By the book

By the Book

Psalms 119:9-16 NASB  Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.  (10)  With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.  (11)  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.  (12)  Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes. (13)  With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth.  (14)  I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.  (15)  I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways.  (16)  I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.

A few weeks ago my daughter was having some trouble with her Algebra II homework so she asked for some assistance. I love math but I have not attempted Algebra in a long time. I sat down and it seemed familiar to me; however, I could not remember what to do to save my life. I asked to look at the video and her book so to refresh myself on what in the world I was about to do. It did seem rather easy if I followed her book, which pointed it out step by step. I checked my answer and of course I was right because I did it by the book. My daughter’s response was that it did not make sense. I then proceeded to tell her, “Just follow the formula and how the teacher tells you to work it out and you will come up with the right answer.” Just go by the book. How am I supposed to keep my ways pure? How am I supposed to live my life so that the stench of this world does not cling to me? The psalmist proclaims to us to walk according to God’s Word. In verse 11 the psalmist also gives us assistance in walking appropriately as we look at the things that we treasure. The things that we love are the things that we walk after in our daily activities. Do you treasure God’s Word? Does your life resemble more of God’s Word or the world in which you reside? If you desire to live your life to resemble Jesus, which is what a disciple does, then you will need to be a man/woman of the book…God’s Word. It is amazing but the Bible will lead us right back to the heart of God; however, the Bible does so much more as leads us in righteousness and how to deal with daily living. Are you a man/woman of the Book? Read it. Meditate upon it. Pray it. Discuss it. Share it. Dear God, please open up your Word to our hearts so that we might reflect and resemble Jesus.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

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Shining Example

John 12:9-11 NASB  The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.  (10)  But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also;  (11)  because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

I hope that we remember from yesterday’s post that in John 11 Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead. It must be noted that Lazarus was dead as he had been in the tomb for four days by the time that Jesus arrived. Can you imagine the stir in the community when this all came to pass? I am sure that everyone wanted to look at, touch and talk to Lazarus. It is amazing now that the chief priest wanted to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus. The chief priest see Lazarus as much as a threat as Jesus. They think that they can snuff out the problem by getting rid of the evidence. As I mention a few names I wonder what will be the first thought to pop into your mind: George Washington; Abraham Lincoln; Babe Ruth; Jackie Robinson; Rosa Parks; Martin Luther King Jr.; Billy Graham. I am sure that the testimonies of their life and achievements ran through your thoughts. Seeing this passage of scripture got me to thinking. I wonder if my life illustrates Jesus so that when they think of me then they think of Jesus. The testimony of Lazarus caused many people to believe in and follow Jesus. Is my life a bright and shining example of Jesus to the point that people want to follow Him as well. Our lives may be the only Bible that people see and read that introduces them to Jesus. Our life may be the salt and light that is needed to illustrate Jesus in such a manner that they understand their need for the Savior. Dear Lord, please help my life to be a shining example of Your love and power so that those I come into contact will be able to see You through me. I pray that they will come to know You as their Savior through my life.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Four days late

John 11:3-6 NASB  So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he (Lazarus) whom You love is sick.”  (4)  But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”  (5)  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  (6)  So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

Mary and Martha did exactly as they should because they called upon Jesus when Lazarus was physically in trouble. They had seen Jesus heal the sick before so they knew that this should not be a problem because Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. However, when Jesus got the news He did not rise and run over to Lazarus to heal him but Jesus waited two days. Why did Jesus make Mary and Martha wait? Why did Jesus allow Lazarus to go through this unnecessary suffering? Do not we go through the same scenario as this story? We have a problem so we pour out our hearts to God and expect Him to move on the spot. I personally do not think that this is wrong thinking; however, we must understand that God does not move and work on our timing and agendas. Isaiah 55 instructs us that God’s ways and thoughts are above our own and He will complete His perfect will in all eternity within His own timing. Mary and Martha could only see the here and the now but not what Jesus was about to perform. Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead and prove that He was, is, and will forever be the God who moves in the lives of His people. I am not sure what struggles, problems, or difficulties that you face today; however, there are two things that should never leave your life. First, keep crying out to God with your problem. Peter challenges us to do just that in 1 Peter 5:7 NASB “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Secondly, keep trusting God’s heart even when you cannot see His hand. We might bring our need unto the Lord but we only hear silence. We need to just hold on to the Lord because either God is going to answer in His own time or He will provide something else that is far greater than our current need. Even when God is four days late He is still right on time. Trust Him!

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Play nice

1 Samuel 24:3-5 NASB  He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.  (4)  The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.  (5)  It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe.

In this scene David is on the run for his life. Saul is attempting to track David down so that he can kill him and David is fully aware of the situation. However, David handles his position much differently than most people. It seems as if the Lord has delivered Saul to David on a silver platter because David has a chance to kill Saul. However, Saul has been anointed by Samuel to be the king of Israel so David will not raise up his hand against his enemy. This passage got me to thinking…Would we have done the same? How would we treat a person who mistreats and harms us? Jesus instructs us in Matthew 5:44 NASB “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Paul also challenges us in Romans 12:14 &20-21 NASB “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 20 BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.  (21)  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The human side of emotions would exclaim that we need to retaliate against persecution, disrespect, hatred, gossip, cursing, and etc. with the same amount of force; however, we see a different mindset from God’s Word. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and persecutors. Paul exclaims that by returning good for evil this will heap burning coals on their head or shame them into knowing that there is a great difference in the life of Jesus and satanic forces. Have you ever tried to pray for someone who deeply hurt you? And no I do not mean that you have prayed for God to strike them down with their own medicine. Have you prayed for God to show them the same grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness that He showed you? Have you been hurt, disrespected, mistreated, or persecuted? Have you showed them the love of God? Maybe you could begin by praying for them. Play nice because you may be the key that leads that person to Jesus.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

Great treasure and turmoil

Proverbs 15:16 NASB  Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it.

It does seem that our society is separated by the haves and the have nots. I know that having money allows one to do things that you would not be able to do otherwise. However, I wonder why does having money cause so many problems. I have witnessed a family become torn apart because a parent passed away and there was money left for the family. I wonder why so many celebrities deal with drug and alcohol addiction among other troubles if money, popularity, and a lavish lifestyle is supposed to bring about the highest aspect of life. I have also witnessed countless individuals who have possessed very little according to the world’s standards; however, they are joyful, full of peace, and vibrant in living life. What would you say causes the difference? Solomon instructs us that it is far better to have little of this world’s goods but to have the fear of the Lord. Solomon also encourages us in Proverbs 10:22 NASB “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.” The blessings of the Lord are priceless not only in this life but also in the light of eternity. Where are your blessings coming from? Are your blessings sitting in the bank account or in some other material blessing or are your blessings in the Lord? This in no way demeans wealth or possessions; however, if you see great treasure as your blessings then turmoil will accompany it. It is far better to see your blessings that come from the hand of the Lord. The greatest blessing is knowing Jesus as my Savior and walking with Him on a daily basis. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Can you see the blessing of the Lord in your little? Know that no matter your status in society if you know Jesus as your Savior and walk with Him then you are blessed beyond all comprehension. In that knowledge there is peace and joy not turmoil.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs

The battle is not yours

1 Samuel 17:38-40 NASB Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. (39) David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off. (40) He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.

Have you ever attempted to complete something that you know that you had no business doing? I remember the first time that I tried to change the sparkplugs and wires in my car (I was 18). I removed the old items and then I proceeded to place the new ones on the engine. I was satisfied…until I attempted to start the car. It seemed as if the engine was about to jump out of the car. I was then told that a car has a firing order so that the engine will run smoothly. A mechanic friend realigned my wires and the engine purred once again. I should not have attempted to do it on my own. Saul attempted to clothe David in his armor as he was going out to battle Goliath. This was a failed attempt of Saul thinking that he could do things on his own rather than trusting in the hand of God. Paul wonderfully challenges us to fight properly in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NASB “(3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, (4) for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Are you up against a mighty giant? Does it seem as if the forces of hell have unleashed its might against you? I encourage and challenge you this morning to fight properly. The battle is not yours but the Lord’s. Paul challenges our thinking once again in Romans 8:37 NASB “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” We are not victorious on our own but through Christ. I challenge you to stand firm and strong in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must allow His power and glory to cover us so that we will be victorious through His mighty hand. I do believe that a man/woman is their strongest when they are in their closet of prayer fighting the mighty battle. Are you in a battle? Then spend more time in prayer and allow the Spirit of God to work through you and your situation so that the name of Jesus is glorified! Hallelujah!

Blessings,
Marcus Riggs

Preparation

1 Samuel 17:33-37 NASB Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” (34) But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, (35) I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. (36) Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” (37) And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”

Everything that is costly takes time and great difficulty to not only obtain but to create. A diamond takes a great deal of time and a tremendous amount of pressure to create. Silver or gold has to be heated so that the impurities can be extracted. Not only are these items difficult to make or to have a finished product but they are also very difficult to obtain. I wonder if David wondered, “Why me?” when the lion and the bear attacked the sheep. I wonder if while David was killing the lion and the bear that he thought that God had forsaken him because of that great difficulty. The very thing that tried him was the situation that actually prepared him for a greater battle later in life. This may have been a different type of battle; however, it prepared him and gave him confidence that God was going to see him through every situation. Are you going through a difficult circumstance? Does it seem as if you are all alone? The difficulties of today are merely preparing you for a battle or situation tomorrow. The outcome of tomorrow’s battle depends largely upon how we chose to handle the situation today. What am I to do? David challenges us in Psalms 42:1 “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.” What are we to do? Run! Run to the arms of our loving Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us. There is only one place of comfort, peace, and joy and that is trusting that the God who saw us through the troubles of yesterday and today will bring us to the place of victory tomorrow. Dear God, I feel so helpless, tired, and burdened with the current battle. Please help me to seek Your face in the midst of today’s troubles. I know that I need You to show forth Your glory so that Your name is magnified. I know that You were faithful yesterday and You will be faithful today so that the victory can be won in tomorrow’s battle.

Blessings,

Marcus Riggs