Keep Looking

Keep Looking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Handle With Care

Handle with Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Point of No Return

point of no return

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 14 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 10 – 12; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Circumcision of the Heart

Circumcised Heart

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

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Testament speaks about this as well:

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

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

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


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The Old Paths

old-paths-dan-etpr

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Turn Around

U-Turn

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

(Second Milers also read – John 21; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

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

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

Now for today’s main thought:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

wolf and lamb

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 63 – 66 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 19 – 20; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Look Beyond The Cross

theeffectsofthecross

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 53 – 57 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 15 – 16; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just thought of another verse:

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

Jesus looked beyond the cross too.


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Bullheaded

Texas-Longhorn-880x400

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 48 – 52 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 13 – 14; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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He’s The One and Only

535555_JesustheOneandOnlyJPGToday’s Passage – Isaiah 44 – 47 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 11 – 12; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And if He is the only true God, then:

1  His Word is the only truth.

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

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

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

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

3  His Work can only be organized through His Church

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

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

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

 


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Forgiving and Forgetting

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

(Second Milers also read – John 9 – 10; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Forsaking Future Generations

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

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

(Second Milers also read – John 5 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A House Divided

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 19 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Do You Need an “I” Exam?

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

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

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I willascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – (Isaiah 14:12-14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Who Turned Out the Light?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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What Could Have Been Done More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Where Are The Men?

menofgod

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

(Second Milers also read – Luke 15 – 16; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A Wonderful Story of Love

Song of Solomon

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

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0728 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” – (Song of Songs 2:4)

I must confess that I would rather write about a subject this morning that I have a better understanding of. The Song of Solomon is a wonderful account of love and marriage, but I must confess that I do not comprehend all that is contained in this beautiful story. I know that there is a literal, earthly story here about the love between a husband and a wife. It is clear from the passage that Solomon is the husband; but trying to figure out the identity of the wife with certainty is rather difficult as we know that Solomon had 700 of them (and 300 additional concubines). It is thought by some that this beautiful woman is Abishag, the woman who ministered to Solomon’s father in the last days of his life. We know that she was a Shulamite woman (6:13). At any rate, she is obviously Solomon’s first wife, before he had sinned by marrying so many other women.

The broader implication of this book is that Solomon is a type or picture of the Lord Jesus Christ; and his bride is a picture of the Church. It was a strange thought for me when I first learned that I was part of the Bride of Christ. I guess the man in me rebels against the feminine identity; but as I have grown through the years I have learned to accept and even somewhat understand the meaning of it all. I do love my Lord Jesus. I want to grow and learn to love Him more, but in order to do so I must learn to love myself a lot less.

As I said in the beginning of this thought, I don’t understand all that this love story has to tell us; but I love the story nonetheless from both an earthly perspective, and from the spiritual picture that it represents.


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Sharpen Your Ax

Axe-sharpener

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “0727 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.” – (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

I have been enjoying this devotional reading of the Book of Ecclesiastes as there are so many nuggets of truth. I actually had a hard time deciding what to post this this morning. I had considered doing something on Ecclesiastes 9:11, or 10:1. A couple of years back, I wrote “The Bottom Line”, from chapter 12. The verse above, however, is one of the most helpful truths in the Bible for me. You see, I am not the sharpest ax in the shed, and I need to be sharpened constantly in order to do what God has called me to do.

Solomon says that if a man does not “whet the edge”, he will have to add a little strength in order to be able to accomplish the goal. Whetting (or sharpening) the edge allowed the blade to penetrate deeper into the wood with less strength. It helps accomplish the goal without as much effort. Solomon is using this illustration to teach us about life. At the end of the verse he says that wisdom is profitable to direct. Acquiring wisdom is like sharpening the axe or whetting the edge. It will help you do the job with less difficulty.

God has given us a lot of things to do in life. In order to accomplish the things that the Lord has for us, we will need to acquire some wisdom. Wisdom makes us more proficient and helps us to accomplish the tasks at hand. God says that He will give us the wisdom that we need if we simply ask for it in faith.

“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)

We can get God’s wisdom from the Word of God; through prayer; and from the counsel of those who are wise.

I do not think that God is minimizing, or belittling the value of hard work, either. There are a lot of things that I find myself doing where I am perhaps not as wise as someone else. In these situations I will have to work a little harder than that person, but I can still accomplish the goal. However, if I am going to be the best that I can be at all that God has given me to do. I will need to ask for wisdom. I need His wisdom to be a good husband and father. I need wisdom in order to pastor the people of God at the church. I need wisdom for every task that I perform, and so do you. Work hard, but if you want to get the most out of each swing, you will want to sharpen your axe.


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Promises, Promises

 

Handshake

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

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0726 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” – (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

Back when my grandfather was a young man, a man could get a loan simply by promising with a handshake that he would pay it back. People in those days kept their word. They followed through on what they said they would do. Today it is much different. Many people today are not at all trustworthy. They are quick to promise, but often slow to keep their word. God says here in our passage this morning that we should be slow to make promises, but once a promise is made, we should do everything we can to keep it.

I want to encourage all of you that are reading this thought this morning to think (and pray) very carefully before you commit yourself to something. Don’t let pressure or emotion cause you to agree to do something that you may not be able to fulfill. I remember years ago I gave a pledge in January that I would give a certain amount of money per week toward that year’s faith promise missions offering. I was making good money at the time, and I did not think that there would be any problems. However, later that year, my family and I packed up to move to Texas to go to Bible College. I was no longer in a financial position to keep that committment, but I had made a promise, and I knew our church’s missions program was depending on that offering. Cindy and I agreed that we should sacrifice some things in order to fulfill our pledge. I haven’t always kept my promises in life, but I am very glad I kept that one.

Today we live in a world that is lacking basic trust, and the reason we don’t trust one another is that we do not keep our word. We say one thing and do another. We make promises to people and to God that may be well meaning, but ultimately we fail to follow through. Let’s stop making promises that we can’t keep. And when we do give our word, let’s keep it.


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All Is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 12-13 Fear God And Keep His Commandments beige

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

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

A few years back I preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1 There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.

2 There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3 There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had wisdom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.


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Get the Vision

Bible

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

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Samuel 3:1)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time then you have most likely heard a sermon preached on vision. Most of the time the preacher will use Proverbs 29:18 to prove that the pastor and people need to have some type of plan for the future in order for the church to survive and thrive in the next generation. For instance, I have heard this verse used by a preacher who was trying to convince the congregation regarding a new building. He was trying to get the people to “see” the new building, to get a vision for it. While I do believe it is wise for the pastor to know where he is going in the future, and I also think that He is responsible for casting the “vision” for the church, I do not believe this verse is teaching that. This verse, and the verse in 1 Samuel 3 both connect the term, “vision”, with the Word of God. God is not saying that the preacher or church need to have their own vision, but rather that they need to have God’s vision, which is the Word of God.

Christians often speak too flippantly about what “God told them”. I always ask them about the book, chapter, and verse that God used to tell them the thing that He supposedly said. You see, God does not speak to us with audible voices anymore; He gave us His Word. God uses the revealed Word of God to “direct our paths”, etc. Now I am not saying that God does not lead us down particular paths, and into specific areas of service. He does reveal His will to us through a combination of means, but it all starts with the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is God’s “open vision” today.

As Christians, we need to look to the Bible for direction in life. Preachers, we need to faithful study, learn, and teach the Word and Words of God that He has given to instruct His people today. It is the Bible that will guide; it is the Bible that will encourage; it is the Bible that will give comfort; it is the Bible that will correct; it is the Bible that reveal the future; and so much more. All we need is the Bible, and the Holy Ghost of God Who will help us understand it. So, get a vision; but get it from the Bible.

 


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A True Friend

A True Friend

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “0723 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – (Proverbs 27:6)

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” – (Proverbs 27:10)

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – (Proverbs 27:17)

Chapter twenty-seven of the Book of Proverbs includes the word “friend” several times. I have posted some of them above. From these verses we can get a better, Biblical understanding of what a true friend is. The world would have a broader definition for friendship, but the Bible is much more specific about what a friend is, and what a friend does. We each may have many acquaintances, and people that are friendly at times to us; but if we were to really apply the Biblical understanding of true friendship, we would have to conclude that the number of real friends we have is few.

The Bible tells us that a true friend is there for us no matter what. We have all probably heard the expression, “fair weather friends”. This type of person is the one that will be your friend as long as you have something to offer them. I remember years ago when I was newly saved, my wife and I were attending a church in Toms River, NJ. We were both very young Christians, and we had a hard time establishing relationships with some of the other couples that were there. There was one man that all of a sudden began to take an interest in me. He invited us over to his house, and he really seemed to be trying to reach out to us. I was very flattered, but then this man began to tell me about a business venture that he wanted me to be a part of: something that was going to eventually make me very rich, but at first would require an investment on our part. When this man finally realized that I didn’t have any money to invest in his business, he stopped being nice to me. This man was not my friend. He was friendly as long as he thought I could benefit him in some way. A real friend is not merely concerned about what he receives from the relationship, but is instead focussed on what he can offer to it. True friends will also remain friendly through the good times and the bad.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – (Proverbs 18:24)

The Bible also tells us that a true friend will not be someone that tells us what we want to hear, but rather tells us what we need to hear. I want my friends to help me be a better me. In order for that to happen they will need to be open and honest with me. There are many things about me that I cannot see. My flesh has set up protections that insulate me from facing myself. My pride causes me to think that I am always right. But I know that can’t possibly be true. So God has placed some people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I often do not want to hear about myself. Don’t misunderstand, these friends do not spend all of their time criticizing me, but they will straighten me out when I need it. The greatest friend that I have, besides the Lord, is my wife. She doesn’t pull any punches with me: she loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear.

Of course, the Lord is the greatest friend that we have because He gave His life for us. A true friend will give himself unconditionally to those that he loves.

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


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Wine Is A Mocker

drunk

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0721 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – (Proverbs 20:1)

“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” – (Proverbs 21:17)

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” – (Proverbs 23:29-35)

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: … Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” – (Proverbs 31:4, 6)

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – (Ephesians 5:18)

The Bible is full of warnings against the consumption of alcohol. Above, I have listed some of the verses from the Book of Proverbs that deal with drinking, as well as a New Testament reminder. God did not outlaw the use of intoxicating beverages in the Bible, but He certainly taught that consuming alcohol was the cause of a great many problems for His people. The first mention of fermented wine in the Bible was in Genesis 9 referring to Noah who drank of the wine and then lay naked in his tent, causing his son Ham to sin by looking upon his father’s naked body. Shortly thereafter in the book of Genesis we read about Lot who drank wine and then slept with both of his daughters. Alcohol will certainly cause you to do some pretty dumb and damaging things. Today it is no different. In America, 38% of all traffic fatalities occur because of alcohol consumption (nearly 65 people a day). Statistics reveal that there are over 14 million people in the U.S. that are addicted to alcohol; and alcoholics are four times more likely to be hospitalized than non-drinkers. When will we learn?

In the New Testament there is an added warning to the child of God regarding the consumption of alcohol. The verse mentioned above from the Book of Ephesians tells us that alcohol is a controlling force that will hinder the Christian from being filled with the Spirit. That is why they call being drunk “under the influence”. To the degree that you are “influenced” by alcohol, you are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit of God. Plus, God warns us that we should be careful about being a stumbling block to another Christian. You may be able to handle an occasional drink, but by your indulgence you may just be encouraging a future alcoholic. If you are a child of God, filled with His Spirit, you have no business consuming alcohol. God is the only influence you and I need in our lives. We don’t need alcohol to enjoy the abundant life that God has given us while serving Him on this earth.


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Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

markedsfring-af-uddannelser-via-sociale-medier-22-638

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0720 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and awordspoken in due season, how goodis it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” (Proverbs 17:7)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11)

Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy. As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.

I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:

1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed,

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

2 I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.

3 I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.

It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.

“O be careful little mouth what you say

O be careful little mouth what you say

There’s a Father up above

And He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little mouth what you say”


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Clean the Crib But Keep The Oxen!

ross-farm-museum-oxen

Today’s Passage – Proverbs 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0719 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previos post from today’s passage in Proverbs – “O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” – (Proverbs 14:4)

Every Sunday afternoon, immediately following the morning service, we clean the auditorium and bathrooms of our church to make it ready for the evening service. I am often amazed at how dirty our building can get, especially considering that it was only in use for a few hours. There are bulletins lying all over, and the hymnbooks are everywhere except where they should be. We find candy wrappers and water bottles in various places. Sometimes, I even find chewed gum stuck to a chair or on the floor. Yuk! The place is a mess. But I thank God for the mess, because the mess indicates that people were using the building. There are times when I get a little tired of cleaning it, but if I didn’t have to clean it, it could only be because nobody was coming to our services.

I have determined that I will never get the mindset that the building that God has given us is to be some sort of museum for the Saints of God to observe and admire. I want our building to be functional and practical; and I want it to be used by our people as much as possible, and as often as possible. And if it is being used, it is going to get dirty, and at times things are going to need to be repaired. I have been spending a great deal of time this summer painting and upgrading parts of our building. The rooms that were finished last month already have some marks on the walls. Praise God! That means that people: men, women, children; souls are coming to the House of God, and are getting the help that they need. I will keep cleaning the crib, but I think I am  going to keep the oxen as well.

Brother Hyles tells a story about a man in his church that was complaining about the oily messes made in the parking lot by all the busses that were used to bring boys and girls to church. Bro. Hyles reminded the man that D.L. Moody brought in a lot of children, too, in his day, and the horses used to pull the wagons were a whole lot messier.


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The Richest Man On Earth

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

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0718 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

What determines the true wealth of a man? Is it the amount of money he has in his bank account? Is it the number of acres he owns or the size of his house? Perhaps it might be the number of toys and possessions that he has been able to accumulate in his lifetime? Can richness be measured by the world’s standards? This world puts a great deal of emphasis on material gain and financial success, and to some degree they are right, because one of the ways that God blesses His children is by providing them with their needs, and even some of their desires. But the truth is, the world is replete with people who have “this world’s goods”, but are not rich. Why? Because they lack the blessing of the Lord. Let me list for you some of the reasons why I feel that I am the richest man on earth:

1 My Father is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all of the silver and gold belongs to Him. Because I am His child, everything that He has is mine as well. Everything that I need is provided for me. I am completely content, because there is nothing that I will ever need that will not be provided for me.

2 My Family is truly a blessing from God. He has given me the most beautiful wife in all of the world along with four wonderful children (and now two sons-in-law, and a daughter-in-law), and three beautiful grandchildren. They are for me; they support me; they encourage me; they assist me; they love me as I am even with all of my faults.

3 My Friends are also extremely valuable to me. I have a few friends that I believe would take a bullet for me. They are loyal and true, even when things aren’t going so well.

4 My Future looks even brighter. My needs for the rest of my life are guaranteed, and I have a mansion waiting for me in Heaven when I have finished His purpose for me on earth.

How about you? Have you been measuring your wealth the same way the world does? Maybe you are actually richer than you thought? If you are experiencing the blessing of the Lord, you are a rich man indeed.


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