This brief text describes an event that took place during the time when God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage. In the previous chapter, we learn that when the children of Israel began their journey, the LORD ‘went before them…’ (Ex. 13:21).
Though they had God’s Presence to guide them, this did not remove their problem. Pharaoh’s army still pursued and eventually caught up with Israel on the shore of the Red Sea. In this time of great fear, the LORD spoke…and then acted (14:19) …”removed and went behind…”. It is good to know that God has your back and will come between you and your trouble! Not also that God’s Presence, which appeared to Israel as a pillar of light, was to the Egyptians as darkness, thus providing protection.
During the Civil War, someone asked President Lincoln whether God was on the side of the Union. Lincoln replied that the better question was whether the Union was on the Lord’s side.
Lesson: Your view of God during times of difficulty depends on which side of God you are on!
Francis R. Havergal wrote a poem in October of 1877. John Gross adapted the words to a German melody and the hymn, WHO IS ON THE LORD’S SIDE, was born.
During the early stages of the war with Saddam Hussein there was a phone conversation that took place between then President George H.W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thacker. Both world leaders realized that this was a critical situation and direct action must be taken quickly and decisively. Mrs. Thacker said to President Bush, “This is no time to go wobbly…”
According to the Oxford English dictionary; “Wobbly” = tending to move unsteadily from side to side. This man in our text finds himself in a situation that calls for decisive and definitive action…but, he is in danger of going ‘wobbly’.
Perhaps no greater concerns grip the hearts of parents than when the care of our children is beyond our physical control. Many have been the times that I would have taken the pain, the illness or the emotional hurts of our children upon myself rather than to see them suffer.
The father of this text (be sure to read the context in verses 1-25) seems to express the heartfelt concern for his son who was in a Crisis situation, being under the Control of a demonic spirit. His Concern is seen in that he, after the disciples could not help, continued in his search for help until he came to Jesus and asked for Compassion (vs 22).
In verse 23, we see the Concern of Jesus, who told the man, “If you can believe…” emphasizing that faith is essential to answered prayer. The Cry of the father is in verse 24, where he admits that while he has some faith, there remains a certain amount of doubt…he is in danger of ‘going wobbly’!
It is at the Crisis times in life that we must not ‘go wobbly’ in our faith. Turn doubt into determination by trusting God to do what He can do!
Inspired by the text from 1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” KJV, the Reverend John H. Yates wrote the text to FAITH IS THE VICTORY, to which Ira D. Sankey later wrote the music. The next time you are tempted to ‘go wobbly’, perhaps singing this old hymn will prove to be a source of encouragement!
Have you ever given thought to those 40 post resurrection days mentioned in our text? Do you ever wonder what events took place after the resurrection, but assumed that there is no record? There is, in fact, a record of those post resurrection appearances!
Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, makes mention of a former treatise, written by himself that records “all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day He was taken up…” referring to His Ascension. This former treatise is the Gospel of Luke and is but one of four Gospel accounts written concerning the life and ministry of Christ. The Book of Acts is Luke’s inspired record of the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church.
In the introduction of this book, Luke refers to “many infallible proofs” that were evidences of Jesus’ activities during those 40 days after that first Easter morning. They were:
And for those who discount the eyewitness accounts because they are written in the Bible, consider the secular account written by the early historian, Flavius Josephus, in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3:3, page 480…”for he (Jesus) appeared unto them (those that loved him) alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold…”
Here we are, just days after Easter Sunday 2019…how many have gone about business as usual, not considering that He is still risen? He does not rise from the grave once a year any more than He is re-born annually. The celebrations of His birth and resurrection, while commemorative, must also be continual. Don’t acknowledge Him once a year and live as if He is dead the rest of the year!
Alfred H. Ackley, a Presbyterian pastor in California was meditating on Mark 16:6
“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” KJV and consequently wrote the words and music to “He Lives”. Ackley was about forty-five years old at the time.
My! How reporting the News has changed in my lifetime. I remember, as many of you do, when the news reporters did just that, they reported the news and left us with enough information to make up our own minds as to the potential outcomes thereof. Today, we do not have to tax our understanding because the reporters not only report what they want us to know, they comment on how we should think! Many have become Peddlers of Opinions rather than Reporters of the Facts. If we really want to know the truth of a matter, we must sort through the verbiage.
It may surprise you, but this is really nothing new to our age. The same games were played in Bible times, we just have more technology! Misinformation gets around a lot more quickly these days. For instance, the news of the Resurrection of Christ was first contrived by the priests, then controlled before it was widely distributed (read Matthew 28:11-15). Note that this text reads that this fake news was “commonly reported…until this day.” Doubts concerning the factual evidence of Christ’s resurrection are still in circulation!
Additionally, there were those who followed along after the Apostle Paul who sought to alter the message of Redemption by faith in Christ by teaching that faith alone was not enough to be saved, but that it was necessary to follow the Law of Moses as well.
In our text, which you should read in order to understand my point, the Apostle Paul warns concerning the false teachings that had arisen around the Gospel. He expresses his concern (vs 1-3) and cautions them against these false teachers who taught “philosophy and vain deceit” (vs 8). These are always those who seek to add to the simple Gospel message the ideas of man; to mix faith with the fantasies and falsehoods of man’s religions.
Since Truth was first introduced in the Garden of Eden, there have been attempts to discredit it as being insufficient. Satan challenged Eve with, “Has God said…?”(Gen.3) and sought to place doubt into the mind of Christ with “If you are the Son of God…” (Matt.4). His strategy remains unchanged! The vain philosophies of men exist today and are carefully concealed in what the Apostle Peter called “feigned words” in 2Peter 2:3. The word “feigned” comes from the Greek word “plastos”, which means “molded” or “artificial”. We get the word “plastic” from it. This describes words that are easily molded to fit whatever message the teacher intends. They may sound logical to the uninformed mind, but should be recognizable to those who know the Truth (vs 7).
Paul emphasizes in verse 9-10 that “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him…” KJV. When something is complete, it does not need to be added to!
Christ alone is our sufficiency, we need no more and no other. The great mistake Aaron made (Exodus 32) was his attempt to combine the worship of the gods of Egypt with that of the True God.
It is never Christ AND, but Christ ALONE!
Proverbs 15:1-2 cf Proverbs 14:17,29
I do not subscribe to any of the social media accounts, but I admit to ‘trolling’ my wife’s account from time to time. I have become increasingly disappointed at some to the comments I read. Some things are written that would not likely be said in person, as if the written word somehow lends anonymity to the author. Bravery at a distance is not courage and if often unkind.
The written word lacks the emphasis we put into vocal communications, so that which is written may come across differently and be misunderstood. If I write that I beat my wife up every morning, you might get the wrong idea completely! What I mean is that I rise from bed before she does. Context and inflection make a difference!
There are also misunderstandings that arise in conversations, therefore, the things that we write and the things we say ought to be carefully considered. Sometimes we re-act to a situation before we ought, when we would do better to wait, think and pray about our response; this way our proper action may be better received that our first re-action.
If our first answer is soft, it just may take the anger out of the response. When we answer harshness with like-sounding words, we add fuel to the fire. Proverbs 114:17 warns that a quick tempered man acts foolishly and verse 20 indicates that it is the wise man who is slow to wrath.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, as wrong as they may seem to us…and everyone is due to respect. When we answer softly, ears are more ready to hear what we have to say. Colossians 4:6 reads, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” KJV Col 4:6
This means that our conversations should be seasoned with piety or grace in a way similar to that in which we add salt in our food. As salt makes our food flavorable and palatable, so with our conversations.
Adolph Baumbach set music to Psalm 19:14 and gave us the hymn, LET THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH. Sing it throughout the day and be reminded to give a soft answer!
This psalm of David describes the joy that comes from the realization of God’s blessings. It is the joy of one who looks at life’s circumstances, good and bad, and concludes, “I am blessed”! He sees that not only has he been delivered from some great distress, set upon a solid foundation, pointed in the right direction but whose only occasion to look back is in order to count the blessings of one so delivered. Looking back, not to recall the sorrows and disappointments, but only to see from whence you came and how far you have come by God’s grace…
You note that he writes that “He” (God) inclined to me…” This word describes the ‘act of stretching out towards something”. The context implies the extending of the heart towards the object of desire. The psalmist goes on saying, “and being so inclined… He heard my cry!”
Ps 116:1-2 reads ”I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” KJV
Do you know, do you understand, do you realize that God is inclined towards you…He wants to hear from you and is listening for you to call on His name?! The Psalmist (David) rejoices in the fact that when God heard him IN his distress, He also delivered him FROM…
God is in the Restoration business! When “whosoever” calls, He comes to “bring you out of” your present sinful condition and it’s penalty! It is His intent not only to save you from the penalty of sin, but to restore you as His child! He loves you too much to leave you where He found you!
Phil 1:6 reads “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” KJV. Having begun that good work IN you, He ‘sets your feet on the firm foundation” so that you may have secure footing – establishing your steps, guiding with His eye, leading with His Word and by His Spirit!
IS GOD’S NAME GLORIFIED BY THE PATHWAYS OF YOUR LIFE? ARE YOU FOLLOWING IN THE PATHS WHERE HE IS LEADING?
Ps 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: KJV
This NEW song reflects the New Life in Christ…and becomes a TESTIMONY to the world around us!
DOES OUR SONG REFLECT THE WORLD AROUND US OR THE CHRIST WITHIN US?
He goes on here, only looking back to count his blessings! (vs 4-5)
…AND FINDS THAT THEY ARE TOO MANY TO COUNT!!!
The familiar hymn, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, a Methodist minister from Lumberton, New Jersey. E.O. Excell of Stark County, Ohio, wrote the music. Take a few minutes and count your blessings, rather than your burdens.
The 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews is often called the Hall of Faith chapter. It reiterates the heroes who acted by faith and witnessed mighty workings of God. Not all would be considered successful by today’s definition of success, for some suffered harsh treatments and cruel deaths in their journey through life (11:35b – 39), but were still successful in the plan of God, for they fulfilled their purposes.
One of these heroes of the faith that is mentioned is Joseph. He had a dream, he told that dream (Genesis 37:5-6) and through time and circumstances unforeseen that would seem to have destroyed that dream, it still came to pass. The thing that sustained him during the disappointments of life is seen in the phrase, “the LORD was with Joseph”.
We never read that Joseph doubted, nor that God ever spoke to him during his ordeals, but he seems to have been sustained by the remembrance of his dream. So much so that at the end of his testing, when he became second in command over Egypt, he could say to his brothers, “…ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,” Gen 50:20 KJV. Joseph’s dream sustained him as did God’s promise to Abraham of a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10).
Dreams are what hopes are made of. When we have something to look forward to,we have hope for the future. Hope for something better for ourselves, our families, our nation. This does not mean we are to be passive. Abraham did not just ‘sit and wait’ for the promise to be fulfilled. Three times the fact that ‘Abraham believed God…” is recorded. I imagine that there were times when Abraham reflected on God’s promise to make of him a great nation. Perhaps, late at night he gazed into the heavens as saw the stars and remembered the promise that his descendants would be ‘as the stars in number”. All those mentioned in this chapter actively responded by faith and they saw God work.
Dreams sustain us in times of disappointment. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Prov 13:12 KJV. That period of time between disappointment and the desire coming is a time when faith is being tested. It is at such times that we must learn to “see Him Who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27).
So, dream your dreams, even if they are never realized, for dreams are like love in that it is better to have dreamed and lost, than never to have dreamed at all.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD was written by B.B. McKinney in 1934. When we remember that this was during the Great Depression, we can understand what encouragement this hymn gave to many.
Would it surprise you that there are some Wednesday nights that I don’t want to go to church for Bible Study and Prayer Meeting? Would you be aghast if you knew that there are even some Sundays that I would rather stay home and rest because I’ve had a difficult week or a Saturday night when I didn’t get much sleep, or when I did not feel my best? Perhaps it wouldn’t surprise you that I go to church anyway…and come home afterward with a joy in my heart that I did!
I know that there are some, who claim to be Christians, but say that they have no use for or no need for church. Perhaps they have been hurt, or disappointed by other Christians, or feel out of place, or ________, ( fill in the blank with your own excuse!) But, God never intended for any of us to be ‘solo Christians’. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20 KJV. He encouraged the gathering together of His people. We need each other and the encouragement and edification that come from worshipping together.
We really have few reasons for not going to church. There are some which are legitimate, but many are not reasons, but excuses disguised as reasons. Years ago a man told me that the reason he couldn’t attend church was that the elastic on his underwear caused a rash around his waist. Let that sink in a minute and you will find a simple solution to that problem! This was not a reason, but an excuse. Someone has said that an excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. Truly, we have many excuses, but few reasons.
One verse which is often quoted to those who are frequently absent from church is Heb 10:25 “ Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” While it is an admonition to encourage the assembling together, we must know that the reason this admonition was given is found in the last part of the verse, “as ye see the day approaching.”
These Hebrew Believers were beginning to experience the beginnings of a coming time of persecution and the writer admonishes them to gather together for the mutual benefit that comes from being together during such times. It is better to suffer together than to be alone during such times.
Could it be that your personal difficulties just might become less traumatic if shared with other like minded Believers? The Psalmist here reflects joyfully on having accepted an invitation to “go to church” as it were and says, “I’m glad that I went!” I know that when I don’t feel like going, I am always glad that I did! Maybe you will too; give it a try!
Often sung around Thanksgiving, the hymn, WE GATHER TOGETHER, was originally folk hymn from the Netherlands. No one knows the author, but Theodore Baker translated it and the music was arranged by Edward Kremser. It can be found in most hymnals.
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” KJV
I heard a song this morning that took me back to memories of my childhood. Growing up in church, I was introduced very early in lie to the old hymns of the faith. During each service, the pastor would invite the “choir” to “come on up to the front and gather around the piano as we lead the congregation in singing”. Many did so, leaving others in the pews to “sing from where they sat”. What was lacking in harmony was made up in enthusiasm, for many were determined to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”.
The song I heard this morning was, “COME UNTO ME”, written by Charles Price Jones, Sr. (December 9, 1865 – January 19, 1949) was an American religious leader and hymnist. He was the founder of the Church of Christ (Holiness).
The song’s message is an invitation to those who are oppressed by care, to come to Jesus for rest. He offers to bear every burden and care. The same comfort is offered to those who are disappointed, doubtful and disillusioned. The song warns those who are “stumbling towards the pit of hell’s consuming flame” who “by the powers of sin are deluded and oppressed” and offers rest in Christ. It is a song with a message of hope to all who struggle beneath the load of sin.
The problem is that many do not recognize that sin is a burden on the soul. They do not feel any weight of sin and therefore acknowledge no need of a Savior. This lack of a felt need was posed to a country preacher by a man who challenged an answer saying, “Preacher, you say that sinners are bound by the burden of sin, but I feel no such burden. What do you have to say about that?”
The old preacher replied, quoting 1 Tim 5:6 saying “he (she) that liveth in pleasure is dead while he (she) liveth. KJV, and then admonished, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”, Eph 2:4-6 NKJV.
“Just what does that mean?” asked the sceptic. “It means,” replied the preacher, “that dead men feel no burdens.”
The things that make one conscious of his need is the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, Who convinces one of his need. Are you burdened ‘neath the load? Jesus still says, “Come unto Me!”
Isa 41:13 “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.' “NKJV
I do not like to fly, let me rephrase that, I do not like airports and all the hassles that accompany flying. After arriving at the airport the required one hour early, practically undressing to go through security and then waiting for the flight I think we would have gotten to our destination sooner had we just driven!
But, even with all that inconvenience, I really don’t mind flying, but once in the larger airports, I am met with another frustration, the confusion of getting from one place to the other…there are signs, monitors, gates, announcements from overhead and crowds of people.
To alleviate my fears, my dear wife, who actually enjoys the whole process, says, “Just take my hand and follow me.” So, I do and she leads me through the entire journey and eventually we arrive at our desired destination. She helps me through the fears and frustrations because she knows from experience what she is doing. I trust her even though I do not understand.
Life is like that. Here we are on a journey; sometimes it gets confusing, sometimes scary and often just frustrating. We have never been this way before and facing the unknown is sometimes daunting. It is at such times that Jesus offers us His hand and says, “Follow Me, I’ve been there, even through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Ps.23:4), I will see that you get to your destination.”
The life of Thomas Dorsey was not an easy one. Coming to faith in Christ after a long illness, Dorsey was singing in a revival meeting when he received a telegraph telling that his wife had died during childbirth. A few hours after arriving to his home, the child also died. Grief-stricken, he fell to his knees and sometime later wrote the words to PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND. Take the time to take His hand.