Tag Archive: worship


by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

THREE CROSS HILL

It has been written about, talked about, and often repeated; “There’s nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 9:23).” Something else has been written and talked about but not repeated enough; “There’s nothing too hard for God to forgive.” Interestingly, Ahab was an example. He was the wretched king of Israel, who married a callous woman named Jezebel. Enemy of God’s prophets, she was a Baal worshipper, which means that the ceremonial killing of babies was routine. Killing prophets of God was a small thing to her! Ahab did wickedly at the influence of his wife. He behaved “…abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. (1King 21:26 KJV).”

Ahab desired to enlarge his farm by purchasing the vineyard next to his field. So, he offered to pay the owner, Naboth the Jazreelite, or give him another vineyard in trade. But, Naboth refused, because it was his family heritage. Disappointed with Naboth’s answer, Ahab went home, stretched out on his bed, and pouted. Jezebel noticed that something was wrong and asked him, “Why are you too sad to eat?” After Ahab explained what happened, Jezebel responded, “You are king. Get up and eat. Don’t be sad, be happy; I’ll get you the vineyard.” Without asking her how she would, Ahab did as she said.

Now, any other sinful “sane” person would have tried cunning Naboth out of his land or done something unsavory without bloodshed. Not Jezebel! She promptly planned murder. Jezebel wrote a letter detailing the plans to kill Naboth and signed Ahab’s name to it. They honored Naboth to set him up for a fall. Then, as she instructed, they sent men to accuse Naboth of blaspheming God and the king. The Israelites believed their lie and stoned Naboth to death (1Kings 21:13). After Ahab heard about Naboth’s death, he delightfully took possession of the vineyard which he coveted so much.

The LORD then sent Elijah, the prophet, to confront Ahab (1Kings 21:18-19) about the murder of Naboth and the theft of his vineyard. Elijah told Ahab of his awful fate because of his wickedness. After the prophet revealed the word of the LORD to him, Ahab fasted, put on sackcloth, and then laid on sackcloth. He was mournful and remorseful. When He observed Ahab’s reaction, God said to Elijah, “Look at that! Ahab has humbled himself before Me.” And then the LORD said, “Because he humbled himself before Me, I will not bring this punishment in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring it upon his house (1Kings 21:29).”

That is a mouth opener! This man married a Baal worshipper and was an idol worshipper himself (1Kings 16:31), which involved child sacrifice (1Kings 16:34). Ahab even built an altar to Baal (1Kings 16:32). God held him responsible for the death of the innocent Naboth and the theft of his vineyard. Nevertheless, Ahab received forgiveness after a fast of repentance.

Do you think you have done something too horrible or evil for the LORD to forgive??? If the LORD can forgive Ahab, you can receive forgiveness also!

It is not because there was a time that Ahab was so good that he deserved a second chance. No, it is because it is the LORD’s nature to forgive a repentant heart. It is as if the LORD looks for an opportunity to forgive. God is a merciful God. His mercy is everlasting (Psalm 100:5). He could have said nothing and immediately let Ahab slide into the deadly consequences of his wickedness. Especially since he did more evil in the sight of the LORD than any king before him (1Kings 16:30, 33)! The LORD sent His prophet and allowed Ahab the opportunity to do what he did: humbled himself, repented, and fasted.

That all happened years before Christ went to the cross (Psalm 103:12). Christ paid the price for our sins (“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23) by shedding His blood on Calvary (John 3:16). Therefore, forgiveness is accessible by anyone who has done anything such as theft, idolatry, and murder which is what Ahab did. Because Christ willingly died on the cross, it is, even more, assuring that if we sincerely repent, there is nothing too hard for God to forgive no matter the sin.

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:7

Today’s Single Focus

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I used to attend a church where, when it was time to pray, one particular deacon prayed for an extremely long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people fell asleep while he prayed. Seriously, he was long-winded when he prayed. I’ve heard people say, “If we ever needed prayer before, we sure do need it now.” Well, that has never been truer then it is today! Matter of fact, I think we would welcome that praying deacon right about now. Just the other day, I read about a 5-year-old child bowing their head to say ‘Grace’ over their lunch, which was their habit at mealtime, and a teacher told them that they were not allowed to pray. Huh? Like I said; “If we ever needed prayer, we sure do need it now.”

Daniel faced a similar challenge during the reign of King Darius. (Daniel 6) The king set over the regions 120 princes, and over them, he appointed three presidents. Daniel was one of those three presidents. Then, Darius planned to appoint one man over all the regional leaders, including the presidents. Daniel, a man of integrity, was highly favored, by the king, for the job. The jealous leaders didn’t like that. Therefore, they searched for something to discredit Daniel but, could find nothing. So, they decided to use Daniel’s faithfulness to God against him. (Daniel 6:5) Three times a day Daniel opened his window facing toward Jerusalem and prayed to the Lord, God of Israel.

Darius conquered many nations, and though he did not worship the God of Israel, he allowed the people to continue to practice their religions. The jealous princes and presidents went to Darius and persuaded him to sign a decree which would outlaw prayer. For thirty days no one could pray to anyone except to Darius. Violators would be put down into the lion’s den. After Daniel saw that Darius signed the decree, he went to his chambers; opened the window towards Jerusalem (which was his habit), got on his knees and prayed, and gave thanks to the God of Israel three times a day. (Daniel 6:10)

Believing that this would eliminate Daniel from Darius’ favor, the princes hurried to tell the king of Daniel’s violation of the law. Darius, regretting that he had outlawed prayer, tried to think of a way around it but, reluctantly, he had to have Daniel put into the lion’s den. However, after fasting and not sleeping all night, the king hurried to the lion’s den early the next morning and in anguish called, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you faithfully serve, able to deliver you from the lions?” To the delight of the king, Daniel answered,  “O King… My God sent His angel, and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6:12-22)

Darius had Daniel pulled up from the den, and there were no scares or injury found upon him. Afterward, the king (angry at their ploy) commanded that those men who had accused Daniel, be cast into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives. Then, King Darius wrote unto all the people, nations, and languages, which he had conquered; “Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:23-27)

Look at this. After Daniel prayed; the king fasted for Daniel’s safety, Daniel escaped harm from the lions, and the king glorified the living God throughout the nations. Wow! Imagine what would have happened had Daniel not been persistently praying when they outlawed prayer. I think that Daniel went to his knees in prayer after Darius signed the decree because, “if they ever needed prayer, they sure did need it” then: when they outlawed prayer.

Think it is bad now? Imagine what it would be like if we had ever stopped praying. Then, imagine what it will be like because we never stopped praying.

“…I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:16-17

Don’t stop praying.

Pray without ceasing… 1Thessalonians 5:17

That’s Today’s Single Focus

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I love this time of year because it causes all men to take time to reflect on all things we are thankful for. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the Pilgrims and Indians who started the right tradition of gathering together on one accord to give thanks to God. The same things they were grateful for are what we in this country can be thankful for today. It was not easy, but they survived. God brought the rain and increased the fruit of the ground which was often times barren land. Thanks be to God, for now they had food from their garden and meat on their table.

confessbwI am thankful for the farmers all over this land. I am thankful for my Uncle Bud who had a peach orchard and my Aunt Birdie who raised my Mom as if she was her own. I am grateful for my grandpa and grandma who had corn fields and raised chickens on a small farm. I am grateful that God sends the rain in due season. I’m thankful for the fresh smell after the rain and the beauty of the frost on a cold morning.

Because some of their family and friends didn’t make it, the Pilgrims and Indians were grateful to be alive having survived disease, hunger and unpredictable weather. There they were, two ethnic groups on one accord, though they had to endure the hardships that those with wicked intent had brought upon them. For there had been thieves and opportunist there. Yet, God kept them safe and brought them together to show their gratitude to Him.

I’m grateful that I was not home when thieves broke into my house and nothing was taken that could not be replaced. I’m grateful that my brother is alive today having survived retrieving my stolen car which he found parked in front of a crack house. I’m thankful that my sister is alive having survived a shooting episode in our community and the disease of cancer. I am grateful that my brothers survived a fire in our house when they were young.  I am thankful that God healed my mother of cancer and protected my father on the battlefield. I’m truly grateful to God for allowing a crack house in the neighborhood to burn down after I prayed.

I am grateful that God established a nation like this where we can freely worship Him in spirit and in truth. I am grateful that I live in a country where I can pursue life, liberty and happiness. I’m grateful that I can pursue my dreams no matter my status or financial beginnings.

I’m grateful for God consistently providing food on my table when I didn’t have two dimes to my name. I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on, though Christ had “no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58).” I’m grateful for Sears Department Store for giving me a part-time job while I pursued my desired and more permanent vocation. I am grateful for a handsome silver-haired Superintendent of Schools for taking a chance on me, when others had not. I am thankful to God for keeping me through the barrage of bomb threats and clandestine but sometimes overt bigotry. I am grateful for a fourth grade student, named Joe who showed me unconditional love, and for three talented third grade boys who boldly discussed Jesus Christ among themselves. I’m grateful for parents that instilled within us love for others no matter the color of their skin, financial status or position.

God has blessed my going out and my coming in, whether in the country or in the city.  I will praise His name and magnify Him with thanksgiving. I am grateful for family and friends. I praise Him for a pastor that teaches the uncompromising truth, which is Jesus Christ. I thank God for His mercy for I have survived rejection, poverty, car crashes, sickness, three surgeries, and a fall from a ladder.

I am grateful that He loves me enough to correct me and refuses to leave me ignorant without understanding. I’m thankful that He freely gives me wisdom and discernment. I am thankful for open doors He created while I rested in Him. I am grateful for praying parents who taught us to seek His face. I’m grateful that He hears and answers prayers. I am thankful that He forgives my sin and loves and has redeemed me.

I could go on and on, but I won’t this time. I will simply say “I will bless the Lord at all times and daily give Him thanks. I will bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (PSALM 103:2).

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  Psalm 100:4

That’s Today’s Single Focus

 

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