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My God, My God

Toward the end of Christ?s life, references to the Psalms became more frequent. There are nine quotations in the Passion story. After His triumphal entry to Jerusalem, He cries over the city that lost its ?peace? (Luke 19:42), quoting from Psalm 122:7, 8 (Jesus follows the Greek Septuagint here), before he restores peace to the temple by cleansing it. Then praise, teaching, and healing return to its precincts (Luke 19:43?46; Matthew 21:12?14).

And then there is Psalm 22, the poem that describes Christ?s last moments in the most intense way, detailing the circumstances that accompanied the crucifixion scene (see above). Twice, Jesus utters words from the Psalms: from Psalm 31:5 (Luke 23:46) just before His death, and before that, the desperate cry of abandonment from the beginning of Psalm 22, a cry the Gospels record in Aramaic, the spoken language in Jesus? day, followed by the translation: ?And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ?Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?? that is, ?My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?? ? (Matthew 27:46).

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Restoration: The Goal of Jesus' Life

Jesus? goal is to restore, through the gospel, His image in humanity. This restoration includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. In John 10:10 Jesus reveals His plan for each one of us: ?The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.? The devil wants to destroy our health, and Jesus wants to restore our health. The devil wants to discourage us, but Jesus wants to encourage us. The devil wants to tear us down, but Jesus wants to build us up. The devil wants us to be sick; Jesus wants us to be healthy. Jesus is interested in the whole person. He longs for us to be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally stable, and spiritually well. This is especially true in the light of His soon return.

Our first parents lived in a world free of stress, anxiety, and disease. Peace and happiness walked through the land together. Their hearts were filled with love for God and for one another. It is God?s intent that we discover principles from Eden to guide our lives today. Creation was not simply an act of God millenniums ago. It was a model for us in how to live today. God is not interested only in our spiritual health. He is interested in our physical and emotional health as well. There is a close relationship between our physical and spiritual well-being. The apostle John states it succinctly: ?Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers? (3 John 2).

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The Sin Problem

The emphasis on a godly life and the fight against sin are sometimes presented as the great objective of the spiritual journey. Some will argue the centrality of a relationship with Jesus as a one-size-fits-all formula for spiritual victory. We have created a false dichotomy of faith versus works that has caused immense strife in Christian circles. Falsehoods inhabit both extremes. An emphasis on grace is sometimes used to cover an immature and ineffective Christian experience. At the other end of the spectrum, a message of faith plus works celebrates human religious achievement at the expense of minimizing our total dependence on the work of the Spirit in our lives.

The great truth of human existence, taught by the sanctuary services in the Old Testament and the supreme sacrifice of Christ in the New, is that we are unable to purify ourselves. We have no human solution for our sins. Our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and our thoughts and actions are contaminated by our selfishness and inability to truly love others.

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Learn to Hear the Sweeter Song

Start your day at Jesus? feet and stay with Him all day! That?s your only safety! You wouldn?t fight a physical battle if you hadn?t taken your bodyguard with you, or if you hadn?t eaten food to give you strength. Yet how often we try to fight our spiritual battles each day on empty spiritual stomachs and with no heavenly bodyguard around? And we wonder why God isn?t working and why our ship keeps getting dashed to pieces on the rocks of sin. We must have time in God?s Word and time in prayer. We must have time at Jesus? feet if we hope to hear the sweeter song of heaven and have victory against the alluring temptations of the enemy.

As you spend time with Jesus, drink deeply of the Living Water. Dig deeply in His Word, and learn what it means to really pray.  

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A God of Paradoxes

Understanding God?s will for your life isn?t an exact science. I would love to give you a three-step plan to figure out God?s will for every big life decision, but that?s not how God works. Our God is a God of seeming paradoxes: surrender and freedom, our passion and His will, waiting on Him or moving forward. The answer is going to be found in a balance of all these things?a harmony between opposites. But there is beauty in the nuance. The beauty lies in the fact that if you truly want to know God?s will?if you want to learn to hear His voice?you must know Him. God could have given us a formula, but formulas and true love don?t mix well.

Here is a challenge: seek God every day. Ask Him to guide you, and watch your life start to change. Be ready for ambiguity, uncertainty, and walking in circles. Be ready to be scared. Be ready to step out of the boat into deep water, unsure whether you will walk or sink. Keep your eyes on Jesus no matter what, and remember: when Jesus is in control, you aren?t powerful enough to mess up His will. Be ready for an adventure better than anything you could have dreamed up. I promise: you won?t be disappointed.

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Finding Our People

Connection lies around the corner when we embrace the challenges knocking on our hearts. When we step out in faith, embracing the call to make our dreams real, we go to new spaces. We meet people in these spaces that want the best for us. When we unleash ourselves from fear, there is room for others by our side.

When we answer the call lying on our hearts, we find our people. We start showing up and taking steps toward our visions, and there we meet others chasing similar visions. We go in the same direction and share our food when we get tired. Maybe our paths split, and we say goodbye for now. Or for later, too. It is not always fun; there may be no five-star hotel with a vacancy. But a good life is about more than comfort. A livable life is about doing what we fear in the present to create a future that does not scare us.

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Thy Word

The Saviour overcame to show man how he may overcome. All the temptations of Satan, Christ met with the word of God. By trusting in God?s promises, He received power to obey God?s commandments, and the tempter could gain no advantage. To every temptation His answer was, ?It is written.? So God has given us His word wherewith to resist evil. Exceeding great and precious promises are ours, that by these we ?might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.? 2 Peter 1:4.

Bid the tempted one look not to circumstances, to the weakness of self, or to the power of temptation, but to the power of God?s word. All its strength is ours. ?Thy word,? says the psalmist, ?have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.? Psalm 119:11.?The Ministry of Healing, p. 181.

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Wisdom for Righteous Living

Torah, in the modern Christian mindset, is often confined to the Ten Commandments because the Hebrew word torah is usually translated as ?law? in the Old Testament. However, the Hebrew noun comes from the verb yarah, meaning ?to teach, instruct,? and refers to the sum of God?s instructions as found in the Scriptures. This is often likened to parental instruction, and the book of Proverbs, belonging to the so-called wisdom books of the Old Testament, uses the father-son relationship of instruction as a paradigm for wisdom. The Hebrew phrase beni (?my son?) occurs twenty-two times in Proverbs, especially in the first seven chapters (Proverbs 1:8, 10, 15; 2:1; 3:1, 11, 21; 4:10, 20; 5:1, 20; 6:1, 3, 20; 7:1; 19:27; 23:15, 19, 26; 24:13, 21; 27:11; 31:2), and the paternal instruction leads to true wisdom:

?Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,

And the years of your life will be many.

I have taught you in the way of wisdom;

I have led you in right paths? (Proverbs 4:10, 11; emphasis added).

Biblical wisdom is not cognitive ability, and the corresponding Hebrew word khokmah ?does not belong to the realm of theoretical knowledge or philosophy but rather refers to a proper understanding of the basic realities of life and God?s dealings with humanity and the human role as moral agents.? Thus, biblical wisdom is making decisions based on divine fatherly instruction between morally right or wrong choices, between the ?way of the righteous? and the ?way of the ungodly? (Psalm 1:6).

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Nebuchadnezzar challenges God

The difference between the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream and the one he erected on the plain of Dura is obvious. The statue the king saw in his dream had a golden head, but the rest of it was made up of silver, bronze, iron, and clay. The statue the king set up was all gold. The statement Nebuchadnezzar was making was also obvious. Babylon would last forever; no other kingdoms would take its place. Daniel had told the king that the stone he saw in his dream represented God?s everlasting kingdom, which would supersede all the kingdoms of the earth. But Nebuchadnezzar didn?t want to accept that. God had given him a message in a dream. He had been impressed at the time, but now he determined not to accept it. The statue in Daniel 2 was God?s statue. The statue in chapter 3 was Nebuchadnezzar?s statue. One was God?s accurate description of the future. The other was a man?s expression of rebellion and resistance to God?s will.

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Trust the Word

Psalm 34:8 employs wonderful imagery; we must not merely look at God?s Word but taste it for ourselves. ?The surest proof of religion is found in personal experience. Without Christian experience the religion of Christ is only theory, and as mere theory it has no saving power.? Having experienced salvation, you are to awaken others to taste the goodness of the Lord.

Verse 14 is instructional for all who would live a Spirit-filled life: ?Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.? How much better this world would be if everyone pursued peace! ?Christian living is both negative and positive; we must go away from evil, and we must do good. Merely refraining from evil is not enough. We must be active in doing good.?4 Christians are not free from this world?s trials and afflictions (v. 19), but hope in the Lord gives endurance. Christ also suffered. Verse 20 is a prophetic vision of His crucifixion.

??Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, / Just to take Him at His word.?

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Why a Shepherd?

Sheep must be led; they cannot be driven. Sheep are defenseless against predators and must be guarded. Sheep wander off and must be found and returned to the safety of the flock. Sheep often follow one another blindly into difficulty. But sheep will recognize the voice of their shepherd and follow his direction. These?and lessons of equal importance?prepared both Moses and David to deal with people who, more often than not, mimic sheep in their behavior.

?As humble and modest as before his anointing, the shepherd boy returned to the hills and watched and guarded his flocks as tenderly as ever.?

?The communion with nature and with God, the care of his flocks, the perils and deliverances, the griefs and joys, of his lowly lot, were not only to mold the character of David and to influence his future life, but through the psalms of Israel?s sweet singer they were in all coming ages to kindle love and faith in the hearts of God?s people, bringing them nearer to the ever-loving heart of Him in whom all His creatures live.?

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Saul?A New Man

?God was ready to transform Saul?s vision, ambition, and aspirations in such a way that the things of God would become to him the all-important issues of life. . . . God first answered the plea for personal guidance, and then invited Saul to accept His guidance in matters that affected the welfare of the entire nation. So it is today. God takes men where He finds them and invites them to fulfill His own glorious plan for their lives.?

?The reality of the transformation becomes apparent as changes occur in the thoughts, the habits, the life. Old things pass away; all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17). But it must be remembered that such a change becomes permanent only with the daily reaffirmation of the choice thus made. . . . How many men, today as in ancient times, wear the badge, ?might-have-been.??

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