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Palms And Willows?

Thought For The Week…

Take a look around you. Everyone is different. There are different skins colors, hair styles, languages, likes and dislikes; just to name a few! The human race may be diverse, but they have some things in common. For example, every human has a birth date and immediately begins his or her journey towards the end of their physical life. Another thing that every human being has in common is the fact that each of us has good things happen to us and each of us has bad things to happen to us.

Job is probably one of the best, Biblical examples of an individual experiencing both “good” and “bad”. Job’s wife encouraged Job to abandon his faith in God (Job 2:9-10) after she had reached her melting point. Job reminded her that they needed to endure the hard times just as they enjoyed the easier times!

(Job 2:9-10) “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”  (KJV)

Our Lord Jesus is another example of one who experienced both the “good” and the “bad”. Jesus makes His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem in the manner as prophesied (Zech. 9:9). We call this day Palm Sunday. As Jesus made His way into the city, the crowds grew larger and they waved palm leaves in front of Him and laid their garment upon the ground. Palm leaves are symbolic of grandeur and happiness. Willows, on the other hand, speak of sadness and hard times.

(Zechariah 9:9) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”  (KJV)

It is quite interesting that when Moses conveyed the order of ceremonies for the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23, Israel was to gather both palms AND willows. Of course, this was they could have adequate materials to make the booths they were required to dwell in during their feast, but the implications are much more than that. This celebration was to offer the first-fruits of harvest. The bounty of harvest certainly endured both “good” and “bad”.

Jesus IS the first-fruits! He enjoyed the “palms”, but also understood what the “willows” meant in just a few short days. Our lives can be characterized by times under the palm trees as well as under the weeping willows. Just as a bouquet, and a wreath come from the same place, remember that God allows “good” and “bad” into our lives for our benefit!

(Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  (KJV)

Are You Making Music?

Thought For The Week…

Music is one of the most powerful mediums in the universe and is a wonderful creation of God. The more I study music, sing and play an instrument the more I stand in awe at the beauty of Godly music. It can encourage, strengthen and challenge everyone within its reach.

I am reminded about the time when King Saul was disturbed and could not sleep. Nothing brought relief to his soul until David pulled his fingertips across the strings of his harp.  (1 Samuel 16:14-23) Whatever the melody was, it’s soothing rhythm eased the king and brought stillness to the raging sea of his mind. As Saul, both you and I have been rejuvenated by a divinely appointed arrangement at one time or another. God made each of us in such a way that music naturally compliments our life.

Listening to music has always been a great pastime of my mine. When I was saved, however, music took on a larger role. I craved gospel music! Listening to a hymn or gospel song’s melody and anticipating its chord changes is something which stirred me deeply!  As a result of this newly found emphasis, I became more keenly aware of how God’s Word, when set to music, can become that much more meaningful to you.

For the child of God, music should be a natural result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Consider Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The Apostle Paul is saying the God’s Word should be “at home” in our hearts and the fruit of that relationship should bring forth constructive music for us and those around us.

Whether it is just a melody of personal praise or that of a congregational hymn sung in a worship service, Godly music should be something that a Spirit-filled Christian enjoys and seeks to build their life around. Does your walk with God bring a song into your heart? Does your life produce a song which draws others to hear Jesus?

Are You Shining Brightly?

Thought For The Week…

When I was a little boy, my mother had two kerosene oil lamps on the mantle which were really quite nice looking. The globes were simple in design, but the bases had some beautiful artwork engraved into it. Most of the time, these lamps sat on the mantle for decoration only. However, every once in a while, when the power would go out, momma would light these lamps. They were amazingly bright and very cozy on a cold winter’s night!

There was one occasion when momma lit the lamps which I remember vividly! For some reason she forgot to trim the wick in one of them quickly enough and the smoke darkened the globe with soot. It did not take very long for this to happen, but it left an image in my mind I won’t soon forget. You see, the soot had done its damage! Though there was light inside the globe, it did not reach out to its full potential because the glass was dirty. We did not enjoy the beautiful flickering light like we could have.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV)

Every child of God, according to Jesus, is a light. He stated this in Matthew 5:14-16 and further mentioned that we needed to let our light shine in such a way that our good works would glorify our Heavenly Father. As a result of our obedience to God, our light would be a help to folks around us.

Our light will not be effective and reach its fullest potential if our lives are not pleasing to God. If we refuse to keep our sins confessed and live for ourselves instead of God, then we will be like that dirty globe my mother had to deal with. It was only when she cleaned the globe that it was able to be a blessing to those in the room that evening.

How bright is your light? Though we will never know just how effectively God is using us and every time He is using our light and testimony, we still need to shine brightly! Stay out of God’s way and let Him work through you dear saint of God. Allow Him to have His rightful place and you will stand amazed as to how God can use you. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning brightly!

Behind The Offering…

Thought For The Week…

Any student of the Old Testament sits in astonishment as they meditate upon the Tabernacle’s creation and its meaning. It must have been a magnificent structure to behold. Those who did have a chance to see it from a distance, like many of the surrounding nations did, certainly were touched by their experience!

Have you ever given much thought as to how the Tabernacle was able to be built to begin with? While Moses was up in the Sinai those 40 days and nights God gave him the plans for the Tabernacle and everything that would be used in service for God. When you read Exodus chapter 35, however, you will find some very intriguing details about the source of provisions for the Tabernacle’s construction.

Without a doubt, many have been blessed as they read the list of things that were given in the offering that Moses asked for. But more importantly, two things are mentioned consistently about some of the children of Israel which illuminates God’s plan over all. Some of the folks are said to have had “a willing heart” and a “stirred” heart.

Yes, God could have miraculously provided the building materials and everything which was needed for the Tabernacle in a way like He did with the manna, but He didn’t. He chose to move upon the hearts of men and women to give of their possessions which they had accumulated while in Egypt and from their “back pay” they collected just before the march out. God certainly provided the material provisions in the first place, but again, He simply touched the hearts of His people to give to the offering.

It is absolutely amazing how various ministries in our local churches can be created, enabled, and carried out in service for Christ. It begins with “a willing heart” and a “stirred” heart. If you allow God to “stir” your heart, you will have “a willing heart,” and if you have “a willing heart,” indeed, your heart will be “stirred!” As God’s people responded to the offering that day, little did they know, how far reaching an impact they would make!

How about you? Are you allowing God to “stir” your heart? Do you have “a willing heart” towards God and the work of God? Consider how God used the offering in Exodus chapter 35 and ask God to use you too!