King Solomon Started Well, but Allowed Disobedience to Derail Him: A Lesson For Us.

Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba.  As a child, Solomon had the advantage of a godly upbringing. His father, whom the Bible refers to as “a man after God’s own heart” gave his son a good example to follow.  He was privileged to be chosen by God to succeed his father to the throne of Israel.  God gave him the task of building the first temple.  Solomon got the opportunity to exceed his father King David in his loyalty and faithfulness to God, but he allowed persistent disobedience and stubborn refusal to repent to separate him from God .

Solomon asks for wisdom

The early part of Solomon’s reign demonstrated that he had a desire to follow his father’s godly example. Immediately after his inauguration, the young king recognised that the task of leading a nation was beyond his abilities.  In humility, he admitted his need for wisdom and understanding in handling the difficulties the people would bring for his council. No doubt, he saw his father praying to God in times of need, so he asked God for the necessary prudence and empathy that would make him a successful leader.

God was impressed that this young king was thinking of the needs of his people rather than his selfish desires, so God gave him the wisdom he asked for but added personal riches as a bonus (1Kings 3:7-11).

The Queen of Sheba visits to see the riches and splendour of Solomon

Solomon ultimately became exceedingly wise and profusely rich.  Kings and queens of other nations heard of his fame and came to see whether what they had heard was true.  The queen of Sheba was one of these dignitaries who visited Solomon to see the extent of his riches and to test his knowledge.  She arrived with a large entourage of attendants and security personnel.  She brought an abundance of gifts in the form of livestock, spices, clothing, jewellery to be given to King Solomon.  The Queen of Sheba engaged Solomon by asking him some of the most challenging questions she had in her repertoire. He answered each question with unusual discernment and much astuteness.  The queen marvelled at the order and affluence that characterised the palace and the country that Solomon led.  Her response to all she saw, was that the stories she heard about the splendour, luxury and wisdom of Solomon did not come close to the reality she experienced on her visit (2Chron.9:5-6).

Solomon builds the temple

Solomon built a luxurious palace and a temple that was second to none in splendour.  The temple took seven years to complete, and it was an architectural marvel for his day.  Materials – wood, stone, precious metals and fabric for the temple came from far and near.  The planning, design, coordination and the construction of the temple involved thousands of architects, artisans skilled in working with wood, metals and fabric (2Chron.3; 1Kings 6).

On completion, Solomon dedicated the temple to the God of heaven.  At the dedication ceremony, Solomon gave a long prayer extolling the virtues of God and asking him to answer prayers made from the temple.  God responded to Solomon’s prayer by sending fire from heaven which consumed the burned offering and sacrifices.  God’s glory filled the temple so much that the priests could not enter to continue their work.  This remarkable experience led everyone to kneel on the pavement wit faces to the ground worshipping and thanking God (2Chron.6:6-42; 2Chron.7:1-3).

God gave Solomon abundant material possessions, wisdom and peace from his enemies.  God gave Solomon the opportunity to build a glorious temple for the Lord.  God was with Solomon and answered his prayers.  God blessed him with fame and prestige in the eyes of his peers who were leaders of other nations.  Unlike his father David, Solomon’s household seemed to be relatively free from sibling rivalry, power hungriness, and moral decay. God handed him a fabulous life filled with peace, wisdom, wealth, comfort and happiness.

Solomon’s Error

As the years rolled by, King Solomon developed an appetite for women.  He was not satisfied with a few, but instead, he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines. I am sure that as the number of women he took increased, there was also a corresponding increase in the problems Solomon had to face.

God always discouraged his people from intermarrying with the heathen around them because he knew they would influence his people to turn to other gods.  Solomon was no doubt acquainted with that principle, but he either thought that the women could not pressure him to stray from God or his fleshly lust enticed him to take the “forbidden fruit”.  Whatever the case was, “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.” 1Kings 11:1

In his old age, Solomon’s wives induced him to follow other gods.  He also facilitated the construction of worship places for the various gods his wives worshipped and permitted the worship of false god to thrive in Israel (1Kings 11:3-7).

Solomon ignores God’s covenant

By allowing the worship of false gods in Israel, Solomon was in breach of the contract God had made with Israel at Mount Sinai.  The first and second commandments forbad 1) having other gods besides the true God and 2) worshipping images of created things. This blatant and seemingly willful disregard on Solomon’s part, for the commands given to Israel by Moses in the Old Covenant, provoked God’s anger against Solomon.  God was patient with Solomon and allowed him time to change, but things only got worse.  Solomon showed no inclination toward overhauling his sinful ways (1Kings 11:9-10).

God determined it was time to act to rid idolatry from amongst his people and to punish the impenitent king (1King 11:9-12). God was not about to take the throne from Solomon since he had promised David that one of his descendants would always continue on the throne in Israel.  However, God rolled out a punishing set of options on Solomon.

God sends judgement

God ended the forty years of peace and respite he had allowed Solomon to enjoy. The enemies of Israel suddenly began to flex their muscles in rebellion against Solomon’s rule (1Kings 11:14, 23).  Solomon’s troubles escalated when one of his officials named Jeroboam rebelled against him (1Kings 11:26).

God final act of judgement on King Solomon for his obstinate refusal to adhere to the covenant Israel made with God, was to take part of the kingdom of Israel from his descendants and give it to Jeroboam.  This act took place after the death of Solomon and during the reign of his son Rehoboam.

Our lesson from Solomon

Solomon had everything that anyone could ever hope to have. He had wisdom, wealth, peace and most of all an excellent relationship with God. The tragedy of the life of Solomon is that he threw all of that away so he could satisfy his concupiscent fantasies with heathen women from every nation that God had expressly forbidden as inappropriate for his people. Consequently, he turned from God and embraced idolatry. Solomon started well, but unfortunately, he did not finish well.

We Christians, have all we need for life and godliness. Jesus Christ, through his precious blood, shed at Calvary and his resurrection gave us forgiveness of sins, placing us in his kingdom of light. We now have peace with God, eternal life, an inheritance that can never fade, tarnish or be corrupted. All of these priceless gifts are ours through the gracious benevolence of our heavenly Father. Our triune God walks with us along the way to enable us to endure and successfully finish the race we are asked to run.

The Apostle Paul likens the Christian walk to a race in which he encourages all to “…Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Cor.9:24.  Again Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, …” 2Tim. 4:7-8. Let us strive with all the strength God affords us through his Holy Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, discarding our former way of life and putting on Christ. Let every Follower of Jesus heed the words of Hebrews 4:11, “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following their (Israel’s including Solomon’s) example of disobedience.”

The writer of Hebrews gave us this timely encouragement when he admonished, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1). Brothers and sisters, run to win.

 

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Jewish Fall Festivals and their Meanings

Fall is the time of the year when Jewish people and an increasing number of Christians celebrate some special days. The Jews commemorate these festivals as part of their culture which is rooted in their history of release from Egyptian slavery, their journey through the desert, their settlement in Canaan and their religious and agricultural rituals enjoined to them by the Mosaic law. Christians who celebrate these festivals do so for a variety of reasons. Some think that commemorating these is compulsory and a refusal to keep them is a violation of God’s command. Others want to show solidarity with modern Israel as “the people of God” hence the celebrations.

The majority of Christians who celebrate the Jewish festivals as well as those who do not observe them believe that these Old Testament feasts were all part of the Old Covenant agreement that Jesus came to fulfil. Consequently, it is common knowledge among them, that the meaning of these festivals is made clear in the life, mission, sacrifice, resurrection and present work of the triune God.

Interpretations of the meaning of these festivals vary from group to group and from person to person. One group, in particular, have long held traditions and interpretations that bear no resemblance to Scripture.

The writer, in this article, presents his thoughts concerning the meanings of the Jewish fall festivals described in Lev.23:23-44 namely, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. He is not saying that his ideas are final or even entirely correct. All he is asking is that you read with wisdom, open-mindedness, and discernment.

Feast of Trumpets
This day was observed on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. In ancient Israel, the day included a rest from regular work, a sacred assembly commemorated with the blowing of trumpets and presentation of sacrificial offerings. None of the New Testament writers makes direct reference to this day, so most of the interpretations are based on uninspired connections made by individuals.

Many connect this feast day with the return of Christ. Jesus will return to this earth with the blast of the trumpet as described by Paul in 1Thes.4:16 Also, 1Cor.15:52. Some Christians believe that Jesus will return on this day since Jesus died on Passover, he rose from the dead on first fruits, and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. I do not think that Christ will return on a feast of Trumpets since that will make the day of his return known to some. Jesus said that no man knows the day of his coming.

In ancient Israel, the trumpet was blown to signify and celebrate significant occasions apart from the day of Trumpets. Much like how the African slaves of the Caribbean used the beating of drums to send messages to slaves on other plantations, the Israelites used the trumpet to message their people. The horn announced significant events (Num.10:1-10).

They blew the trumpet on the Day of Atonement (Lev.25:9), to announce war (Zeph.1:6), to announce the coronation of a new king (1Kings 1:34). Could this Day of Trumpets signify the announcement of good news, the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world? The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet, declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.” Isa.58:1

A significant occasion in Jesus’ ministry was when he stood up in the synagogue and began to read from Isaiah chapter 61. After reading the first two verses, he rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant and he took his seat (Luke 4:18-20).

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

Then, he dropped a bombshell,

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (v.21). 

What a transformative announcement! In the writer’s mind, this proclamation by Jesus was indeed part of what the day of Trumpets implied.

Could the feast of Trumpets also be a foretelling of the coming Messiah? Indeed, the promised Messiah, whose coming the Scriptures announced repeatedly, arrived into the world to the joyful praises of angels (Luke 2:13-14). Instead of trumpets, angels brought the happy news of his birth to the shepherds, and wise men from the east followed his star (Luke 2:10; Matt.2:2). Further, Gabriel told Mary that her son would save his people from their sins (Matt.1:21). In ancient Israel, there is no doubt that the trumpet would have announced these momentous occurrences and so the writer  believes that the feast of Trumpets alludes to these world-changing events.

The Day of Trumpets whether it signifies the return of Christ, the proclamation of the gospel, or the first coming of Messiah, these constitute essential themes in Christianity that ought to engage our impassioned attention.

Day of Atonement
The day of Atonement was celebrated with fasting and making atonement for sins. The meaning of this day addressed clearly and extensively in New Testament Scripture. Both Old and New Testaments speak of Jesus becoming the substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf (Isa.53:4-6; Heb.10:12). The epistles to the Romans and that to the Hebrews outline the sacrificial work of Jesus without which we would still be in our sins and without hope in the world. The Day of Atonement is about God redeeming the world through his Son Jesus Christ, not by the Old Covenant sacrifices and rituals. The Christian community well understands the meaning of the day of Atonement.

This day has absolutely nothing to do with the placing of sin on Satan’s head as some erroneously teach. Attributing the work of God to Satan is to snuggle up close to the offence of blasphemy. See my article, The Meaning of the Azazel Goat. Instead, it has everything to do with the payment Jesus Christ made on the cross for our sins. He is our atoning sacrifice and the scapegoat that took our place at Calvary.

The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles was an eight-day feast celebrated at the end of the agricultural harvest in ancient Israel. All Hebrew males were expected to attend this feast, Passover and Pentecost in Jerusalem. The first and eight days of this feast were rest days and convocations. Celebration on the first day also included collecting preferred fruits along with palm fronds and branches of other trees. The Israelites used these throughout the time in their joyful celebration before God (Lev.23:39-41).

Living in booths

The festival had a unique feature where all native Hebrews had to live in booths for seven days. The practice of living in tents for the duration of the feast was to remind the Israelites that they lived in tents when they came out of Egypt.
On the surface, the Scripture does not seem to give us a specific meaning for the feast of tabernacles as it does for the day of Atonement and Passover. However, working from the premise that the realities of these days are found in Christ (Col.2:17) one must look for their fulfilment in Jesus.

It is interesting that John 1:14 states that,

“The word became flesh and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Young’s Literal Translation).

The Feast of Tabernacles looks like a prefigurement of Jesus’ first coming inclusive of all the benefits his coming brought humanity. One has to ask whether the command to Israel to use choice fruits and tree branches in their feast was not a foreshadowing of the gifts Jesus brought. His coming brought the choicest fruits of love, peace, rest, salvation, forgiveness, eternal life.

Israel was told to rejoice before the Lord during the feast (Lev.23:41). Paul encourages Christians to exult in the Lord always (Phil.4:4). We rejoice in the One depicted by all these Jewish feasts.

During the feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites were told to build booths and live in them. Is this too much of a stretch to think that this practice was a forerunner of the time when God would dwell in his people through his Holy Spirit? (1Cor.3:16; 2Cor.6:16)
Living in booths during the feast served to remind the Israelites that when they came out of Egypt (slavery), they lived in tents. The Christian, after deliverance from the world’s slavery, is required to live a life that is no longer controlled by the ways of the world. We are to live like strangers and sojourners (temporary dwellers) here (1Pet.2:11). The world is our booth so to speak. It is not our home for we are citizens of another domain (Phil.3:20).

The water libation ritual
Jesus gave us a remarkable understanding of the routine of water libation practised by the Jews of his time during the feast of Tabernacles. The Jewish encyclopaedia gives this information about the practice.

“At the morning service on each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) a libation of water was made together with the pouring out of wine (Suk. iv. 1; Yoma 26b), the water being drawn from the Pool of Siloam in a golden ewer of the capacity of three logs. It was borne in solemn procession to the water-gate of the Temple, where the train halted while on the Shofar was blown “teḳi’ah, teru’ah, teḳi’ah.” The procession then ascended the “kebesh,” or slanting bridge to the altar, toward the left, where stood on the east side of the altar a silver bowl for the water and on the west another for the wine, both having snout-like openings, that in the vessel for the wine being somewhat the larger. Both libations were poured out simultaneously” (Suk. iv. 9). (Eisenstein)

Eisenstein, Judah David. “http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14794-water-drawing-feast-of.” n.d. 15 09 2018.

About this water-pouring ceremony, Jesus declared,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-38

John further explained that Jesus was speaking about the coming Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit with all his fruits and gifts has been lavished on the church to enable believers to live holy lives, encourage and strengthen each other and to preach the gospel.
Jesus made it plain to the feast attendees that the reality of the feast is in him.

There is no need to exhaust oneself taking time off from work, pulling the children out of school and driving hundreds of miles to keep a Jewish feast, when accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour is the answer to all of that unnecessary burden and toil.

The feast days given to ancient Israel were never intended for all times. Like the sacrificial, ceremonial and legal system given by God, they were the vehicle for bringing the people to faith in Christ (Gal.3:23-25). They were not an end in themselves.

All the feasts of Israel have embodied within them the glorious work of God which he unfolds through Jesus Christ for the salvation of humanity. We have much reason to rejoice in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who has redeemed us and will keep us to the day of his triumphant appearing.

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Encountering Jesus: An Experience That Changed Bartimaeus And Can Do the Same for You.

The Book of Mark tells the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus who had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. The story, recorded in the tenth chapter, verses 46-52, gives us some insight into the details of this narrative. This particular day, Bartimaeus sat by the roadside as was his daily routine, begging for money and food. He had no idea that he was about to have an encounter with Jesus that would forever change the course of his life for the better.

Bartimaeus settled himself in a comfortable position in preparation for another day of begging. Suddenly he began to hear a faint, unusual sound in the distance. At first, he was puzzled as to what he was hearing. The sound drew nearer, and he began to recognise that it was a crowd of people coming his way. At the same time, he detected the footsteps of a person who was passing close to him. He stopped the person to inquire about the commotion that was approaching. The person informed him that Jesus and many followers were travelling in that direction.

Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and the remarkable things he had done for others, so he thought this could be his time for a miracle. With this, he became very excited. He could hardly wait for Jesus to get close to him. When Bartimaeus sensed that Jesus was close enough to hear him, he shouted out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” Persons who were walking ahead of Jesus went over to Bartimaeus and told him to shut up. Bartimaeus ignored them and continued to shout his request to Jesus. Jesus deliberately stopped as he came near to the spot Bartimaeus was sitting. Jesus invited him to come.  Someone in the crowd held his hand and brought him to Jesus.

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus replied, “I want to see.” With that, Jesus restored his sight. Immediately, Bartimaeus abandoned his former way of life and followed Jesus.

The story of this blind man highlights 5 points applicable to the sinner who admits his need for Jesus to transfer him from the kingdom of darkness to the realm of light.

  •   Jesus is passing your way

Bartimaeus was doing his usual business the day that Jesus passed his way.  He had no idea that he would be a changed man before he went to bed that night. Jesus is actively seeking the lost.  His mission here on earth was to suffer for the sins of humanity that he could ultimately draw all people to himself. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus is the loving shepherd who seeks to restore every lost sheep to the fold.

Jesus has commissioned his followers to go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples.  The Good News is God’s power to rescue men from the snare of sin and death and impart his salvation which brings eternal life.  It is the means by which Jesus is encountering hungry and thirsty men and women today. He is still in the business of passing our way.

  •    Bartimaeus recognises his state of blindness

Bartimaeus realised that he had to depend on others to help him get around and that he was at the mercy of others in providing for his daily needs. He saw his blindness as a crippling handicap that restricted his progress in life. There was no technology to make life easy for him. Disabled persons in his day were second-class citizens. Society did not let him forget his blindness or make it easier for him to cope with the challenges of life. He knew that his inability to see was his number one problem. He wanted the privilege of sightedness like all others around him. Similarly, the person who is aware of the heavy burdens of his sins, the disruptions, troubles, pain and suffering his wrongdoings have inflicted on his life, is willing to trade his transgressions for God’s righteousness.

Jesus is still asking the question of every sinner, “What do you want me to do for you?”

  •     Bartimaeus shouts for mercy

All humankind is like Bartimaeus, blind and living in darkness.  The only way to be delivered from our blindness is to call to Jesus for mercy.  The sinner who has been touched by the Good News that Jesus is here to seek and to save the lost; those who are tired of carrying the burden of sin (disobedience to God) and desperately needs a reprieve from a life without hope is the one who cries out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus offers mercy and forgiveness to all who shout out to him. Are you dissatisfied with your life; trapped in a vicious cycle of the flesh, materialism, and can see no light at the end of the tunnel? Shout to Jesus for mercy.

  •     Jesus stops and grants Bartimaeus his request

Jesus did not ignore the cries of a poor blind man.  Jesus responded to him with loving concern to the surprise of the crowd that followed and especially to those who urged Bartimaeus to stop the shouting. Bartimaeus approached Jesus, answered Jesus’ question and received his sight.  Jesus is willing to listen to your requests.  He said that he would not refuse anyone who comes to him for help.  He tells us to lay all our burdens and cares on him because he cares for us.  Jesus is eager to rescue every struggling sinner who cries out for help.

  •     Bartimaeus sees, and he follows Jesus

Bartimaeus is so overjoyed by the fact that he now has perfect vision; he forgot that a few minutes previously he was a blind beggar sitting at the side of the road trying to encourage passers-by to contribute to his financial needs. That life as a blind beggar was a thing of the past. What an instantaneous transformation!  This radical change speaks to the new life the sinner who comes to Jesus will experience.  The scripture makes it abundantly clear that “… if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2Cor.5:17.

Bartimaeus left his former life behind to follow Jesus. A changed life will no longer feel right conforming to the old way.  A life touched by the Master’s hand will gravitate away from the former life and towards Christ.  A sinner purged of his sins will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. He will deliberately endeavour to live a life that is pleasing to God, and that is worthy of the calling given to him.

Jesus is always passing our way. Do you recognise your shortcomings, your need for a Saviour?  Then call out to Jesus; he will hear and answer your requests. The dramatic change blind Bartimaeus experienced can be yours today. Call to Jesus without delay.

Related: Living Water

 

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Created for Good Works

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares in advance for us to do” Eph.2:10 NIV

Called to Good Works

Most followers of Jesus Christ understand that our efforts or good works do not save us.  Instead, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Our salvation is a gift from God (Eph.2:8).  However, we understand that we are created to do good works.

The Bible contains instruction for the Christian concerning the role of good works in the life of the Christian.

James tells us that faith and good works go together.  Our sterling actions point to the fact that we have faith in Jesus Christ Jas.2:14-18).

Paul, in Gal.6:10 encourages the Galatian brothers to practise doing good to everyone as the opportunity presents itself.

The Apostle Peter says that we should use our God-given gifts to serve others (1Pet.4:8-11).

504459966 Continue reading

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God Takes Care of His Children

And why  do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed  like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more cloth you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Mat.6:28-31

 

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It was the summer of 1967 when I was sitting in a classroom with other students who were aspiring to be teachers. The lecturers were preparing us for the task of imparting knowledge, skills, values and attitudes into the students who would come under our tutelage. Surprisingly, the first philosopher and educator they exposed us to, was Jesus of Nazareth. I will always remember how our tutors pointed to a particular teaching method that Jesus frequently used, that is, he regularly took his listeners from the known to the unknown. That principle remains a pillar on which effective instruction stands to this day.

Don’t Worry – Trust God
When Jesus wanted to teach his followers that they could trust the heavenly Father to take care of them, he drew their attention to two familiar scenes in nature. He talked about the birds and the wildflowers. Jesus reminded his audience about specific facts concerning flowers and birds, and then he brought them to appreciate how much God cares for us. Continue reading

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Hannah: A Woman Whose Life can Inspire Us In Rough Times

646011554The first chapter of the first book of Samuel opens with the story of Hannah.  Hannah was an ordinary woman of her day, married to a man who had another wife.  The name of her husband was Elkanah and the second wife was Peninnah.  Peninnah had sons and daughters, but Hannah had no children.  Whenever Elkanah took his wives and children to Shiloh for worship, Peninnah would take the opportunity to harass Hannah concerning the fact that she was unable to bear children.  On those occasions, Hannah would become depressed and overcome with crying and loss of appetite.  Although Hannah was childless, Elkanah loved her and hated to see her unhappy.  He tried to comfort her by expressing his love to her both verbally and by giving her double portions of the provisions he would provide Peninnah. Nothing Elkanah did could console Hannah as long as Peninnah made fun of her inability to have children (1Sam.1:1-8). Continue reading

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Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not

The people of God have in every era, had to affirm that Jesus is Lord. The evil forces of this world have long waged war against God’s people for their insistence that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. Christians have endured slaughter, death by wild beasts, horrific torture, confiscation of possessions, beatings, stonings, the exile from their country of birth and all other kinds of inhumane treatment because they refused to deny the name of Jesus.

Thousands of years ago, God allowed the nation of Judah to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar took the most intelligent Jewish men to Babylon to train for positions in his kingdom. He selected four notable men, who proved to be extremely valuable to his administration. These were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Dan. 1:1-6). Continue reading

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Paul’s Prayer For The Philippians

When we pray for our Christian brothers and sisters what do we ask God for on their behalf? Too often we are concerned that they prosper, have good health, and live a fulfilling life. God wants all of that for his children but above all of that, he urges us to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt.6:33). King Solomon, who, early in his reign as king of Israel, realised that his greatest need was for the acquisition of wisdom and understanding if he was to be successful in leading his people (2Chron.1:10). Instead of asking God to make him rich, he asked for wisdom. Paul, in his prayer for the Philippians followed a similar line of thought as did Solomon.

Paul in this prayer focused on spiritual things. Paul knew that the thing we cannot see are eternal and so he concentrated on those things that will last through eternity.

“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil.1:9-11

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Searching For Living Water?

Millions of people everywhere have long felt that something was missing from their lives. In pursuit of that elusive “something” many like King Solomon have sought to find that missing ingredient to life in music, art, pleasure, travel, work and other endeavours. Surprisingly, the achievements gained from these various pursuits have not satisfied that missing element in their lives. So life for the majority has become an endless but vain quest to find living water that will satisfy their weary souls.

Jesus in one of his trips from Judea to Galilee had to pass through Samaria. The journey was a long one, and the sun was probably warm that day. About noon that day he decided to take a rest near a well while his disciples went to a nearby village to purchase some food. While Jesus was there all alone, a Samaritan came to the well to fetch water for her household. Jesus politely asked her to give him a drink of water. She was surprised that a request like this had come from a Jew. Her recollection of Jews was that they had no regard for Samaritans. Jews regarded themselves as peculiar and looked on others as being inferior to them. Putting that difference aside, the woman would have given Jesus the water, but he had nothing with which to draw the water (John 4:1-9). Continue reading

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In What or Whom Are You Trusting?

 

The presence of trust in humans is vital for healthy psychological balance. It aids in fostering, deep enduring relationships that can result in a richer, more fulfilling, more productive and happier life.  Every child expects that his parents will make provision for his physical, psychological, social, emotional and moral needs. Every spouse assumes that the other will be faithful, show respect, love, kindness, understanding and render help and support always. People trust their politicians, to tell the truth, keep their promises, act in the best interest of their nation, and follow the wishes of the people. We trust our employers to treat their workers fairly and with respectfully, pay them decent wages, and provide them with safe working conditions. We have faith in our religious leaders to teach the word of God faithfully, furnish a healthy church environment that will assist in our spiritual growth and healing, be good examples of the things they preach, genuinely love and care for those they serve, and instruct and encourage others to be good ambassadors of Christ. Continue reading

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