Saturday, April 29, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - April 29, 2017

Today's Reading:

Acts 13:1-25

Joshua 17-19

Job 29

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Today I will focus on the first part of Job 29. In this passage, Job laments the loss of God's blessings and "smile" upon his life. I can think of no position more miserable than this! To some degree, and not for the same reason as Job, I have been there - in that terrible place of shadows, having lost the sunshine of God's smile upon my life. It is a place I hope never to be again - at least never again because I have caused it. If I must go there again, may it be for testing and for the glory of God, as was the case with Job. In my case, I was in this miserable state because of sin.

What about you? Have you ever been in that dark place, bereft of peace and having lost the blessing of the Almighty upon your life?

I'd like to share with you an excerpt from chapter 10 in my new book Escaping from the Dragon's Jaws. May this serve as an encouragement to each of us, that we will not ever lose the blessing of God, by our own choice to leave our "first love".

Have you ever considered the value of God’s Smile on your life? Just what is it worth to you to know that the King of the Universe is looking upon you, viewing your choices, and is pleased with what He sees? Is it worth the cost of losing an ungodly friendship or a compromising job to keep your Heavenly Father’s Smile?

From my earliest childhood memories, nothing meant more to me than knowing that when God looked at me—a little speck of dust in His vast Creation—that He was blessed by my life, if even in a small way. Have you ever thought about it? People can actually bless GOD! David understood this beautiful concept when he wrote the one hundred and third Psalm (Psalm 103:1 and see 2 Chronicles 16:9).

“…Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy Name," Psalm 103:1

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him…” 2 Chronicles 16:9
God is loving and all powerful. It gives Him great joy to bless us. But I think it must give Him even greater delight, when He finds that we desire to also bless Him. And blessing Him had been my lifelong desire.

Now don’t misunderstand, or get me wrong here. I am not even remotely implying that I think I was perfect in the sense of being sinless! The Bible tells us that every man, woman and child has sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). I am no exception!

But the concept of having a perfect heart isn’t about being perfectly obedient and without sin. David was a man after God’s Own Heart (Acts 13:22), yet he had traumatic moments of weakness, demonstrated in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and in his murder of her husband, Uriah.

Having a “perfect heart” and being a person after God’s Own Heart is really about having “eyes” only for Him. It’s kind of like it says in the lyrics of the old love song, I Only Have Eyes for You:

I don’t know if we’re in a garden,
Or on a crowded avenue.
You are here, so am I.
Maybe millions of people go by.
But they all disappear from view.
(For) I only have eyes for you.

When you love someone, it is only natural to want to do things which please them. You go out of your way to do those things. Bringing a smile to the face of your loved one is a tremendous delight. You rejoice at every opportunity to bless them! That is how it always was for me with God.

I can remember, as a child, lying on the bank of our nearby

river, where my collie and I would spend the late afternoons catching polliwogs, playing in the cool water, and chasing dragonflies. In those moments of rest and contemplation, I would look up into the sky and talk to God. He was real! He was my Father, my Friend, my Everything. And I eagerly looked forward to the Day, when I would see Him Face to face. Because I loved Him so much, I was conscious of what pleased Him. There are many things I didn’t know about how to please Him best, of course. But I kept learning and whatever I knew would bring a Smile to His Face, that is what I wanted to do!

Not that I knew it as a child, but I later discovered that living with “eyes” for God, so that it is our highest joy to bless Him, if even in some small way, always brings His greatest blessings upon us as well. Conversely, when we do not love Him and choose to rebel against His loving Will in our lives, we open ourselves up to curses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

Because my heart was turned Heavenward in love and adoration for my King, from the time I was a small child, God has blessed me. In every way that matters most, I was abundantly blessed! I have always had a family who loved me, a warm and cozy place to call home, plenty of good food, and have enjoyed the fulfillment of many of my deepest wishes and desires.

Over the years, many people have looked upon my life, viewed the tremendous blessings in it, and have somewhat enviously commented on my “charmed” existence. To such comments, I was always quick to reply that there was nothing mystical or magical about these favors, rather it was the blessing of my wonderful God, that these folks were observing.

God’s blessings flowed over me throughout my entire life-time, so endlessly present, that I could not imagine my life without them. And I never had to—until I lost my First Love for God, took my “eyes” off of Him (Revelation 2:4-5). Unconsciously I had given part of the place He had held in my heart to Adrianne. Then, for the first time in my life, I no longer walked in the sunshine of God’s Smile. I nearly lost my soul in the shadows of despair and curses.

In the Marriage Covenant, there is the rule of fidelity. If one or both spouses break this largely unspoken law by “stepping out” with another, the Covenant is broken. In the same way, when we rebel against the things God lovingly asks of us, which show what it looks like to live in love for Him, we have “stepped out” on God (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3).

Like me, the Children of Israel had left their First Love. They had turned away from “only having eyes” for the One, true God, to “having eyes” for idols—ultimately Satan. In so doing, they departed from their sacred Covenant relationship with God and had the spiritual equivalent of an adulterous affair.

How did this happen? Long ago, the Children of Israel were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. They had been brought to that Mountain for a Divine Appointment. They were privileged to meet God! But they didn’t love God like Moses did. For him the Day with God was wonderful! For them, the Presence of the Almighty, on that trembling Mountain, was terrifying. God wasn’t even finished speaking His loving Rules before they rushed to Moses and begged him to make it stop!

“Please, Moses, You go talk to God! We’ll listen to His Law when you give it to us. But we are too terrified to continue to listen to Him directly.”

So began a saga of solo journeys in which Moses alone went into the Mountain peaks to meet with the Almighty. On one of those dates with God, Moses was gone for quite some time. Days passed and the people became more and more restless.
Finally, their agitation reached the boiling point; and the people actually constructed a golden calf and began worshiping it, all in the Name of Yahweh (the Name of the Almighty in Hebrew)!

Having just received the two Tables of Stone, bearing the Ten Commandments, Moses came down from the Mountain and was horrified to find the people debasing themselves in idolatry! They had taken their “eyes” off the Most High and were no longer delighting to lovingly please Him.

The results of this terrible choice were a series of devastating curses, which fell upon the Children of Israel. But in my opinion, the absolute worst of these was the loss of God’s abiding Presence in their midst. Like a faithful husband who has been betrayed, God moved out! The Sanctuary Temple, where dwelt God’s Shekinah Glory (the bright, fiery Light which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant in the
Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary) was taken from its customary location in the middle of the Camp, to a new site several miles away. God wanted them to know that He was no longer in their midst. This was the most terrible price they had to pay for allowing their hearts to stray from their First Love!

So today, as you worship God and strive to serve Him faithfully, may it be that you keep Him as your first love. May He hold first place in your heart. May it be that each of us will not only enjoy His blessings upon us, but may we also be empowered by Him to bless God this day. As we live in this way, we will walk in the sunshine of His Smile.

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