Can There Be No Unity ???

davidkitz:

Here are some insights on the need for Christian unity by Levi Thetford.

Originally posted on Levi's Daily Thoughts:

In my post of last Saturday, July 25, I mentioned how I had witnessed unity within the church in France like I have never witnessed anywhere else. How that unity was achieved and has been kept alive, I’m not certain. One person told me that it is because the church is not large in numbers. I did speak with more declared atheists in Paris and London than I ever have in my whole life. It definitely is a post-modern culture there. Much more than I run across in NYC, and anywhere else in this country that I frequent. Perhaps this is a factor.

I believe that if the apostles were present today, or Jesus Himself, the church of today would not be recognizable to them. Paul, in his epistles, wrote 7 verses speaking of church unity to every one he wrote on justification by faith. This should speak volumes to us!! Justification by faith is very…

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In God I Trust

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Reading:                                          Psalm 56

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David.

A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

(Verses 1-7)

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down
(NIV).

Reflection

In times of trouble David knew where to turn. With his enemies, the Philistines, surrounding him, he turned to God. Hear his bold confession, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

When the enemy comes in like a flood -- David Kitz

When the enemy comes in like a flood — David Kitz

David, the obvious answer to your question is, “Mere mortals can torture and kill you.”

Despite this David remained confident. The Philistines could destroy his body but they could not harm his eternal spirit which was at peace—protected by God. Do you and I have the same confidence? That confidence can be ours if we put our trust in God.

Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The One we are to fear is God alone. Jesus perfectly demonstrated his trust in God the Father when he went to the cross on our behalf. There he was tortured and killed, but three days later he was vindicated by the Father, who raised him from the dead. Our redemption and salvation come from Jesus.

When we face mortal danger or a deadly prognosis may these words be on our lips and in our heart: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Response: LORD God, right now I put my faith and trust in you. By the blood of Jesus you forgive all my sins and have paid the price for my redemption. When I am afraid, I turn to you. I put my trust in you alone.  Amen.

Your Turn: Who do you trust and turn to when bad news comes?

Are you carrying or casting your cares?

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Reading:                                           Psalm 55

 (Verses 16-23)

As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.

 God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.

My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.
But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you (NIV).

Reflection

The phone call wasn’t good news. After our 7,000 km trip to western Canada an oil change was in order, and my wife volunteered to take our car to have that service done. She called back with the news that the car needed new tires and there was a leak in the front end suspension system. Suddenly a routine oil change turned into a major expense, and this all comes so soon after the costs for our trip. Consequently, these words from Psalm 55 have added meaning for me this morning: Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.

Lake Placid, NY -- David Kitz

Lake Placid, NY — David Kitz

These are minor troubles in the sight of God. He is more than willing to carry them. Speaking prophetically David invites us to cast our cares on the LORD. That includes unexpected bills and expenses.

One of my favorite leisure time activities is skipping rocks across the water. There’s something unnatural about a stone dancing across the water. Stones are supposed to sink, not hop across the waves. But when they are cast with enough force and with the right technique they do the impossible. They dance across the water.

Notice there is a promise attached to those cares that we cast on the LORD. This is the LORD’s promise: He will sustain you. He will sustain us—sustain us in the midst of the impossible. Until like that dancing rock, we reach the other side.

Response: LORD God, I cast my worries and cares on you. I am so thankful that you care about the details of my life. With the psalmist, David, I can say, But as for me, I trust in you.” Amen.

Your Turn: Do you have cares that you need to cast onto the LORD today?

Mid-Week Refresher

davidkitz:

This is one of those posts that simply deserves a wider audience. When things don’t go the way we feel they should, read this:

Originally posted on Ad-Infinite-item:

Closed Doors

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The Bible has much to say about open and closed doors and many times – even as Christians – we face obstacles on our path, in ministry, and daily life. Blocked doors can be very frustrating. Yet God often uses closed doors to advance his cause.

The Bible itself reminds us that God closed the womb of young Sarah so he could display his power to an elderly Sarah. He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator. He displaced Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

Even Jesus knew the value of a closed…

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What thoughts find lodging in your heart?

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Reading:                                            Psalm 55

 (Verses 9-15)

Lord, confuse the wicked; confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,

 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers.

Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them
(NIV).

Reflection

My wife and I are currently on a road trip through western Canada. Today I am in Edmonton, a growing, prosperous city of more than a million. Last evening after a passing thunderstorm, I went by myself for a walk in the Mill Creek Ravine. There in the cool of the evening I was surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. After the heat of the day, it was a quiet place of refreshing.

Mill Creek Ravine, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Mill Creek Ravine, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Sad to say, my wife would not dare go for a walk by herself in Mill Creek Ravine. You see, last week in broad daylight a woman was attacked there by a sexual predator. Earlier in the day I had gone to a nearby bank branch to use an ATM. At the bank, a repairman was replacing a shattered window pane and the front door had been kicked in—presumably an attempted robbery.

In cities today the words of Psalm 55 ring true. I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.

Edmonton is no more dangerous than any large city. In fact, it is far safer than most North American cities of comparable size, nevertheless, evil finds lodging here. Evil leaps across geographic boundaries and crosses cultural and racial barriers. Evil finds lodging wherever a human heart entertains hatred, greed or lust. Jesus said that all manner of wickedness flows out from the heart. See Matthew 15:19.

The question I need to ask myself is what finds lodging in my heart. Do I open the door to the evil one, to resentment and bitterness? Or do I turn those thoughts away and invite Jesus in?

Response: LORD God, I want you to find lodging in my heart through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you live in a safe city or neighborhood? Take a moment to pray for your city.

I’ll Fly Away

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Reading:                                            Psalm 55

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.

(Verses 1-8)

Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;

 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

  because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm”
(NIV).

Reflection

There are days when we all wish we had wings. When there are troubles and worries all around we long for a place of rest. Then David’s prayer becomes our prayer, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm”

Be at Rest -- David Kitz

A Monarch at Rest — David Kitz

Do you have a place of shelter? David was fortunate; he had such a place. In his spirit by means of prayer, he flew to the LORD. There he found the rest and comfort he needed.

Yesterday, I met with a former neighbor and family friend. A few months ago he lost his young wife in tragic car accident. With tears in his eyes he confessed how God has been his help in his time of overwhelming sorrow. He has found comfort with his Savior. When he felt he could not carry on, Jesus carried him. His faith and hope in the resurrection sustained him.

Jesus is our refuge from the tempest and storm.  Whatever difficulties we face, we have a place of rest with him. Sometimes our burdens are simply too heavy for us to carry. Peter gives this advice, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Having cast our worries on the Lord, we can fly away to our Savior—our place of rest.

Response: LORD God, help me remember that I have a friend in Jesus. I can bring my troubles to Him. Thanks be to you, Lord. You hear me when I call. Amen.

Your Turn: Has Jesus been a shelter from the storm for you?

Vindicate me by your might!

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Reading:                                        Psalm 54

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”

Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, L
ORD, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes
(NIV).

Reflection

I like to prove that I’m right. I get a pleasure boost by showing an opponent that my ability or reasoning is superior to theirs. What about you? I think it’s in our nature to stand up and crow when we score a goal, or are vindicated when challenged. Every athlete lives for that moment on top of the podium. I am sure the psalmist David was no different.

Joshua Kitz - Horseshoe pitch - MacNutt, SK

Joshua Kitz – Horseshoe pitch – MacNutt, SK

Once again, this is a psalm with a back story and in brief here it is: Though David was a faithful servant of his master King Saul, he was forced to flee because Saul was jealous of his success as a warrior, and was determined to hunt David down and kill him. On two occasions the Ziphites went to Saul and reported that David was hiding in their territory.

David begins this short psalm with a straightforward request: Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might.

There is something unusual about David’s prayer request. He does not seek to be vindicated by his own might. He does not ask for strength or ability so he can be avenged against his mortal enemy, instead he asks God to intervene. He asks God to win the battle on his behalf. Let’s remember that David was a warrior. Of him it was sung, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). But rather than lift a finger to harm Saul, on two occasions David spared his life. When urged to kill Saul, David replied, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed…” (1 Samuel 24:6).  What about you and me? Are we trying to win battles in our own strength and ability—battles that belong to the LORD?

Response: LORD God, help me to know that the battle belongs to you and you are the ultimate victor. My trust is in you. I need not prove I am right. You will have the final say. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you seek vindication or do you let the LORD be your vindicator?

There is no God?

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Reading:                                       Psalm 53

For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
(NIV).

Reflection

There is something very fresh and current about Psalm 53. Though David penned this psalm in about 1000 BC, he is describing today’s world. The fools of the world in 2015 are still busy spouting their lies. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

River Path, Nagakute, Japan-- David Kitz

River path, Nagakute, Japan– David Kitz

 Though the fool observes that there is no God, it is God’s observations on mankind that strike me as being more accurate: They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

When God is taken out of the picture, corruption runs rampant, and no set of laws or regulations will change that. The problem is not laws or regulations; the problem is the state of a person’s heart. Without the love and fear of God, restraint is cast off and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. See Judges 21:25.

You see the fool doesn’t stop at claiming there is no God. He takes matters to the next logical step. In the absence of God, he asserts that he is god. He is the master of his own domain and not accountable to anyone but himself. This quickly leads to moral rot of the worst kind, since the devious mind of man can self-justify even the most heinous crimes. On a personal level it’s a rot that we must all guard against. None of us can claim moral perfection. When we do, we turn God into a liar.

Response: LORD God of heaven and earth. I bow my knees before you. Grant me a pure heart so that I can see you at work all around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Your Turn: Do believers deny the existence of God when they wilfully engage in corrupt behavior?

Betrayal and Trust

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Reading:                                        Psalm 52

For the director of music. A maskil of David.

When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?     

Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good (NIV).

Reflection

Like several of David’s psalms, Psalm 52 comes with a back story. It’s a story of stunning betrayal. Though he was loyal, David was forced to flee from jealous King Saul. On one occasion, he sought refuge at the tabernacle of the LORD and with Ahimelech the priest. Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd, was present at the tabernacle that day. Acting in good faith, Ahimelech helped David by providing food and a weapon—the sword of Goliath. This innocent act of kindness led directly to Ahimelech’s death. Doeg reported this incident to Saul, who ordered the priests be put to death. Doeg personally killed eighty-five of them. (For a full account of this treachery see 1 Samuel 21-22.)

A Tree flourishing in the house of God -- David Kitz

A Tree flourishing in the house of God — David Kitz

We live in a fallen world—a world where stunning betrayal is often rewarded. In the political realm or the world of high finance, almost daily we hear accounts of how men and women have cut down those they once considered family and friends. All too often this accusation rings true: You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.

David discovered that he could trust very few men. He placed his trust in God. When the world turns on you, as it did on David, we can turn to God. Here is the testimony of a wise man: I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Response: LORD God, help me to always put my trust in your unfailing love. You are my help and refuge in the storms of life. Amen.

Your Turn: Has someone you trusted let you down? Has that experience renewed your trust in God?

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