A God of Second Chances

The God of Second Chances

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3; Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0924 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” (Jonah 3:1-3)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29 )

This morning’s passage is one of the most familiar portions of Scripture in the Bible: even many lost people could tell you something about this famous story. I will not take the time to revisit much of the familiar ground here, but I will sum up what happens up until chapter 3. Jonah is called by God to prophesy against Nineveh, which he refuses to do. Instead he heads east on a ship as far away from Nineveh as he can get. God causes a great tempest on the water, and Jonah ends up being thrown into the sea where he is swallowed up by a whale. While inside the belly of the great fish, Jonah repents, and after three days and nights, Jonah is vomited up on to dry ground.

Notice in chapter three that God comes to Jonah the second time, and commands him to do the exact same thing that he wanted him to do earlier. There are a couple of thoughts that I would like to consider this morning regarding these verses. First, why didn’t God ask somebody else to go. I am sure that God had other prophets, and probably even had one that would have been willing to go to the despised people of Nineveh. Why did God insist upon using Jonah? Why didn’t God give up on him and go to somebody else? Does God do the same thing with us today? In other words, is there something that God wants me to do that He will not allow somebody else to do, and if I rebel against his call, will it get done? Just a thought.

My second thought from this passage is that God did not give up on Jonah, even though Jonah rebelled against God. God patiently brought Jonah to where he needed to be, and used Jonah even though his heart wasn’t completely in the work. God gave Jonah a second opportunity to fulfill the will of God. What a great God we serve that puts up with our reluctance and our rebellion against him. God could have just let Jonah drown in the sea, but instead he brought him back to where he needed to be, and showed him what he needed to see.

God also gave John Mark in the New Testament a second chance. He was called by Paul and Barnabas to travel with them on the first missionary journey, but shortly after the trip began, he turned back. When the planning for the second journey was being discussed, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance, which Paul refused to do. Barnabas ended up splitting with Paul and taking John Mark with him. Paul admitted later on that John Mark was profitable to him for the ministry. Sometimes people don’t want to give you a second chance, but God does. By the way, if God is willing to give second chances to people, shouldn’t we?


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Spiritual Famine

drought

Today’s Passage – Amos 6 – 9; Obadiah 1 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 2 John, 3 John, Jude; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0923 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:” (Amos 8:11)

Amos is writing concerning Israel about a time where there will be an absence of the Word of God among the people. But that famine of Bible instruction and principle comes as a result of the lack of desire among the people of Israel for hearing the Words of God. The people of Judah and Israel had their fill of God. They no longer desired to hear what He had to say; they no longer desired to live in by His precepts. They simply felt that they no longer needed God or His instruction.

I feel that America today is in the same boat. There is no famine here. There may be preachers out there who water down the Word of God, and there may be a lot of compromise out there; but, a copy of the Word of God is certainly available to nearly every person in America, and there really isn’t a shortage of churches out there. The problem is not the availability of the Word of God. Rather, the problem is a lack of desire for instruction from God. We have loosed from the moorings of our Biblical heritage and are floating in the sea of secular humanism. We are shouting to God from our culture, “Get Out!”, we don’t need you and we certainly don’t want you. I don’t think it is too far fetched to think about a day in the near future when our authorities try to stop the distribution of the Word of God altogether.

God will not stay where he is not wanted. In fact, the only thing holding back the judgment of God is a remnant of people in America who love the Word and the God who wrote it. So what is the solution? Can this tide of apathy and antagonism toward God be stopped, or even slowed? I am not sure. But my instructions are still to “preach the Word”, even when it is out of season. Christian, it matters not what the world thinks about our God and our Bible. We need to keep obeying God by sowing the seed of His word to the world around us. Some day soon, our job will be done; but for now it is still our responsibility to reach who we can with the glorious gospel of Christ. There are still people out there that hunger and thirst after righteousness.


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The LORD Will Roar From Zion – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Amos 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 – 1 John 1 – 5; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Read the “0922 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron…” (Amos 1:1-3)

Good morning. In verse 3 we find that Damascus is in very big trouble. And that’s not all, in verse 6, Gaza is in trouble with the LORD. Verse 9, Tyrus is in trouble. Verse 11, Edom. Verse 13, the children of Ammon. In chapter 2, and verse 1, we find that Moab is also in trouble. But look what comes next…

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes…” (Amos 4-6)

God’s chosen people of Judah and Israel are also in trouble with the LORD.

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

How do you treat others? How do you treat the Bible: God’s Word? How does your nation treat Israel? How do you or your nation deal with the things that God calls abominations?

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

The LORD roars from Zion! God wants the best from us.

Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Daniel 17:1)

Now I know we don;t do animal sacrifices to the LORD anymore: Jesus was the final sacrifice for all. However…

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. 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 12:1-2)

The LORD roars from Zion! God wants us to be truthful.

Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

The LORD roars from Zion! What about your leaders?

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:12)

Murder, corruption, lies, sexual immoralities, and that’s on bothsides of the fence. I saw this one TV campaign commercial against someone who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Which do you think God would prefer? A baby killer or one who refuses to shed innocent blood? The LORD roars from Zion. Is He roaring at you?

Peace?


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Where Is Their God?

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Today’s Passage – Joel 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 – 1 John 1 – 5; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

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

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” – (Joel 2:15-17)

“Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servantswhich is shed.” (Psalm 79:10)

Have you ever asked the question, “where is God?”  I have often heard the people of this world ask this question when bad things happen on the earth. They will say that if there was a loving God, He would not allow all of this evil in the world. I have also heard some of the people of God pose the same thought when they or somebody they care about are experiencing hardship in life. However, the context of the verse written above is a little bit different. In our passage, the people of God have strayed far away from His will. Judgment has already come, and more judgment is on the way, and the prophet is pleading with the people to turn back to God. Notice that he wants all of the people: men, women, and even the little children to gather together. He doesn’t want any of them to not be in their place. That’s a good place to start, isn’t it. Many of God’s people today have forsaken the church house, which is “the house of the living God” for us today. Then the prophet says that the priests are to plead to God for the people. God wanted this congregation of Israel to understand that they needed to recognize that they have strayed; and then repent and turn back to God. We need to do the same thing today.

My thought for this morning, however, is that I wonder how many of of the people around us: our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, etc. can see God in our lives.  Can they see the reality of our faith working throughout our day to day living. Maybe they are tolerant and even polite to us regarding what we say about our faith; but I wonder sometimes if they aren’t secretly thinking, “where is their God?” Can they see the reality of God in our lives?  No wonder we are having a difficult time reaching the people around us. If God isn’t real to us, how can he reveal Himself to others through us. I believe we have a tremendous responsibility and an awesome opportunity to show people our God through our lives.

1  Show them God by living out your faith.  If you really believe God, then live according to the principles found in His Word.  Walk with Him daily.  Yield to His Spirit and His will.  Separate from the things that are not apart of His perfect plan for your life.

2  Show them God by loving the people around you.  God loves people, unlovable people just like you.  Demonstrate the reality of God by demonstrating God’s love to people.  Look for ways to express the love of God to the lost world around you. Don’t take separation beyond where God intended it to be.  He wants us to impact their world; not only with the truth, but also with compassion.

3  Show them God by lasting. A lot of Christians start out their race, and do pretty well for a while, but eventually drop out. When a Christian throws in the towel on his faith, he is telling the world that his God was not real. When I first got saved 21 years ago, my brother said to me that he didn’t think this new life of mine would last. He thought it was just a phase that I was going through; but now I think he has come to realize that my God as well as my salvation is very real. The greatest compliment a person could give me would be for them to say that they saw the reality of God in my life.


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It’s Time

It's Time

Today’s Passage – Hosea 8 – 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 – 1 Peter 1 – 5; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0920 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10:12)

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” (Hosea 14:1-2)

A few years ago, Hosea 10:12 was the theme verse for our church. Throughout the year, we would say to each other before services or soul winning, “It’s time”. In the context of Hosea’s book, Israel was at the end of their time for turning to God. God had warned them over and over again to come back to Him; but they were content to stay away. They had become comfortable, and complacent. They had been protected and prosperous, but they attributed their success to themselves rather than to the blessings of God. God had been patient; but His patience was running out. It was past time to seek the Lord. Judgement was imminent.

As a preacher, I sometimes feel the same frustration that Hosea and the other prophets felt. I preach the best that I can, yet I get the feeling that for the most part, my words are going in one ear and out the other. I am not speaking here about people who are trying but struggling. I am in that category myself sometimes; but I am sensing that their is an indifference to spiritual things by many in our community and even in our church. I believe with all of my heart that we are in those “perilous times” that Paul spoke of where men will “heap to themselves teachers having itching ears”.

Those of you that are reading this blog most likely are not in this category. You are the “choir” that so often get preached at (or written to). You love God, and though you may have your weak moments and battles with the flesh, the world, and  the devil; you desire to live for Him. Keep seeking God. Don’t let the attitude and apathy of the world cause you to back up in your love and devotion for Him. Keep moving forward, keep growing. Hosea was writing to a bunch of lost Israelites about turning back to God; and we certainly want to encourage a lost America to turn to God. But, we also want to plead with those who may already have a relationship with God to keep seeking Him; keep drawing closer to Him.

I am praying that God will bring real and lasting revival to our church, and new life to our community and country; but I really want to experience a personal revival. I want to know God and love Him in a deeper way than ever before. How about you? It is very dry out there, spiritual speaking. If you are like me, you are thirsting for some refreshing rain from God. Let God break up some of that hard, dry soil in your heart; and ask Him to refresh, renew, and revive your life.


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Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge

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Today’s Passage – Hosea 1 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0919 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledgebecause thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:1 & 6)

I remember recently looking at a textbook from back at the turn of the last century. I think it was called a “primer” and it was used for teaching in public schools all over America. It is full of references to God and direct quotes from the Bible. It didn’t matter what the subject was, the writers of the curriculum made sure that while the students learned academics they also learned about God. When I was a child, we used to observe a “moment of silence”, which was our opportunity to pray at the beginning of the school day. When my dad and mom were young, the teachers in the classroom actually prayed to God aloud, and also recited the Ten Commandments, etc. in the public school. America was filled with the knowledge of God in years past. They say that the average lost man, 100 years ago, knew more Bible than a Bible college student does today. I don’t think that is far from being true. We have become a secular society with all of the humanistic principles and philosophies that go along with it. We no longer look to God for solutions: we look to the government or the prominent secular authority.

In Hosea’s day it was much the same way. The land of Israel was founded on Biblical principles, yet the people became increasingly enamored with the counsel and culture of the ungodly. God said that the people were destroyed because of this lack of knowledge. The question in my mind, though, is where to place the blame. Was it God’s fault? No. Was it the people’s fault? That is a good question. I mean, the people obviously had lost their appetite for spiritual things: they did not want to “hear it” anymore. It’s hard to deliver truth to people who don’t want to listen anymore. However, I would place the blame at the feet of God’s ministers. They seemed to have gotten tired of going against the popular trends of their day; and chose to acquiesce to it rather than preach against it. So, truth stop being delivered, and the people got worse.

This sure reminds me of the current religious climate in America. Preachers want to please the people. Who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is that in pleasing the people they often compromise the truth. Most churches in America today are only delivering a small fraction of the truth that they once delivered. For example: how many churches have shut down their Sunday School programs; Sunday Evening services; and mid-week Prayer Meetings? How many messages have been cut back to a palatable 20 minutes; and how many of those 20 minute messages have more than a reference or two to Scripture. God commands His preachers to preach the Word “in season (when it’s popular) and out of season”. It really does not matter if the culture wants it or not, we are to flood our communities with the truth of God’s Word. Our nation is starving for the Word of God; and, unfortunately, so are many of our church members. We need to get back to preaching and teaching the truth in our schools and in our churches and in our homes. We need also to get back to flooding our communities with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the people won’t be “destroyed for lack of knowledge”


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Shining

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Today’s Passage – Daniel 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 – Hebrews 9 – 13; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0918 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” – (Daniel 12:3)

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” – (Proverbs 11:30)

Not too long ago I received a text message from a very excited member of our church. She had taken a trip down to North Carolina to visit with her father who was very sick. She was concerned about her father’s physical health, but she was even more concerned about his spiritual condition. This young lady had never lead anyone to Christ before and she was very apprehensive, but because she had such a love and burden for her dad, she boldly shared Christ with him. Praise the Lord! Her father was gloriously saved. I do not know that in the future she will go on to “turn many to righteousness”, or not; but I do know that she was shining like a star the day she was used of the Lord to win her father.

I don’t know about you, but that story encourages me to be a better soul winner. I want to share Christ with the world around me. There was a time in my life when I was overflowing with the gospel: I witnessed to everybody. But, to my shame, somewhere along the way, I lost some of that zeal. I want it back.


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The Prayer of Daniel

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

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 5 – 8; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “0917 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:” (Daniel 9:4 & 5)

The three chapters that we have read today contain wonderful prophecies about what was going to lie ahead for the people of Israel; and partially they reveal what still lies ahead for us today. Daniel receives several visions in these chapters, and for the most part they are explained to him so that he (and we) can understand them. We basically learn about all of the kingdoms that would rule the earth from the time of Daniel up until the time of the return of Christ. We learn that the Kingdom of Babylon would be overtaken by the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Following them will be the Greeks; and finally we conclude with the Roman Empire which was in power at the time of Christ. This kingdom will eventually be revived and ruled by Antichrist in the last days. These are fascinating and amazingly easy to understand passages of Scripture that leave us with the assurance of knowing that we already have the victory over any evil forces that may come our way.

However, in the midst of all of this prophecy that is given in these three chapters is a prayer to God by Daniel. The thing that captivated my attention about this prayer is that Daniel includes himself in his confession to God regarding all of the iniquity of the people of God. He doesn’t say “they”; he says “we”. Now from what we know about Daniel from what is recorded in Scripture is that he was a very good man. There is not a mark against him in the Word of God. However, we know that he was a man like every other man and was not sinless. Nevertheless, he includes himself in all of the corporate idolatry and immorality that the nation was guilty of. I don’t think that he had forsaken God as the nation had, yet he took the blame upon himself.

I have a couple of thoughts regarding this humble prayer of Daniel:

1 Daniel is a type of Christ here who, though innocent, takes the blame for the sin of others.

2 Daniel is not like most men, including myself at times, who are always trying to pass the blame on to others. Why are we so full of pride that we have to try to make ourselves look to be without flaw and without sin. We are sinners. Sinners sin: it’s what we do. When we sin, we ought to be able to admit it to the Lord, ourselves, and others. We are not God. God doesn’t sin. Remember the old saying, “to err is human”. It is. Humans err; humans make mistakes; humans get away from God. Let’s not be proud of our humanity, but let’s try to humble ourselves enough to recognize it.

Christian, let me encourage you to not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. You ought always to be willing to accept blame for your actions; and even accept some blame for the actions of those you may be associated with. Daniel took full responsibility for the actions of his nation. We ought to have enough humility to come before God the same way. It really is kind of strange the way we behave. We try to present ourselves as perfect: we want to be seen as some kind of God; but God, who is perfect, took upon Himself the blame of everyone else.


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“He Shall Stand Before Kings”

Daniel

Today’s Passage – Daniel 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 – Philemon – Hebrews 4; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16

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

Read the “0916 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earthare reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:34 & 35)

But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: (Daniel 5:23)

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (Daniel 6:26)

In the three chapters that we have read today, we have the accounts of three different kings: Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; Belshazzar of Babylon; and Darius of Persia. Each of these kings came to know that the God of Heaven was the only God of the universe. Each of these kings came to know this under different circumstances. The first king we saw (Daniel 4) was Nebuchadnezzar. He had already seen the power and supremacy of our God in the events that are recorded in the first three chapters of Daniel. Somehow, however, he forgot that it was God who buttered his bread; and began to think that it was he who was the source of his own success. The last straw was in v 30, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”. God had to greatly humble him. It is a principle of God that he humbles those who exalt themselves. Praise God, though, that He gave Nebuchadnezzar another chance, and He allowed him to be restored. Nebuchadnezzar did not make the same mistake twice: he gave God the glory for all that he was able to accomplish in the kingdom.

The second king we saw (in chapter 5) was Nebuchadnezzar’s “son” who appears to have never come to the place where he voluntarily submitted himself to the God of Heaven. He actually got so bad that he drank from the cups that were taken from the Temple of God: cups that were reserved only for the priests in the service of God. God revealed Himself to Belshazzar by writing his doom upon the wall. Shortly thereafter the the prophecy from the writing was fulfilled when the Persian empire came in and conquered the city of Babylon.

The last king that we read about (in chapter 6) was Darius from Persia. It seems that Darius had a great respect at least for God, though it did not appear that he worshipped him. Because of a mistake that he made, Daniel ended up in the den of lions; but somehow Darius knew that God would deliver him. He actually ended up making it official in the kingdom that everyone was to worship God.

The common denominator for all of these kings, however, is Daniel. Daniel was a steady witness; a powerful, uncompromising voice in all three of these kingdoms. He never wavered and he never yielded to the worldly influences around him. Even though he was in captivity, he was always blessed of God, and favored by each of these kings. His story is similar to Joseph’s in many ways. Let’s learn from the example of men like Daniel and Joseph, and let’s live for God; even in times when the whole world is going in the wrong direction. There will be opportunities to demonstrate the love and power of God before a lost world. When they need God, they will look for someone who they know has consistently walked with Him, like Daniel.

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” (Proverbs 22:29)


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Fearfully And Wonderfully Made – The Saturday Morning Post

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Today’s Passage – Daniel 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 – Titus 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Read the “0915 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” (Daniel 1:10-16)

King David told the Lord…

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)

Good morning. Did you know that you need to put premium gas in a Mini Cooper or the engine will knock and not run smooth? Don’t put jet fuel in your car either. Jet fuel is like Kerosene, you may be able to run it in your diesel (not recommended due to less lubrication for your engine) but in your car it will cause your motor to stall. If I fuel my body with the wrong kind of food, it also will not run right. I know this from experience. Should I try pulse? Pulse, zeronim, are edible “seeds” or grain of any kind: barley, wheat, millet, vetches. Leguminous seeds roasted are still used in the East. People, animals, creeping things, and every living thing were all to eat herbs and seeds.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” (Genesis 1:27-30)

God intended the same diet even after the fall…

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Fast forward to the time of Noah and the flood.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:5-8)

Is it possible that because the wickedness of man was great in the earth, that they began to kill animals and eat meat before the time God intended? We can see today that God’s Laws are broken on a daily basis: anything goes. God promised not to destroy the earth by a flood again. But still sin runs rampant. It wasn’t until chapter 9 that God allowed man to eat meat. After the flood, there was not enough plant life to sustain life, so they had to eat meat.

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” (Genesis 9:3-4)

Once again, if I put the wrong fuel in my body, it will not get the nutrients it needs to run right. I am fearfully and wonderfully made: if I fuel up with the right things, my body will run right. If not, my body will start breaking down. Too much of a good thing can be bad too. Too much sugar or carbs can lead to Diabetes and weight gain. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. But if I feed my body the right kind of fuel, this is what happens…

Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” (Daniel 1:11-16)

Things seem to go much better when we do things God’s way. Look what happened to Elijah when he fled into the wilderness…

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (1Kings 19:1-8)

God gave him what he needed for his journey of 40 days and 40 nights. God knew Elijah’s needs, and He know our needs. He knows us better than we know ourselves. That’s why we munch on chips and M & M’s, drink beer and soda, and make sure it’s diet soda so we don’t get fat… right? People would tell me not to drink soda, it’s bad for you. I would ask if they believed the Dow Philosophy: a better life through chemicals? There is time to turn back to eating right, but I can’t do it alone. Jesus said without me ye could do nothing, and He’s right. I need to get it through my thick skull (and yes, it’s just as thick as yours), to do what right: God’s way of eating. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by Him, and He knows me better than I do. Yield to the Holy Spirit and listen to Him. As you’re looking down the menu, ask Him to show you what to eat. I can guarantee it will taste the best, and be just what you need.

Peace.


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The Lord Is There

Keep-Going

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 47 – 48 (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 – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the “0914 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” (Ezekiel 47:9)

“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” (Ezekiel 48:35)

These concluding chapters of Ezekiel paint a marvelous picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, which He will establish here on the earth after the Great Tribulation. The Bible tells us of a river that flows from the throne of God in the Temple that eventually empties into the Dead Sea. The River begins as just a trickle but deepens and widens as it flows, eventually becoming a great river that one could swim in. I believe this is a marvelous picture of the presence and grace of God. We, as His children, often begin our journey only entering in ankle deep, but as we grow in our relationship with Him, we go ever deeper into those living waters of life that He spoke of also in John 4. It is interesting also that Ezekiel tells us that the waters will heal anything that they come in contact with. Even the Dead Sea, which is virtually devoid of all life today because of its salt concentration, will be healed and will be full of all sorts of fish and other living creatures. God told us in John’s gospel that He came to give us an abundant life, and at this time, all the world will experience the abundant life that only can come through a deepening relationship with Christ.

I love the last verse of Ezekiel’s prophecy. It says that the name of the city shall be, “The Lord is there”. I got to thinking about that statement and how it should apply to many things today. The presence of God indwells me today, so I can say about my life that the Lord is there. But I wonder how often my life is not a good representation of that reality. How often do I quench the Holy Spirit of God as He seeks to flow through me in order to reach the people around me who may not know Him. My family ought to be a picture of “the Lord is there”, as well as our church. In this Millennial Kingdom that Ezekiel speaks of everybody will see it: there will be no obstructions, no impairments that will hinder the people from clearly experiencing the presence of God. I want the obstructions to be removed from my life so that others will clearly see Christ in me. I want people to be able to say about me that God is with me; but my flesh often puts a bushel over the candlestick of God working in my life. How about you? Can people clearly see and be refreshed by the presence of God in your life? Won’t it be wonderful when this time comes that Ezekiel writes about to never have to be hindered by our flesh again: the sin nature that plaques us will be removed for good. But for now, we have to battle with our flesh; we have to surrender to the Spirit of God, and allow His abundant life to flow through us.


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God’s Plan B

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 44 – 46 (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 – 1 Timothy 4 – 6; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0913 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary,having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.” (Ezekiel 44:10 & 11)

In the passage above we see that some of the Levites were guilty of falling away from God and chasing after idols. God tells them here that they will have to face the consequences for their actions (“bear their iniquity”), but He does not cast them away altogether. He still gives them a place to serve in the temple. There were some things that they could no longer do, but they could still participate in the worship.

As I mused on this passage I had two contrasting thoughts. First, I considered how awful it must have been to be removed from a high position of service because of sin. But next, I thought about how wonderful God is to give us a second chance to serve Him. We may not be able to do the same things we used to do, but we can still participate; still serve God.

These thoughts lead me to give two challenges. The first is to those who are serving God today with no blemish on their record. They are blameless in the eyes of the community, and have not disqualified themselves from being a pastor or deacon. Stay pure, stay away from sin. Put up some fences and boundaries in your life that will keep you inside the will of God. Don’t lose what God has given you.

The second challenge is to those who may have fallen. Get back up, and do whatever God will allow you to do. You may not minister in the same capacity as you used to, but you can still serve. You can still win people to Christ. You can still be a prayer warrior. You can still minister to people. You can still be a blessing to a church by serving in a variety of ways. You can still give so that others can minister “full-time”. There is still a lot for you to do. Don’t lay down. Get back up and find God’s plan B for your life. Allow God’s grace to humble you and restore you. Who knows, God may just use you in a greater way than He did before; but just praise God that He is still using you.


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The Glory of the Lord

untitled

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 41 – 43 (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 – 1 Timothy 1 – 3; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0912 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.– (Ezekiel 43:1-5)

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

I enjoyed reading this morning the continued description of the Millennial Temple and the worship that will take place during the Millennial Kingdom. I find it interesting that it appears that some of the sacrifices (like the Passover) will be re-instituted during this time. I often wondered why there would be sacrifices at this time. Then it dawned on me that there was never a “need” for the sacrifices. What I mean is that they never took away sin; they just served as a symbol or a picture of Christ’s coming sacrifice on Calvary. However, during the Millennium, they will no longer point forward to Christ; they will serve as a reminder, a memorial of Christ: much like the Lord’s Supper does for us today.

However, the thing that really excited me this morning was the thought of the glory of God passing through the eastern gate. You may recall that Christ came through the eastern gate when he rode in Triumphal Entry. That was certainly glorious, however, at that time Christ was veiled in humanity, and His glory was not evident to many who saw Him;  but at the end of the Tribulation when Christ begins His Millennial reign (after putting down all opposition), He will bust through these gates and set up  His Kingdom on earth. Imagine what that will be like. I want to see it up close. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of a world that spits in the face of God. I am tired of mosques being built where the temple should be. Don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating violence; but I long for the day when Christ puts an end to all of this nonsense. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.

A practical application for today from this passage surrounds that phrase in v 5, “the glory of the Lord filled the house”. The glory of the Lord comes with His presence. I want to experience the presence of God in our local church every time I come to worship. Isn’t it a wonderful thing when the Lord shows up while we’re at church. It is His house isn’t it? Unfortunately, there are many times that we come together for worship and the Lord’s glory isn’t as evident as it should be. I suppose there are many reasons why that is: it could be because their is bitterness and division within the church; it may be that there is too much carnality among the members; and it could be that the people are just not looking to meet with God. Whatever the reasons, it is a shame that God does not feel welcome in His own house. I want to experience the presence of God in my life, my home, and my church.


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Have You Forgotten?

have-you-forgotten-9-11

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 38 – 40 (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 – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0911 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – (John 15:13)

17 years ago today our nation was attacked by radical Muslim terrorists filled with hatred for our culture and our freedom. I have not forgotten that day, and I am sure that all of you who read this who were alive on September 11th have not forgotten either. We remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that day. It is my prayer that as the years go by the memory of 9/11 will remain vivid in our hearts and minds for several reasons:

1 I do not want to forget that there is an enemy out there that wants to destroy us. In this world of distraction, we go about busily living our lives almost oblivious to the fact that evil still exists in our world. Satan is still very active, and His hatred for God and God’s people has only become more intense as years have passed. His influence on people has also increased; and there are more people than ever out there who are under his influence, and are willing to do his evil bidding. As Christians, we are admonished to be alert:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – (1 Peter 5:8)

2 I do not want to forget that there is still a cause worth fighting for. The evil that exists in the world reminds me that I must be daily in the battle, fighting the devil, and working to deliver people from his spell. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is still the most powerful weapon in our arsenal against the wiles of the devil. The more people that we can reach with the message of salvation, the less people Satan will have to do his bidding. Evil cannot be removed by more evil. It can only be eradicated through the love of Christ.

3 I do not want to forget that there are still people out there that are willing to die for that cause; and there are still folks out there worth dying for. Jesus died to set us free:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – (John 8:32)

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” – (John 8:36)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” – (Romans 8:2)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – (Galatians 5:1)

Jesus died to give us liberty, and there are many still today who are willing to lay down there life for the same cause. The men and woman who are fighting today are fighting for our liberty and freedom. The men and women who were murdered by the terrorists thirteen years ago were murdered because the concept of liberty and freedom was under attack.

The greatest demonstration of love is sacrifice. Jesus commended His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Parents show their love for their children by what they sacrifice for them. The men and women that went into those buildings in order to save lives were putting their lives on the line for other people. The men and women that fight for our freedom today are putting their lives in jeopardy for the cause of our liberty. They are sacrificing their own liberty in order to help us keep ours.

Let’s not forget these things. Let’s not forget these people. And let’s get in the battle ourselves, and be willing to sacrifice some of our liberty so that we can help others enjoy theirs.


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Can These Bones Live?

valley_of_dry_bones_

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 35 – 37 (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 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “ 0910 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” (Ezekiel 37:3)

In chapter 37, God shows Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of old, dry bones; and he is commanded by God to prophesy to the bones that God will put flesh upon them once again and put breath into them so they might live. Once Ezekiel begins to do this, he sees the bones begin to shake and gather together, and after God puts His breath back into them, they get up and become an “exceeding great army”. The correct meaning of this vision is explained by God Himself: the scattered bones represent the whole house of Israel. They had been divided, and they had long since died spiritually by turning away from the God who gave them life. However, through this vision, God explains that Israel will once again be united and will also once again be revived, walking in the commandments of the Lord.

Though, it is not supported by the immediate context, I would like to suggest an application of this vision on two more levels. Could we say that God can give life again to the Christian that is spiritually dead? And, could we say that God can give life again to the church that is spiritually dead? This passage is a wonderful picture of spiritual renewal and revival. Christians and churches tend to gradually slip away from the Lord: they get apathetic and lazy in their devotion. They then begin to move away from soul winning and service; and before they realize what has happened they become dry bones with no spiritual life or fruit. When these times come, we need God to breathe new life into us and cause our dry bones to live.

Notice also that a sign of the deadness of the bones was that they were scattered. God had to first gather the bones together in order to bring life back to them. Division in the church is a definite sign of deadness. The churches of the New Testament that were mightily used of God in winning souls were “in one accord” and “had all things common”. Churches that lose sight of their focus of fulfilling the Great Commission will soon become divided and die.

Let’s make this practical for you as an individual. Are you spiritually dead or alive? When was the last time you picked up your Bible outside of a church service just to spend time alone with God? How is your prayer life? When was the last time that you were concerned enough about a lost man’s soul that you spoke to him about it? Do you view life from a Christ-centered, Biblical perspective, or do you place self at the very center of the universe? Do you look forward to being with God’s people in the church services or has it become a chore for you; something you endure? Do you “have to” or do you “get to”? Be honest with your answers. Now make a diagnosis. Are you breathing, or are you dead? If you are dead or dying, why not ask God to breathe new life into you. Your dead bones can live again as you surrender your life to the will of God.


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The Watchman

watchman-on-wall

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 32 – 34 (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 – Colossians 1 – 4; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “ 0909 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” – (Ezekiel 33:7)

“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” – (Ezekiel 33:32)

Today’s reading contained a lot of very convicting truth regarding those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. There are three different terms used to describe God’s ministers in these chapters. In chapter 33:7 we see the title, “watchman” used again. The watchmen were the men that were expected to warn the people of a danger that is approaching. God expects his watchmen to stay alert, and faithfully warn the people. He will hold the preachers accountable who fail to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. God says that if the watchman does his job and faithfully warns the people, then he will not be held accountable when the people go astray; but if he fails to warn them, their blood will be on his hands. This is a very sobering truth for those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. We must tell them, even if they don’t want to hear it. Notice verse 11:

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

God does not enjoy judging people. We must warn them.

At the end of chapter 33, God uses the title, “prophet”. Ezekiel was preaching to a people who seemed to enjoy listening to him, but they didn’t heed what he said. As a pastor, I often feel as if I am wasting my time. Though the church is full on Sunday morning with people who seem to enjoy the messages, I see very little change in their lives. It gets frustrating sometimes. But then I remember how I often disobey my own preaching. I guess that gets very frustrating to God. Things aren’t always the way they appear to be, however. I have often been fooled by people. I have known people who, on the surface, appeared to be bearing no fruit in their lives; and discovered that their lives were, in fact, being transformed and they were actually making an impact on the people around them.  I remember one time there was a guy at a former church that had long hair and a scraggly beard. He smoked like a chimney. He would come in on Sunday mornings, and I remember wondering to myself if the guy was even saved. One day, he invited the pastor to come to his house to help him talk to some of his friends about the Lord. The pastor arrived to a dozen or more people who all looked as rough as the guy who invited them; but, a bunch of those folks got saved. I was fooled by what I saw on the outside. I have also been fooled by people who I thought were walking with God because they looked good on the outside. Again, things aren’t always as they seem. I guess my job is just to faithfully deliver the truth from the Word of God, and pray that someone (including myself) will listen. But, ultimately the results are up to God and the listeners.

The title used in chapter 34:1 – 10 is “shepherds”. The shepherds were supposed to feed and protect the flock. God rebukes these shepherds of Ezekiel’s day because they were more concerned with feeding themselves. I wonder what God would say to me about my concern for the sheep that He has entrusted to me. These are very sobering passages, especially for the preachers and teachers. I will someday face God and will be judged regarding the ministry that He has given me. It is an awesome and very difficult responsibility. I have already failed on numerous occasions, but my desire is to learn and grow so that I can do better in the future. Pray for me and for all who proclaim the Truth of God that we will boldly, but compassionately deliver both the Truth of God and the love of God to those we are called to minister to.


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Will The Real Devil Please Stand Up – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Philippians 1 – 4; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Read the “0908 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

‘Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” (Ezekiel 28:13-19)

Good morning. Many years ago, there was a TV game show called: To Tell The Truth. Three men or ladies would come out all claiming to be the same person. A panel of celebrities would ask them questions and then vote for who they thought was the real person. Then the host would ask: would the real person please stand up. Then they would introduce the two impostors: who they are and what they do for a living. But was the celebrity panel wise enough to discover the real person from the questions asked and answers given? We are given enough information in the Bible to identify the devil. If someone would ask: would the real devil please stand up, he would.

1) He is Prideful.

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” (Ezekiel 28:17)

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)

2) He Provokes you to sin.

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1Chronicles 21:1)

3) He Weakens the Nations.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)

4) He Tempts Us.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

5) He does not like the things of God.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

6) He Binds Us with Physical Problems.

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” (Luke 13:11)

7) He causes us to do his Lusts; 8)He is a Murderer; 9) There is no truth in him; and 10) He is a liar.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

11) He causes us to lie to God.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

12) He is transformed into an angel of light.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2Corinthians 11:13-14)

13) He hinders us.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1Thessalonians 2:17-18)

14) He is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1Peter 5:8)

15) He doesn’t change his mode of operation.

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:7-8)

16) He has an end.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)

We can see that the devil affects our lives in so many ways… if we let him. But God has given us His Word. We know how the devil operates.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Corinthians 2:11)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Peace.


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Do You Trust Him?

Do You Trust Him

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 24 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Ephesians 4 – 6; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “0907 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded. … Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” – (Ezekiel 24:16-18, 24)

This morning’s passage contains a very heart breaking story. Ezekiel is prophesying against Jerusalem. God is telling them that because of their rejection of Him, He is going to pour out His wrath upon the city – without mercy. He then uses Ezekiel as a personal illustration. Ezekiel prophesied to the people in the morning, and his wife died later that day, but he was commanded not to take any time off to mourn for his wife. The next day, he was in his place prophesying again to the people. Wow! That is certainly a lot to ask from any man. God’s reasoning for this illustration was to show Judah that they were about to lose what was very dear to them: their city, and their temple. But, God tells Ezekiel and Judah that they were not to mourn when that horrible day of destruction came. Because the people were not at all concerned about their city before the judgment fell, they were not permitted to mourn afterward. The time for weeping was over.

But what about Ezekiel? God actually took his wife away from him in death to illustrate this prophecy to the people of Jerusalem. Ezekiel didn’t skip a beat, either. He did exactly what was commanded of him. I am sure that Ezekiel loved his wife, but he obviously loved God more; and I am sure that he also knew that his wife was taken by God to be with Him in Heaven. The bottom line to all of this is that we must understand that we all belong to God. He can do with us whatever He chooses. His plan is much bigger than any of our individual desires. We must trust Him. Too many of God’s people collapse when tragedies like this one come into their life, but it ought not be so. God is good, and He always does good, even when it may seem bad to us. We must trust that God knows what is best, not only for us, but for our loved ones, and for His overall plan.

I doubt very seriously that God will ask us to not mourn over the death of a loved one, but He may take home to Heaven somone that is very dear to us; or, He may allow some unpleasant circumstances to enter our lives. We must remember when these days come that God is working all things together for His glory, and our ultimate good. We must trust Him. Not easy sometimes, but possible through His grace and our faith.


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Help Wanted – A Man Who Will Stand in the Gap

Stand+In+The+Gap

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

(Second Milers also read – Ephesians 1 – 3; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0906 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)

Today’s reading is much the same in context as the passages that we have already read in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah. The people of God have seriously abandoned the will of God; and have turned to other gods. They have forsaken the One who gave them their land, and all of their prosperity. God has already judged to no avail; but He promises that more judgment is coming because the people simply refuse to turn back to Him. The saddest verse in this passage is found in verse 30 of chapter 22. God sought for a man…and found none. God could not find one man who was willing to make a difference in Judah. He couldn’t find one that would stand in the gap, filling in the hedge, so that judgment could be spared. Where were the men who could have made a difference?

Where are the men today who are willing to make a difference for the Lord? Could God find a man today that would be willing to stand in the gap. R.A. Torrey recounts a story told regarding D.L. Moody:

Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Mr. Moody in the earlier days of his work, loved to tell how he once said to him: “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” I am told that when Mr. Henry Varley said that, Mr. Moody said to himself: “Well, I will be that man.” And I, for my part, do not think “it remains to be seen” what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him. I think it has been seen already in D. L. Moody.

Where are the men today that are wholly devoted to God? Where are the men today who will sell out completely for the cause of Christ? Where are the men today that will make a difference? Could God spare America today because you (or I) are standing in the gap? God is looking for some men today who are willing to live for Him: to stand boldly in the midst of a wicked generation, that will stand for the Truth and shine the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will you be that man?

There is a song on one of the Clark Family CD’s that I enjoy called, “A Few Good Men”. I think the song was written by the Gaithers, but I am not positive. The lyrics of the song express what Ezekiel was saying in our passage today:

A Few Good Men (Audio)

What this dying world could use is a willing Man of God
Who dares to go against the grain and works without applause;
A man who’ll raise the shield of Faith, protecting what is pure;
Whose love is tough and gentle; a man whose word is sure.
God doesn’t need an Orator who knows what just to say;
He doesn’t need authorities to reason Him away;
He doesn’t need an army to guarantee a win;
He just needs a Few Good Men.
Men full of Compassion, who Laugh and Love and Cry-
Men who’ll face Eternity and aren’t afraid to die-
Men who’ll fight for Freedom and Honor once again-
He just needs a Few Good Men.

He calls the broken derelict whose life has been renewed;
He calls the one who has the strength to stand up for the Truth.
Enlistment lines are open and He wants you to come in-
He just needs a Few Good Men.


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Conviction

Feeling-Guilty

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 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 – Galatians 4 – 6; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0905 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.” – (Ezekiel 20:43)

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” – (Romans 7:24)

“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. [8] And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)

Just a quick thought from the Scripture this morning. Here in chapter 20 & 21, God is delivering a stern rebuke upon the people of Israel for their rebellion against Him. However, there is one place in these two chapters where I see hope for the children of Israel, and it comes here in v 43. This is the place where the people finally recognize their sin against God, and actually feel what would be to us the convicting power of the Holy Spirit of God. I cannot say that I enjoy the feeling of being pronounced guilty from within my own spirit; but I am very glad that God loves me enough to let me know when I am guilty. Incidentally, one of the best assurances that you are a child of God is the presence of the Holy Spirit of God within you.

Notice an important truth about this loathing that people of Israel would feel about themselves. It comes after God gathers them back into the land of Israel, and after He begins to bless them again. He says in verse 44 that the people would realize that God did not deal with them according to their wickedness; He blessed them inspite of the fact that they had turned against Him. They deserved judgment, yet God dealt with them in mercy and grace. The New Testament tells us that it is the love of Christ that constrains us. That verse is referring to His love for us, not our love for Him. When we realize the unmerited and unconditional love that God has for us, it causes us to realize how undeserving of that love we really are, and it brings about the conviction, the self-loathing that Ezekiel speaks about in this passage.

Paul felt the same way about himself in the Book of Romans. He called himself a wretched man. He recognized the sin that was within him. The Holy Spirit of God pointed it out to him, and he didn’t attempt to cover it, hide it, or defend it. He came clean with God. We need to do the same thing. When our Heavenly Father points out to us the things in our lives that displease Him, the best thing that we can do is agree with Him, confess them, and then forsake them. The whole process starts, however, with conviction.


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Turn and Live

grace-repentance2

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 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 – Galatians 1 – 3; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

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

Read the “0904 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” – (Ezekiel 18:32)

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

“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)

I have enjoyed reading these chapters in the Book of Ezekiel, though I must confess that this book of the Bible, more than any other, I have trouble understanding completely. In chapter 18, God is telling the people of Israel that the son will not die for the sins of the father. In other words, every man will stand before God by himself. I will not have to answer to God for the sins of anyone else. The confusing thing about this passage is that there are particular sins listed here that have been committed by each and every person that has ever inhabited the earth, save, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, while we will not have to answer for our father’s sins, we will have to answer for our own; and we are all guilty. Of course, the New Testament reveals that Jesus Christ died on the cross, and by so doing, He took all of our sins upon Him. If we will turn from our sin, and trust Him, He will forgive our sins, and save us.

I think, however, the principle taught in this passage is very important to develop. I am not bound by anything that my father has done before me. No matter what my parents may have done, I can still live before God on my own. I can reverse the trend that may have been started, or continued, by my parents. The same applies to my children. They can choose to live for God, or they can choose to do their own thing; but they will one day answer to God for their choices. I hope they choose to yield to the Lord more than I have. I hope they take the good things that I have done, and build upon them. I also hope that they not follow any bad example that they have seen in me; and they have seen many.

Another important principle that we can see in chapter 18 is the fact that God does not want to punish people. He wants to bless them. God takes no pleasure in sending anyone to Hell. God wants all men to be saved, and has provided a way for all men to come to Him. Unfortunately, most will choose not to turn to Him. If you have not yet turned to God for forgiveness of your sin, please do not wait any longer. It matters not what your family has chosen in the past. It doesn’t even matter what you have done in the past. It only matters that you are willing to repent – to turn from your sin and rejection of the Word of God, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. He desires to save you, and make you one of His children.


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Thy Sister Sodom

laziness

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 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 – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

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

Read the “0903 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)

I find it very interesting what God said regarding “the sin of thy sister Sodom”. When we think of the sins of  Sodom and Gomorrah, we usually would put homosexuality at the top of the list. However, God says that the sin of Sodom was a combination of pride, gluttony, and laziness. These sins obviously led to the immorality that became rampant in Sodom. Homosexuality was the outcome, or the fruit, of the root sins mentioned in verse 49.

When I consider this verse I can’t help but think that Sodom bears a striking resemblance to America today. The vile lewdness that permeates our society is clearly evidence of the fact that we have long ago abandoned the moral principles found in the Word of God. But what caused this condition? I believe that we can see the same root sins in our culture today: pride, gluttony, and laziness. We are a pleasure seeking, self-centered society that is constantly trying to create more ways to satisfy the lusts of her flesh.

We know what the problem is, but what is the solution? Well, of course it begins with a genuine relationship with God through the new birth available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But then we must add to our faith the opposites of the sins of Sodom. By that I mean if Sodom was prideful we must be humble. Humility means that we recognize who we are in relation to an omnipotent God. It also means that we elevate others above ourselves through serving them. Instead of being self-centered, we must become God centered, and God would have us to put others before ourselves.

Gluttony was also one of the problems of Sodom. We must be willing to sacrifice. We don’t have to have everything that this world has to offer. Too many Christians are satisfying every appetite of their flesh. It is OK to do without every now and again. We don’t have to eat at the Golden Corral every night. Maybe we should give a little more of the excess that we have been spending on ourselves, and use it for the glory of God.

Finally, we see that Sodom was lazy. They had too much time on their hands. You have heard the expression “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. I think that’s accurate. Too many Christians are sitting around, watching things on the T.V. or the Internet that they should not be watching. We need to be busy. I find that my life works better when I have a lot on my plate. There is certainly a time for scheduled rest and recreation, but there is no place for laziness. We have many people in our church who are currently out of work. My recommendation to them is that they first spend a lot of time looking for work, but then look for ways to stay busy, being productive. There are a million things that need to be done. They can work on their homes, do things down at the church, find a way to help somebody else, anything; but stay busy.

Let’s not get caught up in all of the self-centered, pleasure seeking that is replete in our culture today. Let’s stay busy serving and sacrificing for the Lord.


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Foxes in the Deserts

Foxes in the Desert

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 10 – 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 – 2 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

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

Read the “0902 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.” – (Ezekiel 13:4-6)

In Ezekiel 13, God tells the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy against the prophets. At this time in Israel’s history there were many false prophets that were telling the people that everything is going to be OK, and that there is no need to fear. The Bible calls them prophets of peace. The problem was that they were wrong; they were deceiving the people into a false sense of security. They preached much on the love and mercy of God, without speaking of God’s holiness and justice. The truth of the matter is that judgment was on it’s way, and God wanted the people to be warned of that judgment so that they would have an opportunity to repent and turn back to him. The reason for the judgment was because the people of Israel had forsaken the Lord, and had become idolatrous as well as immoral.

We have many prophets of peace today also. They preach about a god that doesn’t seem to care about sin when the truth of the matter is that our God hates the sin that is running rampant in our land today. America has thrown God and the Bible under the bus, and He cannot possibly be pleased. I am not a prophet. I have no special revelation from God, but I do know what the Bible teaches. Yes, God loves people, and He wants to see them saved. He sent His only Son to die on the cross for their sins. But, in order for people to be spared the coming judgment, they must turn to God in repentance and faith. As a nation, America has almost completely turned her back on God, but that does not mean that I have to join in. I stand for God. I will preach the message of God’s love for sinners like me, but I will also declare God’s hatred for their sin. Judgment is coming to all who reject God and His message of salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you trusted Christ as your Saviour? If you haven’t I beg you to trust Him today before it is eternally too late. For more information about salvation read “Are You Saved?”

Be careful who you listen to regarding what God says:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – (Matthew 7:15)

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (Jude 1:3-4)

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” – (2 Peter 2:1)

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – (1 John 4:1)


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Greater Abominations – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 5 – 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 – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Read the “0901 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.” (Ezekiel 8:12-13)

Good morning. One look at the world today and you may ask yourself how could the days of Noah be worse than this? You tell me now that a 4 year old kid can decide if he or she wants to be raised as a she or a he. The shrinks that subscribe to this aught to be locked up in a mental institution. All they do is support the demonic forces that are trying to destroy people. God created you a male or a female to do specific tasks.

“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

After you get saved…

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

But the abominations still grow greater every day.

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

So what can we do?

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2Timothy 4:1-5)

1) Speak the Truth: the Word of God: use it to reprove, rebuke, and exhort.

2) Watch thou in all things and 3) Endure afflictions.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1Peter 5:8-9)

4) Do the work of an evangelist.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

5) Make full proof of thy ministry.

“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:17-24)

Peace.


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The Watchman

watchman-on-wall

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

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 13 – 16; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0831 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” (Ezekiel 3:17-19)

The Book of Ezekiel is a very fascinating portion of Scripture, containing many mysterious creatures and visions. I must confess that there is much about this particular potion of the Bible that I do not understand; but the verses that are given above are pretty clear to me. God made Ezekiel a watchman to the house of Israel. The watchman’s job is not difficult. He must stay alert, keeping his eyes open to any possible dangers, and if any do appear he is then to sound the alarm in order to warn the people. Ezekiel’s job was to warn the people of Israel regarding the judgment that will come if they continue in their rebellion to God. God reassured Ezekiel that he was not responsible for what the people did with the warning. God was only going to hold Ezekiel accountable if he didn’t warn the people.

We can certainly make application of this passage to our lives today. As Christians, we possess the greatest Truth that the world has ever known. We have the knowledge of the Saviour, and we have the ability, through our words as well as our lives, to share the wonderful news of redemption and salvation to the world around us. As it was with Ezekiel, we are not responsible for what people do with the message; we are only commanded to deliver the warning. We are to warn people about the impending judgment that awaits them if they do not repent and believe the gospel. Whether they accept that truth or reject it is on them. Of course, we should not be like Jonah who reluctantly delivered the message to the Ninevites. We should be eager to do all that we can do in order to adorn the gospel, and convince people of the wonderful love of the Saviour.

We can also make application of this passage of Scripture to those of us who have been given the special responsibility of preaching or teaching the Truth of the Word of God. Sometimes I get very frustrated when saved people do not apply the clear teaching of Scripture to their lives; but I must remember that my responsibility is only to be the right example before them, pray for them, and then teach them. It is their decision whether or not they will apply the principles or heed the warnings from the Scripture. Again, I hope that they will but the truth is that many will not, at least not all the time. In fact, if I could be perfectly honest with myself, I would have to admit that there are many times that I do not listen to my own advice very well. But that does not change the Truth. The Truth is still the Truth whether I follow it or not, and it is still right to preach and teach the Truth even though, in the flesh, we all fall short of it at times.

I guess the conclusion of the matter is that we are all watchman in some respects. We all have the obligation to warn the world around us of the judgment that is surely coming, and share with them the salvation that can only come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, we must realize that we also should be heeding the warnings and applying the life principles that we receive from the watchman that God has placed in our lives to bless and protect us.


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Who Is Laughing Now?

laughing-and-pointing

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

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “0830 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Hitting Rock Bottom

“Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.” (Lamentations 4:21)

I do not know for sure if I am interpreting these verses correctly; but it seems to me, without having studied the passage, that the Edomites were rejoicing because of all the judgment that was being afflicted on God’s people. They were ecstatic that their enemy, Judah, was being taken in such a cruel way into captivity into Babylon. However, God says that their rejoicing would be short lived because their day of judgment was coming as well. And remember, God promised His people that He would not make “a full end” of them. I do not think the same promise applies to the Edomites.

God is not pleased when people rejoice when their enemies are falling (Proverbs 24:17). We expect this kind of behavior from the lost world, but are we guilty of the same thing? Have you ever rejoiced (maybe even just a little) when you received word that someone who has hurt you in the past has had some kind of bad thing happen to them. I hate to admit it but I know that I have done it on occasion. Worse yet, I know that my flesh wants to do it every time. God despises that kind of attitude. To think that we who are sinners deserving of judgment, rejoice when another sinner, no more deserving than we, receives it. God must get weary with us and our wicked attitude. Next time you hear about somebody you don’t like (or doesn’t like you) going through a tough time, why not pray for them; why not thank God that you are not facing the same or equally painful situation. Maybe if you will sow a little mercy and compassion, you just might reap a little of the same back when you need it.

By the way, the Calvinists all like to quote the passage from Malachi that says that God loved Jacob (Israel), but hated Esau (Edom). They attempt to prove that God arbitrarily sends some people to Heaven and some people to Hell, without any opportunity for repentance. However, we must remember that when God referred to Esau in Malachi, he was speaking about Edom as a nation, and when he referred to Jacob, he was speaking about Israel. It is also important to consider that God did not say he hated Esau in the Book of Genesis, He said it at the end of the Old Testament, after the history of the Edomites had already been established. According to Malachi, God hated (or rejected) the Edomites. Why? Partially, it was because they rejoiced when the Babylonians were destroying the people of God.


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Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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Today’s Passage – Lamentations 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 – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0829 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” – (Lamentations 3:21-24)

I love the Biblical significance of the rainbow. God showed Noah the rainbow and told him that it would be there in the sky at the end of the rainstorm to remind God’s people that the rain is coming to an end. For Noah it was a precious reminder, as he had just experienced the destruction of every living creature on the earth through a deluge of water. To us, the rainbow is still a symbol of hope. In our passage in Jeremiah today, we do not see an actual rainbow but we do see the hope that all of God’s children can see even when they feel like it’s all over. In these chapters we read about Israel after the destruction that came through the hands of the Babylonians. It was a horrible time for God’s people – possibly the lowest point in their history. Jeremiah had warned the people for many years that judgment was imminent because the people of God had forsaken the Lord. Well, here in Lamentations, there are no more warnings, just the account of the total humiliation and destruction of Jerusalem, Israel, and the people of God.

The first two chapters of this book are very sad indeed; and chapter three starts out as bleakly as the first two; but when we get to verse 21, we can finally get a glimpse of hope. Jeremiah recalls that God is merciful and compassionate, and as he wrote in The Book Of Jeremiah, “he will not make a full end” of them. You see, Jeremiah remembers here that God loves His people, even though He had to correct them. God’s correction would not last forever. In fact, Jeremiah reminds the people that God’s compassion is new every morning. I love that statement. Aren’t you glad that God never runs out of compassion?

Christian, you may be experiencing in your life right now the correcting hand of God. I know that I have had my share of correction through the years. It is certainly not pleasant. However, there are two things that we need to remember about God’s correction. First, we must remember that God does not correct us to get even. He disciplines us for our own good, purely out of love for us. He is trying to bring us back to where we need to be – for our own good. Secondly, we need to keep in mind that God’s correction will not last forever. I remember as a child, I sometimes thought the punishments that I had received at the hands of my parents would never end; but they always did. The sun always came up, and the rainbow eventually appeared to signify the end of the storm. If you are experiencing the loving correction of our Heavenly Father today, take heart: there is hope, His compassions are new every morning.


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Are You Still In Prison?

Prison

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 51 – 52 (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 – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0828 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the firstyear of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,” (Jeremiah 52:31)

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Judah and he reigned for only eight years when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The Bible records that he was an evil king while he reigned. God caused the captivity to happen because of the evil kings of Judah which led the nation into a downward spiral of immorality and idolatry. Jehoiachin remained in prison in Babylon for 37 years, thus making his age 63 at the time of his release. He had spent most of his life in prison. In our passage today we see that he was released out of prison and given a place of great honor in the kingdom.

I am not sure that my assessment is accurate here, but bear with me as I share my thoughts. Jehoiachin was an evil guy; the Scripture is clear about that. Jehoiachin spent a lot of time in prison thinking about his life. Jehoiachin was finally released from his prison. Could it be, though the Scriptures do not clearly reveal this, that Jehoiachin repented in prison and turned back to God? God judged him with his nation during the captivity; and now God was releasing him with the nation. Is this not a picture of forgiveness? Isn’t living in sin a prison? Does the Bible not say that we were in bondage to sin? The Bible even records that his prison garments were put off of him. Doesn’t God give us a robe of righteousness when we become His child? I think that this passage is a marvelous picture of salvation. When the sinner trusts Christ as his Savior he is released from the bondage (prison) of sin; he is given a robe of righteousness; and is positioned in a place of blessing and honor in the King’s House. Note also that this all takes place when he is in his sixties which tells me it is never too late to be forgiven.

Have you been released from the prison of sin and unbelief? God wants to take you out; give you some new clothes, and set a place for you at his table. Why don’t you take him up on his offer? Trust Christ, get changed, and come to the table.


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A Word to the Shepherds

Shepherds

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 49 – 50 (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 – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “0827 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” – (Jeremiah 50:6)

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. … Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.” – (Ezekiel 34:2-4, 10)

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 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; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – (1 Peter 5:1-4)

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” – (John 10:11)

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” – (John 10:14)

In our Bible reading passage today from the Book of Jeremiah, God is sending His warning of judgment to the nation of Babylon because of their treatment of the nation of Israel. The interesting thing about this is that God actually allowed the Babylonians to conquer His people because the Israelites had turned their backs on Him. Notice the statement in Jeremiah 50:6: “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray”. Notice that God states very clearly here that the reason His people had gone astray was because the shepherds were not doing their jobs. The shepherds of Israel were the spiritual and political leaders who had lead the people of God into apostasy and immorality.

Our nation today is also failing due to the fact that the shepherds are not doing their jobs. Our political leaders are leading people in a godless path, and the spiritual leaders are not much better. There is little that I can do to influence the political direction of our country, but as one of God’s “under-shepherds”, I can do my part to see that the flock that God has entrusted to my care is healthy. But, what is the job of the “under-shepherd” (pastor) of a New Testament church?

1 Provide for the flock – “feed the flock of God which is among you” – It is the job of the pastor to make sure the people of the church are getting the whole counsel of the Word of God. The pastor should be making sure that the people are getting a healthy diet of sound Bible doctrine. Too many churches are limiting the tie that is spent in teaching and preaching, and are replacing it with forms of entertainment. I am not opposed to some of the other things that we do in our church services, but they should not replace the time spent in the Word. The further away our nation gets from God, the more we will need to be strengthened by the Word.

2 Protect the flock – There are a lot of things out there that will hurt God’s people. It is the job of the pastor to warn the people against false teachers who lead them astray doctrinally. We also have the obligation to stand strong and hold the line in the area of morality. The world, the flesh, and the devil are all pushing our churches into immodesty and immorality. It is the pastor’s job to see to it that carnality and worldliness are kept as far away from the church as possible. The pastor should also be the first one to offer help to the hurting and even the straying Christian.

3 Pattern for the flock – This is perhaps the area where we fail the most. Many times we do not practice what we preach. We are to be “enamples” to the flock. It seems that there has been a tsunami lately of moral failure in the pulpits of many of America’s leading churches. This both grieves me, and scares me. It grieves me because it has cause some of “the enemies of God to blaspheme”. In other words it has given strength to the crowd that opposes God. It scares me because I know that some of these men were far better Christians than I. I don’t want to fall. I must do whatever I can to stay humble, because moral destruction cannot come unless there is pride because pride always precedes destruction.

America is failing today. God’s people, for the most part are failing today, and it is all my fault because I am one of those “under-shepherds” that have been entrusted by God to watch out for the flock. Pray for the shepherds.


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Forgiveness

forgiveness

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 46 – 48 (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 – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0826 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46 – 48)

The Book of Jeremiah is a book of judgment: most of it dealing with the coming captivity for the people of Judah in the land of Babylon. However, these three chapters that we have read to day deal with the judgment that God had prepared for three nations: Egypt, the land of the Philistines, and Moab. All three of these nations have had a bad history with God’s people, Israel. For most of history these nations have been bitter enemies of the people of God. God would not spare these nations when he judged them: they would not receive the mercy that Judah would receive. Notice in the above verse that God says regarding His people that He would correct them “in measure”, but he would not make a full end.

I thank God that He loves me unconditionally and that, even though there are times when He needs to correct me and chasten me, He never stops loving me. We know that there is a principle throughout the Bible of reaping and sowing, but I know that God has not caused me to reap in judgment to the same degree what I sowed in disobedience. On the other hand, I have reaped far more blessing than I deserve. God has been very good to me. He loves me and I am not very lovable most of the time. I am His child. I came in through the door, Jesus Christ, and God will never kick me out of the house. It’s mind boggling, but I am not complaining. People who do not know God misunderstand this unconditional love: they claim that it sounds like a license to sin. However, his unconditional love for me has constrained me, and His grace has taught me to deny ungodliness. When I think about His love, I want to sin less and serve more.

I thank God for His correction; but even more, I thank God that no matter how bad I get, He never stops loving me!


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