Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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

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

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

Read the “1209 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – (Galatians 4:16)

As I read verse 15, I thought of the phrase, “Don’t Shoot The Messenger”. I looked back in the blog archives and discovered that I have used that phrase as the title to two other posts derived from two different passages. It seems that men of God throughout the Bible have had trouble being negatively received by the people they are ministering to.

In this morning’s passage, Paul is trying to straighten out the problem of legalism in the churches of Galatia. They apparently were trying to mix New Testament Christianity with the Old Testament Law. By doing so, they were adding to salvation by grace through faith, making it a salvation of works. Paul explained to them that if they were going to try to keep the Law, they had better do it perfectly, which, of course, is an impossibility. We are not saved by keeping the Law, and we are certainly not kept by keeping the Law. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, and our Christian life is to be a walk of faith.

The point I am trying to make here in this post, however, is that the Christians in Galatia were very fond of Paul until he started preaching something that went contrary with what they were doing. They had been influenced by some people who were corrupting their thinking. Paul was merely trying to get them back on the right path, but the people didn’t want to hear it. Instead of searching the Scriptures as the Bereans did, and listening to the truth, the people were stubbornly holding on to their false doctrine; and Paul became the bad guy.

I have had this type of thing happen to me in the ministry. I have had people who at one time loved me, later turn on me and become an enemy. Usually it was because there was something in their lives that was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible and the will of God. Instead of fixing the problem, they decided to get mad at the messenger. I understand that doctors sometimes experience this same scenario. They are just reporting the truth revealed through their examination. They didn’t cause the problem, but somehow they end up with the blame.

Let’s stop blaming the messengers that God sends into our lives. If the messenger is telling us the truth, then we must face it. We really ought to thank those who are being honest enough with us to help us by telling us what we really don’t want to hear. But how can we get help if we don’t know the truth. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Read the other two “Dont’ Shoot The Messenger” posts from 2 Chronicles 16 and 1 Kings 18


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We Are Free

Butterflies-are-Free

Today’s Passages – Galatians 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 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

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

Read the “1208 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Schoolmaster

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

The letter to the Galatians was one of the earliest of the epistles written by the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the God. In the very early church, there was evidently a problem with legalism. Legalism is the attempt to put people who are saved by faith back under the law. I need to explain here exactly what I mean by “under the law”. In Old Testament days the people of God (the Jews) lived according to the law of Moses which contained three different types of laws: civil law (government), which helped them live in a peaceful society; moral law, which taught them what was right and wrong, morally speaking; and ceremonial law, which were the particular laws that had to do with their system of worship. These ceremonial laws legislated their holy days, their assemblies, and their feasts, etc. The Jews created a system of rules that was impossible for anybody to keep perfectly. That’s why Paul says later in this letter to the Galatians that the law was our “schoolmaster”, in that it taught us that we were sinners in need of mercy. Christ is the only man who perfectly fulfilled all of the law, meaning He never was guilty of violating any command of God in any of the three categories.

Now when God says in the New Testament that we are no longer “under the law”, and that we have been freed from the bondage of the law, He is not saying that we are free to commit moral sin, or that we are free to break the laws that government creates in order to keep the peace, unless, of course, those man-made rules disagree with God’s rules. We are, however, free from all of the ceremonial laws that the Jews lived by, and there were a whole lot of them. By the way, not being “under the law” also means that we have been freed (saved) from the penalty of not keeping the law. The people of Galatia were “bewitched” into attempting to combine the doctrine of salvation through faith alone with the keeping of the Jewish law. By doing so, they just frustrated the concept of grace. Christ fulfilled the law, and He died for us who could not keep the law. We are free! Free from the penalty of sin; free from the bondage of a myriad of rules and regulations that are impossible to live by anyway; and free to love and serve God according to the dictates of our own consciences and understanding of God.

I feel compelled to make one final comment here. The term “legalism” has often been used in reference to standards and convictions. I am not a “legalist” if I have a personal standard in my life that I believe God is pleased with. Having some Biblically based guidelines in my life to live by does not make me a legalist, unless I  believe that adhering to these rules somehow saves me. I am not saved by how I live my life, but I do try to live a life that glorifies God because I am saved.


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Help Wanted – Ministry Positions Available

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 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 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Do You Pass the Test

“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Are you looking for a job? Do you want to make lots of money, live in a spacious, comfortable home, drive a fancy car? Are you looking for something that will not require a lot of your time and energy, but will yield great financial benefits? Do you require a good health insurance package, including dental and optical? Do you desire a great retirement package that will allow you to retire early with enough income to live comfortably? Then don’t apply for this job.

Welcome to the ministry. Paul the apostle was perhaps the greatest Christian that ever lived, but look what his earthly benefit package included: rejection, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger; and long, thankless hours. The ministry is not something that you do because of what you will get from it in this life. Those who surrender to God’s call to ministry will more often than not, know a life of sacrifice and struggle. Don’t misunderstand me, the ministry does have it’s great moments, and there is a good deal of satisfaction knowing that you are making an eternal difference; but the fact remains that if it is earthly rewards that you are looking for, you will most likely not get them in the ministry.

However, the ministry does provide the best eternal retirement package there is. Those who sacrifice for the Lord here on earth, will receive an abundant return for their investment in Heaven; and those benefits will last a lot longer than any earthly retirement package.

In spite of all the negatives that Paul had to endure, however, he would not have traded places with anyone else in the world. He couldn’t do anything else; and he learned to be content with whatever the will of God provided for him. As much as I often gripe about some of the aspects of the ministry, I don’t think that I could be happy doing anything else either. True happiness and joy is being in the center of the will of God, wherever that leads you.


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Without Wax

Without Wax

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10 (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 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

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

Read the “1206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “And Be Ye Separate” and “Casting Down Imaginations

“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8)

“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.

In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters, I would strongly recommend that you give to the work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.

Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:

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

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

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shallnot be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.


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Are You Blind?

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 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 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “1205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What’s New About You?” and “Ambassadors for Christ

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Many years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.

There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:

“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.” – (Romans 11:25)

These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth, but what can I do about it?

1  I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.

2  I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

3  I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.


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Most Miserable

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 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 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

Read the “1204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “A Family Addicted to the Ministry

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

When I was working for my dad’s candy company, I would occasionally run into miserable people who seemed to take pleasure in ruining the day of everybody they came in contact with. There was one person in particular that I especially dreaded having to deal with. She worked for a supermarket that I delivered to in Philadelphia and her job was to check the order that I was bringing into the store to make sure the invoice was correct. Her job title was “security receiver”. She hated her job, she hated life, and she particularly hated the vendors, like me, who were delivering products to her store. She would sometimes make us wait outside in the rain or snow for long periods of time until she finished doing some “important” other task, like sweeping the floor, or filing away some paperwork. The worst day of my week was the day that I had to deliver to this store.

One day, however, I noticed something on her car, which was always parked right outside the back door of the store. There was an “OBX” sticker on her back bumper. “OBX” represents the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. I didn’t think this lady enjoyed anything about life, but apparently she enjoyed spending time in North Carolina. One day I decided to take a chance and talk to her about the bumper sticker. Her countenance changed immediately, and I think she even smiled. She began to tell me all about her past trips, and how she was looking forward to an upcoming vacation. Her attitude changed as she began to think and talk about something she enjoyed, and, more importantly, something she looked forward to. She transformed (at least temporarily) from a miserable person to a happy one.

In our text above the Apostle Paul states that people who do not believe that Christ is risen and who also won’t acknowledge a resurrection of all believers, are miserable people. Why? Because they have no hope, nothing to look forward to after this life. Paul says that if all we have is this life then we will be a most miserable people. Later on, in verse 58, Paul states that because of the hope that we have, we can be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Why? because we know that all of our labor down here will pay off with a wonderful reward in eternity.

The lady at the supermarket got happy temporarily thinking about a vacation. How much more should God’s people get happy thinking about the fact that because Christ is risen, we know He has the power to raise us up as well, and pull us out of this earth, which can oftentimes be a miserable place, and take us to a place that is anything but miserable, a place of exceeding, eternal joy.


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All You Need Is Love – The Saturday Morning Post


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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 13 – 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 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Read the “1203 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1Corinthians 13:1-2)

Good morning. The Beatles were close: all you need is love. When your source of love comes from stone idols, multi-armed Hindu gods, or yourself, your source of love is wrong. Let’s look at the rest of the chapter to see what love is and discover the True Source of Love…

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Corinthians 13:3-13)

Charity, or love, will help us to fulfill the greatest of the Commandments…

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

And this love Jesus gave us in a new commandment…

“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)

The love we need to love God, our enemies, our brethren, and our neighbors comes from God: love is of God…

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1John 4:7-8)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

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

All you need is love. The love of the only True, and Living God.

Peace.


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Learn From The Past

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1202 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Are You Unworthy?” and “Be Careful

“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1 Corinthians 10:5-6)

“In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.”
Edmund Burke

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

In 1 Corinthians 10, God gives us the example of the Children of Israel as they left Egypt and wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Land of Promise. The Bible references that there were people who did things that did not please God, which must mean that they were not acting in faith for “without faith it is impossible to please him”. There were many things that happened during their 40 years of wilderness wanderings that earned the chastisement of God: there was the golden calf, the rebellion against Moses, the numerous complaints about water and food, the griping about the manna, their lusting after the quail, and on and on it goes. In verse 6, however, we learn why God recorded all of these things in the Bible. They were examples for us to learn from, and hopefully not repeat.

1  We can learn from the past mistakes (and successes) of those recorded in the Bible.

2  We can learn from the past mistakes (and successes) of those who are with us today, particularly those who are older and have experienced a little more of life than we have.

3  We should also learn from our own past mistakes and successes.

We do not have to re-invent the wheel when we can take what others have learned and put it into practice in our lives; and we don’t have to see the bad history of others repeated in our own lives. Learn from the past!


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Bought With A Price

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Today’s Passages – 1Corinthians 6 – 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 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the “1201 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Stumbling-blocks

“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)

Let me give you a parallel verse to the one listed above:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

God says that we are bought with a price, meaning we no longer belong to ourselves. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price by shedding His blood on the cross of Calvary. The context of 1 Corinthians 6:20 has to do with committing sin, which we have no right to do as believers; but I believe this verse tells us much more than to not commit sin. It deals also with our desires, our will. We really have no right to do with our lives that which we desire to do, unless those desires are God-given desires. Romans goes on to tell us that it is reasonable for us to yield our will to the will of God. I often quote another verse from Romans:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

Notice that the “no good thing” that Paul refers to in this verse is his will; and “that which is good” is the will of God. This tells us the same thing that our text tells us. We have no right to do with our lives that which we desire. Our desires need to be surrendered to God. He owns us. He purchased us on the Cross of Calvary. This does not just mean that we shouldn’t commit sin, it goes way beyond mere obedience to His moral laws. Our goals, desires, and especially our passions need to yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit of God.

God desires to mold us and shape us to perform an ordained work (Ephesians 2:10) for Him, He has the perfect plan for our lives; and His plan will bring us the most fulfillment, and the most happiness. We may think we know what we want, but we must be very careful to determine that the thing which we want is what God wants for our lives. We often sing the song, “This World is Not My Home”; but really when you think about it, we could sing, “This Life is Not My Own”. We belong to God. He has purchased us, and it is our reasonable service to give our lives completely to Him.


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A Father’s Love

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 1 – 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 146 – 150; Proverbs 30)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Baby Christians”

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” – (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)

First Corinthians is a pretty strong letter; it contains a lot of bold criticism for the Church at Corinth. However, it is important to remember that the Apostle Paul was not writing to these people simply to set them straight. He loved these people very dearly, and wanted to see them get back on track. Paul gives the analogy of a father’s love for his children in order to describe his love for this struggling church. Paul had started this church. He served these people, and lived among them for eighteen months on his second missionary journey. He cared deeply for these Christian brothers and sisters, which gave him the right to “rebuke them sharply”.

There has always been this debate in our society about tough love. Many would say that if you are too strong in your discipline that you will drive your children away into rebellion. However, I disagree with that line of thinking. I believe that you can be strong with those who know that you genuinely care for them. If you truly love people, they will let you be straight with them. My pastor in Texas used to say that you have to build up a bank account of love with your people before you can have the right to get tough with them. They need to know that you genuinely care for them. When I worked in the supermarket in Texas, I had a store manager  who was brutally honest with his employees. He was occasionally very tough, but at the same time we knew that he genuinely cared for us; he loved us. As a result there was nothing that we wouldn’t do for him. He earned our love and respect.

The Apostle Paul could say what he said to these Corinthians because they knew that He loved them. The preachers, Sunday School teachers, and leaders in our churches need to demonstrate that kind of love for the people they serve, and this will, in time, give them the right to get tough when it becomes necessary. People will simply not give an ear to someone who doesn’t truly care.


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It is Written – And Again

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Today’s Passages – Romans 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 – Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “1129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Responsibility“, “Giving Back“, and “Just One More Thing

“Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:7-13)

Notice in v. 9 (above) the phrase: “it is written”. Then notice the phrase “and again” used three times. Paul quoted from several Old Testament passages here to support what he was trying to teach to the believers at Rome.

Let’s look first at the context:

In Romans 15:7 – 13 Paul is admonishing the Jewish and Gentile believers to get along with each other. The Christian Jews had a tendency to look down their noses at the Gentile believers. They also held onto many of their Old Testament traditions, which they were entitled to do under grace. However, the Gentiles were not as concerned about these things and did not do them. The cultural differences of these two groups could sometimes cause friction within their churches. In chapter 14 and in the beginning verses of 15, Paul is challenging the saints to acknowledge that there may be different convictions and preferences observed by different believers. The believer with the stronger conviction, or perhaps a different preference, should not stand in judgment of the believer who did not share his conviction or preference. Between the Jewish believers and the Gentile saints, there were probably many such differences. Paul admonishes both groups in vs. 5 and 6 to get along. Why?  Because God had received them both.

In vs. 9 – 12, Paul reminds them of the mercy that God said He would show to the Gentiles by using four (actually five) passages from the Old Testament as supporting texts. Here are the supporting Old Testament passages:

Romans 15:9 was supported with these two Old Testament verses:

“Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.” (2 Samuel 22:50)

“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” (Psalms 18:49)

Verse 10 is a paraphrase of:

“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people:…” (Deuteronomy 32:43a)

Verse 11:

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” (Psalms 117:1)

Verse 12:

“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)

I was challenged by that fact that Paul used so many Scriptures to support his argument. Paul was obviously well versed in the Old Testament, and used it to back up his teaching, especially to the Jews. Many Christians today, and even preachers are weak in their knowledge of the Bible, and even those who may know the Bible, fail to use it enough to support their messages. The Bible should be the main source in our preaching and teaching because it is the only source of Truth. Our messages, whether formal sermons to our churches or merely informal instructions to our family and friends, need to be based upon and supported by the Bible. People need to know that our instructions to them are from God via His Word, not just some philosophy rooted in man’s opinion.


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The Fulness of the Gentiles

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Today’s Passages – Romans 11 – 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 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “1128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Be Ye Transformed“; “What’s The Difference

“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.” – (Romans 11:25)

My preacher back in Texas used to share an illustration regarding Romans 11:25 that I thought was very profound. He said that he was on the lookout for the last Gentile that would be saved before God takes the Church up to Heaven. Dr. Gray is a tenacious soul winner, and he believes that this verse teaches that there will come a day when the “fulness” of the Gentiles will be complete. He wants to be the one who shares the gospel with that last Gentile.

When Jesus came to this earth, He offered Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Though many of the Jewish people received Him (and still do today), the nation rejected Him:

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

Because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has temporarily refocused His attention on the Gentiles. The good news of salvation – the Gospel – has been flowing freely to the Gentile nations of the world for 2000 years; but it seems to be coming to a close. I believe we are very close to the time when God will pull out of this earth all those that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, via what we call the rapture. Christ is coming soon to take His Bride – the Church – back home to Heaven. Then God will once again turn His attention back on the nation of Israel; and someday Israel, as a nation, “will look upon [Him] whom they have pierced”, and will realize that they were wrong about Him.

“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 11:26)

However, until that time comes, we who are part of the bride are to “occupy”, or stay busy, till He comes. We are to do our best to get the message of Christ to every person on the planet. Someday that last Gentile will be saved, and Jesus will take us home. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


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“Whosoever” Meaneth Me and “Preacher” Meaneth Me, Too

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Today’s Passages – Romans 8 – 10 (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 27)

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

Read the “1127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Paul’s Motivation

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14)

I love that hymn that we sing that is based upon Romans 10:13, “Whosoever Meaneth Me”:

I am happy today, and the sun shines bright,
The clouds have been rolled away;
For the Savior said, whosoever will
May come with Him to stay (to stay).

“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
Surely meaneth me, O surely meaneth me;
“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
“Whosoever” meaneth me.

All my hopes have been raised, O His Name be praised,
His glory has filled my soul;
I’ve been lifted up, and from sin set free,
His blood has made me whole (me whole).

Refrain

O what wonderful love, O what grace divine,
That Jesus should die for me;
I was lost in sin, for the world I pined,
But now I am set free (set free).

The song really says it all. What a wonderful truth it is to know that God loves people and freely offers salvation to “whosoever” comes to Him in faith. The “whosoever” in Romans 10:13 meant me also back in December of 1989 when the gospel of Christ was preached to me via Christian radio, and after listening for several weeks, I realized that I was a lost sinner headed for a Devil’s Hell. But, Praise God, I heard the sweet voice of the Saviour as He invited me to receive the free gift of eternal life, which he paid for through His shed blood on the Cross of Calvary. And this “whosoever” was gloriously saved. To God be the glory.

Notice the last part of the next verse: “and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14c) In order for people to believe the gospel, they have to hear the gospel, and in order for the gospel to be heard, the gospel must be preached. We who are saved have the responsibility and wonderful privilege of sharing the gospel with the people of this world whom God loves and is willing to save. There are a lot of other “whosoevers” out there that need salvation. Let’s do our part by telling them about the Saviour.

Note – the picture above was taken of Pastor Bob Gray II of Longview, Texas as he was out preaching the gospel in his community.


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Imputed Righteousness

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

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

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

Read the “1126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. ” – (Romans 4:7-8)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – (Isaiah 53:6)

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” – (James 2:23)

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” – (2 Corinthians 5:19)

In our passage today, and in three of the verses above, you will notice the word “impute”. This word is not used today as commonly as it once was, but it precisely describes a wonderful truth about our relationship with God. The word “impute” means to record, or rekon to ones account. It is a word used more frequently in the financial world. For example if I make a payment to one of my crediters, that amount is imputed on the record. In other word, the record would show that a payment has been made.

As far as our relationship with God is concerned, the word “impute” means that Christ’s payment of blood on the Cross of Calvary was recorded on my account of sin. He did not pay for his own sin, because He knew no sin, but His payment was for me and you, if you are saved. The Lord’s atonement was put on my record. It gets even better. Not only did the Lord’s payment take care of all of my past sins, it also is sufficient to cover any future transgressions. The Lord “will not impute sin” to those that are saved.

This does not give us a liscense to sin, however:

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” – (Romans 6:15-18)

We should try our best to not yield to the sin that is in our human nature (“our members”), but, praise be to God, when we do fail there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins that completely atones for our sins from the past, as well as our sins in the present and the future.


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God Has Not Changed His Mind About Sin

Today’s Passages – Romans 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 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:24, 26-28)

The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans from the vantage point of the City of Corinth near the conclusion of his third missionary journey. The city of Corinth was a very immoral place whose practices had crept into the church. There is even a report of an incestuous relationship between a man and his step-mother. Paul explains in the first chapter of Romans, from verses 18 – 32, the depravity of mankind, which he was seeing on a daily basis as he travelled through Corinth and the rest of the Roman Empire. Sin was everywhere, and it was not only accepted, it was even condoned by the mainstream of the citizens.

Today it has become much the same way in America. Sin seems to find no boundaries, and our society is steeped in its wickedness; and there are few who are voicing an opinion of opposition. In the verses listed above, we see that man’s rebellion against God eventually leads to unrestrained lusts, which will manifest themselves into many forms of sexual immorality including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. In America today homosexuality is being forced down the throats of the people. The schools are spending millions of dollars convincing our children that the old fashioned concept of monogamous, heterosexual marriages are just not in step with today’s enlightened culture. The government is creating volumes of legislation designed to silence anybody who speaks against the madness that is consuming our country from the inside out.

Homosexuality is still sin. God called it an abomination in the Old Testament, and even destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of it. And though homosexuality was not specifically mentioned, I am sure that it was part of the “wickedness” that grieved God in Genesis 6 causing him to destroy the entire earth with a flood. Here in Romans 1, God reaffirms His disdain for sexual impurity, and though He loves people, all people, all sinners, including those who are guilty of homosexuality, He still hates the sin.

I do not think, however, that Christians should elevate one particular sin over another. It would be wrong for us to emphasize the wickedness of homosexuality and minimize other sins, which are just as sinful in the sight of God. Remember, God also said that “divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord, and a false balance is not good” (Proverbs 20:23), referring to cheating people in business transactions. It is all sin, and it is all displeasing to the Lord. But we must not call homosexuality or any other sin anything but what God calls it. The present culture will call you a racist or a homophobe if you do not go along with its pro-homosexual agenda. As Christians, however, we need to be far more concerned about God’s opinion than we are about what the world thinks is right. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

In these last days, I can only imagine that man will continue to get further and further away from the will of God, but Christians must stand firm. Don’t be duped by this sinful generation into thinking that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. It is sin. Don’t stop loving all people, including homosexuals. Don’t stop trying to share the message of forgiveness that is available to all of us sinners through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. But don’t capitulate to this world either by calling homosexuality anything other than what it is – sin. We are all guilty of sin, but let’s not be guilty of disagreeing with God about what sin is.


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Thankful for Faithful Men and Women

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Today’s Passages – Acts 26 – 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 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30&31)

The last few verses of Acts sum up the purpose of Paul’s entire life, to preach Christ. No matter where he went, and no matter who he was talking to, Paul preached Christ. In these last three chapters we see Paul rehearsing his testimony before Herod and Festus. Later we see him being the spiritual leader during the crisis of the shipwreck; and later still he is ministering to the people on the island of Melita. Paul had one focus in life and that was to be an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have gotten bitter about his unjust treatment; he could have gotten discouraged because of his lack of liberty; but he just kept preaching Christ: to kings and governors; to soldiers; to his fellow prisoners; to the barbarous people on the island; to the Jews and Gentiles at Rome.

I am thankful for the faithfulness of Paul, and men (and women) like him that have also been faithful to preach Christ. I was saved because someone was faithful to preach the gospel to me. In fact, I had several somebodies who had witnessed to me. I am thankful for my friend Kathleen who preached Christ to me; and for Pete; and for Doug, a dairy man at Shoprite who invited me to church; and for Reverend Riter who knocked on my door while canvassing for a bus ministry; and for men on the radio like J. Vernon McGee who were also faithfully preaching and teaching, and were used of God to ultimately reach me.

I am also thankful for the men of God that He has used to influence my life after my conversion; men who discipled and trained me. I couldn’t possibly list all of the people that have helped me a long the way; but let me mention one: Pastor Rick Wedemeyer who recently went home to be with the Lord was the one man that I have had a relationship with since the early days of my salvation. Pastor Rick never turned me away. Even when he was going through turbulent times himself, he always had time to encourage me, and he always helped me.

I wonder if my life will have the same impact and influence on this generation. I want to be faithful to preach Christ to my generation as Paul was to his; and I also want to be used of the Lord to help develop and mentor younger Christians. How about you? Do you desire to be a faithful ambassador for the Lord? Do you witness when given the opportunity? Do you take time to teach those that are still babes in Christ? You and I are saved because somebody else was faithful. Let’s be faithful also.


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A Clear Conscience

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Today’s Passages – Acts 23 – 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 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?

“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – (Acts 24:16)

In our passage today, we see the great Apostle Paul standing before Governor Felix. The official accusation that was laid against him was by the religious leaders was that he was a “mover of sedition”, and that he “profane[d] the temple”. (Acts 24:3 & 4) The real beef that the nation of Israel had against Paul was that he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he taught that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. Paul did not try to hide his faith in Christ and the resurrection. He boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, was God in the flesh, and that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. However, though Paul was bold in his conviction and preaching regarding the message of Christ, he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. He stated that he strove (exercised) to always have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul had a clear conscience. He loved the nation of Israel, and he wanted more than anything to see them come to faith in Christ. He preached the message of salvation boldly, which was exactly what God had called him to do. His first concern was to obey God. However, sometimes in obeying God, we will offend men; but we ought not go out of our way to be an offence to men. The message of a resurrected Christ was what offended the Jews. Though Paul did nothing to hurt the Jews, his message was nevertheless offensive to them.

God has called us to be light and salt to this world. We will offend God if we refrain from what he has called us to be. This world is getting more and more offended by Christians who are living in obedience to God’s call, but we must not let that stop us from telling them what they need to hear. If I have to choose between offending men and offending God, I must choose to offend men. However, it is not my desire to hurt men. I love people, and I will work hard (exercise myself) to be as loving and non-offensive to them as possible, but there will be times when my life and my message as a Christian will offend them. However, even when the world gets offended, I can still pillow my head with a clear conscience knowing that I did what God has told me to do.


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Feed the Flock

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Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22 (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 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “1122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:27-28)

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Peter 5:2)

The message given to preachers by the Apostle Paul here in Acts 20:28 is to feed the flock. It is important to note that the preacher does not own the flock, but has simply been given a position of oversight by the One who purchased them, the Lord Jesus. Peter also tells us the same thing, and then adds some further qualifications for the one who would care for God’s flock. How does a preacher feed the flock? By preaching and teaching the Word of God.

1  First he must pray for God’s help and direction in selecting the right portions of Scripture to preach or teach. God will give the preacher wisdom as to what the particular needs of the people are.

2  Next, he must prepare. The preacher must immerse himself in the Scripture that he is preparing:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 )

The preacher must not only prepare by thoroughly understanding the text, but he must also prepare how the text is to be delivered. He must also select illustrations that will help the flock understand the principles contained within the text.

3  Thirdly, he much preach and teach with clarity and boldness. He must know that he is merely a messenger of God, and the message itself is from God. He must understand his authority, and claim the power that is available to him through the filling of the Spirit of God. Along with preaching the principles contained within the text, the preacher must be careful to guide the congregation in application, declaring how the Bible principles can be put to practical use in their lives.

Of course it goes without saying that the preacher must be in the Word of God on a daily basis, feeding on its truths, and applying the principles to his own life. He also needs to be fed himself by allowing others to preach the Word of God to him.

What an awesome privilege it is to serve the people of God by feeding them from the Word of God.


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Repentance

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Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19 (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 – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “Mentoring” & “We Need the Bible

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

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

This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.

One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, but I learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.

However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then, when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved for my sin there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance regarding salvation always involves guilt.

Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.

So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.


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Tenacity

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Today’s Passages – Acts 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 – Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “1120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “In Tune with the Spirit of God

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (Acts 14:19-21)

The Apostle Paul was a unique individual. He travelled to Iconium on his first missionary journey, and received intense persecution there, almost being stoned. He escapes to Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, and then after preaching at Derbe he returns again to both Lystra and Iconium. If you look at the map of Paul’s first journey (below) you will notice that Paul did not have to go back to Antioch, where he started out, through those cities. He went out of his way to go back to the places where he was almost killed, and where he surely faced danger again. Why would he do that? Because there were people there that he needed to help. He didn’t let fear of almost certain persecution keep him from doing what God had called him to do. That is tenacity.

There are very few people today who are willing to face this kind of persecution in order to reach people with the gospel. In fact, there are not many who are willing even to sacrifice a little comfort in order to serve God. Today, we let the slightest excuses keep us from fulfilling the will of God. We need to get tough. We need a revival of tenacity in our churches today. A revival of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Paul's Journeys

 


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Envy – The Saturday Morning Post

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Today’s Passages – Acts 11 – 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 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Beginning of the Journey

“Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13:40-49)

Good morning. I just read an article about a man in Chicago who was beaten by a bunch of thugs because he voted for Trump. And I also read about Hillary uncontrollably crying over the phone because she did not win the election. It is one thing to cry because your feelings are hurt, but when those feelings turn to lashing out and physically hurting someone, that is envy. That’s what happened to Paul and Barnabas, if you read the next verse: they raised up persecutions against Paul and Barnabas…

“But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” (Acts 13:50)

This would happen to them again in Acts 17…

“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” (Acts 17:1-5)

Proverbs 14:30 tells us that envy is as rottenness to the bones. And Proverbs 27:4 asks who can stand against envy? Able could not…

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:3-8)

Jesus faced envy from the priests…

“But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him.” (Mark 15:9-13)

Romans 1:28-32 shows us that envy is part of a reprobate mind…

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:28-32)

Envy is a part of being carnal…

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1Corinthians 3:3)

Envy is a part of the works of the flesh…

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

We are warned ourselves, in both Proverbs and Psalms, not to be envious of the wicked…

“…Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)

“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3)

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.” (Proverbs 3:31)

“Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.” (Proverbs 24:1-2)

One thing we can do to combat envy: to keep it from welling up inside us is to walk honestly: do that which is right…

“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” (Romans 13:13)

Another thing we can do is love…

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…” (1Corinthians 13:1-8)

Peace!


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Persecutor, Preacher, and Prisoner

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Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10 (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)

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

Read the “1118 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “They’re All Precious In His Sight” & “The Beauty Of Salvation

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

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2)

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. … And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 9:3-5, 17)

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2)

“Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum [in present day Greece], I [Paul] have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Please read carefully again the series of verses above as they progress in time in the Book of Acts. In Acts 8:1 & 4, we see Saul, a lost Pharisee who was a passionate enemy of anybody who was a follower of Christ. The context of these verses was the stoning of Steven, which was authorized by Saul. Verse 4 states something very interesting, however. As the persecution that was caused by Saul and others increased in both frequency and intensity, the disciples of Christ were forced to run away from the persecutors. As they ran, however, they took the Gospel of Christ with them, and preached the Word all along the way. So the end result of the persecution was the gospel going forth to new places.

Notice next, in Acts 9:1 – 2, that Saul the persecutor is still at it, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”. Something miraculous happens in verses 3 and following, however: Paul meets Jesus, the One he was so passionately persecuting. Jesus saves him!

In chapter 13 we learn that Saul has grown tremendously as a disciple of Christ, and is being greatly used in his home church in Antioch. The Holy Ghost separates him and his friend Barnabas, and commissions him to take the gospel into Asia.

The Book of Romans tells us that Saul (now called Paul) took the gospel all the way to Illyricum, in western Macedonia (present day Greece – just opposite the sea from Italy).

Acts 23 – 28 takes us on Paul’s Journey as a prisoner all the way to Rome.

My point is that Paul was used of God all throughout his life, even before he was saved. The persecution that Paul brought was used of God to scatter believers everywhere, taking the Word of God with them. Then later, after his conversion, Paul purposely took the Word of God into all the known regions of the world; and then finally, even as a prisoner, Paul was used of God to testify of Christ as far as Rome. Isn’t it amazing that Paul, whether he was a persecutor, preacher, or prisoner advanced the cause of Christ. Paul’s life was a perfect picture of all things working together for good.

Just a thought here, but possibly there are some circumstances in your life right right now that are very unpleasant, may seem to be “bad”, but I bet God will use them also to glorify Himself, advance His kingdom, and maybe even make you into a better disciple.


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

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Today’s Passages – Acts 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Divine Appointments

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 8:59 & 60)

The world is taking a picture of our lives every day; but what image are they getting. When people look at me do they see me, or do they see Christ. As Christians, we are supposed to be pictures of Christ to this godless world. We are to show them Christ through our lives and testimonies. When people see us they are supposed to get a glimpse of what Jesus would be like if He were here in the flesh personally. In our passage today, we see a man who demonstrated Christ to his generation. He lived like Christ, and he died like Christ.

1  Stephen was fearless in his preaching. He knew that the crowd that he was witnessing to had already killed the Lord, and they had already beaten and imprisoned Peter and John. He knew that he was risking his life by saying the things that he said, yet he preached the truth.

2  Stephen was faithful in his passing. He had his eyes on the Lord right up until he died. He was not thinking about his circumstances, he was looking straight into the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord was standing at the right hand of the Father, waiting to receive Stephen. What a way to go.

3  He was forgiving to his persecutors.  Perhaps this is the most striking picture of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “Forgive them Father”. Here Stephen says virtually the same thing. He says, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

There was a young man named Saul in the crowd that day that got a good look at the picture that Stephen was portraying that day. Saul would get another look at the Lord, first hand, later on; but I contend to you that he had already seen the Lord through the testimony of Stephen.

What do people see in our lives? Do they see Jesus or do they see us? We need to peel back the layers of our own desires and personalities, and allow Christ to live through us. This world desperately needs to see the real Jesus. There have certainly been many impersonators out there; but through our surrendered lives, we can show the world Christ.


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

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

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

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

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

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

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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To Be Continued

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Today’s Passages – Acts 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 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Was Down, But He Got Back Up

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. To Be  – (Acts 2:41-42)

While reading this morning, I noticed the word, “continued” in Acts 2:42. I did a little research and discovered the words “continue”, or “continued” are found 12 times in the Book of Acts. The Christian life is all about continuing. In fact, I would go as far to say that the secret to being successful in your walk with the Lord is to just continue. Don’t go back; don’t quit; just keep going.

In verse 42, we learn that this new group of believers in Jerusalem continued in:

1  The Apostles Doctrine – It is so important that we keep growing in our knowledge of Bible doctrine. We never arrive at a place in the Christian life where we know all that there is to know. So many Christians are weak today, and so many of our church are misguided, because they have not placed an emphasis on Bible doctrine.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – (2 Timothy 2:15)

2  Fellowship – This new church gathered together often to edify and encourage each other. Living for the Lord in this wicked world can be very difficult at times, to say the least. We need to have a place where we can go where we are around people of like, precious faith: people who are going the same direction that we are going.

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

3  Breaking of Bread – I could be wrong about this, but I believe that the phrase “breaking of bread” has to do with more than eating meals together, though I am sure that ecause they fellowshipped often, they also would frequently share meals together. However, I believe that this phrase is speaking primarily about this church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper. I believe the early believers regularly remembered the body and blood of the Lord.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” – (1 Corinthians 11:26)

4  Prayers – This church faced incredible persecution from both the religious officials of Israel, and also from the Roman government. They needed to be a praying church. They needed to pray fervently for each other.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – (James 5:16)

Living for the Lord is not always easy and sometimes it can even be discouraging, but we need to keep going; keep moving forward. The sun will rise again in the morning and someday it truly will be worth it all. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time, and if you have already quit, get back up and get back in the game.


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Going Fishing

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Today’s Passages – John 20 – 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 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “1114 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Lovest Thou Me

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” – (John 21:3)

In our passage today we see Peter returning to his old occupation of fishing. When the Lord first called Peter into the ministry he was a fisherman. In fact, that occasion was amazingly similar to this passage. You can read about yourself in Luke 5, but I will point out some of the similarities:

In both passages Peter and company are fishing through the night on the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberius).

In both of the passages the fishermen catch no fish despite all of the efforts.

In both passages Jesus asks them to cast the net(s) out again. Actually, the first time the Lord told Peter to cast out his nets (plural). Peter reluctantly casts out one net, but the catch of fish was too big for the one net, and the net broke. He should have listened to the Lord.

In the first passage, Jesus was calling Peter into the ministry. He told Peter that he would no longer be fishing for fish, but rather he would now be catching men for the Saviour. In this morning’s passage, however, Peter is being reminded of that call. Jesus is reminding Peter that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. In other words, God was telling Peter that He had not changed His mind about Peter, even though Peter had just recently change his mind about the Lord. Remember, just a short time prior to this passage, Peter had denied the Lord. Peter thought that he was through. He assumed that the Lord would no longer want him in the ministry after what he had done. He was wrong. The Lord was not finished with Peter. He still wanted to use him. In tomorrow’s reading in Acts, we will see what the Lord will do with Peter.

The Lord is not through with you either. I know that you may have blown it in the past, like Peter did; but the Lord is merciful, and gracious. Don’t turn back, and if perhaps you have already turned back, you can always come back to the Lord. God called me to preach the Gospel nearly 25 years ago. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit and turn back, but I am thankful that the Lord has always somehow reminded me that He wanted me to keep going for Him, and by His grace, I am still fishing for men.

Don’t quit.


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Finish Well

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Today’s Passages – John 17 – 19 (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 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “1113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)

I believe that John 17 is the real Lord’s Prayer. Jesus is about to be crucified, yet He spends this time shortly before His death praying for His disciples. He asks the father to shield them from evil, and to sanctify them through the Truth. He also asks that they would be unified, just as He was one with His Father. It is truly a beautiful prayer of intercession.

However, my thought this morning surrounds John 17:4. Jesus states that He was finished the work that He came to do, and that He did all to the glory of God. This verse reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:6 – 8:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

The Apostle Paul completed the task that God had given him, and I believe the record plainly shows that he also glorified God with his life. He finished well.

What a practical challenge this is for us today. We should be encouraged to be like our Lord and also like Paul in this regard. Let us strive to completely, efficiently, and enthusiastically fulfill God’s will for our lives, and let us make sure that everything that we do brings glory to the Lord. We need to make the Lord look good to the world around us. Our lives ought to be bright, shining lights that boldly declare that Jesus is Lord.


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These Things – The Saturday Morning Post


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Today’s Passages – John 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 – Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

Read the “1112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:22-26)

Good morning. I can’t believe the protests against President Elect Trump that are taking place here and there. The guy hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet. Many things can happen between now and January 2017. But Jesus said if a man love me, he will keep my words. These things He has spoken to us about, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will remind us of these things when they are needed.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 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.” (John 16:1-7)

These things, the things that Jesus said are to be kept and remembered by us.

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165)

We should not be offended when tribulation and persecution come upon us.

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” (John 15:18-22)

But be of good cheer, that’s what Jesus said…

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We can have peace, and good cheer; and we can also have love, and joy…

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)

But it all starts with love…

“These things I command you, that ye love one another.” (John 15:17)

The reason we love Jesus is because He first loved us. And the love that we show should extend to everyone: from those weeping at the feet of Jesus to the soldier who nailed the spikes through His hands and feet…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Those out protesting, they may not know the Lord, but they can learn if someone tells them. God has given us a second chance. Let’s not drop the ball this time.

Peace!


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Mad About The Money

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Today’s Passages – John 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 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “1111 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Closet Christians” and “Servant Leadership

“Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?  This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:4-6)

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” (Matthew 26:14-16)

Have you ever been to a church business meeting where people were fussing and fighting over how the money was being spent? In our passage today, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a very expensive ointment and poured it all out and anointed the Lord Jesus’ feet. Matthew’s gospel tells us that this ointment was worth three hundred pence, which is almost a years salary for a working man. Judas Iscariot thought that this was a tremendous waste of money. He said that the ointment should have been sold and given to the poor. He didn’t really care about the poor at all, but he did care about the money. Matthew’s account goes on to tell us that immediately after this event Judas set out to betray the Lord, and made the worst decision of his life – all because he got mad about the money.

Christian, be careful that you don’t get so concerned about money matters within the local church that it causes you to become angry, and then bitter, and then causes you to make stupid decisions. Jesus said:

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

I have been part of local churches for a long time now, and I don’t always agree with every decision made by the leadership, but as long as the gospel is going forth and the Bible is being preached and God is being glorified, I do not let myself get bogged down with minor disagreements. Money issues can be a stumbling block for many of us, so be careful not to get too caught up in the administrative details of the church, and keep your focus on what is eternally important.


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Jesus Still Weeps

Jesus1_1024x1024Today’s Passages – John 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 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “1110 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Door”

“Jesus wept.” – (John 11:35 )

Though this verse is short in length, it is long in truth because it reveals the heart of compassion that God has for His children. If you think carefully about this passage, you will conclude that Jesus was not weeping for Lazarus. He knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead; He knew that Lazarus would soon be reunited with his sisters, Mary and Martha. In fact, Jesus delayed his arrival to Bethany long enough because had He gotten there earlier, we would have been reading about a healing rather than a resurrection. Jesus wanted to prove His power over death, and by so doing foreshadow his own resurrection. So why was Jesus weepin? I believe He was weeping because the people that He cared about were weeping. He identified with their grief. He actually felt the pain that they were feeling. It is comforting to know that even when Jesus allows difficult days to come into our lives, He goes through them with us; and He weeps with us.

As I was reading this passage, I got to thinking about another passage that tells us about our Saviour’s tears:

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” – (Matthew 9:36)

In this passage Jesus looks out over the multitudes and He was “moved with compassion”, which means He wept for them. I believe at that moment Jesus not only saw the multitudes of that location and that time, but He also saw all of the people in every place throughout eternity that were without a Shepherd. He saw all of the people that were in need of a Saviour; and He saw all of the people who would ultimately die without Him. By the way, this verse has caused me to reject the Calvinistic idea that Christ created people to go to Hell, and does not give them a choice regarding salvation. Why would God weep over people that have no free will and were created to go to Hell. It just doesn’t make sense. No, “God is not willing that any should perish”. He wants people to be saved. Unfortunately, most will reject Him; and this will still cause God to weep.

Let me give you one more time where Jesus wept:

“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – (Luke 22:44)

In this passage, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and He is about to have the sins of the world placed squarely upon His shoulders. His Father will turn His face away from Him, and pour out His wrath upon His only Son. Our sin causes God to grieve. We grieve Jesus, and we grieve the Spirit within us, when we sin. Many people are kept inside the will of God because they fear His wrath or judgment; but I have to tell you, His tears are what bother me the most. I don’t want to grieve God anymore. I have caused Him enough tears already.


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