You Can’t Take It With You

U-haul behind hearse

Today’s Reading – Psalms 46 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3; Psalms 121 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0625 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.” – (Psalm 49:17)

You have heard it said that you will never see a U-haul behind a hearse, except, of course, in comical pictures like the one above. The bottom line from Psalm 49 is, however, that your accumulated wealth and status in this life will do you no good in eternity, unless your life and wealth have been invested in the cause of Christ, and in the lives of others. This Psalm admonishes us to not envy the lifestyles of the rich and famous among us. First of all, we don’t see the whole picture. While they may seem to be enjoying life on the surface, we know that lives that are lived outside of the will of God are not really happy on the inside. There is a lack of inner peace, and a void that cannot be filled with the things that this world offers.

I want to be clear to point out, however, that wealth or possessions are not evil in themselves. God blesses His children with some of the non-sinful pleasures in this life. The key, however, is found in v. 20:

“Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” – (Psalm 49:20)

Notice that only the man that understandeth not is like the beasts that perish. Honor and wealth, and possessions, etc. are wonderful gifts given by the Lord to the person that “understands” Him, and His will. So, go ahead and enjoy the possessions that this life contains, but do not let them possess you; and remember to thank the Lord who gave them to you.


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God Wants To Hear You Sing

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 40 – 45 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 John, 3 John, Jude; Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the  “0624 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading – “Thirsty?”

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” (Psalms 40:1-3)

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalms 100:2)

“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” (Psalms 126:2)

Christians ought to be a singing people. We are really the only people on this planet that have a reason to sing. David, the writer of Psalm 40 lists the reasons for his song in vs. 1 – 3. He tells us, first of all,  that the Lord inclined unto him, and heard his cry. The word, “incline”, has the idea of bowing down. David was saying that God bowed down, or leaned over, to hear David’s cry. I do not know the reason that David was crying, though I do know that in his lifetime there were many events that would have brought him to tears. This world has a way of beating you down, but isn’t it a great joy to know that God can “incline” to us, give us his full attention, and hear our cries.

God didn’t just listen to David’s problem, however; He fixed it. Notice v. 2 again:

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalms 40:2)

In the context of this psalm, I believe David was probably referring to one of the many earthly problems he faced. Perhaps, it was when God delivered him from the hands of Saul. We can’t be sure. However, I believe that we can apply the principles of this psalm on a deeper level. When the Lord saved me, He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, and he secured my salvation on the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ; and now He has given me a new direction in life, a new purpose. I get to live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He established my goings within His perfect will for my life.

Because of all of this, I, like David, have a reason to sing. If you are saved, so do you. God wants to hear us sing. He tells in Psalm 100 that we are to enter into His presence with singing, and we are supposed to be in His presence all of the time, which means that we should be singing all of the time. So go ahead: let loose with a few verses of “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” David tells us that when this world hears us sing, many of them will “see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” Isn’t it interesting that it says here that people will be drawn to God through our singing. I believe that we should preach the Word, and live the Word; but if I am going to really be effective as a soul winner, I will also have to learn to sing the praises of God.


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Nuggets of Gold

Nuggets of Gold

Today’s Reading – Psalms 36 – 39 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0623 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” – (Psalm 37:4)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” – (Psalm 37:23)

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” – (Psalm 37:25)

Have you ever noticed that Psalm 37 contains many wonderful verses that we often quote. I have listed three of them above, but really I could have added more. This Psalm almost reminds me of a chapter from the Book of Proverbs, but the theme seems to be the same throughout the Psalm. The bottom line to this Psalm is that God is encouraging us to trust in His promises and provisions; and to not worry about the apparent prosperity of the lost world around us. Their success and superiority is short-lived at best; but ours is eternal.

Let’s consider the three verses listed above. David says that a good man will “order” his steps according to the direction of the Lord. This means tha a good man will yield himself to the will of the Lord. Notice that both verse 4 and 23 say that this good man will “delight” in God. God then in turn not only provides the necessities mentioned in v 25, but also will grant his desires. What a wonderful and awesome God we serve. What does this world have to offer you that could possibly compare to what God wants to give to that “good” man (or woman) who delights in Him.


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Forgiven

Forgiven

Today’s Reading – Psalms 32 – 35(Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0622 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1

The Book of Hebrews admonishes us to grow up in our faith and move beyond the foundational truths of the Christian life. That’s good advice: we cannot stay babies forever. However, it is wonderful to be reminded often about the simple truths of the forgiveness that God offers to all those who are willing to put their faith in Him. In this passage, there is a reminder to all of us who are saved. The verse above simply reminds us of the fact those who have their sins forgiven are a blessed people. To think that an omniscient God, who knows every sinful act of my past as well as every evil thought, would be willing to forgive me, and even look at me and treat as if I had never done or thought any of those horrible things.

It gets even better. Notice verse 2:

“Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Psalm 32:2)

It is one thing to choose to forgive the acts of the past; but to also forgive ahead of time all of our future transgressions is beyond comprehension. God loves us unconditionally. He says he will not “impute” our sin. The word impute means to assign to or credit to. God says that he will not assign or credit our debts or sins to our account. Why? Because 2000 years ago he laid all of the debt of my sin upon the His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus paid my sin debt for me. What a wonderful thought. Notice h
ow that happened to David:

“I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

He acknowledged his sin. He did not deny them or hide them. He then confessed them to God and asked the Lord for forgiveness. God could only forgive him because the debt would be paid by Christ. Have you confessed your sin to God, and asked Him for forgiveness? Have you come to the foot of the cross and called upon the name of the Lord for salvation. If you haven’t done so yet, please call upon Him today.

To those of us who have received the forgiveness of God through the remission of our sins, how are we at forgiving each other? God has forgiven everything that I have ever done or will do. What right do I have to withhold forgiveness from others? Just a thought.


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Joy Cometh in the Morning

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Today’s Reading – Psalm 26 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0621 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” – (Psalm 30:5)

This is a tremendous, encouraging truth from the Word of God. Sometimes living and serving on this earth can be very trying. There are going to be days, and even seasons, where we experience hardships, pain, and suffering; but, praise God, He always brings us to the other side of the trials to the place where we can see the glorious sun of God’s love rising over the dark horizon.

As I read this verse this morning, I thought of the Stahl family. Ted and Camille have had a pretty rough go of it for the past few years. They dealt for years with the debilitating arthritis of their daughter, Melissa, which involved many surgeries.  Later, their daughter developed cancer, and after a long battle with more surgeries and painful treatments, she finally went home to be with the Lord. It was certainly a dark time for this godly, faithful, serving family. After Melissa’s death, Camille had a heart attack, which would necessitate surgeries for her. In the midst of it all, Brother Ted was struggling to take care of his family due to problems related to his job. Through it all, they remained true to their God: they stayed faithful. It did not seem like this long night of weeping would ever end, but God has brought them to the place where they could once again experience the joy of living and serving Him.

Ted and Camille Stahl are not the only ones that will go through the fiery trials of this life. Our family also went through a very dark valley a couple of  years ago, and there were times when we thought it would never end. But, God has brought us through to the other side of the trial, and we are now enjoying life more than ever. The truth is that we will all experience the rough times, the dark valleys; but it is good to know that God will be with us every step of the way, even though at times we cannot perceive His presence. It is also very comforting to understand, that every dark tunnel that we may experience in this life has a light at the end of it; and when this life is all over, we have the bliss and splender of Heaven waiting for us.

Are you in a dark valley right now? Take heart. Stay faithful. Joy does come in the morning.


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Mountaintop or Valley

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 21 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0620 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Are You Teachable?

“Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.” (Psalm 21:2)

“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:2)

Isn’t it interesting the difference between Psalm 21 and Psalm 22. Many of these Psalms are just praises and prayers to God right out of the heart of David. In Psalm 21 everything is great. David is praising the Lord for all of the wonderful things that God has done for him. In Psalm 21 it appears that everything is going great in David’s life.

Now when we get to Psalm 22, it seems like the bottom has fallen out of David’s life. Notice in verse 2, he accuses God of not hearing him. That’s funny because in the first Psalm he said that God gave him the desires of his heart. What happened? Is there some kind of a contradiction here? No. It is just that David, like us, is viewing God through the eyes of his present circumstance. Apparently his circumstance in Psalm 22 was not as good as Psalm 21. Remember, these Psalms are expressions of the deep feeling coming straight out of David’s heart.

I find that my prayer and praise to God is much the same way. Like David, I too go through different seasons. At times, it feels like nothing is going wrong in life; but at other times it seems as if God is completely absent from my life and the devil is having a “free for all”. Do you ever feel that way? I guess maybe David was just as human as we are. I would like to some day get to the place where my praises to God are consistent regardless of the valley or the mountaintop I may be traveling through.


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My Thoughts and Words

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 17 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 9 – 13; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0619 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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

I love the Word of God. I thoroughly enjoyed the Book of Job; but I am also having a wonderful time each morning in the Psalms. As I read this morning, I was captured by the beauty of Psalm 19. Verses 1-6 are expressions of David’s worship of God. Verses 7 – 11 are remarks that lift up the Word of God, and the reader is admonished to place a higher value on the Word of God than gold. Great Advice!

However, the verses that really caught my attention were verses 12 – 14 where David prays to God regarding God’s help in keeping him from sin. In verses 12 and 13, he speaks of secret sins and presumptuous sins. The presumptuous sins are those that we do blatantly, proudly, and in public view. David begs God’s help in the removal of these things.

Verse 14 is the prayer that all of us should have on our lips and in our hearts the moment that we awake from sleep. How often do we violate our relationship with God by allowing evil thoughts to take hold of our meditations. we muse on things that are clearly outside of the will of God. Ask God to control your thought life. The minute the devil causes you to think about something that is wrong, take it to God. Ask Him to help you. Purposely divert your thoughts to things that are true, honest, just, and pure, etc. Our sin begins with the musings of our heart.

Notice also the petition regarding his words. Oh how I wish that I could take back some of my words. The tongue can be a consuming fire, a deadly poison. Why not ask God to help you get your tongue under control.

I wonder how many mistakes we could have avoided in the past had we made this our prayer? We don’t have to make the same mistake in the future. Let God control your thought life and your tongue!


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Does God See?

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 9 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 5 – 8; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0618 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” – (Psalm 10:11)”

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” – (Psalm 11:4)

“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” – (Psalm 11:7)

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” – (Proverbs 5:21)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” – (Proverbs 15:3)

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” – (1 Peter 3:12)

The simple answer is yes – He sees. I believe the Scriptures referenced above make that clear, and there are many other verses we could include. Yet, little man thinks that somehow his actions and his thoughts are hidden from the eyes of God, but He sees it all. There is both a negative and a positive side to this principle. The negative, of course, is that God is aware of every evil thought that we contemplate, and every sinful thing that we do. The positive side, however, is that God also sees all of the things that we have done for His glory. Whether any man ever sees it or not is not important. We know that God knows, and we also understand that God will reward us for all that we do for Him. Just a thought.

 


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A Recipe for Success

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 1 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Philemon – Hebrews 4; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the  “0617 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage –Kiss the Son

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” – (Psalm 1:1-6)

The recipe for success in God’s economy is simple and sure. God says that we are to separate ourselves from the philosophies of this world, and immerse our lives in the principles of the Word of God. It’s that simple. Notice that this psalm teaches that if we will do these things we will be fruitful and prosperous. This is a guaranteed promise from God.

Why is it that Christians do not follow this simple recipe from the Word of God? I think that there are many reasons for this, but the one that stands out above the rest seems to be that we really do not fully believe the promise. Our sight of the substance of this world overpowers our faith in the things that are not seen. Another reason that comes to mind is that because the blessings that come as a result of our faithfulness to God and His word often only come after a time of testing, Christians often throw in the towel and follow their own instincts. But whatever the reasons may be, the fact remains that most of us never arrive at the place where we experience the level of prosperity that God promises.

Christian, let me encourage you to meditate, and even memorize this wonderful psalm. Let it be absorbed into your soul. Even more importantly, however, you should put this portion of Scripture into practice in your life. Fall in love with the Word of God, and follow its principles. Don’t be enamored with all the glitz that this world may offer you. Choose to live for the things that really matter.


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I’d Better Keep My Mouth Shut

remain-silent

Today’s Reading – Job 39 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Titus 1 – 3; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0616 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” (Job 40:4)

“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” (Job 42:3)

Have you ever made the statement, “I’d better keep my mouth shut”? Have you ever told your child the same thing? We can really get ourselves in trouble with our mouths, can’t we? Sometimes it’s better not to say anything. I remember when I was a brand new Christian. I was having a discussion with Pastor Thompson about reaching the people around me for the Lord. He said something that I never forgot: he said that if you don’t have an answer to their questions, or even their arguments, tell them that you don’t know the answer. His exact words were, “Don’t snow them”. What he meant was that we shouldn’t try to offer something on behalf of God that isn’t what God said. We shouldn’t offer what we feel or think about God; but only tell people what we know to be true. These friends of Job (and Job himself) were doing a lot of talking about God: each offering their own opinion about the situation; but how much of what they said was actually true.

The Bible says that we are God’s ambassadors. We represent God to this world around us. We speak on his behalf. Shouldn’t we be very careful about what we say? I wonder what God will have to say about me someday, especially the things that I have taught others about Him. Preachers and teachers have an awesome responsibility. Therefore we need to make sure that we are daily spending time with God in His word so that we can know how He thinks; and know what He teaches about any given subject. And then when we are given the opportunity to speak on His behalf, whenever possible, we should tell people what God actually said, instead of what our opinion is. As God’s ambassadors we have no right to represent ourselves, or present ourselves, or try to make ourselves look good in the eyes of the people. We need to make God look good; and we need to give people the actual Words of God.

In God’s rebuke of Job, He said, “will thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous”? What God was saying was that Job said things to justify himself; to make himself look good. How often do I do that. I am so afraid of the opinion of men that I have often condemned others in order to elevate myself. Shame on me! and shame on all of us. The Bible is very plain in its teaching that we don’t have to say too much, and that it is wise to hold our peace at times; and then when we do speak, we should be very careful about what we say.

 


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Gird Up Thy Loins Like A Man

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

(Second Milers Read – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

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

Read the “0615 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” – (Job 38:3)

It is now God’s turn to speak. God hasn’t said anything in this book since His earlier conversation with Satan; and the humans in the story were not privy to that conversation. All of this talk that has been going on since chapter 2 has been by people who really had no idea of the true circumstances regarding the calamity that Job was facing. They were clueless. Job’s friends were accusing Job, and Job was defending himself. They were all speaking on behalf of God; yet much of what they said was not true. However, now we will hear from the Source. God is speaking, and we know that everything that God says is true. By the way, you get the idea from the tone of this passage that God is not very happy about all that has been said. It kind of reminds me of a time when I was much younger and I was rebuked by an authority figure in my life. He had some things to say to me, and I was going to listen. God will take 4 chapters to basically remind Job and his friends that He is God, and they are merely humans.

As we read chapters 39 – 42 together tomorrow, pay close attention to God describing Himself, and His magnificent, omnipotent power. Between now and then, however, think a little bit of how much we are like Job and His friends. We are just little humans, trying to understand an infinite God. Let’s start thinking of ourselves as we really are. We are not much. We are pretty small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. And while we are at it, let us also start trusting God’s wisdom in allowing the things that have happened to us in our lives.

 


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Multiplying Words

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

(Second Milers Read – 1 Timothy 4 – 6; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the  “0614 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “That Which I See Not

“Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.” – (Job 35:16)

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” – (Proverbs 26:4)

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” – (James 1:19)

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

There is entirely too much talking going on in this entire Book of Job. Job’s so-called friends should be listening to Job rather than rebuking him. He certainly has suffered enough. Even Job is talking too much by arguing with these idiots. They are all “experts” on God; yet there is much that they do not, and cannot understand.

We do the same thing, don’t we? We talk about things, and try to sound like we have complete knowledge on a subject; but half the time we really do not know what we are talking about, especially when it comes to talking about God. The best thing that we can do is quote Scripture if we have to talk at all. The older I get, the more I realize that I really do not know much. I should keep my mouth open proportionately to the amount of knowledge that I have, which means it should not be open much.


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What Are You Looking At?

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

(Second Milers Read – 1 Timothy 1 – 3; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0613 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)

In our reading we have been following the conversation between Job and his friends. Job has been declaring his innocence: not that he claims sinlessness; but he does contend that his sins were open and confessed to God, and that he was not living a double life. His friends, however, are sure that Job must have some heinous secret sin in his life. In this chapter Job seems to be answering a charge regarding his fidelity. Perhaps the underlying accusation was that Job was an adulterer. Job’s answer in chapter 31 is that he had been faithful, not only in not touching that which is forbidden, but in not looking on another woman besides his wife.

In our culture the accepted instruction is, “you can look, but you just can’t touch”. The fact of the matter is that looking might just lead to touching. Job said that he made a covenant, a commitment to himself and his eyes not to think (let alone look) upon a maid. David said something similar when he said that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes.

Men, we need to do the same thing regarding the opposite sex. We need to determine to keep our eyes and our minds on that which is pleasing to the Lord. Turn off the TV if you have to; get rid of the internet if you must, but do what you have to do to keep yourself from sinning against your God and your wife. It is wise to know your limitations and put up some fences to protect yourself. A little accountability will go a long way. And ladies, your not exempt from this either. Your lusting may not be for the opposite sex per say, but I am sure you have your weak areas as well. Maybe with you the struggle involves seeing things at the mall that you can’t afford. We all need to make this same covenant that Job made to keep us from seeing and thinking about the things that we know are not part of God’s perfect will for our lives.


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Where Shall Wisdom Be Found

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Today’s Reading – Job 27 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0612 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:12)

“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

In today’s reading we have seen a continuation of what we have been reading for the past several days. Job is debating with his three friends regarding his calamity: they are claiming that Job is responsible; and Job is declaring his innocence. However, in the middle of this discussion is a passage dealing with wisdom. At first glance i wondered why God would put this teaching right in the middle of the discourse between Job and his friends regarding Job’s suffering; but then I remembered a similar teaching from the New Testament regarding trials and testing from the epistle penned by James. Remember that James admonished us to “count it all joy” in the trials; but then he added some instruction regarding wisdom:

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

Apparently there is an association between enduring trials and wisdom. God doesn’t hold back wisdom to those who fear him and depart from evil. Job had the wisdom of God. We know this to be true because later on when God enters into the discussion He states that Job spoke of Him the thing that is right.

If you are going through a time of testing, don’t seek the world and its counselors for wisdom: go to God. If you fear Him and are seeking to do that which is right, God will give you the wisdom that you need to see your way through the trial. In order for you to get to the other side you will need God’s wisdom, coupled with God’s grace. It is apparent that Job had both of these attributes.

You can find wisdom in God’s Word. The Bible is full of the wisdom of God that will help you when you need it. You can also find wisdom from godly counselors who will take Biblical principles and help you to apply them to your situation.


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Gold

Gold

Today’s Reading – Job 22 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0611 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” – (Job 23:10)

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

There are several great, golden nuggets of truth in the Book of Job, and many of them are in today’s passage. I thought this morning about the statement made by Job in chapter 23, and verse 10. Job is going through the worst trial in his life. I think it would be safe to say that no other man in history was put to the test like Job. Many people have suffered the loss of health, and many others have endured the death of a child, and still more have gone through tough financial situations; but who can say that they have had to face the loss of everything they owned, and all of the children they loved, and then had to suffer through perhaps the most painful health condition known to man, all within the same time frame. Job could certainly stand alongside any man on earth, and win the “pity party” comparison. Yet, Job knew that when it was all over,that God would bring him through to the other side of the trial; and he also knew that the trial would make him a better man.

All men will endure the hardships of trials, but to experience suffering for no apparent reason can be especially difficult. Job did nothing to deserve the treatment that he was receiving at the hand of Satan, but God would use Job’s suffering to accomplish a few wonderful things. First, He would prove to Satan that there are some men who will retain their integrity, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Second, though Job was a good man, even a great man when compared among men, this trial would make him a still better man. I believe Job had a better understanding of the greatness of his Creator, and also a better grasp of his own frail humanity as a result of this ordeal. But, perhaps the greatest thing that God would reveal to us through Job’s trial, is that we can trust God. He won’t allow us to go through something that is greater than our ability to glorify Him through. He loves us. He doesn’t punish, but He does correct us at times through the trials and sufferings of life. Sometimes the trials are a direct result of sin, but they are often just God’s way of bringing us to the next level of faith. And if we will allow God to have His way in our lives, we too can come forth as gold; better servants, and better sons: more equipped to represent Him as the ambassadors of His glorious gospel.


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The Words of My Mouth

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

(Second Milers Read – Colossians 1 – 4; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “0610 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? (Job 19:1 & 2)

You didn’t have to read long this morning to find a great truth from today’s passage. Job is in the middle of the discourse with his three ‘friends’ who are accusing him of all kinds of wickedness; adding sorrow on top of sorrows. He is already as low as he can go, but these guys continue to beat him and kick him when he is down; and their weapons are their tongues.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. … But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:6, 8 )

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

The Bible has so much to say about the deadly nature of the tongue. Why are we so quick to run our mouths when God tells us very plainly that we are to be slow to speak. We all could avoid much of our problems with our mouth by simply not saying anything unless it is absolutely necessary, or unless we are sure we are saying something that is edifying. If we have to speak at all maybe it would be best if we paused and prayed about what would be the best thing to say.

Job’s friends were not helping him at all; they were making him worse. Remember, the purpose for their visit was to ‘comfort’ him. Maybe they should have just listened to him; even let him vent a little. Maybe, I should try the same thing. As a pastor I need to learn to listen more; pray before speaking; and, as much as possible, tell people what God said instead of what I think.

Lord, help me not to kill or maim any more people with my tongue.


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Thoughts About Job from Phil Erickson Jr.

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Today’s Reading – Job 15 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Philippians 1 – 4; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0609 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.” (Job 16:2)

The story of Job in the Bible has always fascinated me. I have always loved hearing messages preached about his life. For those of you who attend our church, the “Hast thou retained thine integrity?” message is one of the all-time greats. To think that a man could go from being ”the greatest of all the men of the east” as the Bible calls him, to having nothing in just a matter of hours, and still praise God through all of it just boggles my mind. I have often wondered what it was that made Job such a “perfect and upright” man. Was it the fact that he gave his tithes and offerings faithfully? Maybe. Was it the fact that he cared so much about his family and their spiritual condition? Could be. Or maybe did God just like him better than anyone else at the time? God is not a respecter of persons, but who knows? Maybe He did favor him. He obviously blessed him with a lot. But as I read these few chapters a thought jumped out at me. Job is right smack in the middle of the absolute worst time in his life, and here come his ”friends.” They go on and on about why they think this is all happening to Job. And right in the middle of it, I noticed verses 19-20 of chapter 16. And, I may be wrong, but I think these couple verses may be the secret to Job’s “success” as a man of God. The verses say – “And now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.” Job cared about what God thought, and ONLY about what God thought. He said ‘my witness is in heaven’ , and ‘ my record is on high.’ He knew that God knew everything that was going on. He knew that God knew his heart and his intentions with everything he did in his life. He knew that God knew that his tithes and offerings, his service to God, and his love for his family was out of his love and devotion to God. It had nothing to do with ANYONE else. So, when the chips were down, and everything went down the drain, he didn’t go running to his friends or anyone else. He went to God. He brought his tears to God. He knew that when things were good, it was God. When things were bad, it was God. And he praised God through it all.

As Christians we need to see that everything that happens to us, good or bad, comes from the Lord. He loves us more than we can ever know. He has a plan for our lives, and we need to trust Him and Him alone. When the chips are down, our friends won’t always be there. Sometimes even our family won’t be there. But God is always there. He never turns His back on us…who are we to turn our backs on Him?


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We Will Trust in Him

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Today’s Reading –Job 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 4 – 6; Psalms 36 – 40Proverbs 8)

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

Read the “0608 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read another post from this passage – “Wisdom

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15)

In this statement we see Job’s declaration of faith in God. Though Job certainly has not figured out why God has allowed all of this tragedy to come into his life, he plainly declares here that no matter what God does to him (or allows to be done to him), he will continue to trust Him. When you and I read this book of the Bible it is easy for us, from the perspective of history, to identify with what Job has stated here. But think for a minute with me. If it were you or me going through what Job went through, how would we be feeling about God? If God were to allow us to lose everything all at once; and then to have excruciating physical pain be placed on top of it all, how would we react? Could we say, truthfully, “yet will I trust in Him”?

A few years back, I watched a movie/documentary called Amish Grace about the Nickle Mines tragedy in Lancaster, PA. The movie recounts the true story of a troubled man who went into an Amish school house, shooting 10 little girls and killing 5 of them. The amazing thing is that the Amish people chose to trust God’s wisdom in allowing what happened. Though it was very painful; though it took a little time for all of them to come to this decision: they chose to forgive the man that shot their children. This was certainly a modern day picture of what Job went through. These Amish folks did not understand why God had allowed it to happened, yet they continued to keep their trust in the Lord.

Most of the time I feel that my faith is so weak, I doubt whether it could stand up to such intense suffering. I guess it will have to be the grace of God that will sustain me through the dark days that seem to find their way into every believers life at one point or another. I know that difficult days lie ahead for me as well. I want to be prepared for them by getting so close to God that it will be easier to trust Him when it doesn’t seem like He is even there.

I also wanted to make a comment about the second half of verse 15. Job says that he will maintain [his] ways before him (God). I believe what Job was saying here is that though he was being severely tested by the Lord, he was still going to continue to do what he had always done. In other words, he wasn’t going to quit. He was going to keep on living for the Lord through the difficult trial. I know that when we are going through trials in life it can be very difficult to “maintain” your walk with the Lord; but it is especially important to stay close to God during the tough times. Don’t quit.


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The Daysman

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Today’s Reading –  Job 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 1 – 3; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “0607 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” – (Job 9:32-33)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” – (1 Timothy 2:5)

The word “daysman” in verse 33 of chapter 9 literally means a mediator. Job is lamenting because there is no one to bridge the gap between the righteous and holy God, and a sinner like himself. He already stated in verse 20 that he could not justify himself. God became man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as the God-man he came to justify sinners like Job, and you and me also. He was the go-between, the mediator, the one who came between God and men, so that men could come into the presence of an holy God.

Consider some of these verses regarding what Christ accomplished for us when He came to earth as a man and died for our sins:

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” – (Matthew 27:50-51)

The veil in the temple separated men from God; but through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, the veil was removed. Notice that the veil was torn from the top to the bottom, signifying that it was God that removed the veil that once kept man from Him.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Jesus was, and is, fully God, yet also fully man. He understands what it is like to be tempted, because he experienced it; yet without sin. He, as our great high priest, went before us and opened up a door for us to now boldly enter into the presence of God. We can now enter into God’s presence through “the Door”; through “the Way”; through Christ.

There has always been a “daysman”, even in Job’s time; but Job may not have understood it at the time. Praise God, however, we definitely have one that we can know today!


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The Chastening of the Lord

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

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 4 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

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

Read the “0606 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:” – (Job 5:17)

As we read the Book of Job, we will see that although Job has been put through a severe trial through no fault of his own, he has a difficult time convincing his friends of his innocence. The more he defends himself, the more his friends are convinced that he must be guilty. I am reminded of the verse in the New Testament where Jesus admonishes us to “judge not”. Job’s friends certainly did not see the entire picture, yet they made assumptions based on the false notion that all trials are somehow caused by sin. On the other hand, Job went a little overboard in declaring his innocence. Is anyone truly innocent? Aren’t we all sinners that are deserving of judgment. The bottom line is that whatever God allows to take place in our life is better than what we truly deserve. We have no right to gripe about what God allows to come our way.

In the middle of this conversation, one of Job’s friends makes a marvelous statement that I believe is supported by the teaching of Scripture. He says that we are to actually embrace the correction of the Lord. Now nobody enjoys correction, but we must understand that when God corrects us, He has nothing but our best interests in mind. He loves us with a perfect love, that far surpasses any love that any human parent can have for a child.

There have been many times in my life that I have experienced God’s “woodshed”, but I have learned that though the experience is not pleasant, it will make me a better child. I have learned to run to the Corrector, rather than away from Him. I will always be human, and I will always be in need of correction. It is kind of arrogant on our part to think that we are somehow beyond or above the correction of the Lord. Besides, correction is a great proof that we are His children. He only corrects us because He loves us.

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” – (Hebrews 12:5-8)

One more thought from this passage – notice verse 9 of chapter 6:

“Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!” – (Job 6:9)

Job wanted God to end his life. Whenever a person is this low, they simply cannot logic their way through their trial. Job didn’t understand why he was going through what he was going through, and he couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Had God told him ahead of time why He was putting him through the trial, and had God shared with him what the final outcome would be, I am sure Job could have endured without much complaint; but Job just could not see clearly what was going on. We need to remember when times like this come into our lives, that we are in the hands of a loving God who is not hurting us, but helping us; and, in His time, He will deliver us.

 


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The Road May Be Long

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

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 1 – 3; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0605 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” – (Job 2:13 )

I have read these first four chapters from Job many times, and I have preached several messages from them, but I noticed something new to me today that I thought was worth developing. But, first let me review the story. In chapter one Job lost all of his children, and nearly everything that he possessed; yet, his response was worship for God (see vs. 20 – 22). In chapter two, Satan is permitted to destroy Job’s health. I do not know much about what Job experienced, but I would imagine that Satan chose the most painful malady possible in order to make him break. Yet, Job maintained his integrity, even when his wife turned against him. By the way, I used to beat up Job’s wife for her weakness, but now I have some compassion for her. After all, she did lose all of her children and her possessions. This must have been a very difficult time for her as well. Then Job’s friends arrive. Again, I used to be pretty rough on Job’s friends, but they stayed with him for seven days without saying a word. I believe they truly wanted to help him.

It is not until we get to chapter three that we see Job begin to break down. He begins to complain that he wished that he had never been born at all. Satan couldn’t get him to break with the loss of his children and possessions, and he couldn’t get him to yield initially when Job lost his health. However, after enough time went by, Job began to crack. Time was the element used by Satan to wear Job away. Then, once he began to break, Job’s friends also piled up on him. They shouldn’t have said anything, but I think like most well-meaning people, they didn’t have a clue.

I have seen this happen in people’s lives today. When tragedy comes their way, oftentimes their first reaction is positive, but after a little time, bitterness begins to set in, and soon their faith begins to wane. Had Job’s trial ended the day after it started, he would have been fine, but time took its toll and slowly caused him to lose all hope.

I don’t know exactly what can be done in order to keep encouraged during trials like this, but I think understanding that trials are seldom short-term can be a help in itself. In other words, we need to realize that when we go into the valley, we need to be prepared to be there for quite a while. I have experienced long seasons in the valley, and I am sure there will be some more of them in my future. I need to understand that God may not be finished working in, and or, through me. I need to just trust Him. He can do what ever He wants. I need to remember that He knows what He is doing, even if I cannot see it. God may never remove a trial, but that is His decision. We need to be prepared to endure until the Lord removes the trial, or takes us home. It may be a very long road.


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Sometimes We Reap More Than We Sow

Today’s Reading – Esther 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13, Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0604 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.” – (Esther 9:5 )

“But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,” – (Esther 9:16)

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” – (Esther 7:10)

In today’s reading we read about the destruction of Haman, his family, and all others who would try to hurt the people of God. Remember, in the previous chapters we read how that Haman had a carefully devised plan to have all of the Jews in the Kingdom of Persia put to death. He even built a special gallows to have Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, displayed on. His plan ended up destroying only him and his kind; and he ended up being hung on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. He not only got back what he gave to others, he got back far more than he gave. The lost world will reap far more in this life, and especially in eternity, what they have sown.

Christians today need to remember that the principle of sowing and reaping still exists. Thank the Lord as God’s children, because of His wonderful grace, we won’t reap nearly the amount of judgment as compared to the sin that we have sown; but we will reap some in this life. However, we can also reap back a lot of good if we sow it. As the people of God today, we should be concerned with sowing love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to the people around us. I am sure that there will be times when we will want to have those things come back to us. And the beutiful thing is that the Christian will reap much more in eternity what he has sown in this life. The Bible indicates that the rewards in heaven, and to some degree, even in this life, are multiplied exceedingly.


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Obsession

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Today’s Reading – Esther 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0603 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “It’s a God Thing

“Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13)

My attention this morning is turned toward Haman, a wicked lost man that was highest ranking prince in the administration of King Ahasuerus of Persia. This man had a prestigious position, second only to the king. According to the Book of Esther he had a family and friends. No doubt, he had wealth. It could easily be said that this man had all that any man could ask for. He was a rising star in the kingdom. Yet, none of that mattered to him, because he was consumed with hatred toward the Jewish people in general, and specifically toward Mordecai. All of the things that should have brought joy and happiness to this man were of no avail, because all that Haman could think about was Mordecai. He was obsessed, consumed with hatred and bitterness toward another human being. Stupid!

King Saul also comes to mind as another insecure man consumed with hatred and jealousy. Of course, his problem was with David, a young man who had done nothing but faithfully serve his king. Saul’s obsession with David became so acute, he spent all of Israel’s resources trying to find David to put him to death. What a shame!

Unfortunately, this type of situation is very prevalent among believers today. I have observed individuals who were also consumed with jealousy or bitterness toward another. Their entire life seemed to revolve around the object of their obsession. Their thoughts were filled with the person that they were bitter towards, and every conversation they had would eventually turn into a gossip session regarding their enemy. All of this served to rob them of the happiness that they should have been enjoying in an abundant life.

Christian, is there someone you just can’t stop thinking about (in a bad way)? Is there a person out there in the world that has become the object of your obsession? The bitterness that is growing inside of you towards that person will eventually destroy you, and make others around you miserable as well. Get a life! Release this obsession from the prison of your heart. Let them go. Forget about them. Don’t let anyone steal the joy that could be yours. It’s just not worth it. If you continue on in your obsession, you will surely end up being destroyed on the gallows that you intended to use on them.


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Spring Cleaning

 

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

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

Read the “0602 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” – (Nehemiah 13:9)

In Nehemiah 13, I noticed that there were four things that had crept back into the life of the people of Israel that had to be cleaned out:

1 In vs. 4 – 9 we see that Eliashib the priest had actually emptied a chamber in the temple of God, and had prepared it for Tobiah to stay in. Tobiah had been the one who had opposed Nehemiah and the people of God as they rebuilded the city of Jerusalem. He had to go. Nehemiah gave him the boot.

2 In vs. 10 – 13 we learn that the Levites had to go back to the fields to work because the people of God were not supporting them through their tithes and offerings. Nehemiah corrected this problem as well.

3 In vs. 15 – 22 we see that God’s people were violating the Sabbath by working, and by trading with outsiders. God wanted the Sabbath Day to be kept holy, and set apart from the normal routines of the week. Nehemiah commanded that the gates of the city be closed on the Sabath so that the merchants could not enter in to do their business.

4 Finally we see that the Jews began to inter-marry with the heathen people around them. It got to be so bad that some of the children did not even speak the Hebrew language, but instead conversed in the language of the land where the mother came from. Nehemiah had a fit about this, and made the people promise to separate from people who were not Jews. He reminded them of how even King Solomon was caused to sin because of his marriages to non-Jewish women. God wants his people to marry within the household of faith.

It is amazing how quickly all of these abuses crept back into the lives of the people of God. Every once in a while we need to have an old-fashioned house cleaning to remove all of the junk that creeps into our lives as well. Why not take a spiritual inventory of your own life. Is there anything in your home, or in your life that God would want cleaned out? Just a thought.


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We Will Not Forsake the House of Our God

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

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 13 – 16; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the “0601 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.” – (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” – (Nehemiah 10:39)

I enjoyed thoroughly reading these three chapters today from the Book of Nehemiah. The people of Israel are back in their own land after having been in captivity for many years. They are united, “in one accord”; and they are fully surrendered to the Lord. This is certainly one of the high places in their history. In these three chapters I have noticed some ingredients that were in place that brought about a wonderful revival in the lives of God’s people. As I already mentioned, the people were unified, which in itself is an important part of the revival; but in addition to that, let me list some ingredients that I observed.

1 They are putting a heavy emphasis on the reading and preaching of the Word of God. We see this in chapter 8, and again in chapter 9. The people stood for a fourth part of the day listening to the Word. We have a tough time getting people to sit in padded seats for an hour. The word caused them to implement many changes in their lives, including the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

2 There is an emphasis on prayer. In chapter 9, we see the people corporately confessing their sins; and praising God for His mercy and grace upon them. People who are right with God will praise God. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

3 In chapter 10, we see that the people have made a commitment to the House of God. They committed to give their offerings so that the servants of the Temple, including all of the priests and Levites, would have everything that they need in order to minister to the people.

I have left out some other things, but as you can see from the reading today, these three ingredients were part of one of the greatest revivals in the history of God’s people. If we ever see revival again in America, I bet that these three ingredients will be here as well.

 


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I Cannot Come Down

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Today’s Reading –  Nehemiah 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0531 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – (Nehemiah 6:2 – 3)

In our passage today we see Nehemiah busy doing what the Lord had called him to do: rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. He had a job to do, and he was intent on completing it. Now there were also people in the area that were intent on stopping Nehemiah from fulfilling the will of God, but Nehemiah did not let them distract him from completing his work. I love what Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” The work Nehemiah was doing was certainly great, because it was God that had asked him to do it.

I have a great work to do for the Lord as well, and so do you. God has something to do for all of us who are His children. We must not get distracted from completing the work that God has given us. I have observed through the years that distractions can come from a variety of sources. The wicked one is famous for distracting people away from the will of God. This was the case with Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshom from our text. They were wicked men who did not have Nehemiah’s best interests in mind. They were working against the will of God, but notice how they tried to disguise themselves as God’s servants and as Nehemiah’s friends. As God’s children we need to learn to be discerning about the true motivations of the people around us as they attempt to pull us away from the primary tasks that God has given us.

Another type of distraction comes from good people who often invite us to do “good things”; but even these good things become evil if they take us away from the best things. I am slowly learning how to graciously turn down many “good” invitations from caring people. I simply do not have enough time and energy to do all of the things that I might like to do, especially as they pull me away from the primary areas of my responsibility. As a pastor, I get invited to many birthday’s, picnics, graduations, dinners, weddings, conferences, barbecues, etc. I love to be with God’s people, but I simply cannot go to them all.

A third distraction is the distraction God brings your way. There are times that God will interrupt the daily routine in life in order for you to learn something, or maybe in order for you to accomplish something special for Him. Again, we must be very careful to discern whether these distractions are indeed from God. A few years ago, because of the tight budget at the church I had to go back to a secular job for a few months, which required me to work overnight 6 nights per week. This job was certainly a hindrance that kept me from doing all that I might have wanted to do in the ministry; but I am convinced that God had lead me down that path, at least temporarily. My primary ministry is my family, and God had provided this job as a means for my family to be taken care of while still allowing me to serve as the pastor. However, because of this constraint on my time, I was very limited to what I could do. My life consisted basically of working, sleeping, prayer, Bible reading, studying and preparing for messages, and a little soul winning. That is all that I could do during those months. I  had to learn to say no to many other things so that I could do those main things. My focus was still on serving God, but I had to take some time away from that service in order to help the church financially, and in order to put food on my family’s table. God taught me much in the short time that I had been working the outside job, and He even used me to be a light to a very dark workplace. I thank the Lord that my time at the supermarket was short, and that He has turned our church’s financial situation around, but I am convinced that God allowed that period in my life for a reason.

The bottom line of today’s devotion is this: don’t allow distractions to pull you away from the primary things that God wants you to do, unless, of course, it is God who is doing the distracting.


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A Mind to Work

Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “0530 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “See the Need and Take the Lead

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)

My previous posts from this passage have always focused on Nehemiah as he led the people of God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, but this morning I would like to consider the people themselves, as they sacrificed and labored for the Lord. Our text verse says that the people had “a mind to work”, which means that they were willing to put all of the necessary effort and skill into the reconstruction of the walls around the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was merely one man, and there is no way that he could accomplish a task of this magnitude without the help of many men, women, and children that all did their part to get the job done.

In my ministry, there have been a number of times when the people of God were so inspired by a need that they all got on board to help meet it. Those were certainly sweet times. It is wonderful to see the people of the church all get together to accomplish something for the Lord. However, most of the time, the work of the ministry is done by a few people who have to do more than their share of the labor. You may have heard it said that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. I have found that to be true more often than not. It is a shame that we can’t get more of the people of God involved in the work of the ministry. Imagine with me what it would be like if we had every member of the church out for soul winning; and how about if we had more people than we could use to do all of the maintenance on the building and grounds. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Think about what could be done if we had people waiting for the opportunity to teach a Sunday School class, work a bus route, or disciple a new convert.  I believe that there would be several benefits to this, but two stand out. First, the people that are sacrificing and participating would get so much more out of the Christian life. The happiest people are the ones who get involved in serving others. Secondly, I believe that we could do so much more for the cause of Christ. More people would be saved, and more lives would be changed for the glory of God.

I want to challenge every saint of the Lord that is reading this article today. Have a mind to work. Find something to do in your local church, and give it all you’ve got. Get busy!


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Here We Go Again

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

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalm 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s blessing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

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

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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God Has His Eye On You

God Has His Eye On You

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone” and “Stop Living in the Past

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.” (Ezra 5:5)

“Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:27-28)

The context of these chapters from the Book of Ezra involve the period when the children of Israel were released from captivity in the Land of Babylon. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar had completed his destruction and plunder of the City of Jerusalem, and had take most of the citizens into captivity. After many years in Babylon, and later Persia, a good and godly king named Cyrus gave certain of the captives permission to return to the Land of Israel and begin to rebuild it and the Temple of God within it. Years had passed while the construction dragged on, and finally, during the reign of King Artaxerxes, some opposition came along and actually caused the work of the Temple to cease. This is all laid out very  clearly in the passage, and I am leaving out large portions of the story. However, some more years pass and the prophet Haggai stirs up the people to get back to work, and this time, God prevents the enemies of His people from causing the construction to stop, and the people of God were able to complete the project.

The two phrases that caught my attention in the middle of this drama are found in Ezra 5:5, and Ezra 7:28. In those verses it states that God’s eye was upon the elders of Judah, and God’s hand was on Ezra specifically. I have listed below some verses that tell us about the eye (or eyes) of the Lord. It discomforting to know that God is watching over us, and He is ready, willing, and able to help us as we fulfill His will for our lives. Carefully consider the following verses. God has got His eye on you.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;” (Psalms 33:18)

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalms 34:15)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)


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Help Wanted

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Today’s Reading – Ezra 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “A Fresh Start

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.   (Ezra 1:2-3)

After Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, God commanded Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the Temple.  Everyone did their part.  Some helped with the actual rebuilding and others gave toward the project.

Today, we also need everyone to support the building of churches.  Millions of Americans are in the greatest struggles of their lives.  Financially we are facing rising energy costs, rising unemployment, fears of a national recession – or even a depression. The dramatic stock market losses have taken huge amounts out of retirement accounts.  This is our new way of life: The “Lean Times.”

“Lean times” also may apply to some other areas of life. Relationships can be hard times, grief can leave a person in emotional ruins, and disease can attack. Faith challenged. If you face “lean times,” you’ll need a good foundation Jesus Christ.

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20)

King Cyrus would not be impressed with our version of hard times.  He would tell us, you can choose either defeat, or a victory. His was victory.

Let’s band together and continue the work so the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard around the world.

Thank You

1 John 5:13

 

 


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