Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Mom's Victory Through Faith

In light of several friends dealing with loved ones who have cancer, I wanted to make this testimony available. My Mom trusted the Lord for salvation and got cancer, the complications of which led to her being taken home to her Heavenly Father. While it certainly was a hard trial, God did so much in and through our lives, that it was obvious He was still in control and had a plan, a reason, for this trial. I am not the same person I was. I believe the Lord used this trial to make me a little more like Him, a little more of the Christian He wants me to be.

Our Mom's Victory Through Faith
Eulogy for Malonie Trembllay (Smith)
By her son, Jerry Bouey, and daughter, Lori McCoy

Jesus wept.

It was at the graveside of His friend Lazarus. While the Saviour observed the grief of His friends, He identified fully with that grief, was moved with compassion for their loss, and He groaned in His spirit and was troubled. Then...

Jesus wept.

Who would have thought this - the shortest verse in the whole Bible - could offer comfort to those who would be reading it hundreds or even thousands of years later? It means that God Himself knows what we are going through - even now - and can identify with our pain, and offer complete comfort to those who will lean on Him.

Yes, our Mom is not here. She has gone on to the Father's house, gone home to Heaven, and has left her loved ones behind. Even in this time of grief and trouble of soul, the Lord offers you His comfort.

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, and together the three of them were some of Jesus' closest friends. God the Father had a purpose in Lazarus dying, and in Jesus being at that graveside - Jesus had come to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew what He was going to do in just a matter of moments, and yet He still had compassion on His friends and shared in their grief.

He said, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha understood this, but she was thinking of some future day when those believers who have died will come forth from the grave, at the first resurrection - but Jesus had something more in mind right then.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I Am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Then He proceeded to raise Lazarus from the dead. What tremendous comfort and joy to his friends that witnessed this miracle. There is coming a day when Jesus will come back from Heaven, and all those true believers - who have put their faith in Him and have since gone to be with Jesus in Heaven - are coming back with Him, and those of us which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Then the Bible goes on to say that we are to comfort one another with these words. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) In an age when many want to question or explain away the Bible, we can still find true comfort, assurance, and hope within its pages.

The apostle Paul wrote the following statement in the book of Philippians: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. He said that he had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ. There was no uncertainty or doubt in his mind - he knew what he believed, and he knew whom he believed in: the Lord Jesus Christ. (See Philippians 1:21-23)

Our Mom had this same assurance - there came a point in time several years back when she realized that Jesus paid the whole penalty for her sins and that salvation was by grace... through faith - it is the gift of God. Not a result of her works. There was nothing she could do to save herself, but simply trust solely in the Saviour who died to save her. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Believing in this passage of the Bible resulted in the Lord giving her eternal life through personal faith in Christ. Eternal life - life without end, forever and ever - starting from the moment she placed her faith in Jesus.

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

As our Mom grew in her faith, her walk drew her closer to the Lord - especially as her health declined more and more. I believe I can say that as her pain grew worse, the more she longed to be healed and be rid of this body that was failing her.

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (our temporary, earthly bodies) were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven (our immortal, eternal bodies)... For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life... Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

As the pain grew worse and as her body began to fail her more and more, our Mom had to learn to lean on the Lord day by day. Unfortunately, it wasn't the Lord's will to heal her, but as she clung tightly to her Heavenly Father's hand, He held her up and filled her with His love. In this last year or two, she was NOT the same person she was before. God had made her a new creature - and though her outward body was perishing, inwardly she had God's peace. She was trusting in her Saviour - and you can't fake that on your deathbed! Her faith was real - and as the storms raged around her on the outside, there was a spiritual calm inside her.

I remember this past February, when she took a serious turn for the worse and was hospitalized again. In my mind, I believe this was the first time we realized that she could be going home soon. I remember asking her how she was coping. And her response was so amazing! She said she was trusting in Jesus, and He had so filled her heart with His love that she was trying to encourage the nurses who were saddened by her loss of health. When it looked like all was going downhill for her fast, she was rising upwards by her faith. The Lord had drawn her so close to Himself that it was evident to those around her. Truly, I look back at that conversation with her and praise God for the way He can transform a life - EVEN IN THE MIDST OF A TRAGEDY!

Deuteronomy 33:27 says, The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Oh, it was so evident that the Lord was holding her safely in those arms at that time - and every single moment since then!

Rising In The Arms Of Love

Oh, my friend, she is sinking so very fast!
No, she is only rising in the arms of Love!
But I thought that she would remain at last...
No, she is destined for greater things above!

But why would God completely take away her peace?
No, her Saviour has given her a more lasting kind!
Real joy isn't when all toil and troubles cease -
For when Jesus draws close, peace fills this heart of mine!

The fear, the unknown, it must be dreadful...
No, His blessed presence is so very near!
But, why did this tragedy have to happen at all?
Because He knew what I needed, and He is always here!

Why would He cause this affliction, why this trial?
He has a purpose, His ways are so much greater than mine!
I know these troubles are only for a little while,
And then I will dwell forever with Him in mansions sublime!

No, I am not sinking - I am rising -
Held gently by His arms of Love,
Sheltered safely under His wings,
Till I reach my Heavenly home above!

Rising, rising, in those arms of Love!

Poem written February 26th, 2005
by Jerry Bouey

As the months progressed, the roller coaster of emotions went up and down, the situation seemed to get better only to see her health get worse. Every setback seemed to be balanced by some further hope. The uncertainty was the worst - would God heal her down here, or would He take her home to Heaven and heal her there? Through it all, we did our best to encourage her, to help her keep her eyes on the Lord, to cling to Bible promises, and prayed for God's grace - no matter what His will was, because with His grace and strength, she would be able to cope with whatever He allowed into her life during this illness.

As Psalm 23 says, The LORD is my Shepherd. And truly, the Lord was her Shepherd, because she had placed personal faith in Him and became one of His sheep.

In John 10, Jesus said to His disciples, I Am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine... My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me... I lay down My life for the sheep.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus said, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup (ie. fellowship) with him, and he with Me. Our Mom heard the Shepherd's voice, and opened the door of her heart to Him - she trusted in the Good Shepherd that laid His life down for His sheep. She knew He paid the price for her sins when He shed His blood and died on the cross. She knew that He was buried in that tomb and, praise God, she believed that He resurrected from the dead, and is alive forevermore to be her Saviour. She knew that in John 14:6, Jesus said, I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. She knew that truth, she heard His voice, and she received Him as her Saviour. Now she had more than a religion, she had a relationship with her Heavenly Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. She had eternal life, and NO ONE AND NO THING - NOT EVEN THIS DISEASE - COULD SEPARATE HER FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What more assurance can you ask for than that promise in His Holy Word! His promises, by the way, He is ALWAYS faithful to keep!

2 Timothy 1:12 ...For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

The Bible teaches that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not to sorrow (grieve) as those which have no hope. Hope in the Bible means a "confident expectation." Our Mom has gone to be with the Lord, according to the promises in God's Word, and one day all those who also believe in the same Saviour will see her again. We are confidently expecting to meet her in Heaven when it comes our time to go home or to meet her in the clouds when Jesus returns - how about you?

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Through This Valley

There's a shadow looming over me, and the pain is often near;
There's a storm cloud on the horizon, and the thunder causes fear;
But in the midst of this uncertainty, MY LORD IS ALWAYS HERE!

Through this Valley, with these tears, walking onward I go,
Not running in a hurry, nor lagging behind too slow;
For there's a peace within my heart - MY LORD IS HERE - I KNOW!

The journey can't be much longer - oh, this body aches and moans;
Though just around another corner, ahead is my eternal home;
And I know within THIS Valley, I AM NOT WALKING ALONE!

There's a hand that I am holding, though the path is rough and steep;
There's a promise that I can cling to, that I know my Lord will keep -

Oh, what is that on the horizon? A glimpse of golden streets...
My heart's so filled with wonder - as face to face we meet -
Now with joy I can see Jesus - and I worship at His feet;
THROUGH THIS VALLEY, TO THE SAVIOUR, and my journey is complete.

Poem written September 19th/05
By Jerry Bouey

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

That is where she is right now - in the house of the Lord, forever dwelling in the presence of God. Yes, we miss our Mom - and we grieve during this time of temporary separation from her, but we know she is in a much better place, a place where:

...The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:3-4)

Written September 23rd/2005
Jerry Bouey and Lori McCoy

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Upheld By The Lord

He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Pretty simple song. A child's song, showing child-like faith and trust in the Lord God. It has various other verses to it, all teaching that God has this whole world held in His hands. It is a song of comfort and assurance. This is the theme I wanted to study out together with you today.

Tracing the words upheld and uphold in their various forms throughout the Bible show that the first time this word is used was by one of Job's friends who was rebuking Job for his doubts during his time of trouble:

Job 4:3-6 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

Even the best of believers can have doubts and struggles - including righteous Job. The rebuke was needed by him - and at times I am sure we need the same reminder (though given in a spirit of love and concern for us): you were an encouragement and comfort to others, exhorting them to keep their eyes on the Lord during their troubles, put your hope back on the Lord - remember the confidence you had in Him. He has not changed.

I like how it shows that Job was an upholder of others. In a similar way, the Lord upholds us through His Word, through the comforting work of the Holy Spirit, through our brethren, and through Bible-based materials He brings across our path.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines uphold as:

1. To lift on high; to elevate.

2. To support; to sustain; to keep from falling or slipping.

3. To keep from declension.

4. To support in any state.

5. To continue; to maintain.

6. To keep from being lost.

7. To continue without failing.

8. To continue in being.

His first definition for upholder is "One that upholds; a supporter; a defender; a sustainer."

Job was a supporter and a defender of many who were in need. Likewise, the Lord God supports, defends, and sustains us. Definition #8 above fits the song I quoted at the beginning of this study. The Lord holds this world - yea, even this whole universe - together.

Consider Paul's prayer for the Colossian church:

Colossians 1:9-17 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Webster's defines consist as "To stand together; to be in a fixed or permanent state, as a body composed of parts in union or connection. Hence, to be; to exist; to subsist; to be supported and maintained."

According to this passage of Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who holds this universe together. It is interesting to note that scientists state that they do not understand how atoms hold together. Protons and electrons have opposite charges and should fly apart from one another. Scientifically, there should be no reason this whole universe does not blow up and fly apart. Yet, we know it is because our Creator holds it all in His hands!

The first reference we find in the Bible for hold in the sense of God holding us up is:

Psalms 17:5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

One of Webster's definitions for hold is very appropriate here and in other passages about the Lord holding or upholding believers: "To embrace and confine, with bearing or lifting. We hold an orange in the hand, or a child in the arms."

It is a prayer of David, the man after God's own heart. As this study will go on to show, God has answered this prayer, and upholds all those who trust in Him. The Saviour who came to earth as a man to die for our sins on the cross of Calvary is the same one who holds believers in His hands:

John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Those Jesus has given eternal life to are those who can have that utmost assurance that they are held in the hands of both the Father and the Son.

Has there been a time and place in your life where you realized you were a sinner who had broken God's laws? That you were guilty before God and condemned to Hell? That going your own way in life is rebellion against the God who created you and desires to have fellowship with you? The Lord Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died so that you could be saved and cleansed from those very same sins that you committed against Him. He rose again from the dead and is calling out to you to come unto Him for salvation. Repent of your sins, your way of life lived apart from God, and turn to the Saviour to save you and to restore that broken relationship with God. When you receive Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation, the Bible teaches at that point in time you are born again and made a child of God, and that God becomes your Heavenly Father, adopting you into His family. Then you can have that tremendous assurance that you are securely held in God's hands - and nothing and no one, not even yourself, can ever take you from the Father's or the Son's hands. You are held there for eternity in the everlasting arms!

Psalms 18:35-36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

Verse 35 is one that has been coming to mind a lot lately: Thy gentleness hath made me great. Recently I preached on the fruit of the Spirit, and how gentleness was one of that cluster of fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us as we submit to His leading. But here we see God's gentleness is in view. Lord willing, that will be a message to tackle down the road, but I love to meditate on that thought!

Strong's Concordance gives this definition for holden up: "to support (mostly figurative):--comfort, establish, hold up, refresh self, strengthen, be upholden."

God's right hand is the place of honour - and here is where He holds believers up. He supports us, comforts us, establishes us, strengthens us, and even refreshes us there by His gentleness! Just like a loving parent (or other caring relative) will hold a baby in their arms, even so does the Lord uphold us in His! The comfort and love shown by the parent is only a small glimpse of the tender affection our Heavenly Father dotes on us.

The next two references are both found in Psalm 37:

Psalms 37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.

Psalms 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

The word for ordered here (and directeth in the verse below) means: "properly, to be erect (i.e. stand perpendicular); hence (causatively) to set up, in a great variety of applications, whether literal (establish, fix, prepare, apply), or figurative (appoint, render sure, proper or prosperous)."

Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Deviseth means: "properly, to plait or interpenetrate, i.e. (literally) to weave or (gen.) to fabricate; figuratively, to plot or contrive (usually in a malicious sense); hence (from the mental effort) to think, regard, value, compute."

The Lord has set up and planned our lives, the steps that believers are to take, and when we obediently, trustingly, follow in those footsteps God delights in the way we walk. A believer truly delighting himself in the Lord (see Psalm 37:4) will also delight in God's way, knowing the Lord is in control AND sees the end from the beginning, in His wisdom knowing the best way to lead us. The Lord has a plan for each one of us, but are we walking in it? Are we attempting to plot out or devise our own way, or letting the Lord direct our steps?

The word upholdeth used in Psalm 37 means: "to prop (literally or figuratively); reflexively, to lean upon or take hold of (in a favorable or unfavorable sense):--bear up, establish, (up-)hold, lay, lean, lie hard, put, rest self, set self, stand fast, stay (self), sustain."

Though we may fall, the Lord will hold us up. He will bear us up in His hands. He's got you and me brother in His hands, He's got you and me sister in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands.

The Hebrew word for utterly cast down used in verse 24 means: "to pitch over or reel; hence (transitively) to cast down or out." Though in times of trouble or struggle, we may lose our focus, may fall into sin and compromise, may grow weak in our faith - the Lord will never cast aside or cast out one of His children!!

The closer we draw to the Lord, the darker our sin is revealed in His sight - even our lack of trust when we are hurting and holding ourselves back from Him is sin; however, the Lord loves us and desires to restore us to Him and to cleanse us from the stains of our unrighteousness and sin. If He didn't care, He wouldn't chastise us to bring us to repentance, He wouldn't convict us through the work of the Holy Spirit. God loves His saints too much to leave them alone!

Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

It is interesting to note that the number seven in the Bible signifies completion. In the verse above, we see that a saved person falls seven times - keeps falling - in the eyes of the wicked, perhaps we are complete failures - but God's mercy, gentleness, love - and yea, even chastisement - raises us back up again!

The next time you fall flat on on your face and wander from God, in awe fall on your knees in repentance and remember that He still cares for you!

Consider how David's Psalm of repentance relates:

Psalms 51:7-12 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Yes, cleanse us and renew us, oh Lord; lift us up and uphold us by your Holy Spirit.

Psalms 63:7-8 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

First two definitions:

Followeth hard means: "to cling or adhere; figuratively, to catch by pursuit." Upholdeth means: "to sustain; by implication, to obtain, keep fast; figuratively, to help, follow close."

Here David is stating that was determined to keep clinging to and sticking to the Lord, and was going to catch Him by pursuing Him in faith. He wasn't slothful or negligent in his walk with the Lord - he was diligent to seek Him. As a result, we see that the Lord followed close to David, that He sustained him and kept him fast. Basically, we see that David, our example, clung to the Lord - and the Lord clung to him. Are you doing the same? Do you have that same confidence that God is holding you close?

As I have stated many times, as a poet, the book of Psalms is probably my most favourite book in the whole Bible (closely followed by Isaiah and Job, and then John). It is amazing how the theme of comfort and assurance runs through it. As we can see in this study, this book is so rich in verses teaching us how the Lord upholds believers. Consider these other passages:

Psalms 41:12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

Psalms 66:8-9 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

Psalms 71:5-6 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Psalms 73:23-24 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Holden here means: "to seize (often with the accessory idea of holding in possession)." The Lord is holding us fast, seizing us by His right hand, and He has promised never to let go!

Psalms 94:17-19 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

Slippeth means: "to waver; by implication, to slip, shake, fall." Held me up means: "to support (mostly figurative):--comfort, establish, hold up, refresh self, strengthen, be upholden."

When we waver in our walks with the Lord, when we fall, His mercy lifts us up! Oh my friends, does not this promise bring such tremendous comfort to your soul?

Psalms 119:117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

Wow, I can't believe how blessed I am today to be looking up and meditating on all these promises of God! Oh Lord, Your love to me is too wonderful for words!

Psalms 139:7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Psalms 145:14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Isaiah 42:1-7 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

This passage is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. I believe that we can learn from the way the Father holds the Son's hand, and glean a little more about how we ourselves are held in His hands.

The word used here for hold has a range of meaning: "to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer."

God will fasten upon and seize hold of His people, will give them strength and courage, will help them.

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, these promises and passages of Scripture should give you a boldness and assurance in your daily walk with the Lord, in your service, and in your witnessing to others. If you are struggling or have fallen in your walk with the Lord, consider how many of these passages refer to the Lord lifting us up when we fall, and lift up your eyes and put them back on Him - your source of strength and hope.

Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

If you don't have that confidence and comfort, I think its time you starting digging deeper into God's Word and meditating on the wonderful promises within its covers. You have a vast wealth of treasure in the Bible - mine these precious jewels and store them up in your heart!

He’s Still Got The Whole World In His Hands

I was worried and discouraged -
Life had me quite upset.
I was ready to give in and break down,
But a still small voice whispered, "Not yet."

I was reminded of God's love for me;
A gentle assurance brought me hope.
The Lord is not limited by my situations,
And that reminder helped me cope.

His Spirit lives within me,
And I know I have been born again.
Whatever happens to this old world
I know it is still held in His hands.

Yes, He's still got the whole world in His hands,
Though sometimes I may not see;
But Jesus reminds me from His Words of Life
That with those same gentle hands He still holds me.

I need not fear for my tomorrows,
And my past is all but gone,
But when I look toward my future,
His bright promises shine on!

Deuteronomy 33:27a The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...

Upheld by the Lord in His everlasting arms.

Yes, He's still got the whole world in His hands, even when we can't see those hands - but better yet, He's still got you and me held securely there!

Poem written July 29th/02
Study written September 27th/08
(Preached in part on September 26th/08)
Jerry Bouey

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When I Consider Thy Heavens

Have you ever gazed down into the Grand Canyon or looked up at a tall mountain – and felt small in comparison? Have you ever looked up at the stars, thought of how small you were in the midst of the universe – almost like a speck of dust in comparison with the vastness of space?

I believe that is some of what the Psalmist, David, felt when he penned Psalm 8 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 8:1, 3-6 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens... When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

The definition Strong's Concordance gives for mindful in verse 4 is, "properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention." In light of all that God created, what is man that He would remember or think about us?

Several other Biblical writers asked similar questions:

Job 7:17-18 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?

The word for try in this passage means, "to test (especially metals); generally and figuratively, to investigate:--examine, prove, tempt, try (trial)." Why would the Lord God be so concerned about mankind that He would try them as precious metals are tried, that He would put them in the fire and test them, that He would prove them to see what their worth was in His sight?

Psalms 144:3 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!

Lord, why would you pay attention to man? Is it simply because You created us - or is there more to the picture?

In the NT book of Hebrews, we find Psalm 8 quoted. It is interesting to note the meaning of several of the words used here:

Hebrews 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Mindful - "to remind, i.e. (middle voice) to recall to mind:--be mindful, remember." Visit - "to inspect, i.e. (by implication) to select; by extension, to go to see, relieve."

God calls man to mind. He visits man. The word for visit in the OT carries the idea of both visiting "with friendly or hostile intent." Searching through the Scriptures reveals that He does so in several ways: by way of judgment and by way of help.

Visiting judgment on those who worship and serve idols:

Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Visiting judgment on Israel's rebellion:

Exodus 32:31-34 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

Visiting mankind in judgment for their sins:

Exodus 34:6-7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Job 31:14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Visiting the nation of Israel with chastisement when they go astray from the Lord:

Psalms 89:30-32 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

Visiting judgment on those who oppress His people and who rise up against them:

Psalms 59:5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

Isaiah 10:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

There are several other similar passages that also deal with this theme of visiting judgment (especially in the book of Jeremiah), but I wanted to focus on the Scriptures that speak about the Lord visiting His people to relieve their distresses or trials.

Visiting Sarah and enabling her to conceive in her old age, and visiting Hannah who was previously barren:

Genesis 21:1-2 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

1 Samuel 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Visiting the nation of Israel and setting them free from their bondage to the Egyptians:

Genesis 50:24-25 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Exodus 3:16-17 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

Exodus 4:31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Visiting the nation of Israel and relieving the famine they were experiencing during the time of the Judges:

Ruth 1:6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Visiting Job and preserving his life:

Job 10:12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

Visiting Jeremiah in his distress - because of his faithfulness to the Lord:

Jeremiah 15:15-17 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Visiting Israel and releasing them from their Babylonian captivity:

Jeremiah 29:10-11 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting mankind with salvation, through His death upon the cross:

Luke 1:68-70 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting Israel (and the world) through His incarnation (God being manifest in the flesh):

Luke 1:77-79 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting Israel through healing and raising others from the dead:

Luke 7:16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

The majority of the nation of Israel did not realize that Jesus Christ was their Messiah and was visiting them - that He was walking among them - and therefore rejected Him as their Saviour and King:

Luke 19:41-44 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

In the same way, many in this world refuse to believe that Jesus is the only Saviour that came to die for their sins - and as such, they will be surprised (though God's people will rejoice) in the day of visitation, when He returns to judge the nations and rule from Jerusalem:

1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Many reading this study are probably familiar with the popular chorus, Lord, I Lift Your Name On High. While I am not endorsing the author or particular performers (or performances) of this chorus, I do appreciate the lyrics:

"Lord, I lift Your name on high;
Lord, I love to sing Your praises;
I'm so glad You're in my life;
I'm so glad You came to save us.

You came from Heaven to earth;
To show the way,
From the earth to the cross,
My debt to pay,
From the cross to the grave,
From the grave to the sky;
Lord, I lift Your name on high!"
(Words and music by Rick Founds)

What is man that God is mindful of him? Someone whom the Lord loved enough to leave the glories of Heaven for, to come down to earth as a man - so He could one day die for their sins upon the cruel cross. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour that died in our place, that was buried and that rose again victoriously from the dead three days later. Jesus paid the complete penalty for sins that we deserve - and Jesus paid it all! There is nothing man can do to save himself. God fulfilled His part - our part is to repent of our sins and receive the Saviour, turn from our own way to the Living Way, Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

What is man? Someone that God loved enough to set this plan of salvation in motion and to carry it out despite the tremendous cost to Himself.

What is man? Someone that God set His love upon, despite their sin and rebellion - and offered a way for their sin to be forgiven and cleansed, and for them to have a relationship with Him.

Have you received Jesus' free gift of salvation?

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Acts 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

Are you one of those that God has saved, that God has taken out of and redeemed from a life of sin and rebellion? Has there ever been a time and place in your life that you responded to and received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?

What is man?

The next time you consider the heavens that God has created, think about His love for you, His goodness toward you, and the gift of salvation that Jesus died to give you.

September 14th/08
Jerry Bouey

Note: this devotion uses some of the same passages as another study I put together in 2005 entitled What Is Man?, though I have taken this one in a different direction. If you appreciate this study, you may also be interested in the one written earlier.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Was Hebrews Written By Paul?

Here are some reasons why I believe Hebrews was written by Paul.

First some comments from A.W. Pink on the writer of the book of Hebrews.

That this Epistle was written by Paul is clear from 2 Peter 3:15. Peter was writing to saved Jews as the opening verses of his first Epistle intimates; 2 Peter 3:1 informs us that this letter was addressed to the same people as his former one had been. Then, in Hebrews 10:15, he declares that his beloved brother Paul "also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you." If the Epistle to the Hebrews be not that writing, where is it?

Before taking up the study of the opening verses of our Epistle, let us adduce further evidence that the apostle Paul was the writer of it. To begin with, note its Pauline characteristics. First, a numerical one. There is a striking parallel between his enumeration in Romans 8:35-39 and in Hebrews 12:18-24. In the former he draws up a list of the things which shall not separate the saint from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. If the reader will count them, he will find they are seventeen in number, but divided into a seven and a ten. The first seven are given in verse 35, the second ten in Romans 10:38, 39. In Hebrews 12:18-24 he draws a contrast between Mount Sinai and Mount Sion, and he mentions seventeen details, and again the seventeen is divided into a seven and a ten. In Hebrews 12:18, 19, he names seven things which the saints are not "come unto"; while in Hebrews 10:22-24 he mentions ten things they have "come unto," viz., to Mount Sion, the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, an innumerable company of angels, the general Assembly, the Church of the Firstborn, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator, to the Blood of sprinkling. Compare also Galatians 5:19-21, where the apostle, when describing the "works of the flesh," enumerates seventeen. So far as we are aware, no other Epistle writer of the New Testament used this number seventeen in such a manner.

Again; the terms which he used. We single out one only. In Hebrews 2:10 he speaks of the many sons which Christ is bringing to glory. Now Paul is the only New Testament writer that employs the term "sons." The others used a different Greek word meaning "children."

For doctrinal parallelisms compare Romans 8:16, with Hebrews 10:15, and 1 Corinthians 3:13 with Hebrews 5:12-14, and who can doubt that the Holy Spirit used the same penman in both cases?

Note a devotional correspondency. In Hebrews 13:18, the writer of this Epistle says, "Pray for us." In his other Epistles we find Paul, more than once, making a similar request; but no other Epistle-writer is placed on record as soliciting prayer!

Finally, it is to be noted that Timothy was the companion of the writer of this Epistle, see Hebrews 13:23. We know of no hint anywhere that Timothy was the fellow-worker of anyone else but the apostle Paul: that he companied with him is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2.

In addition to the many Pauline characteristics stamped on this Epistle, we may further observe that it was written by one who had been in "bonds" (see Hebrews 10:34); by one who was now sundered from Jewish believers (Heb. 13:19) — would not this indicate that Paul wrote this Epistle while in his hired house in Rome (Acts 28:30)? Again; here is a striking fact, which will have more force with some readers than others: if the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by the apostle Paul, then the New Testament contains only thirteen Epistles from his pen — a number which, in Scripture, is ever associated with evil! But if Hebrews was also written by him, this brings the total number of his Epistles to fourteen, i.e., 7 x 2 — seven being the number of perfection and two of witness. Thus, a perfect witness was given by this beloved servant of the Lord to Jew and Gentile!

In the last place, there is one other evidence that the apostle Paul penned the Hebrews’ Epistle which is still more conclusive. In 2 Thessalonians 3:17, 18 we read, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every Epistle, so I write, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Now, if the reader will turn to the closing verse of each of the first thirteen Epistles of this apostle, it will be found that this "token" is given in each one. Then, if he will refer to the close of the Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude, he will discover a noticeable absence of it. Thus it was a distinctive "token" of the apostle Paul. It served to identify his writings. When, then at the close of Hebrews we read "grace be with you all" the proof is conclusive and complete that none other than Paul’s hand originally wrote this Epistle. (Exposition of Hebrews by A. W. Pink)
I fully believe it was the Apostle Paul that wrote Hebrews because the writing styles are similar, and he uses much of the same phrases and ideas.

For example:

Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Another example:

In the OT, we find this passage: Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

It is quoted three times in the NT, and each time the surrounding chapters deal with an aspect of the phrase - the just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Paul explains how to be just before God.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Here Paul explains how the just are to live.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Here Paul goes on to show examples of how believers have lived by faith - Chapter 11 is referred to by many as the Hall Of Faith Chapter.

Paul has a certain characteristic way of ending his letters, which he makes mention of in the following passage:

2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Romans 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

1 Corinthians 16:23-24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you... Amen

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Galatians 6:18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Colossians 4:18 ...Grace be with you. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

1 Timothy 6:21 ...Grace be with thee. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:22 ...Grace be with you. Amen.

Titus 3:15 ...Grace be with you all. Amen.

Philemon 1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

And Hebrews 13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Timothy was Paul's representative. In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul exhorts his son in the faith to be faithful and to endure hardship, etc. In Hebrews, we see this:

Hebrews 13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

A fitting end to what may well be the last epistle the Apostle Paul wrote before being martyred for his faith - showing that his beloved disciple had endured and persevered in the faith. Paul's exhortations had borne fruit, and he was sure to let his brethren know of Timothy's faithfulness, despite his possible fear and lack of boldness in his younger days.

Jerry Bouey