Trust Archives - Guidelines International Ministries
Speaker: Bonnie Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11   Over the course of my whole life I’ve heard my dad say, "God is seldom early, but He is never late!" I’ve seen this truth over and over. God is precisely on time!  But nothing demonstrates the importance of His perfect timing any more than the birth of Jesus Christ.  Had Christ's coming been either early or later, Old Testament prophecies would not have been accurately fulfilled. Writing to the Galatians in one of his earliest letters, Paul alluded to the miracle behind the miracle saying, "When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His son, made of a woman, made under the law..." (Galatians 4:4).  That phrase "the fullness of time" is a powerful one. Almost everyone remembers that Christ was born in the little city of Bethlehem—“O Little Town of Bethlehem" is the Christmas carol—but few remember that Mary and Joseph were living in the city of Nazareth, 70 miles to the north of Bethlehem.  The Old Testament prophet, Micah, writing 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ had singled out Bethlehem of Judah as the place where the Messiah was to be born.  Now any mother recognizes the fact that babies come on their own timetable, and it isn't always easy to predict the timing of their arrival. What were the factors that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem when they were living a considerable distance away? There were hundreds of variables, and if any one of them had failed, Jesus would have been born in Nazareth far away from the place prophesied by Micah. The scenario began when Julius Caesar was assassinated, and his grandnephew Augustus became Caesar.  Others were more powerful, but the leadership in Rome chose Augustus because he was young, weak and, they thought, could be dominated. But young Augustus teamed up with Marc Antony and purged the senate.  Turning the tables on the "Caesar makers," he quickly became powerful and strong. As Augustus walked around Rome, everywhere he looked he saw monuments to his predecessor, Julius, and it disturbed him. "I need to carve out my name in the granite of Italy," he reasoned, and thus his beautification program was launched.  Building marble monuments costs money, and political advisors know but one way to do that: tax the people.  And, in the words of Dr. Luke, "It came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed..."  Are you beginning to get the picture?  An order was given.  A centurion carried it to the harbor.  Passage on a ship had to be booked, and, in those days, the ship was borne across the Mediterranean by the wind which filled the sails.  Had strong winds blown, the messenger would have arrived sooner and Mary and Joseph would have been forced to return to the birthplace of Joseph's father too early for Jesus to have been born in Bethlehem.  Had the ship taken longer, or the order to tax the empire gone out later, it would have all affected the timing of the birth of Christ. The events moving towards the birth of Christ were like the gears of a fine, old Swiss watch‑‑some were large, others small, but each one was connected to another. And they all had to mesh perfectly for the hands of God's clock to point to Bethlehem at the hour of Christ's birth. All this is to say that nothing is a matter of indifference with our Heavenly Father-- even events in your own life. Nothing surprises God or catches him off guard.  Whatever your lot, wherever you are, God knows and cares.  God is seldom early; but He's never late.  He is precisely "on time." Resource Reading:  Luke 2:1-7
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God. 2 Kings 19:19   It is called Syria today, but in ancient days it was known as Assyria. Historians often referred to the Assyrians as the Romans of ancient Asia. Their religion wasn't much different from that of the Babylonians whom they had displaced as the greatest power in the world.  They believed in many gods who supposedly directed human destiny and controlled the earth, water, storms and fire.  In their temples, they worshipped Nabu, the god of learning; Ishtar, the goddess of love and sex; and Niruta, the god of war.  But most of all, they believed in their weapons, and they used them well. One of the most prominent of the Assyrian kings was a man by the name of Sennacherib, who came against Judah and the children of Israel long ago.   And, like many today, Sennacherib had a pretty high opinion of himself.  When his palace at Nineveh was excavated by an archaeologist by the name of Layard, a sculptured relief of the Assyrian king bore the inscription, "Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon his throne of state and caused the spoil of Lachish to pass before him." At the same time Sennacherib was carving his name in the annals of military history, another man bore the title of king.  He lived seven hundred miles to the southwest in the city of Jerusalem.  His name, Hezekiah.  A contrast to the fierce, debauched Assyrian king, this man was gentle and God‑fearing.  Both men believed in the supernatural.  Both men had fathers who were debauched.  Both men wore the mantle of responsibility, but the two had little more in common than this. When Hezekiah died, he was mourned by his people, honored by the prophets, and laid to rest with his fathers in the tomb of David's descendants.  And his son succeeded him.  And what of Sennacherib's fate? Following a devastating defeat at the hands of Hezekiah's army led by an angel, Sennacherib came home and went to the pagan temple to pray, whereupon he was cut down by a dagger in the hand of his own son, Esarhaddon, and the son who was the assassin reigned in his place. What a contrast, the lives of these two men who both wrote history in the eighth century.  By and large the difference was their decisions and their choices! Sennacherib built one of the most deadly war machines ever assembled, and his trust was in the god of might!  Hezekiah had learned that the most formidable army ever equipped is no match for a single angel who fights on the side of right!  The full text of how these two met and pitted their gods against each other is in the Bible, 2 Kings Chapter 19.  It was the defeat which Sennacherib sustained which lead to his disgrace and death. Strange how the gods of this world are still with us.  Some still trust the gods of might and power, while others trust in the God who made heaven and earth.  A study of the life of Hezekiah gives a lot of insight into what it takes to really succeed.  He faced armies from without, fears from within, and illness which threatened to cut his life short, but this man had learned that God has the might to deliver, and will, as we trust Him.  Hezekiah had learned what the songwriter penned, "The arm of flesh will fail you, we dare not trust its might." Winding up today's brief commentary, I'd like to ask, "Whose God are you trusting?  Hezekiah's or Sennacherib's?  The arm of flesh, or the arm of the Almighty?”  It is one or the other, but not both.  Think about it. Resource reading: Psalm 75: 1-10
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