Persecutor, Preacher, and Prisoner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

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

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

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

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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To Be Continued

to be continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Going Fishing

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t quit.


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Finish Well

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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He Will Never Leave You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Mad About The Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Who Did Sin?

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Put Down Your Stones

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3)

In John 9, we have the familiar account of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. Jesus disciples inquired as to why this man was born blind. Often in Bible times, human suffering was attributed to some type of sin. They must have reasoned that since the man was born with the condition, it must have been caused by the sin of his parents. It has to be somebody’s fault, right? You may recall the Old Testament story of Job. Job’s friends thought the same thing about all of his problems. “It must be your fault Job! You must have done something to cause it.” Jesus refutes this argument and states that in this case, the man’s blindness was not caused by any particular sin, but rather that this blind man’s condition and subsequent healing would be used to glorify God. 

This story does bring up some interesting questions regarding human suffering. Did God create it? And, if He is a loving and powerful God, why would He allow it to continue? The disciples in John 9 thought that this man’s suffering was specifically caused as the result of a particular person’s sin. Though Jesus corrects their logic regarding this particular case of blindness, He does not here address the subject of the root causes of human suffering in general. The fact is that human suffering  is cause by sin. The curse of sin upon the world is behind all of the pain and misery that we are experiencing. Had sin not came into the world, there would be no disease or death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a) We live in a sin cursed world, and the evidences of the decay are everywhere. And, to complicate matters further, man continues to make more sinful choices that adds to problem and accelerates the decline. So, in answer to the question: who did sin? The answer is “Adam,” but the answer is also “me.” I didn’t cause all of the problems with the sinful world around me, but unfortunately, I have at times, contributed to it because of my own sinful actions.However, even in the midst of a sin-cursed world, God can be greatly glorified, and his marvelous works will be manifested for the world to see.

For many years, we had a man who was born blind attending our church. He was a great guy, and though he was blind, he was also extremely gifted. He could play the piano and organ beautifully, and he also had literally hundreds of Bible passages committed to memory. When people saw this man, their attention may at first have been drawn to his blindness, but eventually they could not miss the fact that God was using him in an awesome way. This man’s life glorified the Lord greatly. God’s works were made manifest in his life. 

You and I can do the same thing in this imperfect and sometimes painful world that we live in. Don’t let the results of sin keep you from finding ways to manifest God’s grace and glory. We can glorify God and show the world his amazing and supernatural grace even through our times of suffering. 


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To Whom Shall I Go?

To-whom-shall-we-go-Today’s Passages – John 6 – 7; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” – (John 6:68)

I remember recently having a discussion with a close friend of mine about whether he ever thought about quitting on God. His answer kind of reminded me of Peter’s answer in John 6:68 above. He said, “where am I going to go?”. What he was actually saying was that there is only one hope for salvation, and that is in the Person of Jesus Christ. Who else could we possibly turn to? There is no-one else.

I have been saved now for many years; and in that time I have experienced many mountaintops. It is easy to praise God and exalt His name when I am on the mountaintop. However, I have also been in the valley, many times due to some bad decisions that I have made. In the valley it is not always so easy to praise the Lord. In fact it is not always easy to even see the Lord. There have been times that I have actually contemplated throwing in the towel, and turning my back on the Lord and His church. By the grace of God, He has kept me in, but I think what has always helped me was the fact that God would remind me that I really have no alternative. Who would I go to? What would I do? If I thought the valley I was in at the time was bad, I wondered how much worse life would be without the Lord. My faith in God, and the promises of His Word, would always keep me from quitting.

Praise the Lord for His grace! Let me encourage you: don’t run from the Lord – run to Him. He has the Words of eternal life!


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Are You Thirsty?

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

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

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

Read the “1107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Living Water

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

I remember as a young boy I used to play baseball on a sandlot baseball team. Our team was made up of fellas from our neighborhood and we would challenge other neighborhoods to come play against us. I remember one particular game in the heart of the summer where we were playing the team from Lake Riviera. It was about 95 degrees outside and very humid. Do you know that only one person out of all of those boys there had enough sense to bring some water. We had about 2 dozen guys there that were very thirsty. The guy with the water jug almost did not make it out of there with his life, let alone his water.

In this passage of Scripture, we have the Lord Jesus talking with the woman at the well in Samaria. She was concerned about earthly water, the kind that is necessary to sustain life for the body. The Lord was concerned about spiritual water, the kind that is necessary to bring about everlasting life. He was referring to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God which would indwell all believers.

My thought this morning though is not about the water itself, but the thirst. Thirst equals desire. It is amazing to me how that so many Christians have a desire for the things that this world offers, but little thirst for the things of God. What do you desire? What do you thirst for? God desires to fill you to overflowing with eternal things, with the fruits of His Spirit; but He will not fill those of us who are not thirsty. Are you thirsty for God? I almost beat up the kid with the water jug that day, because I was thirsty; but how passionate am I about my desire for the spiritual? How about you?


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Just Do It!

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

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

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

Read the “1106 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” – (John 2:5)

Several years ago Nike developed an advertising campaign surrounding the phrase “Just Do It”. I don’t know if the phrase was original with them or not, but they made it very popular. The world is still filled with t-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan on them.

As I was reading this morning’s passage and came to John 2:5, I thought about the phrase “Just Do It”. I got to thinking that this phrase kind of sums up the secret to the successful Christian life. We are to find out what God says and do it. Now before you fuss with me, I understand that salvation is a gift we receive, and not an action we do; but we do need to listen to what God says about salvation and then apply it personally to our lives. And then after we are saved, we are to find the will of God for our lives through the Word of God, and obey it. God says that if we “just do it” we will have success and fulfillment in the Christian life.

We are also to do the will of God heartily:

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” (Colossians 3:23)

There is way too much apathy among God’s people today. Where is the zeal for the Lord’s work that used to be so prevalent among believers?

We are also to do the will of God for our lives with joy:

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

We are also to do God’s will quickly, without procrastination.

“So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” (Luke 14:21)

Just Do It!

“And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” (Luke 8:21)


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Heart Burn

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Today’s Passages – Luke 23 – 24; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1105 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

Years ago I had a friend that loved to eat Chinese food. The problem was that it would destroy his stomach whenever he ate it. He would get the worst heartburn every time. But do you think that kept him from eating it? No! He would feast at the Chinese restaurant every chance he got. Our passage today contains an account about a different kind of heartburn. Two of the disciples of the Lord are walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus which was about 7.5 miles from Jerusalem. All of a sudden the Lord draws near and begins walking with them but they do not recognize Him after His resurrection. They begin to tell this “stranger” about all of the events surrounding the crucifixion that had taken place in Jerusalem just three days ago. They also recount the fact that the Lord’s body is now apparently no longer in the tomb and some of the women have claimed that He has risen from the dead. Jesus then begins reciting passage after passage from the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold that all of these events would happen, and He rebukes these disciples for not believing the Word of God.

I found it interesting that twice in chapter 24 the Lord takes the Old Testament Scriptures and uses them to teach the disciples regarding Himself. He did not perform any miracles here. He just opens up their understanding to the Word of God. I got excited about that because that is exactly what I do. I open up the Scriptures and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I help people understand them. The disciples on the road to Emmaus stated the their hearts burned within them as he taught them the Scriptures. When was the last time your heart burned within you because of the Word of God. We almost act like God’s Word gives us the bad kind of heartburn, like my friend got when he ate Chinese food. We avoid reading and studying the Bible like it causes us pain. The Word of God is the most powerful tool that we have available to us today in the transformation of our own lives, and in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, yet we seem to be using it less and less these days. Our sermons are getting shorter and shorter, and whole services and studies are being removed from the schedule. It just seems that in practice we do not recognize the power of God’s Word to transform lives. Jesus did. He quoted Scripture all the time: when tempted by Satan, and here He is quoting Scripture to help these disciples understand His death and resurrection. We need to place the same emphasis on the power of God’s Word in our lives. Let’s get back to reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible.


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God Sees

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Today’s Passages – Luke 21 – 22; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Read the “1104 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “This Is Just The Beginning”

“And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

The verses above reference one of the greatest truths of the Bible: God sees and will reward all we do for him, whether anybody else sees it or not. This widow gave “all the living she had”, and she was probably unnoticed by everyone present, save the Lord. Had one of the rich men given all his living, it would have, no doubt, attracted a lot of attention; but here only God sees what was done.

You and I may not have a lot to offer the Lord. We may be very limited in the amount of treasure we have, or the talents we possess, but we can be sure that if we use what we have for the glory of God, we will be rewarded. We may not be rewarded or recognized here on this earth, but be sure that all that we do for the Lord will be remembered in eternity, and isn’t that where it really matters. You will notice that the passage gives no indication that the Lord said anything to the woman there at the temple. She may have lived out the rest of her earthly existence not thinking that she did anything special, but when she got to Heaven she found out that her love gift for the Lord was deeply appreciated by Him.

Christian, don’t worry about any notoriety here on this earth. The Lord sees what you give, and the Lord knows what you do. You do not have to let others know what you do, the Lord knows, and He is all that really matters.  You do not have to settle for some cheap reward of recognition here, an “attaboy from other men and women. Just know that God will never forget anything that’s done for Him.


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Where Are The Nine?

lepers

Today’s Passages – Luke 17 – 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 – Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

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

Read previous posts from this passage – “Forbid Them Not”; and “Attaboy”

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” – (Luke 17:17-18)

In our passage today, we read about the ten lepers that were healed of their debilitating disease by the Lord Jesus. Leprosy was, and is, a real disease that was often fatal for all who contracted it; but in the Bible, it was also spiritually a picture of sin. Sin is the ultimate debilitating disease, and is always fatal unless the sinner comes to the only One who can cure it. (Romans 6:23a) Of course, the only cure for sin is the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ, which can be applied to the sinner when he places his faith in Him. Anyway, in the Bible story today Jesus heals all ten of these lepers, but only one out of the ten returns to thank the Lord. Jesus asks the question: “where are the nine?”.

The same question can be asked today. There are many people who have come to the Lord Jesus, and have asked Him to forgive their sins, which He promises to do; but all too often the people who receive forgiveness tend to forget to demonstrate their appreciation to the One who gave it. This is the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving. Let’s not forget to put thanks to God at the top of the list of the things that we are thankful for.

How can we demonstrate our thanks to God for all that He has done for us:

1  By glorifying Him in our praise. We need to express our thankfulness to Him audibly by praising Him for all that He has done for us. We certainly need to praise Him in our prayer closets, but we also need to be public in our praise. We need to let everyone know that we appreciate God. That is how He receives glory. We make Him look good to the people around us when we praise Him.

2  By giving back to Him in our service. It is easy to express words of thanksgiving, but a better expression of true appreciation comes when we give back to Him. We give back to Him when we serve His people, and when we support His cause.

3  By going to the people He died for, and giving them the gospel. The greatest way to express your thanks to God for the spiritual cleansing that you received is by taking the message of salvation to the world around you. Jesus loves people. He came to earth in order to die for people so that they could be healed from sin. We must go out and tell people how much the Lord loves them.

Don’t be like these nine people who failed to be grateful for what the Lord had done for them. They may have been thankful in their hearts, but the Lord was grieved because the thanksgiving was not expressed. Tell the Lord how much you love and appreciate Him, and then demonstrate your appreciation by surrendering your life to Him.


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Soul Winning

Saturday Soulwinning

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

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

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

Read the “1101 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

All three of the chapters that we have read this morning, there is a soul winning illustration. I understand that the proper interpretations of theses passages does not primarily involve the church and winning people to Christ, but I think you will be able to see the practical application.

1  In chapter 14 I see the Compelling of the soul winner.

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23)

I have noticed that we have gotten to the point in our soul winning presentations that we are almost apologizing for bothering people. If you got word that there was an explosive device about to detonate in your neighbors house, would you apologize for bothering them? No, you would compel them to leave the house immediately. We need to take our soul winning presentations up another notch: we need to go beyond mere bidding (inviting) and start compelling people to trust Christ. I think our problem is that we deep down inside really don’t believe it all, or we really don’t believe time is running out.

2  In Chapter 15, I see the Compassion of the soul winner.

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

The father had the right attitude. He was longing for the return of the son. He was ready to receive him whenever he “came to himself”. The older brother, on the other hand, had the wrong attitude. He was not too excited about the reconciling of the younger brother to the father. He was perfectly content keeping the situation as it was. After all, the younger brother didn’t deserve another chance. He made his bed, and now he should have to sleep in it. Is that your attitude toward the lost soul that desperately needs Christ, or the wandering saint that needs to come back. We need to have compassion on people. We need to love them as Jesus loves them.

3  In chapter 16, I see the Consequences of not soul winning.

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27 & 28)

Now I cannot to be sure that the rich man had no man in his lifetime that attempted to reach him, but let’s assume that he did not. What a shame that not only this man, but also his five brothers will spend eternity in Hell because of a lack of soul winning. Let me remind you, they are without excuse. God’s law was written in their hearts; they could see God in creation; and there were synagogues on every corner just as there are churches on every corner today. But how much better were his chances for salvation had somebody had compassion on him and attempted to compel him to be saved.


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Put Away Your Ax

axe

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “1031 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” – (Luke 13:6-9)

I must confess that I am often a little bewildered as I try to understand these passages of Scripture. There are often several different levels of interpretation for consideration. For instance, this story of the fig tree can be studied on both a practical and a symbolic level. Symbolically, the fig tree represents Israel. You will find that to be true in other passages such as in Matthew 21 where Jesus curses the fig tree, again because there was no fruit on it. Israel was expected to be fruitful. There was no reason for them not to be fruitful. They were given all that they needed, yet they chose to reject their Messiah. However, we know that someday Israel will “look on [him] whom they have pierced” (John 19:34), ”and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” – (Zechariah 12:10). God is very patient with Israel, and someday Israel will turn back to Him. Really if you think about it, the process of digging about it and dunging the fig tree could very well be the Tribulation Period where God will be bringing Israel back to Himself.

On a practical level, however, I believe that we can safely say that not all Christians will produce the fruit that we might expect them to right away. We must be careful to be patient with new believers. God may have to dig about them and dung them as well. Don’t be so quick to write off people. I thank the Lord that He is patient with me; and I also thank Him for putting me through the training and trials that have been needed in order for Him to produce the fruit that He desires through me. And He is not finished with me yet. I am a long way away from where I need to be. So, as we appreciate and expect the Lord to be patient with us, let us also be patient with others. Put away your ax. God may not be finished with the tree just yet.


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Who Is My Neighbour?

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Today’s Passage – Luke 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1030 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29)

In our reading passage today there are so many wonderful truths that we could meditate on, but I have decided to consider the “Good Samaritan” passage found in Luke 10:25 – 37. The actual story of the good Samaritan was actually an illustration used by the Lord Jesus in His discussion with a lawyer who had tempted Him with the question, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” As Jesus often did, He replied with a question of His own: He asks the man what His understanding of the Law taught regarding the subject. Now remember, this guy was “tempting” Jesus, he was not sincerely inquiring about going to Heaven, and he was also a lawyer, an expert in the Law. Notice the man’s reply, which was pulled from two Old Testament passages (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18):

“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27)

I guess this lawyer thought that he was impressing Jesus with his knowledge of the Law. Jesus replied that the man had answered well. He told the man that if He could perfectly love God and perfectly love his neighbor, both of which are impossible,  then He could go to Heaven. The men then asks a question to clarify the definition of a neighbor. “Who is my neighbor?” That’s a good question. No doubt the lawyer would consider his neighbors to be only those from within the nation of Israel.

Jesus then tells the story about the good Samaritan who comes across a man from Israel who had been beaten and robbed; and then passed by by two upstanding, “Law” abiding citizens (neighbors), who could have and should have helped him, but didn’t. I guess they weren’t feeling neighborly that day. But along comes the Samaritan who although he was not an upstanding member of the Jewish community acted like a neighbor should by helping the man. By the way, this good Samaritan is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who was willing to help some undesirable people like us.

Jesus’ story of the Samaritan explained to this lawyer that the word “neighbor” means everybody, not just the people you like. Remember what He said in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:43-47)

By the way, Jesus was not teaching this man that if he would do these things that he would be saved, but rather he was proving to the man that he had already missed the mark, and that he was a long way away from being able to “justify himself” as he tried to do in Luke 10:29. But Jesus also let us know from this passage that our field of ministry includes all people, everywhere; not just a select few.

Have you loved a neighbor today? Think about some tangible way that you can demonstrate the love of Christ to someone today. You may just get the opportunity to share the gospel with them as well.


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Return To Thine Own House

friends

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

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

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

Read the “1029 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.” – (Luke 8:38-39)

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” – (Mark 5:19)

In today’s passage we read the familiar story of the man from Gadara who was gloriously saved and transformed by the Lord. This man was in bad shape: he was possessed with a legion of devils that caused him to wreak havoc, not only on himself, but also to the people around him. He was often locked up because on his insane condition. Finally, he was “driven of the devil into the wilderness”. When Jesus saved this man, he was completely changed, and when the citizens of the area found found him, they saw him in his right mind, fully clothed, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. What a great God we serve who so wonderfully saves people who are often considered by men to be without hope.

You would think that Jesus would want this man to travel all over Israel reciting his testimony, but that was not the case. The man had actually begged (besought) the Lord to let him go with Him. However, the Lord had a different plan for the life of this man: He told him to go home to his house and friends. The will of God for this man was going to be for him to be a testimony for Jesus in his own hometown. Perhaps he would eventually be a part of a local church; maybe he would be a teacher, or even a local pastor to his community. He certainly would be a spiritual leader in his own home to his family, and neighbors. He would be used of God to win souls for Christ where he lived.

The will of God for most people, after they are saved, will be to go home to their house and friends. Certainly, God will call some to go away to some foreign place of service, but for most of us, His will will be for us to make a difference where we are. Whether we serve him at home, or in some place away from home, it really doesn’t matter. Regardless of location, we are to win souls, and serve the Saviour in whatever capacity he deems for our lives.


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The Prison of Pleasing People

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Today’s Passage – Luke 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1028 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Cast Out First The Beam”

“They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.” (Luke 7:32)

John the Baptist was not what the people wanted or expected him to be and they accused him of being devil-possessed. Jesus was not what the people wanted or expected Him to be and they accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton. The world expected them to fit into their mold, and when they did not meet their expectations, they turned on them. Yet, no matter what pressure the people put on either of these men, they continued being who they were, and they continued fulfilling the will of God.

Christians today are too worried about meeting the expectations of the world around them, instead of just trying to please God. We often dance when the world tells us to dance, and cry when they want us to cry. We even have the same problem with our peers within the household of faith. Every decision we make, we make with careful consideration of what our friends are going to think. At some point, we had better grab hold of the fact that it really only matters that we are submitting to the will of God, not the wishes and whims of the people around us. Pleasing people is like a prison and as long as you are locked up there you are not free to live your life as God would have you to live it. Stop trying to please people. Please God. Forget about the crowds reaction and consider only Christ and His will for your life.

I had better put a little disclaimer on the bottom of this thought, however. Children, you still need to please your parents, and you ought to be very concerned about what they think about your life. The same is true for all of us who are under some type of authority in our lives. If you have a boss, you also need to be considerate of what he expects from you on the job.


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Fruits Worthy of Repentance

fruits worthy of repentance

Today’s Passage – Luke 2 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Family Business”

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to ourfather: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Luke 3:8)

John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness of Judea, and was attracting quite a crowd. There were no doubt many present that were there simply out of curiosity, just wanting to get a glimpse of this very strange man that was preaching a very different message than they were accustomed to hearing. There were also some attenders that were there to keep their eye on John. The religious leaders were very concerned about this man that was seen by them as a threat to their leadership. John wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of them, and when he saw them in the crowd, he preached against them.

John’s statement above from verse eight is a bold, yet appropriate announcement regarding the hearts of some that were coming to his baptism. “Bring therefore fruits worthy of repentance”. He was not telling them that in order to be saved they had to change their lives, but he was saying that if they were coming for baptism, they had better have had a true conversion which comes with repentance. In other words if they were truly sincere about their faith in God, it would naturally result in some type of outward change. The Bible teaches very plainly that we are new creatures; we now have Someone on the inside that is working His way to our outside.

The people wanted to know what they should do. The tax collectors wanted to know what they should do; and even some of the soldiers were looking for instructions as to how they should live now that they were saved. I remember when I trusted Christ as my Savior at the age of 25. I wanted to know all I could know about the Lord; and I wanted to do whatever I could in order to serve Him. There was definitely something radically different on the inside that was trying to break free to the surface. Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t perfect; nor am I now, but my desires had changed. I wanted God, and I wanted to do whatever He wanted me to do. There was fruit coming from the inside that resulted from a genuine repentance. I won’t quibble with you about your specific definition of repentance; but I know this: a genuine repentance results in a genuine salvation; and a genuine salvation will radically change the way you think and the way you live your life. At least, I know that is what happened to me.

When the great Apostle Paul was saved, he immediately asked the Lord, “what shalt thou have me to do?”. I don’t think that was too different from what these people, publicans, and soldiers asked at John’s baptism. Has your life changed since you trusted Christ as your Savior? What’s new about you? What’s different? Is there in your life the fruits of genuine repentance? I am not trying to get you doubt your salvation, and I am not trying to say that if you are struggling with sin you are not saved. We all struggle with sin. The presence of sin in our life becomes more apparent and real to us as we mature in our Christian life. But is there inside of you a desire for the things of God, and a remorse for the things that God is displeased with? Do you yearn to be closer to him? Is He chipping away daily at your flesh? I want to know Him, and be more like Him; and I want Him to be revealed in my life and ministry.


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Certainty

Open-Bible

Today’s Passage – Luke 1 (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 – Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “1025 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:4)

I have always been fascinated by these first few verses in Luke’s gospel. He is writing to an individual by the name of Theophilus who we know very little about; and he is explaining to him, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, in detail, all that he knows about the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is interesting when you think about it that Luke appears to be writing this entire book to one man. Now we know that God had other plans for the book, but on a human level it seems to be the most comprehensive gospel tract ever written. All for one man, Theophilus. The first thought that hits me is the concern that Luke must of had for this one man in order to go through this arduous task just so that Theophilus could be certain about what he already knew about the Lord. Luke is possibly the most diligent soul winner there ever was.

The second thought I have from this Scripture comes from the word “certainty”.  Luke penned the Word of God so that the hearer could be certain about the Lord Jesus Christ. That reminds me of another verse that tells us that …faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Practical application of this principle tells us that the more time we spend in the Word of God, the more we will be certain about the things of God; and the more certain we are in our faith, the greater our life and ministries will be also. We will be able to boldly plow forward through this dark and cold world with the gospel simply because we are sure of what we believe about God.

If you look at the faithless condition of America today, and consider how that Satan has been effective at both distorting the Word of God in most of our churches, and removing the Word of God from schools and many of the other public venues of our society, it is no wonder that the country is rapidly moving away from God. The answer is the Word. We in the church need to get strengthened ourselves through the certainty that comes through time spent in the Book; and then flood our churches, communities, families, neighborhoods, and workplaces with the Word of God. The more they hear the Word, the more they can be certain about the Lord.

Certainty is very important. Being certain about what you believe will get you through the trials of life with your faith intact. Be certain about your calling will keep you at your post until the Lord makes it clear that He wants you to do something else. Certainty comes from the Word of God, and it is strengthened as we continue to walk by faith. I want to demonstrate this certainty in my life as I minister to the people here in Galloway Township. I want them to be able to see that I really believe what I claim to know about the Lord; and I want them to see a consistency in my life and ministry in the years to come that will be the fruit of the certainty that I have received from the Lord.

How about you? Are you certain about what you claim to believe? Being sure about what you believe will dramatically change the way you live. I believe the reason why most of us struggle so much with our testimony is because we really don’t believe deep down what we say that we believe. Our faith needs to be increased. Ask God to bring you in closer, and give you a greater assurance about His Word and His will. As you meditate upon and study the Word of God, He will increase your certainty about the things of God.



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Daddy

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

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

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

Read the “1023 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

In our passage today, we read of the heartbreaking story of our Saviour in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. Can you imagine what Jesus must have felt as He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and forsaken by the rest? The nation that He came to save was about to humiliate Him, beat Him, spit upon Him, and kill Him. And, in verse 36 above, He is in the Garden of Gethsemane with the three disciples who were His closest friends, and they could not even stay awake to pray with Him. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the weight of sorrows that our Saviour bore for us that night.

However, in the Garden, He still had His daddy. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that most closely resembles the word “daddy” in our English language. It speaks of a warm, intimate relationship, as opposed to cold formality. It reminds us of the times as children when we could run and jump up into the arms of our earthly dads. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entered into the arms of His daddy; and though the Father did not remove the cup, I am sure that He comforted the Lord Jesus and loved on Him as He was about to do what He came to earth to do.

Notice the verses above from Romans and Galatians, which teach us that we, too, have the same privilege of jumping up into the lap of our Heavenly Father, and receiving the comfort, love, and help we need in our hour of need. It is wonderful to think that we serve a God, a Father, that wants to be called “Daddy”. God is not a cold taskmaster that demands only your service: He is a loving, Heavenly Daddy that wants an intimate relationship with His children.


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I Don’t Want to Render to Caesar

caesar

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

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

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

“And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? … And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” – (Mark 12:14, 17)

You will probably not enjoy reading this post as much as I won’t enjoy writing it. In our reading today from Mark 12:13 – 17, we see the Pharisees attempting to corner Jesus by getting him to say something that will get him in trouble. They specifically asked him about paying taxes. They thought that they had Him in a secure trap. If Jesus said that the people should not pay taxes, then they could get Him in hot water with the Roman government (Caesar); but if he said that the people should pay taxes, then the Jewish people would be furious with Him, because they hated the Roman government, and were expecting their Messiah to overthrow it. Jesus’ answer was marvelous. He simply said that the people owed a debt to the government, and that they should pay that debt. He also was careful to add that they were also to pay what was expected of them to God,

Nobody likes paying taxes; I certainly don’t. However, taxes are a necessary evil. We all enjoy the protection that we receive from our police and military. We all make use of our infrastructure: we drive on our roads, cross our bridges, etc. All of these services make our lives better. On the other side of the coin, we can all see where our government is spending too much money on things that we wish they would discontinue. Our government is voted in by the people it represents, and the people need to be part of the process. I also believe that believers should be involved in our government process. We should vote, and speak our minds regarding the issues that are important to us. We should participate in community events. Our church has done some road clean-ups in our community in the past. It’s our town. We live in it, and we should do our part to make it a better place.

It is interesting to me, however, that Jesus didn’t concern himself much with trying to correct the abuses of government. He was far more concerned with teaching doctrine, and speaking out against the corruption in the religious community. The Apostle Paul, likewise did not seek to correct or rally to correct the wrong policies of the Roman empire. For instance, in Paul’s day slavery was tolerated. Paul did not protest the government or the slave owners, trying to abolish slavery. He simply instructed the Christian slave owners to treat their believing servants like brothers; and in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, he was persuasive in the granting of liberty to a runaway slave. He also instructed the servants regarding how to love and serve their masters. I am sure that Paul did not condone slavery, however. My point is that he was more concerned about instructing, exhorting, and admonishing Christians, then he was about straightening out the world, or it’s government.

Getting back to taxes. I believe that believers should cheerfully and honestly render to Caesar (the government) the things (taxes) that are owed to Caesar. Don’t cheat on your taxes. Don’t try to hide any income “under the table”. Remember, God will take care of all of your needs, including your tax debt. He owns it all anyway. In another similar story regarding taxes, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, and in the first fish’s mouth he would find the tax money. (see Matthew 17:24 – 27) If we keep fishing for men, Jesus will continue to provide us with all of the coins that we need to pay our debt to Caesar, and meet all of our other needs as well.


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Servant Leadership

towel-and-basin

Today’s Passage – Mark 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1021 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – (Mark 10:43-45)

When I was in Bible college, I went to work for a supermarket chain in the East Texas area. This company had a unique, but refreshing leadership style that I was unaccustomed to at the time. My store manager, and all of the assistants were people that worked hard alongside the employees of the store. They didn’t just bark out orders to the clerks, they were willing to get their hands dirty themselves. It was not at all unusual to see the store manager with a mop in his hand, cleaning up a spill; or out in the parking lot gathering up the buggies (shopping carts). Their philosophy was that in order to be a leader in the company, you first had to demonstrate that you could be a great servant.

I find that in the ministry the same principle should also be true. The pastor, deacons, and other leaders in the church should not be beneath any task that needs to be done within the church. If the bathrooms need to be cleaned, or the lawns need to be mowed, the leadership should be more than willing to pitch in at times to do it. Now, I understand that it may not be the most efficient use of time and talents to have the leaders doing these things that could be done by others, but the leadership should be willing to do whatever needs to be done in order for the cause of Christ to move forward. There are no “big shots” in the ministry. The Lord we serve is the only superstar. The rest of us are merely servants.


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Are You For Real?

John the Baptist prepares the way

Today’s Passage – Mark 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read former posts from this pasage – “Don’t Lose the Personal Touch” & “Politicians”

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” – (Mark 6:20)

In our text today, we read about the execution of John the Baptist by Herod. I will not rehash the story, as most of you are probably familiar with it, and if by chance you are not, you can read it for yourself in Mark 6:14 – 29. John was arrested by Herod because he had been preaching against Herod’s immoral relationship with his (Herod’s) brother’s wife. People who sin willfully do not like to be pointed out, or reminded about their sin. Most people do not have the option of silencing their critics, but when you are the mistress of the King, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Thus, Herodias eventually got what she wanted – John’s head on a platter.

Herod did not want to arrest, or kill, John the Baptist. He was actually afraid of him, because he knew that John was real. He knew that John, unlike the rest of the religious crowd of the day, was genuine in his faith and holiness. Men will fear a genuine believer who walks with God, and practices what he believes. Unfortunately, they will fear the crowd more. Herod feared Herodias, and the people who were watching, more than he feared God or John the Baptist. Pilate also feared the people more than he feared the Lord Jesus. However, the fear that Herod had for John continued even after John was gone. He actually thought that Jesus was some kind of a reincarnation of John, coming back to get him.

The thought I have this morning is that Herod feared John because he knew that John was the real deal. He was genuine. He wasn’t just playing some religious game, or using religion to advance his own personal agenda. The question I have for you (and me) this morning is, are you real? Is your faith making a difference in the lives of the people around you. Are there some Herodias’s in your life that just can’t stand you because of what you stand for? Are you poking some holes in the darkness around you, or are you just going through the religious motions, playing the church game? Just a thought.


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Go Home To Thy Friends

Studymassillonchurch1

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

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

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

Read the “1018 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Good Ground

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19)

The testimony of this man from Decapolis that was saved by the Lord was incredible. He was delivered out of an horrible pit of the worst kinds of sin. He then volunteers by asking the Lord if he could stay with Him. You would think that the Lord would have this man travel with Him full-time sharing with the whole world what he had done for him. However, the Lord had different plans for this man’s life. Instead of taking him with Him, He told the man to go back home and tell all of his friends and family about his testimony. The Scripture tell us that the man “published” in Decapolis all things that the Lord had done for him.

I got to thinking that the Lord has different plans for all of our lives. Some of us He will call to minister for Him full-time as a pastor or missionary, etc. However, the vast majority of His children will be asked to stay home and tell their friends, family members, and neighbors about the Lord. We all have a testimony if we are saved; and the best place to start in sharing Christ with others is simply telling them what that Lord has done for us. Have you shared with your friends “how great things the Lord hath done for thee”? If you haven’t, there is no time better than today to start.

A note to you who have been saved and serving in a particular area for a long: If you are like me, when you were first saved all of the people you knew were lost, and you had many wonderful opportunities to influence the people with the love of Christ, which was literally bursting out from within you and your new and exciting faith. Now that you have been saved for some years, most of the people that you know are also saved people. You have the challenge to intentionally seek out opportunities to interact and impact the lost people where you live for Christ. Get out into your community, meet new people, and share Christ with them.


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Who Is In The Driver’s Seat?

drivers-seat

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

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

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

Read the “1017 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s Bible reading passage – “What Does It Mean To Blaspheme the Holy Ghost?

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” – (Mark 1:12)

Years ago, I used to see bumper stickers on the back of tractor trailers that would say, “God Is My Co-Pilot”. As a lost man, I remember thinking that it was a clever slogan, but now that I have thought about it, I am sure that God does not want to be a passenger in your life: He wants to drive. We see in our text that Jesus was “driven” by the Holy Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. While Jesus walked this earth He was filled with the Spirit, lead of the Spirit; and He performed all of His miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It should be the same for the followers of Christ today. We should not to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. We should be living our lives submitted to the will of God, and yielded to the Spirit of God. Consider the following verses regarding the Holy Ghost:

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

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

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – (Ephesians 4:30)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

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

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – (John 16:13)

When I first trusted Christ as my Saviour, I recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in my life. Though, I did not understand it then (nor do I understand it completely now), I knew that there was something inside of me “driving” me toward the direction of the will of God and the Word of God. I realize now that the Holy Spirit was even working in my life long before I was saved. I used to think that the Holy Ghost was kind of like an unseen force in my life; but I have come to realize that He is not a force, He is a Person, and He is God; and God does not take a back seat to anybody. God wants to drive, and we need to be willing to let Him drive us wherever He wants us to go.


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True Love by Pastor Ted Stahl

The-effects-of-the-cross

Today’s Passage – Matthew 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1016 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

True Love

As the people cried out, “His blood be on us, and our children!”; the soldiers took Jesus to scourge Him. The pieces of bone, broken pottery, and metal attached to the nine strands of the whip dug deeply into his skin. And the blood flowed. True love. In the true spirit of hatred, the soldiers stripped Jesus and dressed Him in a scarlet robe: they did this to the Creator of the universe. With cruel mockeries they bowed down saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  With every ounce of hate, our Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns that pierced His scalp. And the blood flowed. True love. Then came the crucifixion. Our Lord Jesus Christ was beaten so badly that Simon of Cyrene was ordered to carry the cross. Long spikes were driven through the hands and the feet of our Lord as He was nailed to the cross. They sat down at the cross to watch Him die. And the blood flowed. True love. The mockings continued as chief priests, scribes, and elders breathed out their hatred. And the blood flowed. True Love. And then He was dead. The Lord had given up the Ghost. The payment for sin had been paid because the blood flowed. True love.

Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus lovingly wrapped the body of Jesus and placed it in a cold, dark tomb. There lay the body for three days, and three nights.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.  And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:1-9)

True love.

To God, love has always been an action word. Him loving us caused Him to shed His blood paying the price for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us. When they saw the risen Lord, they held Him by His feet and worshipped Him. True love. 1Peter 1: 22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

That’s true love. Having that love in us, calling ourselves Christians, how can we kick our brothers and sisters when they are down. How can we destroy families, and cause fellow believers to leave the churches. How can we discourage and not edify Is that true love? Even when we are to rebuke someone who wronged us, it’s to be done in love and only between you and that person. Proverbs is full of wisdom about the tongue. “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out” (Proverbs 10:31).  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).

Remember the scourging. Remember the thorns. Remember the spitting, and pulling out the beard. Remember the cruel mocking. Remember true love. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another ” (John 13:34-35).


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Just Me and God

Just Me and God

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

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

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

Read the “1015 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Who Me?”

“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)

This was no doubt the worst night in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was in the process of being betrayed by one of the twelve. He knew also that Peter was going to deny even knowing Him, not once, but three times. The rest of the disciples were going to scatter and follow afar off, all of them distancing themselves from their leader in His time of need. In the midst of this agonizing night, Jesus desires that three of His closest friends spend some time in prayer with Him. Though it was very late, the Lord was obviously not going to get any sleep, and He asked Peter, James, and John to stay up with Him in prayer. Unfortunately, the men were weary and could not stay awake through the prayer meeting. It appears that Jesus was to go through this trial alone. It was just Him and His Father.

It is human nature to desire the company and encouragement of other people when we are going through our trials. However, in the end, it will only be God that will be with us throughout the darkest days of our lives. Our friends can’t possibly understand completely the pain that we are experiencing; they have their own concerns and troubles that plague them. Friends and family can be helpful at times, but we need to learn to wean ourselves off of dependence upon man for comfort and encouragement and instead turn to God. People can not possibly meet the spiritual needs that only God can meet. If you are going through a trial right now look to God. Don’t be too hard on your friends. Though God may use them to edify and encourage you partially, they are severely limited in their ability to help.

Having said that, let me now speak a word to those of us who may have some friends who are going through a difficult trial. Don’t try to be a replacement for God in their lives. You cannot meet their spiritual need: you can only point them to God, and encourage them to feed upon the Word of God. Don’t preach to them, and don’t promise them things that you cannot deliver: you are not God. Just try to be there for them as much as you can while continuing to point them to the Lord.


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Wasting Talents

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Today’s Passage – Matthew 24 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1014 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s Bible reading passage – “Where Lord?

But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” (Matthew 25:18)

The context of the chapters which we read today really has to do with Israel and the Tribulation Period, but we can certainly make some good, practical applications to ourselves for today. In the parable referenced in Matthew 25:14 – 30, we have the story of the man who left with his stewards some money (talents) for them to invest in some way and make a profit for him while he went away. (Note – a talent was actually a weight of measure, thus a talent of gold would be approximately 75 pounds of gold; etc.) He gave each of the three stewards a different number of talents, and expected each one to bring a return proportionate to the number of talents that they received. In other words, he did not expect as much from the guy that was given less talents as he did from the guy that received more talents; but he expected each man to give him a return on his investment.

The traditional way that we interpret and apply this passage is to use the secondary meaning of the word talent, which is a gift. We say that the Lord has given us each certain gifts. Some have been given more gifts than others. God expects us to be faithful and profitable with the gifts and talents that he has given us. We are not to waste our gifts by not using them, like the guy in our text who buried his talent in the ground. We are also not to misuse our gifts for sinful or selfish reasons. Our gifts are to be used to bring a return to the Saviour, and to glorify Him.

We could also make an application of this parable to the subject of stewardship which is what the passage is really dealing with anyway. However, today we no longer deal in talents, but in dollars. God supplies each one of us with a certain amount of income, and He expects us to be faithful and profitable with the money that he gives us. When we give our tithes to support the local storehouse, and we give our offerings so that worldwide missions can go forth, we are bringing the Lord a return on His investment in us. Conversely, when we hoard our money or misuse it, it is like the man who squandered the talent that the Lord gave him.

The bottom line is that we are to use whatever the Lord gives us for His Kingdom and His glory. We are only here on this earth as His ambassador anyway. Are you using your finances and talents for the Lord’s glory, or are you burying them in the sand? There is still time to get it turned around. You’re not dead yet. Dig that talent back up and invest it for the Lord. Find ways to invest yourself in God’s ministry to this lost world.


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