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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All Is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 12-13 Fear God And Keep His Commandments beige

Today’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)

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

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

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

A few years back I preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1 There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.

2 There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3 There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had wisdom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.


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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 that 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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The Richest Man On Earth

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)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

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

“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

What determines the true wealth of a man? Is it the amount of money he has in his bank account? Is it the number of acres he owns or the size of his house? Perhaps it might be the number of toys and possessions that he has been able to accumulate in his lifetime? Can richness be measured by the world’s standards? This world puts a great deal of emphasis on material gain and financial success, and to some degree they are right, because one of the ways that God blesses His children is by providing them with their needs, and even some of their desires. But the truth is, the world is replete with people who have “this world’s goods”, but are not rich. Why? Because they lack the blessing of the Lord. Let me list for you some of the reasons why I feel that I am the richest man on earth:

1 My Father is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all of the silver and gold belongs to Him. Because I am His child, everything that He has is mine as well. Everything that I need is provided for me. I am completely content, because there is nothing that I will ever need that will not be provided for me.

2 My Family is truly a blessing from God. He has given me the most beautiful wife in all of the world along with four wonderful children (and now two sons-in-law, and a daughter-in-law), and three beautiful grandchildren. They are for me; they support me; they encourage me; they assist me; they love me as I am even with all of my faults.

3 My Friends are also extremely valuable to me. I have a few friends that I believe would take a bullet for me. They are loyal and true, even when things aren’t going so well.

4 My Future looks even brighter. My needs for the rest of my life are guaranteed, and I have a mansion waiting for me in Heaven when I have finished His purpose for me on earth.

How about you? Have you been measuring your wealth the same way the world does? Maybe you are actually richer than you thought? If you are experiencing the blessing of the Lord, you are a rich man indeed.


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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!

childrens-choir

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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Happy To Be In Church

people-smiling

Today’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)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

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

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” – (Psalm 122:1)

“Except the LORD build the house they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” – (Psalm 127:1)

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” – (Psalm 133:1)

If you want to put a smile on the face of my 5 year old grandson, Jaxon, just tell him that you are taking him to church. He loves to go to church. He loves to put on his little tie.  He loves to ride in the church bus on soul winning night. He loves everything about the church, and he is glad every time he goes.

For my devotion this morning I have listed a couple of verses from our reading today (and one from tomorrow’s reading) that I believe can certainly be considered together. Though, I may be taking a little bit of liberty regarding the proper interpretations of these Scriptures in their original contexts, I do not believe my thoughts violate basic Biblical truth. The first verse (Psalm 122:1) talks about the joy of being in the house of God. I also love to be in the house of God with God’s people, but there have been times in my life when I did not appreciate going to church. Before I was saved, the last thing I wanted to do was to go to church; and even after my salvation there have been times when I dreaded church. Thinking back at these times I now realize that the reason for my apprehension was either because my own heart was not right, or that there was something not right going on in the church.

I remember years ago my wife and I were at a church business meeting. The pastor of the church had fired the youth pastor. The problem was that a good portion of the church really liked the youth pastor and did not want to see him go. The result was a church split, with a lot of arguing, gossiping, and bitterness that certainly was not pleasing to the Lord. The lack of unity (Psalm 133:1) among the brethren caused the church to become an unpleasant place to go.

The bottom line is, however, that a church where the people are striving together, submissive to the will of God, is a place that is a downright joyful place for the Christian to go; unless, of course, his heart is at odds with the will of God. If the church is healthy, and the Christian is healthy spiritually, there ought to be a joyful anticipation of going to the House of God. I am very thankful for the church where I serve. Though we are not a large church, we enjoy serving and worshipping together. It is my prayer that our church will grow together, both spiritually and numerically. However, the house must be built by the Lord. It must be done His way, otherwise, we are just wasting our time.

Do you look forward to going to church, or to you you dread it? If the thought of going is unpleasant to you, you need to ask yourself, why? It may be that there is a major problem within the congregation; but more often than not, the problem lies within your own spiritual condition. If you are out of the will of God, being in God’s house, and around God’s people will certainly be a difficult experience. If that is your situation, please don’t blame the church for your misery, and don’t run from the church either. If you do, you may experience a temporary relief from your feelings, but it will ultimately lead to more sorrow. The best thing that you can do is get back inside the will of God. Inside of God’s will, the local church is a place of happiness.


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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

unmovable-faith-570x290

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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O Be Careful Little Eyes

facepalm

Today’s Reading – Psalms 96 – 102 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 9 – 10; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0705 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “Enduring to All Generations“, and “Before His Presence

“I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” (Psalms 101:2-3)

Before I get into my main thought for this morning’s devotion, let me point out that in Psalm 101, David uses the phrase “I will”, or “will I” 9 times. These were very bold, and almost cocky assertions on his part, and I am pretty sure that he failed to keep every one of these promises during the course of his life. He was, as we are, human. I am very careful not to make too many promises about what I will or will not do, because I have been known to break a promise or two in my lifetime as well. However, I do believe that it is good to set up some standards and boundaries in our lives based upon the principles that we are taught in the Word; and we should ask the Lord to help us to maintain them.

In vs. 2 & 3 of this psalm, David determines that he will behave himself wisely, and that he will set no wicked thing before his eyes. In the culture that we live in today, we almost have to put blindfolds on in order to fulfill this promise. There are so many “wicked things” for us to look at. Let’s be honest, you absolutely cannot turn on the television without setting some kind of wicked thing before your eyes. Wickedness is blatantly visible in our culture. To be perfectly frank, I am ashamed to say that I have seen some things in our church that should have never entered into my eyes. Things that were condemned just a few years ago are condoned and even promoted today, and it is getting worse every day. It is impossible for us to interact with this culture without allowing wicked images to enter into our eyes, and then ultimately into our hearts. Yet, we must strive to put some blinders on our physical and spiritual eyes that will keep us from beholding sin and thinking about things that could destroy us spiritually.

In Sunday School we sing a song that says:

“O be careful little eyes what you see,

O be careful little eyes what you see,

For the Father up above is looking down in love,

O be careful little eyes what you see.”

Christian, please be careful. If you have a television, you will need to block much of the programming, and you will have to turn off many of the commercials. The ads are often worse than the shows themselves. Don’t let your children watch the TV unsupervised. There is just way too much poison coming through that box. The Internet is obviously a huge problem also. And, there are many places, like the movies or the beach, that we will need to avoid if we want to keep our eyes from beholding sin.

Let me say a word to you ladies. Please be careful about what you wear, especially in the summer months. Immodest dress can be a big stumblingblock to many men. Job had to make a “covenant” with his eyes not to look upon a maid. I think if he were living today he would have a tough time keeping that promise.

Obviously, I cannot address every application that could be made from these verses in Psalm 101, but I think you get the idea. I understand that we are living in some desperately wicked times, but don’t get swept away by the culture. Don’t just be content to be a little more conservative than the culture, either. Determine to please God with what you allow yourself to see, and also how you behave.


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Happy Birthday America

Happy Birthday America

Today’s Reading – Psalms 90 – 95 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 7 – 8; Psalms 16 – 20Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0704 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “A Penny for Your Thoughts” and “Are You Thriving or Just Surviving?

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:32; 36)

Praise the Lord for America!  This is the greatest nation on the face of the earth.  When I think about Independence Day I am filled with praise and gratitude to our God for three specific things:

1  I thank the Lord for Jesus who died on the cross for my sins, giving me liberty from the Law and from the bondage of sin.  To think that Christ would love someone like me is really beyond my comprehension.

2  I also thank the Lord for the men and women of God throughout the centuries who have given their lives delivering the message of salvation.  I could not be saved today if it weren’t for people who sacrificed greatly communicating the truth of God’s Word.

3  Finally, I am filled with gratitude for the men and women who have given their lives for the cause of freedom here in America.  With all of her faults, America is by far the best place in the world to live.  I can carry my Bible here; I can open it on any street corner and proclaim the glorious name of Christ.  I have the freedom to worship God here according to the convictions that God has given me through His Word.  I do a lot of complaining about the direction our country is heading sometimes; but today I am going to lay aside  all of the negatives, and be thankful for the blessing of America!

One more thing.  I am going to think today about what sacrifice I can make to send the message of Christ to not just America, but to every living, breathing soul on this earth.

Thank you Jesus for setting me free from sin.  Thank you America for giving me the freedom to thank and serve Jesus.


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Ain’t God Good

Field-of-Flowers

Today’s Reading – Psalm 86 – 89 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “0703 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” (Psalms 86:5)

This morning’s passage contains a very simple, yet also very profound truth, which is perhaps the greatest truth in all of Scripture. God is good. God is better than good, God is awesome. We sing the song sometimes, “Ain’t God Good”; and He is. It may not be proper English, but it certainly is sound doctrine. Consider the following verses:

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalms 34:8)

“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalms 100:5)

“Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.” (Psalms 135:3)

“The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalms 145:9)

“The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 33:11)

“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” (Lamentations 3:25)

“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” (Nahum 1:7)

The Lord is good for an infinite number of reasons, but in the context of Psalm 86, David declares that the Lord is good because He is merciful, and ready to forgive all them that call upon Him. Nearly 30 years ago I heard the gospel preached, and I realized that I was a sinner that needed salvation. I called upon the Lord, and He was merciful to me, and “ready to forgive”. He saved me. You see, I can testify firsthand that the Lord is good. And He hasn’t stopped being good to me. He has never done me wrong one time. Ain’t God good! Can I get a witness?


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Visit This Vine

Grape Vine

Today’s Reading – Psalms 80 – 85  (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0702 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.” (Psalm 80:14 & 15)

The context of this passage of Scripture involves a time period in the history of Israel (the vine) when the people of God were under judgment due to their falling away from Him. Most people believe that it specifically involves the time of the Babylonian captivity. You will remember that God raised up the nation of Babylon to come and judge the northern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC because God’s people had turned away from Him and had fallen deeply into idolatry and immorality. The psalmist was pleading with God to return His favor to the vine (Israel), and to allow her to be restored to a place of God’s blessing; a place of provision and protection.

As a child of God today, I desire the same thing for my home, my church, and my nation. I so desperately want to see God move in my family and in my church. I want to see the evidence of God’s hand in the place where He has called me to live and to minister. I want God to visit the vine called Jersey Shore Baptist Church. I want God to use this place as a bright light in a dark world. I want to see multitudes of souls saved here; and I want to see the wayward saints return to the vineyard.

I believe this can happen. I believe we can see a great revival, even in these last days. But how is it going to happen. The answer to that question is found in vv 3, 7, & 19. Three times the psalmist pleads with God to:

“Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

Notice that it begins with a movement of God. The Psalmist asks God to move in the hearts of the people and cause them to desire to be turned toward the things of God. I guess that’s kind of what God has called me to do as a preacher. My job, in part, is to plead with the people and exhort them to turn away from the world and their sin; and turn back toward God. There can not be a salvation without a turning. Don’t misunderstand, I do not believe that this Psalm is specifically dealing with the salvation of a soul from Hell, but the principle can be applied. In order for a person to be saved they obviously have to turn to God; and in order to be moving in the direction of God, one must be moving away from their sin.

The same is true for the revival of our worldly, cold and indifferent hearts in the local church. We need to turn away from our sin and all of the trifles that this world has to offer; and turn back to God with all of our hearts. We are living here for a purpose; but merely living here is not that purpose. We are here to glorify our Lord in this dark world by shining the light of His glorious gospel.

God, please visit the vine of my life, my family, and my church; and cause me to turn away from all of those things that are hindering me from fulfilling your perfect will for my life. Help me to glorify you in everything that I do and say; and help me to wet the appetite of the people around me for the things of God.

 


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He Knows Our Humanity

He Knows Our Humanity

Today’s Reading – Psalms 78 – 79 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

Second Milers also read – Proverbs 1; Psalms 1 – 5; Mathew 1 – 2)

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

Read the “0701 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Where Is Their God?”

“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalms 78:38-39)

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:14)

Isn’t it comforting to know that we do not have to pretend to be anything other than human when dealing with God. Think about it. In every other relationship we have, we are always putting on our masks, and placing defensive barriers around us so that people will not see the real us. We want to portray an image of ourselves to the people we meet that is far better than the reality. But we know that it is futile to even attempt such a thing with God, because He can see right through any veil that covers us. He knows everything about us; every dirty detail; every hidden thought. He knows some things about us that perhaps we have pushed so far back in the recesses of our minds that even we don’t remember. He knows that we are merely “flesh”, and He knows that we are “dust”. To me that is comforting, because I know that God is the only one that I can truly be myself around. And the strange thing is that He loves me, even though He knows all of the dirt.

In our passage today, in Psalm 78, we read about the history of Israel from the perspective of God. God gave Israel everything that they have. He delivered them from Egypt, fed them and protected them as they wandered through the desert, brought them into the land of promise; but what did Israel do in return for God? They rebelled against Him, complained about Him, and turned to worship other gods. God had to send judgment in order to get them to turn back to Him, but their repentance was never permanent, they would always resort back to “being human”. Our humanity, our flesh, causes us to keep leaning unto our own understanding; doing our own thing. Most of the time our thing is in direct opposition to what God wants. But we have this flesh that is continually seeking to satisfy its own lusts, and is constantly pulling us out of the will of God. To make matters worse, we also have the world and the devil cheering our flesh on in its battle with the will of God. No wonder Paul said, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24) I say “AMEN” to that, but I also, like Paul, thank the Lord that God sent a Saviour who died for my sins, and sent the Holy Spirit to live in and work on this old sinful flesh, conforming me into the image of Christ.  That means every once in a while I am going to get it right down here on the earth, and someday, praise God, I will be delivered completely from this body of flesh.

God didn’t utterly destroy us and wipe us out. He loved us, He died for us, and He is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. And someday soon, He will transport us up out of this world, and take us to be with Him (without our sinful flesh) forever.


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Slippery Places

907464-12

Today’s Reading – Psalms 73 – 77 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 17 – 22; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30 – 31)

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

Read the “0630 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.” – (Psalm 73:2)

“Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.” – (Psalm 73:18)

I remember one day years ago when I was working as a youth director at the Christian Bible Baptist Church in South Toms River, I was picking up one of the guys from the youth group during an ice storm. Everything was covered with ice. I watched as this young man very carefully left his house and walked toward my truck. I turned my head for a minute, and when I looked back he was nowhere in sight. I assumed that he went back inside for a moment because he had forgotten something. That’s when I saw a hand stretching up to grab the mirror on the pasenger door of the vehicle. He was holding on to that mirror for dear life. With all of his strength he pulled himself up, and steadied himself to get in the cab. I don’t think that I have ever laughed so hard in all of my life. The young man could not even stand on his own simply because the ground underneath him was too slippery.

I may be taking too much liberty with this passage, but I can not help but notice that twice in Psalm 73 there is a reference made to slipping. In verse 2 the psalmist says that he had almost slipped because of his envy of the prosperity of wicked people. Then again in verse 18 we see another reference to a slippery place. I got to thinking that God’s people often fall because they tread 0n slippery places. You can make the application here wherever it fits in your life, but a slippery place is a place, person or thing that presents to us a great temptation to sin. Maybe for you it’s the wrong crowd, or it could be sitting home alone on the internet; but it is a place where you can easily fall into sin. If you don’t want to fall, stay away from slippery places.

By the way, did you ever notice that when you fall off your feet, you often have a difficult time getting back up on your own. It is the same when you fall into sin. Don’t be too prideful to call out to someone and ask them for help.


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Time Is Running Out

redeeming-the-time

Today’s Reading – Psalms 69 – 72 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 13 – 16; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0629 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a another post from this morning’s reading passage – “Who Are You Magnifying?”

“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” – (Psalm 71:18)

A few years ago, the verse referenced above would have meant little to me. I would have probably glanced right over it quickly, without giving it much thought. However, the older I get the more I realize that there is still a great deal more that I would like to see accomplished through the ministry the Lord has entrusted me with; yet, I am quickly running out of both the time and energy that I need to do it. You may think based upon what you’ve just read that I am in my 70′s. Though I feel that old at times, I am only 52. But, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that my time on this earth is very limited.

I want my life to count for something. I want to be used of God to help “shew” my generation the strength and power of God. I need to get busy, and I need to become more proficient at what I am doing so as to make the best use of the time that I have left. I am not all that pleased with what has been accomplished so far in the twenty-seven years that I have been saved, or even in the fifteen years that I have been a pastor. I know that God could have helped a lot more people through a more yielded vessel. But, He is not through with me yet. This morning, I have made a choice to not dwell in the failures (or even the successes) of the past, but instead look to the future. God has given me life today and today I can give that life back to Him, for His use, and for His glory. So can you. What are you living your life for? What are you accomplishing today that will be used of God to make a difference in eternity? The Psalmist’s prayer was to remain here on the earth until he was able to fulfil his ministry of telling everybody about God. That’s a great request and it should be the prayer and goal of each of us who are saved today. Time is running out; your appointment with death is approaching.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – (Ephesians 5:16)

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” – (Hebrews 9:27)

 


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