Wednesday, May 27, 2020

God Our King


“But when you were afraid of Nahash, the king of Ammon, you came to me and said that you wanted a king to reign over you, even though the Lord your God was already your king.
 (1 Samuel 12:12 NLT)
King Saul-Israel asked for a king.

Israel asked Samuel, the Prophet, for a king.  God granted them their request even though it was not His first choice. Saul became their King.  Whenever we substitute a king or any form of government for God, we always end up disappointed.  God is our only King.

In times of national disaster, like COVID-19, we can turn to the government instead of God.  In our scriptural reference, Nahash, the King of the Ammonites, was threatening Israel.  It was a time of national calamity similar to the havoc of the Coronavirus today.  Israel wanted the traditional means of security.  They desired a king with his armies to protect them, and God had a different preference.  He wanted to be their security.

In times of national distress, we can initiate short-term solutions to a problem that can create long-range difficulties. These answers can become more problematic than the original issue we were trying to solve.  Saul, who initially had some success as their King, eventually became a disappointment and disgrace to Israel. Anytime we try to replace the Creator with the creature, it does not end up well.

As Christians, we should never allow our government to become our ultimate security.  Stop-gap measures from those in authority are sometimes necessary, yet currently, policy proposals during this pandemic threaten to enslave us to the state.  Israel chose to put their hope in a political leader instead of a religious one, God.  Our only hope is that God is our King.

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.
 
Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com




Monday, May 11, 2020

The Valley of the Shadow of Death


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NASB)
David's staff comforted him.

The Coronavirus has us all living in the shadow of death.  Physical death is a reality, but living in the shadow of it can be far more alarming.

We all live from the time of our birth, with or without the virus, in the shadow of death.  We can be here today and gone tomorrow.  The virus has just brought that to the forefront of our conscious awareness.  The Bible does not seek to get us to deny reality, but to live victoriously in it.

A shadow has never killed anyone, but it can enslave you. David feared no evil because he knew that God was with him. He understood that goodness and mercy would follow him all the days of his life (v.6a).  He believed that when the eventuality of his physical demise would come upon him, he will live in the house of the Lord forever (v.6b). What is there to fear about this?  For Christians, death has lost its power over us.

David’s rod warded off the attacks of wild animals.  God’s rod, a metaphor for the Word of God, comforted David.  Who are you listening to today?  Are you hearing only voices that lead you to believe that God has forsaken you?  Or, the Good Sheppard’s voice that says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you “(Hebrews 13:5b). 

I can quarantine you that if you believe, trust, and rely on God and His Word, even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death of COVID-19, you will fear no evil.




Thursday, May 7, 2020

Adding or Subtracting from God's Word


Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you. (Deuteronomy 4:2 NLT)

God’s Word is never up for revision.  Moses warned his people to never add to or take away from God’s instructions.  It is never wise to do mathematical calculations with His Word.

In times of trial, we often try to make God’s Word fit into our theological box, instead of conforming our lives to the precepts of the Word of God.  To accomplish this, we have to add to or take away from God’s explicit instructions.  God’s Word has great value to us if accompanied by obedience.  God is not looking for hearers of His words, but doers of them

The path of disobedience tries to make the Bible say more than its clear instruction or less than it means.  Adding to what God has said leads to legalism.  We have rules and regulations that may be described in the Scripture but are not prescribed for universal application.  If we don’t consider the context and the culture in which the commands are written, we can make the Scripture say more than intended.  Conversely, taking away from God’s Word, leads to liberalism.  If God’s commands make us uncomfortable, we ignore parts of His instruction, permitting us to practice things that are expressly forbidden in the Bible. 

Obedience is always the prerequisite for understanding God’s Word.  It is not that we can’t understand it, it’s that we won’t.  The Word of God should change us, and not us try to change it. Small changes to God’s Word leads to large-scale apostasy. Disobedience always leads to adding or subtracting from the Bible.

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com


Friday, May 1, 2020

The God of My Salvation


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! (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT)

The Prophet Habakkuk
If the Prophet Habakkuk had written his thoughts today in the Coronavirus Pandemic, he might have said that the shops and restaurants are empty as the crops lie rotting in the fields.  Or the factories and offices remain silent as millions are out of work. Fear and anxiety haunt our people.  If this scourge happens to touch my person or provision, I wonder if I will respond like Habakkuk did?

The Prophet painted a pretty bleak picture in the early part of this book (Ch.1.2).  He even complained a bit (Ch.1.13).  Nonetheless, Habakkuk got perspective. By listening instead of talking, he saw the big picture (Ch.2.1).  He started to look at his present circumstances with the backdrop of God’s sovereign purposes (Ch.2.14).  By rationally and honestly evaluating his situation, he concluded that God always has a plan.  God may not have caused this pandemic, but he did allow it and he is a God that can bring light out of darkness.  God is still on the throne.

It is a trait of human nature to avoid problems rather than go through them.  The Bible says that “it rains on the just as well as the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).  What if this plague will bring sickness or economic disaster on me; how will I react?  I will not speculate on what I do not know. My hope is that, if necessary, I will be found rejoicing in the God of my salvation.

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.
















Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gravity Wins


Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)

I am seventy-four years old, and a few years back, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I realized that gravity wins. 

In recent decades, I have tried to live a healthy lifestyle.  I used to jog, and now I walk.  I ride my bike in the warmer seasons of the year.  I have tried to eat a healthy diet, with a few exceptions.
I have never met a doughnut I didn’t like. Diet and exercise can slow the process, but as the preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us; eventually, we all go the way of all flesh.

In verses 2-7, the writer of the book describes to us the decline that takes place in our advanced years. You have probably heard about the octogenarian who once said, “there are three things that happen to you when you get old.  You lose your eyesight and hearing; I can’t remember what the third one is.”  No one wants to talk about their mortality, but what the Bible speaks about, we should be able to converse about also.

The reason we may not like to think about our mortality is that we do not really believe what the Bible says about our immortality.  Jesus said that if we believe in him, we will never die (John 11:16).  This verse ends with a question, “Do you believe this?”  If we trust Christ, why do we cling to this life more than we should? 

Gravity does win, yet, our eternal spirit never ages.  If we refuse to believe in the words of Jesus, we will neither live well nor die well.

The image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com


Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Pilgrimage


What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
(Psalms 84:5 NLT)

Those who have their mindset on a pilgrimage are able to come through the ups and downs of the Christian life stronger than ever.

Our Spiritual Journey
The life of a believer in Christ is not a sprint, but a marathon.  Someone once said that the problem with the Christian life is that it is every day.  The victorious life in Christ is not won primarily on the mountaintop, but in the consistent and faithful decisions we make in our everyday lives.  God provides us with mountaintop experiences to motivate us onward, but it’s the mundane and almost imperceptible choices that keep us on the path to our eternal reward.

I once had a friend who owned a small airplane who told me he always took off into the wind. He said it was the thrust of his engine against the wind that gave the lift to make his aircraft airborne.  In ancient Israel, people made pilgrimages to Jerusalem.  They often experienced danger and hardships on their journey.  It will much the same for you and me in our spiritual journey.  We will sometimes pass through the “Valley of Weeping” (v.6), yet, God promises to make us stronger (v.7) if we keep our eyes on the prize.

Israel desired to arrive at Zion, their Holy City, which enabled them to endure the perils of the journey.  Perceptive is everything.  If you and I keep our minds and hearts inclined toward Christ, the mountains will seem less daunting and the valleys less imposing.  God will grant us the strength and endurance for the pilgrimage to Heaven, our Eternal City.  

The image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com





Sunday, April 12, 2020

He Is Risen


Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. (Matthew 28:1 NLT)

The Tomb Couldn't Hold Him
Where were his disciples?  They were locked behind closed doors to ensure the same thing that happened to Jesus would not happen to them.  They were weak and afraid.

Peter, who had boldly proclaimed that he would not forsake Christ even unto death, had just denied him three times.  His closest followers, people like you and me, at times lacked courage and strength.  Yet, I must remind you that all his disciples, save John who was exiled to an island and Judas who betrayed him, were martyred for their faith in Christ.

What brought about these bold transformations?  I suggest to you it was Christ’s resurrection.  Through Christ’s death and his resurrection, He defeated sin and death.  With these two things eliminated, for a believer in Christ, there nothing left of any significance to fear.

This Easter Sunday, we proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  

The image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com