Tenacity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul's Journeys

 


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Begotten from the Grave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

people-smiling

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Divine Appointments

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 8:59 & 60)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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

finish-well

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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He Will Never Leave You

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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 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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Jesus Still Weeps

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus wept.” – (John 11:35 )

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

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

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

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

Let me give you one more time where Jesus wept:

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

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


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Before Abraham Was – I Am

John 8.58 I am

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

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

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

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)

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

I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8:18)

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. (John 8:23)

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:24)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)

This is one of my favorite passages of Scriptures in the entire Bible. I just love when Jesus tangles with the religious leaders. They never seem to get it. The “bottom line” of Christianity is taught very clearly in this passage: you either believe that Jesus is God or you do not. The Pharisees certainly did not. They accused Him of being a Samaritan and “born of fornication”. They said He had a devil. They claimed that because He grew up in Galilee that He was disqualified. I guess they didn’t bother to check where He was born because if they did they would have found that His birthplace was Bethlehem. Everything in the Scriptures completely pointed to Jesus being the true Messiah.

The thing that really amazes me about this passage though are all of the I am statements made by the Lord in this dialogue. There is no doubt here that Jesus was making a bold declaration as to Who He is. He is God. Remember when Moses asked God His name in Exodus 3. God said to tell the people that “I AM THAT I AM hath sent [him]“. Jesus uses that little phrase, I am, at least a half a dozen times in this passage alone. The best being verse 58 where He attests that He pre-existed Abraham. That really bothered the Pharisees. They took up stones to stone Him. Why? Because they knew that He was claiming to be God.

You can tell me that you do not believe the Bible, and I will accept that, but you cannot say that the Bible does not teach very plainly that Jesus is the Great I AM; that Jesus is God. And you cannot claim that Jesus did not claim deity for Himself. The record is crystal clear. You either believe it or you don’t. And until you put your faith in Jesus, the Great I AM, you will also remain in your sins.


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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!

nike_just_do_it

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 stilled 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 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

Page-Banner-Walking-with-Jesus1

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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Stay Busy for the Lord

Bee Keepers Working To Ensure Longevity Of Common Honey Bees In The US

Today’s Passages – Luke 19 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “1103 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13)

The word “occupy” literally means to stay busy. In this parable the Lord gave each of his servants a unit of money called a pound and instructed them to occupy – to stay busy – to do something with the money that the He had given them so that when He returned He would receive a profit. Two of the servants had been diligent to invest the money wisely and when the Lord returned he received from both a substantial increase. However, one of the servants took the money and buried it, and gave it back to the Lord with no increase. The Lord rebuked him sharply and took the pound from him and gave it to the man who reaped the most profit.

The Lord has given each of us many things. He has given us talents and abilities; and He has also blessed us with material possession. We are to “occupy” with all of the gifts that the Lord has given us, meaning we are to stay busy, using them for His glory. We are not to waste the gifts he gives; we are not to keep them for ourselves; we are to bring them back to Him with an increase, a profit.

Christians today are very busy; they are “occupying”, but are they busy with the things that really matter? Soon the Lord is going to come back for His Bride, and the time for being busy here on the Earth will be over. I believe at that time we will regret what we were not busy doing with our gifts. Let’s get busy using the talents and tangibles that the Lord has given us. He’ll be back soon!


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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?

neighbor-message

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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A Hospital for Sinners

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Today’s Passage – Luke 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 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “1027 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Let’s Go Fishing

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” (Luke 5:31)

Jesus was eating at the house of Matthew (Levi) the publican (tax collector), and there were also many other publicans there. These were not the type of people you wanted your children to run with. Though the term publican simply means tax collector, these people were not just your everyday, ordinary IRS agents. They were traditionally thought of as thugs, the mobsters of the day; extorting from people whatever they could. They were despised by the honorable citizens of Judaea; but Jesus loved them and wanted to reach them. He went to a place where no respectable Jew would have gone: a party where there were a bunch of publicans and other “sinners”. But please don’t misunderstand His motivation and purpose for being there. He was not there to participate in any sinful activity. He was there to love and reach people with the gospel.

Our churches should be full of people with problems. Every once in a while I will sense that some of our folks are not too thrilled with some of the people we are trying to reach. Their pharisaic disdain for “sinners” almost seeps out of their pores. It’s a shame really that Christians will develop that kind of attitude. I remember years ago when I was attending church in South Toms River. We had a lady there who referred to the people that we were bringing in on our busses as “scummers”. She really thought that because she had been saved at a young age and raised in a good home that she was better than these folks who we were trying to reach for Christ.

Our church will always have a good number of people in it who have not “arrived yet”. There will be people with financial problems, moral problems, family problems, all kinds of problems. Now this does not mean that we will stop preaching against their sin. We will always preach the Book; but we will love them through the preaching. I love the diversity in our church. We have a great mix of cultures, races, educational backgrounds, and income levels; but I am also glad about the fact that we have people at all different spiritual levels here. Some are not saved yet; others are brand new babes in Christ; and still many others have been saved for years. But they are all welcome and should be accepted and loved by all others in the congregation. Jesus loved people with problems. He loves me, and I want to do my best to see to it that our church continues to love the people He loves.


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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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Have You Ever Been There?

Jesus on the cross

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

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

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

Read the “1024 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Ready, Set, Go“, and “The Just for the Unjust

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

The above verse references the time when Jesus was on the cross with the sins of the whole world placed upon his shoulders. In His humanity, He cries to the Father, and for the first time Jesus calls His Father, “God” instead of “Father”. Here at this moment it seemed that everything was against Him, including God.

Does it ever seem to you like God has forsaken you? I have been through some dark valleys in my time, and there have been many times where I have wondered, “Where is God?” At those times, it seemed like God was nowhere to be found. However, in hindsight, I can see that God was there all along; and though I could not see Him or feel Him, He was there. He is always there. If you are going through some kind of a trial today, don’t trust your feelings: they will often betray you. Trust the Word of God. The Bible tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Keep trusting; keep praying, even though it seems like you are just talking to yourself. Remember faith is the evidence of things not seen. Though His presence may seem to be elsewhere, He is right there with you. He hasn’t stopped loving you, and He hasn’t stopped working for your good and His glory.


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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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Hear Ye Him!

Matt-17-Transfiguration-Picture

Today’s Passage – Mark 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 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “1020 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” – (Mark 9:5-7)

In our passage today we have the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus where a select few of His disciples were privileged to get a glimpse of the Lord in His resurrected glory. But something else that was very strange occurred on the mount that day that caught the attention of the disciples. Appearing to talk with Jesus was Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest men of the Old Testament. It seems that Peter was more impressed with the appearance of the two Old Testament men than he was with the Lord Jesus in all of His glory. He wanted to make three booths on the mountain: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. In all fairness to Peter, however, notice that it said in v 6 that “he wist (knew) not what to say”.  One lesson that we can learn from this is that if we don’t know what to say we should keep our mouthes shut. At any rate, what happens next is amazing. God the Father booms from Heaven, This is my beloved son, hear ye him.He sternly rebukes Peter for even considering the other two men in the same category as His Son. Peter was willing to include the Lord, but he did not give the Lord the place of preeminence.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” – (Colossians 1:18)

I believe that most Christians today are in a way guilty of the same thing. We want God to be part of our life; but we do not give Him the place of preeminence either. He is included in our decision making, but He is not the final authority in our lives. We give Him part of out time, treasure, and talent; but we do not recognize His sovereign right to dictate wholly what we do with them. I believe God shouts down from Heaven, through His word, the same thing to us today. He is telling us to listen to His Son. Forget about all of the other voices of influence out there and give God exclusive rights in your life.

Notice that the Father commands the disciples as well as us today to “hear Him”.  Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. I wonder how many Christians today are listening for the voice of the Saviour. It is a wonder that we can hear anything at all with all of the noises and distractions that are a part of lives today. God wants to speak to us, and He will if we will simply get alone with Him and open our hearts up to Him.


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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

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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.


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