secure.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Psalms 46:1 NLT
We must not look at the circumstances around us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus!!! He is our hope and help!
“We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.”
Psalms 33:20 NLT
In the midst of all the uncertainty, let us rest in His unchanging grace. We are not victims! We are victors!
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT
Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of God!
“The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.”
Psalms 29:11 NLT
Our joy is not based on circumstance. The joy we have rests in Him alone.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 NLT
All that we need is wrapped up in the Lord Jesus Christ! We must rest in Him and know that everything is just fine!!
“How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!”
Psalms 116:5 NLT
Curtis R. Norris
Rev. Curtis Norris