En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

What Is Truly Valuable to You?

Posted by Scott on May 9, 2008

“We live in a world that knows little about what’s truly valuable. People all around us are pursuing things that have no lasting value. That pursuit is ably treated by Anton Chekhov in his classic short story The Bet. This story gives us great insight into the value system of most people.
The plot involves a wager between two educated men regarding solitary confinement. A wealthy, middle-aged banker believed the death penalty was a more humane penalty than solitary confinement because “an executioner kills at once, solitary confinement kills gradually.” One of his guests at a party, a young lawyer of twenty-five, disagreed, saying, “To live under any conditions is better than not to live at all.”
Angered, the banker impulsively responded with a bet of two million rubles that the younger man could not last five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer was so convinced of his endurance that he announced he would stay fifteen years alone instead of only five.
The arrangements were made, and the young man moved into a separate building on the grounds of the banker’s large estate. He was allowed no visitors or newspapers. He could write letters but receive none. There were guards watching to make sure he never violated the agreement, but they were placed so that he could never see another human being from his windows. He received his food in silence through a small opening where he could not see those who served him. Everything else he wanted—books, certain foods, musical instruments, etc.—was granted by special written request.
During the first year the piano could be heard at almost any hour, and he asked for many books, mostly novels and other light reading. The next year the music ceased and the works of various classical authors were requested. In the sixth year of his isolation he began to study languages and soon had mastered six. After the tenth year of his confinement, the prisoner sat motionless at the table and read the New Testament. After more than a year’s saturation of the Bible, he began to study the history of religion and works on theology.
The second half of the story focuses on the night before the noon deadline when the lawyer would win the bet. The banker was now at the end of his career. His risky speculations and impetuosity had gradually undermined his business. The once self-confident millionaire was now a second-rate banker, and it would destroy him to pay off the wager. Angry at his foolishness and jealous of the soon-to-be-wealthy lawyer who was now only forty, the old banker determined to kill his opponent and frame the guard with the murder. Slipping into the man’s room, he found him asleep at the table and noticed a letter the lawyer had written to him. He picked it up and read the following:
‘Tomorrow at twelve o’clock I shall be free . . . but before leaving this room . . . I find it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience, and before God, who sees me, I declare to you that I despise freedom and life and health and all that your books call the joys of this world. . . . I know I am wiser than you all. . . . And I despise all your books, I despise all earthly blessings and wisdom. All is worthless and false, hollow and deceiving like the mirage. You may be proud, wise and beautiful, but death will wipe you away from the face of the earth, as it does the mice that live beneath your floor; and your heirs, your history, your immortal geniuses will freeze or burn with the destruction of the earth. You have gone mad and are not following the right path. You take falsehood for truth, and deformity for beauty. To prove to you how I despise all that you value I renounce the two million on which I looked, at one time, as the opening of paradise for me, and which I now scorn. To deprive myself of the right to receive them, I will leave my prison five hours before the appointed time, and by so doing break the terms of our compact.’
The banker read the lines, replaced the paper on the table, kissed the strange, sleeping man and with tears in his eyes, quietly left the house. Chekhov writes, “Never before, not even after sustaining serious losses on change, had he despised himself as he did at that moment.” His tears kept him awake the rest of the night. And at seven the next morning he was informed by the watchmen that they had seen the man crawl through a window, go to the gate, and then disappear.
Some people have to learn the hard way what is of value, and there are some who never learn.”


MacArthur, John: Alone With God. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1995
I have been studying and meditating and reading through Matthew 6:9-11.  This model prayer or the world calls it “The Lord’s Prayer” is a true model of how we as followers of Christ should pray.  Yet, how meaningless we have lifted up prayers on a daily basis.  Our prayer are full of all our wants from financial security, to health beyond any-ones dreams, to a large house, to a car, to more and more and more stuff.  Why is it that after years and years we have ever figured out that our prayer life is all about God and not about us.  This is the time to spend verbalizing what God wants us to declare from our hearts that is in one accord with His heart.  When Jesus said “ask and you shall receive” He was not saying to ask for all the worldly junk that has no place in the Kingdom of God.  If it is not from the heart and mind of Christ then do not ask for it.  Most of us can understand at least this minimal amount of our prayer life.
Who is our Father in heaven?  Is He an old white bearded man on dusty throne pointing His golden staff in the air sentencing some to death, some to prosperity, some to judgement, some to prison, some to starvation, etc.?  This is what has been pictured for centuries and is not even closely accurate.  Our Father in heaven, who is God Almighty, one part of the Trinity, is our glorious God, most loving Father, protecting Lord, and reigning King!  He is the parent that all of us wish we could be towards our children.  He is the most perfect parent of all. 
In Heaven is the abode of God.  This is an eternal place that exist in continuance and is where God the Father resides.  This is the most royal realms we could ever imagine and I doubt our imagination could even come close to understand what it is like where God lives.  However, we can only catch a small glimpse from scripture of where the future abode of God will be and we will be a part of it.
 Revelation 21:10-27 (NIV):
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadiaa in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubitsb thick,c by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.d 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.


a That is, about 1,400 miles (about 2,200 kilometers)
b That is, about 200 feet (about 65 meters)
c Or high
d The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Re 21:10-27
Just think this description does not even come close to the splendor of our future eternal home.  For now, we are living in a trash heap compared to the Holy City or New Jerusalem to come.  However, in our prayer life we can prepare ourselves for this future home in heaven.  Jesus left us with this model prayer in order to prepare us, not so that we can dump our laundry list on God everyday and then blame Him because nothing came true on our wish list.   This is juvenile praying. 
Some might ask, “What is hallowed be thy name”?  That sounds like a foreign term for movie flick, yet, it is profound.  “Hallowed” means holy and “thy name” is God Almighty.  It is the “Holiest Name of All”.  There is no other name in heaven or on earth that is more holy than Elohim and Adonai and Jehovah and any other name that is strictly reserved for our God.  When we enter into prayer we are speaking to the holiest person that will ever exist or has ever existed.  As a believer in Christ Jesus we have access to the most important being ever.  Do you understand the meaning of this?  You do not have to go through a priest on earth or any other person on this earth….Jesus Christ is our high priest and it is through Him that we go before our heavenly Father.  He wants to hear directly from His people, not from another fallible man on earth. 
As the prayer goes on to ask that God’s will be done.  This is the key to the entire prayer.  This is the key to our prayer life.  We must pray that God’s will be done and not our own.  One of the difficulties that most of us struggle with in our prayer life is getting to the point to where we desire God’s will over our own.  This is a huge nail in the coffin of our Free Will over God’s Free Will.  Our prayer life will go no where as we exercise our will, but rather once we understand that our prayers are to be reflecting the will of our heavenly Father, then our prayer life takes on new meaning that experiences results.  As men we are so result oriented anyway…we have a drive that compels us to get results.  This is a God-given drive.  However, Jesus is telling us how results are achieved here…the achievement is not in ourselves nor is it about ourselves.  The achievement is getting to the point that we prefer God’s will to reign above our own desires and will.  In short, God’s will becomes our will and God’s will becomes the desire of our heart.  It is at this moment we stop bleeding selfishly and start bleeding righteously for the glory of our heavenly Father.  To further the Kingdom of God, our prayers need to reach a higher place that is high above the earthly mindset.
We should set our minds on heavenly things in order to be of some earthly good.  The wrong saying is “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you become no earthly good”.  That is incorrect!  If this earth is to improve, believers must become more heavenly minded to be of some earthly good.
What is truly valuable to you?  In your prayer life, what is it that you pray for the most, yourself, your family, happiness, joy, money, job security, groceries, devine revelation, safe travel, an easy life, and so on?  I know that none of us pray for a car accident tomorrow, marrital troubles in June ’08, to loose our job in the Fall!  That would be crazy, but why do we pray in defense of these types events in our lives?  All we need to focus on is God in our lives at any given moment regardless of the circumstance.  Come to grips with the fact that the only thing secure for us on this earth as believers is our salvation in Christ Jesus….nothing else is secure.  We must live the remainder of our life outside of that committment in total faith that God will see us through to the other side into eternity.
-Scott Bailey 2008


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Posted by Scott on May 7, 2008

Awesome, revered, great, joy, praise, inheritance, sounding of trumpets, reigns, throne, and exalted….these are all words that make a feeble attempt at describing our awesome Sovereign God!  Psalm 47 is rather a short chapter in this wonderful book of Psalm, yet it is packed full of descriptive words that attempt to show us who this God really is and what the future reign of Christ will look like.

In the previous chapter 46, God told us to “Be still and know”.  For us to know Him really, we need to stop what we are doing, be still, be quiet, meditate on Him, focus on Him, find a silent quiet place, and listen intently to His call.  Now, here in chapter 47 we find a more jubilant worship of clapping our hands and shouting to God with our cries of joy!  I do think this is in direct order of being still and understanding who our great God really is and now that we know somewhat of who our God is, we can shout for joy to Him in celebration of this great revelation found within the pages of the Bible.

The tragic story in all this rest in the millions of believers who never did “Be still” and thus missed out on who their God really was while they lived out their lives on this earth.  They never fully understood while on this earth who it was they gave their hearts and lives to.  For many this very day they do not know who God really is or how personal He is for them.  They still try to experience Him at a distance rather than as their Father whom is available at all times.  They do not realize God through the Holy Spirit still walks with them daily as a helper and protector and counselor.  If it was not for this fact that my God is here with me, I simply could not function positively each day…I would be utterly powerless to desire to even get out of bed each morning.  The promise of God’s fresh new mercy each day is enough to keep me going until His triumphant return.

“How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!”

This awesomeness is to be revered by all of us on the earth.  There will come a time in the future when every knee will bend before Jesus Christ and confess Him as our Lord and King.  This will be done by every single person that has ever walked the face of the earth past and present including all of God’s human and angelic creation both in heaven and on earth.  So, a person can deny Him His deity while on earth, they can say He does not exist in this life, yet, someday in the future even this person will bend the knee before Jesus and confess the He is Lord!  Anyone’s denial of Jesus as God has no bearing to the truth that He is God.  We can deny Him away all we want to, but He will still reign supreme and we will still bend the knee before Him someday.  At this moment there will be no denials on our breath, only awe.  We will be hard pressed to find the breath to utter the words, but we will in unity with all.

God’s kingship through the reign of Christ is in clear view here.  We see a glimpse of the glory of our Lord in the millennial kingdom someday.  Only God can reign like this.  Only He can subdue or destroy our enemies under our feet.  Only He can choose our inheritance and call us the “pride of Jacob”.  Only He can ascend to the throne of the New Earth as the New Heaven joins it here in the millennial kingdom where God and His creation will no longer be separated in two places because of sin…sin will be no more.  Of course only He can show us this future reign that has not happened and yet it was foretold several thousand years ago.  What an awesome God we serve. 

This great inheritance is at God’s choosing.  He has chosen an untainted, unspoiled, protected, unstained by sin to be our place for all eternity.  His elect are the pride of Jacob, the praise of His glory.  What an honor to have our great and awesome Lord prepare our place of eternity.  No one could choose a better inheritance than our heavenly Father.  We can rest in the confidence of this inheritance for those who are in Christ Jesus.  What an awesome God we serve.

In the final scenes of this recorded glimpse into the glory of God as we shall see Him, we find Christ ruling as the King Supreme over all the nations.  Our God is dwelling as the Judge Supremely ruling on His throne.  In the millennial era there will be no doubt who rules and reigns over all.  You will not find an atheist among the ranks.  There will be no skeptics, no heretics, or non-believers.  The veil is removed and the Supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ will be in crystal clear view of all as He dwells among His people forever!   What an awesome God we serve!

“…for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.”

The kings mentioned here is also recorded as “shields” which means protector.  This “shield” “belongs” to God.  This is direct mention of an attribute of God that He is our protector or shield.  He is to be greatly exalted above everything on this earth as He protects His people.  He is to be exalted forever as He sheilds us from the attacks of the enemy.  What an awesome God we serve.

One of our greatest hopes is the future reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom.  We can believe that our Lord is King of king’s and Lord of lord’s because He told us so.  In Revelation 19:11-16 is the triumphant second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From The Message:

“Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords.”

With great confidence we can trust in these inspired words of God recorded so long ago, yet, that are so close and dear to our hearts today.  The Bible is forever relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.  Our current view of God cannot compare in word or thought to the reality of the future glory we will experience with our Lord in heaven…we will experience this glory in the brightly shining light of our Savior and Lord Jesus forever!  AMEN!

What an awesome God we serve!

-Scott Bailey 2008



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A New Beginning! by Ray C. Stedman

Posted by Scott on January 1, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Job 42:16-17

After this Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years (Job 42:16-17).

The book of Job ends on a note of contentment and peace. Job was probably about seventy when the book opens, so he is an old man. What a picture of peace, a contented man. God had greatly blessed him.

Before us stretches a new year, a new beginning. The old is past, put away forever. God invites us always to forget about all the distrust and fears, all the anxieties of the past, all the resentments we have been holding against others, all the grudges, all the criticisms–to put them away and begin again.

The question that hovers over us as we close this book (and I feel it deeply in my own heart) is, “On what basis am I going to live in this new year? Will it be on the old basis of it-all-depends-on-me, do-it-yourself goodness before God, trying my best to be pleasing to God and meaning it with all my heart but never realizing the depths of evil with which I have to deal?” Or will I accept the gift of God that is waiting for me every day, fresh from His hand, a gift of forgiveness, of righteousness already mine, of a relationship in which He is my dear Father and I am his cherished, beloved son, and in which I therefore have provided for me all I need, all day long, so that I may say no to evil and yes to truth and right?

Will it be on that basis? If it is, this will be a year in which my life will be characterized by peace, fragrance, and beauty. And so will yours. Or, if we insist on living it on the same old basis, we will find ourselves like these friends of Job, arousing the anger and the wrath of God. Though He is patient and merciful, our only escape will be to repent of our evil and rest upon the righteousness of our perfect substitute and return to God for the blessing that He is waiting to give. That is the choice before us, every one of us. How are we going to live in this new year?

Lord, thank You for this new year that lies before me. I choose You. I choose to depend on You, trust You, and accept from Your hand all that You would give me.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “A New Beginning” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Christmas At Uz!

Posted by Scott on December 26, 2007

From the Writings of Ray Stedman

Christmas At Uz

READ: Job 42:10-11

All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him apiece of silver and a gold ring (Job 42:11).

Doesn’t that sound like Christmas? I suppose you are saying, “Wait a minute. Come on, this is not Christmas! Why, this was long before anyone ever celebrated Christmas! This is two thousand years before Christ came. How could there be Christmas in the book of Job?”

The first thing to note about this is that the occasion that is described here is a family gathering. Job’s brothers and sisters and all his friends who had known him before are getting together. The uncles and aunts are there as well as all the cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren. By this time Job is a seventy-year-old man or even older, and though his own children had all perished, he must have had grandchildren and great-grandchildren by now, and all the neighbors and friends had brought their families. So this was a great family occasion as Christmas is for us and always has been.

The second thing you see here is that this was a time of feasting. They gathered to eat together, and we do that today. We start with stuffed turkey, and we end with stuffed people! This has always been the custom at Christmas. Throughout history and in most cultures where Christmas is recognized, feasting has been a part of the Christmas celebration.

Then there is another thing here that we can associate with Christmas. It is what we would call fellowship. Job’s family and friends gathered to comfort him and to express sympathy and understanding for all the pain and suffering he had been going through.

The giving of gifts also brings to mind Christmas. These friends gave to Job gifts of silver and gold. In the Bible these two metals are used symbolically as a picture of redemption. Silver is the sign of redemption, and gold is the picture of deity; God redeeming people. That is why this is Christmas at Job’s house. Job’s witness to his friends evidently had such effect upon them that in gratitude for what they learned from him, they gave him gifts of silver and gold to express their understanding of God’s redemption among people.

Job discovered two thousand years before Jesus’ birth and eventual death on the cross that One was coming into the world, and, as the angel said to Mary, “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is what brings joy and gladness to believers’ hearts at Christmas time. If you know the Lord Jesus, you have the greatest gift God can give to a person. Out of the richness of your life you will find yourself gladly sharing from all that you have with those who have less, that there may be the ringing out of joy and thanksgiving in a season like this.

Thank You, Lord, for the greatest gift—the gift of Your Son.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Christmas At Uz” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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