Dream One Fulfilled

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85)

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

Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading passage – “Passed the Test” and “People Can Change

“And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.” (Genesis 44:14)

“For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.” (Genesis 37:7-8)

Just a quick thought from today’s reading. The greatest truth from this passage was dealt with in a previous post, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t done so. (See “People Can Change“)

However, this morning, I noticed that Joseph’s brothers were “on the ground” before their brother Joseph, which was a perfect, literal fulfillment of the dream that he had way back in chapter 37. To “make obeisance” literally means to bow before. Joseph’s brothers were now voluntarily making obeisance to him, albeit it was the circumstances orchestrated by Joseph that drove them to it. The point is that Joseph had a dream that was from God, and that dream was going to be fulfilled as God said it would.

By the way, someday the lost world who perhaps now is rebelliously determined never to bow before the Lord Jesus Christ will someday fall to their knees as well. Hopefully, they will bow voluntarily before it is eternally too late.

“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11)


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Give God the Glory

Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4; Proverbs 16; Psalms 76 – 80

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time

Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16)

In chapter 41 of Genesis, we hear about Pharaoh’s dreams of the corn and the kine. He know that these dreams mean something, but he has no clue what the significance of them is. He learns that there is a man named Joseph down in the dungeon that has been known to interpret dreams for other people. Joseph is hastily summoned to appear before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh questions Joseph about “Joseph’s: ability to explain the meaning of these of these dreams. Joseph is very quick to deflect the focus from himself to the Lord. He doesn’t take any credit for his gift but immediately gives the glory to God. In fact, five times in Joseph’s discussion with Pharaoh Joseph mentions God to Pharaoh. (vs. 16, 25, 28, and 32) Pharaoh gets the message also, because in vs. 38 and 39, he acknowledges that the interpretation of the dream can from God also:

“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:” (Genesis 41:38-39)

This heathen king was introduced to the God of the Universe all because Joseph took an opportunity to use a gift that was given to him by God and acknowledge the fact that it was God who enabled him to do it. 

How many opportunities do we get each day to display our God-given abilities to the lost world around us? But, when we do a good job and we are recognized, do we give God the glory by letting everybody know that it is God who is working through us. Let’s not steal God’s glory, and let’s not waste opportunities to be witnesses for the Lord. Our sole purpose in life is to make God look good; to glorify Him in front of a lost and dying world. If we meet Pharaoh in Heaven someday, it will be because Joseph made God look good. How many people do we point to God?

By the way, the opposite of this story is also true. When we do wrong things in front of the lost people around us, we are making God look bad. What an awesome responsibility and privilege we have to represent the Lord in this world. Let’s be sure to give Him the glory when we get things right, and take the blame when we do things wrong. Let’s make God look good to the world around us.


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What About Judah?

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Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2; Proverbs 15; Psalms 71 – 75)

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

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5)

We don’t talk a lot about Judah as a man. We know that Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah, and we know that when Israel split in the time of King Rehoboam that the tribe of Judah alone stood in Jerusalem and demonstrated better adherence to the Law of God than her neighbors to the north did; but what do we know about the man, Judah. I have been guilty of assuming that the reason that God chose the tribe of Judah above all of the other tribes was due to the fact that Judah was a more honorable man than his three older brothers. In fact, I recently posted that thought in the “Boys Will Be Boys” post from two days ago. However, after reading today’s passage, I had to give it a little more thought.

In chapter 37, we discover that it was Judah that suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and there is nothing in the context to support the fact that he did so for the purpose of sparing his life:

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26-27)

It appears that he merely wanted to make a profit from the situation. Killing Joseph would not have benefitted him financially. By the way, we usually don’t think too highly about Reuben, but it was he who tried to save Joseph, not Judah.

Chapter 38 is a parenthetical digression dealing solely with the family of Judah. In it we see that Judah marries a woman from Canaan:

“And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.” (Genesis 38:2)

You may recall that Isaac strictly forbid Jacob (Judah’s father) from taking a wife from the daughters of Canaan. (Genesis 28:1, 6)

Later on in chapter 38, we read about Judah purchasing a prostitute, which turns out to be his daughter-in-law:

“When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?” (Genesis 38:15-16)

Now in a couple of days we are going to read a story about Judah where he is doing a good thing. In Genesis 44 he will be interceding with Joseph, pleading with him to allow Benjamin to go home to his father, Jacob. He even offers himself as a substitute. Judah got this one right:

“Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. … For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.” (Genesis 44:18, 32-33)

So, here it is: the bad and the good about Judah, and it seems that there is more bad than good recorded. So why did God choose Judah? Was it because he was a good man as opposed to his evil older brothers? No, I don’t think so. He did, however, demonstrate Christlikeness when he offered himself as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. But I still do not think that is the reason why Christ descends from Judah. Judah was just like you and me. He was a sinner. He did bad things, just like us; and it was only because of God’s grace that He could do anything with Judah at all. By the way, it is only because of God’s grace that He can do anything with you or I. He saves us by His grace, and He can only use us by His grace as well.

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” (Genesis 49:8-12)


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The Green Eyed Monster

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

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

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.


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No More Jacob

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Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24; Proverbs 12; Psalms 56 – 60)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jacob left the land of Canaan with a name that means “supplanter” or “deceiver”; but he returns after twenty years with name Israel, which means “a prince of God”. This is a wonderful picture of the power of God to transform lives. Jacob didn’t just get a name change, either, he received a nature change, and so do we when we give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. God gives us a new nature. The Holy Spirit of God moves in and transforms our lives from the inside out. This isn’t just a “turning over of a new leaf”. This is the impartation of a divine nature into the heart of a formerly fallen sinner. What a wonderful thing it is to be a Christian.

Notice, however, that Jacob did not receive his new name until he had been with Laban for twenty years. Justification and positional righteousness take place immediately when we are born again into the family of God; but sanctification and practical righteousness in our lives is a lifelong process. God had to do some things in Jacob’s life. I have been saved now for over twenty-five years myself, and God is still chipping away at my rough edges; still revealing areas of my life that need His touch. In fact, the closer I walk with him, the more I see the things in my life that are not as they should be. My goal is just to get close to Him, and allow Him to have His will and His way in my life. I am not what I should be but, praise God, I am not what I used to be, either. I am not yet an Israel, but no longer am I Jacob. God is still at work in my life. I am trying to get out of His way and let Him work.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

 


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I Am With Thee

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20; Proverbs 10; Psalms 46 – 50)

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

Read the “0110 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The House of God” and “Savory Meat

“And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28:13-15)

In today’s passage we read about Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau into the land of Mesopotamia (Padanaram) where he will live for twenty years with his Uncle Laban. Along the way he stops at a place that he would later Bethel, which means “house of God”. There the God of his grandfather Abraham meets with him personally for the first time, and there God will confirm His covenant with Jacob. God now makes the same three promises to Jacob that He originally made to Abraham back in chapters 12 and 15. The covenant includes:

Provision of Land (v 13)

Progeny (Children – v 14)

Protection and Prosperity (v 15)

My thought this morning surrounds the phrase, “I am with thee”. Jacob had certainly done nothing to deserve God’s presence in his life. His history thus far has only demonstrated that he was a deceiver. Yet, God promises to bless him and go with him. God can do what He wants to do, and He sees what we cannot see. He sees beyond the mistakes that we have made in our past. He sees what we will be, what He will mold us to be. God made the very same promise to Isaac back in Genesis 26:24. God would later repeat the phrase several times in regard to the entire nation of Israel. The only other time the exact statement is made is in the New Testament to the Apostle Paul. (Acts 18:10)

What an awesome privilege it is to have God’s presence with us. He indwells the believer today with His presence:

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13)

“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?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

As you go through your day today, go with the assurance that the same God that was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so many years ago is also with you. He will “never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)


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The Battle of the Ages

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 25 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18; Proverbs 9; Psalms 41 – 45)

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

Read the “0109 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” and “From A Father To A Son”

“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.” (Genesis 25:22)

As I was reading this I could not help but think that it is a picture of the struggle that is within each of us. Here in this passage we see Rebekah with twin boys in her womb; and the Scripture tell us that they struggled within her. Now, we know from hindsight that these boys and their descendants would be struggling for a long time; in fact, they are still struggling today. However, we also can see how that these boys are a picture of the new nature which struggles against the old nature. Esau who was born first is a picture of the flesh, and Jacob is a picture of the new birth, the birth of the Spirit. You see, when we trusted Christ as our Saviour we became new creatures in Christ, but God did not remove our old, sinful nature. He is alive and well. That is why Paul talked often about crucifying the flesh. Look at some of the things that God used Paul to pen regarding this struggle:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17)

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:15)

All of these verses speak of the struggle that is within each one of us who are saved. In this New Year,  I have resolved to get as close to God as possible so that He will “[work] in me both to will and to do of his good pleasure”. I want to reduce the influence that my flesh has over my mind. I want my mind and body to be yielded to the indwelling Spirit of God. There will always be a struggle between the Jacob and Esau within us, but I want to see Jacob win more often.


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Praying for Clear Direction

Today’s Passage – Genesis 23 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16; Proverbs 8; Psalms 36 – 40)

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

Read the “0108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “The Bride of Christ” and “Taker or Giver

“And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. … And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. … And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” (Genesis 24:12, 14, 27)

Genesis 24 is an awesome portion of Scripture, especially from a theological perspective. I have previously done devotions discussing some of the many types or pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ found in this chapter. (See “The Bride of Christ“) This morning, however, I would like to discuss how God guided Abraham’s servant to the perfect will of God regarding Isaac’s bride, Rebekah.

Abraham’s servant was given the awesome responsibility of finding the bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac. He obviously wanted to find the right one. We would all agree that one of the most important decisions in life is choosing the right spouse. The servant did not want to mess this up, so he prays and asks God to guide him to the right girl. He is very specific in his prayer request. He does not want there to be any doubt at all about the matter. The servants prayer here reminds me of Gideon’s “fleece prayer” in Judges 6:36 – 40:

“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Judges 6:36-40)

Gideon also wanted to be perfectly sure, without any doubt whatsoever, that he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do.

It is important to note that in both of these examples, God wanted the men to be sure about His will also. I do not believe that God wants us to wonder about His will. He wants us to be sure that we are where we are supposed to be, doing exactly what He wants us to do. Too many of us jump ahead of God’s will before He shows it to us.

Notice also from this passage that when God answered the servants prayer regarding His perfect will, it strengthened the servant’s faith and caused him to worship his God:

“And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.” (Genesis 24:48)

Years ago, I asked the Lord to reveal His will for my life regarding where I should serve Him after Bible College. God answered my prayer so specifically and miraculously that I have never since doubted that I am exactly where God wants me to be. When problems arise and I am tempted to quit, I go back in my mind, remembering the way God answered my prayer, and it keeps me from straying out of God’s will. I figure if God miraculously revealed to me that Jersey Shore Baptist Church was where He wanted me to be, then He will also have to do something just as miraculous to tell me that it’s time to leave.

One final, important point regarding this passage is that the way that God miraculously answered the servants prayer convinced everybody else that Rebekah was the will of God for Abraham’s son. Notice in v. 50:

“Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” (Genesis 24:50)

Folks, I believe that God still answers these prayers regarding His perfect will for our lives. Before you make any major decisions, why not ask God to clearly direct you in His will and show you exactly what He wants you to do.

 


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The Whole Truth

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

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 13 – 14; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7

Read the “0107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage: God Will Provide Himself a Lamb

In Genesis twenty, we read that Abraham was up to his old tricks again, and not delivering the complete truth, this time to Abimelech, regarding his wife, Sarah. He told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister, which was technically true; she was the half-sister of Abraham, being the daughter of his father, but not his mother. If Abraham was to tell the whole truth, however, he would have had to declare that Sarah was his wife.

The reason that Abraham left out this important little nugget of truth to Abimelech here in chapter twenty, and to Pharaoh, previously in chapter twelve, was because he was afraid that these men would kill him in order to take his wife. This was certainly possible as these men were godless men who were both capable and willing to do whatever they pleased. However, Abraham should have trusted God. In both of these instances God protected Abraham and Sarah anyway, even though he had lied. In both of these instances, God also warned the men not to sin against Him by taking Sarah as their wife.

What is is about us, about our fallen, human nature, that we are prone to dance around the truth, either by outright lying, or by leaving out pertinent information? Is it because we, like Abraham, are afraid that we cannot trust God with the possible consequences of the whole truth? Even if there are real, potential negative consequences associated with telling the whole truth, are we not better off still declaring it. We need to trust God with the outcome. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


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Balanced and Biblical Separation

Today’s Passages – Genesis 13 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 9 – 10; Proverbs 5; Psalms 21 – 25)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0105 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Gardens and Green Grass – or God’s Will?”; and “Relationships Are More Important Than Riches”

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” (Genesis 13:14-16)

In Genesis 13, God speaks to Abraham and promises him that He will give him the land of Canaan as well as many children who would someday inherit and inhabit that land. God had already promised to give Abraham the land back in Genesis 12, but because there was a famine in the land, Abraham temporarily moved away into Egypt and away from the place where God had pledged to bless him and his seed. It was not until Abraham separated from Egypt, which is a type, or picture, of the world; and, until Abraham separated from Lot, who was becoming a very worldly man, that God spoke to Abraham again, and reaffirmed His promise to him.

God wants us to be a separated people as well:

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

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

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

However, notice from Genesis 13 and 14 that Abraham was very balanced in his separation. He was not unkind, nor did he lack compassion. He offered Lot and his family and servants the choice of where he wanted to go. Abraham knew that God would take care of his own family wherever they travelled as long as it was within the boundaries of God’s will. Abraham also continued to be an influence and source of blessing to Lot after Lot had left. Abraham rescued Lot from ruin in Genesis 14; and he prayed for Lot, begging God to save him  and his family from the destruction of Sodom, in Genesis 18. Though Abraham could not dwell any longer with Lot, he still tried to be a blessing to him and his family.

We can also be a blessing to people that we need to be separated from. We can pray for them, and we can let them know in tangible ways that we love them and care deeply for them. Of course, the most compassionate way that we can bless those that we separate from is to share Christ with them. If they were to get saved and begin to live for the Lord then we would not have to separate from them anymore.

Separation is clearly a biblical principle, but being arrogant, unkind, and lacking Christ-like compassion are not what God would want us to be. Christ interacted with sinners in order to demonstrate His love for them and to save them. While we are here “in the world”, we must love the people, even lost people, who are “in the world” with us. But, we must not become so intimate with them that they pull us out of the will of God. We are here on this earth to glorify the Lord and to shine the light of His gospel to a lost and dying world. We cannot do that if we are isolated, but neither can we do it if we are not biblically separated.

 


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The Land Belongs to Israel

Today’s Passage – Genesis 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 7 – 8; Proverbs 4; Psalms 16 – 20)

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

Read the 0104 Evening and Morning devotion for today by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Don’t Move Unless God Moves You“ and “The Beginning of Globalism”

“And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:6-7)

But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” (Genesis 17:21)

“And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6:8)

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:” (Exodus 33:1)

“Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:42)

Biblically, there is no disputing the fact that God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham, and through Abraham to Isaac, and through Isaac to Jacob (or Israel), and through Jacob to his twelve sons, the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. There is also no disputing of the fact that there have been other people groups living within the borders of Israel throughout its history, whatever those geographic boundaries may have been at any particular point in time. According to Genesis twelve, when God gave the land to Abraham, there were Canaanites already there. But that does not change the fact that, according to the Bible, that God gave the land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his sons. You may argue that the Bible is irrelevant or even incorrect, but you cannot argue that the Bible does not teach that the rightful owners of Canaan / Palestine / Israel, or whatever you wish to call it, are the Jewish people. By the way, I wholeheartedly believe the Bible.

The question is this: will you follow the teachings of Scripture and side with Israel regarding their land, or will you take the position as many in the world are doing that the Jewish people have no claim, or possibly, just a partial claim to the land?

Another question you may ask yourself is: if the Jews do have sovereign right to the Land of Israel as the Bible teaches, do they then have the right to choose their own capitol? I contend that they do have the obligation to recognize God’s choice of Jerusalem as the Capitol of the Jewish People and someday, according to the Bible, the Capitol of the entire world:

“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” (Zechariah 8:3)

“Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” (2 Chronicles 6:5-6)

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)

I wholeheartedly support President Trumps recent recognition of Israel’s sovereignty, and his decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem. I believe that he is in complete agreement with the Bible regarding the Jewish people and their right to choose the capitol of their own land. I also believe the president’s decision will be a great source of blessing to American people:

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

I am thrilled that America has chosen to bless the Jewish people and the Nation of Israel.

 

 

 

 


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The Law of First Mention Regarding Wine

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

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Proverbs 3 ; Psalms 11 – 15

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

Read the “0103 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “It Doesn’t Take Long, Does It?“; “A Token“; and “Too Old To Do Something for the Lord?”

“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.” (Genesis 9:20-21)

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

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

“A bishop then must be blameless, … Not given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

There is a principle of hermeneutics, which has to do with Biblical interpretation, called the law of first mention. According to this law, if we want to find out the correct meaning or use of a word, phrase, or doctrine, we should go to the first time that it is used in the Bible. In Genesis 9:21, we see the first recorded use of the word “wine”. Noah planted a vineyard and drank of the wine, and became drunk, which ultimately led to him passing out naked in his tent. His son, Ham, then went into the tent and saw his naked father, and apparently went out and told his brothers, instead of just covering his father. Some theologians have stated that Ham did more than just look at his father, but the Scripture does not say that he “uncovered” his father’s nakedness, just that he “saw” it. (See Leviticus 18) Seeing his father in that condition without covering him, and then reporting it to others was considered horribly disrespectful and when Noah found out about it, he was very angry with his son. Perhaps his anger toward Ham was justified but he also should have been very upset with himself for getting drunk in the first place.

Later on in the Book of Genesis, we see the third use of the word “wine” in the Scriptures. (Genesis 19:30. 36) This time, it is Abraham’s nephew Lot that gets drunk and he ends up sleeping with both of his daughters. Drunkenness is often associated with loose morals:

“Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.” (Proverbs 23:33)

Though I will not make the argument that every time somebody drinks wine in the Bible a sin is being committed, I can state confidently that drunkenness is clearly sin; and, you can’t get drunk if you stay away from alcohol. By the way, the wine that is being sold today, would probably have been considered “strong drink” in Bible days. So many problems are caused from alcohol consumption. In a recent study that I was doing on the Book of Habakkuk, I came across some research on the problems that alcohol consumption has caused in America:

According to The Centers for Disease Control, there were 88,000 alcohol related deaths in the United States, making it the number three cause of preventable cause of death in the United States. One third of all traffic fatalities (9,967 in 2014) were alcohol related.[1]

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.[2]
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.[3]
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.[4]

Christians, we need to just separate ourselves from drinking alcohol. Though we have liberty in Christ, we have the responsibility, or I should say the privilege, of shining the light of His gospel. Let us not dim that light by dulling our senses with alcohol or drugs.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Average for United States 2006–2010 Alcohol-Attributable Deaths Due to Excessive Alcohol Use. Available at: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DPH_ARDI/Default/Report.aspx?T=AAM&P=f6d7eda7-036e-4553-9968-9b17ffad620e&R=d7a9b303-48e9-4440-bf47-070a4827e1fd&M=8E1C5233-5640-4EE8-9247-1ECA7DA325B9&F=&D=

[2] Hingson, R.W.; Zha, W.; and Weitzman, E.R. Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24, 1998–2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (Suppl. 16):12–20, 2009. PMID: 19538908

[3] Hingson, R.; Heeren, T.; Winter, M.; et al. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 26:259–279, 2005. PMID: 15760289

 [4] ibid.


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Sin Lieth At The Door

Today’s Passage  – Genesis 4 – 6 (Click on the reference to listen to the audio. Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4; Proverbs 2; Psalms 6 – 10)

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

Read the “0102 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:7)

In Genesis, chapter four, we read the familiar story of the slaying of Abel by his brother Cain. The events leading up to Cain’s murder of his brother are very interesting. Cain and Abel each brought their individual offerings to the Lord. Cain offers to the Lord from “the fruit of the ground”, presumably something from his garden. Abel, on the other hand, offered an animal sacrifice to the Lord, which caught God’s attention: God “had respect unto … his offering”, which means he gazed upon it and considered it. By the way, the Bible does not say that God was angry with Cain’s offering or that Cain’s offering was somehow sinful in itself; it just says that God did not have “respect” for it, meaning that it did not cause Him to look or gaze upon it in the same way that his brother’s offering did. Cain’s offering represented the work of his own hands from his labor in the garden. Again, it was certainly right for Cain to give back to the Lord a portion of what the Lord had blessed him with, but it seems that Cain was offering this fruit as a means of obtaining God’s favor, and as an atonement for his sins. Hebrews tells us that “without shedding of [Christ’s] blood is no remission“. God was very pleased with Abel’s offering because it was a blood sacrifice, which pictured the blood that the Lord Jesus would someday shed on Calvary for the sins of the world.

There is a phrase in verse seven that has always intrigued me: “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door“. What does this mean? There are some theologians who believe that the word “sin” in that verse means “sin offering”. The Hebrew word for sin in  verse seven is chatta’ath, which has been translated into the phrase “sin offering” over 100 times in other Old Testament passages. This theory is very logical in that when people did sin, they could offer a sin offering, which served as a type or picture of Christ’s offering of Himself on the Cross. However, in my opinion the phrase in Genesis 4:7 is not speaking about a sin offering, but rather it is alluding to a personification of sin that is waiting to pounce on us like a ravenous beast and put us in bondage if we yield to it. Cain was angry because God did not respect his offering as He did Abel’s, and that anger inside of Cain was driving him over the edge. Anger in itself is not a sin, but it can cause us to sin, and this is certainly what happened to Cain. His anger turned into wrath and in his wrath he murdered his brother. God was warning Cain that his anger, which was completely unjustified because it was directed against a righteous God, was going to lead him further down the road into sinful actions. Even though Cain’s anger was an emotion that he perhaps could not control, he should still have repented of the way he felt, recognizing that his emotions were not in agreement with God. And, he could have asked God to help him deal with his emotions. Instead, however, he allowed his unjustified anger to cause him to go out of the door of God’s will where sin pounced on him.

Don’t allow sinful thoughts or even irrational emotions to develop into actions that are in rebellion to the will of God. What can you do:

  1. Recognize that your thoughts and emotions may very well be rooted in your sinful flesh and are thus, outside of the will of God. Cain’s anger was a result of his jealousy. He was jealous of his brother because God was pleased with Abel’s offering, and “did not have respect” unto his own. He wasn’t thinking right to start with, which eventually lead to more irrational thinking.
  2. Restrain your thoughts, emotions, and actions. The last phrase in verse seven, “and thou shalt rule over him“, literally means that we must rule over our sinful thoughts and emotions – we must control them. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, we can have victory over our sinful thoughts. Paul said to the Christian, “for sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14) We can control what we think about (Philippians 4:8), and we can “cast down sinful or irrational imaginations. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  3. Repent and ask God to help you. Turn away from the sinful direction with which you were heading. Ask God to help you. I think God wants to help you do what pleases Him.

Don’t be like Cain. A sinful progression eventually caused him to murder his only brother. What a shame. It didn’t’t have to happen to him, and it doesn’t have to happen to us either.


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Just Don’t Do It

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

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

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

Read the “0101 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “In the Beginning”; “He Is Still Creating Me“; and “Let There Be Light”

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” (Proverbs 1:10)

Every time I read the third chapter of Genesis, I find myself screaming in my mind to Eve and Adam, “Don’t Do It!!!” Yet, when I am faced with the temptation to sin, I find that I am often not very different from this first couple – I give in to sin. Of course, sinners today such as myself are at a little more of a disadvantage than Adam and Eve as we were born with a willful, fleshly nature that desires to do whatever it pleases, even it is wrong. The Apostle Paul said:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

Adam and Eve did not have that problem. Eve was deceived by the serpent into believing that God was wrong about eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She was convinced that she was going to gain something by disobeying the clear command of God. However, she added only evil to her life. Before eating the fruit, she knew nothing but good. Now, she and her husband became intimately acquainted with evil. The fruit of disobedience is always evil. Adam, however, was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:14). He was well aware of what he was doing, and I believe he understood, at least partially, the consequences of his action. It is my opinion that Adam chose to join his wife in the sin, desiring to follow her will instead of the will of God.

As we enter into this new year, let’s decide to be obedient to the will and Word of God. We are all sinners by nature, but we can still choose not to sin. We have all made many bad choices in the past, but we can also strive to make better decisions in the future. Sin of any kind will cause nothing but problems for us and the people we love. Let’s decide now that when sinners entice us that we won’t consent. By the way, the sinner that entices me the most is me – my flesh.

What can we do to help us to be more obedient to the Lord this year:

1. Spend time every day in the Word of God.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

Make it a habit to read the Word, study the Word, and memorize the Word this year. The old saying still applies today: “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book”. Read the Bible through at least once this year and begin the practice of daily memorizing verses of  Scripture; particularly the verses that will help you in areas of temptation. There are all kinds of websites and apps that will help you follow a plan.

2. Submit to the Spirit of God every day.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

To “walk in the Spirit” means to live under the Spirit’s control. Before salvation, we really didn’t have a choice, but now we can choose not to sin, and choose to allow God to control our lives. Pray specifically for help from the Spirit to resist temptation.

3. Surround yourself in an environment that supports you to do right.

Run with people who also want to yield to God, and lovingly separate from those who do not. Fill your home with godly music and Scriptural reminders of the will of God for your life. Go to church as often as you can, and find a ministry to serve in. Become a soulwinner, or a more committed witness, helping others with their sin problem as well.

Adam and Eve made their choice and there is nothing that we can do about it. We have all made our sinful choices in the past as well. But, in this new year and in all future new years, we can choose by the grace of God to do right. When it comes to sin – Just Don’t Do It!


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Resolve To Be Transformed

Romans 12_2

Today’s Passage – Your Favorite Passage

(Second Milers also read – Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “1231 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Tomorrow begins the New Year, which is traditionally the time that people make all kinds of resolutions regarding things that they want to see changed in their lives. Some want to lose weight, others want to become more organized, and some want to quit some bad habit; the list is endless. In the past, I would make many resolutions, but, unfortunately, was unable to keep many of them. This year, I have resolved not to resolve. You may be asking, what do you mean by that preacher? What I mean is: I have resolved to stop trying to fix the myriad of things in my life that need fixing. No, I have not thrown in the towel on trying to live the Christian life. On the contrary, I have discovered a better way to see the necessary changes take place.

This year, instead of exercising my will power to change things in my life, I have opted to turn the whole process over to God. I have figured out that the closer I get to Him, the more He begins to chip away at the things in my life that need to go. Let me give you a verse that has been on my mind a lot lately:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

This verse tells me that God actually works with our will. Our will is really the problem isn’t it? Paul said that the inside of him was no good thing, “for to will is present with [him]”. Resolutions are about our will, but transformation is about the will of God. We may desire to see things fixed in our lives, but then our will changes, and the fixing stops. However, when transformation takes place from the inside, God not only changes our will, but also implements the changes that need to take place.

You may be thinking: what do I have to do? This is too good to be true. I don’t have to do anything? God does all of the work? Well, you do have to draw nigh to God. He says that if you will do that, He will draw nigh (get close) to you.  In order to get close to Him, you are going to have spend more time with Him: reading His Word, and praying. You will also have to spend less time with the world. The world also desires to conform you to what it wants you to be. You see, the world will also mess with your will.  If you spend enough time pursuing the things of this world, your thinking will also change; your desires will change. The same is also true with God. Get with Him. Saturate yourself in prayer and the Word, and God will begin to chip away at all of the rough edges in your life, and you will gradually become a vessel more meet (fitted) for the Master’s use.

This New Year, you have some choices to make. You can decide to do nothing: throw in the towel, and wait out the return of Christ. You can also decide to make a long list of things that you want to see changed, goals that you want to see accomplished, etc., and set out through your will power, your tenacity, to implement those things. You may even be successful in fulfilling some of them. Door number three is the option that I am choosing. I am going to take some tangible steps this year to get as far away from the world and as close to God as I possibly can. Then I am going to sit back and watch what He does in my life. No goals this year, just God.


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Supper’s Almost Ready

supper-of-the-lamb

Today’s Passage – Revelation 16 – 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 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “1229 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “It Will All Be Gone Someday”

“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”  (Revelation 19:9)

I must confess that I really don’t understand all that is going to take place during that period of time called the Great Tribulation. I know that it will be a horrible time for those living on the earth for both the saved and the lost. I know also that it will be a time of rejoicing and receiving in Heaven. You might think that those words are not exactly adequate to describe what will take place there in that day, but maybe after I explain you will understand what I mean.

The rejoicing part is rather self-evident. We will do a lot of rejoicing in Heaven. In chapter 19, we see the words, Alleluia, Amen, and Praise used repeatedly. The angels will be rejoicing, as well as the Saints. We will probably get a little glimpse as to what is going on in the earth while we are in Heaven awaiting the end of the Tribulation. We will see the destruction of God’s enemies. We will watch the destruction of Babylon, with all of the political power and false worship that it represented. God will win. We know that now through faith in his Word. I remember hearing a song years ago entitled, “I Read The Back of the Book and We Win”. That’s the truth! We are reading about it prophetically now, but someday soon we will see it. We should probably learn to rejoice now, shouldn’t we?

The Tribulation period will also be a time of receiving for those who are experiencing the events from Heaven. What will we receive? Well, for one, we will receive rewards for the works that we did for the Lord while we were on earth. The Bible calls those rewards “crowns”. I don’t know if I will receive any rewards or not, but one thing I know – I really don’t deserve any. Jesus deserves all the glory. Anything I did for His Kingdom that was of any value, He did through me anyway. I guess that is why the Bible says that we will cast those rewards back at the feet of Jesus.

What else will we receive? Well, I believe that all throughout the Tribulation Period we will be receiving new saints in Heaven. Saints that have made their robes white in the blood of the lamb through martyrdom. I believe that many will be saved during this period, but I also believe that most of those that get saved, will be martyred. We don’t know much about persecution in the time that we are living in today, especially in America; but most of these Tribulation saints will be faithful unto death. Every day, more will arrive. Heroes of the faith that chose death rather than live in allegiance to Satan.

Then, we will receive some supper. It is called a supper isn’t it? I wonder what we will eat? Can you imagine sitting at a table with the Lord and all of the saints? As I said before, I couldn’t possibly know all that will happen, but I do know that it will be wonderful, because everything He does is wonderful.


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Before It’s Too Late

jesus-with-a-sharp-sickle-in-his-hand

Today’s Passages – Revelation 11 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

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

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6 & 7)

I have always been fascinated with the Book of Revelation. In it, we see the final destruction of the earth, and the judgment of all of those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ. However, in the midst of all of the judgment and destruction are many invitations for people to come to Christ. Chapter 14 in particular reveals this truth. The last verse in the chapter is traditionally understood to be about the final battle in the Tribulation Period known as the Battle of Armageddon. Not much of a battle really. Christ is going to return and completely destroy all that oppose Him. Notice, though, that prior to this great battle, even right before the final destruction, God was inviting people to come to Christ. The chapter begins with a discussion about the 144,000 who are evangelists covering the earth with the gospel of Christ. Next, we read about three angels that are flying around the skies warning people about the impending judgment, and inviting them to trust Christ. You see, God is not willing that any should perish. Even at the very end, He is inviting people to turn to Him.

I am no history expert, but I think I remember hearing that before we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we warned the people of the coming destruction by dropping leaflets from planes. I may have my facts mixed up a little, but I have heard that our government is known to warn the innocent, so that they can be saved. It kind of reminds me of what God is doing here in these passages. Yes, the judgment is certainly coming, but God is willing to save any and all that will come to Him before that day comes.

How about you? Have you heeded the warning from God regarding the coming judgment? You see, my friend, the wages of our sin is eternal death; but God in His mercy and grace is willing to save anybody who is willing to turn from their sin unto the Saviour. If you haven’t yet trusted Christ, I encourage you to read the “Are You Saved?” page on this blog.

Now to those of you who are saved, don’t ever give up on your unsaved loved ones. Keep praying for them, and preaching to them. As we have seen in this passage, God is going to keep giving them opportunities to repent, even at the very end. We should have the same attitude. Keep trying to win them, keep inviting them, keep reaching out to them, keep loving them, even until the end of our earthly lives.  It may be that last try that convinces them that Christ is their only hope.


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He Alone is Worthy

worthy

Today’s Passage – Revelation 4 – 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 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “1227 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Come Up Hither

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Revelation 5:9)

“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12)

Three times in our passage today, there are references to Jesus being “worthy”. In chapter four, He is found worthy because He created all things, including you and me. In chapter five, He is found to be the only one that was worthy to open up the seven seals. He was  worthy because he “wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by [his] blood”. We owe everything to the Lord, so He alone is worthy.

He Is Worthy Of Our Praise

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalms 150:6)

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” (Psalms 107:1-2)

He Is Worthy Of Our Service

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalms 2:11)

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalms 100:2)

He Is Worthy Of Our Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

We spend a lot of time praising men, serving those who will serve us back, and sacrificing for ourselves; but Christ alone is worthy of all of these. This year, let us determine to put Christ at the very center of our lives; let us conform to His will, yield to His Spirit, fulfill His commission. He alone is worthy of all of our devotion and effort.


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Compassion Makes a Difference

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Today’s Passage – Jude – Revelation 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 – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1226 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

“And of some have compassion, making a difference:” (Jude 1:22)

The Epistle General of Jude is a very interesting letter. Throughout almost the entire letter God is calling for us to stand up and fight against those who are promoting doctrinal error, as well as those that are encouraging immoral lifestyles. These are not the ones who are merely walking in the counsel of the ungodly, but have gone all of the way to sitting in the seat of the scornful. They are not just allowing sin, they are spreading it. The letter demands that we draw a line in the sand, and that we hold that line, defending it with all of the passion that we can muster. However, at the very end of the letter, Jude says something very interesting:

“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

While we are earnestly contending for the faith, we are to be looking for people who we can show compassion to, which will make a difference. These may be people who have fallen prey to those who are promoting  error. These could be people whose lives have been absolutely torn asunder because they have believed the lies of the ungodly. These are people whose lives may have been destroyed, but whose hearts have been softened enough to be salvaged for the glory of God.

There are a lot of people out there in the world today who desperately need to experience the compassion of God. They certainly may not look or act like the people in our churches, but God sees something in them that He loves, and He sees hope. We don’t know who they are, either, so we had better be prepared to be compassionate with a lot of people until we find the one upon whom it will make a difference.

Compassion will make a difference. Don’t give up loving people for the Lord Jesus. People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.

How can we demonstrate the compassion of God to those around us?

1  Share Christ with Them – Though the context of this passage would certainly include people who are saved but have strayed from the faith, I think it would be safe to assume that many of the people that God wants to make a difference in are still lost in their sins. We need to compassionately convince these people of the love that Jesus has for them.

2  Spend Time with Them – We certainly need to maintain separation from people with ungodly lifestyles, but how are we supposed to reach these folks without interacting with them. We can be separated without being isolated. I do not have to participate in or condone the sins of those we are called to reach, but I can still come int their world. Verse 23 states that we have to pluck some of them out of the fire, and we cannot do that without getting close to the fire. Jesus said that we were to be in the world, but not of the world.

3  Supply Needs for Them – People whose lives have been torn apart by sin are often brought to their knees through very drastic circumstances, and many times they will need the support of God’s people in order for the love and compassion of Christ to penetrate them. Hungry people need food as well as the gospel. Homeless people need shelter and clothing as well as Bible principle. We might argue that the gospel and Bible principle are more important than the physical needs of the body, but these people will likely never give us their ears to hear, unless some of the distractions of the physical need are removed.

Jesus went about showing compassion on hurting people. He fed them, healed them, comforted them, and forgave them. We who are saved need to be ambassadors of God’s compassion today.

A man is walking along the shoreline of an ocean when he comes up on a little boy standing in the midst of thousands of starfish that had washed up along the shore. The man watches the little boy as he picks up a starfish and one by one throws them back in the sea. The man watches for several minutes then walks up to the boy and asks, “What are you doing?” The little boy answers, “I’m saving these starfish so they won’t die.” The man says to the boy…”There are too many too save, it wont make any difference.” The little boy reached down and picked up another starfish and said, “it will make a difference to this one” as he threw it into the ocean.


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The Saviour of the World

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Today’s Passage – 1 John 3 – 3 John 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 – Psalms 121 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “1225 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14)

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

I submit two thoughts for your consideration this morning from 1 John 4:14:

1  The Exclusiveness of Candidates for Saviour – Notice the definite article “the”, indicating that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, is the only Saviour for the world. There are not many ways to be saved, only one.

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:12)

The disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus once and asked Him if He was the one that they were waiting for, or perhaps is there another one coming. (Luke 7:20). Jesus replied emphatically that He was the One who fulfilled all of the Biblical requirements for being the Messiah, and He also added that we should not be “offended” in Him. Jesus is “the” Saviour, and He is also “the” Lord.

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

2  The Inclusiveness of the Candidates for Salvation – Notice the word “world” – it is the same word that is used in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

The word “world” (Greek – κόσμος [kosmos]) does not mean just a select few; it means everybody. God wants everybody to receive the gift of the Saviour. Unfortunately, not everybody will come to the Saviour for salvation because they reject “the way” and “the truth” and “the Life”, choosing instead to be the god of their own lives. What a shame.

Thank You, Father for sending us Your Son, the Saviour; and thank You, Jesus, for being willing to come.


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He Already Came!

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Today’s Passage – 2 Peter 3 – 1 John 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 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “1224 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:3 & 4)

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

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (2 Peter 3:15)

I was a little anxious this morning as I approached the daily Bible reading and the task of expressing a thought from it for today’s post. Frankly, I wanted to write some thoughts regarding Christmas, but I also want to keep to the format that we have started with, which is to share thoughts that come from the daily reading. I must confess that I actually prayed that God would give me something from this passage that I could connect with the celebration of Christmas, and I believe He has answered that prayer.

Our text deals with the second coming of Christ which involves Christ first returning to remove His Bride (the Church) from the earth. The passage reveals that in Peter’s day, and in ours, there are scoffers that doubt that Christ will ever return. There are even Christians that have a hard time believing that Christ’s return is imminent. I strongly disagree with their assessment. I believe that Christ could return at any moment; and frankly, it concerns me greatly. Don’t misunderstand, I am certainly looking forward to spending eternity with my Lord and with loved ones who are saved; but my problem is that I have many friends and loved ones who do not yet know Christ. It is my prayer and hope that the longer He delays His coming, the more people will be saved. I have some folks I love dearly that I am not sure about. I want to see them trust Christ.

Christian, this Christmas season is a wonderful time to be a witness to our friends and family members. It just may be that this year at Christmas they will see the real importance of Christ’s first coming, which was to ultimately die for the sins of the world. We talk a lot about the the second coming, and we should; but we also need to remember that it is Christ’s first coming to Bethlehem’s manger that brought about the blood atonement and our forgiveness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somebody you love was to see a manger scene, or hear a Christmas song, and somehow get ahold of the true meaning of Christ’s first coming and thereby be prepared for His second.


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Don’t Budge

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Today’s Passages – James 2 – 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 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “1222 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)

As I was reading this morning, my attention was drawn to the word “stablish” in verse 8. The context of this verse regards the believer enduring persecution and suffering seemingly at the hands of unbelievers. Verses 1 – 6 of chapter 5 are written to the rich oppressors of the world, but then, beginning in verse 6, the focus of the discussion is changed from the oppressor to the oppressed. James encourages these first  century believers to be patient; to stay with it. I did a little study on the word “stablish”. The word means to establish, to strengthen, or to fix resolutely. It means not to budge, not even a little bit. James is admonishing these struggling believers to be resolute in their faith; to strengthen their resolve, so that they will not turn back.

Too many believers today are turning back. Too many are quitting. Recently, I have observed many that have thrown in the towel on their faith. In some cases, it was the allure of the world that pulled them away; but I have also seen many who became discouraged because of a trial that they were going through. It seems that they were not “stablished” in their faith. I like what Isaiah said regarding our Lord Jesus: “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Jesus was resolute; unmovable, and unwavering in his fulfillment of God’s will. As His followers, we need to be just as resolute; just as fixed in our faith. It is easy to have strength on the mountaintop; but we often waver when we get into the valley.

James admonished the believers to stablish their hearts. God would not command us to do it, unless it was something that we could actually do. But how? What can we do to strengthen our faith? I believe that there are three steps that we can take that will help us to remain fixed in our service and devotion to Him:

1  Stay in His Book – “Faith cometh by hearing”  The Bible will strengthen our faith. Read it, study it, memorize it, hear it preached.

2  Stay in His House – Get around a group of people that are “stablished” themselves. Stay away from the negativity and naysayers. Run with people in your church that are fixed in the right direction.

3  Stay in His Service – What I mean by this is be actively involved in serving others. If you have people that are depending on you, you will not be as tempted to get off track. If you know that people need you, and are following you as you follow the Lord, you will not want to let them down.

We need a whole lot more solid Christians in these last days who are stablished, fixed, resolute in their faith and devotion to the Lord. Why not ask God to help you be one of them.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)


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The Parable of the Orange Tree

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Today’s Passage – Hebrews 12 – James 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 – Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much, But Say Very Little”

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” – (James 1:22-25)

One of the frustrating things about the ministry is the lack of application we see in the lives of people from the truths that are being preached and taught from the Bible. For example, I can preach a message on soul winning and hear people say “Amen!”, with some of them complimenting the message on their way out; but then see few actually talk to people about the Lord. I can teach on the need to be separated, and again have the congregation appear to be in agreement, but then see little change in the area of separation. I see people go to the altar week after week under obvious conviction about a truth that was preached that morning, yet go out and do again the same things that they were convicted about.

We need to do more than just agree with God. We need to put into practical application the things that He is revealing to us from His Word. I am beginning to make it a habit now at the end of my messages to ask people what specific actions they are going to take as a result of what they have heard. Agreeing with God about the need for soulwinning or even feeling bad about people dying and going to Hell is useless, unless you actually decide to go soulwinning and then do it; but a specific, tangible decision that will lead to a change of action is necessary. Isn’t this what true repentance is? Isn’t it a change of mind and attitude that leads to a change in action?

Let’s not stop coming to the altar, but let’s not leave the altar until we have found out what God specifically wants us to do with what He has taught us. Unless actual change takes place, all of the conviction and contrition in the world is really just vanity.

Years ago, I heard a preacher tell us the following parable, which I believe perfectly illustrates this point:

The Parable of the Orange Tree by Dr. John White

I dreamed I drove on a Florida road, still and straight and empty. On either side were groves of orange trees, so that as I turned to look at them from time to time, line after line of trees stretched back endlessly from the road. Their boughs were heavy with round yellow fruit. This was harvest time. My wonder grew as the miles slipped by. How could the harvest be gathered?

Suddenly I realized that for all the hours I had driven (and this was how I knew I must be dreaming) I had seen no other person. The groves were empty of people. No other car had passed me. No houses were to be seen beside the highway. I was alone in a forest of orange trees.

But, at last, I saw some orange pickers. Far from the highway, almost on the horizon, lost in the vast wilderness of unpicked fruit, I could discern a tiny group of them working steadily. And many miles later I saw another group. I could not be sure, but I suspected that the earth beneath me was shaking with silent laughter at the hopelessness of their task. Yet the pickers went on picking.

The sun had long passed its zenith and the shadows were lengthening when, without any warning, I turned a corner of the road to see a notice “Leaving NEGLECTED COUNTY – Entering HOME COUNTY.” The contrast was so startling that I scarcely had time to take in the notice. I had to slow down for all at once the traffic was heavy. People by the thousands swarmed the road and crowded the sidewalks.

Even more startling was the transformation in the orange groves. Orange groves were still there and orange trees in abundance, but now, far from being silent and empty, they were filled with the laughter and singing of multitudes of people. Indeed it was the people we noticed rather than the trees. People and houses.

I parked the car at the roadside and mingled with the crowd. Smart gowns, neat shoes, showy hats, expensive suits, and starched shirts made me a little conscious of my work clothes. Everyone seemed so fresh and poised and gay.

“Is it a holiday?” I asked a well-dressed woman with whom I fell in step.

She looked a little startled for a moment, and then her face relaxed with a smile of gracious condescension.

“You’re a stranger, aren’t you?” she said before I could reply, “This is Orange Day.”

She must have seen a puzzled look on my face, for she went on, “It is so good to turn aside from one’s labors and pick oranges one day of the week.”

“But don’t you pick oranges every day?” I asked her.

“One may pick oranges at any time,” she said, “We should always be ready to pick oranges, but Orange Day is the day that we devote especially to orange picking.”

I left her and made my way further into the trees. Most of the people were carrying a book. Bound beautifully in leather, and edged and lettered in gold, I was able to discern on the edge of one of them the words: The Orange Picker’s Manual.

By and by I noticed around one of the orange trees, seats had been arranged, rising upward in tiers from the ground. The seats were almost full-but as I approached the group, a smiling well-dressed gentleman shook my hand and conducted me to a seat.

There, around the foot of the orange tree, I could see a number of people. One of them was addressing all the people on the seats and just as I got to my seat, everyone rose to his feet and began to sing. The man next to me shared with me his song book. It was called: Songs of the Orange Groves.

They sang for some time and the song leader waved his arms with a strange and frenzied abandon, exhorting the people in the intervals between the songs to sing more loudly.

I grew steadily more puzzled.

“When do we start to pick oranges?” I asked the man who had loaned me his book.

“It’s not long now,” he told me. “We like to get everyone warmed up first. Besides, we want to make the oranges feel at home.” I thought he was joking but his face was serious.

After a while a rather large man took over from the song leader and, after reading two sentences from his well-thumbed copy of the Orange Picker’s Manual, began to make a speech. I wasn’t clear whether he was addressing the people or the oranges.

I glanced behind me and saw a number of groups of people similar to our own group gathering around an occasional tree and being addressed by other large men. Some of the trees had no one around them.

“Which trees do we pick from?” I asked the man beside me. He did not seem to understand, so I pointed to the trees round about.

“This is our tree,” he said, pointing to the one we were gathered around.

“But there are too many of us to pick from just one tree,” I protested. “Why, there are more people than oranges!”

“But we don’t pick oranges,” the man explained. “We haven’t been called. That’s the Orange Picker’s job. We’re here to support him. Besides we haven’t been to college. You need to know how an orange thinks before you can pick it, successfully orange psychology, you know. Most of these folk here,” he went on, pointing to the congregation, “have never been to Manual School.”

“Manual School,” I whispered. “What’s that?”

“It’s where they go to study the Orange Picker’s Manual,” my informant went on. “It’s very hard to understand. You need years of study before it makes sense.”

“I see, I murmured. I had no idea that picking oranges was so difficult.”

The large man at the front was still making his speech. His face was red and he appeared to be indignant about something. So far as I could see there was rivalry with some of the other “orange-picking” groups. But a moment later a glow came on his face,

“But we are not forsaken,” he said. “We have much to be thankful for. Last week we saw THREE ORANGES BROUGHT INTO OUR BASKETS, and we are now completely debt free from the money we owed on the new cushion covers that grace the seats you now sit on.”

“Isn’t it wonderful?” the man next to me murmured. I made no reply. I felt that something must be profoundly wrong somewhere. All this seemed to be a very roundabout way of picking oranges.

The large man was reaching a climax in his speech. The atmosphere seemed tense. Then with a very dramatic gesture he reached two of the oranges, plucked them from the branch, and placed them in the basket at his feet. The applause was deafening.

“Do we start on the picking now?” I asked my informant.

“What in the world do you think we’re doing?” he hissed. “What do you suppose this tremendous effort has been made for? There’s more orange-picking talent in this group than in the rest of Home County. Thousands of dollars have been spent on the tree you’re looking at.”

I apologized quickly. “I wasn’t being critical,” I said. “And I’m sure the large man must be a very good orange picker – but surely the rest of us could try. After all, there are so many oranges that need picking. We’ve all got a pair of hands and we could read the Manual.”

“When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you’ll realize that it’s not as simple as that,” he replied. “There isn’t time, for one thing. We have our work to do, our families to care for, and our homes to look after. We . . .”

But I wasn’t listening. Light was beginning to break on me. Whatever these people were, they were not orange pickers. Orange picking was just a form of entertainment for their weekends.

I tried one or two more of the groups around the trees. Not all of them had such high academic standards for orange pickers. Some held classes on orange picking. I tried to tell them of the trees I had seen in Neglected County but they seemed to have little interest.

“We haven’t picked the oranges here yet,” was their usual reply.

The sun was almost setting in my dream and, growing tired of the noise and activity all around me, I got in the car and began to drive back again along the road I had come. Soon all around me again were the vast and empty orange groves.

But there were changes. Something had happened in my absence. Everywhere the ground was littered with fallen fruit. And as I watched it seemed that before my eyes the trees began to rain oranges. Many of them lay rotting on the ground.

I felt there was something so strange about it all, and my bewilderment grew as I thought of all the people in Home County.

Then, booming through the trees there came a voice which said, “The harvest truly is plenteous but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest”, that he will send forth laborers. . .”

And I awakened – for it was only a dream!


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Living by Faith

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

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

Read the “1220 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s reading passage – “Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy“.

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”(Hebrews 10:38)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, andthat he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Hebrews chapter 11 is the great “Hall of Faith” chapter of the Bible. In it, God gives us example after example of men and women who lived by faith. They may have stumbled, and some may even have fallen a time or two in their lives, but for the most part their lives were characterized by their faith in God. What does it mean to live by faith? What exactly is faith? These are questions that few people in our world truly understand the answers to. Is faith just a mere acknowledgement of the fact that there is a God out there somewhere, or is our faith supposed to be more tangible than that; more substantive?

Faith begins with God, and is strengthened by the Word of God. God puts something inside all of us that draws us toward Him. He begins the process. He reveals Himself to us in a variety of ways: through creation, through the testimony of others, through a vacuum in our soul that somehow we know can only be filled by Him. If we are truly drawn to God, then we will also be drawn to His Word. His Word will strengthen our faith in Him. I have never seen God. Everything I know about God, I have received from His Word, and something inside of me tells me that His Word is true. I know that not everyone will receive this work of faith in their life. Most will resist and reject the clear evidences of Himself that God places in and around them.

Now once that I have received the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, I must also choose to walk by faith; live by faith. All this means is that I trust the principles, prophecies, and promises contained in His Word, and I regulate my life around them. For instance, God’s Word tells me in Hebrews 10 that I am to assemble together with my brothers and sisters in Christ. If I am walking by faith, than I will yield my life to that principle because I believe God and want to obey His will. The degree to which we obey God seems to be directly related to the degree to which we believe God. Now the alternative to a life of faith is a life that is lived according to our own human reasoning. The problem with reasoning is that it is constantly changing, and when it is in disagreement with the principles found in God’s Word (which it often is), it will lead to error and heartache.

Christian, as we approach this new year, let us resolve to strengthen our faith through time spent with God daily in His Word, and then let us yield to the principles that He gives us to live by. I think you will find that by doing so, not only will you see more fruit in your life, but you will also find more fulfillment. Through the years, I have learned to trust God; to live by faith. I remember that there were times in Bible College, and in the pastorate, that my faith in God was tested; but God always came through. He always provided for my family, and He always did everything that He promised that He would do; and each time I trusted Him, my faith was strengthened. Sometimes, people never get to the point of having great faith because they fail to trust God in the little things of life. All I can say to these folks is that you can trust God. He will deliver. He will bless you far more abundantly than you can even imagine; but you have to come to Him in faith, because it is the only thing that pleases Him.


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Moving On

MovingOn

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

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

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

Read the “1219 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” – (Hebrews 6:1-2)

The foundation of a house is very important. In fact, it is the most important part of the house because if it is not strong, the rest of the structure will not be able to stand for very long. However, if we are going to have a complete house we must build on top of the foundation. So, in order to have a house, we have to build beyond the foundation.

Kindergarten and grammar school are also foundational in the process of education, but if a student is going to learn all that he needs to know in life, he will have to enter into middle school, then high school, and possibly even higher education. Now this does not mean that we will never re-visit the things that we learn in grammar school, for those truths are the building blocks for everything else that we are going to learn in life. A knowledge of basic mathematics is necessary in order to do algebra, geometry, calculus, and accounting. Similarly, the basics of grammar and word building are necessary in order to effectively and intelligently communicate on an adult level.

A small child who is only about two and a half years old likes to play with pretty simple toys. He can even content himself with spoons and spatulas, and pots and pans. However, he won’t enjoy these things for very long as he will want to move on to bigger and better things. His world will enlarge. He will move beyond the confines of the house, and begin to explore the back yard, and eventually he will enter into the world; exploring and learning about all that is out there. He will not stay a toddler forever.

The passage above from Hebrews 6 teaches us this same principle, but the application regards our spiritual life. Too many Christians never grow up beyond the foundational truths of salvation. Now don’t misunderstand me, I love thinking about my salvation, and I re-visit those foundational truths often, but I also moved on beyond those foundational principles. At the end of chapter five, Paul rebukes some of his readers for their lack of growth:

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Don’t stay a baby Christian. Grow up. Take those foundational principles of Christianity and incorporate them into a deeper walk with God. The only way that you will be able to do this is to be daily in the Word of God, and weekly in the services at your church where the Bible is preached and taught. Don’t miss any opportunity that comes your way that will help you grow up in the Lord. Take advantage of chances to participate and serve in the ministry. By serving, you are exercising and putting into practice what you learned in the classroom. There is no excuse for not growing, especially if you are part of a church that is flooding its members with opportunities to serve and grow. Get involved. Grow up in the Lord. Move on to bigger and better things spiritually.

PS – I need to warn you about one more thing. If you do decide to grow up and move on in your spiritual walk, you will be leaving behind some of your friends that will not choose to take that journey with you. That’s OK, though. You will find many more friends that will share your vision as you move further down the road. Don’t let anything or anybody hold you back from the journey of faith that God wants to bring you on.


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Better

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

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

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

Read the “1218 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:4)

“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Hebrews 6:9)

“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Hebrews 7:7)

“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Hebrews 7:19)

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” (Hebrews 7:22)

“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” (Hebrews 9:23)

“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Hebrews 10:34)

“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:16)

“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:” (Hebrews 11:35)

“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:40)

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)

Did you ever notice how many times the word “better” is used in the Letter to the Hebrews? This epistle was written to Jewish people, both saved and lost. God was encouraging the saved Jews to not look back to what they had under the Old Testament Law, because that what they now have in Christ is better. God was also challenging the lost Hebrews to consider Christ as the fulfillment of all of the Messianic prophesies, and that He was in reality what all of their ceremonies, sacrifices, and traditions pointed to. Old Testament Judaism was only a shadow of the substance of New Testament Christianity. Christianity is better for all of the reasons mentioned in the verses above.

My goal this morning is not to go through all of the points made in Hebrews regarding the better relationship that the New Testament believer has when compared to the Old Testament Jew; but rather, I would like to simply state that my life is also much better since I have been saved. Like the song says:

“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart.”

I have been a Christian now for over two and a half decades, and I can say without hesitation that the life I now live as a child of God is infinitely better than what I had before. Not that I don’t still have my trials and struggles with the flesh, which I certainly do; but there are just so many blessings associated with being a Christian. My life is better now, my family is better now, and my future is sealed, secure and full of hope. Talk about a retirement plan. What a great God we serve, and what an awesome Saviour. Have you stopped to consider today how much better your life is since Jesus came in?


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Perilous Times

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Today’s Passage – 2 Timothy 3 – Titus 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 – 1 John 3:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “Sometimes You Have To Stand Alone

Read the “1217 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – (Matthew 24:6-8)

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” – (2 Timothy 3:13)

Consider what our world has endured since the new millennium began over a dozen years ago: the terrorist attack on 9/11; several cataclysmic earthquakes; tsunamis that have wiped out hundreds of thousands of people; out of control wildfires caused by record drought conditions; economic disasters bringing record unemployment; the Middle East in complete turmoil; several hurricanes and cyclones, and even a new classification of storm called a “super storm”; and a senseless slaughter of children and adults in Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Texas. I do not think that I am overstating the condition of our world when I say that we are living in perilous times. These man-made and natural disasters have all been prophesied long ago by God in the Bible, so we should not be too surprised by what is taking place, though we are certainly grieved and impacted by these things. But we were warned, and we should have been prepared. We have also been given the principles that we need in order to live for the Lord in these perilous days, while continuing to reach people with the gospel.

The upside of all of this is that people are thinking about God. Unfortunately, many are blaming God even for the man-made tragedies, but at least they are thinking. This past weekend, we had several people show up at church who we haven’t seen in a long time. They are confused, and frightened, and I don’t blame them, because no matter how much we know from the Bible about the time that we are living in, there is still a lot of details that are left out. We do know, however, that God knows; and none of these events has taken Him by surprise, and they are all somehow part of His plan that will ultimately bring about the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. The Bible gives the illustration of birth pains, which (I’m told) are very painful, but also temporary; and these perilous days, though extremely trying, are also temporary, and will eventually yield to a time of greater peace, prosperity, and security. No pain, no gain.

We have established that the times are certainly perilous, and will only get worse; but what can we do? Just keep going. Keep going to church; keep going to the prayer closet; keep going soulwinning; keep loving people; keep standing for the Lord:

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” – (2 Timothy 3:14 )

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Christian Growth

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Today’s Passage – 1 Timothy 4 – 2 Timothy 2 (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 – Psalm 121

Read the “1216 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Where Would Our Church Be Without the Young People

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” – (2 Timothy 2:2)

“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)

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” – (2 Timothy 2:23)

I believe there are a lot of factors involved in the spiritual development of a Christian; but I think 2 Timothy chapter 2 shows us three keys to Christian growth:

1  A Christian must be steadfast in his faithfulness. (v 15) When we refer to this verse, we often use it to teach that the church must be concerned about teaching the doctrines of the faith, and training the disciples of the Lord. We would certainly not dispute that those are two very important functions of the local church. However, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the teaching and the training can only be done with faithful men. When I first trusted Christ as my Saviour twenty years ago, I did not need anybody to beg me to come to church and get involved in the things of the Lord. I had a desire on the inside to grow and serve. I certainly was not perfect by any means, but I was faithful. I just needed somebody to show me the way. We often blame the church for not teaching and training as it should, but I believe that if there is a hungry soul out there in the pew, that there God will supply someone to train them. The bottom line to this point is that if you are going to grow in the Lord, you have to stay faithful and thirsty for the things of God.

2  A Christian must be studious.  Studying is a lot of work, and it must be done on purpose. If spiritual growth is going to take place in the life of a believer, he must diligently apply himself to being a student of the Bible. Obviously, this will include attending all of the services and studies in the local church, but it also means that personal reading, meditation, and study must be done on a daily basis.

3  A Christian must not get sidetracked. On the surface this may not seem too important, but I have seen more Christians go down the tubes because of this than anything else. Lack of study will cause a slow and steady decline in growth, but getting sidetracked will bring about a swift demise. What do I mean by getting sidetracked? Well, it could mean getting distracted by something in the world, but it also often happens because the believer starts pursuing one particular issue of the faith. They become a one-issue Christian, and by doing so they lose balance, and balance is important to Christian growth. Paul said that he declared “all the counsel of God”. People who lose balance tend to major on minor issues and thereby lose sight of the bigger picture. They can become argumentative in their support of their pet issue. Be careful that you don’t get sidetracked.

It ought to be the goal of every Christian to continue to grow spiritually until the Lord takes him home to Heaven. By observing these three keys, you will find that growth will come slowly and steadily , which will result in a more effective and fruitful ministry for the Lord.


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More Than Preaching

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Today’s Passages – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 1 Timothy 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 – Psalm 119:105

Read the “1215 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;” (1 Timothy 1:12)

I have always been very fond of this verse. Paul knew that he had been given an awesome privilege when God called Him into the ministry; and I am very conscious of the fact that my calling is just as special and important as Paul’s. I notice also from this verse that Paul didn’t say that God called him because of his qualifications, except for the one thing that God found in him, which was faithfulness. God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called, and He will call those who are faithful.

What does it mean to be in the ministry? What does a minister do? Is it just getting up in front of people and yelling for 45 minutes on Sunday morning? My friend, it is so much more that that. Let me share with you some thoughts regarding what the ministry entails:

1  The Ministry Is About People –  People have all kinds of problems and needs. A true minister of God does not see people as a means to fulfill his desires or goals; rather, a minister recognizes that he is called of God to serve the people and to give them what they need in order to have the very best of God’s blessings upon their life. A minister does not try to be God to the people, but rather tries to bring the people closer to God.

2  The Ministry is About Prayer – I must confess right now that this area is the weakest part of my ministry for the Lord, and it is number one on the list of things that I would like to improve in the new year. Actually, as of now, it is the only thing on the list. According to Acts 6, the apostles felt that their primary duties were “to give [themselves] continually unto prayer, and the ministry of the word.”  That would be a pretty good starting point for preachers today. We need to pray for our people, our churches, our communities, and our country.

3  The Ministry Is About Perspiration – There is work to be done. The Bible says that the office of a Bishop is a good “work”. Many full-time servants of God are lazy. They get up late, eat too much, and go home early. It will take a lot of work to be effective as a minister. There is soulwinning, visitation, hospital visits, administrative work, counseling, cleaning, planning, building, etc. Preachers ought to be up early and on the job before the world get’s up. Satan never stops working to advance his agenda.

4  The Ministry Is About Preparation – The pastor should spend hours in the study, preparing to feed the flock that God has entrusted them with. His people deserve fresh bread from Heaven that came directly out of time spent with God in study and in prayer. Sometimes, it is easy to get lazy in preparation. We can quickly throw some “fast food” together to serve our people; but God expects more out of His ministers. Work, pray, and study so that God’s people will be fed gourmet meals from the pulpit each week.

I hope that you can see now that the ministry consists of so much more than is visible on the surface. What a privilege it is to serve such an awesome, wonderful, omnipotent, and merciful God. What has God called you to do? If you have been called to a ministry, it is because He found you to be faithful; but are you still faithfully fulfilling what God has called you to do?


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What’s Your Reputation Like?

 

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Today’s Passage – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 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 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read another post from this passage – “What’s Right With It

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” – (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

What do people think of when they here your name? What do they think of when they hear the name of our church? Notice what it says in the above verses about the reputation of the Church at  Thessalonica. They were examples to all the believers of Macedonia and Achaia, which are both part of the Grecian Peninsula. Then it goes on to say that their reputation went beyond their immediate area, and spread abroad to “every place”. I am not in agreement with those who would say that the gospel should not be audibly spoken to those around us, only lived; but it seems that these Thessalonians, not only spoke the gospel with their mouths, they communicated their faith with their lives also. So much so that they were famous for their faith throughout the world.

What kind of reputation do you and I have. I am not suggesting that we should strive for some kind of notoriety among fellow believers, but I do think that we should be concerned that our lives are consistent with what we believe. Our words as well as our actions should communicate to those around us that we are indeed followers of Christ. I want our faith to be known in our community as a church that loves the Lord in sincerity, and believes and follows the Bible literally. Again, I am not seeking the accolades of men, but I do want the world to know that there are churches out there that are real.

Jesus said that we are to shine the light of the gospel to the world around us. It seems that this church in our passage today did just that. I hope that our church will have that same testimony.

One more thing. Did you notice what the caption says on the picture above. One foolish act can ruin an otherwise good reputation. Some mistakes that we make will take a long time to recover from, and unfortunately, some we will never recover from completely. I am not trying to condemn those who have made mistakes in the past here as much as I am trying to admonish and encourage those who have yet to blow it. Nobody is perfect, but the less skeletons we accumulate in our closets the better testimonies we will have. Keep your reputation in tact. Christ is glorified when we live out our faith in sincerity and purity, without hypocricy.


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