Unclean

leper

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8; Proverbs 7; Psalms 36 – 40)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 19

Read the “0207 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” – (Leviticus 13:45-46)

This morning we have been reading all about the plague of leprosy from Leviticus 13. Leprosy was certainly a horrible disease which, I believe, was fatal in almost all cases. If a person was determined by the priests to be a leper, he was separated from all others in the congregation, including his family, and was required to live outside the camp presumably among other lepers. If they were ever in a situation where they were in a close proximity with non-lepers, they were required to cry out unclean, unclean, so as to warn the people to keep their distance. This policy may seem to be harsh to us, but it was the only way to keep leprosy from spreading throughout the entire congregation of Israel.

Leprosy in the Bible is a picture, or type, of sin. Sin is like leprosy in many ways. It starts out on the inside, but eventually works its way out to the outside. It starts out small, but soon covers the entire body. If not dealt with, it will also spread to everybody. It causes us to be separated from God, and the people we love; and it leads eventually to death. We are all sinners, so we should all be able to relate to this dreaded disease. Fortunately for us there is a cure, a cleansing for this spiritual leprosy that we are plagued with. It is called the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the song says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” What a blessing it is to know that there is a cure for the penalty of sin in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though we are unclean in our flesh, He comes near to us and cleanses us from our sin. Praise the Lord!

One more thought regarding the leprosy of sin. God spared no precaution in trying to keep the people away from leprosy, and He feels the same way today about sin. He wants us to stay as far away from sin as possible. We are supposed make much of sin, instead of trying to minimize it. Don’t try to justify the sin in your life; do your best to eradicate it. We will never be able to remove the presence of sin in our life altogether. There is no such thing as “sinless perfection”; but we can get as close to God as possible, and through our closeness to God, see sin as He sees it. Maybe then we will strive to keep sin as distant from us as Israel attempted to keep leprosy from their congregation. This does not mean we loathe the sinner; we are commanded to love them, and pray for them, and do everything we can do to help them get to the cure; just as somebody helped us


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You Are What You Eat? – The Saturday Morning Post

Locust

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 11 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 5 – 6; Proverbs 6; Psalms 31 – 35)

Read the “0206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.” (Leviticus 11:21-23)

“And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey…” (Mark 1:6)

Good morning. Have you had breakfast yet? And I don’t mean to “bug” you about this, but did you know it was okay to eat locusts if you were Jewish. The Jewish dietary laws were strict, but locust is on the menu. Look at the picture above. The Greek New Testament word for locust means: as pointed, or as lighting [LANDING] on the top of vegetation. But God doesn’t make mistakes. Did you know that locusts are 50% to 60% protein and only 12% fat? And the fat breaks down to 44% saturated fat, and 54% unsaturated fat (2% other). As a plus, the carbohydrates are very low making them great for the Atkins Diet. Some people describe cooked locust as similar to smoky flavored bacon and reasonably tasty. And, like I said, God doesn’t make mistakes: He wanted His children to have a well balanced diet of things that were good for them.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.” (Leviticus 11:1-3)

“These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.” (Leviticus 11:9)

It would appear that the fowls of the air that you could not eat were scavengers: they ate the remains of dead creatures. And all this seams to be a good thing if you want a healthy diet. Just remember that we, as Christians are not under the Law, we were given these guidelines…

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Acts 15:28-29)

And remember Peter’s vision…

“On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:9-15)

In case you would like to try, here are some recipes from the United Nations’ website…

Tinjiya (Tswana recipe): remove the wings and hindlegs of the locusts, and boil in a little water until soft. Add salt, if desired, and a little fat and fry until brown. Serve with cooked, dried mealies (corn).

Sikonyane (Swazi recipe): prepare embers and roast the whole locust on the embers. Remove head, wings, and legs, in other words, only the breast part is eaten. The South Sotho people use locusts especially as food for travellers. The heads and last joint of the hindlegs are broken off and the rest laid on the coals to roast. The roasted locusts are ground on a grinding stone to a fine powder. This powder can be kept for long periods of time and is taken along on a journey. Dried locusts are also prepared for the winter months. The legs, when dried, are especially relished for their pleasant taste.

Cambodia: take several dozen locust adults, preferably females, slit the abdomen lengthwise and stuff a peanut inside. Then lightly grill the locusts in a wok or hot frying pan, adding a little oil and salt to taste. Be careful not to overcook or burn them.

Barbecue (grilled): prepare the embers or charcoal. Place about one dozen locusts on a skewer, stabbing each through the centre of the abdomen. If you only want to eat the abdomen, then you may want to take off the legs or wings either before or after cooking. Several skewers of locusts may be required for each person. Place the skewers above the hot embers and grill while turning continuously to avoid burning the locusts until they become golden brown.

Peace! (“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34-35))


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Strange Fire

strange-fire

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 3 – 4; Proverbs 5; Psalms 26 – 30)

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

Read the “0205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

This is a very scary passage of Scripture. God kills the two sons of Aaron for offering “strange fire” before the Lord. This story reminds me of when God killed Uzza for putting his hand upon the ark of God in an attempt to steady it and keep it from falling off of the cart that it was being transported on. (See 1 Chronicles 13) On the surface, these accounts make God seem to be unfair in that He kills people over minor infractions, but let’s consider this “strange fire” passage before us in Leviticus.

Why was God so upset about the “strange fire”?

1 They were supposed to take the fire from off of the brazen altar and use it to burn the incense. Apparently, they had violated God’s clear command and had taken a short-cut to accomplish their purpose. God does not like when people do His work in their own way. (See Exodus 30:9; 34 – 38)

2 Though we cannot be sure, it appears from the context that they may have been drunken when they were serving in the Tabernacle. Notice what God commands Moses in verses 8 – 11, just after this event takes place:

“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:8-11)

God is very serious about His service. People who minister for the Lord need to be extremely careful that they are serving God His way, and that they are giving Him their absolute best. God may not kill us today for taking the ministry lightly, but just think about all of the people who will suffer spiritually when we serve God in our flesh and don’t give Him our best effort.


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Ignorant But Not Innocent.

Baby_boy

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Proverbs 4; Psalms 21 – 25

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

Read the “0204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:” – (Leviticus 5:3-5 )

I read today’s passage once through, but I struggled with what I should write about, so I went back to read it again. The second time around I noticed in chapter five that God was instructing the Israelites regarding sins of ignorance. I had to think about how a person could sin without knowing it, but it didn’t take long to figure out that we sin ignorantly all the time. Think about it. We do all kinds of things that are wrong and cause harm, without intending to do so. Also, we have done many things in the past, perhaps before we were saved, that we didn’t even know were wrong. The Bible says that even the thought of foolishness is sin. How many of us ever considered when we were yet unsaved that our thoughts were just as sinful as our actions. We may have been ignorant while doing these things, or thinking these things, but we were not innocent. Plus, there is the fact that some actions may be permissible for some, but wrong for others. The Bible says,”Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – (James 4:17)

The bottom line is that we are sinful creatures. Not only do we intentially sin, but we also do many sinful things without fully realizing it. In our passage, God gave the children of Israel a solution for this dilemma. He told them that when they found out about their guilt, they were simply to confess it, and then offer a sacrifice for it. Praise God, today we do not have to offer up sacrifices to God for our sin because the Lord Jesus took care of all of the sacrifices necessary to atone for our sin when He was sacrificed once for all on the Cross of Calvary. But, I think it is still imperative for us to confess to God our sin when we find out about it, and then thank Him for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that atones for it.

The idea here is that we need to stop trying to pretend that we are not guilty. We need to lower our defenses, and fire our “inner lawyer”, and get to the place where we recognize that we are full of sin, completely guilty before God, and totally unworthy and undeserving of His love and forgiveness. Stop trying to pretend that you are above sin, or that you have arrived at some kind of spiritual plateau where you are somehow better than other people. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. On my best day, I am still full of sins, most of which I am too dull spiritually to even recognize; but that’s OK, because I have a Saviour that I have completely trusted to save me from the eternal penalty of my sin, and I also trust Him daily to forgive and restore me to a place of fellowship with Him. Thank God for Jesus!

One more quick thought, If just now you have come to the place where you realize that you are a bigger sinner than you thought you were, yet you also understand that God still loves you and forgives you anyway; why don’t you cut the other sinners around you some slack; they’re struggling with the same sinful condition that you are. Just a thought.

Oh, and by the way, the baby pictured above is also not innocent, but the blood of Jesus atones for his sin, and protects him until he comes to the maturity level where he realizes that he is guilty before God. There will come a day when he will know that he is a sinner, and then he will be accountable for his sin. He will then have to either receive or reject the atonement made by the Lord for his sin.


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It Is Finished!

blog_ldquoit-is-finishedrdquo

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Proverbs 3; Psalms 16 – 20)

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

“And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:” – (Leviticus 4:33-34)

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” – (Luke 23:34)

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” – (John 19:30)

I must confess that as I was reading the 4 chapters from Leviticus this morning, I kept thinking to myself: “what am I going to write about from this passage”. The four chapters are all about the Old Testament offerings. We read about the burnt offering, the meat offering, the peace offering, and the sin offering. I have been a student of the Bible for many years, and I still don’t have all of the Old Testament offerings straight in my head. I really was not looking forward to writing a devotion on one or all of these Old Testament sacrifices. But, then I read the “second miler” passage for this morning from Luke 23. I read where Jesus said, “Forgive them”, and I thought about when He said in John’s gospel, “It is finished”; and then I got excited. I realized that I don’t have to know  all of the details of the Old Testament sacrificial system because all of those sacrifices and offerings pictured and pointed to one thing: the sacrifice that Christ would make on the Cross of Calvary. It truly is finished! We don’t have to run down to the Tabernacle or Temple every time that we sin. We do not have to keep it all straight, because Jesus Christ paid for it all when He died for our sins. Praise God!

The next thing that I thought about this morning was that I don’t fully appreciate what the Lord did for me on the Cross. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in Old Testament Israel. It certainly would have been very burdensome to live under the Law; and it was also impossible to live it perfectly. Do you think that even the best of the Israelites did everything the way they were supposed to. Do you think that every time they committed a sin of ignorance (and didn’t get caught) they went down to the priests with a sacrifice. I doubt it. But then that must have led to a lot of guilt, because they knew in their hearts that they were not fully obeying the Lord. What a relief it is to know that all sin: every sin, whether they be sins of ignorance or not, are forgiven. They are all under the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel like speaking in tongues right now! (just kidding) Praise God for Jesus!!!!

Oh Oh! I just got another thought: a thought about sacrifices. There is one more sacrifice that I should consider today: the living sacrifice. I am to present my body a living sacrifice to the Lord. I am no longer my own: I am bought with a price, and I belong to Him; and that is my reasonable service. It is the least that I can do to live for the Lord since He was willing to die for me.

All of those thoughts from what I thought at first to be a dry and tedious portion of Scripture. Thank God for the Book of Leviticus!

Did you also notice with many of these offerings or sacrifices for sin that the man that committed the sin was the one who had to kill the animal? That makes it very personal. I do not like to kill things. I guess I am a little squeemish. I don’t even like to kill bugs. When I find one in the house, I usually bring it outside. For me to have to kill an animal every time I sin, would certainly be enough to cause me to not want to sin anymore.

Now think about the Lord Jesus. Did you ever think that every time you sin, it is like you personally crucifying the Lord. It is you and me that are piercing His brow and His side. It is you and me that are driving the nails into His hands and feet. Think about it. If every time you sin, you thought about having to slay the Lord of glory to atone for it, wouldn’t that deter you from wanting to sin anymore. I guess that is what the Bible means when it says the love of Christ constrains us. He loved us so much He was willing to die for our sins, and it was our sin, my sin that put Him on that cross. Think about it.


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The Glory of the Lord

The Glory of the Lord

Today’s Passage – Exodus 39 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 21 – 22; Proverbs 2; Psalms 11 – 15)

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

Read the “0202 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” – (Exodus 40:34)

“And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” – (Leviticus 9:24)

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.” – (2 Chronicles 7:1)

“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” – (1 Kings 18:38)

The first two verses referenced above deal with the event that is taking place in Exodus 40, the dedication of the Tabernacle. Moses and the people of Israel have completed all that God had asked them to do regarding the construction of the Tabernacle. They had followed God’s instructions perfectly, building everything precisely as God had showed Moses. They anointed Aaron and his sons, and now everything is ready for God to put His blessing upon it. Exodus 40:34 tells us that the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Leviticus tells us that a fire came down from Heaven. You will notice that 2 Chronicles tells us that later in Israel’s history, in the days of King Solomon, that the fire fell again when they dedicated the Temple. It also fell in the time of Elijah when God was showing the people of Israel His power on Mount Carmel.

I remember years ago when Pastor Rick Wedemeyer and a handful of people first started the Christian Bible Church in South Tom’s River. There is no better way to state it than to say that in those early days the church was “on fire”. It was new, and it was fulfilling the purposes of glorifying the Lord and winning souls for Christ. The people were committed wholly to the Lord and His will for their lives. And the fire fell. God put a zeal, a fervor in the hearts of those people; and within a very short time the church had grown as many people were saved; and converts were being discipled and getting involved  in the service of the Lord.

I also have seen the fire of the Lord fall upon our ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, but unfortunately it has only been at certain seasons, and for a limited time. There have been times when the people were revived, and very zealous for the work of the Lord. Then there have been other times when the church seemed very lethargic. I pray constantly for the Lord to revive me, and our people; that He will once again set us on fire for His work, and His glory. I believe if God’s people will separate themselves from the world, and then dedicate themselves to the Lord and His purposes, the fire will fall once again. It really is all about what we desire. In our passage, the people of Israel were wholly focused on the Lord. And the fire fell. And if we were to wholly focus on the Lord in our lives and ministries, we would also see the fire of God fall to bless His work. Remember when you first trusted Christ as your Saviour? You were probably more “on fire” than you are now. I don’t know why, but it just happens that Christians, as well as churches, cool off in their spiritual zeal. However, now that we recognize that the fire in our hearts is not blazing as it once was, let’s confess our apathy to the Lord, and then ask Him to stoke the embers of our hearts and revive us. And the fire will fall once again.


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Too Much?

3.3-Giving-1857345-Offering

Today’s Passage – Exodus 36 – 38 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 19 – 20; Proverbs 1; Psalms 6 – 10

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

“And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” – (Exodus 36:5-7)

I am always amazed when I read this portion of Scripture. This seems to be the first building fund in the Bible, and it may even be the first special offering. God asks the congregation of Israel to give to Moses an offering of the necessary materials to build the Tabernacle and all of its furniture. The people gave generously, and gave more, and kept on giving; so much so that the workers were complaining that there was way too much stuff given. They didn’t know what to do with all of the gold, silver, brass, skins, wood, and fabric that the people were anxious to offer to the Lord to be used in this tent of worship.

I know that many of you have seen this passage before, and no doubt, you may even have heard messages from this text; but when was the last time that you heard a preacher get up and tell you to stop giving. Can you imagine me standing at the pulpit this Sunday morning and announcing to the congregation that we have more money than we know what to do with? Can you picture me saying, “please stop giving!”? I can’t either. Why is it that in the ministry today there seems to be such a shortage of the things that are necessary to do the work of God. We seem to always be “behind the eight ball”, so to speak. Why is that?

I believe that there could me many individual reasons; but I will offer some of my thoughts. One reason that I believe people are reluctant to give today is that they do not understand the clear teaching of Scripture. The Bible gives a lot of instruction regarding giving, both by way of commandment as well as encouragement. Many people just don’t know (or don’t want to know) what the Bible teaches about the subject.

Another reason that people may be reluctant to give is that they just don’t trust the stewardship of the local churches. There has been a lot of financial corruption and scandal in recent years involving church leadership and people wonder if their money is really going to the work of the Lord, or is it lining the pockets of the spiritual leaders. Maybe they feel that the church is spending too much money on facilities, etc. Even in our independent, fundamental churches we have gotten used to luxurious accommodations. Now, don’t misunderstand, I think the church house should be comfortable, and beautiful, but I think that it should also be very functional and practical. Church leaders need to be very conscious of the fact they have been given stewardship of the Lord’s money, and it should be spent very prayerfully and wisely.

I will offer one more thought regarding the lack of commitment on the part of the people of God in the area of giving. People today are just not as committed in general. Think about it. In Moses day, there was nothing else for the people but God. The Tabernacle would literally be at the very center of their lives. Today, the worship of God is hardly at the center. It may be a part, even a big part of some people’s lives; but to say it is the center would be a far stretch. We are very busy and very distracted today; and we have a lot more to spend our money on. What were the people going to do with that stuff anyway? Where were they going to spend it? They didn’t even have houses to live in. But we do, don’t we? And with them big mortgages and rents, and car payments, and phone bills, and cable bills. You get the idea. If we are ever going to get the people of God back to where they once were, we will have to help them realize that God needs to be at the very center of their lives. Putting God back at the very core of people’s lives will help them to remember what’s really important, helping them to prioritize their lives; not just in the area of finances, but in every other area of their lives.


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Beaming

darknesslight

Today’s Passage – Exodus 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Proverbs 31; Psalms 1 – 5 (Jump start on February because it is a short month)

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

Read the “0131 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Willing Servants

“And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” – (Exodus 34:28-29)

In chapter 34 of the Book of Exodus, Moses is back up on Mount Horeb receiving the Law of God for the second time. You will recall that the first two tables of stones were broken by Moses upon his return from the first trip. The people had corrupted themselves by creating and worshipping the golden calf. At any rate, this time he comes back and finds that the people had behaved themselves. What a blessing it is to return home from a trip and find that there are no problems.

My thought this morning is not about what Moses saw when he returned from his 40 days with God; rather, I want to give you a few thoughts about what the people saw in their leader. They said that his face shone. I believe that these people actually saw some kind of physical radiance beaming from the face of Moses. I do not think that what they saw could actually be duplicated today, but I do believe that people should be able to see a difference on our countenance, and in our attitude, when we have spent time with the Lord. I remember when I first became a Christian, we went to a conference to see a particular preacher. When we arrived, the preacher, whom I had never seen before, was standing in the front of the auditorium, and fellowshipping with a few other people. For some reason, I was able to spot him out of the crowd. There was just something about him. His presence revealed that he had been with God. He literally had God all over him. I wonder if people can see the presence of God in my life? Can they see Him in you?

In our passage, we see that this radiance came about after Moses had spent 40 days in the presence of God. He didn’t eat or drink during that time. He didn’t have access to a television or the internet, or even his  iphone. There was no other people to share the experience with him. It was just him and God, alone, free from any type of distraction. I wonder what God could do in our lives if we had a similar experience. We may not be able to spend 40 days in His presence, but how about 40 minutes. What could God do in your life and mine if we just spent 40 minutes of time alone with Him. I bet it would show up on our faces as well. I bet people would say about us that we were “glowing”, or “beaming”, or “shining”. The presence of God will lighten up our lives, and through us, the lives of those around us. Why not peel yourself away from other people today; away from the cell phone, the television, and the computer; and get alone with the Lord. Let Him light your life up.


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Called of God, Filled with the Spirit, and Gifted with Abilities

blueprints

Today’s Passage – Exodus 30 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 15 – 16; Proverbs 30; Psalms 146 – 150

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Who Is On The Lord’s Side?”

“See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, … And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;” – (Exodus 31:2-3, 6)

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

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:” – (Romans 12:4)

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” – (1 Corinthians 12:18)

I just want to give a quick thought from chapter 31 of the passage in Exodus that we are reading together today. I was tempted to write something from chapter 32, but I decided that this thought was more appropriate for the people of Jersey Shore. I am thankful because this message is a little more encouraging than what I would have said about chapter 32.

In the preceding chapters God has been instructing Moses regarding the Tabernacle. God gave him a complete set of blueprints, with detailed instructions about how to go about building it. The problem was that Moses was not necessarily gifted in the area of construction. He was a great leader, but he certainly did not possess all of the skills necessary to do all that needed to be done; nor would he have the time to do it all himself. God understood this, so He raised up men who were gifted in construction, at least the type of construction required for the Tabernacle and all of the furniture and coverings involved with it. They were going to oversee the building of the tabernacle so that Moses could do what he needed to do.

I remember when we were building our little addition to the church building. It was only a 900 square foot addition to the auditorium, but honestly I knew very little about what was needed to complete it. God raised up a man in our church to oversee the construction. The project was completed on time and under budget. Everybody congratulated me on what a wonderful job I did with the building, but truthfully I had very little to do with it. And, because I didn’t have to focus on the construction, I was able to fulfill, without distraction, my primary duties of ministry. Thank God for Don Price who was gifted and used of the Lord in a great way to fulfil this particular task.

God equips the local church with what it needs to do what God wants it to do. Part of my job as a pastor is to try to figure out what the gifts and talents are in the people, and put them to use. People who are not being used are unhappy people, and unhappy people will not stay long and their talents will be wasted. God also equips each and every one of us with what we need so that we can fulfil His will. He will never ask us to do something without providing the tools and materials that are necessary in order to get the job done.

Have you discovered what talents and abilities that God has equipped you with? What gifts has God entrusted to your life? Are you allowing Him to use all of those things for His honor and glory? Why not find a place to serve in the local church where your talents can be used to the fullest? God wants to bear fruit in your life. Allow Him to use you.


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I’ll Meet You There

Reading the bible

Today’s Passage – Exodus 28 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145)

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

Read the “0129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.” (Exodus 29:42-43)

Did you notice the phrase, “where I will meet you”, in Exodus 29:42, and the phrase, “there I will meet with the children of Israel”, in v. 43. God had a specific place that He chose to meet with His people. My first thought this morning is that it is amazing that a holy God wants to meet with people like us at all. Why does God even want to commune with creatures that are laden with sin. Isn’t it amazing that God can choose to love us and want to be with us at all? I know that there are certain people that I don’t like to be around, but God desires fellowship with all of His children.

My second thought concerns the place where God meets with us. During the time of the Wilderness wandering, God carefully designed the place and set the conditions for the Nation of Israel to enter into His presence, and it was quite an elaborate process for the people to go through in order for them to commune with God. By the way, we know that God is now and has always been omnipresent, so there is never a time when we are not in His presence, but still God set up special conditions for corporate worship.

Today, God has changed some things. The veil that once separated most men (except the High Priest – once per year) from entering into God’s immediate presence has been removed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which means that all men and women who are saved can enter directly into His presence:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

God encourages us to come into His presence, and to also recognize that there is never a time that He is not with us:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

Still, today there are also special places and times that God wants to meet with us. God wants us to meet with Him as we set aside a specific time and place to read the Bible, where He can feed our souls with nourishment and strength, and give us the wisdom that we need in order for us to serve as His ambassadors. He also invites us to come meet with Him in the prayer closet, where we can confess our sins to Him, petition Him for our needs, and praise and worship Him. Of course, He still has a special place for corporate worship, the local church. This is the place where all believers can enter together into His presence for preaching, prayer, and praise. He promises to be “in the midst” of us when two or more are gathered in His name.

God wants to meet with you and me. Don’t forsake any of God’s invitations.


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Interceding on Behalf of God’s People

Interceding

Today’s Passage – Exodus 28 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145)

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

Read the “0129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial. (Exodus 28:9-12)

” And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes. (Exodus 28:15-21)

Exodus 28 gives us a description of the garments that Aaron the high priest was to wear when he went into the presence of the Lord. You will notice from the verses above that he was to wear the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel both on his shoulders and in the breastplate upon his heart. These names reminded him that he represented the people to their God.

There are two thoughts that I would like for us to consider from this passage:

1  The Lord Jesus Christ also carries His children upon His shoulders and in His heart. He bears our burdens for us and He thinks about us continuously. He intercedes on our behalf before His Father. What an awesome comfort it is to know that our Lord loves us and watches over us. I reminded of the story Jesus told in Luke 15 of the shepherd who found his lost sheep and when he found it he carried it upon his shoulders. I know there have been many times in my life that my spiritual strength was so weak that the Lord had to carry me. What a wonderful Lord that loves and cares for us!

2  God’s ministers today are also supposed to shoulder the burdens of the people they minister to by interceding for them through prayer, and they should also keep the people close to their hearts. The Apostle Paul told the church at Philippi that he had them “in his heart”. (Philippians 1:7) When someone in our congregation is experiencing a trial I find myself thinking about them constantly, almost brooding over them, which causes me to pray for them. I want to fix their problem for them and remove the trial, but I am most often powerless to do so. But, I can pray for them, and I can love them and let them know that they are close to my my heart.

It is amazing how these Old Testament descriptions of the Tabernacle and its ministers paint a wonderful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also provide practical principles for us today as we minister in the New Testament Church.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” (1 Timothy 2:1)


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Pattern What You Preach

Preacher-661x349

Today’s Passage – Exodus 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Proverbs 28; Psalms 136 – 140

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

Read the “0128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. … And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” – (Exodus 25:8-9, 40)

In chapters 25 – 27, God is instructing Moses regarding the construction of the Tabernacle. He first tells him that he must take up an offering from the people, collecting all of the materials that would be needed in order to construct it. This was no small undertaking as the tabernacle with all of its curtains and coverings and with all of its gold, silver, and brass, not to mention the wood that would be required, was a masterpiece of magnificent beauty and elaborate detail. Yet, it is interesting to note, as we will learn later in future passages, that Moses had to eventually stop the people from giving because they had given much more than was necessary to construct the Tabernacle. We don’t see that very often today, do we. Can you imagine what could be done in our churches today if God’s people were this excited about the work of God?

God then shows Moses a pattern; a picture of what the tabernacle was to look like. He no doubt also showed him blueprints of each element of the tabernacle, including all of the pieces of furniture. Moses had a clear picture in his mind of what it all would look like when he was finished. Then, God goes on for several chapters giving Moses detailed instructions outlining precisely how the tabernacle was to be built. So, in review, we see that God showed Moses an example, and then he gave him clear instructions, or exhortation.

I got to thinking how that this is how the ministry is supposed to work. God commands those of us who minister to His people to be a good example (or pattern) of what He expects in a finished product, and then He wants us to give clear instructions of how the people are to go about it. If the picture we are presenting is not consistent with the instructions we are giving, we will not be able to clearly help the people do and be what God expects of them. I know that none of us is perfect, but it is imperitive that we keep this thought in mind as we go about our business of serving the Lord. People will sometimes learn more from what they see, than from what we tell them. Both our example and our exhortation must be right, if we are going to effectively be used of God in building the lives of people for His glory.

By the way, this does not only apply to pastors and teachers. It applies to every believer. Your life (pattern, example) must back up what you are trying to instruct people. Parents, you need to be the right examlple to your children. They will not listen to your exhortation if your example is not what it should be. And to those of you that are concerned about winning people to Christ, which should be all of us; make sure your life backs up your profession. We have an awesome obligation to show people Christ with our lives as well as to tell them with our words. Think about it? Have you given much thought to your example; your pattern? Is it sending the right message to the people around you? Do the things that you do and say point people to the Lord, or do they send a conflicting message? Just a thought.


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Living in Canaan

Canaan

Today’s Passage – Exodus 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 8 – 9; Proverbs 27; Psalms 126 – 130)

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

Read the “0127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.” – (Exodus 23:27)

In Exodus 23, we see the nation of Israel travelling in the wilderness on their way out of Egypt and into Canaan, the land of promise. The verse cited above is one of those promises that were associated with the land. A careful reading of the chapter will reveal that God promised his people prosperity, which included abundant provision and divine protection if they were to obey Him. God promised that the inhabitants of the land would be driven out, and all of the enemies of Israel would flee from them. Again, these promises were contigent upon the nation’s obedience in wholly following the Lord.

In this passage we see a picture of the Christian life today. God has also delivered us out of Egypt when He saved us. He wants to bring us into the spiritual land of Canaan, which is the Spirit-filled, Christ-centered life. Canaan of the Old Testament is not a picture of Heaven. You will remember the people still had battles to fight there, and there will be no more battles to fight once we get to Heaven; but Canaan is a picture of spiritual victory. Entering Canaan today for the believer is also contigent upon our submission to the will of God. Too many believers today are content to wander in the wilderness of their own reasoning and understanding. They are doing their thing instead of God’s thing. What’s worse is that there are also many genuine believers who live with their backs turned from Canaan and their focus still on Egypt (the world).

It is my desire to live in Canaan. I want to have the victories that God promises those who are surrendered to Him. I am tired of wandering in the spiritual barreness of the wilderness. How about you? God has an abundant life prepared for you which also includes provision, protection, power, and a wonderful purpose; but you cannot do it your way. You must surrender your will to the perfect will of God. Let the Holy Spirit of God control you and guide you, and you will experience the wonderful blessing and abundant life that God desires for you in your spiritual Canaan.


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Come As You Are?

srs_come-as-you-are

Today’s Passage – Exodus 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Proverbs 26; Psalms 126 – 130)

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

Read the “0126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.” – (Exodus 19:14-17)

Notice in chapter 19 the reverence the people had when they were entering into the presence of God. They washed their clothes, they abstained from physical intimacy, and they trembled. I bet there was not one person from the congregation that was not present. I bet the children were silent, being kept under very close watch by their parents. The people understood that they were meeting with the omnipotent Creator of the universe. He is holy and He was not to be approached by the people of Israel in a flippant and carefree manner. They came with a reverent attitude of worship.

Fast forward now to today. Many of God’s people show up late, if they show up at all. They arrive wearing shorts and ripped tee shirts. The children are running all over the sanctuary while their parents are obliviously engaging in their own conversations about anything and everything except the worship of God. We have certainly come a long way down as far as our  reverence to God is concerned. We sing half heartedly, talk during prayer and special music; and then sleep when the Word of God is being preached: all the while wondering how long is this going to take. We’ve got more important things, like football, to worry about today. Do I exaggerate or is this an accurate description of the attitudes of many in our churches today? God help us!

Now, I wish to be very clear about this: I do not consider myself to be a legalist at all. I understand completely that salvation comes solely through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, beginning with faith in His shed blood at the cross of Calvary. I know that God is not impressed when we show up at the church with our white shirts and ties, or our long, modest dresses.  I get that. I know that God dwelleth not in temples made with men’s hands, and that the believer’s heart is the temple of God. And, I realize that God looks upon the heart; and if a man shows up at church in shorts and a ripped tee shirt because that is all he has, or perhaps because he doesn’t know better, I think God is pleased. I know that I am. Believe me, I am thrilled that people just show up, and I am not the least bit concerned about the way they are dressed. I am, however, very concerned about the heart attitude of God’s people today when they come to worship the infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-powerful God. It’s not a ball game. We are not gathering together simply to meet with friends, or to hear a man speak. We are corporately entering into the presence of God. We have become way too casual and careless. People give more thought when they are meeting with earthly dignitaries. God help us to remember that worship is a holy undertaking. Let’s give God our very best attention.  I want people to come as they are, but I want them also to realize Who it is they are coming to worship, and I also want to see them leave a little more conformed to His image. I think this “seeker sensitive” thing has gotten way out of hand. Should we not be a little more “Saviour sensitive”?


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Sound Advice

delegate

Today’s Passage – Exodus 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Proverbs 25; Psalms 121 – 125

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Remember Sunday

Read the “0125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? … Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. … If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.” – (Exodus 18:13-14, 18, 23-24)

In our passage today, we see that Moses gets a visit from his father-in-law, who is not an Israelite, but apparently had placed his faith in the Lord. (see 18:11 – 12) While visiting, Jethro got a chance to observe the day to day ministry of his son-in-law, and determined that Moses was doing way more than any man could handle by himself. Moses was judging and advising the large congregation of Israel all by himself from early in the morning until late at night. Moses, like many leaders, apparently felt that he was the only one who could do the job right, so he did it alone. However, Jethro knew that if Moses kept up that pace, without getting any help, he would wear down physically, and eventually would become less effective at what God had called him to do.

Jethro advised Moses to allow other godly men within the congregation to share in the burden that Moses was carrying. Moses would still be in charge, and he would handle all of the really important matters, but others would be assisting him in dealing with the day to day decisions within the congregation. This advice given by Jethro helped in several ways:

1  Moses got the help that he needed, which freed him up to dedicate more time and do a better job in the important matters.

2  Moses was probably less stressed and better rested than before.

3  The congregation was served better. Even though Moses may have been able to do a better job than most of his helpers, he certainly could not get as much accomplished as all of them together. More was getting done.

4  Leaders were being developed within the congregation. People need to be given opportunities to serve if they are going to be able to grow.

If our ministries are going to get all of the help that they need today to fulfil the will of God, more people than just the pastor are going to have to be involved. The pastor must work at developing leaders, and delegating responsibility.

A secondary thought from this passage is that Moses was willing to listen to advice, even from a guy that was not an Israelite and had not even been a believer very long. Pride will sometimes keep us from listening to sound wisdom. God will often use people to teach us things. We should be ready to listen. We may not always heed the advice of others, and we certainly need to check with God to see if the advice given is in fact His will, but we can still listen.


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Quit Griping!

quit-your-belly-aching

Today’s Passage – Exodus 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120)

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

Read the “0124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” – (Exodus 15:1)

“And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” – (Exodus 15:24)

Exodus 15 is an amazing chapter of Scripture, which demonstrates the fickle nature of God’s children. The first 21 verses, which comprises more that three-fourths of the chapter is the record of God’s people singing, dancing, and praising Him for the great miracle that He had done in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. Specifically, they are praising God and thanking Him for parting the Red Sea so that they could pass through on dry ground. You will remember, the Egyptians tried to follow them and that same sea closed up upon them and drowned them. The people of God were thrilled that God took away the water so that they could travel to other side. Now, at the end of the chapter, they are complaining that there is no water. First they want the water to go away, and then they want it back again. You just can’t make these Israelites happy, can you? I am kidding, of course; but I do want to point out the tendency that Israel had (and we have today) to forget about all of God’s past blessings by griping about some apparent injustice that seemed to be taking place in the present. Here, they begin to think that God delivered them from Egypt only to kill them with dehydration in the wilderness. Absurd! That big God that they were worshipping in the beginning of the chapter all of sudden got smaller when the people got a little thirsty.

I find that we are no different today. We sometimes see God do wonderful things in our lives, and from that mountaintop we offer up to Him praise and worship. But then when God allows a little testing to come our way, our attitude changes completely. Our view of God seems to be based solely upon what He does for us. When we are getting popcorn, bubble gum, and ice cream, God is good; but when God says that we should eat a little broccoli because it’s what we need at the time, God becomes some mean ogre. We act like little children in the nursery, don’t we? Let’s grow up! Let’s mature in our faith to the point where we trust God completely. God is good when the circumstances in life are great; but God is also good when things are not going as we would like them to. God is always good. He loves us. He says He will never leave us; never forsake us. He has our very best interests at heart. Trust Him even when you don’t understand; and whatever you do, don’t gripe. Griping is perhaps the most predominant cause of death in the Old Testament. I am not saying that you should not bring your concerns and burdens to Him. There is a big difference between a prayer request and a complaint. Let’s get to the point in our Christian walk where we can praise Him even in the dark days. Remember, there are others out there that have it worse than you. God is not just good, He is awesome. Learn to wait on Him. He will deliver you if you will simply trust Him, obey, and be patient.

Look, we are all really good at spotting problems, but instead of murmuring, why don’t we try becoming part of a solution. We can pray, and we can work to make the situation better. Anybody can complain, and they often do; but it takes a person of true character to actually make a difference.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” – (Philippians 2:14)


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How Big Is Your Jesus? – The Saturday Morning Post

christ-the-redeemer-31-620x465

Today’s Passage – Exodus 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

Read the “0123 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.” (Exodus 12:3-4)

Good morning! How big is Jesus, the Lamb of God, to you? Is He only big enough for you? Or, is He big enough to share? He is the Passover Lamb. He is the Lamb that shed His blood to pay for our sins. And He is the One who gave us the Great Commission.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

How big is your Jesus? He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He would have to be very big to do that. So you need to share Him with your neighbor. Then our neighbor will share Jesus with his neighbor, and his neighbor with his neighbor. Before you know it the whole neighborhood is saved. And then the whole city or town is saved. Then the county. Then the state. Then the nation! Can you imagine what living in the United States would be like if it turned back to God?!

It could happen. But we need to start someplace. Have you told your neighbor yet?

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Peace! (“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21))

 


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Did Pharaoh Have a Choice?

Pharaoh

Today’s Passage – Exodus 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16; Proverbs 22; Psalms 106 – 110)

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

Read the “0122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:3)

“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:14-18)

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I have listed a lot of verses above that are important for our discussion this morning regarding whether or nor Pharaoh had a choice or not when he refused to let the children of Israel go out of the land of Egypt. There are many more verses that could be used by either side of the argument, but I will use these just to start the discussion. It is my firm belief that Pharaoh acted according to his own free will when his heart was hardened, whether or not the Scripture states that it was hardened by God, or that he himself hardened his heart. Theologians on the other side of this argument would almost have us to believe that Pharaoh’s personal desire was to convert to Judaism, but God forced him against his will to oppose Moses and the Nation of Israel. Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying that God did not work in Pharaoh’s heart in order to achieve His goal of glorifying Himself in the sight of both His people and in the eyes of the Egyptians. However, God had a very willing participant. Pharaoh had already rejected God:

“And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)

I firmly believe that God wants all men to be saved, and he desires all men to serve and glorify Him, but He also has given man the free will to make his own choice about that. God did not create a bunch of robots that do exactly what He wants at all times. It wasn’t God that caused Satan to rebel against Him, and it wasn’t God’s manipulation that forced Adam and Eve’s choice either. Does God know who will be saved? Absolutely. But, He doesn’t make that choice for them. Pharaoh had already made his mind up about God and His people, Israel; and God knew that there was nothing that would change Pharaoh’s will about that, so God used Pharaoh to help Him achieve His (God’s) goal. God is big enough and sovereign enough to use both the saved and the lost in order to achieve His purposes.

God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He has chosen to have mercy on “whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord.” In my view, this makes God infinitely bigger and more powerful. He runs His creation, and will achieve all of His purposes, even though the people He created are acting according to their own will. He is absolutely awesome!


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Excuses

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Today’s Passage – Exodus 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Expect Opposition

Read the “0121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.” (Exodus 4:1)

“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but Iam slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

“And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” (Exodus 4:13)

It has always amazed me how our human nature kicks in when we are asked to do something, even when we are asked by God. There is something inside of us that immediately begins to reason that it cannot be done, or should not be done. We begin to figure out ways to get out of doing it. We don’t come right out and say that we don’t want to do it, at least not initially. We just say that it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done, or that it will be way too difficult. Most projects get shut done by negativity before they even get off the ground.

Moses did the same thing here in Exodus 4. The first excuse that he gives is that the people will not listen. Basically he is telling God that it can’t be done. This is really nothing more than unbelief when it comes to things that God calls us to do. If it is truly of God, He will bring it to pass. All we need to do is obey Him. The results are up to Him. God does not need advisers, He needs obeyers.

The second excuse that Moses offers is really the root of the problem. I know that it is the same thing that often keeps me from fulfilling God’s will. Moses says that he is not the man for the job, that he is not able to do it. Now he is no longer doubting God’s ability or anybody else, he is merely doubting his ability to do what God asks him to do. This is not necesarily bad. We need to realize that we can’t do the work of God in our own power or ability. It can only be done through the power of God. What Moses needed to do (and what we need to do) is believe that if God asks us to do something, He will also equip us to do it. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) We truly can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

Finally, Moses is exasperated. He just doesn’t want to do it. He tells the Lord to send somebody else. God finally convinces him to do it, but he certainly was not a willing servant initially. If we refuse to be obedient to the calling of God He may just choose somebody else, but we will miss out on the blessing of being used of God. Know this, though, that if God asks you, you are the man (or woman) for the job. Don’t refuse Him. Stretch your faith. Allow Him to show you what you can do in His strength when you are yielded to His will.


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Growing Through Affliction

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Today’s Passage – Exodus 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 11 – 12; Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “0120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

In our passage of Scripture this morning we read about the nation of Israel after they had been in Egypt for 400 years. When we last left the family of Jacob at the close of the Book of Genesis, the people of God were prospering, but after many generations have passed in this foreign land, they are now being persecuted. It seems that the Egyptians had recognized the hand and blessing of God upon His people, and became afraid that the Hebrews would take them over. So, they enslaved them, and made their lives bitter. However, the more the people of God were persecuted, the more they were grew. On a natural level, this doesn’t make any sense, but then again, the principles of God often go against human reasoning. These Egyptians simply couldn’t keep God’s people down, no matter how hard they tried.

There are two observations that I would like to make from this passage:

1  Throughout the history of the Christian churches, there have been periods of intense persecution. Persecution is a tool of the devil to defeat the people of God. However, again we have observed through history that some of the greatest times of growth in Christian history have come about as a result of persecution. Notice what happened to the church at Jerusalem after the death of Stephen:

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” – (Acts 8:1, 4)

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12)

The devil attacked the church at Jerusalem, and it resulted in the spreading of the gospel throughout the rest of the world. Persecution actually caused the church to grow. Paul was persecuted throughout his ministry, but he states that the things that happened to him caused the gospel to go further. In America today, we are experiencing the greatest prosperity and freedom that we have possibly ever had in Christian history. However, are the churches growing? Are we seeing more people converted to Christ? Most Christians today are not even aware of what our true mission is in this life. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not asking for persecution, and I certainly don’t look forward to it, but I am convinced that a revival of true church growth will only take place if God allows things to heat up a bit.

2  The second observation that I would like to make has to do with the personal walk of the individual believer. We also tend to grow more during times of trial and testing than we do during those mountaintop times. Consider these passages:

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” – (1 Peter 1:6-7)

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” – (1 Peter 4:12-13)

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – (James 1:2-4)

I know that when I look back in my own life I can clearly see that more growth came during those difficult days rather than the days that I was “at ease in Zion”. Again, I do not enjoy the hard times, but I have learned to embrace them, and also embrace the God who loves me enough to mature me and, with the trials he brings me through, conform me into the very image of Christ.


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Graduation Day

Graduation Day

Today’s Passage – Genesis 48 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0119 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” (Genesis 49:1)

I remember when I was a young person attending school. At the end of every school year there was an awards ceremony and they would give out various awards for attendance, academics, athletics, and even some for attitude. I didn’t receive many awards as a child, I was what you might call “exceedingly average” in just about every area. Looking back on my school days, I can only recall receiving three awards: two in intermediate school, and one in college (the first time I went to college – not Bible school). However, I remember that every time I attended one of those awards ceremonies, or a commencement exercise, I would always feel two things. First, I would feel regret for not having applied myself more that year. I would realize that I could and should have done more; I should have worked harder; I shouldn’t have goofed off so much, wasting valuable time. The second thing that I would feel is motivated. I would determine that next year was going to be different for me; next year I was going to do better; next year I would be up there on the stage getting some kind of award. The only problem was that my weaknesses in character always outlasted my bursts of motivation.

You may be wondering right now what all of this has to do with the passage that we read in Genesis this morning. Well, here is the connection. Every time I read chapter 49 in Genesis, I am reminded of these award ceremonies. Except, here it is the one who is graduating to Heaven that is handing out the awards. Jacob is about to die, and he calls all of his children together to pronounce a blessing upon some. Unfortunately, he also will be pronouncing a curse upon others. Can you imagine the last words that you hear out of your father’s mouth before he dies being words of regret, rather than words of praise. I know well what it feels like trying to live a life that is pleasing to a father. I spent a good deal of my young adulthood trying to receive “attaboys” from my dad by achieving sales and success in the business world, which was his life. I think every child desires to please their father; at least most do. I cannot imagine the hurt I would feel if my father were to offer words of regret about my life at his passing. These sons of Jacob had all ran out of time. The time to live a life that would be worthy of being blessed by their father had passed.

You know what’s worse, however, than not receiving words of blessing and praise from your earthly father? Not receiving them from your Heavenly Father. Someday all who are His children will stand before Him and give account for their lives. Some will hear words of praise and will receive rewards; others will not. I want to please my Heavenly Father in my life today so that He will someday say to me, “Well done”. I guess I never got past that desire to hear “attaboy”; only now it is my Heavenly Father that I want to live for. Don’t misunderstand, I love my dad dearly, and I want my life to be a source of blessing to him as well, but my passion in life today is to live for God. I want the same thing for my children. Yes I want to be pleased with them, but ultimately the only thing that matters is if God is pleased with them.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4)


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Just Let It Go

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 45 – 47 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Big Picture

“And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.” – (Genesis 46:29-30)

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

I could be wrong about this, but I do not believe that Joseph ever told his father what his brothers had actually done to him. He does discuss it with the brothers, but only to assure them that he had forgiven them, because he knew that God had allowed all of it to happen for a greater purpose. Joseph was certainly in a good position to get even with his brothers, but what good would that have done. He also could have brought their evil report to their father as he had done earlier in his life, but that would only have hurt his father, and further damage relationships within the family.

Joseph was a great picture of Christ. He not only forgave their sin, but he also worked hard to restore the relationship. We need to learn to be more like Joseph. Too many of us are harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts toward those who have wronged us. We refuse to just let things go. We want to keep punishing the people who have hurt us in the past, and we want to make sure that everbody else knows what they have done. But in the long run, we are only hurting ourselves, and that bitterness that is oozing from our hearts is literally destroying us from within.

Let it go. Learn to forgive, forget, and move forward in your relationships with people. Yes, we have been wronged, but we also have wronged others as well. It profits none of us to continue living in the past.


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People Can Change

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Passed the Test”

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26 & 27)

“Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad benot with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.” (Genesis 44:33 & 34)

There is quite a contrast between the events that take place in chapter 37 and those that happen in chapter 44 of the Book of Genesis. In chapter 37 the brothers of Joseph want to put Joseph to death (all except Reuben). Judah, who is the fourth oldest son comes up with idea of selling his brother into slavery. His idea does save Joseph’s life, but consider with me what this heinous act did to Joseph’s father, Jacob. We are all familiar with the events that transpired in the life of Joseph; they are recorded in these chapters 37 through 44. God had his hand on Joseph, and although he certainly suffered, God raised him up to a position of great influence and authority. But what about Jacob? For years Jacob thought his favorite son, Joseph, was dead. Joseph’s brothers seemed to have no problem going home and telling their father that their brother was killed by some wild beast. How could their level of compassion and care for their father be so low that they would be willing to put him through the tragic loss of Joseph.

There is certainly a change, however, in chapter 44. Joseph puts his brothers through a series of tests. (You will have to read the story for yourself in order to fully grasp the thought I am trying to convey here.) The final test is when Joseph arranges to “set up” Benjamin his youngest brother. I think Joseph was really trying to keep Benjamin safe with him, away from his other brothers. He tells the brothers that Benjamin is going to have to be kept as a bondman in Egypt. But notice how Judah intercedes this time for his brother. He remembers what the loss of Joseph did to his father, and now he is doing everything in his power to keep the same thing from happening to Benjamin. He knows that the loss of Benjamin will completely destroy his father. He even goes as far as to offer to take the place of Benjamin. This is certainly a change from his earlier days.

Judah changed. God changed him. God can change you and I too. People can change. I believe the best way to bring about the needed changes in your life is for you to get as close to God as you can. I am convinced that as we draw nigh to God, He will purge the dross from our lives, and conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. Do you desire to remain the same or do you desire to be more like Jesus in your life? Judah certainly bore a resemblance to the Lord Jesus here in chapter 44 in the way that he interceded for his brother, and by the way he was willing to be a substitute. God can do the same for you and me as we yield our lives and our will to Him.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)


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Behold, It Was A Dream – The Saturday Morning Post

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, well-favored and fat-fleshed; and they fed in the reed-grass. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill-favored and lean-fleshed, and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine did eat up the seven well-favored and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed a second time: and, behold, seven ears of grain came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven ears, thin and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.” (Genesis 41:1-7)

Good morning. A woman at work asked me if I believed in dreams. She had heard about God talking to people in dreams. One of the things she heard is that the dream would be the opposite of what God was trying to say. I don’t know where that one came from, unless whoever thought about it was confusing dreams with visions. (Look at 1Kings 22 to see the vision of Micaiah who was to entice king Ahab to go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, and be killed.) Micaiah agreed with Ahab’s other prophets telling him to go. Ahab knew that Micaiah was lying and Micaiah told him the vision of the lying spirit placed in the mouths of his prophets. And Ahab went up, and was killed. With Joseph, God had a plan for this dreamer.

1) God-given dreams will have purpose and line up with His Word.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9)

In order to preserve life during the seven years of famine, God’s plan was to get Joseph down to Egypt. He gave Joseph dreams that would aggravate his brothers to the point of wanting to kill him…

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.” (Genesis 37:5)

“And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, An evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:19-20)

“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh. And his brethren hearkened unto him.” (Genesis 23-27)

God brought Joseph to Egypt, where he was sold as a slave. Through various circumstances, Joseph would end up in prison. But God sent the chief butler, and the chief baker there also. And they both dreamed dreams. God used their two dreams to get Joseph out of prison…

“Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, me and the chief baker: and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.” (Genesis 41:9-14)

2. God-given dreams can be used to get you where God wants you.

Pharaoh would have never known about Joseph if God did not give him a dream which he or his magicians were not able to interpret. Joseph was set before Pharaoh as Pharaoh told Joseph the dream.

3. God-given dreams can warn you and instruct you.

“And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: what God is about to do he hath declared unto Pharaoh. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. And the seven lean and ill-favored kine that came up after them are seven years, and also the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind; they shall be seven years of famine. That is the thing which I spake unto Pharaoh: what God is about to do he hath showed unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: and there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine which followeth; for it shall be very grievous. And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh, it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that come, and lay up grain under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. And the food shall be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.” (Genesis 41:25-37)

In Matthew chapter 1, Joseph, Mary’s soon-to-be husband is instructed not to fear and take Mary as his wife…

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18-20)

In Matthew chapter 2, God uses dreams to warn and instruct the wise men and also Joseph (Matthew 2:12-13,19 &22).

Today we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and the complete preserved Word of God for English speaking people in the King James Bible. Does God need to use dreams today? Maybe as a catalyst to start something He needs to accomplish in your life or the lives of the others around you. But God-given dreams will have a purpose and line up with His Word; can be used to get you where God wants you; and can warn and instruct you; but so can the Holy Spirit and your Bible.

I need to go fulfill prophecy now…

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” (Acts 2:17)

Peace! (“Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:32)).


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Saving for the Future

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time

“Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.” – (Genesis 41:34-36)

Our passage of Scripture today explains that Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had a dream, which he did not understand the significance of. I am not sure that all dreams have significance, but this dream must have been especially troubling to Pharaoh as he called in all of the people he could to help him figure it out. He dreamed about seven cattle that were very healthy and fat, and they were feeding in a meadow. Then there came along seven cattle that were lean and unhealthy, and they ate the healthy cattle. Then Pharaoh dreamed about ears of corn. Once again, the first seven ears were healthy and full, but there came along seven other ears of corn that devoured the first seven. No one in the kingdom could help Pharaoh understand the meaning of the dreams, until they brought Joseph up out of the prison. You see, Joseph had already demonstrated in the past to some of Pharaoh’s servants that he could help in these matters.

Joseph revealed to Pharaoh that both the cattle, and the corn in his dreams represented years. That healthy and full cattle and corn represented seven good years; years when there would be plenty of rain, and the land would produce food in abundance. Unfortunately, the seven good years would be followed by seven years of drought, and famine; years where the land would produce very little, and the people of Egypt and the surrounding areas would eventually go hungry.

Because Joseph had the inside scoop on what was about to happen, Pharaoh had appointed him prime minister over the land, and granted him authority over everyone else, save Pharaoh himself. Joseph began purchasing food from the Egyptians in the good years, when it was abundant and cheap. He stored the food that he bought in the cities, and soon, he had a great mass of food laid up in store, ready for the lean years that were to come. I imagine that there were probably many people that thought Joseph was foolish for purchasing all of that food. I mean, after all, there was plenty of food everywhere, and the land just kept producing more. It may have seemed to most that there would never come a day when the good times would end. But they did. And Joseph was ready.

In this passage, Joseph not only demonstrated that he had a special gift from God in discerning the dreams of men, but he also showed that he had godly wisdom. Wisdom teaches that we should not consume all that God gives us today, because we may need some of it tomorrow. It is wise to prepare for the days of leanness and famine that may be ahead in our future. Just recently in America we saw countless people who had their expensive houses and cars foreclosed on because they had lost their jobs. In the previous years they were making great money. Who would have thought that the economy was going to plunge into recession? Many people went into large amounts of debt, simply because they believed that the good years would never end, but they did; and now they are suffering the consequence of their over-consumption and lack of preparation for the lean years.

We need to learn a very practical lesson from this passage. Things may be good today, but they may not be so good tomorrow. It is very wise to save a little today, so that we are bettered prepared for tomorrow. You do not have to be a miser, but a little saving will go a long way. Also, it is very wise to avoid debt, especially consumer debt. Cut up those credit cards if you have trouble controlling your spending. Learn to live with a little less today, so that you can survive tomorrow.

Joseph was a wise steward, and as a result he prospered while everyone else was suffering. We can do the same thing.

Oh, I almost forgot. The best way to save for the future is to invest in God’s Kingdom. He pays better interest that anything else out there.


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What About Judah?

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Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

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

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

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5)

We don’t talk a lot about Judah as a man. We know that Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah, and we know that when Israel split in the time of King Rehoboam that the tribe of Judah alone stood in Jerusalem and demonstrated better adherence to the Law of God than her neighbors to the north did; but what do we know about the man, Judah. I have been guilty of assuming that the reason that God chose the tribe of Judah above all of the other tribes was due to the fact that Judah was a more honorable man than his three older brothers. In fact, I recently posted that thought in the “Boys Will Be Boys” post from two days ago. However, after reading today’s passage, I had to give it a little more thought.

In chapter 37, we discover that it was Judah that suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and there is nothing in the context to support the fact that he did so for the purpose of sparing his life:

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26-27)

It appears that he merely wanted to make a profit from the situation. Killing Joseph would not have benefitted him financially. By the way, we usually don’t think too highly about Reuben, but it was he who tried to save Joseph, not Judah.

Chapter 38 is a parenthetical digression dealing solely with the family of Judah. In it we see that Judah marries a woman from Canaan:

“And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.” (Genesis 38:2)

You may recall that Isaac strictly forbid Jacob (Judah’s father) from taking a wife from the daughters of Canaan. (Genesis 28:1, 6)

Later on in chapter 38, we read about Judah purchasing a prostitute, which turns out to be his daughter-in-law:

“When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?” (Genesis 38:15-16)

Now in a couple of days we are going to read a story about Judah where he is doing a good thing. In Genesis 44 he will be interceding with Joseph, pleading with him to allow Benjamin to go home to his father, Jacob. He even offers himself as a substitute. Judah got this one right:

“Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. … For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.” (Genesis 44:18, 32-33)

So, here it is: the bad and the good about Judah, and it seems that there is more bad than good recorded. So why did God choose Judah? Was it because he was a good man as opposed to his evil older brothers? No, I don’t think so. He did, however, demonstrate Christlikeness when he offered himself as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. But I still do not think that is the reason why Christ descends from Judah. Judah was just like you and me. He was a sinner. He did bad things, just like us; and it was only because of God’s grace that He could do anything with Judah at all. By the way, it is only because of God’s grace that He can do anything with you or I. He saves us by His grace, and He can only use us by His grace as well.

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” (Genesis 49:8-12)


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The Green Eyed Monster

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (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; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

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

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.


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Boys Will Be Boys

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35 (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; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)

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

Read the “0113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Lead On Softly

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.” (Genesis 34:25)

“And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard [it]. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:” (Genesis 35:22)

I grew up in a home with four boys. We were blessed to not have any sisters. Girls have cooties: at least that is what I was told as a boy. In fact, even in my extended family, on my dad’s side, there were only boys. I had six male cousins, but no girls. I remember my grandmother would often get frustrated with our bad behavior. We were always fooling and fighting. We were being boys. She would often go get my dad and tell him: “Those Boys!” I must have heard that phrase come out of her lips a thousand times, and it usually meant that we were in trouble.

Jacob also had a bunch of boys that would often find themselves in trouble. In fact the verses above tell of the shinanigans that three of the sons were involved in. The first involved sons numbers two and three: Simeon and Levi. (I was often referred to by number as a child as well.) It seems that these boys wanted to exact revenge upon a local huligan that had raped their sister. Now, there is nothing wrong with these boys wanting to see justice done to this guy; but they took it way too far. Without the permission of their father, they go into this man’s village and kill every male. Jacob later recalls the event and says that the boys were instruments of cruelty, and that their anger was fierce. I don’t blame them for the way they felt, and I do not fault them for desiring revenge. I have three daughters of my own now, and I don’t even want to think about what I would do if this happened to one of them. But, there will be many times in life where our passion, and our thinking need to be yielded to the will of God.

The next incident involves son number one; the oldest, Reuben. This man also had a big problem with passion, but with him it was a sick lust for the opposite sex. This man actually had sex with his father’s concubine (kind of a second class wife). His fleshly desires were out of control. He was certainly not considering the will of God when he did this. Consider for a moment the depravity of the human heart. Your heart and my heart. We need to yield our members as instruments of righteousness; and we need to walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfil the lusts that are inside each of us.

Unfortunately for these boys there were some pretty severe consequences for their actions. You will recall that the boys involved in these two incidents were boys one through three, right? Reuben, who was the firstborn, should have been the one with the birthright, but he lost it. Simeon and Levi were disqualified also. Guess who got it? Your right. Boy number four, Judah. I seem to recall that Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Reuben, right? No. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus descended from Son Number Four. The only thing good that came from Reuben is a tasty sandwich with Pastrami and Swiss Cheese. The bottom line is that I want to exhort you to think before you allow your passions to take control. The act of passion takes only a moment, but the consequences are long term. Please, walk with God. Run every decision, every word, every act past His desk. Let Him control your passions.


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No More Jacob

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Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32 (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; Proverbs 12; Psalms 56 – 60)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jacob left the land of Canaan with a name that means “supplanter” or “deceiver”; but he returns after twenty years with name Israel, which means “a prince of God”. This is a wonderful picture of the power of God to transform lives. Jacob didn’t just get a name change, either, he received a nature change, and so do we when we give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. God gives us a new nature. The Holy Spirit of God moves in and transforms our lives from the inside out. This isn’t just a “turning over of a new leaf”. This is the impartation of a divine nature into the heart of a formerly fallen sinner. What a wonderful thing it is to be a Christian.

Notice, however, that Jacob did not receive his new name until he had been with Laban for twenty years. Justification and positional righteousness take place immediately when we are born again into the family of God; but sanctification and practical righteousness in our lives is a lifelong process. God had to do some things in Jacob’s life. I have been saved now for over twenty-five years myself, and God is still chipping away at my rough edges; still revealing areas of my life that need His touch. In fact, the closer I walk with him, the more I see the things in my life that are not as they should be. My goal is just to get close to Him, and allow Him to have His will and His way in my life. I am not what I should be but, praise God, I am not what I used to be, either. I am not yet an Israel, but no longer am I Jacob. God is still at work in my life. I am trying to get out of His way and let Him work.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

 


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Surprise!

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 (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; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Moving Forward

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25)

It this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her uncle to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the suprize that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender- eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.

The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times; but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why; we can be assured that He loves us, and that He has our best interests in mind.


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