Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday - Samson's Call - Judges 13:1-7, 24-25 - 6/25/17

The Philistines lived on the west side of Canaan, along the Mediterranean seacoast. From Samson's day until the time of David they were the major enemy force in the land & a constant threat to Israel. The Philistines were fierce warriors; they had the advantage over Israel in numbers, tactical expertise, & technology. They knew the secret of making weapons out of iron. But none of that mattered when God was fighting for Israel.

Once again the cycle of sin, judgment, & repentance began. The Israelites would not turn to God unless they had been stunned by suffering, oppression, & death. This suffered was not caused by God, but resulted from the fact that the people ignored God, their Judge & Ruler. The warnings in God's Word are clear; if we continue to harden our hearts against God, we can expect the same fate as Israel.

The angel of the Lord could have been a special divine messenger sent from God or a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus Christ. The reason for the angel's visit was to give Samson's parents the vital news that Samson would begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.

Samson was to be a Nazarite - a person who took a vow to be set apart for God's service. Samson's parents made the vow for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes temporary, but in Samson's case, it was for life. As a Nazarite, Samson could not cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol.

Although Samson often used poor judgment & sinned terribly, he accomplished much when he determined to be set apart for God. In this way he was like the nation Israel. As long as the Israelites remained set apart for God, the nation thrived. But they into terrible sin when they ignored God.

Manoah's wife was told that her son would begin to rescue the Israelites from Philistine oppression. It wasn't until David's day that the Philistine opposition was completely crushed. Samson's part in subduing the Philistines was just the beginning, but it was important nonetheless. It was the task God had given Samson to do. Be faithful in following God even if you don't see instant results, because you might be beginning an important job that others will finish.

Samson's tribe, Dan, continued to wander in their inherited land, which was yet unconquered. Samson must have grown up with his warlike tribe's yearnings for a permanent & settled territory. Thus his visits to the tribal army camp stirred his heart, & God's Spirit began preparing him for his role as judge & leader against the Philistines.

God uses a variety of means to develop & prepare us: hereditary traits, environmental influences, & personal experiences. As with Samson, this preparation often begins long before adulthood. Work at being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading & the tasks God has prepared for you. Your past may be more useful to you than you imagine.

Samson's Ventures: He grew up in Zorah & wanted to marry a Philistine girl from Timnah (Timnath). Tricked at his own wedding feast, he went to Ashkelon & killed some Philistine men & stole their coats to pay off a bet. Samson then let himself be captured & brought to Lehi where he snapped his ropes & killed 1,000 people.

Reference summary used from Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday - Jephthah Answers The Call - Judges 11:4-11,29-31 - 6/18/17

Jephthah (Personal name meaning "he will open." One of Israel's judges about 1100 B.C. (Judges 11:1-12:7). A Gileadite, he was driven from his home because he was "the son of a harlot" (Judges 11:1). He lived & raided in the land of Tob with a band of outlaws, becoming known as a "mighty warrior." When the Ammonites moved against Israel, Jephthah people asked him to return & lead them. His victory over the Ammonites came about after a vow he made to offer as a burnt offering the first living thing he saw upon his return from battle. Although it was his daughter who greeted him, Jephthah did fulfill his rash vow. Considering as one of Yahweh's "chief" deliverers of His people (1 Samuel 12:11), Jephthah is hailed by the author of Hebrews, as a hero of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

For further study of the lesson "Google" Ammon; Ammonites; Human Sacrifices; Book of Judges.

Reference summary used from the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, @2003 by Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, TN

Thursday, June 15, 2017

4 of ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Second Soil of the Heart: Rocks, Scorching & Withering.

Let's examine the second soil of the heart & what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop & become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. The second soil of the heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. The seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace & joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God & allowing it to grow & become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart.

Importance of a Strong Root System. For the seed of the Word of God to prosper & grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward! Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, & shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The truth in Psalm 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

The word "blessed" describes the condition of our heart should be in daily & it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word "blessed" conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being & righteous. Bad company will corrupt the heart & destroy its root system. Our delight, desire, & longing must be to know God & His Word as the great treasure of our heart.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet & chatter of the trival that relentlessly bombards our lives daily?

When we delight in the Word of God & mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God.

Jesus Christ is the true vine & we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, & let your lives be built on him.

Let's examine tribulation & persecution in more depth & see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart. The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, & crush. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil & the squeezing of grapes to produce juice.

The Lesson of Joseph. Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt.

The world specializes in thlipsis.

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis. Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, & unbearable pain. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin & crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure & overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure & emerge over every burden & weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis & the Birth of Extraordinary. God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ & the Word of God.

God uses the word "thlipsis" to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary & amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes & works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. How tragic that we never give birth to God's amazing plans & purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion & bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

God birthed an extraordinary calling & work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel & a man after God's own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ & the Word of God & endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots & persecution. His ministry turned the world upside down, & he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution. Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The Book of Revelation speaks of this. (Revelation 12:4b-5,7,9,12b,17)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God's plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha & Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, & the door to God's kingdom. He restored everything that Adam & Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden & conquered sin & death.

The Greek word for "hatred" in John & Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, & to abhor.

Surprising Source of Most Persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our inner circle: our churches, fellow-christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors, & community.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God & is an easy facade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests & scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The great religious men & their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends, & close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God & His Word.

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers & disciples cried out "Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!" This whole multitude rejoiced & praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave & had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved & the multitude declared "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!"

The Greek word for "seize" means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody & arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder & restrain, to prevail & rule over, & to take into one's possession.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness & soundness. It is an inward & outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, & a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, & satisfaction in life.

God is the source of all peace, & we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. Peace can not live in a heart of unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history & classics. He is president of Goodness of God's Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday - Gideon's Call - Judges 6:11-18 - 6/11/17

Gideon - A farmer - To deliver Israel from Midian

Midian, Midianites ... Person & clan name meaning "strife." Midian was the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:2). Abraham sent him & his brothers away to the east, leading to the association of the Midianites with the "children of the east" (Judges 6:3). When Moses fled from Pharoh, he went east to Midian (Exodus 2:15). Here he met Jethro, the priest of Midian, & married his daughter.

It is also possible that as a special messenger from God, the angel had authority to speak for God. God sent a special messenger to deliver an important message to Gideon.

Threshing was the process of separating the grains of wheat from the useless outer shell called chaff. This was normally done in a large area, often on a hill, when the wind could blow away the lighter chaff when the farmer tossed the beaten wheat into the air. If Gideon had done this, however, he would have been an easy target for the bands of raiders who were overrunning the land. Therefore, he was forced to thresh his wheat in a winepress, a pit that was probably hidden from view & that would not be suspected as a place to find a farmer's crop.

Gideon questioned God about the problems he & his nation faced & God's apparent lack of help. What he didn't acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey & neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability & blame our problems on God & others.

Gideon had heard about the great miracles God had done for his people, but he hadn't seen any. It had been almost 250 years since the ten plagues & the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14), & 200 years had passed since the last great miracle, the parting of the Jordan River (Joshua 3). But it was the people who had given up on God. They knew what God expected of them. They had his laws, but they chose not to obey them. God's blessings, as Moses & Joshua had foretold, came only when the people were obedient.

"Surely I will be with thee," God told Gideon, & God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. He failed to see how God could work through him.

Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Don't spend time making excuses. Instead spend it doing what God wants.

Reference summary used from the Life Application KJV Bible, Tyndale Publishers, Wheaton, IL

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

3 of - The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, & he saw that everything they sought or imagined was consistently & totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had made them & put them on the earth. It broke his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6, NLT)

In Genesis 6, people's thought life had so corrupted their hearts that it reached a point of no return.

The Devil is a master general at attacking the thought life of a Christian. His war strategy involves tactics of deception, pressure, & enticement to turn our thinking away from God & toward his kingdom.

The Devil knows that in order for a person to do evil, he must first think evil.

Within ten generations he was so successful that only one person on the entire earth had godly thoughts. The population of the earth at the time of the flood was between 235 million & 7 billion people.

They were wise, rich, sophisticated, & cultured for their time, but the defining characteristic of their age was wickedness because of their thinking.

Only Noah was thinking rightly & found favor with God. Noah's thought life was pure & free from evil because he walked with God.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, & He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:6, NKJV)

As Christians our thought life should honor God first & foremost. The Greek word translated "honor" in Romans 1:21 means to make glorious, to adorn with splendor, to make excellent, & to cause the worth of something to be made known.

Do your thoughts glorify God daily? We must never give the glory of our thoughts to another.

Before Noah, Enoch also walked with God for hundreds of years.

In the Hebrew, "to walk" is to form habit patterns that determine your way of life.

We must walk with God for life to have true meaning. A thought life without God is ultimately an exercise in foolishness, & it always lead to dangerous consequences for the heart.

Toxic thoughts are like a spiritual cancer to the heart.

Toxic thoughts are like poison, but the good news is you can break the cycle of toxic thinking.

Toxic thoughts are thoughts that trigger negative & anxious emotions, which produce biochemicals that cause the body stress.

God sets the standard high for our thought life in the book of Philippians.

Selfishness did not exist in thought life of Jesus.

We cannot serve God if we are not humble. We cannot obey God if we are not humble. We cannot love God if we are not humble.

Pride is lethal because it lifts up the heart against God.

Jesus Christ did not have one ounce of fear in his thinking. During a great Storm on the Sea of Galilee, waves pounded on the tiny boat He was in, & it was filling with water. Jesus was sleeping soundly when He was frantically awakened by His disciples. He rebuked the wind, crying out, "Peace be still" (Mark 4:39), & reproved His disciples for their lack of faith.

Jesus had great compassion for people who were hurting & suffering from physical & spiritual ailments.

Jesus never had a thought of unforgiveness or bitterness. He demonstrated great mercy & forgiveness in his thinking, no matter what the circumstance or offense.

God commands us to think from a heavenly perspective, with eternity stamped on our thoughts, & no longer allow the temporal things of this earth to control our thought life.

Carelessness in our thought life, by allowing the sin natural to control it, is dangerously destructive to our walk with God.

Train yourself for godliness. (I Timothy 4:7, NIV)

I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. (II Timothy 4:7 KJV)

So run to win!

Only God's mighty weapons have any chance of tearing down every brick of the strongholds that captivate our hearts.

The Greek word translated "stronghold" means fortress, castle, or prison.

Do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27 NIV)

Leave no such room or foothold for the devil (give no opportunity to him.) (AMP)

In the battle of Jericho God sets forth the pattern of how we should approach the tearing down of every stronghold in our minds & hearts.

The second thing we must do to tear down any stronghold is to consecrate ourselves. The Hebrew word translated "consecrate" is qadash, which means to be set apart, sanctified, holy, & pure, & is used to describe what is set aside for God's purpose.

Salvation is now available through Jesus Christ.

The Battle is Not Yours but God's. Believe in your awesome God. No stronghold can stand against the Almighty God!

The Ark of the Covenant: The Power of God's Word & Presence. The sixth truth is, just as the Ark of the Covenant was marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, we can take the Word of God & march it around every stronghold, confessing its truth & claiming its power.

The seventh truth is to have faith in God & His Word. Faith is an unwavering trust & confidence in our God that he will never fail us.

The last truth in the Battle of Jericho is that we must wait on the Lord. God did not move to demolish the walls of Jericho until the seventh day.

God does not need an advisor. God does not need a counselor.

Leading Every Thought Captive to Obey Christ. The last & great truth of how to tear down strongholds in our hearts is in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

The first thought pattern is false reasoning.

It is never wise to try to out think God Almighty!

The Lesson of Lazarus. We must take off our grave clothes when it comes to our thought life.

Jesus first calls Lazarus by name. Jesus is calling you.

The Parable of the Sower & the Seed: The Four Conditions of the Heart.

This parable is an illustration of how to build the kingdom of God in our hearts & produce an abundant harvest of fruit to the glory of God.

The most important time of a man or woman's life is when the Word of God is sown into their heart.

Listen & Behold.

The sower does not sow Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Secular humanism, modernism or spiritualism. The sower sows the God-breathed Word that proceeds directly from the mouth of God Almighty.

The Devil is the supreme enemy of the heart & he is sowing his tares in every community, city, & nation.

This seed is producing hearts that hate truth & love darkness.

In this first soil of the heart, the seed of Word of God is sown, but it has no chance to grow because the Devil comes immediately & snatches away the seed.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.

Judas was in the inner circle with Jesus Christ, one of his original twelve disciples , who followed Jesus. Yet Satan entered into his heart at the last supper & he went out into the night to betray Jesus.

There are only two spiritual fathers that can give birth to their image in our hearts: God or the Devil.

Now let us think about spiritual arteriosclerosis for a moment. This is a gradual day-by-day process where our spiritual arteries become hardened by sin, poneros evil & unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, & classics. He is the president of Goodness of God Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.

2 of - The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

When King Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought to the temple at its dedication, he had the Levites play cymbals, harps, lyres , & trumpets. Singers raised their voices to praise God with this magnificent musical accompaniment. The glory of the Lord filled the temple with a cloud after this musical display. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14).

When a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites, & Meunites came against Jerusalem, King Jehoshaphat & all of Judah stood before the Lord & prayed. When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem in victory, they went to the temple of the Lord with harps, lutes, & trumpets praising God in music & song. (2 Chronicles 20:21-22,28).

In 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 we read that King Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple & cleansed it from idolatry, one of the first he did was reestablish music & song there. He furnished the Levites with cymbals, harps, trumpets, & all the instruments of David.

After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah immediately established the singers in the temple.

The book of Nehemiah indicates in the time of David there were directors of music for the singers & songs of praise & thanks. Nehemiah realized how important music was in the service of God in the temple & for the worship of God among the people.

After Jesus instituted communion as a memorial of His death, Matthew 26:30 says, "When they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives." Mark 14:26 states that Jesus sang this hymn along with His disciples right before He prayed in Gethsemane shortly before He was crucified. This was probably not the first time that they had sung together, but this is the only time recorded in Scripture that our Lord sang.

This hymn is believed to be from the psalms called the "Great Hallel" or the "praise Psalms," which were Psalms 113-118 & 136.

A song can lift us into the presence of God & comfort our hearts even in life's darkest hours.

Paul & Silas was severely beaten for preaching the gospel & thrown into prison with their feet in stocks, but they sang praises to God in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation. God moved with a great earthquake that shook the entire foundation of the prison & they were set free.

Throughout time, great men in Church history have understood the profound effect of music on the heart & the importance of godly music in the life of a Christian.

Martin Luther, who is credited with igniting the flame of the Protestant Reformation, was a wonderful composer.

One of his greatest hymns, which was one of my favorite growing up, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Martin Luther had a legendary love for music. He often played after dinner with his family & guests & composed songs for his children. Music was not just a recreational tool for Luther - it was an integral part of his life & he found a source of strength & comfort in music.

Luther was well aware of the power of music & insisted that its proper use was "to the glorification of God & the edification to man."

During the Wesleyan Revival in the 18th Century, Charles Wesley wrote more than six thousand hymns, including some that became classics of the Church, like "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sink," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," & "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

Listening to music is not meant to replace a Christian's time in studying & mediating on the Bible, or prayer & intimate fellowship with the heavenly Father & our Lord Jesus.

Music either pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of the world. God is crying out to the Church & to every Christian believer, "Do not be ignorant or fooled by music & think your listening choices are harmless to your walk & relationship with me!"

Since the fall of Lucifier, music has been a major weapon in the battle for the heart.

Often our greatest songs of praise are borne in trials & temptations.

Many Christians today have lost the song in their hearts for God. When the heart is bitter & unforgiving, when the heart forgets God, when the heart becomes entangled with the things of this world, it loses its song.

In Exodus 15, the children of Israel sang the right song when they were delivered from the army of Egypt, but they sang it on the wrong side. They should have been singing this song even when they were in bondage in Egypt, not simply after a great miracle & deliverance from God.

Our God will never fail us. Our God will never leave us, or forsake us, & His strength is perfect in our weakness.

Yes, indeed - God is my Salvation. God - yes God! is my strength & song, best of all, my salvation!

Our song is never a song of anxiety, fear, or worry. He is our strength, our defender, our provider, & our deliverer. We should be raising the roof with our praise - song to God.

We cannot keep silent about the wonder of our God & His amazing works. God cries when the song of our hearts goes silent.

Don't lose your love song for God by turning away from Him when things get tough.

Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by His love, He will dance with shout of joy for you (NJB).

This song of God is a hymn of deliverance; victory, & Salvation. Psalm 32:7 says that God "surrounds us with songs of deliverance." God sings because He knows that He has made you in Christ & that He has given you a name & divine destiny.

But God, says, "No matter anyone says, you are my beloved, My treasure, My pearl more valueable than all the treasures of the earth."

God sings to us. We sing to God.

Nothing is more important to our life than the thoughts that occupy our minds on a daily basis. The critical question becomes "What are you thinking?"

Our hearts are built on the foundation of our thoughts. The heart is molded & shaped by our thoughts. Thoughts are the blueprint of the hear, & the heart becomes the image of its thought. We are what we think.

We can't ignore the importance of our thinking if we want to love God with all our heart.

Tozer encourages Christians to "form the habit of a holy thought life."

God commands us to love Him with all our mind (Luke 10:27).

Our thought life should prepare our hearts for the Lord so that He might live & reign from its throne room. King David, in his last admonishment to his son Solomon & the children of Israel, exhorts them to frame their thoughts carefully so God can prepare their hearts to love & serve Him above all else.

The heart is like a mirror, reflecting the image of its thoughts. God should be the only image that dominates our thinking.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, & classics. An attorney & author. He is the president of Goodness of God Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.

God's Father Of The Year


A few years back, I read a column along the information superhighway entitled: “But What About Me?” It was a sad article, written in frustration, by a Black brother who pointed out--in painful detail--how Black women (and additional women in general) were always ‘crying’ for ‘a good man’, but time, and time again were eagerly chasing after the ‘dregs’ and ‘thugs’ of society, bypassing the good brothers that were right in front of them.

What REALLY bugged the writer of that particular column; SOME of the brothers were married to SOME of these female coalflakes and were taking care of children who were not even related to them by blood. In short, they were raising the children of another man (or men) because their wives had a straight-up street history, and were proud of their rebellion.

Kind of sounds like today, doesn’t it? But, I digress…and look upward!

In searching the Scriptures, one comes across a host of fathers…some good, some not so good, and a few outstanding. In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15, we see the Prodigal Son. We also see God’s ‘Father of the Year’…that being the father of this young man. I believe the story itself produces the fruit of which one could give this quiet, spiritual father a big trophy. Here are my three reasons why:

First reason…like a lot of husbands and fathers today, he is doing the right thing WITHOUT the support of his wife. Brothers, let’s be bold…the wife of this man is NOWHERE to be seen in this parable. There was a reason why fathers were created by God to be the head of the home. We have been given more logic than emotion; bigger shoulders to support our families in rough, uncertain times, and the ability to ‘wait some things out’ that would have killed off the mothers of our children. Folk today want to talk about how great mothers are? Try being a husband and a father. THAT is where God is in full display, no matter what society might say.

Second reason…like a lot of husbands and fathers today, he is dealing with offspring that are ‘smelling the odor’ under their armpits. They ‘think’ they are grown. Most of their ‘experiences’ are based on what they have seen, heard or ‘re-heard’ from their friends, and NOT from older members of society. Fathers have been where sons have YET to GO! One son can hardly wait to leave home; the other one is ‘staying with an attitude’. Brothers, having TWO kids like this is enough to ‘pre-gray’ any father’s hair! It may be a new day, baby, but the same old rules…still apply!

Third and final reason…like a lot of husbands and fathers today, he is looking to God to sort out this mess. Father is by the window, day after day, in hopes of having that wayward child come home. Awaiting a knock at the door, in the hopes of that stubborn child will come to themselves and come for a visit, or just to talk. Jesus Christ paints a portrait of this man as having a lot of ‘staying’ power. What is unsaid in the parable, is that this father had to have a LOT of alone time with God to keep himself in check, and on course…thus, he had a lot of PRAYING power. My brothers, in our feminized western culture, MEN pray MORE than women and children and get LESS respect or recognition for it. There is STILL a call for praying men, as well as godly husbands and fathers.

When the prodigal came to himself and came home, father was there. When the other son refused to even consider making peace with his brother, it was his father who negotiated on the wayward son’s behalf. Even the servants were ‘looking out’ for this father, because the routine of the household continued, the calf was fattened, and the new clothes were kept at the ready. Yes, fathers today don’t catch a break from society, the media, their Pastors, their wives or even their kids at times. However, God has NOT forgotten them. As long as God is in your corner, fathers…EVERYDAY is Father’s Day.

Don’t ‘whine’. Just keep on praying and shine, shine, SHINE!

A tip of the hat for you--my godly brothers, on this Father’s Day, 2017!

Mike Ramey, a Minister, syndicated columnist and book reviewer lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. To correspond, drop him an email at © 2017 Barnstorm Communications.

Lift up Christ and lay the sinner low. --C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sunday - Deborah & Barak - Judges 4:1-10 - 6/4/17

The Bible records few women in national leadership positions, but Deborah was the best person for the job, & God chose her to lead Israel. God can choose anyone to lead his people, young or old, man or woman. Don't let your prejudices get in the way of those God may have chosen to lead you.

We don't know Barak's character, but we see the character of a great leader in Deborah, who took charge as God directed. Deborah told Barak that God would be with him in battle, but that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God's promise. A person of real faith steps out at God's command even if he or she must do so alone.

She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that, she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together & commanded the respect of even Barak, a military general. She was also a prophetess, whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. Those who lead must not forget about the spiritual condition of those being led. A true leader is concerned for persons, not just success.

Israel's sin was not only "in the sight of the Lord"; it was also against the Lord. Our sins harm both ourselves & others, But all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his commands & his authority over our lives. When confessing his sin David prayed, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned & done this evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51:4). Recognizing the seriousness of sin may be the first step toward removing it from our lives.

This is the only time during the period of the judges when the Israelites' enemies came from within their land. The Israelites had failed to drive out all the Canaanites, & they had regrouped & were attempting to restore their lost power. If the Israelites had obeyed God in the first place & driven the Canaanites from the land, this incident would not have happened.

Chariots were the tanks of the ancient world. Made of iron or wood, they were pulled by one or two horses & were the most feared & powerful weapons of the day. Some chariots even had razor sharp knives extending from the wheels designed to mutilate helpless foot soliders. The Canaanite army had 900 iron chariots. It was not within Israel's power to defeat such an invincible army. With such power Jabin & Sisera had no problem oppressing the people - until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God.

After 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally turned to God for help. But God should be the first place we turn when we are facing struggles or dilemmas. The Israelites did things their way & got into a mess. We often do the same thing. Trying to control our own lives without God's help often leads to struggle & confusion. By contrast, when we stay in daily contact with God, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves. This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to seek him first, giving him top priority in our lives.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Bible Publishers, Wheaton, IL