Obadiah 1:12 – Falling

Obadiah 1:12
12
 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

-The Bible tells that “a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” (Proverbs 24:16)  That means no matter how straight of a path we chart through life, even those of us who are saved will stumble before it’s all said and done.  I won’t tell you that it’s wrong to take satisfaction when someone else falls (the Bible already makes that very clear), but I would encourage you to remember what it feels like to be the one who has fallen.  All of humanity fell in the sight of God and God could have mocked and ridiculed us, but instead He showed us tender mercy.  If someone falls around us, we have an opportunity to be Christ-like and lift that person up.  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

Matthew 5:13 – Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13
13
 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

-Often when we read this verse of scripture, we take away the idea that if the “Salt of the Earth” loses its flavor, it becomes good for nothing but to be thrown out as trash.  While that is a perfectly acceptable meaning, let’s consider a deeper meaning for a moment. It has been a wartime practice throughout history to sow fields with salt in order to keep crops from being able to grow.  Usually a conquering army will do this as a gesture of revenge or dominance. (Judges 9:45)  If salt is no longer good for flavoring or preserving food, its only remaining use is to destroy land.  The lesson: For those of us who are numbered among the “Salt of the Earth”, if we fall, we don’t just take ourselves down (although that would be bad enough); we inevitably present a stumbling block that will keep others around us from growing as well.

Philippians 1:29 – Unto You It Is Given

Philippians 1:29
29
 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

-The Bible speaks of wonderful gifts made available to believers; the gift of salvation, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and many others.  These gifts are given directly by the Lord and are worthy of much celebration.  There is another gift spoken of in scripture, however, that is not typically included among these others- the gift of suffering for Christ’s sake.  Notice the text here; unto us “it is given”.  Suffering for Christ’s sake is not a punishment to be endured or a storm to be weathered, it is a gift directly from the Lord and worthy of much celebration.  It may not always feel like a gift and you may not always want to celebrate it, but “if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:16)

1 Kings 19:12-18 – Not Alone

1 Kings 19:12-18
12
 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

-Elijah had a problem, he felt all alone and outnumbered in his service to the Lord.  If you’ve ever felt alone then you can probably empathize with Elijah here.  The Lord could have told Elijah to suck it up and keep going, He could have told him that the Lord Himself is all the company that Elijah needs and He would have been just in answering that way.  But that was not the Lord’s answer.  The Lord showed Elijah that there were still 7000 more in Israel who had stayed true to God; He assured Elijah that he was not alone.  Although Christianity is by far the largest “religion” on the planet, true Christians are still hard to find and become more of a rarity every day.  If you feel alone in your race, know that you are not alone; others are still out there living by the same standards as you, reading the same Bible as you, and serving the same God as you.

Acts 11:26 – Christian

Acts 11:26
26
 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

-The name “Christian” literally means “The Christ-likes”.  What a name.  Notice what activities we see here that led to the giving of such a name.  The disciples were following Jesus (hence the name disciples), they were assembling with the church, and they were teaching many people.  All of that earned them the name, “The Christ-likes”.  In a recent poll, 83% of Americans identified themselves as Christian and yet there are far less than 83% of Americans following Jesus, assembling at church and teaching others to do the same.  What would the disciples at Antioch think if they saw what passes for a “Christian” today?

John 13:3-8 – Highs and Lows

John 13:3-8
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

-Pride would say that we should not have to condescend to the lowest forms of service, yet Jesus (who is the Highest) shows that no one is above any kind of service.  There is another form of pride at work in this instance however; the pride that disguises itself as humility.  Peter thought that his feet were no place for his Lord and Master and while that may make sense to the natural mind, who are we to question God? (Romans 9:20)  It takes the power of God both to be abased and to abound because our tendency will be to act high when God wants us low and act low when God wants us high.  The key is not to do anything to make yourself out to be high or low but rather to simply follow the Shepherd through the peaks and the valleys.

1 Samuel 15:22 – To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice

Psalm 51:16
16
 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

1 Samuel 15:22
22
 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

-We naturally tend to overcompensate for our weaknesses and deficiencies in life.  This can be a good thing depending on the situation, but how often are we guilty of trying to overcompensate in our spiritual lives?  What I mean is how often do we make choices that we know God does not approve of, then try to justify ourselves by casting light on some other area of our life where we are doing well.  In essence we are attempting to offer something to the Lord in exchange for holding onto certain sins.  Overcompensation does not work in God’s economy because God never wanted our sacrifices to begin with; only our obedience.  Not only are we not fooling God when we trade one for the other, we are in fact widening the gap between us and the Lord.

Proverbs 9:8-9 – Rebuke and Instruction

Proverbs 9:8-9
8
 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

-Look at the simple test laid out in Scripture regarding the difference between the wise and the foolish.  The wise will appreciate guidance and even rebuke and will love the person who thought enough of them to try and help.  In contrast, the foolish will hate reproof and will hate the one doing the reproving.  Don’t look at this as a test to determine what manner of person with whom you might be interacting when you give advice; rather, look at this as a test sent from the Lord that we can use to examine ourselves.  How do you react when someone offers advice or constructive criticism?  Do you consider that advice and see if there may be something worthwhile in it?  Are you thankful that someone took the time to be a help?  Or do you get self-righteous and indignant when that person shows up with their advice?  Now of course there are nuances to this when you start dealing with people who may be giving bad advice and the like, but again, don’t look to the Bible as a means to judge those around you, only to judge yourself.

Psalms 101:6 – The Eyes of The Lord

Psalms 101:6
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

-The Bible teaches that “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)  We learn here in Psalm 101 that even though the Lord sees everything, He is looking for those He can call faithful.  Every day He searches and no doubt finds those who forget Him, distrust Him, or downright blaspheme Him.  Whether the Lord can find a faithful person anywhere is a very important question, but a more important question is what does the Lord find when He looks in on your life?  “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b)

Luke 18:16-17 – As a Little Child

Luke 18:16-17
16
 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

-What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?  Think about how a child accepts any new information they are given; they don’t try to rationalize the things they are told or reshape them to fit their own worldview as an adult would.  They either choose to accept something or refuse it.  This is the kind of trust the Lord wants to receive from us.  We don’t need to fit God’s existence into a neat little box in order to accept that He’s there.  We don’t need to feel like a sinner to believe that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  You don’t have to know all the books of the Bible or understand the nuances of doctrine; trusting in the Lord is simply of matter of believing that He’ll do what He says He’ll do.  It’s so easy a child can do it.