Being part of God’s plan

Good Monday Morning to this week 48/2018

I delight greatly in the Lord my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness. Isaiah 61.10a

This past Sunday I was honored to speak in wonderful church in Segbe, Lomé. Speaking about being important in the plan of God we looked at Jochebed, the mother of Moses.
Her courage to give away her son twice laid the path for Moses to grow up and lead Israel out of exile. She applied the following quote: If God asks you to give up something, trust him and release it.  Shortly after the sermon, there was a dedication of a newborn then following was a prayer for a widow in mourning. Before the prayer she received new clothes, was accompanied outside to put them on, with the new clothes she returned and received the prayer of the pastor and the elders. There was something very beautiful and graceful in this.

Scripture uses metaphor all the time in order to illustrate spiritual concepts and one such metaphor is clothing. This metaphor can be easy to miss because there are also many instances in Scripture where clothing means exactly that: literal clothing. However, careful reading reveals that clothing is a frequent biblical metaphor and as such it is rich with meaning. Therefore, it is critical us to recognize the instances where this metaphor appears and to understand its implications. First, let us look at one Old Testament instances of the use of clothing as a metaphor.

After the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, we again find clothing being cleansed prior to making a covenant with God:

When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. Exodus 19:10-14

God told the people of Israel to wash their garments as part of the preparation for His arrival at Mount Sinai and for the establishment of the Covenant of Moses. Without clean garments which symbolized their right standing, the covenant could not have been established.

Then once the Mosaic Covenant was established, we find extensive and repeated instructions regarding the clothing of the priests.

In Zechariah, we read the account of Joshua the high priest whose filthy garments are removed from him and he is left standing in “pure vestments.” In the midst of this clothing change, Joshua is told by the angel of the Lord that his iniquity has been taken away from him. Once his clothes are pure, symbolizing the removal of his iniquity, God says to him:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. – Zechariah 3:6-7

While his garments were filthy, Joshua could have no relationship with God. Once his garments were cleansed, God granted him access as long as he walked in God’s ways.

The function and scope of the clothing metaphor symbolizing one’s standing with God finds even greater evidence in the New Testament.

Clothing as a picture of one’s standing before God in the New Testament.

One of the first mentions of clothing as representative of something truly important occurs in the parable of the wedding feast. Here, Christ tells of a man in attendance at the wedding, but when the host spotted him, he orders the man to be thrown out into outer darkness for apparently no other reason than that he was without a wedding garment (Matthew 22:1-14). Clearly, a right standing was required to attend the feast and this wedding garment was essential to that right standing.

In Corinthians, Paul further connects the dots of the clothing metaphor when he writes:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Paul’s point was not that the Corinthians needed physical clothing of some kind, rather he was telling them to make sure that they were in a right standing with God.

The metaphor of garments as representative of one’s standing with God is carried on into Revelation where we find a host of allusions to garments, clothing or robes. As a result, is in the book of Revelation where the clothing metaphor finds its fullest expression.

Clearly, the state of one’s clothing is a big deal in the book of Revelation. It also becomes easy to understand the picture given to us in Genesis 3: the clothing worn by Adam and Eve signified the atonement that had been made on their behalf and their restored standing with God. In Genesis, this clothing was necessary for entrance into a covenant with God. In Revelation, one must be clothed in a similar, though now even more clearly metaphorical garment.

Isaiah 61:3 – To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

I wish you “new clothes” this week, as you seek Him and are confirmed of your “standing” with the God Almighty.

Stay blessed!
Philemon

 

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The ability to spring back

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Good Monday Morning to this week 47/2018

The scientific study of resilience shows how to increase our chances of recovering from challenges. These principles are related to biblical perseverance.

An important conclusion from scientific studies is that resilience or perseverance is a skill that can be learned through training. The Time article listed 10 “expert tips” for developing the skill of resilience. Let’s analyze these tips and see how each one correlates to fundamental biblical teachings.

Joseph can be thought of as a come-back king. His brothers planned to kill him because of jealousy over a prized garment, but they eventually sold him into slavery in Egypt. As the story is told in the Book of Genesis, Joseph worked for a man who placed him in jail in Egypt because of a lie. During this time in prison, Joseph interprets dreams for other convicts. The talent Joseph possesses leads him to the ruler, who was having dreams about a coming famine in the kingdom.

After interpreting the dream correctly, Joseph was given a position of great influence. He managed the agricultural efforts of Egypt and he was in charge of distributing food. Joseph’s brothers finally approach him after he ascended to his post. Ten years had passed, and Joseph’s brothers wanted food. He told them who he was, and Joseph forgave them for what they had done years earlier. His brothers and father move finally to Egypt to be with Joseph.

Joseph teaches us to recognize we can’t determine what the future may hold. Unforeseen circumstances and conditions make up our existence, including calamities and victories. We also can gather holding grudges does not produce happiness from this Biblical story. Joseph shows us an attitude of optimism should always be adhered to, even in dire situations. The story of Joseph reminds us to be hopeful and have faith when there is no reason to think our surroundings or state of being will improve, at least in our foreseeable future.

Here a few thoughts of by Rick Avent on Perseverance and Resilience:

1. Develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake.
The Bible goes a step further by emphasizing not just any core values but the specific values. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

2. Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened.
In a broader sense, our trials serve as a training program to help us see our weaknesses and grow. Job’s experience is an excellent example (James 5:11). David expressed it well: “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12, emphasis added throughout).

Peter recognized that resilience was among the key components signifying growth. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

3. Try to maintain a positive outlook.
A more suitable term than optimism is hope. Romans 5:1-5 summarizes the fullness of hope. God suggests a more coupled interaction that works both ways. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Here we see that perseverance (resilience) leads to hope (optimism).

Yet in Romans 8:25 we also see the reverse. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Here the scripture indicates that hope leads to resilience. A contradiction? No, but rather an indication that hope and resilience reinforce each other interchangeably as we learn and grow.

4. Take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
God goes a step further and asks us to also learn from the examples of those who failed (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).

5. Don’t run from things that scare you; face them.
This concept is consistent with how God expects us to not only examine ourselves and face our sins (2 Corinthians 13:5), but learn from them and change, repent and grow.

6. Be quick to reach out for support when things go haywire.
God has set up a dual-support system for us. First, He provides direct access to Him through prayer. Second He gives us the support of the Church through both individual relationships and prayers of the brethren. Reaching out through prayer can train our brains to react more calmly to stress, creating more resilience—a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).

7. Learn new things as often as you can.
This idea fits right in with the biblical admonitions to study and meditate.

8. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past.
Some simply can’t seem to move on from the past. Either they can’t forgive themselves, or they can’t forgive someone else. This is a huge impediment to resilience (Hebrews 12:15).

Forgiveness is central to the New Covenant. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is through forgiveness that we can put the past behind us and move on with our lives—an essential component of perseverance.

9. Find an exercise regimen you’ll stick to.
Paul sums it up well. “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things,.

10. Recognize what makes you uniquely strong—and own it.
Scientists tend to point toward an individual’s personal strengths as a key to resilience. Such strengths clearly can play a role. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

But what is it that makes us uniquely strong? Abraham had it. Moses had it. David had it. Daniel had it. Peter had it. Paul had it. The answer is faith.

Growing in perseverance
Scientists have concluded that resilience, or perseverance, is not a disposition or personality type. Rather, it is a skill set that can be learned, making it possible to not only endure trials but to thrive during and after them. We see this includes learning from biblical examples, self-examination, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, Bible study, meditation, hope and faith.

Applying these principles can make a major impact on how successful we are in conquering our trials and challenges.

I wish you a week of much “springing-back” as you do not become tired of doing good!

Philemon

 

Your love defends me

Chorus
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

Good Monday Morning to this week 46/2018

This song has been accompanied me throughout this weekend. I really like that aspect of God’s love, it’s not just a cozy, sweet-ish kind of romantic feeling, no it’s far more. God’s love defends us! Wow

This weekend’s featured and favorite song story comes from Matt Maher. Here is what he says to the song:  “Your Love Defends Me.”

“This song comes out of Psalm 91, and the idea of God being not a refuge, but our ONLY refuge. I think we can all relate to moments in our lives where who we were (or who we’ll become) comes crashing to the forefront of who we are, and all of a sudden there’s this fight happening inside for who gets control – the past or the future or the present moment now. Evil is in the business of accusation but God is in the business of raising up testimony – of who He is and what He’s done. This song talks about how God is a defender. How the love of God is not just a defense, but it’s really the only defense we have that can stand against the inconsistency of ourselves. It’s not our job to defend everything, uphold everything, protect everything. It’s His, his grace strengthens us, His love defends us. Matt Maher

Verse 1: 
You are my joy, You are my song
You are the well, the One I’m drawing from
You are my refuge, my whole life long
Where else would I go?

Verse 2: 
Day after day, night after night
I will remember, You’re with me in this fight
Although the battle, it rages on
The war already won
I know the war is already won

Bridge:
We sing Hallelujah
You’re my portion
My salvation
Hallelujah

Chorus 
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

God is your defense  …. 

Psalm 91: 14+15
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

 

and what He says about you is what matters!

Have a blessed week!
Philemon

Attached the youtube link:

 

A King’s Friend

Enjoying stories, legends, Jewish wisdom and further growing up in the Huli Tribe of Papua New Guinea, I enjoyed this legend and share it with you today!

Good Monday Morning to the week 45/2018

The King’s Friend
Based on an urban legend

Once there lived a gentile king who delighted in having an audience with a particular rabbi who lived in the kingdom’s capital. The two would converse on various subjects, and the rabbi’s acuity and sharp intellect amazed the king again and again. No one could compare in counsel and wisdom to the charming rabbi.

The king had a fascination with outings to the country, and he would invite the rabbi so that they could discuss the kingdom’s happenings.

The rabbi had a way of always weaving into the conversation the idea of, divine providence, constantly seeking to connect the unfolding events with God’s underlying presence and guiding hand.

The rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon.
On one of these outings, the king decided to go hunting. Accompanied by the rabbi, his companion of choice, the king insisted that the rabbi also hunt together with him.

Unfamiliar with the sport, the rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon. A bitter scream pierced the forest, a scream from none other than the king himself! The rabbi had mistakenly shot the king, damaging his hand forever by shooting off one of his fingers.

Enraged, the bleeding king had his guards imprison the rabbi immediately, with swift orders to put him into one of the dungeon’s prison chambers.

Months passed, and the king’s injury slowly healed. His hand was getting stronger, and his desire to go on one of his outings finally made him plan a most extravagant trip to many far-off lands.

Throughout his trips, he missed the wisdom and companionship of the brilliant rabbi.

In one particularly exotic location, the king was warned not to leave the campgrounds, because hostile natives lurked. But the king’s adventurous spirit was sparked by the idea of seeing the area as it was.

The king was warned not to leave the campgrounds, because hostile natives lurked.
On one of his forays outside the camp, the king was captured by cannibal tribesmen. As was their custom, they inspected their “merchandise” before cooking. They were alarmed to find that the enticing specimen before them had a missing finger. Immediately they declared it a bad omen, and discarded the king close to his campgrounds.

The king was beside himself with joy. The rabbi’s “blunder” had saved his life.

He immediately changed course and directed his entourage to return home. He had to speak to the rabbi.

When they arrived at the capital, the king immediately set the rabbi free.

He asked him:

“Dear Rabbi, you have always spoken of divine providence, and how everything comes down from heaven for our good, and I see that here. But rabbi, I have one question: what was the divine providence as it relates to you? You were in the dungeon for months; where is the good in that?”

If I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you.
The rabbi smiled as he answered, “Your majesty, if I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you, and the cannibals would have eaten me, God forbid.”

“What lesson can we take from all this?” asked the king.

After some thought, the rabbi answered.

“Perhaps the lesson is that everyone is essentially a friend of the ultimate King, the Creator of heaven and earth. Since He is a true and good friend who wants the very best for us, we must have faith that all our experiences, even the seemingly negative ones, are really for the best.”

By Bentzion Elisha

Not all that is dark is dark, not all that is light is light. God can create or recreate a situation in all situations, He helps us up, He makes a new way as He recreates and lets His Kingdom come!

God, our King can even change his mind: 1 Chronicles 21:15

And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunahb the Jebusite.

Trusting in Him for whatever Situation you are in!

Wishing you a good week.

Philemon