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Nate’s Notes: The Lord Gives and Takes Away

by CCCLampasas

Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Job 1:21 and said: “Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Helen Adams Keller, who lived from June 27, 1880 to June 1, 1968, was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. She learned to “hear” people’s speech by reading their lips with her hands—her sense of touch had become extremely subtle. She became proficient at using braille and reading sign language with her hands as well.

In 1890, Keller began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. She would toil for 25 years to learn to speak so that others could understand her. From 1894 to 1896, she attended the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. There, she worked on improving her communication skills and studied regular academic subjects. Around this time, Keller became determined to attend college. In 1896, she attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a preparatory school for women.  In 1946, Keller was appointed counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind. Between 1946 and 1957, she traveled to 35 countries on five continents.

It is hard to imagine a tougher life of suffering than to be born both deaf and blind. Hellen Keller looked at life in the proper way:

Helen Keller stated: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Job had wealth, status, a large family, and land. He faithfully served the Lord and even during incredible suffering, Job remained faithful. His wife told Job to curse God and die. His friends, instead of comforting Job, accused him of sinning against God. The Lord remained the one constant through Job’s trials. Even when he could not understand Yahweh’s actions or sense His presence, Job endured.

The writer of Ecclesiastes also understood that the Lord gives and takes away.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  1 There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up,  a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend,  a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate,  a time for war and a time for peace. 

There are seasons in life when we are on the mountain tops and times when we are in the valleys. Hellen Keller knew suffering her entire life but she did not let her problems master her or control her destiny. No matter what season of life you are in, the Good Shepherd guides and loves you. For God so loved you, that he sent Jesus to live a perfect life, die a cruel death, rise from the grave, and ascend to the Father in glory.

Charles Spurgeon remarked in his sermon A Happy Christian:

The worldly blesses God while he gives him plenty, but the Christian blesses him when he smites him: he believes him to be too wise to err and too good to be unkind; he trusts him where he cannot trace him, looks up to him in the darkest hour, and believes that all is well. (Suprgon, Charles H. A Happy Christian. MTP 13:103)

All is well because we know who holds the future. All is well because of our relationship with the Triune God. We can experience true joy, true love, and true peace in Christ. Job completed our passage by stating in faith: praise the Lord! No matter what is happening in your life, praise the Lord!

Prayer:

Father,  We so often do not understand our suffering but we praise you regardless of our circumstances. May we have the faith to realize that You are greater than any problems we will experience. May we realize that You know our future and that You will create a new heavens and a new earth. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, amen.

 Pastor Nathan

Nate’s Notes: Abundant Goodness

by CCCLampasas

Photo Credit: Creation Swap

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19 New International Version

We are so blessed that the Lord’s goodness is not budgeted, earned, or limited. Yahweh’s abundant grace is available for those who through faith take refuge in Him. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. We cannot do anything to earn it.

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7 New International Version

The Lord is our refuge, our fortress. The Father is so good to us that He is our creator, protector, and sustainer. The Father’s angels also aid Him in looking out for His children.

Perhaps the greatest fortification in history is the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

Home of NORAD, which monitors pretty much everything in North American airspace, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex uses the mountains around Colorado Springs as fortification. Sitting inside a hollowed-out space in the mountains, the air defense system reached the height of its mystique during the Cold War when it opened in 1967. Its 25-ton blast doors are embedded within the 1,700 feet of granite.

Described as the most secure place on the planet, not even NORAD compares to the protection provided by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Psalm 25:6-7  New International Version

The Psalmist addresses God as Yahweh, His covenant name. This is not someone calling on God in a general sense or guessing at who might be God. He is using the name given to Moses by God. The Lord Himself says that the Israelites are to address him this way.

The Psalmist refers to the Lord protecting him from the false words and accusations of his enemies. No matter who opposes us including Satan, the Lord shields those who are faithful to Him.

What is our role in the Lord’s blessing and protection? We are not passive participants. We should admit they we cannot thrive by our own strength or wisdom. We seek shelter in the Lord. There is no place for arrogance. Christians humbly seek God and praise His holy name.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 New International Version

Prayer: (Based on Psalm 91)

Father,

May we dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in your shadow. You are our refuge and fortress. We trust in You and seek protection under Your mighty wings. In the holy name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Nathan

Nate’s Notes: The Fool and the Mocker

by CCCLampasas

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

Following a dispute, Craig Aylesworth, of Bithlo, Florida, allegedly tossed a Molotov Cocktail at his neighbor’s trailer home … just as the winds shifted, sending embers on to his own trailer. Luckily, he was arrested, since this dumb criminal no longer had a home of his own. 1

An El Paso, Texas, man busted into a church and stole the safe. Safes are heavy, so he only got a few yards before dropping it on a neighbor’s lawn, where he tried to crack it open. That’s when he was confronted by the home’s occupant—a police officer. 2

Foolishness is not a new problem. Writers in both the Old and Testament contrasted wisdom with foolishness. A mocker is one example of a fool. Timothy Keller notices the following about fools and mockers in Psalm 1:1.

Three kinds of fools are mentioned in this verse. The mockers (Hebrew lesim) prove it is not mental capacity but attitude that determines whether we become wise or foolish. At the root of mockers’ character is a high pride that hates submitting to anyone (21:24). Their strategy is to debunk everything, acting very smug and knowing in the process. Mockers, though fools, appear to most eyes as worldly-wise and highly sophisticated. 3

Psalm 1 is considered a wisdom Psalm. It contrasts the  way of the godly or wise and the path of the wicked or foolish. Please note that intelligence and wisdom are two different qualities. Someone can be both intelligent and make foolish choices. Many people who mock and ridicule others are smart people. We are surrounded by a cynical culture that has largely lost faith in our political and religious institutions. Social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, is often filled with hatred. Christianity is mocked in college classrooms, on television, and in the workplace. It is one thing to mock evil behavior such as Elijah making fun of the prophets of Baal. Jesus repeatedly criticized the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. However, the Lord warns that He will not be mocked. There will be a time when every knee will bow to Christ. God is the righteous judge.

The Proverbs echo the Psalms’ emphasis on wisdom.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Prayer: 

Father,

Guide us into wisdom. May we seek understanding and knowledge found only in You. May Your Spirit fill us and the love of Christ compel us to love and serve others. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Nathan
Pastor Nathan

Sources:

  1. My News Orlando available online cfnews13.com. Accessed 14 April 2018.
  2. Journal Star available online http://www.pjstar.com/. Accessed 14 April 2018.
  3. Timothy and Kathy Keller. Reading the Proverbs with Timothy and Kathy Keller.

Nate’s Notes: Stay Frosty

by CCCLampasas

By US Air Force from USA (JTACs stay frosty) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV  Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Ephesians 6:18 NIV With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Stay frosty is a term used by the military and found in movie and television dialogue. It means to stay alert and calm. It is opposite of melting under pressure. A soldier might tell a fellow soldier to stay frosty to remind them to stay safe. It means to not panic or get too comfortable. The term became well known because of a line from the movie Aliens. Corporal Hicks knowing his soldiers could die at any moment said, “We’re all in strung out shape, but stay frosty, and alert.”

Because of the threats from our flesh, Satan, and the world; Christ followers must also be vigilant.  How do Christians stay calm and alert? From 1 Corinthians 16:13 we learn from Paul that we should stand firm in the faith. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. In addition, we need to have a lifestyle that consists of reliance on the firm foundation of Jesus. Our Savior is the cornerstone of our lives. Nothing is more vital to us than the Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit.

We are to act like men and be strong. Of course, there are also many women who are powerful in Christ. Whether female or male, we are to act like transformed adults. Paul tells us to fight the good fight with honor and power: we do not battle in vain. We are mighty through the Spirit.

Not only are we to be fierce, Paul reminds us to pray continually in Ephesians 6:18. This means to have a prayerful attitude daily, deepening our relationship to God, and interceding for others. We are to pray through the Spirit. We call out to the Father, in the name of the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. In prayer we find community with the Triune God. No relationship in our lives is more paramount than our relationship with the Lord.

Paul also prompts us to persevere. This trait is vital for the believer. So many people start their Christian lives on fire. They often pray, read Scripture, worship, and witness. Huge crowds would follow Jesus; however, many followers would fall away at His hard sayings. Paul often reminded the churches to endure in difficult times.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Stay frosty my friends. We run this race together and all of us need to press on until we reach the finish line. This life is a battle but rejoice because Jesus has already won the victory over death, sin, and Lucifer. Hallelujah! Our God reigns!

Excerpt from the hymn Our God Reigns  by Leonard E Smith:

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him
Who brings good news, good news,
Announcing peace proclaiming
News of happiness.
Our God reigns our God reigns!

Chorus:
Our God reigns!  Our God reigns!
Our God reigns! Our God reigns!

Prayer: Almighty God we praise You for Your mercy and protection. May we stay alert equipped with the armor of God and bathed in your grace, hope, and love. May we be faithful in our prayer life and our walk with You. In the victorious name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

Nathan

Nate’s Notes” The Deadly Dance

by CCCLampasas

Source: Lumo Project

Matthew 14:6-11 NIV  6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.

Reader’s Digest held a contest asking for weird family stories. It included a couple of my favorite responses.

It was a typical noisy dinner at my parents’ home, and Dad was having trouble following the conversations. He kept jumping in with off-topic comments and asking for things to be repeated. I finally told him he needed to get a hearing aid.

Looking at me as if I were crazy, he said, “What would I do with a hand grenade?” — Pat Tornatore, St. Louis, Missouri

Can you play with me?” my preschooler asked.

“Not now,” I said. “I have too much work to do around the house.”

Taking my hand, and with the wisdom of one who has lived many a lifetime, he said, “Mom, I have advice for you. When people tell me to do work, I don’t listen to them. Then I don’t have work to do. It works for me. You should try it.” — A. Caldwell, Farmington, New Mexico

Tragically, the odd Herod family was a deadly threat to God’s servants. The son of Herod the Great was Herod Antipas, who was referred to as Herod the tetrarch (Matthew 14:1; Luke 3:1). A tetrarch is someone who governs a fourth part of a kingdom. His father, Herod the Great, divided his large kingdom into four parts and gave them to his sons, an action confirmed by the Roman senate.

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great, the half-brothers of Aristobulus (of which Herodias was his daughter) and Philip. He was the brother-in-law and half-uncle to Herodias and a half-great uncle to Salome. If that wasn’t confusing enough then Herod Antipas, one of three Tetrarchs (his brothers being the other two), stole Herodias from Philip and divorced his wife who was the daughter of the King of Petra, Aretas IV. It was for this reason that John the Baptist confronted Herod Antipas for his adultery!

Antipas was a pathetic and weak man who – at the request of his soon-to-be mistress “Salome” (his step-daughter) carried out her demand (originating from her mother Herodias) to murder John the Baptist.

Herod Antipas cared about his pleasure and did not consider God, his leadership responsibilities, or his roles as a husband and father. We all have a temptation to live for ourselves and our own desires over our responsibilities. Salome used her beauty, charm, and grace for selfish and wicked pursuits. Herodias lost control of her anger and plotted to murder an innocent man. Herod, Herodias, and Salome killed a prophet for worldly goals such as lust, power, and revenge.

How do we resist these pitfalls? What is the best way for us to defend our families?

Luke 22:39-40 NIV  39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Like so many other issues in life, Jesus taught the crowds and the disciples about the fundamental importance of calling on the Lord. We even read in the Lord’s Prayer that we are to call upon the Father “to lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)

Prayer: Holy Father please grant us the faith, strength, and wisdom to week you in prayer whenever we are tempted. Assist us in strengthening our families to avoid the errors of the Herods. May they be a warning to us, and may we develop relationships with other Christians who will help us develop a deeper walk with You, a deeper love for our families, and a merciful attitude when dealing with others. In the name of the Good Shepherd we pray, amen.

Pastor Nathan