Where Is Their God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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It’s Time

It's Time

Today’s Passage – Hosea 8 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Shining

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

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 9 – 13; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Prayer of Daniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Staying Cool Under Fire

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

(Second Milers also read – Titus 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

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

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliverus out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17 & 18)

I enjoy reading every part of the Bible, but I have really been looking forward to getting into the Book of Daniel. These first three chapters, and the stories of Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) were a great source of strength and encouragement to me today. I may not be facing trials and burdens that could be compared to what these young men faced, but I figure if they had faith enough to stay true to the Lord during their big ordeals, then I certainly should be able to muster enough faith to handle the little tests and problems that have come my way. These were great young men of faith, whose strength and trust in the Lord caused them to stay true to the Lord when all others compromised; and it also allowed them to stay cool when faced with the trials of their life.

In chapter one, we see the four men having a good attitude in a very bad situation. They were taken captive into the strange land of Babylon. We have no idea what happened to the rest of their families; but they may have been left behind, or possibly even put to death. These men were the cream of the crop from Israel: they were smart and well favored physically; but these gifts were not the traits that caused them to stand out from the crowd: it was their faith in God that distinguished them from everybody else. They were given a diet of the best meat and wine from the king, however the meat that the king gave them was most likely sacrificed to some pagan God. Daniel and his companions requested pulse (vegetables) and water as they did not want to compromise their faith in God by eating that which was sacrificed to an idol. The prince reluctantly agreed to accommodate them but only as long as they gave no appearance of being weak and thin. God prospered them with their vegetarian diet and they grew stronger than those that ate the meat.

In chapter two, we see them face an even greater test. The king had a dream and he wanted somebody to tell him what it meant. He made it really hard for the “wise men” in that he would not even reveal the dream: they not only had to give the meaning, but they also had to tell the king the events of the dream. This put most of the kings soothsayers out of business, and got the king mad enough to give all of the “wise men” including the four Hebrew boys a death sentence. Daniel did not panic; he prayed, and God gave him the answer to the king’s dilemma which saved his life and the lives of his three companions. It also gave them great favor in the sight of the king, and elevated them in position above all of the rest.

In chapter three, we see the stakes are raised even higher. The king has passed a new law that states everybody needs to bow to the new statue that he has made. Of course the boys refuse to bow to anything but their God. Once again the king is furious. (Kings don’t like it when the people listen to any other power but theirs) Their sentence this time is to be thrown into the fiery furnace. They trust that their God is well able to deliver them, so they continue refusing to bow to the image. The king throws them in, but miraculously God saves them, not from the fire, but in the fire. Sometimes God allows us to go through the trial: He doesn’t always deliver us from them; but His grace is always sufficient.

These are amazing, encouraging, motivating accounts of great faith. I want to have the strength of faith that these boys had. How about you? Is your faith strong or weak today? Well, did you spend time today in the Word of God? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) There is a direct correlation between the time spent in the Word of God, and your strength in trials. Why not allow God to strengthen you today through His Word?


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The Lord Is There

Keep-Going

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 47 – 48 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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God’s Plan B

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

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 44 – 46 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Timothy 4 – 6; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Glory of the Lord

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Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 41 – 43 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Timothy 1 – 3; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Have You Forgotten?

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Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Can These Bones Live?

valley_of_dry_bones_

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 35 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Watch Out For Pride

prideful

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel 28 begins with a pronounced judgement against the “prince of Tyrus” who is the earthly ruler of the land of Tyre, which is just to the northwest of Israel. We read that he was very wise and because of his wisdom he became very prosperous. However, his success caused his heart to be lifted up in pride to the extent that he considered himself to be a god.

Later in the chapter there is a description of the “king of Tyrus”. At first, we wonder who this description is referring to, but soon it becomes evident that this is not the description of a man. This “king” is none other than old slewfoot – Satan. He also had a problem with pride. However, we read in verses 13 – 15 that it was God who created Him with all of his beauty and brightness. Why is it that created beings boast about things that they had nothing to do with?

We need to really be careful about pride in our own lives. Pride goes far beyond just haughtiness about our abilities, looks, or possessions, etc. Pride’s real danger is the elevation of self to the point that we humanize God and deify self. We get to the point that we become a god in our own eyes. This leads to the gradual abandonment of God’s principles, and the complete reliance upon self. We are now in control of our lives and destinies: doing our thing, our way. We can see that the society that we live in has corporately done the same thing. We have taken God off of the throne, and have placed man on it. How stupid we are that we do not see this cycle that has repeated itself over and over since the beginning of human history? God creates man; then man begins to think that he is responsible for his own abilities; then man forgets God, which eventually forces His judgment.

How can I as an individual put a stop to this? First, I need to understand that it is God who has given me all that I have. I next need to remember Him by thanking Him and praising Him for all of the individual blessings. It’s probably a good idea to record all of these tangible things in a prayer journal. Finally, I need to keep trusting Him for every area of my life. Ask Him about everything; trust Him for every decision, and wholly follow His wisdom from the Word of God. This is a great plan in concept, but a difficult one to implement. Why? because deep down inside of me is a nature that wants to kick God out and take over; and that fleshly old man of mine often does. I agree with the Apostle when he said:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. … O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18 & 24)

I thank God for passages like this that remind me of the truth: I am nothing, God is everything.


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Do You Trust Him?

Do You Trust Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Help Wanted – A Man Who Will Stand in the Gap

Stand+In+The+Gap

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you be that man?

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

A Few Good Men (Audio)

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

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


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Conviction

Feeling-Guilty

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

(Second Milers also read – Galatians 4 – 6; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

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

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

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

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. [8] And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)

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

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

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


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Turn and Live

grace-repentance2

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

(Second Milers also read – Galatians 1 – 3; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Thy Sister Sodom

laziness

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

(Second Milers also read – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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What Do You Do in the Dark?

Anonymous male on a laptop at night

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 5 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

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

“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:12)

“Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” – (Ezekiel 9:9)

In our passage today Ezekiel is sitting in his house in Babylon along with the elders of Israel, when suddenly God appears to Him and reveals to him the extent of the idolatry among the people of God. God shows Ezekiel what the people were doing when they thought that no one else was looking. The people didn’t think that even God could see them when they were in their own little wicked world.

There were two phrases from today’s reading that caught my attention. The first one is found in Ezekiel 8:12, “hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark“. The second is also found in that verse, and is found again in Ezekiel 9:9, “the Lord seeth not“. Man sometimes convinces himself that if his sin is done in private (“in the dark”), that God somehow is unable to see it. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing that can be hidden from the eyes of God: He sees all that we do, and hears all that we say; and He even knows our thoughts. Scary.

Did you ever think about how much of our sin is done “in the dark”. To be sure there is also a lot of sin that is done in the open, especially among those who are not in the family of God. The lost world does not seem to care as much if their sin is exposed, and they would certainly not even consider much of what they do as sin in the first place. However, my thought this morning does not concern unbelievers. I am thinking today about Christians. People who go to church every week. People who look sparkly clean on the outside. People who appear to have their spiritual house in order. People like you and me. We wouldn’t dare take our sins into the public arena, out there for everybody to see; but how much sin is going on “in the dark”? What do we talk about privately? What are we participating in with one other person, or perhaps even a discreet few other people? What do we look at, listen to, or think about when nobody is watching? Oh, but there is Someone watching, isn’t there? God sees it all. Christians somehow think that because their sin is hidden from most people, that it doesn’t really matter; but it does matter to God.

I think it is time for us within the church to be honest with ourselves. There is an awful lot of junk going on “in the dark”. You can’t see it at our services. You won’t spot too much of it when we all get together for fellowship, but it’s there. Most people can’t see it, but God does. The public doesn’t get wind of it until the sin finally blows up our lives. When will we learn?


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The Watchman

watchman-on-wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Who Is Laughing Now?

laughing-and-pointing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Great Is Thy Faithfulness

28345504

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

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Are You Still In Prison?

Prison

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 51 – 52 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A Word to the Shepherds

Shepherds

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 49 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Forgiveness

forgiveness

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 46 – 48 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Stop Doing Church by Gerald Hicks Jr.

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 41 – 45 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 5 – 8; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

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

What does being a christian mean to you?

Being a Christian means? According to google=a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.

To me it means a follower of Christ in every way. We follow Him in what He does, says, and acts. As a Baptist, we believe the Bible; as a follower of Christ, we obey and follow the Bible …?

Complacency means self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.

Complacency is a virus.

Complacency creates corruption.

Complacency can come through different avenues. Whether you grew up in church and you get used to the same old routine, or recently getting saved, but then a few months after, the fire runs out, or even after you may have fallen in an area.

Stale Christianity:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

God is strongly against stale Christianity. It makes Him want to vomit! He is not pleased with fence riders, with one leg in the world and the other in church.

Three areas in our lives where complacency corrupts

  1. In our worship of God

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:1-13)

Our worship is nothing to be ashamed about! We don’t mind letting the world around us know who our favorite sports team is when we are cheering for them, so why do we get tuned down when it comes to letting the world know we are followers of Christ? When it comes to praising the name above every name?

I heard a preacher say–” I don’t think we’re going to be whispering in heaven.”

Start praising the Lord today for everything He does for you!

Unfortunately, at times we get used to God, we get used to His blessings and His provisions.

We have to ask ourselves Are we singing the hymns that we sing without even thinking?

We ALWAYS have a reason to praise the Lord!

  1. In our walk with God

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)

A pastor preached a message entitled – stop doing your devotions, when I was in bible college and it was a challenge to wake us up to realize we aren’t doing God any favors by reading His Word just to check it off a to do list, and if we weren’t spending time with God for any other reason but besides “to help God out,” then to just stop. We need God a whole lot more than He needs us! Be thankful He preserved His Word for us! Now to think that the One and Only True God, whom spoke this universe into existence and by Him all things consist, (Col.1) desires a personal relationship with us, that ought to blow our minds! We ought to want to spend time with God more than anyone else!

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. … I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. … Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:9-11, 15, 18)

  1. In our witness for God

Consider the life of Paul. Did he quit? Did he have reason to quit? I’d say so, humanly speaking and thinking of all he went through that we could understand his life was not the easiest. Paul, however was not consumed with his troubles or issues. He counted it all joy due to whom his life was lived for!

Never get over your salvation!

“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)

Sports teams winning championships or great athletes being honored does not create any excitement in Heaven, but the man or woman that walks the aisle and comes forward realizing that they’re a sinner in need of the Saviour brings about rejoicing in the realms of glory!

Contentment -To be free from care because of satisfaction with what is already one’s own.

Aren’t you tired of me being The status quo christian? Doing just enough to get by in your eyes?

Jesus Christ is the standard that we strive after. And I’m so thankful that He didn’t just die for some, but for all!

Compassion – Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference:” (Jude 1:21-22)

 How’s your heart tonight towards the lost?

“You know what would be real good for all of us, is if God would lift the lid off of hell for about 5 seconds… and we realize what you and I deserve is that place…”- C.T. TOWNSEND


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The Safest Place on Earth

Camden

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 41 – 45 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 5 – 8; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Truth Sometimes Hurts

Truth Hurts

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 37 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 1 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Bible Burning

Bible-Burning1

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 33 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 28; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Investing for the Future

investing in the future

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 30 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Keep Looking

Keep Looking

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 26 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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