We Are Free

Butterflies-are-Free

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Schoolmaster

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

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

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

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


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The Builder – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.” (2Corinthians 13:11-14)

Good morning. Paul is concluding his letter to the Corinthians. Under the dictation of the Holy Spirit, he writes us a To-Do list…

Be perfect (complete).

Be of good comfort.

Be of one mind.

Live in peace.

Matthew Henry gives a good explanation of these in his commentary…

“(1.) To be perfect, or to be knit together in love, which would tend greatly to their advantage as a church, or Christian society. (2.) To be of good comfort under all the sufferings and persecutions they might endure for the cause of Christ or any calamities and disappointments they might meet with in the world. (3.) To be of one mind, which would greatly tend to their comfort; for the more easy we are with our brethren the more ease we shall have in our own souls. The apostle would have them, as far as was possible, to be of the same opinion and judgment; however, if this could not be attained, yet, (4.) He exhorts them to live in peace, that difference in opinion should not cause an alienation of affections – that they should be at peace among themselves. He would have all the schisms that were among them healed, that there should be no more contention and wrath found among them, to prevent which they should avoid debates, envyings, backbitings, whisperings, and such like enemies to peace.”

Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 13:10…

“Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” (2Corinthians 13:10)

If the Apostle Paul came to your church, would he have to use sharpness to get you to do what was right? Or, could he be uplifting , building you up: edifying you. In 1Corinthians 14:12…

“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” (1Corinthians 14:12)

And in verse 26, “…Let all things be done unto edifying.”

When you edify someone, you build them up in the Lord: train them as a child in the way they should go, and they will help someone else; and so on.

Today the teens are going to the Youth Congress out in New Egypt, NJ. They will be receiving a Christian Life Journal. I would ask them to add one more question to the daily page if it is not already there: “What did I do to edify someone today?”

If we answer that question on a daily basis, we will be focused on what Jesus was focused on: others. If we get our eyes off ourselves, and look to the needs of others, edifying them, God’s work will get done.

Let me leave you with an example that my wife and I are very thankful for. Two actually: one from God, and one from someone unknown…

On December 6, 2013, was my daughter’s 38th (44th yesterday) birthday. Camille and I celebrated by going over to the grave, adding new flowers, and a few other Christmas items. It had been raining and drizzling all day. When we got to the cemetery, God held back the rain. We were edified: God reinforced the fact to us that He is in control. He cares for us in the little things, as well as the big. Just think about it: the Creator, who spoke everything we have into existence cared enough about us to hold back the rain while we went to the grave. Just a note: as we drove away, the rain came down in buckets! God is good!

Part two of this is also a part of what inspired this blog today. Somebody had come and visited Melissa’s grave earlier, and left a message written in the ground behind the gravestone. Maybe the message was from God too. I know we received much joy from reading it, and knowing that someone else cared. The message simply said, “I LOVE YOU.”

Peace! (JOY: Jesus, Others, You)


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Without Wax

Without Wax

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Are You Blind?

buta-tutup-mata

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

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

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

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

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


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Most Miserable

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Greatest of These is Charity (Love)

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 13 – 14; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

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

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

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12 & 13)

The Bible speaks much about love. In our passage today the word “charity” is used, which is the same word that is translated “love” many other places in the Bible. It means to love unconditionally; to have a deep abiding love that goes far beyond mere affection. This is the kind of love that God has for us. It was what He demonstrated (commendeth – Romans 5:12) when He died for us sinners. Why God loves us I do not know, but the Bible tells us He does.

This kind of Bible love spoken of here in our text and some of these other passages as well is something people often claim to have for others, especially in word. In other words, we often say that we love certain individuals or people in general. However, in practicality, I don’t think that we are being entirely truthful. Love is clearly more than just words, and it is even more than just feelings. Love is action. Love can be seen in the things that we do as well as say. In vv 4 – 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 there are listed practical examples of how love is put into action. Let me list them for you here:

Charity:

suffereth long, (patience)

and is kind;

charity envieth not;

charity vaunteth not itself, (does not boast)

is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, (inappropriately)

seeketh not her own,

is not easily provoked,

thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity,

but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things,

believeth all things,

hopeth all things,

endureth all things. (is able to survive anything, unconditional)

There are 15 practical applications of real love in those four verses. Take a good look at each one of them individually. Now ask yourself honestly: “Do these demonstrations of love show up in my love for others? Or am I falling short?” I think we both know the answer to that question. We all fall short, don’t we? I am not trying to make you feel bad, but I am trying to get you to realize how much needs to be done in our lives in order for us to truly represent Christ as His ambassadors. Remember, the Bible is clear that people will only see Jesus in us as we demonstrate love before them and to them. Now, here is the exciting part: You can’t love people in the flesh. It is not something that you can do on your own. You see, God is love; and you can only love people if the Holy Spirit of God is in you and is not being quenched (hindered from working in and through you). We must yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God inside of us. We must allow Him to love people through us. We must somehow get ourselves: our feelings, our hurts, our desires, etc. out of the way.

Do you want to love people as Jesus loves people? The world has love, but it is a conditional love. Some people are easy to love, but most people are not. Jesus died for a bunch of unloveable people. We must take our love up another notch if we are truly going to be His disciples.


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Learn From The Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Settling Disputes Within the Church

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Stumblingblocks“, “Property of Jesus

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

One of the many problems that Apostle Paul was dealing with in his correspondence with the Church in Corinth was the problem of disputes between the brethren. Apparently, conflicts from within the church body were being brought before the secular courts for resolution. Paul uses some pretty strong language rebuking them for resorting to such measures in order to settle their disagreements, and he even uses a little sarcasm in order to drive his point home. However, we can glean some important principles from this problem at Corinth that will help us in our dealings with fellow believers today.

1. Never sue another believer. Personally, I have never sued anybody, Christian or not; but, I will not go beyond what the text is clearly teaching here. In Corinth, Paul was dealing with individuals from within the same church. Believers need to be very careful when dealing with each other, carefully considering all possible end results of their transactions. When we enter into an agreement with somebody, we seldom think about anything ever going wrong, but often that is not the case. We need to be able to resolve our disputes among ourselves.

2. Be willing to let it go. You may not be able to do this in every case, but if it is at all possible, be willing to forgive (and forget) the damage that was caused you by the offending brother. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did, and is still doing, for us.

3.  Follow the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15 – 17

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

According to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew, the offended brother should first go to the offending party and try to work out the disagreement between them. If that doesn’t work, then he is to bring in another person or possibly two to help bring about resolution. If this fails, then the dispute is to be brought before the church for a final decision. The church was the last “court of appeals” for any case.

4.  Be a peacemaker yourself.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Every church needs to have a few Sprit-filled, impartial people who could sit down with two disagreeing parties and help them come to a mutual agreement.

As long as there are Christians who possess “a flesh” there are at times going to be disagreements within our churches. God prepares us to deal with these disputes in a Christlike way without airing them out before the unsaved world. I think that point two above is the most important instruction out of the four. There are going to be many times in life where we should be willing to give in and just let God deal with the situation. If it is a financial dispute, understand that all money belongs to God and He is well able to replace whatever amount you lost.


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Can You Imagine – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 1 – 5; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30)

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1Corinthians 1:10)

Can you imagine what our churches would be like if we were “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”? Can you imagine all the souls getting saved and baptized each week because they want what we have? Can you imagine the impact we would have on our communities, on our states, on our country? Can you imagine? Even the liberals may get converted!

It came to Paul’s attention that there were contentions among the members of the church at Corinth. It had gotten to the point where Paul had to plead with the church to be of one mind. Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 2…

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Jesus, who is God the Son, was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God. If He were not God, He would have been steeling glory and worship from God. That would be sin, and that would make His sacrifice worthless, and He would have never risen from the grave. But He is God, and being God, He is perfect, and He rose from the grave, and all the glory and honor and worship goes to God.

Can you imagine if we were all of that same mind? Jesus, as God, humbled Himself putting on flesh and became a man, and was obedient even unto death on the cross. All that because He loved us. Can you imagine if we had the same love for each other? But of course we would have to be of the same mind and under control of the God the Holy Spirit to even come close.

With the Holy Spirit in control, the life of the Christian, and the life of the church, would be showing the fruit of the Spirit…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

Can you imagine if we had the same mind? How about the same judgment? God’s mind and His judgment are available to us from the same place: the Holy Bible: the Word of God. God’s Word has everything we need to have His mind and judgment. How can we make it our own?

1) PRAY…

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

2) READ…

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:9)

3) LEARN…

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

Can you imagine?

Peace.


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If the Lord Will

Today’s Passages – Romans 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:24-26)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” (James 4:14-16)

Things rarely go according to our plans. It was no different for the Apostle Paul. He had plans t travel to Spain that he thought were going to come to pass, but his plans were changed by God.

The Letter to the Romans was written from Corinth at the end of the third missionary journey. In Romans 15:24 – 26, Paul states that he had plans to stop in Rome on his way to Spain, but first he had to go back to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that he had collected from the saints in Macedonia (Philippi. Thessalonica, and Berea) and Achaia (Corinth, Cenchrea, and Athens). According to the Book of Acts, Paul does go to Jerusalem, but he will be falsely accused and arrested there, and taken into Roman custody. He will end up going to Rome, but not as he originally desires. After two years being confined to the palace prison in Caesarea, he is transferred to Rome in order to appeal his case to Caesar. He remains there for a couple of more years awaiting his trial, and is eventually released. However, there is no Biblical record of him every going to Spain. There are some traditional accounts of him traveling there (and possibly even into Brittain) before his death, but this cannot be proven.

This is not the first time Paul’s plans were changed by God, either. In his second missionary journey, it was his intention to go through Galatia and then northeast into Bythinia, but the Spirit of God wanted him to go west into Greece:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:6-10)

God has the right to veto or change any plan that we may have. It is good to have dreams about the future, and it is right to pray and plan the road ahead, but don’t be surprised if God radically alters your future. God’s will is so much better than our will anyway. His wisdom is infinite, and he sees what we cannot possibly see. Who knows? Our plans may have led to disaster. We need to trust that God knows what is best. “If the Lord wills” or “The Lord willing” needs to be more than just a trite phrase we spit out on occasion; it needs to be a mindset of cheerful submission to the perfect will of God.


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The Fulness of the Gentiles

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Today’s Passages – Romans 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

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

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

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

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

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

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

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

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” – (Romans 11:26)

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


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All Things For Good?!?

Today’s Passages – Romans 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

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

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

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

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

How can God work all things, even very bad things, together for good? Many people, including a lot of Christians, have a hard time absorbing this truth, especially when they are going through a trial.

It is important to note that this verse does not say that all things are good in and of themselves. It would be ludicrous to attempt to make the argument that everything in this life is good. No, there is an awful lot of evil in the world, and that evil is allowed by God to enter into our lives at times. The effects of sin are everywhere around us. Immorality, cancer, relationship heartaches, natural disasters, financial setbacks; the list goes on and on. These are all part of the sin-cursed world that we live in, and Christians are not immune to experiencing the pain of these bad consequences in our lives. They are anything but good.

But, we also know that God is good. The things that He allows in our lives are not always good, but we know that He is good! And, we know that He loves His children very dearly. A little further in Romans 8, Paul reminds us of God’s love for us:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

If God loves us then why would He allow evil to come into our lives? Why would He let a young woman die of cancer? Why would He allow people to hurt each other? Why would He allow thousands of people to be killed in a natural disaster; or  dozens of His people slaughtered in a church shooting? Why? Why? Why?

The answer is – I don’t know. But, I know God loves me, and I know that God is good; and, though I cannot see what God is doing through these evil circumstances of life, I trust Him that He knows what He is doing. I may not always like it, but I know that God knows what is best. He may be using a trial to teach me something, to make me more like Christ. Or, He may be using my reaction to a trial to point someone else to Christ and/or to glorify Himself. Again, I don’t know, but He does. We simply have to learn to trust Him.

I once heard a preacher illustrate this verse by mixing ingredients and baking an apple pie. He pointed out that none of the individual ingredients were all that appealing in themselves, and certainly the process of going into an oven must not be very enjoyable; but the end result is something we all can enjoy. God is doing the same thing in your life and mine. He is mixing the ingredients, some good and some not so much; but, mixed together they will make something awesome. Trust Him to mix the right ingredients together in your life.

 


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God Forbid!

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

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

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

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

Check out a previous post from this passage – “Imputed Righteousness

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Romans, chapter six, answers the question that would naturally be on the minds of many who are studying this wonderful Letter and who are trying to get their heads wrapped around the doctrine of justification. If we are saved by grace, and secure by grace, can we then do whatever we want to do, including willfully sinning in order to satisfy our lusts. Paul answers the question very clearly here in this chapter – God forbid! He clarifies this instruction further in vs 12 – 14:

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

We are to yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, instead of obeying the lusts that are still within our sinful flesh. Our flesh is not redeemed, but our spirit, which was dead in trespasses and sins, has been brought back to life by God and is the home of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit wants to direct my life in obedience to the will and Word of God. The flesh still cries out to get its way, but I now have a choice not to listen. I can yield to God.

Since the time of Christ, there have periodically been movements within  Christianity that have taught that God is now OK with sin, because of His grace. They have got as far as to say that the more we sin, the more grace will be manifested. While it is true that there is no sin that the Christian can commit that could undo the work of grace in his heart, God still expects us to live our lives as Spirit-filled and Bible-obedient Christians. Grace not only saves us from the penalty of past and future sins, it also helps us to live separated and surrendered lives.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)

We will never be sinless as long as we live in these fleshly, mortal bodies; but, we can live our lives yielded to the Holy Spirit of God within us, and, if we do, our conduct will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. The secret to winning the battle against the flesh is not to try to fight it head on in a battle of the wills. The key is to yield to (walk in) the Spirit.

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

 


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Guilty But Pronounced Innocent

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

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

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

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:9-10)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:20-22)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

The Letter to the Romans is an absolutely awesome portion of Scripture. Though it was written to teach the saved about their salvation, it is also the most comprehensive gospel tract available. In this wonderful epistle we learn about doctrine (chapters 1 – 8), dispensation (chapters 9 – 11), and duty (chapters 12 – 16).

Within the doctrine section of the Letter, we see that all men are guilty as fallen sinners before God. From Romans 1:18 all the way through 3:20, Paul exhaustedly proves that every man (and woman): Gentile or Jew, pagan or religious; all are guilty before God. Before a person can be saved, he must come to the brutal realization that he is a depraved and fallen, sinful creature. The truth hurts, but it is the truth. And, because of our sinful condition, we are completely deserving of God’s judgment, which is eternal separation from Him, ultimately in the Lake of Fire.

But, praise be to God,  the story does not end there. According to Romans 3:21 and 22, we can receive the righteousness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross of Calvary. His death and shed blood on the Cross provide the atonement (redemption, complete cleansing of sin) for all lost sinners who are willing to repent and place their faith in Him.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians puts it this way:

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

I am guilty. I am totally deserving of judgment in Hell, but I have been pronounced innocent by God – completely clear of all charges of sin, because of what Jesus did for me. He died in my place. Though in reality, I am guilty, God now sees me as innocent – sinless. Not only did Jesus forgive my sins from the past, He will also not hold me responsible for any future sins. I am completely forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future. In Romans 4, Paul further clarifies this:

“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)

What love, what mercy, what grace. We serve an awesome Saviour! Hallelujah!!

Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Have you placed your faith in Him and Him alone to take you to Heaven? I hope you have. If you have not yet trusted Him and you are concerned about your eternal destiny, click here.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s reading in Romans, where we will learn more about our justification in Christ and also explore the process of our sanctification.


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What Makes You Happy

Today’s Passages – Acts 26 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

“I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” (Acts 26:2)
What makes you happy?

The Apostle Paul was thrilled on this particular day because he was given the opportunity to share with King Agrippa II (*see note below) and his wife, Bernice, the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me back up a little bit and provide a little context to the story. Back in Acts 21, we learn of Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, being accused of the Jews of bringing Gentiles into the Temple, which was a false accusation. The chief captain of the Roman Guard, Claudius Lysius, after hearing that some of the Jews had covenanted together to execute Paul, delivered him to Caesarea to protect him, and and also to bring him before Governor Felix. Felix holds on to Paul for two years, but had the opportunity himself to hear the gospel story and Paul’s testimony. When Festus becomes the new governor, he attempts to bring Paul back to Jerusalem to re-try his case before the Jewish religious leadership. But, Paul would have none of it and instead appealed his case to Caesar, which he had the right to do as a Roman citizen. Before he leaves Caesarea, however, he is given the opportunity to witness to King Agrippa, Bernice, and Festus.

Paul’s life was consumed with sharing the message of salvation with people. Paul was constantly rehearsing his testimony to whoever would give him an audience, and this made him very happy. It is interesting that a Spirit-filled Christian like Paul receives such joy out of sharing his faith and influencing people regarding salvation. Most of us are only happy when we are receiving tangible rewards or positive circumstances, but not Paul. Paul was in prison, but as long as he was telling people about Jesus, he was very happy.

Many Christians today are anything but happy, even though we are, for the most part, living very luxuriously. Perhaps, we should try doing what Paul did to amuse himself: witness to people. The good news of salvation is the greatest news on the planet, and there is no greater joy than sharing that news with someone who will listen. We may not see everybody that we speak to trust Christ as Savior, but we will receive joy knowing that they have the information they need in order to make that decision. Soul winning will make you happy. Try it today!

*Click here for more information about King Agrippa II and the Herodian Dynasty


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Felix Trembled – The Saturday Morning Post

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

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

“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:24-25)

And wouldn’t you tremble too? Good morning. Felix listened while Paul tried to reason with him. And Felix trembled. And why not? Paul was giving Felix the Word of God. The Holy Spirit was at work on Felix’s heart. It was if the Lord Himself were speaking to Felix. And Felix trembled. Paul reasoned…

“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)

1) Paul reasoned of righteousness. Your righteousness must be greater than the righteousness of the Pharisees…

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

And you know what God says about our righteousness…

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

And…

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Romans 3:10)

Only the Lord can make you righteous…

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

He is our righteousness…

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

And Felix trembled as…

2) Paul reasoned of temperance. Felix, you need some self control. I’m trying to tell you about the Lord, and all you can think about is money…

He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.” (Acts 24:26)

Temperance is also from the Lord. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

And Felix trembled.

3) Paul reasoned of the judgment to come.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:7-15)

And Felix trembled. Are you trembling? Jesus is coming back soon. Are you ready? You can be. If you have never called on the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save you, then you need to do it before it’s too late. Don’t tremble like Felix. Start rejoicing because the trumpet is about to sound!

Peace.


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Feed the Flock

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Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Repentance

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Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tenacity

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Today’s Passages – Acts 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul's Journeys

 


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Begotten from the Grave

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Today’s Passages – Acts 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33)

I had fully intended to write a post this morning on God’s call upon Paul and Barnabus, but as I read further I came upon the verse above. I got to thinking about how this verse is twisted by many of the cults, who try to use it to prove that Jesus is not God the Son, but merely a son of God, a created being like angels or human beings.

The verse in question is actually a quotation from the 2nd Psalm, and it is used again in Hebrews 1:5. In none of these places is this phrase, “this day have I begotten thee” used in reference to Christ’s birth. In the second Psalm, I must confess the exact meaning is uncertain. Typically the word “begotten” refers to a birth or a “bringing into existence”. I noticed though that Oxford gives the meaning “give rise to” as the second use of the word. However, Acts 13:33 is the key that unlocks the door of understanding to the precise meaning as God uses it referring to Christ. From Acts 13:33, we can determine without doubt that the word “begotten” is a reference to the resurrection, not the incarnation.

In the Book of Hebrews, the focus of discussion is not on the word “begotten”, but on the word “Son”.

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

In fact, this point is further proved because in Hebrews 1:6 He is referred to as the “firstbegotten”. This could not be a reference to Christ’s birth as He is not the first one born to God, Adam is. Christ is, however, the firstbegotten from the dead. By the way, the people that were raised from the dead by Jesus and the apostles are excluded because each of them went again to the grave in natural death.

Consider the following verses that prove the pre-existence, and deity of Christ:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1 – 3)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

Notice again the word, “begotten”, referring not to his birth at Bethlehem, but His resurrection from the dead. Remember, His glory was not revealed at birth. John uses the term “we”. He did not witness His birth, but He did see His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and after His resurrection.

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” (Ephesians 1:20 – 22)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:3)

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Jesus is not a created being. He is eternally God. He is the “I Am”. John’s gospel proves that over and over again. He has always been God, and always will be God. He is one with the Father (and the Spirit also).


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Persecutor, Preacher, and Prisoner

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Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

people-smiling

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Divine Appointments

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59 & 60)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Mirror Mirror – The Saturday Morning Post

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

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

“Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:9-15)

Good morning. When others look at you, what do they see? When you look in a mirror, what do you see? When the men who sat in the council looked at Stephen, they saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel. And false witnesses had told the council that he blasphemed against God. Taken prisoner, forced to stand before false accusers, nowhere and nobody to run to. Trapped and about to be stoned, his face should have shown fear. His face should have shown anguish. There should have been trembling and there should have been tears running down his face. But his face was as the face of an angel.

Mirror, mirror, what do people see in my face? Do they see calm or adversity, strength in truth or cowardliness in lies, angels or devils, Jesus or Satan. You can have the face of an angel if you want too.

1) Stephen was full of faith.

“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8)

He must have pleased God…

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

2) Stephen walked with the Holy Spirit.

Stephen was full of power.

“…full of faith and power…” (Acts 6:8)

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

3) Stephen had wisdom.

“And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” (Acts 6:10)

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

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Corinthians 15:58)

When men accuse you, will you hang your head in shame knowing they are right? Or will you stand boldly on God’s truth, and have the face like an angel? Mirror, mirror?

Peace


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To Be Continued

to be continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Going Fishing

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Today’s Passages – John 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t quit.


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Finish Well

finish-well

Today’s Passages – John 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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He Will Never Leave You

I-Will-Never-Leave-You

Today’s Passages – John 14 – 16; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:32)

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – (Hebrews 13:5)

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – (Matthew 28:20)

The context of this passage of Scripture is the conversation Jesus had with His disciples after the Last Supper and before the crucifixion. He has repeatedly told them that He was about to leave them, and He has also instructed them several times in these three chapters about the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost of God. In verse thirty the disciples make a bold declaration of their faith, and in the verse above (32) Jesus tells them that when He is taken away for crucifixion the disciples will scatter, leaving Him alone. However, He tells them that He is not really alone because the Father is always with Him. The Father will endure with Him the darkest time of His earthly life.

Have you ever felt that you were all alone and that nobody cared about what you were going through? God cares and God shares the pain and sorrows of life with you. If you are a child of God, born again through faith in His Son, you have the Holy Ghost of God that Jesus told us about in these chapters inside of you and with you. He is there all the time. Have you talked to Him today? Have you acknowledged His presence? Have you yielded to His will? I think the reason why most of us feel so alone at times is because we have failed to fully appreciate and develop our relationship with the indwelling Spirit of God, which then causes us to become over-dependent upon the approval of men. Think about it. If we could learn to live daily with the realization of the presence of God in every aspect of our lives, why would we be so concerned about what people think? Yet, we are constantly pushed and pulled by the whims of men.

One of the central truths of the Christian faith is the presence of the Holy Ghost of God in the life of every believer, all of the time. We must learn to cultivate that relationship until the reality of that presence becomes very real to us. Speak to the Holy Ghost constantly, acknowledging Him. Ask for His help in understanding the Scriptures. Ask for His guidance and direction with decisions you need to make in life. Look to Him for comfort before running to another human. It may seem weird at first, but as you put these things into practice, it will become more natural and He will become more real to you.


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Mad About The Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Jesus Still Weeps

Jesus1_1024x1024Today’s Passages – John 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

“Jesus wept.” – (John 11:35 )

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

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

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

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

Let me give you one more time where Jesus wept:

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

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


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Caught In The Act – The Saturday Morning Post

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

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

Read the “1109 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11)

Good morning. Ever get caught in a lie, or any other sin, for that matter? Maybe you were just never caught. Having your sin exposed to the whole world (or even just a few people) is not a good situation to be in. Think about this woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. Being taken in the very act, she was probably naked when the scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus. And it takes two to Tango: where was the man who was involved? There are only three explanations to the man’s whereabouts: he either escaped, or he was a scribe, or he was a Pharisee. Either way, the woman was alone, naked, and facing the fruit of her sin. Scary. The Law said that she should be stoned to death. What would Jesus say? After all, He was the Man of God, and the Pharisees were hoping to entrap Him with His own words. They all waited for the Master’s replay, and it was not what they expected. And He said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Some scholars say that the word sin in Jesus’ reply refers to the sin of adultery: the same sin as the woman. I don’t have time right now to verify this, but Jesus said…

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

The Bible also says: for all have sinned. So it really doesn’t matter if it was the sin of adultery or some other sin: they all had sinned and could not cast the first stone. The only one there who could cast the first stone was Jesus. Her accusers put down their rocks and departed. All that was left there was Jesus, the woman, and her sin. And Jesus asked, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”

She said, “No man, Lord.”

And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Do you know someone who was caught in the very act of sinning in some way? Maybe you are sinning, but haven’t gotten caught yet. What would you rather hear? “You bonehead! How could you do something that stupid?”

Or would you rather hear something like, “These things happen to the best of us. Let’s pray, and ask the Lord for help with this.”

We need to be more like Jesus, instead of running with stones and ready to kill. Our attitude should not be one of condemnation, but one of restoration: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Peace. 


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