Peace

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 24 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “0804 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

Peace is truly a wonderful thing. It is something that everybody desires but very few ever find. The world pays billions of dollars to find it through secular counseling, and even through entertainment, drugs, and alcohol; but those things cannot bring peace. If you were to look up the word “peace” in a dictionary or thesaurus you would find synonyms such as tranquility, contentment, safety, completeness, quietness, health, prosperity. I think that all of these words do well to describe what God was talking about in Isaiah 26:3, and they can only come to the person whose mind (thoughts, focus, and affection) is stayed on the Lord.

Too many Christians today, including myself at times, lack the peace that God wants all of His children to possess, and it is simply because they transfer their focus from God to something else. I tend to dwell on problems and circumstances when I should be focussed on and communicating with the Problem Solver. Life is full of things, people, and situations that draw our minds away from the Lord, but when we lose our focus we also lose our peace. We need to remember that when problems come (and they always do) to bring them to the One who already has the answer. When people hurt us we need to remember that there is One who will never do us wrong, and will always be there for us no matter what happens. God is the answer to every problem and distraction. It isn’t that we shouldn’t think at all about solving problems and restoring relationships, but we should filter all of these situations through Him, and He will give us the wisdom that we need as well as the comfort and strength that we need to endure. Keep your eyes on the Lord.


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A House Divided

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 19 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0803 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3;25)

As we read through this portion of the Book of Isaiah, we see that God is pronouncing judgment on all of the nations that have been enemies to God and His people Israel. In chapter 19, we see that God is dealing specifically with the Egyptians. The Egyptians had been an enemy to the people of God throughout much of their history. Perhaps, they were not as bad as some; yet, still God states here that some judgment is coming.

My thought for this morning surrounds verse 2 of chapter 19. Part of the judgment that was going to come to Egypt was a battle from within its own borders; a fight among its own inhabitants; a civil war. Our nation faced this same type of conflict 150 years ago. It was perhaps the ugliest battle America would ever face: neighbor against neighbor; brother against brother. We found that it was impossible for the nation to move forward until its inner struggle was settled.

I have noticed that we oftentimes face a similar type of judgment in our families and in our churches: a division on the inside; a battle, not with an invading army, but with an injured brother. When a church moves away from fighting the external battle against the world and the devil, it then begins to fight amongst itself. It seems that by nature we are fighters, and to some degree we ought to be. We ought to fight against the sin and the darkness of this world, we ought to hate the devil, and we ought to be striving together in order to bring the gospel to the people around us. Oftentimes we forget who the real enemy is and we take up arms against each other. Satan is very wise and understands that if he can get us to destroy each other, he won’t have to destroy us himself.

We see that this problem is also prevalent inside the home. Parents are not always in one accord, but are often at odds with one another. They fight about finances, about child-rearing, and about alot of other things. All of this division is rooted in pride, with each individual insisting on getting his and her own way. Shame on us.

The cure for this problem is simply to recognize the battle is not within, but without. When we get busy fighting for the Lord, we will not have time nor desire to fight each other.


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Do You Need an “I” Exam?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 14 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0802 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I willascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Five times in this passage, we see Lucifer (Satan) using the phrase “I will”.  Did you ever notice how much we use the word “I”. We, like Satan, are full of ourselves. Satan fell because of his pride, and most of us have the same problem. We would never admit it, but we are really the “god” of our own lives. We worship ourselves, and though we won’t admit, we are really not much different than Satan, when it comes to pride. It is natural to exalt ourselves, and it is very diffficult to be humble; but humility is required for us to surrender to Christ. In order to be saved, we need to humble ourselves, and in order to live the spirit filled life, we must continually abase ourselves and lift up Christ. Easier said than done.

Lately, we have been bombarded with news of great men who have fallen into sin. It both grieves me, and scares me because I know that it could be me. I am sure, however, that pride is a root factor in all of these moral failures that we are hearing about. I think if we were to be able to examine each individual case carefully in retrospect, we would be able to recognize a pattern of pride. A Biblical example of someone falling due to pride is what happened to King Saul. He was at one time “little in his own eyes”, but God elevated him in the eyes of men. He enjoyed the praise and respect of men, and began to believe all of the nice things that people were saying about him, and all of the attention that he was getting. Somewhere along the line, he probably started to think that he somehow deserved the credit that he was getting. He gradually began to steal a little of the glory that rightly belonged only to God. He then started to operate independently of God, doing his own thing instead of obeying what God commanded. He also became threatened and insecure when anybody else received any praise. Eventually, he fell.

David fell also. He became too important to fight with the rest of his army, so he stayed home. He saw a woman that belonged to another man, but because he was the king, he felt that he was entitled to take her. He then tried to cover up his sin with the murder of her husband, and he was sure that he would get away with it. After all, he was a big and powerful man. Who would dare question King David? He though that he could do whatever he wanted. He wasn’t under any authority, not even God. What a shame.

Unfortunately, we see this all too often in the ministry, as well. As God begins to allow us to see some success in our ministries, we must remember that it is He that worked through us. We have no right to think that we are deserving of praise. To God be all the glory. Watch out for pride. Stay “little” in your own eyes, and don’t allow people to exalt you. Deflect all praise to the Lord for He alone is worthy.

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” – (Psalm 34:3)

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – (Proverbs 16:18)


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But His Hand Is Stretched Out Still – The Saturday Morning Post

DC in Ruins

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 9 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Read the “0801 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together; The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 9:8-21)

“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:1-6)

Good morning. I’ve asked several pastors, and missionaries if they had ever heard of “The Harbinger”, or “The Mystery Of The Shemitah” by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. They had not. And I don’t think that it is a coincidence that our reading today contains a key passage dealing with this.

I always wondered why, in Revelation, during the Great Tribulation, how the people could see and know that God was allowing all these troubles to happen to them, and yet they would not repent: they shook their fists at God. Seeing America rolling down hill at an ever increasing pace, I can see this now. People would rather believe in false gods, idols, no God at all, or even seeing themselves as a god. But God’s hand is stretched out still.

Before I go any further, I just want to clarify that a harbinger is a warning from God. Shemitah basically means to let fall. It is also the seventh year of a seven year cycle (1994, 2001, 2008, 2015 etc.). And despite the warnings, Israel turned their backs on God. And the results are shown in 2Chronicles 36…

“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” (2Chronicles 36:15-21)

In our hay-day, the U.S. Dollar is what many countries around the world traded in, and did business with. We have had warnings, harbingers, ourselves directly affecting our economy. As mentioned above, 1994 saw the great Bond Market crash. The Bond Market lost over $1 Trillion. In 2001, the bricks were fallen down with the destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists. That shook Wall Street; six days later on September 17, 2001, the stock market crashes 684 points. Seven years later, 2008, there is another crash. When all is said and done, the stock market loses 777 points. Add 7 years to 2008, and that brings us to 2015. America is due for another great shaking. But even after the previous shaking’s, we still legalized same sex marriage, called good evil and evil good, shook our fists at God. And God, for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. He has given us a warning. Just like Jonah…

“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4)

September 13, 2015 coincides with the Hebrew day Elul 29th, the end of the Shemitah year. God doesn’t have to do anything: He is the Righteous Judge: He is still in control: He is still Lord of all – will always be.

“So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.” (Jonah 4:5)

Now you can sit on your rump like Jonah, waiting to see what will become of the United States. Or you can reach out with the gospel. Remember JOY: Jesus, Others, You. This is what you can do. 1) Pray: seek God:seek JESUS. 2) Get the gospel out to OTHERS. Many still have to make the decision to receive or reject the gift of eternal life given by our Saviour. And 3) Prepare YOUrself. You may want to stockpile some extra food, get right with God, stock up with extra water, get right with God, make some “care packages” to give to others when whatever goes down goes down. And get right with God. And God, for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Peace? (2Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name [CHRISTIAN – THAT’S YOU AND ME], shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways [YES, THAT’S YOU AND ME TOO: WE ARE THE ONES WHO MUST GET RIGHT WITH GOD]; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.)


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What Could Have Been Done More

Tomato-Hornworm

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0731 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? … For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” (Isaiah 5:4, 7)

Our church has a lot of property, most of which is undeveloped. A few years ago a couple from our church asked if they could use a small patch of that land to plant a community garden. At first I was a little hesitant, but I agreed to let these folks plant their little garden as long as it didn’t cost the church too much money, and as long as it didn’t require any extra work from me. I have to admit, I have been fascinated watching the whole process, from the cultivation of the ground to the actual planting. In recent weeks, we have begun to reap some of the harvest. Personally, I am a big fan of the little cherry tomatoes, and so is my grandson, Jaxon. Whenever he is at the church, we always walk back to the garden to eat a few. One day, I was out in the garden with one of the men, and he noticed a rather large green caterpillar on one of the tomato plants, very similar to the one pictured above. After careful inspection, he discovered another one on another plant. If left unchecked these pests will completely consume all of the plants, and our little garden will be ruined.

In our text today, we read about God’s vineyard, the Nation of Israel. God found his vineyard in ruins, and He asked the question: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” That is a good question. What more could God have done? He gave them everything that they needed to thrive as a nation, and for a while, they did just that; but eventually sin, like those nasty caterpillars, crept in and destroyed the vineyard.

Though this passage is written for and about Israel, I believe that there are some great principles here that we can apply today. I believe applications can be made to our individual Christian lives, and also to our families, and even to the local churches. Each one of these areas are a type of vineyard that belongs to the Lord. What can we do with all that God has given us in order to thrive and produce the fruit that God wants to produce through us?

1 We must use good seed. God has given us the Word of God. Why would we want to use the corruptible seed of man’s philosophies. Years ago, I made the decision that my life was going to be established with and directed by the Bible.

2 We must weed. Weeds and pests will overtake the gardens of our lives if we allow them to. In our Christian walk, many distraction can creep in, along with sinful things and false doctrines that will steal all of our energy and redirect our focus so that we cannot produce healthy fruit.

3 We must feed. Good nutrients and plenty of water will cause a garden to thrive. As Christians, we must feed daily on the Word of God, and in our churches, we must make sure that we are providing plenyt of opportunities for church members to come and dine on a healthy diet of Bible doctrine.

If God’s vineyard fails today, it will not be His fault. He has given us all that we need to thrive and produce abundant, healthy fruit.


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Where Are The Men?

menofgod

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 15 – 16; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read the “0730 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” (Isaiah 3:12)

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” – (1 Corinthians 16:13)

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” – (Ezekiel 22:30)

Isaiah is writing at a time when the people of Israel and Judah were in economic prosperity but spiritual and moral depravity. The end of chapter 3 records that the people were very proud, they were full with possessions and pleasure, but they were far away from God. God warns them through the writing of Isaiah that judgment will come. It is important to keep in mind as we read this Book of Isaiah that God is often dealing with the present condition of Israel and Judah 800 years or so before the time of Christ, but he also speaks prophetically regarding Israel and others in the last days. He speaks much about the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Here in chapter 3, He is specifically speaking of Israel, but the application can be made to us today.

The condition of our nation is very similar to Israel and Judah prior to the judgment that came through the nation of Assyria, and later Babylon. We are a very proud and prosperous people. This prideful attitude permeates our society. We scream out with our lives that we don’t need God; and we certainly aren’t going to submit to Him. Notice in the verse above that the women are ruling. I don’t think that this is a slap against women as much as it is a statement that the men were not fulfilling their God given roles as leaders. We have the same problems in our society today. The men are abdicating their responsibility as the leaders in the homes, and in the nation. Our churches are also full of women that will volunteer for anything; but where are the men? Why are their so few men who will take on the responsibility of leadership?

We need men that will lead their families. So many homes today are without fathers. Statistics have shown this to be absolutely devastating to the lives of the children. We need some strong men who will be leaders in our communities, and in this nation. We need men who will lead, teach, and mentor in our churches. I praise the Lord for the woman who have stood in the gap and taken on some leadership positions. Many of these ladies are doing a great job, but we need men to step up to the plate and assume the responsibilities intended to them by God.


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Without Spot

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Today’s Passage – Song of Solomon 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0729 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!” – (Song of Solomon 7:6)

“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)

“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)

The Song of Solomon is a beautiful song written through the pen of Solomon. On the surface it would seem that this song represents a dialogue between Solomon and his wife; but considering he had 1000 wives and concubines, we would certainly be left wondering which wife this song refers to. This song then must go much deeper than any earthly relationship. I believe that the intimate relationship so beautifully detailed here is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. Keeping that in mind, consider the little phrase in chapter 4 where the bridegroom says of the bride, there is no spot in thee. This is an amazing statement, because in reality there certainly are many flaws in any person; but the amazing thing is that this Man sees no flaw at all in His bride.

When I think about the unconditional love that Christ has for His Church (the Bride), and me in particular, I am blown away. How can he possibly love me? When I think about how spotted and flawed I am, I recognize my complete and total unworthiness. The only thing that I deserve is judgment: yet He loves me; and more than that: He does not see any flaw in me at all. Mind boggling! I guess that is what Romans 3:22 meant when it said that believers receive the righteousness of God. He sees me as completely righteous; flawless. Amazing!

God has given me two practical thoughts this morning while I contemplated this passage:

1 Do I appreciate Him – I know I am totally undeserving, yet He treats as if I am. This should cause me to live my life in surrender to whatever He wants from me. This should completely humble me. The Bible tells us that the love of Christ constrains us. I have often thought that was speaking about our love for Him, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is His love for us that constrains us.

2 Do I appreciate others – If I am undeserving, yet accepted unconditionally; why then do I have such a hard time unconditionally accepting others, especially those that are a part of His bride as I am? Why do I see everyone else’s flaws. Should not I try to see others as Christ sees me?


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A Wonderful Story of Love

Song of Solomon

Today’s Passage – Song of Solomon 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – James 4:10

Read the “0728 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” – (Song of Songs 2:4)

I must confess that I would rather write about a subject this morning that I have a better understanding of. The Song of Solomon is a wonderful account of love and marriage, but I must confess that I do not comprehend all that is contained in this beautiful story. I know that there is a literal, earthly story here about the love between a husband and a wife. It is clear from the passage that Solomon is the husband; but trying to figure out the identity of the wife with certainty is rather difficult as we know that Solomon had 700 of them (and 300 additional concubines). It is thought by some that this beautiful woman is Abishag, the woman who ministered to Solomon’s father in the last days of his life. We know that she was a Shulamite woman (6:13). At any rate, she is obviously Solomon’s first wife, before he had sinned by marrying so many other women.

The broader implication of this book is that Solomon is a type or picture of the Lord Jesus Christ; and his bride is a picture of the Church. It was a strange thought for me when I first learned that I was part of the Bride of Christ. I guess the man in me rebels against the feminine identity; but as I have grown through the years I have learned to accept and even somewhat understand the meaning of it all. I do love my Lord Jesus. I want to grow and learn to love Him more, but in order to do so I must learn to love myself a lot less.

As I said in the beginning of this thought, I don’t understand all that this love story has to tell us; but I love the story nonetheless from both an earthly perspective, and from the spiritual picture that it represents.


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Sharpen Your Ax

Axe-sharpener

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0727 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.” – (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

I have been enjoying this devotional reading of the Book of Ecclesiastes as there are so many nuggets of truth. I actually had a hard time deciding what to post this this morning. I had considered doing something on Ecclesiastes 9:11, or 10:1. A couple of years back, I wrote “The Bottom Line”, from chapter 12. The verse above, however, is one of the most helpful truths in the Bible for me. You see, I am not the sharpest ax in the shed, and I need to be sharpened constantly in order to do what God has called me to do.

Solomon says that if a man does not “whet the edge”, he will have to add a little strength in order to be able to accomplish the goal. Whetting (or sharpening) the edge allowed the blade to penetrate deeper into the wood with less strength. It helps accomplish the goal without as much effort. Solomon is using this illustration to teach us about life. At the end of the verse he says that wisdom is profitable to direct. Acquiring wisdom is like sharpening the axe or whetting the edge. It will help you do the job with less difficulty.

God has given us a lot of things to do in life. In order to accomplish the things that the Lord has for us, we will need to acquire some wisdom. Wisdom makes us more proficient and helps us to accomplish the tasks at hand. God says that He will give us the wisdom that we need if we simply ask for it in faith.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – (James 1:5)

We can get God’s wisdom from the Word of God; through prayer; and from the counsel of those who are wise.

I do not think that God is minimizing, or belittling the value of hard work, either. There are a lot of things that I find myself doing where I am perhaps not as wise as someone else. In these situations I will have to work a little harder than that person, but I can still accomplish the goal. However, if I am going to be the best that I can be at all that God has given me to do. I will need to ask for wisdom. I need His wisdom to be a good husband and father. I need wisdom in order to pastor the people of God at the church. I need wisdom for every task that I perform, and so do you. Work hard, but if you want to get the most out of each swing, you will want to sharpen your axe.


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Promises, Promises

 

Handshake

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0726 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” – (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

Back when my grandfather was a young man, a man could get a loan simply by promising with a handshake that he would pay it back. People in those days kept their word. They followed through on what they said they would do. Today it is much different. Many people today are not at all trustworthy. They are quick to promise, but often slow to keep their word. God says here in our passage this morning that we should be slow to make promises, but once a promise is made, we should do everything we can to keep it.

I want to encourage all of you that are reading this thought this morning to think (and pray) very carefully before you commit yourself to something. Don’t let pressure or emotion cause you to agree to do something that you may not be able to fulfill. I remember years ago I gave a pledge in January that I would give a certain amount of money per week toward that year’s faith promise missions offering. I was making good money at the time, and I did not think that there would be any problems. However, later that year, my family and I packed up to move to Texas to go to Bible College. I was no longer in a financial position to keep that committment, but I had made a promise, and I knew our church’s missions program was depending on that offering. Cindy and I agreed that we should sacrifice some things in order to fulfill our pledge. I haven’t always kept my promises in life, but I am very glad I kept that one.

Today we live in a world that is lacking basic trust, and the reason we don’t trust one another is that we do not keep our word. We say one thing and do another. We make promises to people and to God that may be well meaning, but ultimately we fail to follow through. Let’s stop making promises that we can’t keep. And when we do give our word, let’s keep it.


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He That Increaseth Knowledge Increaseth Sorrow – The Saturday Morning Post

sad eye with tearToday’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14-18)

“And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17)

“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1)

Good morning. The United States of America has been around since 1776, that’s 239 years. You should, when you have time, take a look at Wikipedia’s Timeline of US History. It will take you up to 2014. (Cut and paste the link into your browser.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_history

Here are a few highlights, although some may not be on this timeline.

1789, April 30, after being sworn in as our first president, Washington dedicates the new nation to God.

1830 The Second Great Awakening for revival in the United States.

1963 The Supreme Court ruled ending official Bible-reading in American public schools.

2004/2005 The Supreme Court ruled: Thou shalt not display the Ten Commandments in any government building or court.

2015, June 26, Gay marriage is legalized by the Supreme Court.

If you look at the timeline, you can see the many great things accomplished by Americans. In 1977, Commodore introduced the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) home/personal computer. This was the first home computer. That was only 38 years ago, and now, in 2015 we have smart phones. And smart phones go back to 1992 with the IBM Simon: 23 years ago. Information technology has certainly advanced quickly these days. A tremendous increase in knowledge: for in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. And we have much sorrow. Why? Because in our search for wisdom and knowledge, we have left God out. And God will judge…

“And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17)

What can we do?

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7)

Here is a question for you, Christian: something to ponder. You are saved. You have the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have iniquity (a wrong, especially moral) are we defiling God’s righteousness that He gave to us? Just something to think about. Where have you gone with the Lord’s righteousness lately? What knowledge are you getting? Will it make you more like the Lord Jesus Christ? Or will it make you more like the world? In the place of righteousness (your’s) in iniquity found? I don’t have to try smoking to know it is bad for me. I don’t have to mix alcohol and drugs to know that they can kill me. I have God’s Word that tells me about these things. Principle number 3 from Reformers Unanimous fits perfectly in this: “It is easier to keep the heart clean than to clean it after it has been defiled.”

With and increase in knowledge (of sin) is an increase in sorrow.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Increase your knowledge of the Lord, and allow God to make you more like Jesus. There is no sorrow in that.

Peace! (2Peter 2:20-22)


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Get the Vision

Bible

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Samuel 3:1)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time then you have most likely heard a sermon preached on vision. Most of the time the preacher will use Proverbs 29:18 to prove that the pastor and people need to have some type of plan for the future in order for the church to survive and thrive in the next generation. For instance, I have heard this verse used by a preacher who was trying to convince the congregation regarding a new building. He was trying to get the people to “see” the new building, to get a vision for it. While I do believe it is wise for the pastor to know where he is going in the future, and I also think that He is responsible for casting the “vision” for the church, I do not believe this verse is teaching that. This verse, and the verse in 1 Samuel 3 both connect the term, “vision”, with the Word of God. God is not saying that the preacher or church need to have their own vision, but rather that they need to have God’s vision, which is the Word of God.

Christians often speak too flippantly about what “God told them”. I always ask them about the book, chapter, and verse that God used to tell them the thing that He supposedly said. You see, God does not speak to us with audible voices anymore; He gave us His Word. God uses the revealed Word of God to “direct our paths”, etc. Now I am not saying that God does not lead us down particular paths, and into specific areas of service. He does reveal His will to us through a combination of means, but it all starts with the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is God’s “open vision” today.

As Christians, we need to look to the Bible for direction in life. Preachers, we need to faithful study, learn, and teach the Word and Words of God that He has given to instruct His people today. It is the Bible that will guide; it is the Bible that will encourage; it is the Bible that will give comfort; it is the Bible that will correct; it is the Bible that reveal the future; and so much more. All we need is the Bible, and the Holy Ghost of God Who will help us understand it. So, get a vision; but get it from the Bible.

 


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A True Friend

A True Friend

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read the “0723 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – (Proverbs 27:6)

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” – (Proverbs 27:10)

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – (Proverbs 27:17)

Chapter twenty-seven of the Book of Proverbs includes the word “friend” several times. I have posted some of them above. From these verses we can get a better, Biblical understanding of what a true friend is. The world would have a broader definition for friendship, but the Bible is much more specific about what a friend is, and what a friend does. We each may have many acquaintances, and people that are friendly at times to us; but if we were to really apply the Biblical understanding of true friendship, we would have to conclude that the number of real friends we have is few.

The Bible tells us that a true friend is there for us no matter what. We have all probably heard the expression, “fair weather friends”. This type of person is the one that will be your friend as long as you have something to offer them. I remember years ago when I was newly saved, my wife and I were attending a church in Toms River, NJ. We were both very young Christians, and we had a hard time establishing relationships with some of the other couples that were there. There was one man that all of a sudden began to take an interest in me. He invited us over to his house, and he really seemed to be trying to reach out to us. I was very flattered, but then this man began to tell me about a business venture that he wanted me to be a part of: something that was going to eventually make me very rich, but at first would require an investment on our part. When this man finally realized that I didn’t have any money to invest in his business, he stopped being nice to me. This man was not my friend. He was friendly as long as he thought I could benefit him in some way. A real friend is not merely concerned about what he receives from the relationship, but is instead focussed on what he can offer to it. True friends will also remain friendly through the good times and the bad.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – (Proverbs 18:24)

The Bible also tells us that a true friend will not be someone that tells us what we want to hear, but rather tells us what we need to hear. I want my friends to help me be a better me. In order for that to happen they will need to be open and honest with me. There are many things about me that I cannot see. My flesh has set up protections that insulate me from facing myself. My pride causes me to think that I am always right. But I know that can’t possibly be true. So God has placed some people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I often do not want to hear about myself. Don’t misunderstand, these friends do not spend all of their time criticizing me, but they will straighten me out when I need it. The greatest friend that I have, besides the Lord, is my wife. She doesn’t pull any punches with me: she loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear.

Of course, the Lord is the greatest friend that we have because He gave His life for us. A true friend will give himself unconditionally to those that he loves.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – (John 15:13)


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Don’t Quit!!!

Don't Quit

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16; Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0722 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” – (Proverbs 24:10)

Many years ago, before I went to Bible college, I saw a poster similar to the picture above, hanging on the door of a walk-in freezer in the stock room of one of the supermarkets that I delivered to. I asked the clerk if I could make a copy of it, and I put that picture on my refrigerator at home. When we moved to Texas to go to Texas Baptist College the picture managed to remain with us, and ended up once again on our refrigerator. Bible college was tough, and there were many times that I contemplated quitting; but I would often look at that little poster, and remember that God had called me into the ministry, and He specifically revealed His will to me about where I should go for training, and I should finish what He had called me to do. That poster served for those three years as a reminder of the fact that no matter how hopeless the situation might seem, God would always bring me through, if I would just not quit.

There were many “war stories” that I could share from those college days, but one particular time stands out in my memory. It was the August before my senior year at the college, and it was registration time for the fall semester. I didn’t have a dime to my name. I was struggling to pay all of my bills, and even just put food on the table;  and I knew that I was going to have to pay the college something in order to get enrolled for my final year. To make matters worse, I still owed them money from the semester before. At first, I wasn’t even going to attempt to go through the whole process of choosing classes, etc. I mean, why bother? They weren’t going to let me in anyway; but for some reason, I went down to the college, and started to go through the motions of registering. When I finally got to the final step of the process – this was the part I really dreaded – meeting with the comptroller of the college, Brother Shaw, I timidly entered his office waiting to get yelled at, or maybe even laughed at. I explained my situation to him, and I remember him saying to me, “Brother Erickson, let’s just see what it says in our records.” He went to his computer and told me that not only was there no balance due from the previous semester, but there also was $1000.00 already paid for the new one. I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there with my mouth open, while he sat there grinning at me. To this day, I have no earthly idea where that money came from, but I do know that God taught me a great lesson that day. Don’t give up. No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, keep getting up and doing what God has called you to do. Don’t quit. There is always hope in the will of God. There have been many other times in the ministry where God has miraculously come through to help in time of need, He always came through. He may not always do what we want Him to do, but He always fulfills His will. We just have to hang in there, and stay faithful.


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Wine Is A Mocker

drunk

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “0721 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – (Proverbs 20:1)

“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” – (Proverbs 21:17)

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” – (Proverbs 23:29-35)

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: … Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” – (Proverbs 31:4, 6)

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – (Ephesians 5:18)

The Bible is full of warnings against the consumption of alcohol. Above, I have listed some of the verses from the Book of Proverbs that deal with drinking, as well as a New Testament reminder. God did not outlaw the use of intoxicating beverages in the Bible, but He certainly taught that consuming alcohol was the cause of a great many problems for His people. The first mention of fermented wine in the Bible was in Genesis 9 referring to Noah who drank of the wine and then lay naked in his tent, causing his son Ham to sin by looking upon his father’s naked body. Shortly thereafter in the book of Genesis we read about Lot who drank wine and then slept with both of his daughters. Alcohol will certainly cause you to do some pretty dumb and damaging things. Today it is no different. In America, 38% of all traffic fatalities occur because of alcohol consumption (nearly 65 people a day). Statistics reveal that there are over 14 million people in the U.S. that are addicted to alcohol; and alcoholics are four times more likely to be hospitalized than non-drinkers. When will we learn?

In the New Testament there is an added warning to the child of God regarding the consumption of alcohol. The verse mentioned above from the Book of Ephesians tells us that alcohol is a controlling force that will hinder the Christian from being filled with the Spirit. That is why they call being drunk “under the influence”. To the degree that you are “influenced” by alcohol, you are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit of God. Plus, God warns us that we should be careful about being a stumbling block to another Christian. You may be able to handle an occasional drink, but by your indulgence you may just be encouraging a future alcoholic. If you are a child of God, filled with His Spirit, you have no business consuming alcohol. God is the only influence you and I need in our lives. We don’t need alcohol to enjoy the abundant life that God has given us while serving Him on this earth.


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Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

markedsfring-af-uddannelser-via-sociale-medier-22-638

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0720 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and awordspoken in due season, how goodis it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” (Proverbs 17:7)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11)

Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy. As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.

I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:

1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed,

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

2 I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.

3 I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.

It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.

“O be careful little mouth what you say

O be careful little mouth what you say

There’s a Father up above

And He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little mouth what you say”


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Clean the Crib But Keep The Oxen!

ross-farm-museum-oxen

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0719 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previos post from today’s passage in Proverbs – “O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” – (Proverbs 14:4)

Every Sunday afternoon, immediately following the morning service, we clean the auditorium and bathrooms of our church to make it ready for the evening service. I am often amazed at how dirty our building can get, especially considering that it was only in use for a few hours. There are bulletins lying all over, and the hymnbooks are everywhere except where they should be. We find candy wrappers and water bottles in various places. Sometimes, I even find chewed gum stuck to a chair or on the floor. Yuk! The place is a mess. But I thank God for the mess, because the mess indicates that people were using the building. There are times when I get a little tired of cleaning it, but if I didn’t have to clean it, it could only be because nobody was coming to our services.

I have determined that I will never get the mindset that the building that God has given us is to be some sort of museum for the Saints of God to observe and admire. I want our building to be functional and practical; and I want it to be used by our people as much as possible, and as often as possible. And if it is being used, it is going to get dirty, and at times things are going to need to be repaired. I have been spending a great deal of time this summer painting and upgrading parts of our building. The rooms that were finished last month already have some marks on the walls. Praise God! That means that people: men, women, children; souls are coming to the House of God, and are getting the help that they need. I will keep cleaning the crib, but I think I am  going to keep the oxen as well.

Brother Hyles tells a story about a man in his church that was complaining about the oily messes made in the parking lot by all the busses that were used to bring boys and girls to church. Bro. Hyles reminded the man that D.L. Moody brought in a lot of children, too, in his day, and the horses used to pull the wagons were a whole lot messier.


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What Pathway Are You On? – The Saturday Morning Post

Ground Zero Cross

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Read the “0718 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”(Proverbs 11:4)

“Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long-run, there’s still time to change the road your on.” (Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin)

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, and a second time in Proverbs 16:25)

“In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28)

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)

Good morning. Righteousness delivers from death. In the way of righteousness is life. Our righteousness is of the LORD: it comes from God. And despite what Ded Zeppelin (as I call them) sings about, there is only one path that leads to Heaven, and you may not have time to change the path you have decided to go down. The Way is shown in the picture above. Out of the wreckage of 9/11 stands the cross. What pathway are you on? When you look at the wreckage of your life, do you see the cross? And what about our nation? Does it see the cross, or does it call good evil, and evil good? Can the ungodly leaders care about America, and not buy votes by passing laws that mock God by allowing the killing of a life that God created? A law allowing the union of same-sex couples, calling it marriage, which God said marriage was between a man and a woman, and views homosexuality as an abomination? The Word of God says…

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

Do you weep when you see the almighty dollar worshipped, and not the Almighty God? No tears? Heart kinda hard? The church at Ephesus can relate to that…

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:1-5)

Today, you can go and visit the church at Ephesus in Turkey. It’s all in ruins, but you can still visit it. Will America be in ruins also? Soon? We need to repent. Change our minds about what we are doing. Does it make sense to argue over petty issues, when people are dying and going to Hell? No. Does it make sense to elect God-fearing politicians into office who will do right, calling evil evil and good good. Yes, it does. And what about God? Our nation is trying to get rid of Him, removing Him from our daily lives. But when all is said and done, when America is gone, God will still be standing. Jesus told the Ephesians to repent, AND do the first works: tell others about Jesus. If we would not have dropped the ball, America might still be a leader among nations. Even our enemies can see this – they aren’t blind…

Many Eur-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.” As part of this defense of “Christian values,” Russia has adopted a law banning “homosexual propaganda” and another that makes it a criminal offense to “insult” the religious sensibilities of believers.

It’s sad when Russia, considered a godless nation has to tell us that we are going in the wrong direction. What kind of witness does that make us? Repent and do the first works.

I want to end this with a passage from ‘The Mystery of the Shemitah” by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. (A Shemitah is the 7th year of Israel’s agricultural cycle when the land rested (see Leviticus 25:1-4 and Exodus 23:10-11))…

“As the Shemitah of the year 2001 approached it’s end, America saw the collapse of it’s two colossal towers. But when the towers fell, one object was left standing. It was a steel cross forged out of the calamity – in the midst of the calamity, a symbol of hope; in man’s hatred, the love of God. That, in and of itself, was a sign.

The Shemitah declares that, in the end, all things will pass away, everything will collapse and fall – except this – God, His love, and His salvation. Everything else we sought after or dwelt upon will mean nothing. They will all pass away. But the love of God and His salvation will not fall, nor collapse, nor fail, but will remain forever. And the only thing that will then matter is whether we sought Him, found Him, and became right with Him – in that love and in that salvation.”

What pathway are you on?

Peace! (Mark 4:23)


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Who Are You Going To Listen To?

Listen

Today’s Passage –Proverbs 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0717 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Did you notice in our passage this morning that there were two very different women, and each of them were calling out to men, trying to get them to yield to her?

# 1 – The Foolish Woman (the Strange Woman – [Ladies – this could also be a strange man])

“And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” (Proverbs 7:10-20)

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The first woman is the foolish woman. You meet her quite often in the Book of Proverbs. She is easy to spot because she dresses like an harlot. She is loud, and very bold about what she wants. You see her just about everywhere you go. She is very alluring, and offers pleasure that promises to satisfy, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, those that yield to her end up ruining their lives. “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:26-27)

# 2 – The Woman named Wisdom

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

This woman is a different story altogether. She is introduced in the first few verses of chapter 7. Chapter 8, and the beginning of chapter 9 are also all about her. She is also trying to get you to yield to her, and she is desparately trying to keep you away from the strange and foolish woman (7:5). She offers you long life and the favor of the Lord, and promises that the fruit that she gives you is more valuable than gold. She has served as counsellor to the greatest leaders of the world, and was even present when God created the world around us. And she delivers on her promises. She may not give you the temporary pleasure that the foolish woman offers, but in the long run, she is the much “wiser” choice.

So, who are you going to choose? I can give you a suggestion. “Get Wisdom”, and stay as far away from the foolish woman (or man) as you can.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

“Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her (the foolish woman) ways, go not astray in her paths.” (Proverbs 7:24-25)


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Consider the Ant

Consider the Ant

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4 ; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0716 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 6:6-11)

I remember a few years back, our assistant pastor, Ted Stahl, was sitting on the curb in back of our church and he was staring down at the ground. I was curious as to what he was doing, so I asked him. He answer was even more curious: he said that he was obeying the Bible. By this point, he had my full attention, so I probed even deeper, and asked him what he meant by that. He told me that the Bible commanded him to consider the ants, and as I looked closer I could see that Pastor Stahl was actually observing some ants as they were going about their business. I will have to agree that the ants are fascinating creatures. They seem to be always busy, working together to accomplish their goal.

Christians ought to have some of the qualities of ants. Our society is filled with lazy people who seem to have little purpose in life, but that shouldn’t be said of us. we should be busy, diligent people who are able to work well with other people to accomplish God’s will for our lives.

As I have read through the Book of Proverbs, I have noticed that there are certain themes that reappear again and again. One of these is the subject of laziness (the Bible uses the terms slothful; and will also call a lazy person a sluggard).

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” – (Proverbs 24:30-34 )

The above passage speaks of a man who, because of his laziness, has neglected his field to the point where it was overgrown with with weeds. I feel that way in my life sometimes. I notice that there are times when I lose focus, and allow things to fall into neglect. It happens in all areas of my life as well. Sometimes, I may neglect the spiritual priorities, and at other times I may become lazy in one of my responsibilities as a father or husband. I get lazy. Laziness seems to be a bigger problem for me in the summertime.

God expects us to be fruitful. God expects us to be busy and productive. Here are some things that will help me stay on track to fulfill the things that God expects from my life:

1 Have a schedule – determine what time you need to get up, and how much time is needed to do what you have to do. Go to bed early, and get up early. Avoid the time wasters like the internet and television.

2 Set Goals – what do you want to accomplish this year; this summer; this week; tomorrow? Attempt to get a lot of things done. You may not get to them all; but you will accomplish a lot more than if you don’t set goals. “he who aims at nothing hits it every time”. Set spiritual goals; goals for tasks around the house; etc.

3 Be accountable to someone. This is the problem that many preachers have. They have no earthly boss standing over them with expectations. If I am not careful, I will let this lack of accountability cause me to get lazy; get up later; leave earlier, etc.

4 Stay motivated. I listen to preaching and leadership lessons from Godly pastors around the country to stay challenged. What motivates you?

We will have to give an account of our lives to God someday. What did we do with our time? Were we productive? Did we fulfill God’s will for our lives? Or did we sleep in? Don’t be lazy. Get up and do what God has called you to do. Be like the ant.


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Barns Filled With Plenty

Barns filled with plenty

Today’s Reading – Proverbs 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0715 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

A few years ago our church began planting a community garden. Although I have not really been personally involved in the process, I have observed with fascination as the folks first worked the ground, and then planted the seeds and plants. It didn’t look like much at first, but soon it began to take shape I remember that first year when brought in a tray of the “first fruits”, which was distributed to some people who needed food.  It was exciting to see food that was produced from our garden go to some families in our church who needed it.

When I read Proverbs 3:9 – 10, I am reminded of that garden. This is a wonderful promise from the Word of God. It is really very simple. If we will be faithful to give back to the Lord the “firstfruits” of all that He has blessed us with, He will also be faithful to fill our barns with plenty. In my case it’s actually just a food pantry, but I can personally testify that the Lord has been very faithful to me through the years in keeping that pantry and refrigerator filled. My family has always been abundantly provided for by the Lord, not just with food, but also with clothing, a house to live in, a car to drive, and even many luxuries. Let me challenge and encourage you in this matter of giving back to the Lord. You can absolutely trust Him. He will never fail to do what He has promised to do.

Consider some of these related promises from the Scripture:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-12)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)


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Praise God!

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 146 – 150 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0714 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” – (Psalm 150:1-6)

“Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.” (Psalms 66:1-2)

I remember visiting Solid Rock Baptist Church years ago, and Pastor Clark had noticed some teenagers that weren’t singing. He rebuked them, saying, “Open your big fat mouth and praise God”. I will never forget it, and I often want to shout the same thing at our church.

It is interesting how many times the word praise is used in the Psalms. In fact, every psalm that we have read this morning mentions the word “praise” several times. The Lord deserves our praise. We should praise him first because of who He is; and then because of all that He’s done for us. We should praise God all the time, but it is especially important to praise the Lord in the church house. We can praise Him through our singing, and in our prayers and testimonies. We serve an awesome God, so “open your big fat mouth and praise God”!


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Draw Me Nearer

Draw Me Nearer

Today’s Reading – Psalms 140 – 145 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “0713 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” – (Psalm 145:18)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – (John 8:31-32)

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – (James 4:8)

Recently, we had a man visit our church who did not come from any type of a Christian background. He currently knows very little about the Lord, but he does has a desire to learn. He is searching for the truth. I spoke to him after the service, and I concluded that this man was not going to be convinced about the truths of Christianity, and particularly salvation, in just a few minutes. I gave him some things to think about, and I gave him some literature to take with him, and I promised to pray for him. We later visited the man in his home, and talked to him a little more, and gave him some more material to read. He is coming closer to salvation. His heart is open to the truth, but he is just not sure yet what the truth is. He reminds me a little of myself as I was searching for the truth many years ago. I shared with this man, that if he genuinely wanted to know the truth about Jesus Christ, God would reveal it to him. I am convinced that this man will come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ shortly. Pray for him.

God is as close to us as we want Him to be. That statement is true for the lost man searching for Christ, but it also applies to the Christian as well. I find that many Christians aren’t too comfotable with God and His will getting too close to some areas of their lives. They want to have God as a part of their life, but their are also many parts of their life that they don’t want God to interfere with; some rooms in their home that they don’t want God to go in. As a result, their relationship with God is not as close as it could be. As we grow in our faith, we should constantly be drawing nearer to the Lord, and as we draw near to Him, He will come close to us.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.


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The Good Ole Days

Good Ole Days

Today’s Reading – Psalms 133 – 139 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0712 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Unity“.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” (Psalms 137:1-4)

Psalm 137 is a very sad psalm written after the Israelites had lost their land, and had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. In this psalm they are remembering the good ole days, when they were safe and secure inside of their borders, and when they had the freedom and privelege to worship and serve God freely. But, that was all gone. As a nation, they had forsaken God’s word, neglected His worship, and had allowed all of the wicked practices of the heathen to enter in. Though God had warned them of the consequences many times through His prophets, the people just would not listen, so God had to judge them. In this psalm, they are looking back, and wishing that they could go back and do things differently.

I see a prophetic parallel to America in this psalm. I believe if we continue down the path that we are travelling as a nation, we too will lose everything, and will one day be looking back in regret, wishing we could go back and re-do things. We have not lost everything yet, but we can see the hand of God’s judgment beginning to fall upon this once great nation. It doesn’t have to happen though. We could repent, and go back to what we were when we were founded. Of course, we had some problems back then as well, and I do not advocate that we do everything exactly as we did then, but I do believe we need to put God back on the throne in this land. Our nation has become a godless, corrupt, and extremely immoral place. We have come to accept and even promote many things which God has declared to be evil. We are forsaking the houses of God’s worship, and instead are consumed with chasing possessions and pleasure. If we keep going, someday soon it will all be gone. But then, we will remember. I guess it won’t be all bad, though, because while we are remembering what we lost, we also will remember God. Just a thought.


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Our Help Is In The Name Of The LORD – The Saturday Morning Post

incredible_sunsets_01Today’s Reading – Psalms 120 – 132 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 21 – 22; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

Read the “0711 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

A Song of degrees. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” (Psalm 123)

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14)

Good morning. Are you ready for the “Fall”? I have to agree with many others that something big is going to shake the United States this year. It breaks my heart to see the direction that our country has taken. And according to 2Chronicles 7:14, it is our fault Christian. We have gotten away from the commandments of the Lord: our lives, or lifestyles have taken president over God. The biggest problem is that we have gotten away from soul winning. Psalm 126 says…

A Song of degrees. When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126)

Where is the laughter that should be coming from our mouths? Where is the singing from our tongue? If you could see your faces during the congregational singing, it looks like the words are being mouthed and there is no thought of what is being sung. Are you standing on the promises? When we sing “Jesus Saves!” do you remember how wretched your wicked life was before He saved you? Psalm 125:3 says…

“For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” (Psalm 125:3)

We are given two commands for the Holy Spirit. One tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit (by doing those things we should not be doing). The other tells us not to quench the Holy Spirit (by not doing what we should be doing).

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Where did that power go today? The power is still there, but the machines are breaking down: they no longer work. Maybe they need a tune-up or a rebuilding. Maybe we need to be reminded that there is a Hell, and those who die without Jesus will go there. Every September 11th, when the news remembers 911, they show the video of the second plane crashing into the tower. Has it occurred to you that the big fireball that happened on impact is what those terrorists have been living in for the past 14 years? They have over 1000 years to go before they have to stand before the Lord to be judged, and then cast into the lake of fire.

Our forefathers gave us freedom of religion. They knew that because the real Word of God was being taught in schools, that false religions did not stand a chance. Lies would quickly crumble when confronted with truth of the gospel in the Word of God. But gradually we got away from God and His plan for everyone to hear the gospel and receive Jesus. Now Islam has the number one missionary position for recruiting and making new converts.

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. How can our children hear about faith when it’s not being taught in schools. Without faith it is impossible to please God. That’s why kids are running around like animals, having babies, aborting babies; killing each other just for the heck of it. Take a good look at the end times…

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:3-8)

The time is now to get the gospel out to America, a nation dedicated to God by George Washington and others. A nation who has since turned it’s back on God. God said, “Thou shalt not kill,” yet we legalized abortions. Almost fifty-eight million abortions done since Roe vs. Wade, in 1973. Now the government tells us that it is okay for two men or two women to have a same-sex union and call it marriage. And yet God has said…

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:22-25)

The land is about to barf: it has been made sick: it’s gonna puke out some nasty chunks of the garbage it was forced to eat. Is someone going to cry out a warning? Yet 64 days (till Elul 29, 5775 or September 13, 2015) and America will be overthrown…

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3)

It is doubtful that the President would declare a national day of fasting, and rebuke all the evil laws that his administration passed. He may, after September, but then how many of our rebellious nation would follow? So what can we do? In Joel chapter 2, God says he will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2:28-32)

And we need to take advantage of this outpouring and get the gospel out. Leave a tract with the person filling your car with gas. Leave one in a public restroom; God will get it into somebody’s hands. And then there is 2Chronicles 7:14…

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14)

Listen to our pastor’s sermon for the Sunday morning of July 5, 2015. He will explain more fully of what we need to do. We need to humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and turn from our wicked ways. “Then…”

Peace. (Psalm 124:8)


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Open Thou Mine Eyes

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Today’s Reading – Psalm 119 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0710 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalms 119:18)

What a wonderful privelege it is to be able to open up a copy of the Word of God. Our reading this morning in Psalm 119 is all about God’s word. Almost every verse in this Psalm contains a word that is synonomous with the Bible. For instance, in vs. 1 – 6, you will see the words, “law”, “testimonies”, “ways”, “precepts”, “statutes”, “commandments”, and “judgments”. All of these words are references to the Word of God. They all have slightly different meanings, but together they help us to understand what the Word of God is, as well as what it does. This is a wonderful psalm, replete with tremendous truths and promises regarding our relationship with God through the Bible.

My attention this morning was drawn to v. 18, where the psalmists asks the Lord to open his eyes so that he could understand (see) wondrous things from the Word. The Bible does contain a myriad of “wondrous things”, but oftentimes our spiritual eyes are not open enough to receive them. There are certainly many reasons for this, but I believe one of them is the fact that we do not approach the Word of God expectantly, and prayerfully, anticipating a life-changing truth. Our prayer should be the same as the psalmist every time we open up the Bible: “Open thou mine eyes”.

Everything that we need to succeed in this life is contained in the Bible, but we are missing so many principles that would guide, instruct, and protect us simply because we are not looking, because our eyes are closed. Stop approaching the Word each day as a religious ritual, but rather open it, looking for the truth that you will need to help you survive, and even thrive as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. God has the answers for the problems that you will face today and tomorrow. They are in His Word. Ask Him to help you to see them.


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Not Short on Truth

 

Not Short On Truth

Today’s Reading – Psalms 115 – 118 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0709 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” – (Psalm 117:1-2)

Did you ever notice that some of the most powerful messages in the Bible come out of passages of few words. For instance, Peter’s message at Pentecost, which was used of God to lead 3000 people to Christ, was only 25 verses long. The people at our church are hoping that I would learn to preach some of those short sermons. Anyway, Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in all the Bible, but it is certainly not short on truth. This Psalm speaks about two very important doctrines in the Bible: God’s mercy, and God’s truth. It really says it all if you think about it. Through God’s mercy a way was made possible for us to receive the forgiveness of our sins; and it is because of His truth that we could find out about His mercy. What an awesome little passage of Scripture!


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Unmoveable

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 108 – 114 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “0708 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Surely he shall not be moved forever…” (Psalm 112:6)

“…his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7)

“His heart is established…” (Psalm 112:8)

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed….A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6,8)

There is far too much instability among God’s people today; they just can’t seem to make up there minds as to where they stand. The Bible says about Jesus that His face was set like a flint, meaning He wasn’t budging from the will of God. Why is it that His children, however, are always moving in their doctrinal positions, and in their personal convictions. We need to learn the lesson that the Psalmist teaches here in the 112th Psalm.

Notice the characteristics of this unbending, righteous man spoken of here in the Psalm 112:

1 He is unmoveable about His Bible.

“[He] delighteth greatly in his commandments” (v. 1)

He is not the type of guy that changes the Bible he uses, or what he believes about the Bible. He is bull-dogmatic about Bible principles. He believes and applies what God says; and doesn’t deviate off of the course that the Word charts.

2 He is gracious and full of compassion. (v. 4)

Even though you are not going to move him about what he believes, he will be gracious and compassionate with those who have not yet grown to where he is. He gives people who are heading in the right direction time to get there. He is willing to give somebody a second and third chance when they demonstrate true contrition and repentance.

3 He is generous in his giving. (vs. 5, 9)

He knows that the source of all of his wealth is God. He knows also that God expects him to distribute the wealth that he has given him in order to be a blessing and a help to others.

How often do we change our minds and our actions regarding our Christian walk. We need to be a little more like this man mentioned in the Psalm. We need to dig in, find out what we believe from the Bible, and stick with it until the Lord takes us home.


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Never Satisfied

Never Satisfied

Today’s Reading – Psalms 106 – 107 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 13 – 14Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “0707 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15)

The Scripture referenced above has to do with the children of Israel during their wilderness wanderings. It seems that the people were always griping and complaining about their condition; always discontented about what God had provided for them. You will remember that God gave them manna from Heaven, but the people lusted after meat. God gave them what they wanted, but at what price? The Psalmist tells us they received leanness into their souls. I don’t think that God was upset with them because they had a physical hunger; but He did judge them because they put their lust for the physical above their love for Him.

How often do we put our physical, and other fleshly desires over the things of God. There is nothing wrong with food, but when we become so consumed with eating, playing, enjoying, etc. that we become negligent of the spiritual we too will suffer the consequences of a spiritual famine. I love to eat, I love to enjoy the good things that God has given us to enjoy in this life, but I don’t want to trade off the spiritual blessings that God has for me because of an over-appetite for the physical.

Notice the historical reference of this event from Numbers 11:

“And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.” (Numbers 11:33)

Our flesh is enemy # 1. If we are not careful, we will allow our flesh to take over our lives. We may be physically fat, but we will also be spiritually famished.


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So Great Is His Mercy

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 103 – 105 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 11 – 12; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0706 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:10-12)

I have a good friend who is an evangelist, and every time I ask him how he is doing, he always says, “Better than I deserve”. He’s right. He doesn’t deserve to be doing as good as he is doing, but God has been very good to him; and good to me as well. Today’s passage teaches this truth, which is perhaps the most wonderful truth in the entire Bible: that God is merciful to sinners. Of course, I must be clear to point out that this truth only applies to sinners who have received the gift of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a principle in the Bible called sowing and reaping, which basically teaches that we will reap in judgment what we sow in sin. But for the Christian, this principle does not completely apply. Those of us who are the children of God will never reap in judgment what we sowed in sin. The judgment of our sin was reaped by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. He suffered for what I sowed. Now, to be sure, there will always be corrective consequences for sin in this life, and perhaps loss of reward in eternity for the disobedient Christian, but we will never get what we truly deserve for our rebellion against God. God is merciful. He has removed our sins. He truly has made them white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) All of our past sins are gone completely, and He will not “impute” any new sins to our account. (Romans 4:8) What a wonderful God we serve! Have you taken time today to thank the Lord for His mercy? Have you told the Lord how much that you appreciate what He did for you on the Cross? Think about it: if you and I received what we deserved we would be burning in the Lake of Fire right now, but our God is merciful to those who come to Him in repentance and faith. Praise His Name!!


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