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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The Safest Place on Earth

Camden

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 41 – 45 (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 5 – 8; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0825 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.” (Jeremiah 42: 13 – 16)

I remember back in the 90’s when I was serving God as a youth director for Lighthouse Baptist Church in Gloucester City, NJ, we used to go soul winning in the city of Camden. Now Camden was a rough town in those days, ranking at the top of the list in many crime categories. At first, we were scared to death to go in there, but God taught me a valuable lesson in those days: if it was His will to serve Him in Camden, then I was safer there than if I was in Beverly Hills or Palm Springs. Why? Because with the will of God comes protection as well as provision. We never did have one problem while we were soul winning there, and we spent lot of time in that city soul winning, and visiting our bus routes, etc.

The passage that we read today in Jeremiah remind me of those days in Camden. At this time in Israel’s history Jerusalem was a rough place. Most of the inhabitants were already taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. No doubt there must have been a great fear of further oppression from the Babylonians. However, God promised the remnant in Judah and Jerusalem that if they would stay there and serve Him, He would protect them and prosper them. Unfortunately, the remnant did not listen. Instead, they decided to move to a place that was without war and famine: a place of wealth, culture, and prosperity. The only problem was that it went against the will of God. Guess what happened? All of the things that they feared  would happen to them in Jerusalem, happened to them in Egypt. They should have stayed in the place of God’s will.

Where is the will of God for you? It may not seem like the best place on earth to other men, but it is the place where you will thrive. Sometimes parents are reluctant to allow their children to become missionaries, because they fear for their safety on the foreign field, but they are safer there in the will of God than in the best place in America outside of God’s perfect plan for their lives. Are you where God wants you, doing what God wants you to do? Surrender your will to His; lean not unto your own understanding, and He will prosper you and protect you.


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The Truth Sometimes Hurts

Truth Hurts

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 37 – 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 – Romans 1 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0824 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” – (Jeremiah 37:17)

“Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.” – (Jeremiah 38:4)

How would you like to have the job that God gave to Jeremiah? He was sent to warn the people of Judah about the imminent invasion from the King of Babylon. He told them that they needed to submit themselves to Nebuchadnezzar because this judgment was of God. He pleaded with King Zedekia of Judah, and told him that if he would submit to Babylon that it would go well with him and his family and Jerusalem would not have to be destroyed; but he would not listen. So what did Zedekiah and the princes of Judah do? Did they say, “Thank you Jeremiah for loving us enough to tell us the Truth from God?” No, they threw him in prison: a place so filthy that he sunk in the mire.

The day that we live in is not much different. For the most part, people are not interested in the truth. They want preachers who will tell them what they want to hear. The televisions and radios are filled with these messengers who itch the ears. They are hirelings, not true preachers of the Truth. Now, to be honest, there aren’t too many preachers in America being thrown in a miry prison today for their preaching, but I believe that there are many that would like to put us there. It can get very discouraging sometimes, but we must remember that our reward comes not from those that we speak to, but from Whom we speak for. Remember, history bares witness that Jeremiah was right. Men wouldn’t acknowledge it right away, but God rewarded Jeremiah with his freedom and his home, not to mention the crowns that he received in eternity. What happened to the guys that threw him in prison? They were all slain, except for King Zedekiah; but he had his eyes plucked out just after he saw his sons slain.

Preachers, keep preaching to us the Truth. As painful as it may be at times, we need you to tell us what we are not willing to admit to ourselves. It may seem like the people don’t care, but many of them are listening; some might even be listening secretly like Zedekiah was. Keep on delivering the Truth. The Word will not return void.

People, cheer on the man of God as he delivers the Word of God. He loves you and is trying to help you and your family to have the very best from God. Your question on your heart everyday ought to be “is there any word from the Lord?” When you read your Bible and when you go to church, you ought to be hungering for the Word and words of God.


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Bible Burning

Bible-Burning1

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 33 – 36 (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 – Acts 25 – 28; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0823 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” (Jeremiah 36:22-23)

“Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” (Jeremiah 36:32)

When Jeremiah the prophet wrote down the words that God had given him to deliver to the people to Judah, it was ultimately given to Jehudi to be read before King Jehoiakim. The king did not like was written about him by God through Jeremiah, so he took out a knife and cut the book in little pieces, and then threw it into the fire. However, this did not stop God, or Jeremiah. He just wrote another copy of what was previously written, and then added a few more things regarding the judgment that God intended upon the nation and particularly King Jehoiakim. The king tried to get rid of the judgment by removing the Word of God, but he could not eliminate the Word or what it says by burning it.

I find this is what many in our world are doing today. They attempt to hide from the Word of God by removing it from their sight. They figure that if they could just get rid of the Bible, and those that preach it, they could somehow escape the revealed judgment that God has declared against those who live in rebellion to Him. However, their attempt to remove the Word is futile because the minute you try to destroy it in one place, God will just raise it back up again from somewhere else. The communists in Russia, China, and other places have attempted to suppress the Word of God; but have failed miserably. In fact, in China where the Bible has been outlawed, there are millions of copies of the Word being circulated underground, which God is using to bring an incredible revival.

There also some, who having realized the futility of eliminating the Word, have attempted to alter the Word, changing it to meet their agenda. Their claim was that the words needed to be updated and modernized in order to continue to be relevant in an ever-changing culture. When I was saved back in 1990, I went to the Christian book store to buy a Bible. I had no idea what to buy. The clerk tried to sell me one of the modern versions, but for some reason I was drawn to a beautiful, leather-bound copy of the King James Bible. I am thrilled that God led me to the old King James. It has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family through the years. I have never doubted that the Book that I carried was an accurate copy of the very words of God. Stick with the Book!

There are also some preachers and churches that have essentially done the same thing that Jehoiakim did. No, they did not burn the Bible, but they did stop preaching it. Their worship services may include part of an altered verse, or two; but, for the most part, they gather together infrequently to watch movies, and listen to ear-tickling homilies about the love of God, without a word being preached against sin. Churches that once had vibrant Sunday Schools, and Bible studies throughout the week are now barely meeting together at all, and when they do, there is very little of the Bible being preached.

Let’s not be like King Jehoiakim: let’s revere the Word of God, and let’s read the Word of God; and then let us submit ourselves to what it says.

 


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Investing for the Future

investing in the future

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 30 – 32 (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 – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0822 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read another post from this passage – “No More Soulwinning?

So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 32:8)

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:” – (Jeremiah 32:37)

In chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah there is a very interesting story. Jeremiah the prophet is in jail, the nation of Israel is in a complete mess, the Babylonians have already taken a good number of the citizens of Israel into captivity; and, the final invasion by Nebuchadnezzar into the land is imminent. You would not think that this would be a good time to be purchasing real estate in the land of Israel. However, God told Jeremiah, who in turn told the people, that though things were going to be horrible for a number of years, God was going to give the people of Israel their land back, and He was going to prosper them once again. Of course, this is one of those dual purpose prophecies: it was fulfilled back in this Old Testament period, but it will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns.

The bottom line is that Jeremiah had enough faith in the Word of God to invest his money in a piece of land that was at that time worthless. He knew that God would do what He said that he would do, and that someday the property would be very valuable. I don’t know how much land is worth in Israel today, but I know this: someday it will be priceless because Christ will make Israel the capital of His World government. I am putting my money on Israel, and on God. He will do what He says He will do. You can bank on it.

We also need to be investing more into eternity. The Bible is clear that the investments that we make into the Lord’s work here on earth will yield a great deal of interest someday in eternity, not to mention the temporal blessings that also come while we are still here. We need to believe the Word of God as Jeremiah did in this passage, and God says that our investments in Him are very secure. We really cannot depend on the fact that our earthly retirement accounts, or social security, will be there for us in the future, but we can trust that God will always be there to take care of our every need.


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Keep Looking

Keep Looking

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 26 – 29 (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 – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0821 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Make the Best of It” and “Who Can You Trust

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jeremiah 29 is written to the captives that had been taken away from Jerusalem in the first wave to Babylon. Jeremiah is writing to them from Jerusalem, and is encouraging them to not lose heart; and to not quit following the Lord. No doubt, they were a discouraged people: they had been uprooted from the place that God had given their fathers; and they had been carried away into a strange land with strange gods and peculiar customs. They probably thought that God was finished with them; and that it was all over for them. Jeremiah reminds them that God is not done with them, and that their time spent in Babylon is only for a season. He exhorts them to make the best of it in the land of captivity: to marry, build houses, and plant orchards and vineyards so that they would not decrease during their stay there.

I have gone through seasons where it seems that God has abandoned me: times when it feels like I am miles away from God. I am encouraged by passages like this that remind me that God will never leave me nor forsake me; and even though it seems like He doesn’t care at times, I know He does. I will try to follow the exhortation of God through Jeremiah: keep searching for me with your whole heart, and eventually, I will find Him. I know that God hasn’t moved away. It is my heart that has positioned itself elsewhere; but when I search for God with all my heart, bringing my heart back to Him, He will once again reveal Himself to me and place me in that spiritual land of Canaan known as the will of God.


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Handle With Care

Handle with Care

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 23 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 16 – 18; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0820 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 23:28-32)

Jeremiah 23 is a strong rebuke against the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day that claimed to be speaking on behalf of God, but were really just telling the people what they want they wanted them to hear. I do not believe that we would be doing injustice to the Scripture by making application to the many people in our world today who claim to be preaching and teaching the Word of God. This passage delivers a scathing warning for those who mishandle the Bible. In this text I have noticed three common errors that are made today by people who claim to be representing the Lord:

1 Lying – We lie to the people when we don’t tell them exactly what God said, or when we insert our philosophies and opinions. God’s word is very clear. He has very specific instructions regarding how we are to conduct ourselves on this earth. Yet, preachers will often misrepresent God by not declaring plainly and interpreting literally what God said. I wish every Christian knew the Bible intimately themselves, but unfortunately that is not the case. Many of the people that come to us for help are trusting us to tell them them what God would tell them. We have no right to just tell them what we think. Who cares what we think? What really matters is what God said!

2 Leaving Out – By this I mean that we neglect so many of the important truths of the Word. We do not declare the whole counsel of God. We conveniently select passages that promote our agenda, and we take verses out of their context. God expects us to preach and teach the whole Bible, not just the parts that will make us look good in front of the people. We are “itching” people’s ears today by ignoring the passages that deal with their sin.

3 Lightness – Notice verse 31. God mentions the prophets’ lightness. The preachers did not take their jobs seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to be God’s representative. We are to faithfully deliver and explain the Tuth of the Word of God. The people need Truth, not entertainment. We have become comedians, and story tellers, and entertainers; but our “lightness” has caused an entire generation to fall away from God. We need to get back to the sober business of declaring the Truth. When I think back to the prophets of the Old Testament, I see men that were grave, serious, bold, determined, and fearful of the God the represented. We need to get back to that in our teaching and preaching today.

God wants His Word handled very carefully. God magnifies His word even above His name, and His name is above all other names. God’s Word is important. We need to be very careful that we are delivering it clearly, and entirely to the people of God.

Oh, and by the way, according to vs. 1 & 2, God’s flock needs to be handled with care as well. Woe to the pastor that takes advantage of one of God’s children.


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The Potter’s House

potter.jpg

Today’s Passage –  Jeremiah 18 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 13 – 15; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0819 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” – (Jeremiah 18:3-6)

I love this passage of Scripture. The immediate context of this passage is about Israel. God was basically telling Israel (more specifically the southern kingdom of Judah) that though they had blown it and become “marred”, they could be “made again” into another vessel that would give honor and glory to the Lord. Our God is a God of second (and third, and fourth …) chances.

The broader interpretation that we can apply to our lives is that God can also re-mold us. We are also marred people born with a nature that is useless to God. However, God can re-make us into “new creatures” through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. This can only come through the new birth. Consider the following verses:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – (John 3:3)

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

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

I am excited that God is continuously re-shaping my life into something that He can use for His glory. I am a long way away from the finished product, but I look a whole better than when He found me. Praise the Lord!

It gets even better. While I am being worked on by the Lord, He lets me help Him work on some others. I get to minister the Word of God to the people of God, which is a big part of God’s transformation process. That’s a weird thought isn’t it? God uses marred vessels to help transform other marred vessels.

PS – one more unrelated thought from Jeremiah 22:

“Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” – (Jeremiah 22:28-30)

If you study the genealogical record of the Lord Jesus from Matthew 1 and Luke 3, you will find that this man Coniah (Jechonia or Jechonias) is listed in Matthew’s list but not Luke’s. The reason for this is simple. Matthew traces the legal lineage of Christ through his adopted father Joseph. Luke’s gospel traces the biological lineage through His mother, Mary. Jesus was the “seed” of Mary, but not the seed of Joseph. Jeremiah prophesied long ago in this passage that anybody that descended biologically from Jechonia would be “disqualified” from being the King of Israel. Any of Joseph’s biological children were disqualified; but Jesus was not Joseph’s biological child. Mary was Jesus’ biological mother, but Mary did not descend from Jechonias. Study it out. It is amazing how accurate our Scripture is.


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The Point of No Return

point of no return

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 14 – 17 (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 – Acts 10 – 12; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0818 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!’” (Jeremiah 15:1)

In the picture above, the man is jumping from one rock formation to the next. You will notice that the position of his body would make it impossible for him to change his mind at the last minute. He had reached “the point of no return”.

In our passage we see that the people of God had passed the point of no return. God said that it did not matter if Moses or Samuel came to intercede on their behalf, they had gotten too far away from Him, and judgement was unavoidable. God had warned them and corrected them previously, but to no avail. They would not receive the correction and they did not heed the warnings. They continued to travel down the road eventually leading them to the point of no return. God was about to bring in the Babylonians as a judgment for the backslidings of Judah.

I wonder how far God will allow America to get away from Him until she gets to the point of no return, where nothing can be done to escape judgment. I wonder how far the Christian can travel down the road of sin before God says, enough is enough. Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that God will remove a Christian’s salvation if they are genuinely born again; but I am saying that He will eventually get fed up with rebellion, and will be forced to impose severe chastisement in order to rectify the situation. He may even take the offending Christian home to Heaven prematurely.

Let’s not allow our lives to get so out of control that God says we have passed the point of no return. Let’s keep an open heart, listen daily to His admonitions and exhortations from the Word of God; and heed what He says. Let’s yield to the working of the Spirit of God within us and yield to His will for our lives. I want to be used of Him all of my earthly life. I don’t want to be put on a shelf, or worse, face some sort of terrible judgment. I want to bear fruit that remains in my Christian life. I guess I had better stay close to my Saviour and far away from the point of no return.


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Who Can Change a Leopard’s Spots? God Can!

Leopard prowling, approaching its prey, Namibia. Scan from Velvia slide, XXXL

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “0817 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

The context of this passage, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, is the impending judgment that is facing Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin. They had gotten totally out of control: God had sent prophets to them; God had sent judgment to them; but they did not get the message. They were too far gone. God was about to do something very big in and to Jerusalem. The Babylonians were about to invade. It would be perhaps the worst calamity to hit the people of God. However, the good news is that the judgment that would come would be the very thing that would cause the people of God to repent: to change their spots. The people seemed powerless to change on their own; but through the loving hand of judgment from God, the leopard would indeed have his spots changed.

Sometimes, I get so very frustrated with myself, particularly my inability to get victory over some of the recurring sins in my life. I am utterly powerless, it seems, to win the battle. However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through the loving correction of my Heavenly Father, my spots can also be removed. I can’t change my spots, but God can. Do you need a spot remover? God can do it. Yield to Him. Open your heart up and be willing to allow God to make the necessary changes in your life.

God can and will remove our spots, but there are some things that we can do to help God as He cleanses away the stain of sin from our life:

1 We first must acknowledge the fact that we have spots. We need to allow God to completely examine us and show us where the spots are in our life. We cannot withhold any area of our life. He must be able to thoroughly inspect us, and we must agree with His assessment. If He sees a spot, we must agree that it is indeed a spot.

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

2 We must next be willing to submit ourselves to God’s cure for our spot problem. God may bring us through an uncomfortable process in order to accomplish His will. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the Great Physician. He knows just how deep to cut. He knows just how much we can handle. He may bring in some people to help Him. He may use a pastor or other counselor to help you as He works on you.

3 We must also be willing to continue down a prescribed path that will keep the spots from coming back in the future. We must stay in fellowship with God. We must daily spend time with Him through His Word and through prayer. He will keep His eye on us, and He will be able to quickly “spot” any new blemishes that may be coming to the surface.

Note – I must be careful to add that, if we are saved, God already sees us positionally as spotless, because He views us through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:7 & 8 )


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Circumcision of the Heart

Circumcised Heart

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

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

Read the “0816 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Closed Eyes, Closed Mouths, Closed Ears“; and “To God Be The Glory

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9 & 10)

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jeremiah 9:25-26)

In this passage God is rebuking the people of Judah for their hypocrisy. Apparently they felt that they could do whatever they wanted to do, live anyway they wanted to live; and then go down to the Temple and participate in some type of religious ceremony or ritual that would make everything OK. These people were far away from God’s principles and commands, but they were trusting in their religion to save them. As I read these verses this morning, I could not help but think about the state of religion today in America. People commit all sorts of sin; ignore the clear teaching of the Word of God, and then come to church thinking that their participation in a ritual will save them. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that going to church is a bad thing for anyone; but I am saying that it is hypocritical to ignore God 99% of the time and then claim Him as your Lord on Sunday. I am also not trying to make the case that there is anyone out there, including myself, that is without sin (and lots of it). We are all sinners, and we all need God’s mercy; but to live completely in rebellion to the will of God without any conviction about it is another thing altogether.

The New Testament speaks about this as well:

“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.” (2 Timothy 3:1 – 5)

True religion, genuine faith will make a difference in your life. The Scripture is clear, “faith without works is dead”; “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature”. If you are truly a child of God on the inside, it will work its way out to your life on the outside. Too many in our churches today are Christians outwardly, but inwardly are very carnal and worldly. They are no different from the Israelites mentioned in Jeremiah: they were circumcised physically, but were uncircumcised in the heart.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29)


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The Old Paths

old-paths-dan-etpr

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – Acts 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0815 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Catching Men” and “Fallow Ground

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – (Jeremiah 6:16)

Independent Baptist preachers can often be heard using the phrase “old-fashioned”. We refer to our churches, our congregational singing, our method of soul winning, and even our King James Bible as being old-fashioned. We consider it a complement to be considered old-fashioned in many aspects of our worship and service for the Lord. But I want to clarify a few things about the why I like being old-fashioned about a lot of things. First of all, I do not believe that just because something is old that it is necessarily good, and I do not think that all new things are necessarily bad. I enjoy using all of the latest technological gizmos that make our lives easier and more enjoyable today. When I refer to something being old-fashioned I am usually referring to the wholesome, Biblical traditions and methods of our past that do not need to be changed. I like our old-fashioned Bible. I enjoy singing the old-fashioned hymns from the hymnbook. I have seen many people get saved through the old-fashioned method of soul winning. I am glad my wife and daughters are old-fashioned in their modest dress. The old paths didn’t need to be changed. I have often said, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”.

In our passage, God is telling the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, to return to a time when they were closer to the Lord. In the old days they were a nation that refused the evil that surrounded them on every side, and they stood for the truth of the Word of God. They worshipped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and they obeyed the precepts of the Law. As a result of their relationship with God they were a greatly blessed nation, and God prospered them mightily, and protected them against any nation that would seek to harm them. But the prosperity that they enjoyed caused them to stray away from their God. They had become a very idolatrous and immoral nation. God wanted them back on the old paths.

The same thing can be said about our nation. We were once a nation that stood for the Truth. Our culture was filled with people that worshipped and served the Lord. God blessed our nation with a prosperity unequalled in the history of the world; but as it was with Israel, so it is with us. Our prosperity has spoiled us, and we have become an ungrateful people who have bitten the Hand that was feeding us. We need to get back on the old paths.


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Turn Around

U-Turn

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – John 21; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the “0814 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Before I share the my main thought from the Scripture this morning, I just wanted to point out from the passage that the writer, Jeremiah, was a hand made child of God that was uniquely designed by Him to be a prophet to Israel and Judah. (see Jeremiah 1:4 – 6) God has also made you and and I, and wants to use us in a special way to fellowship with Him, glorify Him, and fulfill His plan for the ages. We are not here by accident. We were specially created the way we are on purpose, and for a purpose.

Now for today’s main thought:

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Throughout the history of Israel, the people of God have gone through periods where they would fall away from God. Here in this passage the word “backsliding” is used seven times. Here in this passage Jeremiah is pleading with the backsliding people of Israel to come back to the Lord. Our God is awesome! Who else but God would love these people and keep taking them back, even though they would turn against Him over and over. He never gives up on His children. I must confess that I have a tough time forgiving people in the same way that God has forgiven me. I want to write people off; but God is not like me. He continues to reach out to those who have forsaken Him. Notice what God required of the people in order for them to come back into a right relationship with Him:

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:13)

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” (Jeremiah 3:14)

God says that if the people would acknowledge their sin, and then turn, He would take them back. Turning means that they would put away all of the things that they were doing that God was displeased with. This is a pretty good definition of repentance, which involves more than just acknowledging.

The people of God today could follow this same simple formula in order to come back to their God. We must acknowledge where we have gone wrong. It may not be some deep sin or rebellion. It may be just apathy, coldness, or laziness. Then we have to confess it to God and turn away from it. God loves us deeply and wants more than anything for us to be in love with Him. If you have “slidden” away from God, return again to the Lord.


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There Is Coming a Day, But It’s Not Here Yet

wolf and lamb

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 63 – 66 (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 – John 19 – 20; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0813 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall bethe serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 65:25)

There is coming soon a wonderful period of time when Christ shall rule and reign on the earth, and when that time comes there will be complete peace and harmony among all of the inhabitants of the earth, including the animals. This Book of Isaiah speaks much about this future time where we will not have to fear lions, wolves, snakes, or each other. However that time is “not yet” Right now, we still live on an earth that is plagued with sin of the worst kind. Every creature on earth seems to be out for itself. Animals will do whatever is necessary to survive, and so will man; often at the expense of others.

There are a lot of wolves out there today and we’d better beware of them. They want to come into our homes, and into our churches. They will often disguise themselves as sheep in order to infiltrate the flock and destroy it from within. These wolves may try to pray on the innocence of our children; they may try to bring in false doctrine; or they may try to cause us to stray away from the will of the Shepherd. We need to be sober and vigilant to anything or anybody that will try to move us away from the will of God.

I can’t wait for the Millennium; but for now, if I see a wolf, I am not going to pet it or play with it; I am going to do my best to get rid of it.

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

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – (Matthew 10:16)

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” – (Acts 20:29)


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Preach the Word

preach-the-word

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 58 – 62 (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 – John 17 – 18; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0812 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,” (Isaiah 62:6)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

All of my previous posts from this reading passage have had to do with Isaiah 62:6. This morning, I would like to consider a similar verse: Isaiah 58:1. I believe this verse, though originally given to Isaiah, is directly applicable to preachers today. I believe that there are three ingredients for sound Bible preaching found in this verse, and, unfortunately, these are also sadly lacking in our preaching today.

1 Notice the Passion of Preaching – “Cry Aloud …lift up my voice like a trumpet”

Preaching should be passionate. Perhaps not ever message, or every part of a message will be done with a loud voice, but Bible preaching should be very often be done with a loud, passionate voice. The volume of the preachers voice should reveal his passion regarding the truth of God and it should also demonstrate his compassion for the needs of the people. Many Christians shy away from passionate preaching, preferring devotional teaching. However, the preaching of the word should be packed with Bible truth, and delivered in a manner that reveals the seriousness of God.

2 Notice the Perfection of Preaching – “spare not”

Not only should the preacher not hold back any volume and passion when he preaches, he should also not hold back any truth. All too often today preachers are afraid to preach all the counsel of God because they are too concerned with offending and possibly losing church members. We must remember that our duty is to please the Lord, and to deliver His message, uncut, and uncensored.

“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;” (2 Timothy 4:3)

3 Notice the Pointedness of Preaching – “…shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

Preachers must not be afraid to point out the sins of the people, even the ones that are very unpopular to preach against. In the culture that we are living in it is getting increasingly difficult to not be offensive. The world is rapidly moving away from God, which should cause the preacher to be more passionate, and more pointed. The world, however, and even many Christians, will be offended.

 


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Look Beyond The Cross

theeffectsofthecross

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 53 – 57 (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 – John 15 – 16; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0811 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” – (Isaiah 53:10)

This passage in Isaiah has always amazed me for a number of reasons. First, I am always in awe of the accuracy of the Word of God. Here the prophet Isaiah is writing several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, and yet paints such an accurate picture of the events surrounding Christ’s death. No wonder the Jewish people have removed this passage from their Scripture. It proves perfectly that Jesus is their Messiah.

Secondly, I have often thought about the phrase from verse 10: “it pleased the Lord to bruise him”; and then in verse 11: “he shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:” I can’t completely wrap my head around these verses. How could the horrible, agonizing death of His Son please and satisfy God? On a human level, I look at these verses and think to myself that there is no possible way that anything could be worth putting my son through the agony that Christ faced on the cross. But God saw something that made it all worthwhile. He saw you and me; and He saw a way that your sins and mine could be atoned for. He saw a way for fellowship to be restored between us and Him. To be sure, God was not pleased with the Cross in itself. I am sure it was the hardest thing for Him to endure; but beyond the Cross was salvation for you and I; and that pleased and satisfied God greatly. Thank you Father for being willing to watch your Son die for me. Thank you Jesus for being a willing participant in my redemption.

On a practical level, I want to offer one additional thought about the cross that you may be bearing right now in your life. You may be going through a difficult time in your life that is anything but pleasing or satisfying. By faith, look beyond the cross to what God is going to ultimately accomplish through your trial. God may be using you to help bring about the eternal redemption of somebody else, which makes all of the temporary suffering worth it. He may be refining you a little through the process; or He may be just glorifying Himself somehow. I know that He has a wonderful plan, and the cross that you are bearing today is part of it, and will be used by Him to “work all thing together for good.” You may not be able to see it now, but someday God will reveal something beautiful; something very pleasing and satisfying. All because you carried the cross that God placed in your life.

I just thought of another verse:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus looked beyond the cross too.


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Bullheaded

Texas-Longhorn-880x400

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 48 – 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 – John 13 – 14; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “0810 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;” – (Isaiah 48:4)

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – (Isaiah 48:10)

Gerald is a man in our church who often tells me stories about his childhood, and his relationship with his dad growing up. His dad was a great man who had the uncommon ability to demonstrate love and tenderness, but could also be very strong, and was not afraid to correct his children when necessary. When Gerald was a teenager, he and his dad would sometimes butt heads. His dad would say to him, “Son, you have a pretty hard head, but that’s OK because I am going to soften it up for you.” I think this is exactly the idea found in our text today. God was telling Israel that they were “bull headed”, but He knew how to take care of that problem.

Stubborn, stiff-necked, bull headed: these are all words that are synonymous to the words that God used to describe Israel in Isaiah 48:4. They are also words that could be used to describe most of us. We are a stubborn lot by nature. We are very slow to learn, yet quick to declare that we are right. We are not very teachable, because we think that we know everything that there is to know. God oftentimes is forced to soften us up through the vehicle of affliction. Isn’t it amazing that we tend to learn much better while enduring a trial than we do when we are on the mountaintop. If fact, many people come to Christ at times in their life when they are going through a tough time. God often has to break us before He can teach us. If you find yourself going through an unusually difficult season in your life, it may just be that God is working “in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”. (Phillippians 2:13) He may be trying to get you to see something that you could not see otherwise. God loves you, but whom He loves, He corrects; and correction is good; it helps us yield to a God who knows much better about what is good for us.

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

“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)


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He’s The One and Only

535555_JesustheOneandOnlyJPGToday’s Passage – Isaiah 44 – 47 (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 – John 11 – 12; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “0809 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this reading passage – “Custom Design

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” – (Isaiah 44:8)

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:” – (Isaiah 45:5)

“That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:6)

“Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.” – (Isaiah 45:14)

“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:18)

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour;there is none beside me.” – (Isaiah 45:21)

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:22)

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” – (Isaiah 46:9)

Did you notice all of the times in Isaiah 44 – 46 that God declares that He is the only God. I really like what God said in Isaiah 44:8 – “I know not any”. If God who is omniscient doesn’t know of any other God, then there isn’t any. If God is the only God, then why are so many people worshipping other “gods”, and even other things. Most people worship themselves, but some worship their children; some their careers; some even worship other people. Their are a myriad of things out there that people bow to, but God is the only One that is worthy of worship, because He is the only true God.

And if He is the only true God, then:

1  His Word is the only truth.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – (John 17:17)

2  His Way for man’s salvation is the only way to Heaven (see Why Jesus?)

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – (John 14:6)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – (Acts 4:12)

3  His Work can only be organized through His Church

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – (Matthew 16:18)

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” – (1 Timothy 3:15)

Your search has ended. There is no other God, and there is no other Book that tells us about Him. There is no other plan for our salvation, and there is no other place for us to fulfill His commission. Why would you want another anyway. The One we have is awesome!!! By the way – His name is Jesus.

 


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Forgiving and Forgetting

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 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 – John 9 – 10; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0808 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Tired of God?

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” – (Isaiah 43:25)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

The verses listed above are very encouraging to me. Each of these Scriptures speak of God’s forgiveness primarily to the people of Israel; but in a broader context, they apply to all who have “called upon the name of the Lord”. It is certainly a wonderful truth that God forgives our sin. Of course, forgiveness is only possible through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wrath that we deserved was poured out upon Him. However, God goes beyond just forgiving us: He forgets our sins as well. To forgive is one thing, but to forget is another level entirely. The phrase “blotteth out” has the idea that the record of our sin has been completely expunged (removed).

Now let’s try to apply this wonderful attribute of God to our own relationships. We are supposed to be like God, aren’t we? If we are saved we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and we have God on the inside of us transforming us to be like Him. If all that be true, then we should be able to forget like God forgets. We say that we forgive someone who has wronged us, but we often replay mentally (or re-tell verbally) the act that was committed against us. In other words, the act has not been blotted out completely in our minds. We store the thing that was forgiven in a special compartment where we can retrieve it again in case we need it. We often pull it back out when a new violation is committed. We are keeping score in our minds. God does not do this. He removes the record altogether. Real forgiveness will lead us to blot out the act altogether; not that their will be no consciousness of the act; but it will not be allowed to be dredged back up again for some future judgment against the offender.

I have one more thought. God not only forgives sin, and erases the record; but He also refuses to record any future violations. It is like getting a completely free pass from the penalty of your sins. Don’t believe me?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:5-8)

Oh that we could be more like Him: forgiving, forgetting, and even determining that we will not hold against someone any future acts committed against us. We like to be the receiver of such treatment, but oh how we struggle to treat others in this manner.

God, help us to be more like you. Help us to love people like you do. Help us to truly accept the forgiveness that you offer us, and then help us to return the favor to someone else.

Perhaps as you are reading this, God has put someone in your mind that you are harboring unforgiveness toward. Why not determine to take that person out of your heart’s prison by giving them the forgiveness that God has given you.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – (Ephesians 4:32)


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Forsaking Future Generations

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 37 – 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 – John 7 – 8; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “0807 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” (Isaiah 39:5-8)

I think that the last verse of Isaiah 39 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. King Hezekiah, who was one of the best kings that Israel ever had, makes a statement here that is extremely selfish. He is told by Isaiah that because he had opened up his kingdom and welcomed the Babylonian messengers that someday Babylon would come back and take away all that Hezekiah’s family owned, and would also take his family members into captivity. We know that this prophecy was literally fulfilled in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came down and destroyed Jerusalem, and had carried nearly the entire population back with them into Babylon.

Notice, however, what Hezekiah said when he got the news: “Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” Hezekiah was OK with the news that his children would be destroyed, as long as no destruction came while he was still alive. Very selfish indeed!

Hezekiah is not alone, however, in his selfishness. I find that many of us today are guilty of forsaking our future generations by some of the decisions that we make.

I’ll give you an illustration. Let’s say that John Smith is a lost man, living in sin, and beginning to reap the negative consequences of his worldly lifestyle. One day, he is confronted with his sinful condition, and is warned, not only of the eternal consequences that he will face, but also the problems that his children will have because of the course that he has charted. John is convicted of his sin, and realizes that he wants something better for his family. He trusts Christ as Saviour, along with his wife, and immediately begins to make some changes in his life. He brings his family to church every time the doors are opened; he removes many of the weights and also the sinful things from his home, and serves God with a passion. His family immediately begins to reap the benefits of his decisions. God is now blessing the family. He is meeting their needs, and is even giving them some of their heart’s desires. His kids grow up, and marry godly spouses. Everything is good. However, the next generation does not know, or perhaps doesn’t remember too well, what life was like before dad got saved. They are all saved also, but they don’t seem to fear the world and the devil like dad did, and they are not quite as zealous for the Lord as the first generation. They begin to allow some of the things that dad stood against back into their homes. They are not as consistent as mom and dad were about church attendance, either; and they do not feel like they should have to serve as much as their family did when they were growing up. Gradually and slowly they begin to pull away from what dad fought for. However, for the most part, life is still good: they are prospering financially, and they seem to have well adjusted families. Their children (generation 3), however, are even less interested in the things of God than generation 2 was. They hardly go to church at all now, and their children (generation 4) will not even be exposed to the gospel so that they could be saved like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Life isn’t so good for them. They make a lot of bad decisions, and the consequences of sin have completely ravaged their lives.

You will notice in the above example that a complete circle has been made. You will notice that in every generation there were decisions made that affected either positively or negatively the next generation. Great Granddad made some decisions that prospered his children, but unfortunately his children decided to do some things (or not do some things) that adversely affected the third generation. That is exactly what Hezekiah did. He made a decision that benefited himself temporarily, but destroyed future generations.

Parents, please be careful. The decisions that you make today will either positively or negatively affect your children and grandchildren. Don’t forsake the future generations.


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What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 33 – 36 (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 – John 5 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0806 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Streams in the Desert”

“Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” (Isaiah 36:22)

Chapter 36 of the Book of Isaiah is the beginning of an historical portion of the Book, which will end in chapter 39. You will notice that the style of writing changes completely for just these 4 chapters, and you will find the story that is told in this portion of Scripture is also found in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. In chapter 36 we read the beginning of the story, and we learn about a huge problem that has come upon King Hezekiah and the City of Jerusalem. In this chapter we discover that an extremely powerful army from Assyria has surrounded the city and is threatening to utterly destroy it unless the people surrender everything. How would you like to be in King Hezekiah’s shoes at this particular time in history? He is facing an impossible situation, and he really has very few options. He cannot fight them because the Assyrian army  is infinitely more powerful than Jerusalem’s defenses. It seems from the context that Hezekiah may have considered getting help from Egypt, but even the Egyptians were no match for Assyria. Jerusalem was completely powerless to do anything on their own; they were utterly helpless. What should Hezekiah do? What would you do if you were King Hezekiah?

Well, we will find out tomorrow what Hezekiah does, but let’s consider just for a moment what we should do when we are faced with impossible problems in life. God has a way of getting our complete attention through tragic situations. Sometimes God allows the rug to be pulled out from underneath our feet so that we will have to look up to Him to see what happened. Much of life we seem to be able to figure out on our own, but every once in a while God will allow something to take place that will drive us to our knees in total dependence upon Him for a solution. As Christians, we are supposed to be trusting God every day for everything, but unfortunately our flesh likes to think that it can “do life” on its own, all by itself.  God is very patient and gracious with us, but eventually, when we stray too far from Him in our independence and stubbornness, He will do something to get our complete attention. It is a shame that we cannot learn to pay a little more attention to Him before the impossible problems surround us and painful tragedies come our way.

Why don’t we take a moment right now and ask God to forgive us for our lack of attention to Him, and our failure to depend upon Him. Let’s commit to trusting Him today to guide and direct the decisions that we make, and let’s be sure to thank Him for His abundant provision and divine protection. And, by all means, if you are facing the trial of your life today and you don’t have a clue about what you should do, then do what Hezekiah did: go to God. It may be that God will deliver you from your problem just as He delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrian army. But, even if He doesn’t take the problem completely away, He can minimize it, and He also promises to give abundant grace that will help you as you go through it.


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Don’t Tell Us What We Want To Hear – Tell Us The Truth!

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 29 – 32 (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 – John 3 – 4; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0805 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

“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.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

There is a striking resemblance between the people of Isaiah’s day, and the people of the last days that were spoken of by Paul to Timothy. They do not want to hear the truth, but rather are content to listen to anything, whether true or not, that pleases their ears. They want the preachers of God to tell them what they want to hear. They want to feel good about themselves, and they do not want to change anything about the way they are living. Now I must be honest, there are times when the preaching of the Word of God rubs me the wrong way, but I know when that happens it is because there is something wrong with me, not something wrong with God’s Word.

These passages should send an admonition to both the preachers of God’s word, and also to the people of God:

First to the Preachers – Don’t ever get to the place where you start desiring to please the people with your preaching, rather than be faithful to the truth of God’s Word. You do not have to go out of your way to be offensive, but you do have to have enough courage to preach unpopular truths. There are a lot of things in the Bible that are unpopular in this culture. It is not in vogue to preach against fornication, and homosexuality; and it is not politically correct to teach that Jesus is the only way to salvation; but these truths, along with all the other counsel of God, need to be proclaimed boldly. Remember, it is not the world that you must seek to please, but the Lord.

Next to the People of God – Demand that the people that minister the Word of God to you are faithful to the truth. Encourage the preachers to be completely honest with you, and courageous enough to tell you things that you may not want to hear. Do not tolerate watered down, politically correct speeches. Demand the truth.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:14-15)


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Peace

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 24 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

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

Read the “0804 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

Peace is truly a wonderful thing. It is something that everybody desires but very few ever find. The world pays billions of dollars to find it through secular counseling, and even through entertainment, drugs, and alcohol; but those things cannot bring peace. If you were to look up the word “peace” in a dictionary or thesaurus you would find synonyms such as tranquility, contentment, safety, completeness, quietness, health, prosperity. I think that all of these words do well to describe what God was talking about in Isaiah 26:3, and they can only come to the person whose mind (thoughts, focus, and affection) is stayed on the Lord.

Too many Christians today, including myself at times, lack the peace that God wants all of His children to possess, and it is simply because they transfer their focus from God to something else. I tend to dwell on problems and circumstances when I should be focussed on and communicating with the Problem Solver. Life is full of things, people, and situations that draw our minds away from the Lord, but when we lose our focus we also lose our peace. We need to remember that when problems come (and they always do) to bring them to the One who already has the answer. When people hurt us we need to remember that there is One who will never do us wrong, and will always be there for us no matter what happens. God is the answer to every problem and distraction. It isn’t that we shouldn’t think at all about solving problems and restoring relationships, but we should filter all of these situations through Him, and He will give us the wisdom that we need as well as the comfort and strength that we need to endure. Keep your eyes on the Lord.


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A House Divided

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 19 – 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 – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0803 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3;25)

As we read through this portion of the Book of Isaiah, we see that God is pronouncing judgment on all of the nations that have been enemies to God and His people, Israel. In chapter 19, we see that God is dealing specifically with the Egyptians. The Egyptians had been an enemy to the people of God throughout much of their history. Perhaps, they were not as bad as some; yet, still God states here that some judgment is coming.

My thought for this morning surrounds verse 2 of chapter 19. Part of the judgment that was going to come to Egypt was a battle from within its own borders; a fight among its own inhabitants; a civil war. Our nation faced this same type of conflict 150 years ago. It was perhaps the ugliest battle America would ever face: neighbor against neighbor; brother against brother. We found that it was impossible for the nation to move forward until its inner struggle was settled.

I have noticed that we oftentimes face a similar type of judgment in our families and in our churches: a division on the inside; a battle, not with an invading army, but with an injured brother. When a church moves away from fighting the external battle against the world and the devil, it then begins to fight amongst itself. It seems that by nature we are fighters, and to some degree we ought to be. We ought to fight against the sin and the darkness of this world, we ought to hate the devil, and we ought to be striving together in order to bring the gospel to the people around us. Oftentimes we forget who the real enemy is and we take up arms against each other. Satan is very wise and understands that if he can get us to destroy each other, he won’t have to destroy us himself.

We see that this problem is also prevalent inside the home. Parents are not always in one accord, but are often at odds with one another. They fight about finances, about child-rearing, and about a lot of other things. All of this division is rooted in pride, with each individual insisting on getting his and her own way. Shame on us.

The cure for this problem is simply to recognize the battle is not within, but without. When we get busy fighting for the Lord, we will not have time nor desire to fight each other.


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Do You Need an “I” Exam?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 14 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0802 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“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! For thou hast said in thine heart, I willascend 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 14:12-14)

Five times in this passage, we see Lucifer (Satan) using the phrase “I will”.  Did you ever notice how much we use the word “I”. We, like Satan, are full of ourselves. Satan fell because of his pride, and most of us have the same problem. We would never admit it, but we are really the “god” of our own lives. We worship ourselves, and though we won’t admit, we are really not much different than Satan, when it comes to pride. It is natural to exalt ourselves, and it is very diffficult to be humble; but humility is required for us to surrender to Christ. In order to be saved, we need to humble ourselves, and in order to live the spirit filled life, we must continually abase ourselves and lift up Christ. Easier said than done.

Lately, we have been bombarded with news of great men who have fallen into sin. It both grieves me, and scares me because I know that it could be me. I am sure, however, that pride is a root factor in all of these moral failures that we are hearing about. I think if we were to be able to examine each individual case carefully in retrospect, we would be able to recognize a pattern of pride. A Biblical example of someone falling due to pride is what happened to King Saul. He was at one time “little in his own eyes”, but God elevated him in the eyes of men. He enjoyed the praise and respect of men, and began to believe all of the nice things that people were saying about him, and all of the attention that he was getting. Somewhere along the line, he probably started to think that he somehow deserved the credit that he was getting. He gradually began to steal a little of the glory that rightly belonged only to God. He then started to operate independently of God, doing his own thing instead of obeying what God commanded. He also became threatened and insecure when anybody else received any praise. Eventually, he fell.

David fell also. He became too important to fight with the rest of his army, so he stayed home. He saw a woman that belonged to another man, but because he was the king, he felt that he was entitled to take her. He then tried to cover up his sin with the murder of her husband, and he was sure that he would get away with it. After all, he was a big and powerful man. Who would dare question King David? He though that he could do whatever he wanted. He wasn’t under any authority, not even God. What a shame.

Unfortunately, we see this all too often in the ministry, as well. As God begins to allow us to see some success in our ministries, we must remember that it is He that worked through us. We have no right to think that we are deserving of praise. To God be all the glory. Watch out for pride. Stay “little” in your own eyes, and don’t allow people to exalt you. Deflect all praise to the Lord for He alone is worthy.

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” – (Psalm 34:3)

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – (Proverbs 16:18)


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Who Turned Out the Light?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 9 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the “0801 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

The verse of Scripture referenced above deals with the birth of Christ. When Christ was born in the earth, he poked a huge hole in the darkness of a world that had been without light for a long time. Christ is light, and light equals righteousness and holiness; and it is also synonymous with spiritual understanding. The Bible says of God:

“Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:” (Psalm 104:2)

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Light is not something that God has or something that God can produce; it is what He is. Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of this light on the Mount of Transfiguration. John saw it again when he was on the Isle of Patmos and given the Revelation. Paul saw this light on the road to Damascus when the Lord gloriously saved him. All of these examples were actual physical manifestations of the light of God. However, when He came, He revealed to the world more than just Physical light: he delivered to the world a spiritual brightness that many had seen and received; and many more continue to receive to this day.

My thought for the day is: if Christ came and delivered this light to us 2000 years ago, and many millions have received this light from Him via the Holy Spirit; then why is this world still very dark. Jesus told us to shine the light to the dark world around us:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

You would think with all of the millions of lights out there that should be shining, the world would be pretty bright; yet it continues to dwell in darkness. Why? Because God’s people are not allowing the light of Christ to radiate and reflect through them to the world around them. They are covering their candles with a bushel instead of elevating it on a candlestick. Three thoughts regarding the failure of the Christian to shine the light of Christ:

1 We fail to shine the light when we fail to separate from the darkness. Instead of increasing our light, we often participate in things that are very dark: things that are inconsistent with light. Light repels darkness; they cannot dwell together. So in order for the Christian to dwell in darkness, He has to douse His light. He has to quench the Spirit of God that dwells within Him.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

By the way, unfortunately, the verse above oftentimes applies to the Christian as well as to the world.

2 We fail to shine the light when we fail to saturate ourselves in the light of the Word of God.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130)

3 We fail to shine the light when we shield the light from reaching those around us. This has more to do with fear than anything else. We have the light, and we desire to shine it; but we are so intimidated by the world around us that we conceal it. It is time that we decide to take a stand, and decide once and for all whose side we are on. We belong to God. We owe this world nothing but the light of Christ. Get out of the way, and let His light shine through you.

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:15)


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What Could Have Been Done More

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0731 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? … For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” (Isaiah 5:4, 7)

Our church has a lot of property, most of which is undeveloped. A few years ago a couple from our church asked if they could use a small patch of that land to plant a community garden. At first I was a little hesitant, but I agreed to let these folks plant their little garden as long as it didn’t cost the church too much money, and as long as it didn’t require any extra work from me. I had to admit, I was fascinated watching the whole process, from the cultivation of the ground to the actual planting. In the years we had that grade, we actually reaped quite a bit of vegetables. Personally, I was a big fan of the little cherry tomatoes, and so was my grandson, Jaxon. Whenever he was at the church, we always walked back to the garden to eat a few. One day, I was out in the garden with one of the men, and he noticed a rather large green caterpillar on one of the tomato plants, very similar to the one pictured above. After careful inspection, he discovered another one on another plant. If left unchecked these pests would have completely consumed all of the plants, and our little garden would have been ruined.

In our text today, we read about God’s vineyard, the Nation of Israel. God found his vineyard in ruins, and He asked the question: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” That is a good question. What more could God have done? He gave them everything that they needed to thrive as a nation, and for a while, they did just that; but eventually sin, like those nasty caterpillars, crept in and destroyed the vineyard.

Though this passage is written for and about Israel, I believe that there are some great principles here that we can apply today. I believe applications can be made to our individual Christian lives, and also to our families, and even to the local churches. Each one of these areas are a type of vineyard that belongs to the Lord. What can we do with all that God has given us in order to thrive and produce the fruit that God wants to produce through us?

1 We must use good seed. God has given us the Word of God. Why would we want to use the corruptible seed of man’s philosophies. Years ago, I made the decision that my life was going to be established with and directed by the Bible.

2 We must weed. Weeds and pests will overtake the gardens of our lives if we allow them to. In our Christian walk, many distraction can creep in, along with sinful things and false doctrines that will steal all of our energy and redirect our focus so that we cannot produce healthy fruit.

3 We must feed. Good nutrients and plenty of water will cause a garden to thrive. As Christians, we must feed daily on the Word of God, and in our churches, we must make sure that we are providing plenyt of opportunities for church members to come and dine on a healthy diet of Bible doctrine.

If God’s vineyard fails today, it will not be His fault. He has given us all that we need to thrive and produce abundant, healthy fruit.


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Where Are The Men?

menofgod

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 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 – Luke 15 – 16; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “0730 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” (Isaiah 3:12)

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” – (1 Corinthians 16:13)

“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)

Isaiah is writing at a time when the people of Israel and Judah were in economic prosperity but spiritual and moral depravity. The end of chapter 3 records that the people were very proud, they were full with possessions and pleasure, but they were far away from God. God warns them through the writing of Isaiah that judgment will come. It is important to keep in mind as we read this Book of Isaiah that God is often dealing with the present condition of Israel and Judah 800 years or so before the time of Christ, but he also speaks prophetically regarding Israel and others in the last days. He speaks much about the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Here in chapter 3, He is specifically speaking of Israel, but the application can be made to us today.

The condition of our nation is very similar to Israel and Judah prior to the judgment that came through the nation of Assyria, and later Babylon. We are a very proud and prosperous people. This prideful attitude permeates our society. We scream out with our lives that we don’t need God; and we certainly aren’t going to submit to Him. Notice in the verse above that the women are ruling. I don’t think that this is a slap against women as much as it is a statement that the men were not fulfilling their God given roles as leaders. We have the same problems in our society today. The men are abdicating their responsibility as the leaders in the homes, and in the nation. Our churches are also full of women that will volunteer for anything; but where are the men? Why are their so few men who will take on the responsibility of leadership?

We need men that will lead their families. So many homes today are without fathers. Statistics have shown this to be absolutely devastating to the lives of the children. We need some strong men who will be leaders in our communities, and in this nation. We need men who will lead, teach, and mentor in our churches. I praise the Lord for the woman who have stood in the gap and taken on some leadership positions. Many of these ladies are doing a great job, but we need men to step up to the plate and assume the responsibilities intended to them by God.


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