Bible Reading: Psalm 85

Advent - peace candle.jpg

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Our Lord never changes, and He is always faithful to be and do what He has claimed He will be and do.  As we read Psalm 85, we see that this community prayer moves from past to present, and then looks to the future, and does all of this through the lens of God’s faithfulness.  In 85:1-3, the people are looking back on what God did for them during a time when they had been sinful and wicked towards God.  God forgave their iniquity and, “covered all their sin.”  The sinfulness of Israel had brought about God’s righteous wrath and anger.  God’s wrath is righteous because of what it accomplishes.  When God displayed His wrath on sin, it brought the people to repentance.  They pleaded with God to return to them, forgive them, and restore them to good standing with Him.  God, being faithful to the promises He had made to Israel, did forgive them and cover all their sins.  God is faithful and just to forgive the sins of His people when they seek Him with their whole heart.  In light of God’s faithfulness and mercy, Israel continues their prayer. 

In 85:4-7, they are repenting and seeking God for forgiveness and help.  When I read and think on these verses, I think of how repentance should work.  Whenever I have done something wrong and seek to apologize to another person, I often get scared.  Why?  Because they may not forgive me.  When we cause pain on others, we have no guarantee they will be able to look past the hurt and restore our relationship.  But when we repent to God, and seek forgiveness from the, “God of our salvation,” we can do this confidently.  There should be confidence in prayer, not because of our prayers, but because of Who we pray to.  God is always holy, loving, faithful; God has promised to never leave or forsake His people, and He will restore them when they truly seek Him.  It is with the confidence of who God is that Israel prays, and it is with this same confidence we pray.

With this confidence, the psalm looks forward to the future.  What do they see?  They see God speaking peace to His people and teaching them His ways, thus turning away from sin.  They see His salvation coming near, and His glory dwelling among them.  They see steadfast love and faithfulness meeting, and righteousness and peace kissing.  The anticipate God’s faithfulness springing up from the ground, and His righteousness raining down from the sky.  They have faith that God will do what is good, and He will lead them in His ways; they believe with all their heart that God will bring peace.

Call to Action: We are reading Psalm 85 in light of the Advent season, and looking at God’s promises for peace.  In history, God did return and restore Israel, but God’s plan was to restore all of His people in the entire world to Himself.  How did He do this?  By sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born to the virgin Mary, live a perfectly righteous life, suffer a sacrificial, atoning death, and gloriously resurrect.  All of this was done for the salvation of all who would believe in Jesus.  Truly, in Christ, God promises and gives peace.  This year, take hold of this peace that God provides in and through Jesus.  As we saw last week, the peace and salvation of God should be received with both joy and humility.  Pray and seek God with confidence, because He has promised to hear the prayers of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  Do not get swept up in gifts and feasts, but become consumed with the gift of God, which is Christ, and be filled to overflowing with the peace He provides.  God has promised peace, and He is faithful to give it in abundance to His people.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

I am so sorry that I forgot to post this last week.  I am working on a four-part Advent series, and this is the first installment.  I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful Christmas season.

Bible Reading: Psalm 80

Advent - hope candle.jpg

If you were to google, “What is advent?” you would receive two definitions.  The first says, “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.”  The second says, “The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.”  For Christians, Christmas is the greatest advent there is: the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  He is the most notable person in history, and His birth is one of the most notable events in history.  The Church celebrates Advent every year by focusing on the story of our dear Savior’s birth.  It is worth noticing that God’s people have always looked forward to this event, even hundreds of years before it happened.  We can see this when we read through and reflect on Psalm 80.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel…Awaken your might; come and save us.”  God’s people often found themselves in trouble, and it was always due to their faithlessness and sin.  They would turn their backs on God, and their sin would cause them to fall into the hands of their enemies.  In Psalm 80, Asaph is crying out to God as the Shepherd of Israel; the Good Shepherd who leads and care for His flock, Israel.  He pleads for God to take notice of Israel and save them from their turmoil.  They have fallen away from the state of glory and power God gave bestowed upon them.  They were fallen and dirty, and no longer shined brightly into the world; they no longer stood apart from the rest as the people of God.  Knowing this, the psalmist prays, “Restore us, O God; male your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” 

As he prays for God to restore and save Israel, Asaph recalls all that God had done in the beginning to establish them.  He had transplanted them from Egypt into a new land, a promised land that flowed with milk and honey.  God was able to do establish His people once, and He can do it again!  Because of their sin, God has turned His face away from Israel.  Instead of blessing them, God has cursed them and allowed their enemies to conquer them.  In faith, Psalm 80 is a prayer of repentance and asking God for His mercy.  Asaph remembers the promises of God, and knows God is faithful.  He calls out to the LORD God Almighty to once again look on His people, have mercy, forgive them of their sin, and restore them once again to be His people in this world.

Of course, God is able to remove an earthly enemy and establish a kingdom once again, but this would be a temporary fix.  The desire of our hearts should not be for temporary peace, but for eternal peace.  “Return to us, God Almighty!  Look down from haven and see!  Watch over this vine, the root your hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself.”  The world is fallen and corrupted by sin, and there will be trouble on earth until God establishes His eternal kingdom.  So, God’s people cried out for rescuing, and God heard the cries of His people!  How did He answer?  By sending His Son to be born to save His people from sin. 

Call to Action:  As we approach Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, there should be joy that fills our hearts.  There should also be a humility that fills our hearts as well.  We were separated from God because of our sins, and we needed to be saved.  We would be crying out with Asaph, “Restore us, O God,” and “Come and save us,” but in His grace and mercy He has sent Jesus to save us.  We are three weeks out from the celebration of Christ’s birth.  Take some time to think about the great need for salvation you had, and then how God graciously fulfilled that need.  Have joy in your heart that you have been saved from your sin, and have humility that God mercifully saved us from our well-deserved destruction.  With humble joy, worship our Savior this Christmas season.  Merry Christmas.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 9:1-13

I love this story of kindness!  David was still young in his reign, and after establishing his place as king, he does the strangest thing.  David asks if there is anyone left among the sons of Saul and Jonathan.  We might assume that King David is looking to exact some revenge for all of the trouble King Saul had done to him.  Saul had tried to kill David on more than one occasion, and David had spent much of the previous years on the run in the wilderness.  Now that he was king, David could get his sweet revenge on whomever was left in King Saul’s family.  David summons Ziba, who was a servant for King Saul and his family.  Was there anyone left of the sons of Saul or Jonathan?  Ziba says there is one son of Jonathan left: Mephibosheth.

david-and-mephibosheth-.jpg

The strange part of David’s request is why he is searching for someone in Saul’s family.  It is not for revenge, but for kindness!  King David says in verse three, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”  Even though King Saul has tormented David over the years, David never sought to do harm in return.  David trusted God at all times to deal justly with him and King Saul.  Now that God had established David as king, David desired to honor and show kindness to the family of his predecessor. 

Only someone who has experienced the kindness of God can show true kindness to someone else.  A life that has been impacted by the love and kindness of God is able to love and show kindness at a level this world can not understand.  Jesus taught that we ought to love our enemies, but the world doesn’t understand this.  Christians live in a world where revenge is expected of someone who has been wronged.  We cheer for the one who takes justice into their own hands, and for those who right the wrongs done to them.  Our television and movie entertainment shows are filled with these themes because we love watching it.  Revenge and justice is more appealing to us than kindness and forgiveness.  Thanks be to God that He is ways are not our ways!  To be a follower of Jesus means you seek kindness and mercy alongside of justice, and you do not desire revenge or harm to come to others.  Our trust is our Savior who has been so kind to us, and so we seek to imitate His kindness to the world.

Call to Action: Are you quick to anger, or quick to kindness?  Do you prefer acts of revenge, or acts of peace-making?  The people of God are called to be salt to the earth, which means we seek to preserve it and care for it.  We do this by showing kindness to all people, whether we think they deserve it or not.  We do not seek revenge, but like David, we trust God to be kind to us and fight our battles for us.  Is there someone you can reach out to and show kindness to?  There is always someone in need of the kindness of God.  Do not hold back from love.  We have been shown so much kindness from God.  Just as we have received the kindness of God, now we must show it to others.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Daniel 3; Psalm 119:46-48

This is the week we all sit around a table filled with food and rattle off a list of things we are thankful for.  We are challenged by this time of year to look beyond ourselves and think about the things we take for granted.  Even our commercials and other advertisement ask us what we are thankful for.  Honestly, it is not hard to think of things to be thankful for.  The main obstacle to thankfulness is our circumstances.  Can you remain thankful in the midst of chaos?  Would you have a heart filled with thanks to God if your life was being threatened?

fiery-furnace.jpg

Most all of us know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  Three men from Israel who were carted off to Babylon, and ended up being made administrators for the king.  When King Nebuchadnezzar sets up a gold image of himself that is 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and demands all the people of Babylon bow and worship it, things get interesting for these three men.  They are faced with a big decision to make: either bow down and worship the image of the king, or remain faithful to God.  If they bow to the statue, then all is well and good.  If they choose God over the statue, they will be immediately cast into the flaming furnace.  When they choose to remain faithful to God, their words are sprinkled with a thankful appreciation to God.  They said, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 

Can you detect the thanksgiving?  These men know beyond all doubt and fear, that even when faced with a fiery death, there God cares for them.  Can you imagine the praises and thanksgiving they are lifting up to God as they WALK THROUGH THE FIRE!  These three men are so thankful to their God, that in the presence of a power-hungry king, they stand firm.  They do not back down in fear, but boldly proclaim the name of the God whom they serve.  Psalm 119:46-48 seems to fit the occasion.  It reads, “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.  I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.”

Call to Action: Are so thankful for who God is and what He has done that you would stand defiant before kings?  Do you love God to the degree of walking through fire?  This is the week that we take time to think of all the things we are thankful for.  Don’t simply say God first, because that is what is expected.  Instead, take time to focus on all of the reasons you are thankful to God.  Give Him more than a one sentence praise.  Take time to rejoice and praise your Heavenly Father who has saved you from sin and promised you eternal life.  Thank Him for all things big and small.  This God will walk with you through a fiery furnace, lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, provide manna and water in the wilderness, and fill you with His Holy Spirit.  Praise Him until your heart is filled with thanksgiving and delight in all that God has done, and in who He is to you.  Have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Job 42:1-6; Proverbs 2:6

I love old sayings that we continue to use today, especially when they are more true than people realize.  Back home, when a person was being asked continuous questions (like your child constantly asking “Why?”), they would get frustrated and say, “God only knows!”  It may be venting frustration, but it is incredibly accurate!  There is so much going on in this world, that often times we find ourselves throwing our hands up and saying, “Only God knows!”

The book of Job gives us so much insight and wisdom into the wisdom of God.  Satan rocked Job’s world by robbing Job of all of his worldly riches, by killing Job’s seven children, and by wrecking Job’s health.  Job is left to suffer alone, until his three friends came along to help.  The problem:  Job’s friends did not help at all!  They did not possess godly wisdom, and they blamed Job for his own misfortune.  They said that Job must have sinned to bring all of the pain and suffering into his life.  Job, on the other hand, argues for his innocence and longs for the opportunity to defend himself to God.  Finally, God shows up and instructs Job and his three friends on the wisdom of God.  God tells Job about His wisdom in creating the whole earth and everything on it.  God goes into details regarding specific creatures He made, and the great care He took in all of His work.  Only after making His sovereignty, power and wisdom known to Job does God give Job the moment to speak.  Only now, Job is humbled and almost speechless. 

proverbs-2_6.jpg

In Job 42:2-3, Job says to God, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.   ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”  God is patient, kind and gentle with His people, but also will not tolerate His creation questioning His wisdom and love.  Job had questioned the wisdom and authority of God, and now Job saw his mistake.  After hearing and understanding who God was and what God had done, Job realized that he actually had no clue of what he was talking about.  Job confesses in verses 5-6 that he had heard about God before all of this happened, but now he truly saw God for the first time.  He had faith in God, but now Job’s faith had eyes to see. 

Call to Action: Somehow, we are quick to question God.  We experience a difficult trial, or many trials, and we feel like we have a case to bring against God.  However, we would be wise to remember who God is, and our relationship to Him.  He is holy, and we are not.  He is all-knowing, and we are not.  He is all-powerful, and we are not.  He created and sustains all things, and we do not.  Proverbs 2:6 reminds us that, “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  All that we have and all that we know is all thanks to God.  God is so kind as to not humiliate us for our lack of understanding, and our foolish pride.  Instead, God humbles and matures us.  As we grow to know and understand more of who God is, our faith and trust in Him grows.  We no longer feel the need to justify ourselves to Him, but instead we fully surrender to Him.

In light of these things, reflect on how you relate to God.  Do you try to instruct God, or tell Him how things should be?  Or do you submit to Him, and trust Him for all things?  Take some time to reflect on your relationship with God.  I pray it would lead us to be humble in how we approach Him, and may our hearts be filled with gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Acts 1:15-26; Ephesians 2:1-10

Have you ever felt unqualified for something?  Maybe you were offered a new position at work you weren’t confident in taking, or perhaps you were selected to lead a group or project, and you did not think you had what it takes.  Can you imagine being recruited to be the apostle to replace Judas?  This is the task said before the man, Matthias.  He is selected by God to be the twelfth apostle right as the Church is about to explode to over three thousand members.  Matthias would be one of foundational pillars that would help the Church grow and establish itself.  How would you feel being offered this position?

Once we read what the qualifications for this position were, we have more confidence in Matthias since he fulfilled them.  The new apostle must have been, “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” (Acts 1:21-22) Matthias had seen and experienced the life and ministry of Jesus, so he had on-the-job experience. But there is also a very special fact in Acts 1:15-26 that must have greatly encouraged Matthias.  It comes in verses 24-25: 

“And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’”

Did you hear that?!  Matthias was not chosen by the other apostles, but by God Himself.  The Lord looked at the heart of Matthias, and chose him to be His apostle.  There is an unexplainable confidence that you have when you are doing the work God has called you to.  We have all received training to be good at certain things, and this training happens throughout our life.  All of the things you have experienced throughout your life have been preparing you.  What have they been preparing you for?  All of your life experiences and circumstances have been preparing you for the good works God has prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10) 

Call to Action: Nothing in your life is meaningless.  Every single day of your life has a purpose.  Everything you have ever faced, done, or experienced, both the good and the bad, has been used by God to shape who you are.  Every day God is working on us and in us to make us more like Jesus.  You should be growing and maturing in the things of God more and more every day you live.  You do this out of love for God, and a deep desire to love and pursue Him more.  But you also do it in thankful service to God.  He has saved us from our sins, and now He plans to use us to spread the God News to the world.  This seems like a tall task, but God has chosen you and is with you.  Just as God called Matthias and equipped him for the work of being an apostle, so God will equip you for the work He has for you.  God has given you the abilities to bless others and bring them closer to Jesus Christ.  Do not waste your talents, but strive to serve God in every way.  You are not lacking.  God gives you all you need.  Rely on Him, and He will use you greatly in this world.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Luke 20:19-26; James 4:7

The wisdom of Jesus is on full display in this passage.  The Pharisees were doing all that they could to trip him up and discredit Jesus, but Jesus was too smart for them.  In the passage for this week’s blog, the Pharisees think they finally have the perfect trap when they ask a question of loyalty:  Is Jesus loyal to Israel, or Rome?  Since Rome was the ruling nation over Israel, there was some tension in this question.  Citizens of Israel had to pay a tax to Rome, but to encourage people to do it was to betray the nation.  What would Jesus’ response be?  Would Jesus say it is lawful to pay the tax to Caesar?  Or would he be loyal to Israel?

Render to Caesar.jpg

The Pharisees thought this was a sure trap.  If Jesus approved of the tax, then that meant Jesus was not truly loyal to Israel or God.  But if Jesus denied the tax, then He would be an enemy of the emperor and would surely be thrown into prison or worse.  They finally had Jesus trapped, and He would finally be removed from their life.  But Jesus is all-wise, and He has the perfect response to the question.  Jesus asked to see a coin of currency, and he follows up by asking whose face is on the coin.  The response was that Caesar’s face was on the coin.  To this, Jesus says in verse 25, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 

At a moment where it looked as if Jesus was about to show some kind of flaw, His wisdom and grace shows through.  Rather than become an enemy to Rome or Israel, He instead shows where His true citizenship lies: with His Heavenly Father.  Jesus’ answer rings true, even today.  Jesus may have lived on this earth for 33 years, but it was not His home.  He was passing through in order to redeem the people of God from sin for all of eternity.  He was an alien in the world He created.  We too are not at home here, but waiting to be brought to our true home.

Christians, we care so much about our temporary homes.  Sometimes we treat this place like we will be here forever, and we lose sight of the fact that we are just passing through.  Consider the illustration of having to move out of your home while it is being redone.  The place you stay while your true home is being prepared never feels like home.  You may have to stay there for a few weeks or months, but you know it is just temporary.  In the same way, this earth is a temporary place for the people of God.  Our true home is in the kingdom of God, in a new heaven and earth that He will one day establish.  Jesus left to go and prepare a place for His people, and one day we will move in.  Until that time, make peace with this world.  Give to “Caesar” what is due, and love all of your neighbors with the love of Christ.  Provide for your family, serve others, and worship God while you wait for the glorious day when we arrive at the home He has prepared for us.

Call to Action: It is difficult to live with an eternal perspective.  This world has so many things to keep us busy, that we don’t think about heaven.  The good times we are blessed to have in this life are precious gifts God has given to us.  Take them all in and enjoy them.  This life is so short, so enjoy your children being small, and play as much as you can with them.  Go and visit your parents and grandparents, because one day you will not have the opportunity.  As great as these things are, they are just here to hold us over until our joy will be complete in Jesus.  If you think the blessings of this life are good, wait until the ultimate blessing comes to be.  Until that day, work hard, love harder, laugh more, grumble less, be happy, don’t worry, but above all, give to God what is Gods.  Every day, worship Him and draw close to Him.  It is only by giving our hearts and lives to God that w experience true joy, and that we can be able to hope for our eternal home with Him.

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Joshua 14:6-15

After reading this passage, how can it be that Caleb is not one of our favorite people from the Old Testament?  I am so encouraged by the faith of this 85-year-old!  Can you imagine all that Caleb has seen and experienced in his long life?  Through it all, his faith is not only intact, but stronger than ever before.  Caleb has experienced so much.  He began as a slave in Egypt, and passed through the Red Sea as God parted the waters.  He was with the people as God led them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He has eaten manna and drank water from a rock.  He was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, and only he and Joshua believed God would give them the land.  Caleb is outspoken about his faith, to the point that the other spies and people were prepared to stone him for his bold proclamation.  When God cursed the people to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all of the disobedient ones had died, Caleb survived it all.  The next generation has rolled into the Promised Land, and Caleb, in his eighties, has been fighting all the way.

In this passage we get a sense of his zeal and faith in the promises of God.  He proclaims that he is eighty-five years old, and in verse eleven he says, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.”  This elderly man is ready to fight for what the Lord has promised him!  He is so eager, that he asks Joshua for a piece of land that is filled with giants.  How does this old man plan to defeat them?  “It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”  Caleb knows that any time he goes to battle that it could be his last, and he is at peace with that.  When he asks to go and take the land where giants roam, he believes that if God wills, he will defeat them and claim the land God has promised.  Caleb realizes he may not live to establish his home and family, but he knows this land will belong to God’s people.  In that faith, Caleb presses on.

Caleb’s faith is so encouraging to me, because he knows the promises of God, and everything he does is motivated by those promises.  It makes me ask myself:  Aren’t the promises of God made to me even greater than the ones made to Caleb?  The promises given to us are grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have the promises of Revelation 21:3-4, which says, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  In light of the promises of God we have been given, shouldn’t our faith be as bold and sure as Caleb’s? 

Call to Action:  Do you know all of the promises God has made to you?  If not, begin reading through the Bible and highlighting the places where God promises His people something.  You will be surprised at the blessings God has waiting for those who follow Him instead of chasing the world.  As you read the Bible, and remember His promises, challenge yourself to walk in them.  Could you boldly declare the promises of God like Caleb did?  Tell people about the wonderful things God has done for you since saving you from sin.  As the children of God, we rejoice in our salvation, and we proclaim this Good News to all of the world.  Live your faith out loud, and have the courage of Caleb!

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading – Luke 8:40-48

Have you ever been at the end of your rope and looking for any hope to grab on to?  Have you ever been so desperate for relief that you would try literally anything?  I can imagine this is the mindset of the woman in Luke 8.  She has suffered from a discharge of blood for over twelve years.  She has used all of her resources to find a cure, and nobody could cure her.  This is no exaggeration.  The Bible says, “though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.”  She is in a place of desperation.  She wants to be made well more than anything.  She has run out of options, and is looking for any and everything for relief.  And then she hears the news.  Jesus has come to town! 

Touching the Fringe.jpg

All of the people were excited to see Jesus, and the crowd was pressing in around Him.  This woman, desperate to be healed, gets as close to Jesus as possible, and she reaches out and touches the fringe of His garment.  She is instantly healed.  Finally, after 12 long years of spending all of her living in search of healing, she has found what she needed in Jesus.  In desperation, she believed Jesus could heal her, and after touching Him, she is made well.

But then, something happens that turns her joy into fear.  Jesus somehow realizes that someone has touched His garment!  With so many people pressing in around Him, Jesus knew that someone had touched Him.  His own disciples are even mystified by this.  They said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”  How did He know?  In 8:46, Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”  She has been discovered, but rather than hide, she comes forward to confess.  She comes in fear, trembling before Jesus, and she bows down before Him.  With all the crowd watching how Jesus will respond, the woman tells Jesus how she touched His garment in the hopes of being healed, and that she had been healed instantly.  Rather than scolding the woman, or handing her over to authorities to be punished, Jesus says the most compassionate words she has possibly ever heard.  Luke 8:48 says, “And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” 

Do you seek Jesus during your times of desperation?  Because we know He can do all things, is the first place you turn to when you’re in need?  Truthfully, we should always be close to Jesus, so that whenever a need for healing or rescuing comes up, we know exactly where He is.  If something serious were to happen at this very moment, would you be confident in prayer to rely on Jesus, or would it be weird for you?

Call to Action:  Living in the time we do, we have so much more hope because we have the Gospel in its entirety.  We know about the death and resurrection of Jesus, whereas the woman in Luke 8 just knew about Jesus as a healer.  We can have so much more confidence because we know Jesus was more than a man; He is the Son of God!  Knowing this, we believe by faith that we can come to Him with things too great for this world.  We believe that Jesus can defeat any cancer, illness, disease, and even death.  Have the peace of Christ in your hearts, knowing that there is nothing too great for Him to handle.  Also, another call to action is to stay close to God at all times, good and bad.  Our hearts would be broken if our children only came to us when they needed something.  Why would we treat our Heavenly Father that way?  Spend time with God every day.  Make time every day to get alone with God and pray.  Be as close to God as you can be.  He is our hope and our peace.  Fall in love with the God who loves you deeply, and Who graciously give you all things.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Malachi 1:1-5; Proverbs 3:5-8

Lately I have been pestering the people around me about reading the Minor Prophets.  I started a plan to read through them all in a 25-day period, and quickly fell in love with them.  To read through the promises of God for His people, but also getting a glimpse of His holiness and justice as He judges all of the nations of the earth. In the Minor Prophets, we see the discipline of our perfect Heavenly Father towards His people, Israel, as well as His promises of hope and peace for them after He removes their enemies.  Malachi was particularly challenging to me, especially in light of the previous events in our nation.  Let me explain what I mean.

Minor-Prophets.jpg

In Malachi 1:1-5 we see God’s people asking a question so many of us have.  God says to them, “I have loved you,” and their response is, “How have you loved us?”  What follows can get lost if you are not familiar with history between Israel and Edom.  Brief Summary: Israel is a nation descended from Jacob, and Edom is a nation descended from Esau.  When God led Israel out of Egypt, they sought help and supplies from Edom, but rather than support God’s people, they instead war with them.  There has been bad blood between these nations for as long as they have been nations!  Edom has been a constant thorn in Israel’s side, and so they ask God, “How have you loved us?”  How could God claim to love Israel when He allows their annoying enemy, Edom, to exist and torment them? 

God’s response is to remind Israel of His faithful and steadfast love He has shown to them.  God reminds them of the times He has dealt with Edom on behalf of Israel, and He also tells Israel what He will do to them.  “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’” (Malachi 1:4) Even though this has not happened yet, God promises that His love for Israel will always be, and He will always be their God.  When Israel sees the love and faithfulness of God in action, they will worship Him saying, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!” (Malachi 1:5)

Proverbs 3;5.jpg

I bring this passage up, with all of its history for Israel, to ask what your response is to God.  God says to you, “I have loved you,” and do you ask back, “How have you loved me?”  When things happen in this world, like the shooting in Las Vegas, or the hurricanes over the last weeks, or something closer to home, like cancer or another disease; what is your attitude towards God then?  Are you quick to point out where He has dropped the ball?  Or is your response to have faith in the steadfast love of God?  He has loved you, and He always will.  Can you put your faith in His unchanging love, even when things do not go how you want them to?

Call to Action:  Proverbs 3:5 teaches us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, and lean not on our own understanding.  In our own understanding, it may look like God does not love or care about what is going on, but that is not God’s character.  God has loved us greatly, to the point that He sent His Son to die to redeem us from sin.  If God was willing to give His Son for our souls, why would He abandon us sit idly by while chaos occurs?  Look to the manger where He was born, look to the cross where He died, and look to the empty tomb where He resurrected; look to Christ, and remember how greatly God has loved you.  Place your faith in the steadfast love of the Lord, and may your heart be filled with His peace.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

Posted
AuthorLarkin Sumerlin