Friday, October 12, 2018

Riches and Glory

"Ask for whatever it is you want me to give you."

" Solomon answered, ' You have shown great kindness to your servant, my Father David, because he was faithful to you and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, Lord, my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father, but I am just a mere child who does not know how to carry out my responsibilities. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?' "- 1 kings 3: 6-9

What we have here is the beginning of King Solomon's reign as king of Israel. David has been laid to rest with his father's and God comes to Solomon in a dream telling him He will give whatever he asks because of the faithfulness of David. Instead of asking to the stronger or have endless riches and glory, he asks God for one very important trait that a lot of people are lacking. Wisdom. The ability to know what is right an what is wrong. Now, let me clarify something for a moment. Back in the garden of Eden, the serpent is able to get Adam and Eve to eat the fruit because they would be like God, knowing good and evil. Since those days, its is clear to see what is good and what is not. What Solomon is asking for is not just knowledge, but the discernment to know what to do about it. Because he asked for such a humbling request, God said that he would give him the wise and discerning heart, but on top of that, he would give him riches and power, so much so that there had never been one as great before him, nor would there be after. As amazing as this sounds as we read it, we tend to skip over the terms and conditions of this promise from God. Here is what it says, " And if you walk with me and keep my decrees and commands as your Father David did, I will give you a long life." Sounds easy enough right. Follow God as David did and things will go well for you. Now you need to understand some background to this scenario. David was credited as a man after God's own heart. Not to say he never sinned, because we are given several accounts in scripture were he messed up big time.What we know is that after every slip up, David confessed of his sins and didn't grovel in his own self pity. Anyway, because of this character trait, God promised David that his son who sat on the throne would have peace as long as he was alive. How cool is that? Right. "Hey, King. Your father was so awesome and faithful to me, As long as you live, your life will be pretty easy. no war in your time, no trouble. Just continue following me and things will all work out." So, Solomon is given this wisdom and it is tested almost immediately. Two young mothers come before the king with a conflict. Solomon resolves the issue without any trouble and his wisdom is then spread throughout the region. For the first couple years of his kingship, everything seems to be going great. Solomon commissions the building of the Temple that was prayed over and planned out by David years prior. Solomon's wealth is increasing as is his wisdom continuing to spread. Kings and queens from all over the land come to his palace to ask him questions and be amazed at the magnitude of his splendor. Unfortunately, we see pretty early on that Solomon is not really sticking to his his side of the agreement. He begins acquiring wives from the surrounding regions and if you know anything about the culture and the law of the day, that was a big no-no. In order to build the Temple in all of its glory, he induced slave labor of his own people so that God's house of worship could become a place to show off his accomplishments. Because of his numerous wives, idol worship was taking place in his home, instead of worship to God alone. All these things and many others like them took Solomon down a path of depression and destruction and completely away from God's plan. Back in Sunday school, we were always taught that Solomon was this great King who lead his people, but we miss the fact that he is only faithful for appearance, for instance, dedicating the Temple in front of the nation. Solomon had everything he could have ever wanted, but at the end of his life, he calls it all "vanity, as if grasping for the wind" Ecclesiastes 2

I am not a "rich" man, at least not in any sense that the world understands. I don't have infinite wisdom and a heart that discerns all right from wrong. What I do have, however, is the knowledge that God is for me, and God is with me always. I have a family that loves me and the "riches" that don't come from how much money is in my bank account. Even with all of his wealth, Solomon missed the riches right in front of him. I would rather come to the end of my life, a poor man who has nothing but God and his family, then a rich man who has nothing but material possessions.

"I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul"- Tobymac, Lose my Soul

"And what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"- Mark 8:36

Don't lose sight of what God has given you in order to show the world your accomplishments, instead thank God for what he has given you and use those things for his glory.

Adam Semple- A Young Man  Beyond Sunday School

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Miracles From Heaven

I love reading through the gospels and other parts of the New Testament when Jesus or one of his followers performs a Miracle. Whether it is feeding thousands of people or walking on water, there are 36 recorded miracles in the first 4 books of the NT alone, 9 of these recorded found in the 8th and 9th chapter of Matthew. Lets take a minute and explore some of these.

First one is about the leper who came to Jesus with full belief that Jesus could heal him if e chose to do so. Here is some context. Jesus has just finished preaching the Sermon on the Mount, probably the most well-known sermon in scripture. Surrounded by multitudes of people, this leper walks right up to Jesus and says, "Lord, If you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus stretches out his hand and responds, "I am willing, be clean." Immediately, the leper is cleansed and is then instructed to go to the priest to perform the ceremonial cleansing as laid out by the law. Now let me point out that back in those days, lepers were considered to bring fear into people's eyes, because leprosy was highly contagious and if anyone touched a leper, he was then considered unclean. But here, we see that Jesus does not looks at the outward appearance of the man, nor at the disease within his body. Instead, he sees a man who fully believes that Jesus is who he days he is and has the ability to make him well. This is a beautiful picture of the way we should approach God. Despite the sin or the shame the world sees on the outside, our hearts should be so tuned in to God's that nothing will stop us from receiving his touch. Another example of this is found later in the chapter when a woman pushes through the crowd to also receive her healing. Jesus is following a centurion to his house to heal his daughter, who was dying. People hear about and crowd around Jesus on all sides. A lady in the crowd, who has a medical condition that causes her to bleed uncontrollably, says in hr heart that if she can get herself close enough to Jesus and touch the corner of his cloak, she to will be healed. Upon touching his garment, she is instantly healed and Jesus pauses to see who it was that touched him, for he felt the power flow from him. When the woman reveals herself. Jesus says to her, "Your faith has made you well." Wow! 2 different people with different histories decide in their heart that nothing will prohibit them from getting to Jesus. No matter the circumstance, or the obstacles, both of these people received what they set out for because they knew Jesus had the power to heal.

Do you believe that God still does this today? The hurting and the broken can still come to his side and be healed of their past hurts. All we have to do is not let anything stop us from getting there.

In these chapters, we see another cool miracle. Out at sea, in a boat with his disciples just chilling on the water, Jesus decides to go below deck and take a snooze. A short time later, a storm arises so great that even the disciples, which most of were sea faring men, were terrified to the point of shaking in their sandals. They cry out, "Lord, save us. Don't you care that we are perishing?" Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Jesus looks at them and says, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then he speaks to the violent winds and the capsizing waters and simply says, "Be still", and they become steadily calm. The disciples then marvel at "this man who even has power over the sea." What is the punchline for this? Glad you asked. No matter the things that have risen around you, God is in control of it all. At the sound of his voice, he can calm any storm that you find yourself in. Granted, some storms in life are meant to make us stronger, both in body and in spirit. Some of the hardest storms we face more likely than not will push us into the next big thing God has for us. I can imagine the disciples perspective of Jesus changed exponentially after this event, because they saw first hand that God can and will protect through life's upsets.

The Jesus who did miracles back then is still the God who does them today. He still comes right down to where we are, looks at our storms and simply states, "Be still" Sometimes, that calms the waters, most of the time, it calms our soul. It reminds us that throughout every trial, Jesus is below deck just waiting for us to put our trust in him to call out to him in our time of need. Don't let the waves stop you from the one who calms them.

Adam Semple- A Young Man on a Mission 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Called Twice pt. 2

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one.- Luke 10:41-42

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you all as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."- Luke 22:31-32

"My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?"- Matthew 27:46 (Psalm 22)

"Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?" "Who are you Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do"- Acts 9:5-6

        Continuing with the blog I wrote a few months back, here we pick up with the story of Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, one of several people listed in scripture as being risen from the dead. Jesus has come to their house and Martha is busy preparing the house and the meal while Jesus is there. She gets overwhelmed with the preparations only to realize that her sister Mary is not helping with to get things ready, instead she is sitting beside Jesus, simply listening to his words and being in his presence. As any older sibling would do, (w don't know for sure who was older, but from what we know of Martha's character, she is most likely the oldest), she complains to Jesus that Mary is doing nothing and he should tell her to help instead of just sitting. Instead of rebuking Mary, Jesus explains that she is doing what is right, because Jesus knew, as Mary did, that Jesus would not be on the earth very long. Mary understood that Jesus was more than just a good teacher, and the things he had to say were of more importance than preparing a meal. This is not to say that God does not want us to be prepared for his coming. He just wants to make sure that when he is present, we are not caught up in the busyness of life to distract us from hearing what God has to say.  

        The next instance of being twice called comes to Peter during the Last Supper. Here's the backstory. Peter and John have been sent into town to prepare a place for the Passover meal. Satan has entered Judas in order to use him to betray Jesus. Communion has been taken for the first time and Jesus and the disciples are sitting around talking after the meal. During this time, a dispute arises among the disciples on who is the greatest. Jesus looks at Simon Peter, and assures him that though Satan is trying to get to him, he is covered in prayer in order to strengthen his faith and be an uplifting support for his brothers after him. This conversation takes place right before Jesus tells Peter that he will betray him that very night. I love the picture presented here. Jesus knows that the road ahead for Peter will not be easy, but he also knows that if Peter sticks with it, he will become a great leader and guiding light for his fellow man. Over the course of the time that Jesus is betrayed and crucified, there was some serious growth in Peter despite his seemingly obvious setbacks. Yet even after all these speed bumps, when Jesus comes out of the grave and the angel tells Mary Magdalene that he is risen and to tell the disciples, He says, "Tell the disciples and Peter that He is risen". Jesus needed Peter to know that his failures do not define him, they merely shape him into the Rock that he was destined to be. 

"My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?"

        Jesus is hanging on the cross. His back torn and bleeding from the beatings of the whip having bled so much that water begins to flow out of Him. He has just carried his death sentence on His back for an excruciating distance and He has a crown of thorns thrust into his skull. His follows have scattered, and there he hangs between 2 criminals, one on the left and on the right. Among several things said on the cross by Jesus, he quotes the psalms asking God why he forsook him. Of course we know that God will never leave us nor forsake us, (Hebrews 13:5), but we also know that when Jesus went to the cross, he went an innocent man, yet carried all of the weight of sin on his shoulders in order that he may take our place in death. The weight of sin was so heavy on this one righteous man that even God himself could not look upon his son in his time of need. He turned his head in so that in our time of need, he no longer sees our sinful nature, but he sees his son who was the sacrificial lamb for us all and Jesus' blood covered us all and that is all God sees when he looks at you and me.

The last time someone in scripture is called twice is in the book of Acts. Saul is on his way to Damascus. He has a warrant to kill all who claim Christ as Lord and he will not hesitate to follow through with his plan. Then suddenly, a light shines from Heaven and Saul hears the voice of God. This encounter radically changes Saul's outlook on life and Paul spends the remainder of his life preaching the gospel and encouraging the believers to stick with it and assures new believers that if God change Paul's heart of stone, there is nothing God cannot do.

Sometimes, in order to get our attention, he has to call our name twice and when he does, it is probably wise to listen, because when he does, something important is about to be said.

Adam Semple- A Young Man in the Word on a Mission from God    

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Psalms 1- Blessings of God

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night."
Psalms 1:1‭-‬2 ESV

I love reading through the book of Psalms. Although it is the longest book of the bible, it is the one book that when I don't know what to read, I flip open my bible, land on a Psalm and go from there. I love that throughout the book, David reassures us that in every situation, God has a plan and it is our job to praise him in the midst of it. It's very cool how David lays everything out right from the beginning. Walk with God and your life will be blessed. Of course we know that it will not always be financially blessed, but spiritually blessed. Blessed with eternity with the Father in Heaven forever. Blessed in security in Him even when everything around us is falling apart. Just look at these great aspects of God's blessings over our lives.

"My God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my Salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior-from violent people you save me. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies."- 2 Samuel 22:3-4

"And God is able to bless you abundantly , so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."- 2 Corinthians 9:8

These and many more verses like those are the kind of blessings that I want from God. The ones that come when I am planted next to the Father in everything I do, that as I journey through life, He is there, guiding my every step, Just look at the next verse from Psalms chapter 1. "That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers."- vs 3.

I believe it is time to get back to a place of planting ourselves next to the waters of God again and believing that the Father loves to bless his children when they do as he desires. I want to have a heart that trusts him with everything and knows without a doubt that he will always come through for me, even if it doesn't happen as I think it should or in the timeline I think it should happen. Everything I have ever needed or will ever need is found in the Father and when I need it, God will provide. And he will do it ways I never could have thought or imagined.

Adam Semple- A Young Man planting himself by the waters of God

*photo credit- harvestcotn.wordpress.com



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Called Twice

"But the angel of the Lord called out to him from Heaven, 'Abraham, Abraham.' 'Here I am', he replied."- Genesis 22:11

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said,"Jacob, Jacob!" Here I am," he replied.- Genesis 46:2

When He saw that he had gone over to look, He called from within the bush,"Moses, Moses." And Moses said,"Here I am."- Exodus 3:4

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel, Samuel!" Then Samuel said,"Speak, for your servant is listening."- 1 Samuel 3:10

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one.- Luke 10:41-42

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you all as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."- Luke 22:31-32

"My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?"- Matthew 27:46 (Psalm 22)

"Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?" "Who are you Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do"- Acts 9:5-6

You may be asking what all these verses have to do with each other. Perhaps you have recognized a pattern between all of them. In case you missed it, here it is. These 8 verses are the only times characters from scripture are called by God one after another. Although it is true that throughout all of scripture we see instances when God calls multiple individuals, these times are given to us in scripture as a learning tool, as the Bible is designed to be. So, lets discuss the lessons learned in these occurrences. Naturally, we'll start with Abraham, Father of many nations. This verse is right after Abraham takes his son, Isaac up to the mountain top in order to sacrifice him to God. Isaac is tied to the altar, everything is in place and Abraham raises his blade to complete the sacrifice. Here, we see God stopping him the blade makes contact. Abraham was promised this child, despite his old age, then he is asked to kill his son. The Bible doesn't give us any thoughts about what was going through Abraham's head, but I can only imagine he did not discuss this with his wife before they left for this "outing". All we see is that despite Isaac being God's promise of a fruitful seed, Abraham agrees to do what God says, because he has walked with God long enough to know that God knows what he is doing. God calls Abraham's name here twice, in order to get his attention, as any parent would when a kid doesn't hear you the first time. There had to have been a huge sigh of relief from Abraham as a ram showed up in the thickets and he didn't have to go home empty-handed. not only is this scenario prophetic to what Jesus would later do on the cross thousands of years later, it was also, simply, a test of obedience. lucky for us, Abraham was obedient or else half of the earth's population probably would not be here right now. 

Next, we have Jacob. Jacob is one in a small handful of individuals who has a life altering experience and therefore receives a new name, some of which include people like Abraham(Abram), Peter(Simon) and Paul(Saul).  Now, Jacob had his share of ups and downs throughout his life. From deceiving his brother for his birthright and father's blessing to work several years for his wives and livestock and then being told his favorite son, Joseph, had been killed, when in actuality, just sold into slavery. When Jacob is called twice by God, it is after Joseph has revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt and has sent a caravan to bring Jacob and his whole family down to Goshen. God appears to him in a vision and tells him that even in Egypt, Israel will still become a great nation and God will continually be with them. I feel as if this circumstance is a reiteration of promise. Like God's way of saying," Those things I promised your grandfather, don't worry, I have not forgotten them. Everything that has lead to this point has happened for a reason so that through it my power will resonate with the people around you. Relax bro, I've got you." 

Following Jacob and his people's journey to Egypt, God seems to be silent for a little while, 400 years to be precise. So, the third time God calls an individual twice probably came with great surprise. Moses, a Hebrew child raised in an Egyptian household has just fled for his life from his granddaddy, the Pharaoh, and spent roughly 4 decades in the desert. Tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, he comes upon this bush that appears to be on fire, yet is not being consumed by the flames. With the help of a little curiosity, Moses gets a little closer to the phenomenon and once God sees he has peaked his interest, He calls out to him, this time as a call into leadership. It is at this event that God reveals his plan to Moses and tells him that he is going to be used by God to deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian oppression. Like most of us, unfortunately, when we are given an assignment by God, Moses tried to set back God with every excuse he could thing of. " I am just a man. I don't talk well and have a stuttering problem. Gee, God that sounds too hard for me." But God in his infinite wisdom and power lays out a battle plan and shows Moses that everything he needs, he has already been given. Finally, through many trials and tribulations, Moses is used to free the Israelites from slavery. 

Now we get to the last "twice called Individual" from the Old Testament. A little altar boy by the name of Samuel. Samuel was the first child of Elkanah son of Elihu of the tribe of Ephraim and his wife Hannah. After many years of a barren womb, Hannah decides to pray until something happens. So, when the time came for them to go down to the temple to offer sacrifices, Hannah prayed so hard that the Priest who was serving at the time, Eli, assumed her to be drunk and tried to kick her out of the temple. After she assures Eli that she was in earnest prayer, Eli tells her to go in peace and may God grant her this thing which she asked for. Because of her prayer, God opened her womb and she brought forth Samuel. In the proper time, she dedicated him to the temple to serve under Eli and the priests. After years of waiting for a son, the only logical solution in her mind was to give her son back to the Lord. So Samuel grew in the Lord and one night, He called for him. Thinking it was the priest, the boy ran to him quickly, but was sent back to bed until finally, Eli realized it was indeed the Lord calling him. This calling is one of prophecy and after that night, Samuel became of the most well known prophet in all of scripture. 

I love that in these first four instances, the individuals response was, " Here I Am, Lord". It is as if they recognized the voice of God despite all the voices they had heard throughout their lifetime. When God called, they responded and their lives and the lives of those around them were forever changed.

"When God calls you name twice, it is probably wise to listen to what He has to say"- Pastor Mike Holt. 

Adam Semple- A Young Man diving into God's Word

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Structure and Sequence

The entire bible is written out in different styles and techniques based on the author and the time period. You have books of law, poetry, prophecy, history, genealogy, parable and proverbial, just to name a few. Take the books of the the Pentateuch for instance. Genesis through Deuteronomy were all written by one guy, Moses, yet they very in the way they are written. The book of Genesis is structure very chronologically, laying out the details from Creation to Joseph's death. This is followed by the Book of Exodus, or sometimes known as the Book of the Exodus,where God's people exit the clutches of Egyptian captivity and spend 40 years out in the middle of nowhere. During this period, Moses lays out the law as given to him by God on Mount Sinai. This of course is the book of the Law, Leviticus. From there, we find the book of Numbers which is designed as a continuation of the law while giving a wide scope of how big the people of Israel had already become, then it ends with the book of Deuteronomy explaining how to live with the laws and practices that have been set in place. I like the fact that through the first 5 books of the bible, God uses one author to write in several different ways. One life, many styles. It is like God is showing Moses that though he is one man, he is not limited to one gifting or purpose. In the same way, we are not just a worker in one place, but we are people who have many different gifts and calling in each of us. We are not limited to one way to live, but rather over time, God pulls out different techniques of getting through life that have always been in us, we just didn't know they were there because we did not need them in that season. Moses could not have written how to follow the Law if he had not first been given to the Law. The Israelites could not have become as numerous as the sand if their lineage had not been previously established long beforehand. God knows how are life will play out and what gifts and talents we will need when we hit different checkpoints in our journey. Don't limit yourself to one style of living when God has called you to so much more. Trust his path and wait with anticipation for his future for you.

Adam Semple- A Young Man on a Mission From God

*photo credit- helloworldciv.com

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Lord will Provide

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”- Genesis 22:13-14

In the midst of troubling times, The Lord will always provide for every situation and dilemma that arises around us. In the book of Genesis, Abraham is asked to offer up his only son Isaac to God as a test of his obedience. Abraham doesn't question God's plan and begins making the preparations. After his son is tied to the altar and Abraham's knife is in his hand ready to plunge it into the heart of his son, God stops him and reveals a ram that had become stuck in the thickets just out of view. Abraham then calls the place of the altar, Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Will Provide. We see God being referred this way in one of the most well known psalms, Psalms 23- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, He leads me in the path of righteousness for his names sake. Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely, your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. When we see God as our ultimate provider, we can rest assured knowing that he will never leave us without. He will never leave us with almost enough, and he will never give us something we don't need. It is encouraging to know that when God calls us to go somewhere or do something, He will put things in place ahead of time so that when we get there, we have all we need. People that have been placed in a spot waiting patiently for you and I to get to where God has for us. Provisions of things we didn't even know we needed until the moment arrives where the things we thought we needed fade away. It is usually these things that we realize were what we needed all along. Many of us are afraid to move forward with God because we have not been able to trust him with the details. It is time to believe that if God is calling you, he is also equipping you to go and do what he desires. Let us have obedience as Abraham did and go even when the provisions are not all in hand. 


Adam Semple- A Young Man on a Mission From God