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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: National Day of Prayer

Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

Prayer brings people together. Prayer builds bridges between opposing persons and even political parties. Prayer reminds us that we are created in God’s image and He desires for us to represent Him everywhere we go. Prayer brings UNITY. In 2018, our theme was Pray for America – UNITY, based upon Ephesians 4:3 which challenges us to mobilize unified public prayer for America, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Christians from across denominations came together in Lampasas Thursday to pray for our city, state, and nation. It is wonderful for us to gather united in prayer once a year; however, prayer is a daily privilege for the believer. We have the awesome blessing to go before the throne of God anytime. Jesus intercedes for us and the Holy Spirit lives in us always.

Today’s passage in Ephesians 4 emphasizes unity in the body of Christ. We ultimately do not follow a bishop, cardinal, council, deacon, elder, pastor, priest, or pope. Jesus is the head of the worldwide body of believers who have called upon Him as Savior and Lord. Paul reminds us to be completely humble and gentle. Jesus is perfect and always right but we are not. We are to listen actively to others, pay attention to our critics, and learn from other Christians from throughout history and around the world.

Paul instructed us to be patient and loving. Patience is not a virtue in the United States today. People want to promote quickly at work, watch television and movies at anytime, eat at fast food restaurants, expect to get great abs in seven minutes a day, find their future mate at the click of a button, and get almost any product in the mail in two days. We can even find a mammoth amount of information with a quick search on Google.

On the other hand, God matures us over years. Love takes time. Lust is about getting what we want now without investing in a relationship. Greed is about getting rich quickly and without ethics. Love is about looking past the faults of others and putting their needs first.

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Gentleness, humility, patience, and love promote unity. If we follow the Beatitudes and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit we will be unified. We are all ambassadors for Christ. We are all citizens of Heaven. We are all witnesses to the world. We all worship the same God in a multitude of languages and with an array of musical instruments. We are one in the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

Prayer for Unity
by Carl K. Moeddel

One only Holy Spirit of Father and Son in whom all are baptized, one giver of many gifts, one tree of many fruits, one speaker of every tongue, renew in our day the wonders of Pentecost, grant that people of every race and nation may understand one another, and as one, proclaim the praises of God.

Grant that all may be one as you, Spirit, with the Father and the Son are one God, one Lord. Grant unity to the Body of Christ. Amen.2

Pastor Nathan

Nate’s Notes: Get Rid of It

by CCCLampasas

James 1:1921 NIV My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

D’Ann and I recently adopted a wonderful dog named Maddie. In her first two weeks with us, we gave her five baths, trimmed her hair, and removed grass burrs from her. No matter how hard we try, she will not stay clean. No matter what I do, she is never completely clean. After I give her a bath, Maddie will roll around on the rug trying to get dry. She stirs up dust and gets dirtier.

Notice in verse 21 that evil is prevalent. It is common.  No matter how hard we try in this life,  we can not completely get rid of the presence of evil in our lives or in the world around us  There is nothing new under the sun according to the writer of Ecclesiastes. Ancient Israel and then the church had to oppose widespread evil and wickedness.

James instructs us to take no prisoners and to fight with all of our might against evil. We are not to compare ourselves with others. We should not rationalize our wickedness. There is no excuse for sin. We cannot blame our own shortcomings on our cultures, families, personalities, incomes, or ignorance. The buck stops with us. No one can hide from God, and the Lord sees through our justifications.

Paul agrees with James on how to deal with evil.

Colossians 3:5  NIV  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Ephesians 5:11-12 NIV Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

We are also to humbly accept the word planted in us. We are not the answer. We do not overcome evil through our own goodness, intelligence, or strength. In a world that worships celebrities and wealth, humility is often not seen as a virtue. However, it is the first step to acknowledging that we need Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We need the Holy Spirit and Scripture. The Devil does not fear us, but Satan cannot overcome the power of Jesus, the Son of God.

The word is planted in us.  It is planted and allowed to grow like a seed planted in the ground. We are to humbly accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we mature in Christ, sin has less and less of a hold over us. As we meditate on Scripture we gain insight and wisdom.

Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Prayer:  Lord, having opened my eyes to wonder and reminded me of the sufficiency of grace, produce genuine change in my life. Father allow the seeds from Scripture to bear real, noticeable fruit in tangible acts of sacrificial love for others. In the holy name of Jesus we pray, amen. 1

Nathan
Source:

  1. Mathis, David, Four Prayers for Bible Reading

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.