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Category Archives: Lamplighter Moments

Forgetfulness

Elbert Hubbard, author of Message to Garcia, writes:

“A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness. Successful people forget. They know the past is irrevocable. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line.

Magnanimous people forget. They’re too big to let little things disturb them . . . If anyone does them wrong, they . . . keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter. Business dictates it, and success demands it.”

Hubbard’s passion calls to mind the words of another writer from days long past. The Apostle Paul writes:

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way . . .”(Philippians 3:13b-15a)

How does one forget what lies behind when scarred by betrayal, guilt, conflict, disappointment, and bitterness? Paul exhorts us to:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

The only way to forget the past is to be preoccupied with the blessings of the present. Truly, those who have been forgiven the most really do love the most. It’s that simple.

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

If you are struggling with forgiveness and harboring a vengeful spirit, may I suggest a book that the entire family will enjoy, entitled Sweet Revenge. Click here to learn more.

 

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True Success

Today I was reading a devotional written by Oswald Chambers and it smacked me right between the eyes. Chambers said that often, Christians think that if Jesus compels them to do something, He will lead them to success in the endeavor, if only they are obedient to Him. If you agree, then you are in for a rude awakening; our dreams of success are not God’s ultimate purpose for us. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is not of primary importance. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God often sees as the goal itself.

If I can stay calm and faithful while in the middle of turmoil, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God’s purpose is the process itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience and trust are the goal, then each moment as it comes becomes the real standard of success.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:12

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

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Raging Nations, Laughing God

“Why do the nations rage?” Psalm 2, written by David, is a treatise on the tension that exists between humanity and God—basically because man wants things his way. David, God’s chosen king, was placed in authority over land that God would survey from Egypt to the Euphrates River. He overthrew the wicked nations that occupied that space.

Some people loved David, and some—even his own people—hated him. But that didn’t matter. God had decreed that David would be king, and no one was going to change it. Nonetheless, the nations did try to change it; they raged, beat their war drums, and fought against David. So often we do the same. God places authorities over us and we rage, resist, and fight. When we do, we restrict God’s blessings and favor.

Psalm 2 is also a Messianic psalm. David, God’s anointed, is a picture of Jesus the Anointed One. Just as they tried to remove David, we see the same occurrence today. Nations will fight until death but will band together when it comes to God’s Anointed, especially if Jesus is at the center of attention. And they will go to the extreme to do so.

God has two responses. He either laughs at man’s ridiculous attempt to have things his way or, if man doesn’t yield, He responds in wrath. That transition from laughter to wrath reminds me of my dad when he would suddenly shift from smirking to unleashing his belt on my behind!

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a preventative measure that will restrain God from unleashing His wrath. In Psalm 2:12 David writes, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.” One who is yielded to God submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Psalm 2 is referring to the Son of God! To “kiss the Son” means to submit to His rule over your life. This is illustrated today when someone bows before a leader and kisses their hand or ring.

It’s easy to tell who rules your life. If Christ, you will be yielded to and humbled by the assignments He gives. If you want things your way, you will resist, rage, and fight. If you find yourself currently resisting, fighting, or raging, it is time to surrender and “kiss the Son” lest He be angry!

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

Facing difficult assignments? Mark recommends reading these inspirational devotionals written by 17th and 19th century theologians Francois Fenelon and J. C. Ryle.

Click here to see The Dialogues of Fenelon. Ancient Paths by J. C. Ryle coming soon!

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What Did You Come Out to See?

In Luke 7 Jesus asks an unusual question: “What did you come out to see? A reed shaken in the wind?”  For years this question eluded me.

To understand these questions, we need to look at the context. John the Baptist had just sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one to come or should they look for another. John is in prison, and it appears that he is having some doubts as to whether Jesus is really the Messiah. If Jesus was the Messiah, then John was probably wondering why he wasn’t acting very kingly and why Rome was still in charge. I can imagine John hearing reports about Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. It wouldn’t be too difficult for him to imagine the worst about Jesus.

I think it is fair to say that the last time John saw Jesus was at His baptism when He proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Just a year or two later, John is perplexed and bewildered about who this Jesus really is.

In Luke 7, Jesus never gives John’s disciples an answer as to who He really is. All He does is heal people and then tell them to report to John what they saw. While John’s disciples depart, Jesus tells the crowd that there is none greater than John the Baptist. At this point Jesus then turns to the crowd with this rebuking question: “What did you come out to see? A reed shaken in the wind?”

In ancient Israel they grew reeds similar to sugar cane. These sugar cane reeds bowed nearly to the ground during the heat of the day. At night, with the cool breeze of the Mediterranean, the reeds would rise again. This phenomenon was a crowd-gathering event. Families came out to see the reeds rise in the wind. Then they would return home, no different then when they had arrived.

This is what Jesus was trying to communicate to them. They heard John in the wilderness. It was an event that attracted a tribal gathering. But they were no different after they heard his admonition to repent and be baptized. Now when the people come to see Jesus, the same thing occurs. They go from event to event but are never truly changed.

When you hear God’s Word, what do you go out to see? Hopefully our focus is not on the eloquence of the preacher or on the clothes people wear, but rather a demonstration of the power of God to redeem us and change the way we think and the way we act.

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

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Hold on to the Promises

“God’s divine power has granted unto us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). What is the prerequisite for receiving “everything we need”? Peter states that it is through the knowledge of Him by which he has also granted us great and magnificent promises. The word knowledge appears five times in chapter one of 2 Peter. In three of these instances the word for knowledge is epignosis, and twice it is gnosis. The prefix epi added to the word for knowledge (gnosis) changes the meaning significantly.

The word επίγνωσις (epignosis) carries the meaning of full recognition, full discernment and acknowledgement, or full intimate knowledge. We gain this intimate knowledge through the Word of God and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As we grow in our relationship with Christ we learn that He is dependable, reliable, and present. He delights in answering our prayers (John 14:13,14) and in blessing us with good things (Psalm 84:11); He lavishly gives His grace when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16).

In order for this relationship to grow we need to be fully convinced that God will do what He has promised, as Abraham did (Romans 4). George Mueller, who was responsible to care and feed many orphans, was transformed when he began reading through the Scriptures four times each year. He started this practice when he was 71 years of age! It was at this time that he learned to truly trust God’s promises—especially the fact that with God nothing was impossible.

It is rare that I close a moment with a song but Sanctus Real created a song titled Promises. If you are not ultra conservative in your music style then you may want to watch and listen to the music video they produced: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=09B911NU
Or you can enjoy the lyrics below:

“Promises”
Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing in what you can’t see
That everything happens for a reason even the worst life brings
If you’re reaching for an answer and you don’t know what to pray
Just open up the pages, let His Word be your strength

And hold on to the promises (hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (all right)
Jesus is alive, so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

And all things work for the good of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you, not even His own son
His love is everlasting, His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So, if you feel weak

Just hold on to the promises (hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (all right)
Jesus is alive, so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

Neither life nor death could separate us
From the eternal love of our God who saves us

Neither life nor death could separate us
From the eternal love of our God who saves us

Just hold on to the promises (hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (all right)
Jesus is alive, so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

Just hold on to the promises (hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (all right)
Jesus is alive, so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

Neither life nor death could separate us
From the eternal love of our God who saves us

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

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Shouts of Joy or Miserable Silence

In Luke chapter 1 an old man and a teen girl hear an angelic announcement that rocks their worlds. On center stage is our elderly tongued tied Zechariah and our teenage virgin, Mary. Upon hearing the news that he’s going to have a baby, Zechariah questions the angel by asking, “How shall I know this?”

Mary’s response to the news of her virgin pregnancy is for the most part the same in English to that of Zechariah. Mary says to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Note the two responses:
1. Zechariah - ”How shall I know this?
2. Mary - ”How will this be…?”

At first glance both responses seem similar as rendered in the English Standard Version Bible. But the Greek words for “How” and “How” are completely different. Zechariah’s word for “How” is a combination of two Greek words which frequently denotes opposition or intensity. Zechariah is asking the angel in a tone agitation and skepticism, “How can I be sure?” which is further supported by the angel’s rebuke:  ”because you did not believe my words…”

In contrast, the word “How” that Mary uses, denotes an exclamation expressed as “how much” or “In what way” will this be accomplished. Unlike Zechariah who answers the angel from a heart of disbelief, Mary embraces the word of the angel.

I love the irony that is created when Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth and speechless Zechariah. As she enters their home, Elizabeth shouts for joy saying, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Are you faced with an impossible situation today? Take courage because the angel Gabriel had one more thing to say: “For there’s nothing impossible with God.”

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

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Two or Three

In Matthew 18:20 we find one of the most frequently quoted Bible verses: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst.” I don’t know about you, but this verse has always bothered me. Isn’t Jesus in the midst of just one person?

Verses like this need to be understood within their context. Whenever we use language outside of its context it is inevitable that errors will occur and the meaning and intent could be misconstrued or misunderstood. Such was the case with a 23-year-old woman who was institutionalized in 1921 at the Philadelphia State Hospital for what doctors believed to be incoherent babbling. Forty-eight years later it was revealed that Catherine Yasinchuk was Ukrainian, and the babbling sounds were actually words spoken in her native language!

In the same way Christians often misinterpret the truth that Jesus taught in Matthew 18. The text reveals that Matthew 18 is dealing with a brother who sins and requires discipline. The first step is to confront the offender privately. If they won’t listen, then they should take one or two witnesses to substantiate the evidence.

In the Old Testament, there were times when God called upon heaven and earth to be His two witnesses against sinning Israel. In Revelation 11 God sends His two witnesses for the last judgment upon the earth. In Matthew 18 Jesus is explaining to the church that wherever there are two or three witnesses, God acts as an extra witness in the midst of them, thus binding the judgment.

Oh, may we become like Bereans of Acts 17 who received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

 

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Stirring Up Trouble

Did you ever notice how Jesus responds to some people with a seemingly unrelated reply? In Luke 4:16-30 He does just that. Everything is going fine up to this point. A year has gone by and the hometown boy has just returned to Nazareth. He’s preached in a few cities, healed a few people, and cast out a few demons.

But as is His custom, He enters the synagogue on the Sabbath. Standing up, He makes His move, as all eyes are now upon Him. A scroll is handed to Him and He reads from the book of Isaiah. It is a beautiful reading and the crowd marvels at the gracious words that are coming from His mouth (4:22). They realize that this is the same Jesus they knew as the carpenter’s son and had no idea He has such depth of wisdom and eloquence of speech.

The hometown boy is back and the crowds love him. But Jesus, being Jesus, isn’t looking for unconditional acceptance, recognition, or approval from his peers. He is looking at the hearts of men and is ready to expose them. If you read Luke 4:16-30 you’ll be able to catch the drama of it all.

After reading the beautiful portion of Scripture, everyone is marveling at how wonderful He is. Then Jesus says the unthinkable! He rebukes the crowd by telling them the thoughts of their hearts—that deep down inside they want Him to prove Himself by performing a miracle or at least doing something similar to what He did at Capernaum (4:23). And if that’s not enough to aggravate the crowd, He really pushes their buttons by giving two illustrations. First, before he gives the illustrations he says that a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. He then proceeds by stating that in the OT a Gentile widow and leper were more worthy of help and healing than children of Israel.

How does the crowd respond? They’re furious! But the saying is true: Jesus came not to bring peace on earth but a sword. He loved to stir up the hornet’s nest. Think about it. It’s a beautiful day at church. Jesus preaches a beautiful sermon, and then, taking you by surprise, He unleashes His judgment on your character. What’s your reaction? It’s time for a new pastor! Luke 4:29 says they “rose up and drove him out of town and brought him to the brow of the hill . . . so that they could throw him down the cliff.” But Jesus passed through their midst and went away.

What happens when your buttons are pushed? When the “nice” citizens of Nazareth were confronted that they were no better than Gentiles, they were ready to commit murder! Sadly they never understood what Jesus was trying to teach them—that their pride and prejudice blinded them to who He was and why He had come. As a result, “Jesus went away.” That phrase speaks volumes and should be our greatest concern when our hearts are exposed.

If you want to experience the reality of Jesus’s presence—a prophet in his hometown, it will require a surrender of our blinding pride and a welcome of our exposed heart. I think he would be more apt to stay for a longer visit!

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

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Salt of the Earth

 “You are the salt of the earth.” This statement might not seem very profound, but it speaks volumes—especially during Jesus’ time. Salt has been a precious commodity throughout history. It is an essential part of our diet. In fact, we can’t live without it. I remember when my dad was in the hospital, one of the first things they did was administer a saline solution to control his metabolism. When I worked in a salt factory, I made salt blocks for animals. In fact, my neighbor buys salt blocks to keep the deer in her yard, and I’m glad she does—it  keeps them out of my garden!

Nations have fought for salt deposits. During the Civil War the Union army secured
a salt plant in Avery Island, Louisiana. Understanding the importance of salt, Confederate President Jefferson Davis exempted anyone from military duty if they were willing to work to keep the South supplied with salt.

Salt is used for healing injuries, preserving meats and fish, tanning leather, and even to strengthen the preservative properties in pressure-treated lumber. Morton Salt Company boasts of over 14,000 ways to use salt!

Salt was used for covenants and cures in the Scriptures. In Numbers 18:19, we read, “It is an everlasting covenant of salt both for you and your offspring.” In 2 Chronicles 13:5, it says, “Don’t you know the Lord God of Israel has given the kingship of Israel to David and his ancestors forever by the covenant of the salt?” In 2 Kings 2:20 we read, “Bring me a bowl and put salt in it . . . then he took it to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, ‘This is what the Lord says; I have healed the water. Never again will it bring about death or make the land unproductive.’ And the water remains wholesome still today. . . .”

Salt was not only used to confirm covenants and purify water, but also to enhance flavor. As the salt of the earth, the world needs to taste the trustworthiness of our agreements (covenants), the cleansing of our insights from the Word of God, and the flavor of our joy. The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Colosse’ saying: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Mark Hamby

 

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Salt of the Earth

“You are the salt of the earth.” This statement might not seem very profound, but it speaks volumes—especially during Jesus’ time. Salt has been a precious commodity throughout history. It is an essential part of our diet. In fact, we can’t live without it. I remember when my dad was in the hospital, one of the first things they did was administer a saline solution to control his metabolism. When I worked in a salt factory, I made salt blocks for animals. In fact, my neighbor buys salt blocks to keep the deer in her yard, and I’m glad she does—it  keeps them out of my garden! Nations have fought for salt deposits. During the Civil War the Union army secured a salt plant in Avery Island, Louisiana. Understanding the importance of salt, Confederate President Jefferson Davis exempted anyone from military duty if they were willing to work to keep the South supplied with salt. Salt is used for healing injuries, preserving meats and fish, tanning leather, and even to strengthen the preservative properties in pressure-treated lumber. Morton Salt Company boasts of over 14,000 ways to use salt! Salt was used for covenants and cures in the Scriptures. In Numbers 18:19, we read, “It is an everlasting covenant of salt both for you and your offspring.” In 2 Chronicles 13:5, it says, “Don’t you know the Lord God of Israel has given the kingship of Israel to David and his ancestors forever by the covenant of the salt?” In 2 Kings 2:20 we read, “Bring me a bowl and put salt in it . . . then he took it to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, ‘This is what the Lord says; I have healed the water. Never again will it bring about death or make the land unproductive.’ And the water remains wholesome still today. . . .” Salt was not only used to confirm covenants and purify water, but also to enhance flavor. As the salt of the earth, the world needs to taste the trustworthiness of our agreements (covenants), the cleansing of our insights from the Word of God, and the flavor of our joy. The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Colosse’ saying: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6 Making ready a people prepared for the Lord, Mark Hamby  
 

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