Be of Good Courage

     I should say at the forefront that this post forces me into certain transparency that I normally do not present. Yet I find it necessary to encourage many that find themselves fighting discouragement and dismay during this upcoming holiday season and other times throughout the year. There are many heavy hearts out there and many that are not certain if they should stay in the fight. I argue that those who are heavy hearted need not only stay in the fight but also fight a bit harder.

     Sometimes I reflect to November of 1981. I was a young Marine and not long graduated from Admin School. I was assigned to 3rd Recon in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. My plans for Thanksgiving were to go to church but my supervisors thought otherwise. Being of low rank and the newest member of the unit I was assigned the “duty” for the weekend. It was the first time that I was to celebrate with an M16 strapped across my shoulders while I donned my freshly pressed camouflage uniform. It was all I could do to keep back the tears welling up. I had to stand post and nothing was to change that. So, I kept post. It was just me and an occasional Marine passing by. The hurt and pain seemed insurmountable but I was not allowed to give up. I was not allowed to give in. I had a job to do so I remained and did what was required of me.

      The interesting thing is that there came a time when that duty was over. I was no longer to stand that post. Yes, I have had other duties since but never again did I have duty on Thanksgiving Day. The occasion of loneliness also subsided for a time. The sorrow did not last. With this I can say boldly that those of you that may be feeling loneliness and despair that this too will pass. Do not let the occasion of temporary setbacks set the stage for the rest of your life. Jesus has promised that He will be with us that serve Him and that promise has continued from the time He spoke it until now. So, be of good courage! God has not forgotten you and will reward you for your faithfulness.

      Regrettably that was not the last time I would be overtaken with loneliness, hurt and pain.  You see, I married the wife of my youth and had every intention of being married to her until the end of my life. Unfortunately the woman I adored did not feel the same way. Many things transpired that I still do not understand. Even worse my thirteen year marriage was deemed over after a twenty minute hearing by a judge in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The divorce was unwanted and undeserved yet I was caught in the middle of troubles, hurt and pain that I did not seek. In fact I fought with everything I had to dispel the overtures of our enemy. Alas, my fight was not enough. Even so, God has been good to me in that I have grown in ways that I cannot articulate in this missive.

      My point is that I know that many are going through trouble not of their making. Many of you look around your homes and see no one there. The phone does not ring and no one knocks on the door unless you are needed for something. I also know what is like not to watch certain movies because they cause tears to stream down because of the desire to have someone but there is no one. There is no one to talk with and to play with. There is no point in buying a lot of food; it will only go to waste. Going to the movie theatre is just another reminder that you are alone and it is the same reason that restaurants are avoided; it is just too painful to be surrounded by people who are loved by someone and you sit alone.

      Be of good cheer my brother. Be of good cheer my sister. God has not forgotten you and he sees you crying in the midnight hour. He knows that you have need of someone in your life and has someone out there just for you. However that person is still being prepared for you and you are being prepared for that person. Meanwhile, keep doing a good work. Hold on to the faith that has brought you to this point. Trust God with your whole heart and lean not to your own understanding.

      When the fullness of time has come God will bless you in such a way that you will know that it was no one but God. People will call you blessed because you will be blessed. No, don’t you dare bring harm to yourself. Trust God and hold on to His promise to never leave you nor forsake you. You are not forgotten and you are very much loved. Just stay the course and be of good courage.

Deuteronomy: Holiness Through the Promise

     The idea of holiness was to be a way of life for God’s people. God never intended His people to be like the others in serving false gods, living immoral lives and giving into the lusts of the flesh just because of simple cravings. God’s people were never at liberty to live as others did rather they were to live by a standard set down by God. That standard is reflected in the Law as God had given it to Moses. Part of that law is known as the Ten Commandments which begins with instructions for God’s people to have no gods other than the God of all. This primary instruction, if heeded, allows for no sin because the love toward God would be without barriers alleviating the need for sin.

     Unfortunately man had already proven that his love for God was often fickle at best.  Throughout biblical text God’s people loved Him one moment and seemed to despise Him the next. This is why God had to detail what is now considered the Mosaic Law. There were six hundred thirteen such laws which touched every avenue of life. Yet God knew that man could not adhere to the law without assistance. The real base of the Law was to love God. This is the reason it is the first commandment. Even so, man had a difficult time in following this first and simple mandate. It was extremely evident that man was fickle as the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for an extended period of time because of their hard hearts and stiff necks. It is for this reason that Moses looked through the annals of time and saw the coming Messiah.

     Promises of the Messiah were made as early as Genesis chapter three and continued until His manifestation in the Gospels. Moses’ words showed the Messiah as a Prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15. The words “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” say much about what was to come in the form of a Saviour. It is more than obvious that this Prophet is a direct reference to Jesus the Christ for at least three reasons that are outlined in the verse. The first is that the Prophet would come from the midst of the people. That is to say that this Prophet would be born into the Hebrew lineage. The Prophet would also be elevated by God and that same Prophet would be heard by the people.

     The promise of the Prophet is reiterated in verse 18 with “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” This Prophet was to be sent because the people would not live a holy life on their own. Left to their whims the people would pull from holiness and celebrate not only false gods but their lives would be the very antithesis of what it meant to love God. The love for the true and living God would wax colder and colder whilst love for inordinate affections would be on the rise. With this the Prophet would turn the hearts of the people back to the God that loved them unconditionally. The whoremonging, backstabbing, loveless people would need to be taught how to be holy in the face of unholy surroundings. The Prophet needed to come before man’s false love would be his eternal downfall.   

     Mary was another that received information from on High that Jesus would be born as prophesied in the Second Law. Luke 1:31-33 reads, “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” And so was the birth of Jesus. He not only falls in the lineage of David but also reigns over the house of Jacob even to this day. His Words were not His own rather He spoke in accordance with the will of the Father (John 12:49-50). The will of the Father was and remains simple, to have a people that love Him and are willing to separate themselves from the things of the world in order to live life more fully.

     Holiness was never a suggestion from God rather it has always been a way of life for those that choose to live a life after His mandates. The law dictated how holy lives were to be lived but the law did little to change the hearts of man. As such there was a need for the Father to send His only begotten Son to die in order to restore a right relationship from man to the Father. That relationship has everything to do with holiness of actions as well as holiness of the heart. The promise in the Second Law pointed to the Holy One (Deuteronomy 33:8) while the Gospels show fulfillment of the promise. Recognizing the true intent of the Law and understanding the fulfillment of the promise is the basis to lead all God’s people to a life of love to Him which results in holiness. That holiness is predicated upon resting in the promise of the revealed Prophet Who came in the spirit of restoration.