Living for the Lord – A Formula for Success

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 29 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 25 – 28Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0524 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Soulwinning in 2 Chronicles

“And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” (2Chronicles 31:20-21)

I think one of the main reasons that God wants us to daily spend time in His word is because that it serves to remind us daily of the basic truth that God will bless those who seek Him and serve Him.  As we have been reading in these historical books, we have seen over and over again the blessings of God upon the godly kings; and conversely the judgment of God upon the wicked.  Of course, none of the kings were perfect: all made mistakes; but when they sought the Lord for forgiveness, God would always respond in mercy.  Even the bad kings that humbled themselves before God would receive mercy.  As we look today at the life of Hezekiah we see the same principle in place.  Hezekiah “wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God…with all his heart”, and God prospered him.

Child of God, the same applies to you and me today.  I am not trying to over-simplify the Christian life, but the principles of succeeding in life are really very easy to understand.  Find out what the will of God is for your life; and then fulfil it with all of your heart.  Give it everything you’ve got.  Live for God!  I’m not saying that every day is going to be amusement parks and sunshine; but you will have that abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.  It’s your choice:  live for God, and your life will be blessed of God; live for self, and you will look back with regret.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalms 1:1-3)


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Plenty More Where That Came From

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 25 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0523 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s passage – “His Heart Was Lifted Up” and “The Key to Prosperity

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” (2 Chronicles 25:9)

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalms 50:10)

In the three chapters we have read today we see pretty much the same pattern that we have observed throughout the Chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah. That is, if the king was following the Lord and submitting to His will, His reign was blessed and prosperous. Conversely, if the king chose to forsake God, then God also forsook him. Out the window would go God’s provision and protection.

I was caught by the story in chapter 25 regarding the King of Judah, Amaziah, hiring 100,000 men out of Israel to help him fight against the Edomites. He paid somewhere around 7500 pounds of silver (over $2.1 million) to the Israelites in order to hire them. God was not pleased with Judah yoking up with Israel for this battle, and He sent a man of God to Amaziah to tell him to fire the Israelites and send them home. Amaziah was willing to do this, but was upset about the money that he had already spent. God assured him that there was plenty more where that came from.

I got to thinking about how many times God’s people get messed up over money. Sometimes we get into a dispute with our brothers and sisters in Christ over some business deal; and we find ourselves fighting over money. Can I give you some advice: give in; don’t fight over money. If someone is insisting that you owe them something, give it to them. You might say, why would I do that? Because your relationship with people is more important than any amount of money; and if you do the right thing, God will replace what you lose with interest. We stress far too much about money. We give it to the church; but tie a string from ourselves to the money, and then get upset about it later. Don’t give it if you can’t completely let go of it. It really comes down to a matter of faith. If God asks you to give it, then give it. He has more to give you, and He will bless abundantly the person that trusts Him with their money.

The king of Judah almost continued in a bad plan, simply because he had already laid out the money for it. He almost let money cause the destruction of his nation. Many a Christian I know has allowed the love of money to destroy them. My preacher used to say, “God’s got plenty of money”. And you and I can get all that we need if we will be willing to let go what He has already given us. It’s all His anyway. I am not talking about being a bad steward here, but I am saying that we need to be able to let go of HIS money, anytime He asks us to.

Another thought from this passage is this: how many times do we continue going down a path that is clearly not the will of God simply because we refuse to admit we made a mistake? I have made many bad decisions in my life; some of them were irreversible, but many were. But, even when I could get turned around, I often didn’t because I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong, so I continued suffering the consequences of my bad decision. How stupid! A truly wise person will be able to quickly recognize a bad move, and make the corrections necessary. I remember one time my wife and I were traveling to Florida to visit her family. This was before the time of GPS, but I had followed the maps perfectly until I got within a few miles of her brother’s house, and that’s when I messed up. I took a wrong turn, and ended up getting lost, but I refused to call her brother for help, or stop and ask directions. I continued driving further and further away simply because I was too prideful to admit I made a mistake. This was very frustrating for my wife and family. After 20 plus hours of driving we were so close to our destination, yet we drove in circles for another hour or more when we could have been where we were going in a few minutes. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Don’t be like me. Realize your mistake, take the loss, and change direction.


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Too Dependent on the Preacher

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 21 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0522 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “How Will You Be Remembered?

“And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” – (2 Chronicles 24:2)

“Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.” – (2 Chronicles 24:22)

The story of King Joash is certainly a fascinating account. After the death of his father, King Ahaziah, he was rescued as a baby from his grandmother, Attaliah, who had all of her grandchildren assasinated so that she could be queen. Joash was hidden in the house of God for six years, and was influenced greatly by Jehoiada the priest. When Joash finally became king, the influence of Jehoiada remained with him, and Joash was a great king, serving the Lord by repairing the temple, and replacing all of the vessels of gold and silver that were used in the service of the temple. Unfortunately, Jehoiada the priest “waxed old and died”, and King Joash went downhill afterward. It seems that without the influence of a man of God in his life, the peer pressure from some of the wicked men in his kingdom began to overpower him. He eventually went as far as having Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, put to death after being rebuked by him.

There are two principles that I would like to consider from this passage. The first is that we need to be careful that our faith is in God, not a man. I have seen this in my ministry, where people become too dependent upon me. They look to me to solve their problems for them. The problem with this is that I cannot possibly deliver what these folks expect from me, because I am not God. Eventually I will let them down, and they will throw the towel in on their faith. As a preacher, it is my job to strengthen people’s faith and relationship with God. As John the Baptist said regarding Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. I must point them to Christ. I must work to strengthen their relationship with Him, not me. I will certainly have to give special attention and nurturing to the new believers; but I eventually want to work myself out of a job, so that if I blow it, or God removes me from their lives, their faith will remain strong.

The second principle that I would like to pull from this passage is that Joash did well as long as he was being influenced by a preacher. When “his preacher” died, he then divested himself from the influence of all preachers. We need to always place ourselves under the influence of a church, and sound Bible preaching. When we get away from the church, our lives will get out of the will of God. Stay in the church where the Word of God can influence your life for good.


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Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 18 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 16 – 18; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0521 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2Chronicles 20:12)

My focus this morning is on chapter 20 where we see the nation of Judah threatened by a federation of three nations. Together, these nations were far superior in both numbers and power to the nation of Judah. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, did not seek out help from other nations did (as Asa did in chapter 16); but instead turns the problem completely over to the Lord. Jehoshaphat was a great man of faith, though not a separated man. He often would yoke up with the ungodly northern kingdom. However, here he does everything right. Notice in this passage how he demonstrates great faith in God:

1 When first confronted with the problem he sought God. Don’t wait until all else fails. Go to God first.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,” (2Chronicles 20:3-5)

2 He searched the Scriptures. Notice in his prayer, in vv 5 – 13, he knows the principles and promises contained in the Scripture. He was able to ask “in the will of God” because he knew what God had promised in His Word.

3 He submitted to the man of God. In v 14, Jehaziel prophesies, and tells Jehoshaphat what to do; and Jehoshaphat obeys the prophecy of the man of God. When you are faced with a battle, go to the man of God for counsel; and listen to what he has to say.

4 He sang praises to God before the battle was actually won. This demonstrated both that he had great faith, and that he was content with whatever God was going to do. Do you trust God enough with the outcome of your battle to praise him before you see the final conclusion.

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endurethfor ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” (2Chronicles 20:21-22)

The Christian life is full of battles; but if God is with us, the victory is already ours. Don’t fight the battle in your own strength. Keep your eyes upon the Lord , and allow Him to win the battle for you.


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No Longer Happy

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 10 – 12; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0519 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.” (2 Chronicles 9:7)

“Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee.” (2 Chronicles 10:4)

“For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” (2 Chronicles 10:11)

When the Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon to see if all that she had heard about him was true, one of the many positive things that she observed was that the people of Israel were very happy as well as prosperous; and they seemed to all appreciate the godly wisdom and leadership of their King. You will recall that when Solomon was a very young king, his number one prayer request was for wisdom so that he could be a blessing to his people. It seems that he started out right as a great servant-leader. However, when we get to chapter ten of our reading passage today, we discover that at the end of Solomon’s reign the people were complaining that Solomon’s “yoke” was too heavy for them. I assume that had something to do with the financial burdens that Solomon laid upon the people. It seems that wise King Solomon was not using his God-given wisdom anymore to serve the people. Instead, it appears that he was using the people to benefit himself.

An older and wiser preacher once gave me good advice. He said, “Use your ministry to build your people, not your people to build your ministry.” That was, and still is, great advice. Spiritual leaders especially are ordained of God to serve and bless the people they serve. Jesus once contrasted the leadership style of the world with godly leadership:

“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:24-26)

It is clear that Jesus wants His leaders to be servants, to lead by example as He did when He washed the feet of His disciples. Solomon started out serving the people, but it seems that he eventually took advantage of the ones he served and used them to his own advantage.


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The Fire Came Down

The Fire Fell

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 6 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0518 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read another post from today’s reading passage – “Hear Thou From Heaven and Forgive”

“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. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” – (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)

I love passages of Scripture like these chapters here in 2 Chronicles. Everything is as it should be. The people are in a right relationship with their God, and the Lord is blessing the people tremendously. In chapter 7, verse 1, God sent down a visible manifestation of His approval of the new temple when He sent the fire down from Heaven. It was if He was saying “Amen” to the prayer that was just made by Solomon in chapter 6. How I wish I could have seen that awesome display of the glory of God.

God still sends His fire down today, though it cannot be seen with the physical eye. The fire He sends down today is the manifestation of His Spirit upon His people when they are pleasing Him. I have witnessed God’s fire fall upon some of the church services which we have had here at our church. I wish that I could say that all of the services had the fire of God on them, but I do cherish the times that He makes His presence among us so apparent that every last individual in the church recognizes it. Why can’t we have services like this every thime we meet together? I believe it is because all of the ingredients are not present; and the same ingredients are necessary today, as were present the day that Solomon dedicated the temple. So what was present in 2 Chronicles, and what must we have today, in order for God to send His fire down from Heaven?

1 There must be unity – These people were all “in one accord”. They all had one heart, one mind, and one purpose that day. Their attention was completely focussed on the Lord.

2 There must be praise – Look at 2 Chronicles 5:13 & 14. God truly does inhabit the praises of His people. They were praising the Lord in song, and with instruments; and the Lord was glorified.

3 There must be humility – I noticed in chapter 6 that Solomon got down on his knees before all of the people. Solomon was a “big shot” , but Solomon yielded and bowed to the One who was infinitely greaer than him.

4 There must be obedience – These people were doing exactly what God wanted them to do.

We could see the manifestation of God’s presence today just as much as Solomon did if we simply get with God’s program.


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The Glory of the Lord Filled the House

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “0517 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Just Ask Him

“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” – (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)

Nothing pleases the Lord more than the praise and worship of His people. Here in the first five chapters of 2 Chronicles we see Solomon building the temple of God on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. All of the preparations had been made; all of the materials had been provided for; all of the instruments of worship, and the ornate furnishings had been created; and everything had been put in its proper place. Finally, this temple, which was first conceived through the Lord in the heart of David, is now almost complete. I say almost, because God does not arrive on the scene until His people in one accord begin to worship and praise Him. It isn’t until then that God shows up, and fills the temple with his glory.

Two things caught my attention from this passage. The first is that they played and sang “as one”. That tells me that there was unity and harmony. God loves when His children are dwelling together in unity. The second thing is that God is well pleased with the praise of His people. This is one of the things that sets us apart from other religions. God does not force us to worship Him. Nothing about true worship is forced. Worship and praise are voluntary expressions of our love for the Lord.

As I am writing this passage, I am burdened about many things in my life, and in the life of our church. I have been thinking lately that something is missing in our church. I could not put my finger on it before, but I think God has shown me something here. We are not praising the Lord as we should. We are not singing as we should with a heart filled with praise and adoration for our God. The song service in our church should be more than just some obligatory precursor to the preaching. It should be a time when we as God’s children stop everything and focus our attention on Him completely, lifting up our hearts and voices to Him in praise. It’s really pretty simple isn’t it? Maybe if we start praising and worshipping God as we should the glory will fill our house as well.

 


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Preparing for the Next Generation

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 28 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0516 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:” – (1 Chronicles 28:2)

In today’s passage in, 1 Chronicles, we see David making all of the preparations for the building of the temple in Jerusalem. David would not be the one who would assemble all of the pieces together and produce the final product, as that job would be given to his son, Solomon. But David did everything else. When Solomon took over as king he had everything that he needed in order to complete the project.

In these two chapters we have seen that David did the following in order to prepare for the building of the Temple:

1 He planned it. David supervised over the drawing of the blueprints for the Temple

“Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the LORD.” – (1 Chronicles 28:11-13)

2 He provided for it.

David provided for all of the gold, silver, brass, wood, and other materials. Everything that was needed to build the temple was provided for by David. Solomon did not have to gather any of the building materials, they were all ready to go.

3 He prayed for it.

Notice David’s prayer for Solomon and the temple in 1 Chronicle 29:10 – 19.

I think the temple should be called David’s temple. He did all of the hard work. Solomon really had the easy part. Why should he get all of the credit?

I see in this passage a picture of what God wants us to do for future generations. We are to plan, provide, and pray for the generation that is following behind us. When they arrive, they can then build upon the foundation that we have laid. Too bad Solomon didn’t continue building after he built the temple. If you study Solomon’s life you will see that he will eventually start squandering all of the things that were handed to him. He will forsake many of the things his father fought and worked for to provide for him. What a shame. We need to remember to take the things that others have built for us, and preserve them; and then build upon them so that we can deliver them to the next generation.

 


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Many Members – One Body

 

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 26 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 21, Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

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

Read the “0515 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men, having wards one against another, to minister in the house of the LORD.“ (1 Chronicles 26:12)

In today’s passage we see the list of countless names of people who labored behind the scenes in the temple, and in the kingdom during the reign of David. When we think of the temple, we think of Solomon primarily, because it was he whom God chose to assemble it; or we may think of David, because he was the one who made most of the preparations for it. However, we can see from these passages that there were literally thousands of people laboring behind the scenes that made the ministry that went on in the temple possible, as well as in the rest of the kingdom.

In a local church, we sometimes think that it is primarily the pastor who makes everything happen. While the office of the pastor is an important position, he is just one member of a body made up of many. He may be the most visible, but there are so many other people whose participation is necessary in order to accomplish the work of God. Our church is small in number, but even in a church our size, there are many people laboring, some completely behind the scenes, who are vital parts of the ministry. Think with me for a moment about all of the different duties that must be performed in order for our church to function as it should. There are soul winners who get the message of the gospel to the community; disciplers who mentor and instruct those who have trusted Christ; there are Sunday School teachers, ushers, greeters, audio/vidio people, choir members, song leaders, musicians, bus drivers and workers, maintenance people, and administrators. These people and the work that they do are all important to the cause of Christ.

Romans 12 talks about some of the gifts given to us by the Lord that are to be used by us in His service:

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:4-8)

1 Corinthians 12 also instructs regarding the different members of the body, though many of the individual gifts spoken of in this chapter were sign gifts that were given to believers during the transitional period in the first century, and are no longer available today:

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

”For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14)

“But now are they many members, yet but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:20)

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

God has something to do for everyone in the local church. I was recently criticized for preaching too much about what we need to do for the Lord, but as I see it, there is a lot that needs to be done. Yes, it is God which works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, but we still need to be submissive and obedient to His plan for our life. We often quote from Ephesians 2:8 & 9 regarding the fact that it is solely through the grace of God that we are saved, but the next verse teaches us that we are saved and equipped to work.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Christian, let me encourage you to find out what your unique gifts are, and also admonish you to use those gifts for the glory of the Lord Jesus, in the service of the local church.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:27)

Twitt


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The Hope of the Future

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 23 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 19 – 20; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the “0514 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

In today’s passage (and yesterday’s) we read about David making the preparations for the building of the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the worshipping of God in the temple. If you will recall, David was forbidden of God to actually build the temple himself because God said that he was a man of war; and that he had shed much blood while delivering Israel from the hands of her enemies. God said that Solomon, David’s son, would be the man that would build the temple as he would be a man of peace. However, this did not prevent David from doing all that he could to help gather the materials, and to make the necessary preparations, so that Solomon would have all that he needed to fulfill God’s will for his life.

I have been saved now for many years, and I have learned that God will not allow me to do all of the things that I have dreamed of doing for Him; but that does not stop me from doing all that I can do to help pave the way for those that He will call later to fulfil His will (and some of my dreams). I have a lot of dreams: I dream of seeing multitudes of people saved and serving God here in south Jersey. I dream of seeing hundreds of young men and women being trained here to go forth throughout the world serving God. I dream of planting dozens of churches here in our area. I dream of running dozens of buses all over Atlantic County, picking up boys and girls and bringing them to the house of God. It is in my heart to do all of these things; but God will very likely not allow me to do all that I dream of. But maybe I can help train and prepare the next generation so that they can take what we have started and build upon it. I have to be content with being just a part of the process. I can maybe help give the next generation a strong foundation so that they can continue to do what I could not do.

How about you? What are you doing today to help prepare for the next generation. Sometimes people don’t want to be involved in the process at all if they personally can’t be there for the final product; or if they won’t receive the praise of men for the final product. We need to forget about who gets the credit; do all that God will allow us to do ourselves today; and then give and train and prepare so that the next generation will be able to finish what we have started and even do “greater works than these”.

We need to be concerned about the next generation. I am reminded of Hezekiah who was not at all disturbed when God told him that judgment would come in future generations, as long as things were going well in his day. I believe we have a great responsibility to provide for the next generation. I want to see those who follow behind me succeed, and to build upon the foundation that was laid by the folks who came before them.

One final note – 3 times in chapters 23 – 25, David mentions folks that would be positioned in the temple just to praise the Lord. It seems that David took his worship of God seriously. We need to make ure that the next generaltion of Christians will not be ashamed to lift up the Lord in praise.


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Get Busy

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 19 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 17 – 18; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0513 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Place of Sacrifice

“Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee. … Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 22:16, 19 KJV)

“Busy” is a word that has almost become a bad thing in the day that we are living in. Most of us are already very busy people. The demands of living in the 21st century have caused us to work longer hours in order to just survive; and then we have the needs of our families, and the upkeep of our homes to consider. We are already very busy people, and the thought of becoming busier does not put a smile on our faces.

Here in this passage, David encourages Solomon and the people of Israel to “get busy” building the temple of God. David had actually already done most of the work: he provided all of the materials, and had done all of the planning and preparations. He also cleared out of the country all of the enemies that had been a threat to them. The people now had nothing else to do, but build the House of God. Everything was prepared; everything was ready. There was nothing that could stop them from fulfilling the will of God.

I believe that we can see a parallel from this passage to the will of God for us today. We are living in a time where God wants us to “be doing” as well. We are commanded to communicate the love of the Saviour through the preaching and teaching of the Truth of the Gospel to a lost and dying world. Everything has been provided for us. The Son of God has already provided His shed blood to atone for the sins of all men. By the way, I did mean it when I said, “all men”:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)

He has also given us a complete and perfect copy of His Word, which declares His will to us; and He also has given us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who guides us into all truth. (John 16:3) He also has promised to individually equip (gift) each believer in the specific task that he gives us as part of His overall plan.

There is absolutely no reason, no excuse, for not “getting busy”, and abounding in the work of God. Have you found God’s particular plan for your life within His overall commission to all believers? If you haven’t yet, get busy in your local church, studying the Scripture, praying, and winning souls. Those are good places to start. Ask your pastor or Sunday School teacher what you could do to help the cause of Christ within your community. As you yield yourself to these fundamental things, God will begin to mold you and direct you into a specific area of service.

If you do already know what God has specifically called you to do, “get busy”. Re-commit yourself to give the cause of Christ 110% effort on your part.


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Taking Time to Rejoice

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 15 – 16; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0512 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Check With God First”

“So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.” (1 Chronicles 16:1-3)

In chapter 15, we read about David bringing the ark of God to the tent in Jerusalem. This is actually the first time the ark had been in Jerusalem, but it would remain there for many more years to come. You will remember that the ark had been taken from Shiloh in Israel by the Philistines after Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, brought it out as a good luck charm in the battle. The ark stayed a very short time in the land of the Philistines (7 months), but because of the judgment of God upon them, they quickly saw the wisdom of returning it to the rightful owners.

The next stop for the ark was to the land of Bethshemesh in Israel, but the men of that place made the fatal mistake of looking into the ark resulting in the death of over fifty thousand of them. (1 Samuel 6:19)

The men of Bethshemesh were too afraid to keep the ark with them so they sent down the road to Kirjathjearim, and it remained there for twenty years. (1 Samuel 7:2)

Saul brought the ark out once during another battle against the Philistines, and apparently it ended up in the land of Gibeah. (1 Samuel 14)

David mad a first attempt to bring the ark out of Gibeah, but they didn’t transport the ark the way that God had told them to back in Moses’ day, and instead put it on a cart. While they were on their way to Jerusalem, the ox stumbled and the cart wobbled, and Uzza reached back to steady the ark, and when he touched it he was instantly struck down dead by God.

In 1 Chronicles 15, we finally have the ark brought to its permanent place in the city of Jerusalem, and this was a great reason to rejoice.

The ark represented the presence of God, and it was a tremendous source of joy to have God’s presence with them in the City of Jerusalem. Later, Solomon would build a permanent structure, the Temple, to house the ark.

This was a big day in the history of Israel, and it was certainly appropriate for the people to take some time out of their schedules to rejoice and praise the Lord for bringing the ark to where it was supposed to be. There is a great lesson to be learned here for Christians today. God has given us many wonderful blessings, and we need to take some time out as well to praise and  thank him for his goodness, and to rejoice. Sometimes we get too busy looking for the next thing that we want God to do that we forget to praise Him for what He has already done. Let’s learn to take time out to rejoice and praise the Lord for His many wonderful blessings.

 


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Obededom – A Doorkeeper for the Lord

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 13 – 14; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0511 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “God’s Will – God’s Way”

So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had.” – (1 Chronicles 13:13-14)

And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obededom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark.” – (1 Chronicles 15:24)

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – (Psalm 84:10)

My thought this morning comes from chapters 13 and 15 from 1 Chronicles. If you have read those chapter you may have noticed the name Obededom, who was a Levite that housed the ark of the Lord for three months. The background to the story is complicated, but basically what had happened was that the ark of God had been taken in previous years by the Philistines in a battle they fought with Israel. The Philistines received the judgment of God because of it, so they returned it to Israel. For years the ark remained in Kirjath-jearim, but when David became king he wanted to bring the ark to Jerusalem. His first attempt to bring the ark back resulted in tragedy. David put the ark on a cart, which was not according to the commandment of God, as the ark was to be transported solely by the Levites, and was to be carried with staves (poles) on their shoulders. On this first attempt trip to bring the ark back on the cart, one of the drivers touched the ark in order to steady it, and the man (Uzza) was immediately struck down by God. Nobody was to touch the ark of God. This is where Obededom comes in. Apparently his home was nearby, and since he was a Levite David brought the ark to his house for storage until he could figure out what went wrong. The ark stayed with Obededom for several months, and God blessed the house of Obededom. When the ark was later moved the right way to Jerusalem, Obededom went with it and became a doorkeeper in the house of God.

Odededom was a faithful servant of the Lord who was willing to do whatever was necessary in order to serve his Lord. His job as a doorkeeper was certainly not a high visibility position. He wasn’t asked to speak to large crowds of people, and he was not in the spotlight; yet, he faithfully served his Lord. We need more men like Obededom; more doorkeepers. We need men and women who will be willing to serve the Lord, and be content with not receiving the accolades of men, but knowing also that their labor was not in vain as far as God was concerned. I appreciate the en an women at our church that do the things that people tend not to notice, but are very important and necessary for the cause of Christ to move forward.

Note – for more information on the ark of the covenant see Exodus 25 and Numbers 3. For more information on the taking of the ark by the Philistines see 1 Samuel 4 and 5.


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Double Heart

Double Heart

Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 11 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 11 – 12; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “0510 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “God Spotted Him First

“Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.” (1 Chronicles 12:33)

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

1 Chronicles 11 and 12 tell us about all of the brave and mighty men that recognized the call of God upon David, and followed him as he lead the people of God. In a previous post from this passage, I discussed the fact that it took a long time for the nation of Israel to realize that God’s hand was upon David. It actually took about twenty years from the time that Samuel anointed David to the time that the people anointed him as their king. However, there were some men from all of the tribes of Israel that God raised up to follow David, and these men were known as “David’s Mighty Men”. They were strong, brave, and well trained and equipped for the battles. They were also fiercely loyal to David, because they knew that David was God’s anointed.

1 Chronicles 12:33 contains an interesting description about the men of Zebulun that followed David. It says, “they were not of double heart”. That is a great phrase. It means that these men were not wishy-washy in what they believed and where they stood. They were completely committed to their cause. They loved and served David because they knew that he was the man ordained of God to lead the people, and they were not ashamed of him.

In this passage, David is a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we serve Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Our loyalties ought not be divided. We need to fully commit and surrender  to the Lord. Let’s not be double-hearted, or double-minded. Let us yield to Him completely, wholly. There are so many things in this world that lure our loyalty away from the Lord. We need to be more like these men of Zebulun, completely devoted to our King.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17)


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Too Big For His Britches

Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 9 – 10; Psalm 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “0509 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Who are the Nethinims?

“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” – (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

“And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” – (1 Samuel 15:17)

In 1 Chronicles, chapter 10, God tells us about the death of King Saul and his sons. God also tells us here the reasons that He took His hand of protection and blessing from the life of Saul; and when we compare this passage to some of the other passages in 1 Samuel that reveal the events of Saul’s life and reign as king, the picture gets a little bit clearer. Saul simply became “too big for his britches”. You’ve heard that expression before, haven’t you? My grandmother used to say that about me when I was a young boy. It simply means that your opinion of yourself is greater than the reality.

King Saul started out very well. He was always insecure, but in the early days he was a very humble man. When chosen by God to be the king of Israel, Saul’s life was dramatically changed, and though he was head and shoulders above the rest, he did not see himself as anything special. He was right to think that way because he really wasn’t special, and neither are we. However, in these early years of his reign as king, Saul trusted in God. As time went on, however, Saul became concerned with the opinion polls, and he was especially nervous about a young man in his kingdom by the name of David that was gaining popularity. Saul’s insecurity and pride caused him to make a lot of decisions completely independent of God; and he eventually got to the point where he was doing everything he could just to hold on to his power and throne: everything except humble himself before God.

The story of Saul serves as a good example to all of us who are in God’s service. God chooses us to serve Him, not because of anything we have to offer him. We have no intrinsic value, but God chooses to use us for his glory. The danger comes when we start wanting to steal a little bit of that glory for ourselves. We get too big for our britches just like Saul did. It is really a vicious cycle: we start out humbling depending on God to use us; God begins to use us and bless us in tremendous ways; we then begin to subconsciously think that those blessings were due to our own merit; then we begin to openly display our pride; then God has to pull away those blessings; and finally we fall on our faces back to the place of humility again.

Would to God we could just stay humble, realizing ”it is God which worketh in[us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – (Philippians 2:13) God is the One who butters our bread, and we had better not forget it. Is God using you? – Praise God! But don’t get cocky, because God can pull away His hand of blessing from your life whenever He chooses.


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Valiant Men

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Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 7 – 8; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

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

Read the “0508 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the sons of Tola; Uzzi, and Rephaiah, and Jeriel, and Jahmai, and Jibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their father’s house, to wit, of Tola: they were valiant men of might in their generations; whose number was in the days of David two and twenty thousand and six hundred.” – (1 Chronicles 7:2)

1 Chronicles 7 contains the genealogies of several of the tribes of Israel, and lists many of the heads of the families that were alive when the Israelites were moving into the Promised Land during and after the time of Joshua. As you will recall, this land was full of the enemies of God’s people, and they all had to be removed from the land. In addition to the above verse, four times in this passage of Scripture the phrase “men of valour” is used to describe these men. I looked up the word “valour” in the dictionary, and it defines it as great courage in the face of danger. Some of the synonyms listed in the thesaurus for the word “valour” are bravery, courage, pluck, nerve, and fearlessness. I admire men who rise to the challenge and are willing to risk their lives for a greater cause than their own personal safety. God raised up these “men of valour” in Israel at a time when the people of God were facing incredible obstacles while claiming the inheritance that God had given them.

I remember the daring assault by the US Navy Seals in Pakistan which resulted in the removal of Usama bin Laden. These Seals are incredibly brave men, who are often asked to put their lives in great danger for the cause of liberty. I am very thankful for men who will lay their own safety on the line so that my family is kept safe. In a few weeks we will be observing Memorial Day. For many years this holiday meant little to me. For the most part it was a day for hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad; and a time to have barbecues or picnics with friends and family. But as I get older, and I look at my children and the opportunities they have here in this great nation, my mind is forced to think about the brave men and women who made it all possible for us. I would like to thank all of you who might be reading this thought this morning, who may have served our nation in the armed forces. You are truly men and women of valour.

As I was reflecting on my admiration of the men from this passage, and my appreciation for the men and women in America who keep us free, I was also challenged to consider what my contributions have been to make our country a better place. What sacrifices have I been willing to make so that life could be better for my family and neighbors? I want my life to make a difference as well. I don’t think that I will ever be called upon to go into a physical battle against some opposing army, but perhaps I can do some spiritual battle with the forces of darkness. I can also sacrifice some of my time, talent, and treasures to help people in a tangible way. Maybe there is something that you can do as well.


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The Levites – God’s Ministers

The Levites

Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 5 – 6; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0507 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot. And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the suburbs thereof round about it.” – (1 Chronicles 6:54-55)

In 1 Chronicles, chapter six, we have the genealogy, and the land distribution of the families of the Levites. Remember, the Levites were the folks ordained by God to minister for Him in the Tabernacle, and they were not given their own portion of land like the rest of the 11 tribes were. According to this chapter the Levitical families were given cities within the borders of each of the other tribes. This was no small number of cities either: they were given literally dozens of cities to live in. I often wondered why God didn’t just give them a region surrounding the place where the tabernacle (and later the temple) would rest. It would seem that it would be more convenient to live near where they primarily ministered. Perhaps the reason God set it up this way was because that the needs of the Levites were to be met by the other tribes. The other tribes supplied them with their food and other needs, and it was certainly more convenient for them to have some of the Levites nearby. Apparently the families of the Levites did not all have to report to the tabernacle every day, because the distance that some of them would have to travel would render that impossible. They must have taken turns travelling to the tabernacle to serve the Lord. It is also evident that the tabernacle was not in Jerusalem early on. The tabernacle started out in Gilgal, then was moved to Shiloh, and then to Nob. It was finally placed in Jerusalem by David; and then was replaced by Solomon’s Temple.

This portion of Scripture gives us a more accurate picture of what reality was for these servants of God. I always thought that the entire ministry team for the tabernacle was perhaps a few dozen people who all lived right outside the entrance. I never realized that it was a huge number of people (perhaps several hundred thousand). Think of the logistics of organizing this team of workers. Think of the planning required to make sure that all of their physical needs were met.

As our church grows in number, we will also have to expand our ability to administrate all of the people and logistics required to facilitate that growth. God will have to give us wisdom as to how to best accomplish this. However, we must be prepared to change the way we do things. Growth is a natural part of life. We are expected to grow; but along with numerical growth will also have to be an expansion of ability and administration so that the needs of the increasing numbers of people can be met. You can help, by asking God what he would have you do to help in this awesome task. I believe the reason that many churches stop growing is not because they are off in doctrine; not because they don’t love the Lord, or His people; but simply because they never expand their abilities in order to administrate a larger work. They are trying to run a large church in the same way they did when the church was small. Don’t misunderstand, many things should stay exactly the same; but unfortunately many things will by necessity have to change.


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His Name Is “Mudd”

His Name Is Mudd

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

(Second Milers Read – John 1 – 2; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0505 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the thing accursed.” (1 Chronicles 2:7 )

I must be completely honest with you and tell you that it was a little bit challenging finding a thought to write about from today’s portion of Scripture. The first few chapters of 1 Chronicles contain some very necessary information regarding the genealogical record of Israel. Though this information is important, it can also be very tedious to wade through; but we must not skip over passages of Scripture such as these. If you are searching for a nugget of truth, God will always get one to you, even in passages like this. So hang in there. By the way, eventually 1 Chronicles will become a very exciting book to read.

My thought this morning comes from chapter 2 and verse 7. In the middle of the genealogical record, there is a comment made about one of the listed men, Achar. He is called here “the troubler of Israel”. The story behind this man can be found in Johsua 7. He is called Achan there; and we find that he is the man that stole some gold and silver and a “goodly Babylonish garment” from the city of Jericho during Israel’s invasion of that city. The problem was that God told the Israelites that they were not supposed to touch anything in that city, but Achan could not resist. As a result, God’s judgment fell upon the whole nation of Israel, and they lost the next military battle with many innocent men being killed in the battle. Later, when Achan’s sin was discovered, he and his family were all put to death. The bottom line to this whole story is that Achan was probably a good man who yielded to a temptation, and the result was death and sorrow for a lot of people, and a reputation that will follow him for all eternity. His name will forever be “Mud”.

I want to challenge all of us to consider for a moment our own reputation, and the affect that our reputation will have on our family members. I understand that none of us is without sin, and I am not trying to rub salt on old wounds; but I am trying to get us to carefully consider the affect that some future sin will have on our reputations. When people here your name in the future what will they say about you? Will they say that you were a moral, honest, hard-working individual; or will their be negative thoughts that surround your reputation? By the way, if your reputation is less than perfect today, you still have time to change it.

Interesting side note on the expression “his name is mud”. It seems to have become popular as a result of a doctor named Samuel Mudd (pictured above) who treated and helped John Wilkes Booth after he broke his leg jumping down from the balcony in the Ford’s Theater, after his assassination of President Lincoln. Mudd was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, though he was later parolled by President Andrew Johnson.


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Choose Your Battles Wisely

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 23 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4

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

Read the “0504 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.” – (2 Kings 23:29)

In order to make sense of the story referenced in 2 Kings 23:29 above, the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 35:20 – 25 should be read also. In a nutshell, the two big dogs on the block during the time of Josiah are Egypt and Assyria. The Kingdom of Judah, which includes Jerusalem and its surrounding areas was nestled right in between these two world powers. Assyria had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Anyway, Egypt was travelling north to fight with Assyria at a place called Carchemesh on the Euphrates River. King Josiah from Judah, for some unknown reason, got in the middle of this battle, choosing to fight for the Assyrians against Egypt. 2 Chronicles tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt warned Josiah not to interfere. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God told Josiah to get involved. From all appearances it looks as if Josiah was killed because he involved himself in something that God never told him to be involved in. Josiah was a great king, but he got his priorities messed up here. The end result is that Josiah’s son takes control of Judah, and the Bible tells us that he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

I think that there is a great lesson for us to learn here. Sometimes we get ourselves in trouble when we interfere in things that God never told us to interfere with. We need to learn to do two things. First, we need to choose our battles carefully. Second, we need to learn to mind our own business at times. Now don’t misunderstand, sometimes God wants us to get involved in things that are not directly involving us, but when these times arise we need to make sure that it is truly God’s will for us to involve ourselves. When I look back through the  years of my ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, I can now see in hindsight that there were many times that I got involved in things that God never told me to do. As a result, the church would lose focus, and harm would come. I am trying now to stay within the area that God has called me to. He has called me to pastor the people of Jersey Shore Baptist Church, and He has called me to get the message of the gospel to my community. Besides my responsibilities as a husband and father, those are my main duties. It is a big enough job by itself, so I don’t need to get mixed up in something that distracts me from those purposes. There are a lot of “good” causes out there to get involved in, but even a “good” cause can become sin, if it is not God’s will.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself getting sidetracked into an area that distracts you from what you know God wants you to do? Choose your battles wisely, mind your own business, and stay focused on the will of God for your life.

By the way, I want to also be careful to acknowledge that even though Josiah got mixed up in something he shouldn’t have; he was still a great king, and in my opinion the greatest king Judah ever had. Chapter 23 of our passage records all of the great things Josiah did in Judah and even in the northern kingdom, Israel. He worked tirelessly removing the evil that his predecessors had allowed to enter into the land.


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Have You Found The Book?

Have You Found the Right Book

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

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

Read the “0503 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Should Have Quit While He Was Ahead”

“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.” – (2 Kings 22:8)

In chapter 22, we have the account of the great king Josiah. I used to have debates with a good friend of mine as to who was the greatest king of Israel or Judah. His favorite was Hezekiah, but mine was Josiah. I like Josiah. He started young but he had a heart for God from the beginning of his reign until he died, and he caused God to postpone the judgment that was coming due to the sins of the kings before him.

As I mentioned already, Josiah was a good king from the start, but something happens in verses 10 and 11 that will destine him for greatness. The men that were working on the Temple discover a copy of “the book of the law”, the Bible. Apparently the Bible had been missing and out of use for many years because nobody seemed to even know about it at this point. When Josiah reads it for the first time, he “rent his clothes” because he knew that Israel and Judah had gotten completely away from the principles contained in “the Book”. Once he has finished mourning over the sad state of affairs in his nation, he begins to implement in the nation all of precepts contained in the law. He follows God with all of his heart and all of his strength, and God puts his blessings once again on the nation of Judah.

How about you?  Have you found “the Book”?  Have you discovered that “the Book” is not just a dusty decoration on your coffee table but is a powerful source of nourishment for your hungry soul, and a bright light of direction in this dark world that we live in today. Find your Bible, read your Bible, study your Bible, apply your Bible, and share your Bible with others.


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Spread It Before the Lord

man-praying-in-field

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

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

Read the “0502 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Now You’ve Crossed the Line”

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:1)

“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:14)

In our passage this morning in 2 Kings. we see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the army from Assyria. Assyria had already conquered much of the known world at that time, including the northern kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem in Judah certainly did not have the military strength to repel such a powerful force. Hezekiah, the King of Judah did what we all should do when we are faced with problems far bigger than our own human ability to solve: he went to the Lord. Notice in verse 1 above that Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord. That’s a good place to go to find answers, isn’t it. He then sent for the man of God, Isaiah. In this passage we can see a recipe that will help us in time of trouble. Go to God; go to God’s house; seek counsel from the man of God.

Notice in verse 14 above, the Assyrian’s are threatening again, and Hezekiah does the same thing that he did the first time. Why wouldn’t he? By the way, both times God delivers Jerusalem from the mighty Assyrians. The first time, God just lures them away from Jerusalem, but the second time He actually kills 185,000 of them. They should have quit while they were ahead.

So, what can we learn from this passage? When you are faced with questions and problems that are bigger than yourself, go to God. Look into the Bible for answers to your questions. Seek counsel from the men and women that God has placed in your life to help you. And whatever you do, do not forsake the house of God, when you are faced with problems. It very well may be that God will solve your problem there. The older I get, the more I realize that my life is bigger than my ability to live it right, and I often find myself not knowing what to do. I need God’s help. I need God’s wisdom. Our church is always facing decisions that drive us to our knees.  My family is facing decisions regarding the future. We need God’s wisdom; God’s help. We need to spread these things before the Lord.

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


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Have It Your Way

Burger-King-Have-It-Your-Way

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 16 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the 0501 Evening and Morning devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Warned You”

“They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.” – (2 Kings 17:33)

“So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.” (2 Kings 17:41)

Do you remember the old Burger King jingle and ad campaign, “Have It Your Way”. Years ago this company promoted the concept of having your burger custom designed any way you desire. They inferred that the other fast-food burger places would only let you purchase their food the way they made it, and you could not “special order” a sandwich the way you wanted it. The ad campaign, I think, was very successful for Burger King. It has been over 30 years since they ran those ads, and I still remember them. The Burger King concept is a reflection of the American culture. We don’t want to be confined to a pre-determined menu. We want it our way. The Burger King concept may be a very good idea when it comes to selling fast food, but it will be a disaster for the church.

In our text we see in the land of Israel people from many nations. They had been placed there by the king of Assyria after he had removed the Israelites from the land. These foreigners faced opposition from God Himself when they first came in to inhabit the land (see 2 Kings 17:25), so they figured they had better do something to appease the God of Israel. The king of Assyria released one of the Israelite priests from captivity, and charged him to return to Israel and instruct the people in the proper worship of the God of Israel. The result was that these people incorporated God into their worship partially, but they still continued to worship their own gods, their way.

The New Testament tells us that in the end times there will be many that will do the same thing:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

We are certainly living in the time that the Bible describes in 2 Timothy, and we have applied the Burger King philosophy to our worship of God. We pick and choose which doctrines on the menu that appeal to our tastes, and we create our own custom designed forms of worship and service. We have it wrong. This “seeker sensitive” generation of Christians needs to go back to the Bible and discover what is pleasing to the Lord, and then submit themselves to the menu that He has designed for them in His wisdom. God knows how to make our burgers better than we can. We had better let Him have it His way.


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God Sent Them a Saviour

God Sent Them A Saviour

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 15 – 16; Proverbs 30 – 31; Psalms 146 – 150)

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

Read the “0430 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days. And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.” – (2 Kings 13:3-5)

In our passage today we have the northern kingdom of Israel, which is a nation that had long ago abandoned the God that had brought them from bondage in Egypt, and had given them a land of their own. They are lead by a king, Jehoahaz who the Bible describes as an evil man. Because of this nations wickedness, God sends judgment via the hand of the Syrians. However, in verse 4 something very interesting happens: this bad king, Jehoahaz, humbles himself before the Lord, and asks for the Lord’s help; and the Lord delivers Israel from the hand of their enemy.

What a marvelous picture we have here of the grace of the Lord. This nation and this king certainly did not deserve any help from the Lord; yet the Lord, in His mercy, delivered them anyway. This story reminds me of another story. I know a guy who is also a bad guy – a sinner; and he lives in a bad place – America: a nation that also has long ago abandoned the God that blessed them with their freedom and prosperity. Twenty-five plus years ago this evil guy I know recognized his sinful condition, and the judgment that lay ahead for him in Hell, and he also humbles himself before the Lord, and calls upon Him for forgiveness. You know what? The Lord had mercy upon him too, and saved him. That guy’s name is Phil Erickson. He didn’t deserve it then, and still doesn’t deserve now any consideration at all from a holy God; yet God saved him. What a God?

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


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Windows in Heaven

windows of heaven

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Proverbs 28; Psalm 136 – 140

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

Read the “0428 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” (2 Kings 7:2)

In today’s passage we see the the city of Samaria surrounded by an overwhelming army of the Syrians. This massive host from Syria had the city surrounded for some time, which caused the Israelites to run completely out of food on the inside of the city; with no way to get out to get more food. Things got so bad the people were actually buying and selling dove’s dung to eat. Some had even killed and ate children. Pretty hopeless situation.

Along comes the man of God and tells them that at the same time the next day the situation would be reversed, so much so that food that was very expensive the previous day would be sold for next to nothing on the next day. But one of the lords (princes) of Israel doubted the Word of God through the mouth of the prophet, and stated basically that this is impossible, even if God were to open the windows of heaven.

You can read the story for yourself; but God did exactly what he said he would do. The Syrians heard the sound of chariots, and assumed that their enemies from Egypt or maybe the Hittites were coming to help Israel by attacking them. They flee, leaving all of their food and goods behind. Israel discovers that the Syrians have left, and they come out of the city and spoil the camp of the Syrians.

It looks like God truly opened up the windows of heaven. We have a promise from the word of God regarding those same windows in heaven:

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

God has promised us that if we will keep him first in our lives that he will keep those windows open. He doesn’t promise that we will all live in mansions on this earth and eat caviar; but praise the Lord, we won’t have to eat dove’s dung either.


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God Will Take Care of You

God Will Take Care of You

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Proverbs 27; Psalms 131 – 135

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

Read the “0427 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. … Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” – (2 Kings 4:1, 7)

There are some mornings when I have a difficult time finding something interesting to write about from the Scripture reading for the day. However, the three chapters that we have read this morning from 2 Kings 4 – 6 are full of exciting stories from the life of Elisha. I have chosen this morning to consider the story of the widow woman who was miraculous provided for by God. The story is found in 2 Kings 4: 1 – 7, and speaks of a woman was the wife of one of the prophets, and was now left alone to care for her two sons. She has nothing left but a pot of oil in her house. The creditors are bearing down on her, and want to take her two sons as bondmen in order to repay a debt that is owed them. She comes to the man of God for help, and he instructs her to borrow vessels from her neighbors that will hold oil. Elisha takes the little bit of oil that she has and pours it into the other containers that the woman borrowed from her neighbors. The oil did not run out until all of the vessels were filled, which she was then able to go and sell so that she would be able to pay the debt that she owed.

There are two thoughts that I would like to pull from this passage. The first involves debt. The Scripture says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” – (Proverbs 22:7). The passage does not give us any of the details regarding the reason why this woman was in debt. It may have been a debt that she inherited from her dead husband. Anyway, she has a debt that is causing her a lot of trouble. I got to thinking about what kind of financial situation my wife would be in if I passed away suddenly today. I would leave her with the burden of some debt. We are in the process of making some changes in our financial decisions so that all of our debt would be eliminated. I would not want to leave my wife with the kind of pressure this woman had to face.

My second thought from this passage is that God took care of this lady who had given her life to serve Him. She was the wife of one of the prophets, and prophets lived by faith. They had no doubt made many financial sacrifices in the process of serving the Lord. I understand a little about what she is going through. When we sold our house, and packed up our stuff and headed for Bible college, we knew that we were entering a journey of faith and sacrifice. We have had to live without a lot of things throughout the years; but one of the things that we have had to do away with was insurance. Since we have been in the ministry, we have been unable to afford health insurance or life insurance. I know that this is not good stewardship, but when you are forced to choose between food on the table or an insurance policy to protect you from something that may or may not happen, you can see why we might go uninsured. This is a great source of worry for my wife particularly. However, this passage reminds us that even though we may not be the best financial planners, God takes care of those that have given their life in service for Him. He will take care of my family. Don’t misunderstand, someday I want to be able to provide some of these comforting benefits like insurance for my family; but for now, I know that God has got my family’s back.

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


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Still Calling Down Fire

elijahandfirefromheavenToday’s Passage – 2 Kings 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8Proverbs 26; Psalms 126 – 130

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

Read the “0426 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.” (2 Kings 1:12)

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah passes the mantle on to Elisha, and he is caught up to Heaven. Presumably, 2 Kings 1 is recording an event that took place shortly before the Lord took Elijah home to Heaven. You will remember also that back in 1 Kings 19, Elijah was discouraged, and on the run from Jezebel, and had requested that God take his life from him. He was down and depressed, but not out completely. It appears that though Elijah was discouraged in 1 Kings 19, he had picked himself back up, and was still calling down fire from Heaven right up until the Lord took him home. The ministry can be very discouraging at times, but we must not quit. Elijah didn’t.

In our passage today in 2 Kings 1, Elijah calls down fire from Heaven twice and destroys one captain and 50 men that were sent from King Ahaziah to apprehend him. Elijah had previously sent word to the wicked king that his days were numbered, and the king wanted to speak to Elijah personally about it, so he sent an army to get him. Elijah didn’t feel “lead of God” to go, so he called down fire and destroyed the army. The king then sends another captain and another fifty men, and Elijah does the same thing. A third captain and another fifty soldiers are sent, but this time they very humbly beg Elijah to go with them, and Elijah does so. However, the message to the king does not change, and Elijah personally tells Ahaziah that he is about to die. My point is that God was still demonstrating his power, and declaring his message through Elijah right up until the end of his life.

I am thinking this morning about some men of God in our day that are still being used of the Lord in a tremendous way, even though they are well past the retirement years. I pray that I will still be in the game like Elijah, and like these men today, at the end of my life. I know my job description may change somewhat, but I do not wish to ever retire. I want to just keep going, doing what I am doing now, right up until the chariots come for me.

 


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Itching Ears

 

dog_cat_scratching_ear2

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Proverbs 25; Psalms 121 – 125

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

Read the “0425 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 Read a previous post from this passage – “Shouldn’t We Be Different?”

“Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.” – (1 Kings 22:6-8)

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” – (2 Timothy 4:3)

If you had a disease within your body that could be life threatening if left untreated, would you want a doctor who told you the truth, or would you want one who tells you what you want to hear? You would most certainly want to know the truth so that you could get the proper treatment in order to fix the problem. Why is it, however, that many people want a preacher that avoids the truth in order to “tickle the ears” of his people. In our text, this is exactly what Ahab does. He calls the 400 “prophets” who he knows will agree with him. He wants to go to war with Syria. His friend, King Jehosaphat of Judah, recommends that they get counsel from God, but instead of calling upon the one preacher that speaks the truth, he calls these other 400 who he knows will tell him what he wants to hear. The real man of God, Micaiah, when finally called upon at the insistence of Jehoshaphat, tells him the painful truth. Ahab rewards this preacher of truth buy having him thrown in jail.

Christians, we need men of God that will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. The truth will set us free. If you are church member, encourage your pastor by insisting that he gives you the Truth straight from the Word of God. Cheer him as he preaches difficult sermons. If you are a preacher, let me encourage you to be fearless, yet compassionate in your preaching. Tell them what God said, whether they appreciate it or not. Even if they don’t appreciate what you are telling them now, they probably will later. The truth is not pleasant sometimes, but it always gives the people what they need to make good decisions. You are not in a popularity contest, You are a messenger for God. The people cannot possibly make wise choices unless they have the Truth to help them.

There is also a lesson to be learned in this passage regarding separation. Jehoshaphat was a good man, but he had no business running with the likes of Ahab.

 


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Humility

Humility

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120

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

Read the “0424 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.” – (1 Kings 21:27-29)

Ahab was probably the worst king in Israel’s history. He tolerated all kinds of immorality and idolatry in his kingdom and even promoted it. He married Jezebel, a woman whose name has become synonomous with wickedness. Together, Ahab and Jezebel were responsible for the slaughter of many of the prophets of the Lord in Israel. These were bad people. Ahab was a bad man and an even worse king.

Notice, however, in the last part of chapter 21. Ahab humbled himself before the Lord. Now don’t misunderstand, this was not a complete turnaround. He didn’t surrender to go to the mission field or anything like that; but he did humble himself before the Lord; and as a result, God spared him some of the judgment that he had planned for him. Apparently, a little humility went a long way for Ahab.

I don’t think there are too many people reading this that are as wicked as old King Ahab; but it would do us well to follow his example in just this one instance. Let’s kill some of the pride in our lives and humble ourselves before the Lord. Let’s surrender to Him and submit ourselves to His will for our lives. Let’s allow him to correct us when necessary. It may just be that a little humility before the Lord will go a long way in our lives as well.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)


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Battling Discouragement

Battling Discouragement

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115

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

Read the “0423 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4)

In our reading passage today we get to see one of the greatest recorded victories in the Bible of good over evil. Elijah, a mighty prophet of God who prophesied in Israel during a time of great apostasy, challenges the prophets of Baal (850 of the altogether) to come to Mt. Carmel in prove the power of their god. After many hours of crying out Baal, and even cutting themselves to please him, Baal never shows up. The God of Israel, however, does make an appearance, and at the request of Elijah sends down fire from Heaven and consumes the sacrifice that Elijah had prepared. He also sent along some desperately needed rain, which hadn’t happened in a couple of years. The people of Israel very wisely choose the Lord’s side, crying out, “the LORD, He is the God”,  and then they put to death all of the false prophets. All in all, it was a great day to be on the Lord’s side.

Something very strange happens immediately after this great victory, however. Queen Jezebel finds out about what happened to her prophets, and demands the death of Elijah. Elijah then runs for his life away from her. Why would he run? He just saw God do the impossible. The people just slaughtered all of the false prophets, and I am quite sure they would have killed Ahab and Jezebel had Elijah asked them to. Instead, Elijah runs, and then asks God to take his life.  It just doesn’t make sense.

If you carefully examine the story, however, you begin to see some of the underlying reasons for Elijah’s despair. First of all, let me state from personal experience that discouragement can ironically come sometimes after a great victory. I am not sure why that is, it just is. There is almost a feeling of emptiness after the battle to achieve something is finally concluded. I’m told Alexander the Great was distraught to the point of suicide after he conquered all the known world because there were no more cities to conquer. Elijah sure had more work to do; he could have conquered Jezebel, but maybe he was just tired of fighting the battles. I know of a preacher right now who has resigned his church, and is going into retirement. He has been fighting battles for over two decades in a very difficult place of ministry, and he is simply just tired. Elijah seems to have been just tired of fighting. The battles just keep coming, and his strength was depleted.

What can we do when battling discouragement:

1  Get Help – Elijah thought he was all alone, but God reminded him that there were 7000 men out there, and I am sure some women, too, that were on his team. They could have, and would have, helped him. Get help fighting the battle, and get somebody to help you with your discouragement. I am blessed to have many people in my life, seasoned men, that I can turn to for advice.

2  Get Rest – Elijah had run for days without rest, and without food; his physical strength was completely depleted. He needed a good, long rest; and some nourishment. That is exactly what the angel did for him:

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.” (1 Kings 19:5-6)

3  Get Up – Don’t quit. Elijah should have asked the Lord for help and strength, but instead he asks the Lord to kill him. Quitting is never the answer. We may need to take some time out to replenish, but we should never leave the battle completely.

There will come a time in my life when God will be through with me, and at that time He will take me home to Heaven. Until that time comes, however, I need to stay encouraged, and stay in the battle. If God still wants me to fight, then He will give me everything that I need to keep fighting, including strength and encouragement.

By the way, if you are saved and your are not in the battle with the Lord, you will also be very discouraged, because God has not equipped you to sit on the sidelines. Find something to do for the Lord, and you will be greatly encouraged as you fulfill God’s purpose for your life.


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There – The Place of God’s Will

rock-water

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 15 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110

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

Read the “0422 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (1 Kings 17:2-4)

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1 Kings 17:8-9)

There are many wonderful truths in today’s Bible reading, but I want to draw your attention to the word “there” found in vs. 4 and 9 above from chapter 17 of 1 Kings. “There” represented a place – a geographic location where God wanted Elijah to go. Actually, “there” was two places. The first place God wanted Elijah to go was to the Brook Cherith. In this place God was going to sustain the prophet through meals provided by ravens. Cherith was a specific location. Had Elijah decided that he was going to go to some other geographic location, I do not think that God would have fed him. God’s will involves more than a place, but it does include a place.

Next, God commanded Elijah to travel to Zarephath, which is outside of the borders of Israel. It is important to point out that Elijah did not leave the Brook Cherith because the brook dried up, he left because God commanded him to. Anyway, in Zarephath a widow woman was prepared by God to take care of the needs of Elijah. There is a lot that could be said about how God provided for the widow woman and her son as well, but the point being made here is that God guided Elijah to a specific place where he would be taken care of, and used for God’s purposes.

Fifteen years ago, God directed my family to the place of His will – Galloway, New Jersey. I must confess that there have been times around here when I wanted to move on, times when the brook seemed to dry up, but I have never been told by God to move to another place. As much as I may desire at times to move to a place like Hawaii, that is simply not God’s will for my life. Galloway, NJ is my “there”. It is the place where God wants me; it is the place where God will provide for me and mine; and it is the place where God will use me.

Have you found the place of God’s will for your life? If you have, make the most of your time spent there. God may move you on to some other “there” someday, and if He does, He will make it crystal clear to you; but until that time comes, dig in, serve Him to the fullest, and enjoy your stay.


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