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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


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Happiness and Joy

HAPPINESS AND JOY

These two words are often considered as synonyms, but the Scriptures make a distinction between them.

Biblical HAPPINESS is generally dependent upon the circumstances that one experiences. The law of Moses identifies happiness in marriage, “When a man takes his new wife, he shall not go out with the Army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5).

Another example, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “your God reigns”” (Isaiah 52:7).

In general, you are happy when life and things are going well, and you are unhappy when life and things are not going well as you had hoped they would.

Biblical JOY is more of a state of being and not dependent upon your circumstances. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in his love, he will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Zephaniah 3:17).

Jeremiah the prophet discovered that ingesting God’s word brought him great joy. “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and a delight of my heart; I have been called by your name oh Lord of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).

The apostle John gives us a few quotes of Jesus Who is our joy, “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

Jesus prays to His Father, “But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (John 17:13).

The apostle Paul adds, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us… Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1 – 2).

Jesus Christ endured the cross expressly for the joy of bringing you into his eternal kingdom.

THE ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENT TO SHEPHERDS

“There were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over the flock by night. And the angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”” (Luke 2:8 – 11).

THE SHEPHERDS TERROR CHANGED TO GREAT JOY

“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another; “let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that is happened which the Lord has made known to us. So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as he lay in the manger. When they had seen this, [with great joy] they made known the statement which had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:15 – 17).

THE MAGI’S LONG JOURNEY BROUGHT THEM GREAT JOY

“After coming into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they [with great joy] fell to the ground and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1).

“Now when they had gone, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘get up! Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ So Joseph got up and took the child and his mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt” (Matthew 2:13 – 14).

God’s plan probably did not make Joseph very happy, but he had great joy since God must have provided the Magi’s gifts to finance their trip and time in Egypt.

CHRISTMAS TODAY

It is quite possible that the uncertainty of the world’s chaos and current circumstances that you face today may produce in your heart and mind a lack of happiness.

Nevertheless, Jesus who is our everlasting joy, assures us, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

However, let’s remember what the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of GREAT JOY which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:11).

Our prayer is that this Christmas we together with you will remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth and his many blessings to us with GREAT JOY! Have a joyous Christmas!!!

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Christmas is Still About Jesus

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1–7, AV)

A contemporaneous thought from my dear friend Evangelist Jim Wilson:

"Researchers at Time Magazine searched records in the U.S. Copyright Office for the number of times favorite Christmas songs have been recorded since 1978. The overwhelming choice as America’s favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night.” It has been recorded 733 times; the second most recorded Christmas song is “Joy to the World,” at 391 recordings. Rounding out the top five are “O Holy Night” at 374; “What Child Is This?” at 329; and “Away in a Manger” at 300.

The highest-rated secular song on the list is “White Christmas,” with 283 recordings. We may hear and fear otherwise, but according to our music (and the Bible), Christmas is still about the birth of Jesus."[1]

The Incarnation: the point upon which the universe is centered!  The Apostle Paul records the reason for my distraction: that I knew God, I did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but I became futile in my thinking, and my foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21 paraphrase mine).  This is the dungeon wherein Grace found me, convicted me of my sinful estate, and gave to me a new life.  Christmas is still about the birth of Jesus because His birth was also the birth of salvation to every one who believes (Romans 1:16b).  The Prince of Peace Incarnate on Earth (Jehovah Yeshua — I AM SALVATION).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, AV)


[1] Wilson, J. L., & Russell, R. (2015). “Silent Night” Still America’s Favorite Christmas Song. In E. Ritzema (Ed.), 300 Illustrations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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The Acceptable Sacrifice

The Acceptable Sacrifice

or,

the excellency of a broken heart

‘THE SACRIFICES OF GOD ARE A BROKEN SPIRIT: A BROKEN AND A CONTRITE HEART, O GOD, THOU WILT NOT DESPISE.’—Psalm 51:17

This psalm is David’s penitential psalm. It may be fitly so called, because it is a psalm by which is manifest the unfeigned sorrow which he had for his horrible sin, in defiling of Bathsheba, and slaying Uriah her husband; a relation at large of which you have in the 11th and 12th of the Second of Samuel. Many workings of heart, as this psalm showeth, this poor man had, so soon as conviction did fall upon his spirit. One while he cries for mercy, then he confesses his heinous offences, then he bewails the depravity of his nature; sometimes he cries out to be washed and sanctified, and then again he is afraid that God will cast him away from his presence, and take his Holy Spirit utterly from him. And thus he goes on till he comes to the text, and there he stayeth his mind, finding in himself that heart and spirit which God did not dislike; ‘The sacrifices of God,’ says he, ‘are a broken spirit’; as if he should say, I thank God I have that. ‘A broken and a contrite heart,’ says he, ‘O God, thou wilt not despise’; as if he should say, I thank God I have that.

I. THE TEXT OPENED IN THE MANY WORKINGS OF THE HEART

The words consist of two parts. FIRST. An assertion. SECOND. A demonstration of that assertion. The assertion is this, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.’ The demonstration is this, ‘Because a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.’

In the assertion we have two things present themselves to our consideration. First. That a broken spirit is to God a sacrifice. Second. That it is to God, as that which answereth to, or goeth beyond, all sacrifices. ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.’

The demonstration of this is plain: for that heart God will not despise it. ‘A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’ Whence I draw this conclusion: That a spirit rightly broken, a heart truly contrite, is to God an excellent thing. That is, a thing that goeth beyond all external duties whatever; for that is intended by this saying, The sacrifices, because it answereth to all sacrifices which we can offer to God; yea it serveth in the room of all: all our sacrifices without this are nothing; this alone is all.

There are four things that are very acceptable to God. The

First is The sacrifice of the body of Christ for our sins. Of this you read (Heb 10) for there you have it preferred to all burnt-offerings and sacrifices; it is this that pleaseth God; it is this that sanctifieth, and so setteth the people acceptable in the sight of God.

Second. Unfeigned love to God is counted better than all sacrifices, or external parts of worship. ‘And to love him the Lord thy God with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices’ (Mark 12:33).

Third. To walk holily and humbly, and obediently, towards and before God, is another. Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?—‘Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (Micah 6:6–8; 1 Sam 15:22).

Fourth. And this in our text is the fourth: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’

But note by the way, that this broken, this broken and contrite heart, is thus excellent only to God: ‘O God,’ saith he, ‘THOU wilt not despise it.’ By which is implied, the world have not this esteem or respect for such a heart, or for one that is of a broken and a contrite spirit. No, no, a man, a woman, that is blessed with a broken heart, is so far off from getting by that esteem with the world, that they are but burdens and trouble houses wherever they are or go. Such people carry with them molestation and disquietment: they are in carnal families as David was to the king of Gath, troublers of the house (1 Sam 21).

Their sighs, their tears, their day and night groans, their cries and prayers, and solitary carriages, put all the carnal family out of order.1 Hence you have them brow-beaten by some, contemned by others, yea, and their company fled from and deserted by others. But mark the text, ‘A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,’ but rather accept; for not to despise is with God to esteem and set a high price upon.

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Christmas Today?

Christmas Today?

More than 2000 years have passed since the first Christmas. The first Christmas took place in Bethlehem.  The town was crowded due to Caesar’s census requiring everyone to register in their birth town.  Joseph and Mary had no place to stay when they arrived, but found shelter in an obscure stable.

They were a very tired young couple when they delivered their first baby.  They must have wondered, Does anyone know?  Does anyone care?  Is this really the Messiah?

The Heavenly Host knew and came to some lowly shepherds in the middle of the night. They heralded this great news that the Savior was born.

The shepherds were terrified and shocked, but after recovering, they rushed to Bethlehem to see the baby that was God’s promised Savior.

Joseph and Mary were probably awakened from their sleep as the shepherds rushed in.  The shepherds stumbled over one another as they told about the vision the Angel and the Heavenly Host heralding the birth of a long-awaited Savior.

After the shepherds left rejoicing, Joseph and Mary were so tired they probably fell asleep.  Someone does know! Someone does care! – His Heavenly Father cares!

Christmas Today!

It is not at all like the first Christmas.  Some say that it is the fault of commercialism, but commerce only tries to satisfy the demands of the customer.  We as a people are responsible for the emphasis on material things.

Gift-giving has become a requirement to prove our love and appreciation for those to whom we give.  We often forget the gift of salvation and LIFE that Jesus came to bestow upon those who trust him.

Holiday parties, dinners and get-togethers are part of the celebration of Jesus birth.  However, little about Jesus is mentioned or considered during the season.

Church services are filled with special readings and Christmas music. Plays and pageants about the Savior’s life are reenacted. Handel’s great Messiah is heard and revered.  Lots of good activity, but few care about their relationship with Jesus himself!

Relationship With Jesus Christ!

Many Christians and their leaders talk about Jesus topically or doctrinally. They are truly saved and enjoy some of the benefits. However, they have their own ideas of what biblical spirituality is.  Jesus or God are expected to help them to do his work, but few know him intimately.

However Jesus desires to take charge of our lives, with us cooperating with him for his glory and our good!

Jesus came to be our Savior.
Jesus loves to be our life!

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15)

We trust that you and your loved ones will enjoy Jesus during the special Christmas season!

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Psalm 28

Psalm 28

A Psalm of David. Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.” (Psalm 28, AV)

As in the preceding psalm, a righteous sufferer prays that he may not be confounded with the wicked whom his soul abhors, so here a like prayer is offered by the Anointed of Jehovah. He first prays in general for audience and acceptance, without which he must quickly perish, ver. 1, 2. He then asks to be distinguished from the wicked in the infliction of God’s judgments, ver. 3–5. He then gives thanks for the anticipated answer to his prayer, ver. 6–8, and implores an extension of the blessing to all God’s people at all times, ver. 9. The collocation of the psalm is clearly not fortuitous, but founded on its close resemblance to the one before it.

1. By David. Unto thee, Jehovah, will I call; my rock, be not silent from me, lest thou hold thy peace from me, and I be made like to those going down (into) the pit. My rock, the immoveable foundation of my hope and object of my trust. See above, on Ps. 18:3, 32 (2, 31), 19:15 (14). That God is such affords a sufficient reason for the importunate demands which follow. It is inconsistent with the relation he sustains to those who trust him, that he should be silent when they pray, i.e. refuse to answer. The ideas of distance and estrangement are really implied in being silent, and suggested by the pregnant construction silent from. The meaning of the last clause is correctly given, with a change of idiom, in the English version, lest, if thou be silent, &c. The passive verb does not merely mean to be like, but to be made like, assimilated, confounded. The pit, the grave, both in its narrower and wider sense. (Compare Isa. 14:15, 19.) Those going down into the pit is a common description of the dead. See Ps. 30:4 (3), 88:5 (4), and compare Ps. 22:30 (29).

2. Hear the voice of my supplications, in my crying unto thee (for help); in my lifting up my hands to thy holy oracle. In my crying, in my lifting, i.e. at the time of my so doing, when I am in the very act. The lifting up of the hands is a natural symbol of the raising of the heart or the desires to God, and is therefore often mentioned in connection with the act of prayer. Exod. 9:29, 17:11, 12, 1 Kings 8:22, 54, Lam. 2:19, 3:41, Ps. 63:5 (4).—The word translated oracle is derived from the verb to speak, and seems to mean a place of speaking or conversation, like the English parlor from the French parler. Now we learn from Exod. 25:22, Num. 7:89, that the place whence God talked with Moses was the inner apartment of the tabernacle; and from 1 Kings 6:19, that the corresponding part of the temple bore the name here used. To this, as the depository of the ark and the earthly residence of God, the ancient saints looked as we look now to Christ, in whom the idea of the Mosaic sanctuary has been realized. See above, on Ps. 5:8 (7).

3. Draw me not away with wicked (men), and with workers of iniquity, speaking peace with their neighbors, and evil (is) in their heart. This is the prayer for which he bespeaks audience and acceptance in the foregoing verse. Draw me not away, i.e. to punishment or out of life. Compare Ps. 26:9, where the parallel expression is gather me not. In both cases he prays that he may not be confounded in his death with those whose life he abhors. The last clause exhibits a particular trait in the character of the wicked men and evil doers of the other clause. This trait is hypocritical dissimulation, the presence of friendship as a mask to hatred. The simple construction with the copulative and is equivalent to our expressions, but, though, while, &c.

4. Give to them according to their act, and according to the evil of their deeds, according to the work of their hands give thou to them; return their treatment to them. Having prayed that he may not share the destruction of the wicked, he now prays that they may not escape it. But as this is merely asking God to act as a just and holy being must act, the charge of vindictive cruelty is not merely groundless, but absurd.—The evil of their deeds is a phrase borrowed from Moses (Deut. 28:20), and often repeated by Jeremiah (4:4, 21:12, 23:2, 22, 26:3, 44:22). The same prophet has combined two of the phrases here employed in Jer. 25:14, and Lam. 3:64. The word translated treatment is a participle meaning that which is done by one person to another, whether good or evil. See above, on Ps. 7:5 (4).

5. Because they will not attend to the acts of Jehovah and to the doing of his hands, he will pull them down and will not build them up. Having appealed to the divine justice for a righteous recompense of these offenders, he now shews what they have deserved and must experience, by shewing what they have done, or rather not done. The acts of Jehovah and the works of his hands are common expressions for his penal judgments. See Ps. 64:10 (9), 92:5 (4), Isa. 5:12, 28:21, 29:23.—Pull down and not build up, is an idiomatic combination of positive and negative terms to express the same idea.—Build, therefore, does not mean rebuild, but is simply the negative or opposite of pull down. The form of expression is copied repeatedly by Jeremiah (31:28, 42:10, 45:4.) See also Job 12:14.

6. Blessed (be) Jehovah, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. What he asked in ver. 2 he has now obtained, or at least the assurance of a favorable answer, in the confident anticipation of which he begins already to bless God. The word translated supplications means, according to its etymology, prayers for grace or mercy.

7. Jehovah, my strength and my shield! In him has my heart trusted, and I have been helped, and my heart shall exult, and by my song I will thank (or praise) him. The construction of the first clause as a proposition, by supplying the substantive verb, Jehovah (is) my strength and my shield, is unnecessary, and neither so simple nor so strong as that which makes it a grateful and admiring exclamation.—My heart is twice used in this sentence to express the deep and cordial nature of the exercises which he is describing. The same heart that trusted now rejoices. As he believed with all his heart, so now he rejoices in like manner.—By my song, literally from or out of it, as the source and the occasion of his praise. Compare Ps. 22:26 (25).

8. Jehovah (is) strength to them, and a stronghold of salvation (to) his Anointed (is) He. The Psalmist having spoken hitherto not only for himself but for the people, here insensibly substitutes the third person plural for the first person singular. In the last clause he reverts to himself, but with the use of an expression which discloses his relation to the people, of which he was not only a member but the delegated head, the Anointed of Jehovah. See above, on Ps. 2:2. A stronghold. See above on Ps. 27:1.—Salvations, full salvation. See above on Ps. 18:51 (50). The personal pronoun at the end of the sentence is emphatic, and intended to concentrate the attention upon one great object.

9. Oh save thy people, and bless thy heritage, and feed them, and carry (or exalt them) even to eternity! The whole psalm closes with a prayer that the relation now subsisting between God and his people may continue forever. Thy heritage, thy peculiar people, whom thou dost preserve and treat as such from generation to generation. The idea and expression are Mosaic. See Deut. 9:29, and compare Ps. 33:12, 68:10 (9), 94:5. The image then merges into that of a shepherd and his flock, a favorite one with David and throughout the later scriptures. See above, on Ps. 23:1.—Feed them, not only in the strict sense, but in that of doing the whole duty of a shepherd. The next verb is by some translated carry them, in which sense the primitive is elsewhere used in speaking of a shepherd (Isa. 40:11), and this very form appears to have the same sense in Isa. 63:9, while in 2 Sam. 5:12 it is applied to the exaltation of David himself as a theocratic sovereign.[1]

 

[1] Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained (pp. 123–125). Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain)


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