A Walk Through Hell – The Saturday Morning Post

door_to_hell_9_melville_kenneyToday’s Passage – Luke 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes…” (Luke 16:19-23)

Good morning! Here we have the true story of a rich man who is in Hell as you read this. He has been there for around 2000 years. In the book of Ezekiel God warns us twice…

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

And…

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Twice in the same chapter: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. This goes right along with what Psalm 9:17 says…

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

George Washington said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God… to be greatful for His benefits…”

(If you want to know what’s wrong with America, read Leviticus chapter 18.)

The Soul that sinneth, it shal die…

“Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.” (Isaiah 5:14)

But here in Luke chapter 16 we have the story of a certain rich man, and a beggar. The beggar was named Lazarus, and his body was full of sores. Someone would always lay Lazarus at the rich man’s gate. He could see the rich man through the window, and would have loved to eat the crumbs that fell from the table. And the rich man could probably see Lazarus also. The rich man may have said, “What!? Who’s that lying by my gate? It’s that beggar again. He’s gonna drive my property value way down. Look at him – disgusting! Sores all over his body. Torn, ragged clothing; looks like a reject from The Goodwill Store. I’ll bet he hasn’t showered, or taken a bath, in several years. I can smell him all the way over here! I’ll fix him. Release the dogs!”

And the dogs ran to Lazarus. But God had compassion on Lazarus: instead of biting him and tearing him apart, the dogs licked his sores, giving him some relief from his pain. But then…

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:22-24)

We can see from these few verses, as we take a walk through Hell, is that it is a place of torment: extreme suffering. Hell has flames, and Hell is hot. Sulfur, or Brimstone, burns with black smoke: Hell is pitch black. At one time, though, there was light in Hell. That light came from across the great gulf, far away, in a place called Abraham’s Bosom. All those who believed God, and put their trust in the coming Messiah, were all there. The light that God gave them shown bright enough to give light to those in Hell. The rich man could see Abraham, holding Lazarus, and comforting him. This also would torment him, remembering all those things he said about Lazarus. But shortly after Jesus told the people about this rich man and Lazarus, they nailed Him to a cross, and crucified Jesus. As the rich man looked over to Abraham’s Bosom, he may have seen a brighter light come down, and a voice ringing out…

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18)

And suddenly, before he had a chance to fall on his knees before God, there was darkness: the light was gone. All those in Abraham’s Bosom were with Jesus in Paradise. He was left in the dark flames of Hell. When sulfur is on fire, it melts like wax: it starts dripping. As the rich man felt his way around, every place he touched, the burning sulfur would stick to his skin. At this point, it was aaround 250 degrees. Reaching out his hand, he touches something. It feels like a crown. Instantly, he feels sharp teeth dig into his arm holding him fast. He cries out in pain, as he feels the stinger pierce his flesh. It felt like a wasp, and he could feel the pain travel up his free arm. He had just encountered one of the creatures who will be released to attack those who do not have God’s mark on them during the Great Tribulation period. (see Revelation chapter 9)

Time is running out for the rich man. He has been tormented for over 2000 years. Suddenly he is out of the Hell he was in. This is what he saw…

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

And the Lord commanded the books to be opened. “Does the rich man’s name appear?”

“No Lord.”

And then the rich man hears those final words: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Sulfur boils at 832 degrees. He stares at the Lake of Fire realizing that this will be his new home forever. Then an angel picks him up by the arm and flings him into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. Tossed out like garbage. It didn’t have to be that way. He had Moses and the prophets telling him about the coming Messiah. He had what little time he spent in the temple and the synagogue. He may even had had a friend speak to him. Once he died, it was too late. The Bible says, in the book of Jude…

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:17-23)

God knows who will receive, and who will reject Jesus as their Saviour. We don’t. That’s why He commands us to go into ALL the world, and preach the gospel to EVERY creature. It’s not up to us to save them, they have to make that choice. Our job is to give them the gospel so they can choose. Remember, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Help pull them out of the fire. Tell them about Jesus, and how to avoid Hell. It’s up to them to avoid the fire, the torment, the burning, and the stinging that hides in the blackness of Hell; but we need to tell them.

Peace. (Mark 16:15)


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Put Away Your Ax

Today’s Passage – Luke 12 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “1031 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” – (Luke 13:6-9)

I must confess that I am often a little bewildered as I try to understand these passages of Scripture. There are often several different levels of interpretation for consideration. For instance, this story of the fig tree can be studied on both a practical and a symbolic level. Symbolically, the fig tree represents Israel. You will find that to be true in other passages such as in Matthew 21 where Jesus curses the fig tree, again because there was no fruit on it. Israel was expected to be fruitful. There was no reason for them not to be fruitful. They were given all that they needed, yet they chose to reject their Messiah. However, we know that someday Israel will “look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:34), ”and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” – (Zechariah 12:10 KJV). God is very patient with Israel, and someday Israel will turn back to Him. Really if you think about it, the process of digging about it and dunging the fig tree could very well be the Tribulation Period where God will be bringing Israel back to Himself.

On a practical level, however, I believe that we can safely say that not all Christians will produce the fruit that we might expect them to right away. We must be careful to be patient with new believers. God may have to dig about them and dung them as well. Don’t be so quick to write off people. I thank the Lord that He is patient with me; and I also thank Him for putting me through the training and trials that have been needed in order for Him to produce the fruit that He desires through me. And He is not finished with me yet. I am a long way away from where I need to be. So, as we appreciate and expect the Lord to be patient with us, let us also be patient with others. Put away your ax. God may not be finished with the tree just yet.


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Who Is My Neighbour?

Today’s Passage – Luke 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 141 – 145Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “1030 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29)

In our reading passage today there are so many wonderful truths that we could meditate on, but I have decided to consider the “Good Samaritan” passage found in Luke 10:25 – 37. The actual story of the good Samaritan was actually an illustration used by the Lord Jesus in His discussion with a lawyer who had tempted Him with the question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” As Jesus often did, He replied with a question of His own: He asks the man what His understanding of the Law taught regarding the subject. Now remember, this guy was “tempting” Jesus, he was not sincerely inquiring about going to Heaven, and he was also a lawyer, an expert in the Law. Notice the man’s reply, which was pulled from two Old Testament passages (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18):

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. (Luke 10:27)

I guess this lawyer thought that he was impressing Jesus with his knowledge of the Law. Jesus replied that the man had answered well. He told the man that if He could perfectly love God and perfectly love his neighbor, both of which are impossible,  then He could go to Heaven. The men then asks a question to clarify the definition of a neighbor. “Who is my neighbor?” That’s a good question. No doubt the lawyer would consider his neighbors to be only those from within the nation of Israel.

Jesus then tells the story about the good Samaritan who comes across a man from Israel who had been beaten and robbed; and then passed by by two upstanding, “Law” abiding citizens (neighbors), who could have and should have helped him, but didn’t. I guess they weren’t feeling neighborly that day. But along comes the Samaritan who although he was not an upstanding member of the Jewish community acted like a neighbor should by helping the man. By the way, this good Samaritan is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who was willing to help some undesirable people like us.

Jesus’ story of the Samaritan explained to this lawyer that the word “neighbor” means everybody, not just the people you like. Remember what He said in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:43-47)

By the way, Jesus was not teaching this man that if he would do these things that he would be saved, but rather he was proving to the man that he had already missed the mark, and that he was a long way away from being able to “justify himself” as he tried to do in Luke 10:29. But Jesus also let us know from this passage that our field of ministry includes all people, everywhere; not just a select few.

Have you loved a neighbor today? Think about some tangible way that you can demonstrate the love of Christ to someone today. You may just get the opportunity to share the gospel with them as well.


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Return To Thine Own House

Today’s Passage –Luke 8 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 141 – 145Proverbs 29

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

Read the “1029 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.” – (Luke 8:38-39)

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” – (Mark 5:19)

In today’s passage we read the familiar story of the man from Gadara who was gloriously saved and transformed by the Lord. This man was in bad shape: he was possessed with a legion of devils that caused him to wreak havoc, not only on himself, but also to the people around him. He was often locked up because on his insane condition. Finally, he was “driven of the devil into the wilderness”. When Jesus saved this man, he was completely changed, and when the citizens of the area found found him, they saw him in his right mind, fully clothed, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. What a great God we serve who so wonderfully saves people who are often considered by men to be without hope.

You would think that Jesus would want this man to travel all over Israel reciting his testimony, but that was not the case. The man had actually begged (besought) the Lord to let him go with Him. However, the Lord had a different plan for the life of this man: He told him to go home to his house and friends. The will of God for this man was going to be for him to be a testimony for Jesus in his own hometown. Perhaps he would eventually be a part of a local church; maybe he would be a teacher, or even a local pastor to his community. He certainly would be a spiritual leader in his own home to his family, and neighbors. He would be used of God to win souls for Christ where he lived.

The will of God for most people, after they are saved, will be to go home to their house and friends. Certainly, God will call some to go away to some foreign place of service, but for most of us, His will will be for us to make a difference where we are. Whether we serve him at home, or in some place away from home, it really doesn’t matter. Regardless of location, we are to win souls, and serve the Saviour in whatever capacity he deems for our lives.


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JUST FOR LADIES – By Camille Stahl

woman_at_jesus_feet  pic

Today’s Passage – Luke 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1028 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Cast Out First The Beam” and “The Prison of Pleasing People

The Woman Who Anointed Jesus’ Feet

“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)

Think with me and imagine the scene. Simon, a Pharisee, was having a dinner party. He asked Jesus to join them. Now the Pharisee’s didn’t believe in Christ, yet He accepted the invitation and ate with them. In walks a woman with a questionable background.  Now I don’t know about you, but if I was home and a stranger walked in….., or was she. According to verse 39 Simon knew what this woman was. How did he know who she was and why didn’t anyone asked her to leave when she first came in? Just asking.

This woman, with a bad reputation, heard the preaching of Jesus with conviction. She realized who Jesus was and brought Him what she had. She did not approach Him eye to eye.  She felt so unworthy  that she humbled herself at His feet and kiss them. Her tears of joy washed the feet of Jesus.  Her hair became a towel to dry them. There was no pride found in her.  She anointed His feet with oil, owning Him as “The Anointed One”. Finally someone who excepted and truly loved her. The Pharisee’s also heard His preaching and yet there was no humility or conviction. They sat and watched as she touched Jesus thinking, how can He let her touch Him. If He only knew who she was. If she would have touched Simon he may have said  “ …Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou….”  (Isaiah 65:5)

God’s warnings are all around us.  Time is short.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Sinners of all kinds will be invited by the Holy Spirit to enter into our churches to receive the “Free Love Gift” of God.  Will we be willing to “rub elbows” with ALL types of repented sinners?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

I don’t understand how a God so divine, could lower Himself to a life such as mine.

And consider me worth every minute of time, to rescue a sinner like me.

When I think of my Saviour alone on the cross, I know without Him that my life would be lost.

If He had not been willing to suffer the cost, to rescue a sinner like me.

To rescue a sinner like me, LORD, to rescue a sinner like me.

He abandoned His throne and His kingdom above, to rescue a sinner like me.

My mind is so limited that I cannot see, the reason He died and arose just for me.

So unworthy was I, yet He came willingly, to rescue a sinner like me.

To rescue a sinner as worthless as I, Yet He gave me a reason to sing.

It’s so hard to believe, that it happened to me, Hallelujah to Jesus my King!

To rescue a sinner like me, LORD, to rescue a sinner like me.

He abandoned His throne and His kingdom above, to rescue a sinner like me.

“But God commendeth His love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Thank You

John 3:16

 


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A Hospital for Sinners

Today’s Passage – Luke 4 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “1027 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Let’s Go Fishing

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” (Luke 5:31)

Jesus was eating at the house of Matthew (Levi) the publican (tax collector), and there were also many other publicans there. These were not the type of people you wanted your children to run with. Though the term publican simply means tax collector, these people were not just your everyday, ordinary IRS agents. They were traditionally thought of as thugs, the mobsters of the day; extorting from people whatever they could. They were despised by the honorable citizens of Judaea; but Jesus loved them and wanted to reach them. He went to a place where no respectable Jew would have gone: a party where there were a bunch of publicans and other “sinners”. But please don’t misunderstand His motivation and purpose for being there. He was not there to participate in any sinful activity. He was there to love and reach people with the gospel.

Our churches should be full of people with problems. Every once in a while I will sense that some of our folks are not too thrilled with some of the people we are trying to reach. Their pharisaic disdain for “sinners” almost seeps out of their pores. It’s a shame really that Christians will develop that kind of attitude. I remember years ago when I was attending church in South Toms River. We had a lady there who referred to the people that we were bringing in on our busses as “scummers”. She really thought that because she had been saved at a young age and raised in a good home that she was better than these folks who we were trying to reach for Christ.

Our church will always have a good number of people in it who have not “arrived yet”. There will be people with financial problems, moral problems, family problems, all kinds of problems. Now this does not mean that we will stop preaching against their sin. We will always preach the Book; but we will love them through the preaching. I love the diversity in our church. We have a great mix of cultures, races, educational backgrounds, and income levels; but I am also glad about the fact that we have people at all different spiritual levels here. Some are not saved yet; others are brand new babes in Christ; and still many others have been saved for years. But they are all welcome and should be accepted and loved by all others in the congregation. Jesus loved people with problems. He loves me, and I want to do my best to see to it that our church continues to love the people He loves.


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Fruits Worthy of Repentance

Today’s Passage –Luke 2 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 26

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Family Business”

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to ourfather: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Luke 3:8)

John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness of Judea, and was attracting quite a crowd. There were no doubt many there that were there simply out of curiosity, just wanting to get a glimpse of this very strange man that was preaching a very different message than they were accustomed to hearing. There were also some there that were there to keep their eye on John. The religious leaders were very concerned about this man that was seen by them as a threat to their leadership. John wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of them, and when he saw them in the crowd, he preached against them.

John’s statement above from verse eight is a bold, yet appropriate announcement regarding the hearts of some that were coming to his baptism. “Bring therefore fruits worthy of repentance”. He was not telling them that in order to be saved they had to change their lives, but he was saying that if they were coming for baptism, they had better have had a true conversion which comes with repentance. In other words if they were truly sincere about their faith in God, it would naturally result in some type of outward change. The Bible teaches very plainly that we are new creatures; we now have Someone on the inside that is working His way to our outside.

The people wanted to know what they should do. The tax collectors wanted to know what they should do; and even some of the soldiers were looking for instructions as to how they should live now that they were saved. I remember when I trusted Christ as my Savior at the age of 25. I wanted to know all I could know about the Lord; and I wanted to do whatever I could in order to serve Him. There was definitely something radically different on the inside that was trying to break free to the surface. Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t perfect; nor am I now, but my desires had changed. I wanted God, and I wanted to do whatever He wanted me to do. There was fruit coming from the inside that resulted from a genuine repentance. I won’t quibble with you about your specific definition of repentance; but I know this: a genuine repentance results in a genuine salvation; and a genuine salvation will radically change the way you think and the way you live your life. At least, I know that is what happened to me.

When the great Apostle Paul was saved, he immediately asked the Lord, “what shalt thou have me to do?”. I don’t think that was too different from what these people, publicans, and soldiers asked at John’s baptism. Has your life changed since you trusted Christ as your Savior? What’s new about you? What’s different? Is there in your life the fruits of genuine repentance? I am not trying to get you doubt your salvation, and I am not trying to say that if you are struggling with sin you are not saved. We all struggle with sin. The presence of sin in our life becomes more apparent and real to us as we mature in our Christian life. But is there inside of you a desire for the things of God, and a remorse for the things that God is displeased with? Do you yearn to be closer to him? Is He chipping away daily at your flesh? I want to know Him, and be more like Him; and I want Him to be revealed in my life and ministry.


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Mary: Not For Ladies Only – The Saturday Morning Post

gabriel and maryToday’s Passage –Luke 1 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1:26-30)

Good morning. And no this isn’t my wife’s Tuesday morning blog: ‘For Ladies Only’. I just borrowed, and modified the title a bit. So this is not for ladies only, it’s for men too. The Bible is clear, that a woman should not usurp authority over a man. But we men can learn from women (you understand this principle, especially if you are married to one!). Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Elliot, and other ladies who have been through the mill have a story we can all learn a lesson from. This woman who we read about in chapter was chosen by God to bear the Lord Jesus Christ. If she found favour with God, I would want to know how, wouldn’t you? Here are three characteristics that we can gleen from Luke chapter 1 about Mary.

1) Mary Was A Woman Of Faith

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Is this one of your characteristics? Do you believe that God is? Do you believe that God really does answer prayers? Do you diligently seek Him? Mary did. Mary was a woman of faith.

2) Mary Kept Herself Pure

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (luke 1:30-35)

“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:24-25)

Mary kept herself pure: she was true to her espouced husband, Joseph.

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)

I want to borrow something else here. If you have ever been to a Reformers Unanimous meeting, you know that ‘Principle #3′ would fit in good with this…

“It is easier to keep the heart clean than to clean it after it has been defiled.” (Steven Curington RUI Founder)

Mary was a woman of faith.

Mary kept herself pure.

And…

3) Mary Gave Praise To God

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Mary praised God for all the He had done for her. She also praised God for everything He had done for Israel. Have you praised God lately…for anything? Have you defiled your heart? Remember what the Word of God says…

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Now there’s something we can all praise God for, and He’ll take care of the ‘clean-up’.

Peace! (Luke 1:37)


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Have You Ever Been There?

Today’s Passage – Mark 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 118Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “1024 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Ready, Set, Go“, and “The Just for the Unjust

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

The above verse references the time when Jesus was on the cross with the sins of the whole world placed upon his shoulders. In His humanity, He cries to the Father, and for the first time Jesus calls His Father, “God” instead of “Father”. Here at this moment it seemed that everything was against Him, including God.

Does it ever seem to you like God has forsaken you? I have been through some dark valleys in my time, and there have been many times where I have wondered, “Where is God?” At those times, it seemed like God was nowhere to be found. However, in hindsight, I can see that God was there all along; and though I could not see Him or feel Him, He was there. He is always there. If you are going through some kind of a trial today, don’t trust your feelings: they will often betray you. Trust the Word of God. The Bible tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Keep trusting; keep praying, even though it seems like you are just talking to yourself. Remember faith is the evidence of things not seen. Though His presence may seem to be elsewhere, He is right there with you. He hasn’t stopped loving you, and He hasn’t stopped working for your good and His glory.


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Daddy

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “1023 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

In our passage today, we read of the heartbreaking story of our Saviour in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. Can you imagine what Jesus must have felt as He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and forsaken by the rest. The nation that He came to save was about to humiliate Him, beat Him, spit upon Him, and kill Him. And, in verse 36 above, He is in the Garden of Gethsemane with the three disciples who were His closest friends, and they could not even stay awake to pray with Him. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the weight of sorrows that our Saviour bore for us that night.

However, in the Garden, He still had His daddy. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that most closely resembles the word “daddy” in our English language. It speaks of a warm, intimate relationship, as opposed to cold formality. It reminds us of the times as children when we could run and jump up into the arms of our earthly dads. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entered into the arms of His daddy; and though the Father did not remove the cup, I am sure that He comforted the Lord Jesus and loved on Him as He was about to do what He came to earth to do.

Notice the verses above from Romans and Galatians, which teach us that we, too, have the same privilege of jumping up into the lap of our Heavenly Father, and receiving the comfort, love, and help we need in our hour of need. It is wonderful to think that we serve a God, a Father, that wants to be called “Daddy”. God is not a cold taskmaster that demands only your service: He is a loving, Heavenly Daddy that wants an intimate relationship with His children.


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I Don’t Want to Render to Caesar

Today’s Passage –Mark 12 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110Proverbs 22

Scripture Memory for October – Matthew 5:1 – 16

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

“And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? … And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” – (Mark 12:14, 17)

You will probably not enjoy reading this post as much as I won’t enjoy writing it. In our reading today from Mark 12:13 – 17, we see the Pharisees attempting to corner Jesus by getting him to say something that will get him in trouble. They specifically asked him about paying taxes. They thought that they had Him in a secure trap. If Jesus said that the people should not pay taxes, then they could get Him in hot water with the Roman government (Caesar); but if he said that the people should pay taxes, then the Jewish people would be furious with Him, because they hated the Roman government, and were expecting their Messiah to overthrow it. Jesus’ answer was marvelous. He simply said that the people owed a debt to the government, and that they should pay that debt. He also was careful to add that they were also to pay what was expected of them to God,

Nobody likes paying taxes; I certainly don’t. However, taxes are a necessary evil. We all enjoy the protection that we receive from our police and military. We all make use of our infrastructure: we drive on our roads, cross our bridges, etc. All of these services make our lives better. On the other side of the coin, we can all see where our government is spending too much money on things that we wish they would discontinue. Our government is voted in by the people it represents, and the people need to be part of the process. I also believe that believers should be involved in our government process. We should vote, and speak our minds regarding the issues that are important to us. We should participate in community events. Our church has done some road clean-ups in our community in the past. It’s our town. We live in it, and we should do our part to make it a better place.

It is interesting to me, however, that Jesus didn’t concern himself much with trying to correct the abuses of government. He was far more concerned with teaching doctrine, and speaking out against the corruption in the religious community. The Apostle Paul, likewise did not seek to correct or rally to correct the wrong policies of the Roman empire. For instance, in Paul’s day slavery was tolerated. Paul did not protest the government or the slave owners, trying to abolish slavery. He simply instructed the Christian slave owners to treat their believing servants like brothers; and in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, he was persuasive in the granting of liberty to a runaway slave. He also instructed the servants regarding how to love and serve their masters. I am sure that Paul did not condone slavery, however. My point is that he was more concerned about instructing, exhorting, and admonishing Christians, then he was about straightening out the world, or it’s government.

Getting back to taxes. I believe that believers should cheerfully and honestly render to Caesar (the government) the things (taxes) that are owed to Caesar. Don’t cheat on your taxes. Don’t try to hide any income “under the table”. Remember, God will take care of all of your needs, including your tax debt. He owns it all anyway. In another similar story regarding taxes, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, and in the first fish’s mouth he would find the tax money. (see Matthew 17:24 – 27) If we keep fishing for men, Jesus will continue to provide us with all of the coins that we need to pay our debt to Caesar, and meet all of our other needs as well.


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JUST FOR LADIES – By Camille Stahl

largehammermrfixitfathersdayballoon

 

Today’s Passage – Mark 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1021 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Servant Leadership

Mr. Fix It – And His Name is God

“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  (Mark 11:24)

There are times in all of our lives when we are broken or have trouble in a particular area.  We feel hopeless and we’re seeking for answers. But why are we looking to other people for answers when we know God has all the answers.   Imagine how God feels when we seek advice elsewhere.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek good Godly advice, but we should seek expert advice from our Father first.  God is in the business of ‘fixing’.

In Genesis 2:18, God saw that Adam was lonely, so He ‘fixed’ his problem by providing a helpmate, a wife. So ladies, if you’re lonely, just ask God to do what He did for Adam.  Ask Him to reveal your helpmate.

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

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27)

Hoping and praying for a child?  So was Hannah and God heard her cries and ‘fixed’ her problem too.

“Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.”  (1Sammuel 1:20)

Think about it, He is God of all creation. Do you think there is anything in your life too hard for Him to ‘fix’? What is it that you have for God to ‘fix’?

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church…” (Ephesians 3:20-21a)

Do you believe your marriage is broken beyond repair?  Remember God can ‘fix’ it, though you can’t comprehend it.  Ask God, “What do I need to do?”  God will make you put forth some effort because He wants you to remember the process and appreciate what you’ve been through.

As a help, we should remember what He has already done for us

“The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”  (Psalms 126:3)

If he brought Lazarus back from the dead, trust that He can ‘fix’ your troubled son or daughter.  Trust that if He can ‘fix a blind man eye’s (Luke 9), He certainly can open the eyes of your lost family members.  Have little or no money to pay your bills?  Remember how Jesus provided the money to pay the taxes.

“Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”  (Matthew 17:27)

Encourage yourself by remembering.

“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  (Mark 11:24)

So, the next time you are faced with the impossible and need an expert to ‘fix’ it, before you Google the answer or spend any money on professional, attend a seminar, or get a DVD series, please remember your Father in heaven. He is the expert. God wants to do the impossible in your life.

Thank You

Revelation 20:10


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Hear Ye Him!

Today’s Passage – Mark 8 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “1020 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” – (Mark 9:5-7)

In our passage today we have the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus where a select few of His disciples were privileged to get a glimpse of the Lord in His resurrected glory. But something else that was very strange occurred on the mount that day that caught the attention of the disciples. Appearing to talk with Jesus was Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest men of the Old Testament. It seems that Peter was more impressed with the appearance of the two Old Testament men than he was with the Lord Jesus in all of His glory. He wanted to make three booths on the mountain: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. In all fairness to Peter, however, notice that it said in v 6 that “he wist (knew) not what to say”.  One lesson that we can learn from this is that if we don’t know what to say we should keep our mouthes shut. At any rate, what happens next is amazing. God the Father booms from Heaven, “This is my beloved son, hear ye him.” He sternly rebukes Peter for even considering the other two men in the same category as His Son. Peter was willing to include the Lord, but he did not give the Lord the place of preeminence.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” – (Colossians 1:18)

I believe that most Christians today are in a way guilty of the same thing. We want God to be part of our life; but we do not give Him the place of preeminence either. He is included in our decision making, but He is not the final authority in our lives. We give Him part of out time, treasure, and talent; but we do not recognize His sovereign right to dictate wholly what we do with them. I believe God shouts down from Heaven, through His word, the same thing to us today. He is telling us to listen to His Son. Forget about all of the other voices of influence out there and give God exclusive rights in your life.

Notice that the Father commands the disciples as well as us today to “hear Him”.  Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. I wonder how many Christians today are listening for the voice of the Saviour. It is a wonder that we can hear anything at all with all of the noises and distractions that are a part of lives today. God wants to speak to us, and He will if we will simply get alone with Him and open our hearts up to Him.


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Are You For Real?

Today’s Passage –Mark 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 91 – 95Proverbs 19

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read former posts from this pasage – “Don’t Lose the Personal Touch” & “Politicians”

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” - (Mark 6:20)

In our text today, we read about the execution of John the Baptist by Herod. I will not rehash the story, as most of you are probably familiar with it, and if by chance you are not, you can read it for yourself in Mark 6:14 – 29. John was arrested by Herod because he had been preaching against Herod’s immoral relationship with his (Herod’s) brother’s wife. People who sin willfully do not like to be pointed out, or reminded about their sin. Most people do not have the option of silencing their critics, but when you are the mistress of the King, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Thus, Herodias eventually got what she wanted – John’s head on a platter.

Herod did not want to arrest, or kill, John the Baptist. He was actually afraid of him, because he knew that John was real. He knew that John, unlike the rest of the religious crowd of the day, was genuine in his faith and holiness. Men will fear a genuine believer who walks with God, and practices what he believes. Unfortunately, they will fear the crowd more. Herod feared Herodias, and the people who were watching, more than he feared God or John the Baptist. Pilate also feared the people more than he feared the Lord Jesus. However, the fear that Herod had for John continued even after John was gone. He actually thought that Jesus was some kind of a reincarnation of John, coming back to get him.

The thought I have this morning is that Herod feared John because he knew that John was the real deal. He was genuine. He wasn’t just playing some religious game, or using religion to advance his own personal agenda. The question I have for you (and me) this morning is, are you real? Is your faith making a difference in the lives of the people around you. Are there some Herodias’s in your life that just can’t stand you because of what you stand for? Are you poking some holes in the darkness around you, or are you just going through the religious motions, playing the church game? Just a thought.


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Be Not Afraid Only Believe – The Saturday Morning Post

stormy_seas_lighthouse_wave

Today’s Passage – Mark 4 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.” (Mark 5:21-24)

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.” (Mark 5:35-42)

Good morning. A ruler of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came to ask the Lord to help his daughter who was near death. And as they went to the house. certain people came from Jairus’s house, and told him, “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?”

I know how I felt when our daughter Melissa died. And Jairus was about to learn more about the God he served in the synagogue.

1) Notice that when Jairus was in need, he went straight to the Lord. Jesus said…

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

2) Notice that Jesus and Jairus walked together, and that Jesus was with Jairus when he received the news of his daughter’s death…

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Jesus was there to give Jairus words of comfort, hope, and faith: Be not afraid, only believe. And Jairus continued on walking with Jesus in faith: believing.

3) Notice that when you walk in the truth, people will criticize.

“And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn…” (Mark 5:38-40)

People criticize because they don’t understand. They don’t know what the only True, Living God can do. They need to know…

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

They need to hear…

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

They need to be born again…

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John3:3-7)

And…

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

Then they will understand. And that brings us to the last thing Jairus learned from being with Jesus…

Jesus took…

“…the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.” (Mark 5:40-42)

4) Notice that where Jesus is, there is Life!

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John10:10)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

So, when problems arise, go to Jesus. He will never leave you nor forsake you. People will criticize you for your stand on the Lord. But in the end, He gives you life. Be not afraid, only believe.

Peace! (John 10:11-18)


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Who Is In The Driver’s Seat?

Today’s Passage – Mark 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “1017 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s Bible reading passage – “What Does It Mean To Blaspheme the Holy Ghost?

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” – (Mark 1:12)

Years ago, I used to see bumper stickers on the back of tractor trailers that would say, “God Is My Co-Pilot”. As a lost man, I remember thinking that it was a clever slogan, but now that I have thought about it, I am sure that God does not want to be a passenger in your life: He wants to drive. We see in our text that Jesus was “driven” by the Holy Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. While Jesus walked this earth He was filled with the Spirit, lead of the Spirit; and He performed all of His miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It should be the same for the followers of Christ today. We should not to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. We should be living our lives submitted to the will of God, and yielded to the Spirit of God. Consider the following verses regarding the Holy Ghost:

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

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – (Galatians 5:16, 25)

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – (Ephesians 4:30)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – (John 16:13)

When I first trusted Christ as my Saviour, I recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in my life. Though, I did not understand it then (nor do I understand it completely now), I knew that there was something inside of me “driving” me toward the direction of the will of God and the Word of God. I realize now that the Holy Spirit was even working in my life long before I was saved. I used to think that the Holy Ghost was kind of like an unseen force in my life; but I have come to realize that He is not a force, He is a Person, and He is God; and God does not take a back seat to anybody. God wants to drive, and we need to be willing to let Him drive us wherever He wants us to go.


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True Love by Pastor Ted Stahl

Today’s Passage – Matthew 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80Proverbs 16)

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

Read the “1016 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

True Love

As the people cried out, “His blood be on us, and our children!”; the soldiers took Jesus to scourge Him. The pieces of bone, broken pottery, and metal attached to the nine strands of the whip dug deeply into his skin. And the blood flowed. True love. In the true spirit of hatred, the soldiers stripped Jesus and dressed Him in a scarlet robe: they did this to the Creator of the universe. With cruel mockeries they bowed down saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  With every ounce of hate, our Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns that pierced His scalp. And the blood flowed. True love. Then came the crucifiction. Our Lord Jesus Christ was beaten so badly that Simon of Cyrene was ordered to carry the cross. Long spikes were driven through the hands and the feet of our Lord as He was nailed to the cross. They sat down at the cross to watch Him die. And the blood flowed. True love. The mockings continued as chief priests, scribes, and elders breathed out their hatred. And the blood flowed. True Love. And then He was dead. The Lord had given up the Ghost. The payment for sin had been paid because the blood flowed. True love.

Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus lovingly wrapped the body of Jesus and placed it in a cold, dark tomb. There lay the body for three days, and three nights.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.  And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:1-9)

True love.

To God, love has always been an action word. Him loving us caused Him to shed His blood paying the price for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us. When they saw the risen Lord, they held Him by His feet and worshipped Him. True love. 1Peter 1: 22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

That’s true love. Having that love in us, calling ourselves Christians, how can we kick our brothers and sisters when they are down. How can we destroy families, and cause fellow believers to leave the churches. How can we discourage and not edify Is that true love? Even when we are to rebuke someone who wronged us, it’s to be done in love and only between you and that person. Proverbs is full of wisdom about the tongue. “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out” (Proverbs 10:31).  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).

Remember the scourging. Remember the thorns. Remember the spitting, and pulling out the beard. Remember the cruel mocking. Remember true love. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another ” (John 13:34-35).


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Just Me and God

Today’s Passage – Matthew 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 71 – 75Proverbs 15)

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

Read the “1015 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Who Me?”

“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)

This was no doubt the worst night in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was in the process of being betrayed by one of the twelve. He knew also that Peter was going to deny even knowing Him, not once, but three times. The rest of the disciples were going to scatter and follow afar off, all of them distancing themselves from their leader in His time of need. In the midst of this agonizing night, Jesus desires that three of His closest friends spend some time in prayer with Him. Though it was very late, the Lord was obviously not going to get any sleep, and He asked Peter, James, and John to stay up with Him in prayer. Unfortunately, the men were weary and could not stay awake through the prayer meeting. It appears that Jesus was to go through this trial alone. It was just Him and His Father.

It is human nature to desire the company and encouragement of other people when we are going through our trials. However, in the end, it will only be God that will be with us throughout the darkest days of our lives. Our friends can’t possibly understand completely the pain that we are experiencing; they have their own concerns and troubles that plague them. Friends and family can be helpful at times, but we need to learn to wean ourselves off of dependence upon man for comfort and encouragement and instead turn to God. People can not possibly meet the spiritual needs that only God can meet. If you are going through a trial right now look to God. Don’t be too hard on your friends. Though God may use them to edify and encourage you partially, they are severely limited in their ability to help.

Having said that, let me now speak a word to those of us who may have some friends who are going through a difficult trial. Don’t try to be a replacement for God in their lives. You cannot meet their spiritual need: you can only point them to God, and encourage them to feed upon the Word of God. Don’t preach to them, and don’t promise them things that you cannot deliver: you are not God. Just try to be there for them as much as you can while continuing to point them to the Lord.


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JUST FOR LADIES – BY CAMILLE STAHL

10 VIRGINS PIC

Today’s Passage – Matthew 24 & 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1014 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s Bible reading passage – “Where Lord?

The Parable Of The Ten Virgins

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.   Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”    (Matthew 25:1-13)

Although this is a parable, not a true account, there is much to learn from this passage.

Oil in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit. In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the Holy Spirit of God must live within you. The vessel is your heart. The Holy Spirit enters when we except what Jesus did for us on the cross.

In the parable, we see there where those who were wise, they had oil, The others were foolish. They had what they needed for the present time, just to make a show, with no real intent to be ready for the bridegroom. They had a lamp in their hands for show, but nothing within for the long haul like the seed that fell on stony ground. They did not prepare or think of the time to come after-wards as the ant does, nor lay up for the time to come.

“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1Titus 6:19)

The wise virgins, took oil in their vessels. They were prepared to meet the bridegroom even if He was delayed.  No one knew when He was coming, they just knew He was coming. They were ready. They thought of their future.

Now lets take a closer look at this parable.

  1. Both groups appear as followers of Christ. They both carried their lamps and they both saw the groom as ‘Lord’.  Both groups were invited to the wedding.
  2. The wise and the foolish virgins slept. All awoke when the bridegroom arrived.  Note: It’s not about working, because salvation is not a result of works but of being ready.
  3. We know that it’s talking about salvation because the parable starts out by saying “Then shall the kingdom of heaven…” .
  4. It may come as a surprise that the five wise virgins did not share their oil. We know that they could not share their oil because they would have ran out.  We can’t lose our salvation but on the other hand, others can only be saved by their own salvation.  So when the foolish went to go and find it, the door was shut and it was too late.

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

  1. Later in Matthew 25:11 we see the foolish virgins say “Lord Lord open to us”

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus is warning us that there will be people who look like Christians, who act like Christians, and talk like Christians, who are not Christians.  We are never to assume that anyone is saved no matter how good they appear.  But time is getting short.  People are dying and going to hell.  Their door is shut.  We cannot give them our oil, but we must show them how to get their own.  What they do with it is up to them as it was for the foolish virgins, but we are commanded to tell them.   Those who don’t take the oil, are refusing the warnings of God’s Word of salvation through Jesus Christ.  They don’t think they need it.  They believe they have plenty of time to get oil.  It was this way in Noah’s day.  The people had a false sense of security but they were warned, the door was shut and it was too late.   Can you hear them screa“Open the door!  Why didn’t you tell me?  NO PLEASE, OPEN THE DOOR!! DON’T LEAVE ME HERE!!”

There is still plenty of room at the table in family of God.  Won’t you invite someone to come and dine with you.  Someone invited you!

Thank You

1 John 5: 13

 


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Inside, Then Out

Today’s Passage – Matthew 22 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 61 – 65Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 121

Read the “1013 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:26)

Matthew chapter 23 contains a harsh rebuke by the Lord to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the fundamentalist of their day. They had the right doctrines. In fact Jesus admonished the disciples to do what the Pharisees taught, but He was careful to warn them not to follow their example. They were hypocrites: they portrayed on the surface a godly lifestyle, yet on the inside they were anything but godly. They were a cold and judgmental bunch. They were quick to point out the flaws of others, but they never looked within themselves to see if their own lives were right. They had all kinds of inward problems themselves, yet they focused on pointing out the flaws of others.

Unfortunately, today we see far too often Christians who we thought had “all of their ducks in a row”, only to discover that they are hiding some dark sin in their lives. They looked good on the outside, but they were filthy on the inside. Don’t misunderstand, we all struggle with sin, but we must be careful that we come clean with the Lord through confession, and then do our best to forsake the things that displease Him. God forgives and cleanses from sin. More importantly though, we must not try to appear to others in a self-righteous way.  As fundamental Christians today, we must be very careful that while we take our stand for all of the right doctrines, and as we preach the truth about sin; that we make sure that we don’t portray ourselves as above sin. We are sinners just like everyone else. While we try to live our lives as righteously and separated as we can, we are still a people who struggle with sin ourselves. Most importantly, we must not think ourselves to be any better than those that are without. If it wasn’t for the grace of God we could certainly find ourselves involved in some of the vilest sins. We must have a genuine compassion for people who are struggling. We must never compromise the truth, but we should preach the truth with a tear in our eye.

Jesus was very hard on the religious crowd, the ones that didn’t think that they needed any help. However, you will find that though He never once compromised in either His living or His preaching, He always treated the lost sinner with compassion. He loved them to Himself. We must do the same thing. While we strive to live a holy, separated life let us also demonstrate love and compassion to the lost world around us. If they get upset with us for our position, so be it; but let them never be able to find fault with our disposition.


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It’s Not Fair!

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 56 – 60Proverbs 12)

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

Read another post from this passage – “The Ministry – Not What I Expected

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (Matthew 20:15)

In the passage referenced above we have the story of the man that hired a number of laborers to work in his vineyard. He started hiring first thing in the morning and promised those early workers a penny for their toil. Throughout the day he would find more people who were idle, and he offered them “what is right” in exchange for their labor. When the day was finished and it was time to pay the workers, each man, regardless of the length of time they labored, received a penny. The men who were hired early in the morning worked longer hours yet received the same wage. They complain that the man who hired them was unfair, but he reminded them that they received exactly what they agreed to work for; and that he had the right to pay anybody else whatever he chose to pay them.

The primary interpretation of this verse I guess would involve Israel. They are probably a little envious of the church who is a late arrival to the service of God. After all the Jews have had a long relationship with him, and who did these Gentiles think they were coming in and claiming that they have a claim to Heaven. I believe we could also see this attitude among those in the church. Let’s say for example that a man grows up in a Christian home and is saved at an early age. He goes to the same Heaven that another man would go to who trusted Christ on his deathbed.

The thought that grabbed my attention this morning, however, as I read was that we often think God to be unfair because He deals with us uniquely, and it seems sometimes that he treats others better than He treats us. There are two things that we can learn from this passage. The first is that God will always do what He says He will do; and secondly He will always do that which is right. So for us to become envious about how God blesses others, or uses others is to say that God is making mistakes, or is acting like men.

Sometimes as a pastor, I see the way God is blessing other ministries. It seems that some churches and pastors just have victory after victory. Sometimes I want to cry, “unfair!”  But I need to remind myself of a couple of things that I am sure of:

1  God loves me just as much as He loves anybody else.

2  God will fulfill every promise and principle in my life, family, and ministry just as He will with anybody else.

3  God has a unique plan and purpose for my life and ministry which is different from His plan for others.

4  I may not have had the same upbringing, training, and equipping that others have had. I just need to be faithful to do the best I can with the training that I have received; and I need to learn and grow as much as I can so that I can be more effective in ministry.

5  My vantage point of others in the ministry is limited. I can only see a small part of the picture. Even though it may seem that there are no burdens or problems at the other ministry, I know that there are. That pastor in the large ministry is probably paying a much larger price than I am paying.

In John’s gospel there is an interesting story that took place after the resurrection where Jesus is restoring a very discouraged Peter. Peter had denied the Lord prior to the crucifixion. Here Jesus tells peter to “feed His lambs”. Peter, however, was not satisfied with just being restored to the ministry: he wanted the top post. He asked the Lord (referring to John), “and what shall this man do”. Jesus replied, “what is that to thee?”. The Lord basically told Peter to mind his own business. God had a purpose and plan for Peter, and He also had one for John. He has a plan for me and you too. I don’t need to worry about what God is doing with you; and you don’t need to worry about what God is doing with me. We both just need to be faithful.


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But Whom Say Ye That I Am? – The Saturday Morning Post

jesus_holding_earth_world

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

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

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

Good morning. The World knows who Jesus Christ is. Exodus chapter 20 contains God’s Ten Commandments. In verse 7 we find the third commandment…

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

I have never heard someone say Buddah darnit. Or somebody stub there toe and start chanting: Harri-Krishner, Harri-Lama, while holding his foot and dancing around on one leg. Jehovah False Witnesses know Him as Michael the archangel. The Mormons know Him as the product of physical intercourse between God the Father, and the virgin Mary. Hulk Hogan calls Him the Man Upstairs. The Beatles thought they were more popular than Him. Islam recognizes Him as a great prophet, but not as God in the flesh. He is Ian Anderson’s buddy (Jethro Tull): who says they will both put on their cordaroy pants, go down to the mall, and overturn the tables of bluegenes. But whom say ye that I am?

He is the Creator – John 1:3.

He is the Living Word of God – John 1:1-2, 14.

He is God – John 1:1; 10:30.

He is the image of the invisible God – Colossians 1:15.

He is the Alpha and Omega: the Beginning and the End: the First and the Last – Revelation 22:13.

And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6.

He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – 1Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16.

He is Christ the Lord – Luke 2:11

Peace! (1John 4:10)


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Keeping Your Focus in the Storm

Today’s Passage – Matthew 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 46 – 50Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “1010 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s reading passage – “Prison or Party” and “Thankful for the Crumbs“.

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30)

Just a quick thought this morning from today’s passage. The disciples were traveling by ship in the Sea of Galilee without the Lord. The Lord had stayed behind to get alone and pray. The Lord saw them through His omniscient eyes, and saw that they were struggling and frightened in a severe storm on the sea. He went to them, walking on the water. Peter sees the Lord walking on the water and he decides that he would like to try it as well. He asks the Lord’s permission to venture out on top of the waves. The Lord bids him to come, and he Peter does well for a short time until he loses his focus. While his eyes were on the Lord, he stayed afloat; but when he took his eyes off of the Lord and focused on the storm and the waves, he began to sink. Finally, he cries out to the Lord for help.

In the Christian life, there will be many storms. Some of these storms will be physical, some financial, some relational; but we will all go through the difficult days as we serve the Lord. Some of these storms will be self-inflicted, while others will be caused by others, and still others are beyond explanation. It really matters not where the blame lies as to the storm itself. The key to staying afloat in the storm, however, will be keeping our focus on the Lord Jesus. He allowed the storm in our lives for a purpose. It may be for our good; it may be for His glory; it may be for both. We need to trust the Lord and allow Him to see us through the storm.

I have seen this principle in action many times in my life. Each time a storm would appear in my life, I would spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how the storm started and who was to blame for the storm. Surely, it couldn’t be my fault, could it? God has shown me, however,  that most of the storms that I have experienced  were at least partially of my own doing. He also has shown me that the purpose of the storms was to teach me and grow me. I must confess, I always wanted to sink. I wanted to just throw in the towel, blame everybody else for my troubles, and move on in bitterness. Instead, I have learned to cry out to the Lord for help. He has always lifted me up, and helped me to make my way back into the ship. I thank the Lord for his mercy, grace, and patience with me.


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Good Ground

Today’s Passage – Matthew 12 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 41 – 45Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “1009 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” – (Matthew 13:8)

I have always enjoyed studying these parables in Matthew 13. The Parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3 – 9; 18 – 23) in particular has helped me to understand many things about the nature of people. I have been a Christian now for a long time, and I have observed many people come and go through the years. It grieves me when people fizzle out spiritually; some even turning their backs completely on the Lord. This parable sheds a lot of light as to why that happens.

In this passage, Jesus uses soil to illustrate the four different kinds of life situations that the seed of the gospel comes in contact with. My goal in this short devotional thought is not to discuss in detail each of these different types of lives that is impacted by the gospel seed; but I would like to make some observations about the “good ground”. After all it is the good ground that produces the most fruit, isn’t it? So what are the characteristics of good ground?

1  Good ground is well watered and fertilized. It contains all of the nutrition that it needs in order to be healthy. I have never been a gardener, but I have heard many say that when they fortify the soil with plant food (like Miracle Gro), the plants will produce much more fruit, and the overall appearance of the plant will be that of health. Christians need to be nourished and watered daily by spending time with God in His Word. The spiritual nutrition that we receive from the Word of God will yield much fruit in our lives. We will starve to death spiritually without it.

2  Good ground does not contain a lot of rocks and debrit that will hinder the root system. Rocks will also hinder the retention of water. Jesus says that this illustrates the person who never allows the Word of God to take root in his life. Many Christians make professions of faith, but never get grounded in the Word through a a discipeship program in a good local church. As a result, they never develop a strong root system that will help them get established. They do well for a while, but they cannot survive any stress that may come their way.

3  Good ground is weeded regularly. Now, I do know a little something about weeds. This year, all of the flower beds at the church were overrun with weeds. It became a huge project to dig them all up. Weeds will steal all of the nutrition and water that the plant needs to survive. This scenario pictures the Christian who allows a lot of the world’s distractions to get into his life. He becomes too busy, and often too carnal to produce fruit anymore in his life.

As you can see from this passage, there is not a lot that we can do to change the fact that some people will continue to grow and produce fruit throughout their life; and some simply will fizzle out, or fall away completely. However, we can do something about the soil of our own hearts. We can make sure that we are maintaining the “good ground” by keeping well-watered and fertilized with the Word of God; by removing anything rocks or impediments that will hinder our root system; and by removing any weeds (distractions, weights) that may steal away the nutrition that is necessary for a healthy and fruitful life.


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Rest

Today’s Passage –Matthew 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1008 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - (Matthew 11:28-30)

Ah, rest! Rest is a wonderful thing. The older I get the more I cherish a Sunday afternoon nap, or perhaps an early evening where I can climb into bed and fall asleep reading a good book. Rest is one of those wonderful necessities of life. We do not function well without enough of it. God commanded that His people take one day out of seven in order to rest and refresh their tired bodies:

“Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.” – (Deuteronomy 5:13-14)

I think America was a much better place when we used to all take the day off on Sundays so that we could go to church, eat an afternoon meal with the family, and rest.

However, physical rest is not what Jesus was talking about when he promised to give rest in Matthew 11:22. The rest spoken of there is not Sabbath rest, nor was Jesus speaking here of the eternal rest that awaits the child of God in Heaven. The rest referred to in this verse is the rest that we receive when we stop trying to work our way into Heaven, and simply receive the free gift of eternal life that Christ wants to us to have. But it goes beyond just salvation itself. Christ continues to give us rest as we yield our lives, our wills to Him and His will. We do not have to figure it all out for ourselves. We can simply let Him guide and direct our lives. It is certainly a lot easier to know that God has an awesome plan for our lives, and we simply need to follow Him, instead of trying to work out the way for ourselves.

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” – (Hebrews 4:9-11)

One more thought. Be careful that as a Christian you don’t get so absorbed in the work of God, that you don’t take the necessary time that you need to rest. There are a lot of Christian workaholics out there who feel the church will die unless they are personally giving every minute of their time serving. We need to remember to get enough physical rest, as well as spiritual refreshment, which comes through time spent with God in meditation, study, and prayer. Don’t get too busy with the work of God that you forget to spend time with the God of the work. Don’t forget about your family, either. Your spouse and children need some of your free time as well.

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – (Luke 10:41-42 )


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What Do You See?

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 31 – 35Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “1007 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “What Is Your House Built Upon?

“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)

In our reading today we learned about the conversion and calling of Matthew. Matthew was at his work of collecting taxes when the Lord approached him and called him to follow. The Bible tells us that Matthew immediately left his job to follow the Lord. He didn’t even give two weeks notice! Shortly after this, Matthew invites the Lord to his house to dine with him and his friends. Now this was not the crowd that hung out down at the synagogue. These were a rough bunch of “publicans and sinners”. The kind you would tell your kids to stay away from. Jesus saw this as a tremendous opportunity to minister, and to shew mercy to these folks. The Pharisees, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to criticize. They found fault with Jesus, wondering aloud as to why he would associate with such a group of “rabble rousers”.

A few years back, our church was running a “Kid’s Club service on Wednesday Nights. I remember one particular night there was an extraordinary number of kids that got on the church bus to come to the service. As we were driving through the complexes, we were amazed! The kids just kept getting on the bus. Some of them I had never seen before. I was excited because I knew that this was a tremendous opportunity to reach some of them with the gospel of Christ. Jesus loves these kids and gives stern warnings to those who would try to hinder them from coming to Him.

As the kids service came to a close that night and we were getting back on the busses to bring the children home, many of our church families were arriving for the adult Bible study and prayer meeting. I could not help but wonder what some of them were thinking. Were they as excited as the Kid’s Club workers were? I don’t know. I am sure that some were happy to see what God was doing, but I am also concerned that some may have not looked at it the same way. Some may not have been happy to see all of the “snotty nosed bus kids” on property. After all, they don’t act right, and most of them do not dress right. I had to tell one teenager to pull up his “droopy drawers” a couple of times. Take it easy on him though. He was brand new, just got saved; and he hasn’t missed a service since.

It is amazing that two people, both Christians, can look at the very same thing, and yet see something totally different. But what do you see? Do you see the multitudes out there in the world as your enemy, or an opportunity for you to demonstrate and distribute the love of Jesus Christ? And, while I’m at it, why aren’t you helping us reach and serve these kids? They need somebody to mentor and love them.


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Quit Worrying!

Today’s Passage – Matthew 5 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 26 – 30Proverbs 6)

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

Read the “1006 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 5:34)

Beginning in Matthew chapter 5 we have recorded what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. These verses teach us the rules for the Kingdom. These are not verses that deal specifically with the church, nor are they principles that deal with salvation. However, these passages do show us how a Spirit filled people will live during the Millennial Kingdom. Having said that, I think these verses should also describe how a Spirit filled people should live today. These principles go way beyond the bare minimum; and they surpass the minimum requirements of the law. God’s people should be second milers. They should be a people who are willing to go beyond just the law in their relationship with God, and men.

The last section in chapter 5 deals with worrying. Many of us are consumed with worry. We stress over what might, or might not, happen tomorrow. God says that we should be able to trust him with tomorrow and just content ourselves with serving Him today. God gave us provision and protection today, and He is well able to do the same tomorrow. I am not a doctor, but I am pretty confident in saying that worry and stress are contributing factors in many health problems; but we don’t have to live that way. Worry is really nothing more than a lack of faith. If our faith is strong, we know that our God will take care of us and guide our path; so we don’t have to stress over life. We worry and stress because we have taken our lives into our own hands; and we realize that we are not able to control all of the situations that will come our way; and we will not always make the right decision. However, if we put our lives and our families in the hand of God, we can be assured that God will do right by us, and He will take care of us.

These verses are not teaching, however, that we should not carefully prepare for our tomorrows. It is not wrong to make good decisions, under His guidance regarding future planning. If you think about it, salvation itself is decision that ensures a safe future. I realize that salvation entails much more than “fire insurance”, but many of us were saved because we were concerned about a future judgment. So it is not wrong to spend some time today considering tomorrow. However, when we get to the point where we are so stressed about tomorrow where we cannot serve Him today, we have taken planning well beyond the healthy limits. It is not wrong to put some money away for a rainy day, but if we get so consumed with hoarding our income today to the extent where we won’t give our tithes and offerings, we have gone well beyond mere planning.

The bottom line is that if we can trust God with our eternal destiny, can’t we trust Him with all of the little details that comprise living for Him in this world. God took care of us yesterday; He is feeding us today, and He will continue to do so tomorrow. We can trust Him. Stop worrying.


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It Is Written

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 21 – 25Proverbs 5)

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

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – (Matthew 4:4)

“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” – (Matthew 4:7)

“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” – (Matthew 4:10)

In our reading passage today in chapter 4, we have the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. The devil made three attempts here to get Jesus to yield to his will, but Jesus stood strong through all that the devil threw at him. Jesus proved that He is Who He claimed to be by resisting the devil. Theologians have argued through the years about whether this was a genuine temptation. In other words, they say that since Jesus is God He cannot be tempted. I guess that is true, but it didn’t stop Satan from making the attempt. I once heard an analogy that illustrates this point pretty well: it is possible for a rowboat to attack a naval fleet; the attack would be real, but the probability of success is not very great. Satan’s attempt to seduce Jesus was real, but because Jesus is the omnipotent God, Satan could not possibly win. Consider what God said through the writer to the Hebrews:

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” - (Hebrews 4:15)

The thing that I find very interesting about this account is that Jesus quoted from the Word of God each time that He was tempted by the devil. Now I hasten to say that everything that came from the mouth of Jesus was the Word of God, because He is God. However, in our passage, Jesus quotes from something He previously said in the Old Testament: something that was already recorded in the Scripture. I believe the main reason that Jesus did this was because He was giving us the formula; the secret to resisting temptation, which is memorizing and quoting Scripture. Consider these verses:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also makea way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Notice the phrase, “a way to escape”. God’s way to escape is quoting Scripture. And you cannot quote Scripture unless you have it in your heart:

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – (Psalm 119:11)

This is why it is absolutely critical for us to be in the Word of God all of the time. We need to saturate our minds with the Scripture through our daily reading, writing, studying, meditation, and memorization of the Bible. We are now even learning how to sing the Scripture (see Scripture Memory Songs), which also helps us to keep God’s Word in our heart and mind.

The sad truth, however, is that most believers do not know enough Scripture to resist the devil’s tempation. What a shame. There is no excuse for it. I believe that this is one of the greatest needs for the people of our church today. We need to strengthened and fortified by the Word of God so that when the flesh, the world, or the devil try to get us to yield, we can stay inside the perfect will of God.

One final thought. You will notice from this passage that Satan also said, “It is written”, but it is important to note that while Satan “quoted” the Scripture, he conveniently left out part of the O.T. verse. He is still using that same method today by re-writing the Word of God in all of these modern versions. He changes words, and leaves out words as it suits his purposes. Stick with the old King James!


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Stubble – The Saturday Morning Post

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 4:1-3)

Good morning. Did you ever see stubble burn? Stubble burns very quickly and we use it to get a campfire going. And if you look at the definition of the word ‘stubble’, it means, “The short stalks left in a field after the crops have been harvested.”

The wicked are as stubble. Solomon warned his son to stay away from the wicked in Proverbs 4…

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.” (Proverbs 4:14-17)

There is going to be a great harvest someday. All that is left on the earth will be stubble. But, did you know that a seed can be planted directly into the stubble, and it will bring forth a new plant?

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

“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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3:9-13)

Peace. (Revelation 7:13-17)


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What A Day That Will Be

Today’s Passage – Zechariah 10 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 11 – 15Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 34

Read the “1003 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from Zechariah 14 – “Touchdown!”

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” – (Zechariah 12:10)

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” – (Zechariah 13:1)

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:25-26)

The Bible makes it very clear in the Book of Romans that Israel, as a nation, is right now blind to the Truth of the gospel. They just can’t see that Jesus was and is their Messiah. This does not mean that there will not be individual Jews that will trust Christ as Saviour, but as a whole they have been blinded because they rejected Christ when He first came to them:

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)

There is coming a day, however, when the blindness of Israel will be taken away, and they will be able to recognize “me whom they have pieced”.  The verse goes on to say that they will mourn, “as one mourneth for his only son”. In chapter Zechariah 13:1, the Scripture goes on to say, “in that day there shall be a fountain opened … for sin and for uncleanness”. The day referred to in this verse is the same day that Israel looks upon and mourns for the One whom they pierced. Cleansing for sin only comes after we recognize our sin, and our rejection of the Saviour.

This is the exact same process that God uses to cleanse us from our sins today. God opens our eyes so that we can see the one whom we have pierced, because it is our sin that put Him on that cross. When we see our sinful condition, and realize that Jesus took all of that sin upon Him on the cross, our eyes begin to open; and when our eyes open, so does that fountain of cleansing that removes the stain of our sin from us. What an awesome God we serve!

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.


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