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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

God Protects In A Mysterious Way...Sometimes
Christ reigns over hard times in our lives so we will lean into Him.   ~~~   We continue to see Saul’s downward spiral in sin. We must see that embedded within the nature of sin is destruction. God told Adam, “If you eat of the fruit of this tree, you will surely die!” Psalm 7:14-16 “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.” We see Saul’s sin directed at God’s anointed one, David. But the recurring theme in this passage is David’s escape. through Jonathan’s covenant through David’s contorting through Michal’s conniving—Psalm 59 In other words, God uses all kinds of ways that we know about, and ones we are not aware of in order to protect his anointed one, to get him to the throne. Ultimately it is all of God. And we see that in this last way of God protecting David: through the Spirit’s confronting Christ was also protected from people’s rage against him so that He could reign through His cross and resurrection.   We see Christ preserved and protected from King Herod in Matthew 1-2 We see Christ preserved and protected from Satan himself in Matthew 4 We see the murderous plot of the Pharisees and Herodians in Mark 3. In Luke 4, when Jesus unrolls the scroll in the temple and declares himself to be the Messiah, the people were “filled with wrath and rose up and drove him out of town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their towns were built, so that that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.” In John 7, it says, “They were seeking to arrest him, but non one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.” In John 10:39 we read, “And they sought to arrest him but he escaped from their hands.” What we need to realize as God’s church is that God preserved Christ, provided ways of escape for Him so that Christ could fulfill his purpose. And also, he will preserve those who are in Christ so that they will persevere in His purpose for Him. Christ reigns over hard times, evil times in our lives so that we might press into Him and fulfill His purpose for our lives. Paul was let down in a basket as a way of escape Peter walked through open prison doors on the eve of his execution date.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 24, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Great Escape
God providentially preserves and protects so His will is accomplished.   ~~~   Have you had to escape before? Several years ago Jimmy Walker and I were at a friend’s house during the day, when that friend wasn’t home. We were there to pick up a piece of furniture. So I stepped out of the truck and walked towards the home when all of a sudden a huge dog comes out of the garage running straight towards me, barking its head off. So I take off running across a field and finally find refuge in a storage building that just happened to be open. Have you ever had to escape before? Sometimes the escape happens and you didn’t even realize it, (like in DR, Tanzania, etc) much like what we saw in 1 Samuel 18. Several times King Saul tried to indirectly assassinate David, but was unsuccessful. David escaped without ever realizing he was being hunted. And the reality is that you have been saved and rescued and escaped by the providential protection of God more times than you would ever like to know. We have the events of 1 Samuel 18 woven into our lives. It probably happens every day. Satan is like a prowling lion, seeking whom he may devour, as are the demons under him. They want to trap you, catch you and destroy you. Temptation lurks around every feasible corner, waiting to ensnare you, and yet time and again you have been spared without even realizing it. But when you turn the page to 1 Samuel 19, there is no denying Saul’s intentions. And it becomes clear to us, as God’s people that sometimes the threat is direct, right in front of our faces, and we must deal with it. There are false teachers, false systems, and other people with godless agendas who want to silence us, the church; they want to silence you. They are threatened by righteousness, they are fearful of God’s agenda, and they will do all they can to stop it. In 1 Samuel 18, David was on the rise. But now in 1 Samuel 19 David is on the run. And in our text we are going to see the author display for his audience that God reigned over Saul’s downward spiral in sin in order to provide ways of escape, preserve David, so that David could fulfill God’s purpose. God providentially preserves, protects, so God’s will is accomplished.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 23, 2024
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Day by Day Hacks

Day By Day Hacks
The Word of God is like a sword and we must learn how to properly use it.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 22, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

When He Produces The Fruit
The greatest goal of a believer’s life is to build a life of great abiding and joyful keeping of God’s Word.   ~~~   For you believer, child of God, as we see the presence of the LORD upon David which led to his success wherever he went, we need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is our Immanuel, our God with us. We don’t look to David as our great encouragement and moral example, because we won’t have to look too far into his reign as king to see that he follows a similar pattern of Saul in arranging for someone’s murder. But we must see Christ as the greater David, upon whom was the Spirit of God, and as the One who came to be present with us. Oh believer, hear me today. The great goal of your life is not to build a life of great character or successes, but rather to build a life of great abiding and joyful keeping of His word. If we are focused on that, Jesus will produce the fruit He desires to see, and there will be great joy in Him, no matter the circumstances.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 19, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

When God Removes His Hand Of Grace
Apart from Christ we can find no rest and there will be no satisfaction for our sin.   ~~~   In this chapter alone we have ample evidence and example that should motivate us to seek God. Saul had his heart and soul and will set against God, and against God’s anointed One, which sent him into a calloused and murderous state of being. He could not enjoy the blessings that the Lord was pouring out on the Lord’s people and kingdom. He was so focused on seeing threats all around him that it sent him into madness. Thus is the path of sin. It destroys you. And this is the case of all of you who are apart from God at this moment. You have nothing to cling to but your own sin and pride and you have nothing to look forward to but your own destruction, brought about by your sin against a holy, righteous, God. But God has sent a message of mercy and grace to us. Even though God had removed His presence, his grace, from Saul’s life, that may not be the case with you this morning. If you find yourself set against God, rebelled against him, trying to accomplish satisfy your own will and agenda, there is mercy and grace offered to you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Just like David faced the hostility of Saul, so too did Jesus face hostility and anger and murderous manipulation because of the undeniable presence of the Spirit on his life. At every turn, Jesus was met with resistance and jealousy because of His growing popularity among the people, so much so that it led to His innocent death. But there was something more to His death than that. His death is the very reason he came to earth. In His death he proclaimed that He was taking upon Himself all the sin of all those who would hate Him but then turn and trust in Him. He was taking on their punishment they deserved. And all of that sounds crazy and ludicrous and impossible, and in no way feasible or reasonable. But there was one more crazy, ludicrous, impossible event to take place that would turn everything on its head, and that is when Jesus came back to life three days after having been laid in a borrowed tomb. His resurrection signaled to everyone that His words were true, which meant that He really did carry the sins of those who would believe in Him. And now the question is, “Do you believe? Will you believe? Will you drop your sin, turn from your sin; do you hate your sin that has been against this Holy God?” If there is something churning in you this morning, a conviction, a fear, a worry, a holy unpleasantness, that very well could be the Holy Spirit massaging your heart this morning, performing the beginning of a miracle in your life. Would you turn to Jesus today? Would claim his death and resurrection as your own? Would you receive Him as the risen Lord over your Life, the payment of your sin, and the giver of eternal life? Because apart from Christ, there is no rest, no satisfaction for your sin. You stand condemned, next to Saul, guilty, and there is no telling when God will remove His hand of grace from you, offering you no other opportunity of repentance. So turn to him now.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 18, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

How Quick Can Sin Set In?
It only takes a day for sinfulness to set in our hearts and cause damage.   ~~~   In 1 Samuel 18 When the spear incident doesn’t work, Saul tries to have David killed by sending him into war on three different instances (13, 17, 21). Every move Saul makes in this chapter, the underlying intention is so that David would be killed. What are we to learn from this? We are to learn that but by the grace of God, there go I. None of us are above this? We know what it is like to be jealous. We know what it is to be like when we do not get the credit we think we deserve, or when someone else steals our thunder. We are all extremely too familiar with all of this. Me especially. I am a deeply prideful, arrogant person. And we need to see the depths of the sewer that sin will try to drag you into. A simple song sung by some women kick this thing off, which turns into Saul manipulating and conniving and scheming every way he knows how in order to snuff out David. Here’s the lesson. Don’t play with sin. Don’t give sin any quarter in your life. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13-14 How quickly can sinfulness set in and begin to do damage and harden your heart? One day. One day is all it takes, and sin will take all it can. What we are to see and understand here is that this has been a process in Saul’s life. He has consistently rebelled against God’s word. And here in verse 10, we see God removing a protective hand off of Saul’s life, so that it spirals down the vortex of sin.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 17, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Devil Didn’t Make You Do It
We cannot blame our own selfishness or jealousy on anyone else.   ~~~   Saul’s jealousy comes to the surface in chapter 18 the moment he hears the women sing, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” So angry and jealous is Saul that he says “What more can he have but the kingdom?” In other words, Saul is saying, “David has their attention, their praise, their hearts! He might as well try for the throne!” In verse 9, when we read of Saul’s jealous statement, the text says, “And Saul eyed David from that day on.” The word translated “eyed,” is an interesting one. The idea is that Saul looked on David with a crooked eye, or sinful eye. It was a way of saying that Saul looked for opportunities to harm David. And in this chapter alone, there are five private, secret attempts on David’s life by Saul. The first two attempts are with a spear, while he was in a fit of rage brought on by a harmful or disturbing spirit from God. This is not the first time we have seen this harmful spirit from God come upon Saul. We saw this back in chapter 16. But let me make two points about this. First, Saul’s jealousy and anger came before this tormenting spirit came upon him. This is not an evil spirit of jealousy or an evil spirit of anger. Saul cannot, nor can you, blame being jealous or angry on anyone but you. Saul is responsible for this jealousy, not a demon. In other words, the devil didn’t make you do anything. In this society in which we live where everyone is the victim, we naturally make Saul, or ourselves, the victim here. But God doesn’t play by the current narrative. He knows exactly the intention of your heart. You might be able to manipulate other people, but not God. And that is what we see with Saul. His jealousy and anger led him to manipulative maneuvers to try and get David killed, all because Saul was afraid of David. And here is the thing, it was David’s righteousness that was threatening to Saul. You know you are in a bad, rebellious place when someone else’s humility and other fruit of the Spirit make you proud, angry, jealous. Is that you today? Does that describe your disposition? Angry because of someone else’s holiness? If you are, you are in bad company. But you don’t have to stay in it.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 16, 2024
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Day By Day Hacks
Approaching the Bible with a different perspective on our questions can reveal new answers.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 15, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Is Your Church More Story Time Or Boot Camp?
Church is not meant to entertain but to equip believers for service to the Lord.   ~~~   David is a man of deep character and devotion to the LORD, and God’s presence of providence and protection are over him. All of which equals success for David. Is that how we measure success? Success is having the presence of God reigning in your life, which displays itself in godly character overcoming the enemy of sin. Oh how I wish we would think of success in this way. Are you teaching your sons how to fight sin? Are we teaching our daughters how to war against the flesh in the power of the Spirit? Are YOU a success in those areas? It matters very little how far up the corporate ladder you can get if you are bogged down in the mire of sin. The size of your house, the number of cars, the boat, the retirement means nothing if there is not fruit of the Spirit on display. It doesn’t matter how many trophies are on the mantle if there is not fruit of the Spirit. This is Success! Listen to me men and women…Jesus did not come to entertain you with personalities or bigtop events or to put on appearances. The church is here to help you understand the only fighting chance you have comes from the active presence of the LORD in your life. Listen to me parents, we are not here to dazzle or wow or coddle your children with warm little bible stories. We want to help you, assist you, equip you to raise warriors…to raise your boys and girls to be men and women who know the realities of the world and are ready to face them head on with the only arsenal that will protect them and damage the enemy. This isn’t story time, it’s bootcamp.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 12, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

A Unique Way To Show Devotion
Devotion and humility were key traits of Jesus, which we should exhibit through His power.   ~~~   In the saga of David’s life, as told to us in 1 Samuel 18, we witness Saul offer his oldest daughter, Merab, to David to be his wife. David responds in humility by crying out, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, that I should be a son-in-law to a king.” So it appears that in humility, David refuses Saul’s offer. A little later on, Saul came to understand that Michal, his other daughter, loved David. So he offered her to him. But once again, we see David’s humility when he says, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” What David means by that is that he nor his father have any money to pay the bride price of a king’s daughter. In those days, when marriage took place, the groom would pay a dowry, which was simply an amount of money that the family of the bride thought she was worth. They were losing a daughter and a valuable worker, so the groom was to pay her value to the bride’s family. So David says, “I don’t have any money to pay the bride price,” which is interesting since the king was supposed to enrich the man who killed Goliath. Perhaps Saul’s check hadn’t cleared the bank yet. But Saul came back to David and said, “No money is necessary, just go and kill 100 philistines. And I will know that you killed them because you will bring me all of their foreskins.” In all of this, Saul is trying to put David in fatal circumstances so Saul will not have to worry about David’s popularity outshining his own. So David accepts the challenge, but brings back 200 foreskins! Why? David does this so that Saul may be avenged of his enemies. The motivating factor for David is to honor the king of Israel, and protecting God’s people Israel. Once again we see humility and devotion on display in David’s life, and we are reminded of Jesus’ even greater display of humility and devotion in the face of others intense hatred. Jesus never wavered from His Father’s will. Jesus didn’t take his assignment of being in the flesh as a demotion from his heavenly glory, but rather all part of God’s providential plan to provide for us a divine King. And as his subjects, we too can live lives of devotion and humility, in the power of His Spirit.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 11, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

How Deep Does Your Devotion Run?
We should remain devoted to serving Jesus even when circumstances are against us.   ~~~   We read in verses 18:6-11 of a victory parade. David is returning from striking down Goliath, and Saul is out in front. It sure seems like Saul is trying to take as much credit as he can for sending a teenage boy out to do a man’s job. And the women start singing, which would have been customary. And they sing a song that says, “Saul has killed a lot, and David has killed a lot more!” Now, I don’t think we are to read anything too snarky into this song. They were simply retelling the story, perhaps a bit dramatically. At any rate, it upsets Saul. But we read in verse 10-11 that David played the lyre in Saul’s house day by day. And on that day after the parade, Saul was being tormented by a spirit from the LORD, and in two different attempts tries to kill David by throwing his spear at him hoping it would pierce him and pin him to the wall. The next thing that we read is David, being handed a demotion from being leader over the men of war to being a commander of a thousand, and yet, David still goes out to fight for the King of Israel. Why, because David is devoted to the LORD, and Israel. Remember, at no point in this chapter does David even realize that Saul is trying to kill him on multiple occasions. David didn’t claim a victim status. He didn’t play a part to be pitied. Through it all, he remained faithful to the Lord and the Lord’s people. It makes me wonder about myself, how deep does my devotion run. When it’s easy to bail, I usually want to bail. When the fight seems lopsided, I want to blend into the crowd and not stand out. When the task requires sacrifice, I too often want to figure out a way so that I don’t have to sacrifice. And this is where I must turn to depend upon Jesus and His Spirit living in and through me. Jesus knows all about staying and standing when people were pinning him to the cross. And he did it because of His devotion to God and His love for His people.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 10, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

The Bond Of Brotherhood
Friendship between two people dedicated to following God is a precious thing.   ~~~   Right after David slays Goliath the giant, King Saul’s son, Jonathan, his heart and soul were knit, intertwined with David’s heart. That word means “tied together,” or “bonded together for a common purpose.” There was an instant bond, the epitome of loving a neighbor as yourself. But what was it that drew Jonathan to David? What was it that tied their hearts together? Well, David had just stepped out with faith in God’s ability to deliver him the great uncircumcised Philistine. Jonathan was swept away with reverence for this kid (no doubt David is younger, much younger, than Jonathan, maybe even 30 years younger). And we saw this same type of faith and boldness in Jonathan back in chapter 14. So the commonality could be their willingness to trust God, to love God, to follow God, to honor God, that they have the same God and the same enemies. There is nothing like finding a fellow man who has the same reverence and awe and will to follow Jesus as you do. There is nothing like it in the world. Modern day commentators want to turn this affection that Jonathan has for David into something immoral. The problem with this is that there is nothing even remotely close to this in the text. What is going on in this passage is nothing but the good providence of God paving a way for David, and here is what I mean. Jonathan is the heir apparent to throne of Israel. If something were to happen to Saul, then his oldest son, Jonathan, would assume the throne, or at least that is what would be expected from all the people. So any one who would be a threat to over-take that throne would be a threat to Jonathan. If anything, Jonathan and David should be bitter enemies. Jonathan should keep his eye on David. But rather, we see the goodness of God moving in Jonathan’s heart towards David, tying his soul to David’s soul. God is the one knitting Jonathan’s life, binding Jonathan’s soul to David. This is brotherhood. This is godly brotherhood taking place here.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 09, 2024
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Day By Day Hacks
There is something in each passage of Scripture for us to learn from.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 08, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Not A Series Of Unfortunate Events
The best person to advocate for us is not ourselves, but Christ.   ~~~   There are several recurring themes and phrases in 1 Samuel 18, that are meant to grab our attention. Themes such as those who “loved” David, and the success of David, and the presence of the Lord upon David, but also the growing fear and jealousy of Saul. And the original audience would have noticed all of those features of the text, but most importantly they would have seen the decline of Saul (in leadership, mental stability) and the rising up of David. However, they would not have said, “That’s an unfortunate turn of events for Saul, and surprisingly good fortune and fate for David.” This has nothing to do with fortune or a bad turn of events, but everything to do with Saul’s rebellious unrepentant heart, and God keeping his promise of ripping the kingdom from Saul and giving it to someone better than Saul in order to protect his people for his own glory. We read in 1 Samuel 15: 26 “For you have rejected the word of LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you his day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.” So we are watching this promise come alive before our eyes, and we need to realize that the someone better for us is not ourselves, but Christ. He is the King who protects his people today.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 05, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

Do You Wake Up Ready?
The distinction between Christianity and the world should grow clearer as wickedness grows.   ~~~   Even though sin and Satan and death have been done away with for the believer, it still taunts, it still mocks, it still defies, and it still challenges us to come and fight—it taunts God’s way of parenting, it taunts God’s prescription for marriage, it mocks God’s word concerning holiness, manhood, womanhood. And we often times fight against sin in our own strength, with worldly weapons. Weapons of pragmatism,, popularity, and people-pleasing. Listen to 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience… What are our weapons? Our weapons are truth and discipline. The sharpening of our minds with God’s truth and the strengthening of our will by God’s Spirit. And we can go into battle because Christ, who is Truth and Righteousness, has gone before, because He lives in us. The day we as a church decide to know and live upon the truth of God’s word, in the power of the Spirit, is the day we draw out our weapons for battle. Has it occurred to you that in this day of extreme radicalism and immorality, the distinction between the people of the church and the people of the world should be getting clearer and clearer? But does it seem like that is happening? Why not? Because we either are not who we say we are, OR we are not fighting, OR we are fighting with the wrong weapons. Saul’s coat of arms will not fit the fighting Christian. TRUTH AND DISCIPLINE will. And always be ready to fight. David, when he woke up that morning, had no idea he would be facing Goliath that afternoon, but He was willing and ready.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 04, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

A Man Who Stands Between
Jesus fought our battles on our behalf and defeated the enemy we could not.   ~~~   The Bible is compilation of 66 books and letters that make up on grand narrative, one book, one story. And in that one grand narrative, there is one hero. Everything before that hero arrives on the scene is meant to either foreshadow, point towards, or get us ready for that hero. That Hero is Jesus Christ. David is a precursor, a giant foreshadowing figure of Jesus Christ. And one of the problems we run into when we remove the David and Goliath story from context is that we can easily insert ourselves into the wrong character and we become the David facing off against the big bad giant. But we can’t forget the context. David has been chosen by God to be His King for His people. David has been anointed by God, and the Holy Spirit of God has rushed upon Him to empower Him. You have not been anointed as King over God’s people. But Christ has. And the Holy Spirit rushed upon Christ, and empowered Christ. And just as David rushed down into the valley of Elah to face Israel’s enemy, so too, but in a greater way, did Jesus rush to the hill of Golgotha to face man’s greatest enemy of sin and death and Satan. Jesus is the believer’s great champion, the man to stand between! He stands between us and death. You need a person to stand between you and death. Your sin has assured that there will be death to pay, hell to pay. And if you are apart from Christ, if you have not Christ as your Savior, as your man between, then you sit there condemned today with no hope. And you will be defeated. You will die. You will face judgment, and you will be given over to eternal death. But listen, there is a man! There is a man who has done the fighting on behalf of people who call out to Him. And what God is calling on you to do today is to put down your weapons, your idols, your pride, your sin, and turn and trust in what Christ has already done. He has already defeated the Goliath of sin. Just like David ran to Goliath, after nailing him with the slingshot, he then cut off his head, so too did Christ stomp Satan, crushing His head, delivering him over to final death. We need to know that in this story, we are the Israelite army. And we have no business heading out to fight against Goliath, but we do have a champion, a man who stands between, who has already fought the Goliath of sin and shame and death, and where David lopped the head off of Goliath, Jesus crushed the head of Satan in the resurrection.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 03, 2024
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Day by Day - 1 Samuel

A God-Ordained Shouting Match
God’s plans succeed not based on our own ability but upon His arsenal.   ~~~   It’s a new year, and we are right in the middle of our study of 1 Samuel, and we are talking about one of the most famous scenes in all the Bible—David versus Goliath. We now move to the consequence of David having heard Goliath. They stand at opposite sides, facing one another. Goliath begins to shout first, not believing that Israel has treated him so disrespectfully as to send out a smooth-faced boy. But that doesn’t keep Goliath from his intentions, and that is to slay David and let the buzzards pluck and pull at his intestines. David matches him shout for shout. But pay careful attention as to why all of this is taking place: vs. 46 “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, THAT ALL THE EARTH MAY KNOW THAT THERE IS A GOD IN ISRAEL, AND THAT ALL THIS ASSEMBLY MAY KNOW THAT THE LORD SAVES NOT WITH SWORD AND SPEAR. FOR THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S AND HE WILL GIVE YOU INTO OUR HAND.”   So catch this. David is willing to face Goliath, who easily outmatches David in every physical metric you can think of, because David is convinced of God’s honor and worth and faithfulness, and David knows God is committed to His being known and glorified in all the earth. This story is not here so as to motivate you to face and fight your own personal giants. We were not created to be the hero here. This is a story about God’s plans for His global glory to spread and his people prevail according to His own arsenal in order to shame all those who would come against him with such arrogance, and HIM providing the man to do just that. God’s plan for His global glory and His people will prevail according to His own arsenal, which is the church making and sending disciples to all the nations.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 02, 2024
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Day By Day Hacks
There are various study plans to help new readers learn how to properly read the Bible.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Jan 01, 2024
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The Grief Was Just As Real
Though heartache remains, we have a lasting hope in Jesus Christ.   ~~~   Sin is real. Its consequences are real and brutal. It leaves scars and causes pain and suffering, for us and others. Suffering is real. Pain is real. We need no reminder of that. But we find a reminder inserted into this Christmas story. Not many people talk about it, or preach it, because they don’t want to taint the Christmas story. But I would submit to you that we need this part of the story now, more than ever. Matthew tells us that Herod, with unbridled brutality, and loss of all self-control, sent a slaughter squad to Bethlehem to kill all baby boys two years old and younger. Bethlehem was a small town. But it doesn’t really matter. They were still slaughtered. And I am sure that the pain and screams were just as real, and just as loud 2000 years ago as they would be if it happened this weekend. But even before then, there was another scenario, another event that Matthew mentions. It took place in Jeremiah 31, where the nation of Israel had been conquered, and families and tribes were being led to a city called Ramah. That city served as a weigh station of sorts before families were separated from one another and sent into exile. Children were ripped from mother’s arms. Father’s were torn away from their families as they said their last goodbyes. And in their eyes, all hope was gone; hope was lost; hope was shattered. Life held out no purpose, no joy. The suffering was real; and it was deep. But if we go to Jeremiah 31, we will find, not only these words of grief, but we will also find words of hope and comfort. “I will turn your mourning into joy, I will comfort you and give you gladness for sorrow…Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears…they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future.” What is the hope promised to those people in Jeremiah 31 that can heal that type of suffering? What is the hope promised to the desperate mothers in Bethlehem on that bitter night? Matthew does not deny the pain and the heartache, but he beckons us to the promise of redemption. The redemption that is found only in Christ, the one who not escaped that slaughter so he could carry a cross and be executed for man’s sin. The sin of all believers. So suffering gives way to glory. Death and defeat give way to resurrected, overcoming, everlasting life that is secured for us by Christ.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 29, 2023
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Christmas Can Be Painful
God’s ultimate demonstration of love for us, in delivering us miraculously, is seen in Jesus.   ~~~   Christmas is not, will not be, the happiest season for everyone this year. For some this year it might be the first Christmas without a loved one. For some, Christmas is a reminder of poverty, or an abusive husband, or an alcoholic father, or a cold-hearted mother. It’s the reminder of a prodigal child who is yet to return home. It is a reminder of poor decisions made in the past with the consequences of loneliness during seasons like this. For some of you, Christmas is a painful reminder of sin and shame in your life. You may not have a family to gather with because of sinful choices you made in the past, and you wonder of you it is even possible to be delivered from stain and shame of sin. The truth is that at one time or another, we have all been chained in the prison of sin. If you will remember, the wise men have just met Jesus as a baby child, worshiped him, and headed back home. They were supposed to go back to a King named Herod and inform him of where the baby born King of the Jews was located, but they were redirected by God. And God, here in our text, directs Joseph, the baby’s father, to take Jesus and the family into Egypt in order to keep the baby protected from Herod’s evil scheme. And then the Holy Spirit through Matthew says in 2:15, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.” This is seems strange. What is going on here? The quote is taken from an OT prophet named Hosea. But why did Hosea mention this? In order to know that answer, we need to know the context of Hosea. Hosea is the true story of a man who marries a woman who will not be faithful to him. She abandons her husband, along with her children, in order to pursue the lifestyle of a prostitute. And after years of this lifestyle, she ends up in a brothel of sorts, on the auction block. And to her surprise, who is in the audience but her husband, Hosea, who is the highest bidder, purchases his own wife out of slavery, takes her home and loves her unconditionally. God puts this true account into motion to demonstrate to his children, Israel, his unfading love for them. They are the unfaithful wife, and God is the compassionate, patient husband who will not abandon his people. And to remind them of his unconditional love, Hosea speaks for God and says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” God is reminding His people that he has been faithful to them from the beginning. When they were imprisoned, under the rule of a cruel leader, when they were prisoners in chains, God miraculously delivered them. Egypt was a picture of the world system, the prison of sin, that no matter how hard they tried, they could not break free from those shackles. It was going to take a miracle to deliver them, and that is just what God did. And He called them out of Egypt. But all of that served as a picture, Matthew says. There was a greater fulfillment hidden in that reality that can now be seen in Jesus. There is a new and greater exodus that will occur, and it will be led by Jesus. He is the one who can set you free from the shackles of sin. God’s ultimate demonstration of love for us, in delivering us miraculously, is seen in Jesus.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 28, 2023
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A Shepherd Who Rules And Walks
Jesus does not rule from a distance, but walks with us as both Shepherd and King.   ~~~   Despite what Christmas legend tells us, we really don’t know that much about the wise men. We know they were from the east, and that they were called “wise men” or magi, and they studied the stars. We don’t know if they were kings, like some assume. We don’t know if there were three. The bible indicates that they did not show up at the manger, but rather, some time later at Mary and Joseph’s house. But what we do know is that they were on a desperate search to see this one who was born King of the Jews so that they could worship him (vs. 2). Matthew tells in 2:9-10 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly and with great joy.” So why were they rejoicing? They were rejoicing over the fact that they knew, by God’s providence and sovereignty, that they were about to be in the presence of THE KING of the Jews, the true king. They were overjoyed at the thought of worshiping the King. Their search was not in vain. This is sincere adoration. Adoration and worship is not turned off and on. It is not flipped on like a switch when you walk through the church doors. Adoration and worship is something that stays stirred up and bubbling, and when an opportunity is given to worship, you get excited about it. True worship responds to the greatness of Jesus, because He is always worthy. Worship is not about us feeling like worshiping, it is about us recognizing who is worthy of worship. Not only were these men overjoyed at the prospect of worshiping Christ, but when they arrived, they bowed down to him, and eagerly gave to Him appropriate gifts. Giving was simply an extension of their worship. It was part of their worship. The wise men relinquish self rule, and give to him from the riches of their life to inaugurate his rule in their life. You also need to know that when you pursue Christ in sincere adoration and worship, you will run into those who outright rebel against him, and those who are educated about Jesus, but apathetic. You need to know that on the front end. You need to know, that if you are a true believer, sincere worshiper and follower of Christ, you will be raising your children to be hated by the world. You will be leading your family into this minefield. But that is the great thing about having a shepherd king—while He is ruling over us, He is walking with us.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 27, 2023
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Educated Apathy
Those who are religious but indifferent have experienced no change from Christ in their lives.   ~~~   Outright rebellion is one way to respond to King Jesus. That is what we saw in King Herod the other day. But we see a second, more subtle way to respond, and we find this response in the chief priests and scribes—Educated Apathy. Listen to Matthew 2:3 “When Herod the king heard this (the news of the newborn king)…he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet.” They religiously educated were gathered up by Herod, and quickly and accurately gave Herod an answer to his question. They knew a Messiah was coming. They were anticipating Him. They knew he was to be born in Bethlehem just 5 miles south of Jerusalem. They directed Herod to the passage in the OT, Micah, so that he could be assured of this. But did they respond to the Magi’s search? Were they at all concerned or anxious about the birth of the King of the Jews, the long-awaited Messiah? It didn’t seem so. What they know of God, they disregard. Educated Apathy. Jesus confronts the kingdom of their knowledge, their intellect, but they are too blind by their own self-righteousness to see the Savior of the World. It is enough to them that they have knowledge. Jesus would say about his very group later on, “You search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, you think that since you know the word of God, then that earns you a special pass, and yet you pass over the central message of the word. I can’t help but wonder if this is where many people are these days. They are content with their own self-righteousness; they are content with serving the Jesus they have created and fabricated in their minds; with treating Jesus as a buffet line that they pick and choose which parts of him you want, completely indifferent to the reality of Jesus as King and Lord. These men were content to study the scripture, go to church at the prescribed times, say daily prayers, but have none of it impact their souls. They were indifferent. Jesus made no real identifiable difference in their life. And what we see is that educated apathy, when it doesn’t respond to the call of Christ, leads to calls for execution. By the end of Matthew, chief priests and scribes are the ones mocking the King of the Jews, and stirring people up, shouting “Crucify Him!” You see, Christmas time is another reminder, not that a baby was born, but that a King was sent to the earth, and his kingdom confronts and challenges every other kingdom.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 26, 2023
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Day By Day Hacks
Beginning a Bible study routine requires structure and planning, even for teenagers.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 25, 2023
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How Far Will You Go?
God’s Kingship challenges all others, and we must submit to Him and relinquish control of our lives.   ~~~ To what lengths do you go to protect your way of life? If someone challenged you or confronted sin in your life, how defensive would you become? How fiercely would you guard your sin? You see, lots of people are fine with the idea of a savior until it comes to their submission to him as king. At that point, they will do all they can to protect their own kingdom. Look with me at Matthew 2 Matthew 2:2 “Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he who has been born the king of the Jew? When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” Someone once said of Herod that it was better to be a pig in Herod’s kingdom than his son. Herod was a fiercely jealous and suspicious man who would do anything to protect his own control, authority, sense of pride and power. So obsessed with himself that he killed his own brother-in-law, mother-in-law, his wife, and his three sons because he saw them as threats to his kingdom. So Herod gathers up the wise men who have come into the city, and notice what he asks, “At what time did you see this star?” In other words, how long ago did you see this star that prompted your journey? What was he doing? He was determining the present day age of this one born king of the Jews. We can understand why Herod would want to know where Jesus was born. Maybe he wants to worship him too? At least that is what he tells the wise men. But why is he concerned about Jesus’ age? When you read verse 16, it all makes sense. He wanted to know the child’s age so he would know whom to kill to insure that this child king would be killed as well. Herod was a man who killed in order to keep His kingdom and his throne intact. Jesus is a king who dies to keep His throne. Well you might not be as cold-blooded as Herod, but do you see what is going on? Herod’s kingdom is being challenged, and he does everything he can to protect his rule. And the question is, when Jesus challenges and confronts the way you live your life, through the Holy Spirit or through His word, what lengths do you go through to retain your rule? Some of you sneer and shake your fist at God and say, “I am the captain of my own fate.” You respect Christmas, but you do not relinquish control. People are all for the message of a Savior until the time comes for submission. All of us are born with this Herod complex. You see, Christmas time is another reminder, not that a baby was born, but that a King was sent to the earth, and his kingdom confronts and challenges every other kingdom. Who is truly your king, and in whose kingdom do you live?
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 22, 2023
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Broken Branches On The Family Tree
Salvation, redemption, restoration is not from man, it is not from within, it is from God.   ~~~ In all of my classes through bible college and seminary, and in all the preaching books I have read, capturing the audience’s attention was a crucial aspect of the introduction. Use a startling fact or a provocative statement or a funny story. Something engaging, heartwarming. Draw the audience in immediately. Apparently someone forgot to tell Matthew about this little rule of communication because he begins his gospel with a long, long genealogy. This genealogy is one, long astonishing fact. It links Jesus with the beloved King David of the Jews, and Father Abraham, father of the Jewish nation. And in Jewish culture, lineage was a big deal. You had to be able to prove your lineage in order to show that you could live in certain places since the land was divided up, at one time, according to tribes. And you certainly had to prove your lineage if you claimed to be a priest or a King. And that is exactly what Jesus claimed, and it was what Matthew had set out to prove. So his lineage needed to be proven in order for Jewish people who weren’t around to hear him teach and see his miracles, to consider him credible. When we look at the beginning of this genealogy we read the first two names of Abraham and Isaac. And what is incredible about these two names is that Abraham was so old when Isaac was born, that he and his wife should have been dead. In fact, the author of Hebrews says that Abraham was as good as dead. That is how old he was. He should not have been able to produce children, but he did! Why? Because God is faithful to his promises. And so from the beginning, we see that this kingdom is going to be a supernatural kingdom. That this promise is dependent on God doing something. So what we have here in the first parts of Matthew 1 is Matthew saying that Jesus is a legitimate King, in the line of Abraham and David, two pillars of the Jewish nation. And that His kingdom is supernatural. God was faithful to keep his unbelievable promise. God fulfills his promise of sending a revolutionary king and kingdom to save His people because they are people in need! And your name could be listed right along with them; your heritage; your family tree is just like this; this lineage is just a small snapshot of all of human history. So what do we learn from this genealogy? Israel had no reason to be proud of itself. Salvation, redemption, restoration is not from man, it is not from within, it is from God. David, the great King of Israel, who stole another man’s wife, and had the husband put to death, receives forgiveness, grace, and mercy from the hand of God. No one is able to save himself. All, even the best on the list, stood in dire need of redemption by the blood of the promised One.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 21, 2023
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Pursue.
Everything we pursue in life will fail us, except for God.   ~~~ What would you say is one of your life’s greatest pursuits? If we don’t take time to think about this, to plan our lives around pursuits, then what usually happens is that life just kind of drifts. We drift in our jobs, with no real aim or purpose. We drift in our relationships. We drift from one week to the next, one season to the next, with no real advancement, growth, or change in our lives. So I think it is important to have goals, bucket lists, and pursuits. They give us something for which to wake up. They keep us going. Do you have a pursuit? And if you do, what are you doing to reach it? Are you planning, studying, saving, sacrificing,? What are you doing to actually pursue? “Pursue” is an action word, it’s movement, it’s energy being exerted. And does God give us any direction in His word as to what are worthy pursuits, what are primary and essential pursuits? Part of the Christmas story, one little scene in it, shows us what is worthy of pursuing, or rather, who is worthy of pursuing. Matthew 2:1-3 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew is the only one to record for us this story of the magi. Matthew spends very little ink on the actual birth narrative of Jesus Christ, but he spends considerable amount of ink and paper on the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, one event being the wise men coming to the home of the Christ child. When we read this section of scripture we notice that geography comes up quite a bit, in particular, the city of Bethlehem. We see that this city is mentioned in verse 1,2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 16. So the place is an important element of the message that Matthew is trying to communicate. The primary reason Matthew keeps bringing up the place of Jesus’ birth is to show his readers, mainly Jewish readers who were familiar with the Hebrew scriptures and prophecies, that the place of His birth fulfilled scripture. In fact, the whole of Matthew’s gospel aims to show how Jesus fulfills ancient Hebrew prophecy. Matthew quotes from the OT more than any other NT author. In this gospel he says 13 time “this took place to fulfill the scripture,” all of them but one refer directly to Jesus. What is the likelihood that all of these prophecies would be fulfilled by one man? It is not a big deal that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. But to be born in Bethlehem at a time when there was no rightful Jewish king, to be taken to Egypt, to be raised in Nazareth, to heal diseases, to enter Jerusalem on a donkey proclaiming his Kingship, to be betrayed, to be crucified, and many others, now that is amazing. The chances, the probability of those things being fulfilled in one man, are astronomical. So was it just chance, coincidence that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Absolutely not. God stacked the odds so much against himself so that when He did make everything happen according to scripture, we couldn’t help but see that God is a faithful God who always keeps His promises, no matter what the circumstances may look like, and that knowing His Son is worth the pursuit. Everything you pursue in this life will, at some point in time, fail you. Whether it is a spouse, a bank account, a child, a position. It will not be able to fulfill all of its promises. Only God can do that. So why wouldn’t you pursue Him?
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 20, 2023
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Tough Men, Sore Afraid
Although the circumstances of our life may not change, our perspective and worship can.   ~~~   Luke 2:8-11 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behodl, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.” One of the main factors in Luke’s report about the angels showing up to the shepherds is fear. The shepherds were very, very scared. But fear is not new to the Christmas story. Do you remember when the angel Gabriel showed up in Zechariah’s life? Zechariah was scared and the angel said, “Fear not.” When Gabriel showed up to Mary, she was greatly troubled and Gabriel told her, “Do not be afraid.” So why are all these people afraid? You may think that is a silly question to ask. “Clif, an angel just showed up in front of them. Of course they were afraid.” This is true, but I think the answer lies deeper than that. Now let’s get our understanding of shepherds straight so that we can better understand how odd it was that they were fearful. I believe our perception of the shepherds is somewhat unbalanced. What do you picture when you think of a shepherd? Is it a young boy in a bathrobe with a belt around his waist and head? Is it some guy that sits out in lush green fields strumming his harp, contemplating scripture? Well, some of that may be true, but we have to remember that these guys also fought off wolves and bears and anything else that came out to attack the defenseless sheep. These guys were tough. Some resources even indicate that shepherds were a rowdy and wild group of guys. These guys were hard working, blue-collar men. So I don’t think a person just appearing would be enough reason to make them “sore afraid.” I am sure many of them had had wild animals sneak up on them. So someone appearing out of nowhere, although it may startle them, I don’t think it would have paralyzed them with a great fear. But notice what surrounded them. It was the very glory of God. It wasn’t the moonlight or the sunlight. What enveloped them was the very radiance and brilliance of God—the light of heaven. And that is why they had a great fear. They were in the presence of God Why does being in the presence of God’s glory make us fearful? The reason it makes them fearful is because Romans 3:23 is true Romans 3:23—“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The manifest presence of God creates fear in us because at that moment we are aware of our utter depravity and God’s absolute holiness. And that night, the shepherds were frozen in fear because they came to edge of the gulf that separates them from God, and they realized it was far too deep and far too wide for them to ever cross. The angel didn’t say, “You guys have nothing to worry about. You’ve done more good than bad. You’ve had good intentions.” The angel didn’t say, “If you guys would shape up and just try a little harder…” The angel told them that the prophesied Messiah was born and that He is a Savior. The shepherds! A Savior was born for the shepherds! The forgotten, the outcasts, the despised, the sinners, the dirty, the lonely, the fearful—a Savior was born for them! The reason that the shepherds did not have to live in fear anymore was because a Savior had been born who would conquer and overcome their sin! What was their response? It was worship! Look at what happens in verse 20—“And the shepherds returned, glorifying God and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.” But I want you to notice the context of which the shepherds’ worship is given. They receive the news; they go see the promised Savior, and as they are returning to the same dirty sheep, to the same low-paying job, to the same cultural labels, they are praising God. They truly understood that God had provided for their deepest need, being saved from their sin, and they worshiped, right back in their same context. Theirs wasn’t a health and wealth gospel that they believed in. It was a good news of great joy, that was for all people.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 19, 2023
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Day By Day Hacks
Reading the Bible provides instruction and wisdom about our own lives in a way fiction does not.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 18, 2023
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Searching For Significance
Our significance is found in God’s salvation.   ~~~   Zechariah is an old man without a son; without a boy to pass down the family name and legacy, to teach how to hunt or throw a spiral, or change a flat. But one day Gabriel, an angel, shows up and announces to him that his elderly wife will become pregnant. Two shocking things: an angel speaks to him, and the promise the angel makes. Zechariah finds that hard to believe, and as a result of his unbelief, Gabriel makes him mute. So for the pass nine months Zechariah has not been able to speak. He is trapped basically in his own mind with his thoughts. And as soon as he is liberated to talk, he begins to speak. But what is of special interest is about whom Zechariah speaks. We would expect him to go on and one about His new baby boy! That’s what I did when my kids were born, But who does Zechariah begin singing about? Is it his newborn son? NO! It is Jesus! Why? Because his son, John the Baptist, has no real significance outside of Jesus and His work. And I love this lyric Zechariah speaks: “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…that we should be saved from our enemies!” Doesn’t that just fill your heart with Christmas cheer?! Well, what is he talking about when he speaks of raising up a horn? Is Jesus like a trumpet that blasts forth His message. Well, Jesus is like that, but that is not what Zechariah has in mind. The answer lies in the fact that just like the Israelites, the chosen people of God, had enemies, we too have enemies. And because we are sinners with a rebellious heart, we have been separated from God, we are really enemies to ourselves, and we choose the advice and company of our enemies. And those enemies want to maintain the separation that exists between man and God. God created the world and everything in it, including you and me. And all of creation finds its meaning and purpose in life in Him—who we are, what we are supposed to be doing on earth, how we are supposed to relate to one another—all of those life-questions find their answer and content in God. But Satan, an enemy of God who wanted to destroy all that God had created, convinced the first people, Adam and Eve, to turn their back on God and to find their significance in themselves. God had told them not to eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the garden, but they rebelled against God’s love and rule, and chose to eat the fruit, thereby breaking their communion with God and exalting themselves in their minds to a god-like position. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your sins have made a separation between you and your God.” They essentially said, “God, we don’t want to find our significance in you. We want to find it in ourselves. We will determine what makes us significant.” And so they ate the fruit of the tree. And ever since that day, people have been attempting to find their significance in themselves or in created things, and they have been coming up empty, frustrated, depressed, lonely, angry, jaded, and on a constant search for significance. You might try to find your ultimate significance in your husband. His love for you, his concern for you, his attention brings you ultimate significance. But your husband was not created for you to find ultimate significance in. Rather, marriage is a picture and the husband is to picture for us how Christ loves the church. But your husband is not Jesus. He is going to mess up. Or we gain our significance in our jobs. Our lives become defined by our job titles and our significance and security is wrapped in our careers. But our careers are not meant to serve in that capacity. Work is a picture. It is to remind us that we are producers and servers in God’s kingdom. For some you find your significance in what label you wear. And so your clothes are what make you feel special and significant, and if you can’t have a certain brand of clothes, a certain style of shoe or name brand handbag, then you feel less than and would rather just stay home. But clothes are not meant to bring us significance, but even they are a picture. They are a picture, reminding us of the fact that our shame and guilt needs to be covered, and God is the one who sacrificed in order to do just that. But instead of finding significance in a redeeming God, we find it in designer jeans. If your ultimate significance is found in the picture and not the reality, then you are reflecting the world’s worldview. And this is why marketers advertise in the way they do. They want you to believe that a pack of Marlboro cigarettes makes you a real, rugged man. They want you to believe that real motherhood is that you can successfully juggle career, home, family, and appearance, so long as you use their special product. They are selling significance, and we are buying it, and ending up frustrated, depressed, insecure because none of those things were designed to bring ultimate significance. Those are things the enemy uses against you to keep you separated from God. You have enemies. You are one to yourself because you want to be your own king. And you are searching for that which makes you significant, and other enemies are feeding you lies. And since we have real enemies who want to keep us in our sin and separated from God, we need a real Savior who has the power to overcome our sin, deliver us from sin, and reconcile us to God. And that is exactly what Jesus did. Just like John the Baptist’s significance was directly tied to what God was doing in order to bring about redemption for mankind, so too is our significance found in God’s salvation. And when we find our significance in God’s salvation, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the door opens for us to see and get involved in God’s story.
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 15, 2023
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His Power Highlights His Mercy
God’s gift is personal to all those who recognize their sinfulness and turn to Him in faith.   ~~~   In order to live a life that magnifies the Lord, our worship must be God-centered. We see this in Mary’s song. Worship is a response to the truth of who God is. It is a response to His attributes. Luke 1:46b-50 “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” Did you notice what prompted Mary’s song? Mary is singing because, she says, the Lord has “looked upon her humble estate.” The word for “look” means to look attentively with the implication of personal care. She is responding to the fact that God has seen her humble estate and saved her from it. Now when she says, “humble estate,” she is not referring to her disposition of humility, or her kindness. She is talking about her nothingness and unworthiness, her insignificance. He has saved me from the nothingness that I am. He has saved me from my ruin. Clif, how do you know this is what she is talking about? Well, look at how she contrasts herself with God. She is humble, poor, weak, unworthy, but God is mighty and strong and “holy is His name.” Do you see this? Here is a God who is all powerful yet He is still merciful. His power highlights his mercy. And Mary understands this. She knows the gulf that exists between her and God. She knows Job 26 that says we have only seen the outskirts of His power and have only heard Him whisper, and yet in all that power and strength and authority and sovereignty He stills does great things “for me.” But she goes on from there. It is not only personal to Mary, it is available to all those who fear Him. In other words, all those who recognize who God is and who they are in light of who God is, who turn to God in repentance and faith. And he does this through His Son, Jesus. God’s mercy is available through Jesus. And He will save all who fear Him rightly. We have reason to echo Mary—My soul magnifies the Lord. Magnify the Lord! The sky is not telling the story of the hottest sports team. Magnify the Lord! The sun is not radiating the glory of the latest blockbuster movie! Magnify the Lord! The earth is not shouting about your fame. Magnify the Lord!
By: Clif Johnson
(Lifeword)
Aired on Dec 14, 2023
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