The Joy of the Lord

Teresa Poucher

How many times have we heard that expression?  It is only spoken once in the Bible.  We have heard it in preaching; we have even sung about it.  I’ve always thought, if I am happy in God, then I am strong.  

Maybe that’s true, but what if my strength is determined by my bringing God joy? So, how do I bring God joy? Well, let’s go to the book of Nehemiah, chapter 8:1-13. I know that’s a long reading, so let me paraphrase it for you. They just finished building the walls of Jerusalem, which had been burnt and in ruins for several decades. The people gathered together, and Ezra read the laws of Moses. They bowed their heads, and they worshiped. What sticks out to me is in the 13 verses, we see a form of the word “understand” six times. Ezra wanted to make sure they understood what he was reading. And in verse 10, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

  “And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”  (Nehemiah 8:12)

We know God is pleased with worship and reverence, but I believe He is joyful when we understand and obey His Word. If we truly understood His Word, we wouldn’t be murmuring, complaining, and worrying. Surely that is strength, and I want that, don’t you?

http://bib.ly/Nehemiah8:1-13

Censorship

Teresa Poucher


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (The First Amendment to the US Constitution)

  I live in America. I haven’t been saying “United States” lately.  Seem like we are anything but united.  This is so sad because there is power in unity.  I find it hard to believe how big technology companies and media are censoring our voices.  

I recall a hero of the faith in the Bible, Daniel by name. He was held captive in Babylon. He, much like Joseph, found favor and position in his captivity. He held steadfast to his belief in his God. When a decree was made to not petition anyone other than the king, Daniel was found praying to God with his window open three times a day. He didn’t let the government censor him — even if it would cost his life.

“…let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at ALL nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:17-20)

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalms 55:17)

  Per Strong’s Concordance, “Cry Loud” [H1993]: “to make a loud sound (like English’ hum’); by implication, to be in great commotion or tumult, to rage, war, moan, clamor: — clamorous, concourse, cry aloud, be disquieted, loud, mourn, be moved, make a noise, rage, roar, sound, be troubled, make in tumult, tumultuous, be in an uproar.”

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

Don’t let Satan silence your voice, especially while praying the prayer of warfare as well as in your praise.

Increased Knowledge

Teresa Poucher

  Automobiles weren’t common for average citizens until the 1920s, and it wasn’t until 1969 that half the cars being made had air conditioning.

  The first transistor radio didn’t come out until October 1954.

  Most new homes didn’t have central air conditioning until the late 1960s.

  Cordless phones didn’t become popular until the 1970s.

  The first iPhone came out in the US in 2007 with only 4 GB. 

  Pink Floyd had a song called “Welcome to the Machine.” I looked up the lyrics, here are some of them:

Welcome my son

Welcome to the machine

Where have you been?

It’s alright; we know where you’ve been

  As I read these lyrics, I thought, how true they are today.  We send our kids to school to learn, but are we concerned about what is being taught?  What is seen in movies and commercials is disturbing.  Just what are we teaching this younger generation?  

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

  Surely, we can agree, knowledge has increased astronomically.  Yet, with all this technology, how much do we know about God now?  It’s so much easier to study the Word of God with an iPad or smartphone, but we would rather scroll through Facebook or watch YouTube instead. 

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

  If you want to learn about God and His Word, it would be best to rely on the Bible and time-honored resources such as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance1, Matthew Henry‘s Commentary2, and the Jewish Encyclopedia3, rather than some modern Christian books.  It’s a sad truth, that as we have increased in knowledge,we have decreased in our relationship with the One who gave us this knowledge.

May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians3:18-19)

Now that is knowledge!

1) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890) took James Strong thirty-five years to compile. He assigned every root word (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) a number, which one may use to follow the word throughout the Bible.2) Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (1706) provides Matthew Henry’s commentary of every verse in the Bible.3) The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901) contains about 15,000 articles written by more than 400 scholars describing the history, culture, religion, and literature of the Jewish people up to around 1900.

It is Finished

Years ago, we would say you hit the nail on the head, meaning you were right on target. Now, you might hear you nailed it, which could mean you not only hit it right on the head, but you drove it in. Hmm, I’ve hit some nails on the head before but just bent them and couldn’t drive them in, so I wasn’t able to secure my project.

When the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross, they wrote his charge and set his accusation over his head: “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Matthew 27:37)

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14)

The word “handwriting” in Greek is cheirographon, something hand-written, a manuscript (especially, a legal document.)

  It was a legal document of the Roman Empire of a debt that must be paid.  If onecommitted crimes, they were listed on this document.  It was nailed to their cell for all to see until the debt was paid.1

Jesus last words on the cross were “it is finished” – τελέω (tel-eh’-o)[G5055]. Strong’s defines “teleō” as finished, accomplished, fulfilled, paid, performed.2

  To think, He took my sins and the sins of the world and nailed them to the cross.  He paid our debt so we could be righteous through Him.  

‘Talk about, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He nailed it!

1Woetzel, D. (7/8/2003).  It is Finished.  Retrieved 2/6/2021 from www.icr.org/article/18923/

2Strong, J. (1890). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon Press.

Saved by Fire

Teresa Poucher

Fire is both wonderful and terrible. We enjoy a fireplace or a fire pit in the winter. It brings warmth to our body and comfort and connection to those who are near us.

  However, if it gets out of control, it will consume everything in its path. Ten thousand fires destroyed over 42 million acres in California in 2020, not counting the loss of human lives. (fire.ca.gov)

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (II Peter 3:12)

  God used a flood to cleanse the earth in Noah’s day; next time, it will be fire.  

  How do I escape the fire?  Fight fire with fire!  Sometimes in a forest fire, firefighterswill start an additional fire to make a barrier.  The new controlled fire will consume all the fuel of the approaching wildfire.

  God appeared to Moses in a burning bush that wasn’t consumed in Exodus, chapter3.  For 40 years, Israel had a pillar of fire as they wandered in the wilderness.

  In chapter 6 of Leviticus, we read about the brazen altar and the fire that was never to go out.

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.” (II Chronicles 7:1)

  They knew God accepted their sacrifice because the fire fell from heaven.  

  I’m not as concerned about my accepting Jesus as I am about Jesus accepting me.  

John the Baptist said: “… I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:” (Luke 3:16)

Then on the day of Pentecost: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4)

If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:15)

  If you don’t have the Holy Ghost, seek God.  This promise is for you! 

For promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39)

Now that’s being saved by fire!

Saved by Water

If you live in South Louisiana, you will remember what was called “The Great Flood.”

I guess you could say it was a lot like Hurricane Katrina. You would have to have experienced it to understand fully. Yet, it was nothing compared to the great deluge in which Noah, his wife, three sons, and their wives went through. I was caught by surprise when I read:

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (I Peter 3:20)

By water? My word, everything was destroyed. Many Bible versions say through water. How in the world were they saved by water? Well, it took a whole lot of water to get that giant boat to float. So, the water did save them!

Hmm, the water still saves us today: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 3:21)

Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. On the day of Pentecost, he preached: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:37-38)

  The water that destroyed so many would have saved them.  Why wouldn’t you want to get baptized in Jesus’ name?   

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Mrs. Job

Teresa Poucher

When I think things are rough, all I need to do is read the book of Job. This man was the greatest of all the men of the east, and he had it all together with seven sons, three daughters, and 11,000 sheep, camels, and oxen. (Job 1:3)

‘Sounds like his children were well off too: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day.” (Job 1:4)

We all know the story: Job lost his children and all his livestock.

It was essential to have children — the more, the better, especially sons.

  Job’s wife has been looked down on by many for several thousand years, but I believe she got a bad rap.  

  Have you ever wondered how she felt?  She gave birth to all these children and her “social security” was taken away.  Who will take care of them as they age?  As well as their father’s seed dying, leaving no one to carry on the family name.  If that isn’t bad enough, she watched her husband suffer, wishing he’d never been born.  She said,“Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.”  (Job 2:9)    

Before we jump on the bandwagon and attack Job’s wife, let’s look at the Hebrew word for “curse:” Barak [H1288] in Strong’s Concordance — “A primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason)….”

She knows and agrees, Job has integrity with God. Let’s not forget, Job wished he had never been born. We don’t seem to hold that against him. Mrs. Job is struggling too. Maybe you have had a glimpse of what she is going through. You have seen someone you love struggle with health so badly, death would be welcomed. If she said, “Barak (Hebrew word for “bless God”) and die,” I can see where she is coming from. If you bless and worship God and die, it would be better than what you are facing right now. I don’t see that Job’s wife doubts his innocence; I feel she agrees with him and acknowledges it.

Yet his friends are saying he sinned because of what has happened to him.

If he would “barak” (bless) God and die,he would still be in good standing with God. However, if he would curse God and die, he would be guilty, and she would struggle, being a Hebrew whose husband had sinned. Leaving her a widow meant not getting the same benefits according to the laws. So, Job told her she spoke as a foolish woman. He knows God is just. Both are at the lowest points in their lives.

In the last chapter of Job, we read how God rebukes Job’s friends, but not his wife. I would think (dangerous!), he also did not divorce her, or he would not have received all his blessings and more children in the end. I don’t see where God blamed or accused Job’s wife of any wrongdoing. Strange how we don’t even know her name. God gave him seven more sons and three more daughters. He didn’t list his sons’ names, but this time, he named his daughters. He was also blessed with more than double what he had before.

“Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.” (Job 5:25-27)

God will never leave you; he will see you through. Even if no one else knows your name, God does.

Gross Darkness

Teresa Poucher

Seems like there’s darkness all around us. When we watch the news, it’s not only depressing but can also make us angry. Democrats and Republicans can cause us to be anything but united.

Poverty, disease, pestilence (COVID), violence, abortions, murder, and the weather have all gone wild, along with the stock exchange. The only certainty is, nothing is certain.

You know the story of Pharaoh and the ten plagues (found in Exodus, chapter 10.) The ninth plague was darkness. How dark was it? They couldn’t even see each other for three days, a darkness that could be felt. They saw no stars, moon, candles, or lamps.

Many times, darkness and judgment go together. We can and have prayed for God’s mercy. He might very well have mercy on us. Unfortunately, that doesn’t dismiss our judgment. It just puts it off for a time.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)

  God’s judgment is imminent — if you wait until judgment day to decide to follow Jesus, it will be too late for you.  

During that ninth plague, the Israelites still had light while Egypt groped through the darkness. Jesus is still the light of the world. I do believe God will give us light and mercy, but we must go beyond just pleading for mercy. We must also cry out in repentance and experience a change of heart and mind. Then we can escape judgment and bring light to those in darkness.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14)

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Buy the Truth and Sell it Not

The devil is a liar!  He is good at it too.  He has a way of taking the truth and distorting it.  One can describe him as deceitful, full of perversion, pride, and hatefulness.

God has so many good attributes; I don’t think I could name them all. Just the “I AM’s” are wonderful. I love what He told Moses when he asked, who do I say sent me? Tell them, I AM sent you — I AM, the self-existent One, who is present, past, and future. Omnipotent — all-powerful (Psalms 62:11). Omniscient –all-knowing (John 1:3). Omnipresent — everywhere at the same time (Hebrews 13:5). He can be your savior, refuge, strength, hope, peace, and friend.

  So why is it, when God gives us a promise, we are excited at first?  God is going to do something that seems impossible.  Then life goes on, and we start to believe a lie.  It’s easier to believe a lie.  We are carnal and tend to act by what we see and hear or by how we feel.  That’s why we are instructed to walk by faith and not by sight.  

  Truth is, it is impossible for God to lie. How do we overcome?  By the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  We need to apply what we know is true in our daily life.  

Every day, throughout the day, speak the scripture God gave you. Yes, say it out loud. Jesus used the Word to defeat Satan, so can we. My goodness, write it down! I have so many scriptures written down. I put them on my bathroom mirror. Every time I go in there, I read them out loud. I have scriptures that I have recorded on my phone, and I play them back repeatedly. Sing, not a tear-jerker, but a song of faith. Get a vision of what God is doing. Give yourself a mental picture and rehearse it. Faith is a substance. So, do something! Give, teach, play, pray. By all means, quit praying your problem. Pray the solution and start thanking God for the answer. God is faithful! When He gives a promise, it always comes with conditions. We must obey and continue to do our part.

“…in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation...” (Hebrews 6:18)

It’s work to believe the truth, are you ready?

Restoration

Teresa Poucher

  I had a dream about my old Bible that I love so much and had rebound.  I was devastated in my dream when I saw that my dog had chewed approximately one-fourth of the written Word.  The leather cover was intact, but I figured it was almost useless since about a fourth of it was gone.  I showed several people what happened to my treasure and how distraught I was, then I put it down. When I came back, I saw all the pages had been restored.

  I looked up how many verses are in the Bible, a total of 31,102.  Then I looked up how many verses are promises. Guess how many?  7,487.  It’s safe to say, close to a fourth.  

Our God is a God of restoration. In 2 Kings chapter 4, we find a woman and her husband, who were childless. Elisha tells the woman she will embrace a son. Sure enough, after a time, she had a son. Then sometime later, he fell ill and died. We don’t know how old the child was when he died, but after finally getting the son the woman had desired for so long, I can’t imagine how she then felt after losing him. The woman sought out the prophet, and God raised the child back to life. ‘Talk about restoration.

  Years later, Elisha warned the same woman that a famine was coming that would last seven years.  She left Israel and then returned after living seven years in the land of the Philistines.  This woman, who was not named, went to the king in distress to seek the land she previously owned.  

  Don’t you know, she showed up just as Gehazi was telling the king about Elisha’s restoring her son to life.  Not only did the king give the woman her land back, but the king also restored all the income from the fruit it produced while she was gone.  Wow, that’s restoration!  (2 Kings 8)

  In 1 Samuel chapter 30, we read about how David and his army had left Ziglag.  The Amalekites came and took their wives and children and burned their land.  It says they wept until they could weep no more.  They grieved so much, they spoke of stoning David.  Yet we see, he encouraged himself and sought the Lord.  David went with only a portion of his army.  Not only did he recover ALL, but he also took their flocks and herds.  Our God is a God of restoration.

We love to hear stories of restoration. Yet, to have something restored means we have lost something. What have you lost? God knows what it is to lose something. He lost his intimate fellowship with Adam and Eve in the garden. However, he had a plan to get it back. One can follow that plan through the Old Testament into the New. His life, death, burial, resurrection, and our infilling of the Holy Ghost. Now that is restoration.