Pardon Me

Torn piece of paper with the word "Forgive" in the woman's palms.

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

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

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

Read another post from this passage – “The Coin is in the Fishes’ Mouth”

“Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:27)

Many years ago, I was caught and convicted by a man that I owed a staggering debt to. He had the power to have me locked away forever with no possibility of any kind of parole. What can I say, I was (and am) guilty. I had broken just about every law that this man established and I deserved whatever punishment He decided to give me. I was worthy of the eternal death penalty. Then a strange thing happened: I asked Him for mercy, and He granted it. He not only forgave me; He paid the debt for me and adopted me into His family, and I became both His child, and His brother. At first, I was overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving. I learned that there were many others that had sinned against Him, and that He was willing to pardon them as well. I wanted to tell everybody about Him and His forgiveness. Thinking back on those days, I can’t recall one person on the planet that I was upset with; that I had a beef with, because I was too consumed with the forgiveness that I had received. But as time went by, I began to forget about the mercy and grace that I had received, and slowly developed a mindset where I subconsciously thought that I somehow deserved the pardon that I received. I began to think that my debt wasn’t as bad as others: that somehow the One that pardoned me needed me to help Him run His kingdom. I started thinking about others that, to me, were less worthy of forgiveness than myself. After all. I deserved it: they did not. This was all a slow, and subtle development in my mind. I then began to pick and choose who I would allow myself to forgive. Some did not deserve my forgiveness as I deserved the forgiveness that I received. I began to put people away in my own “debtor’s prison”.

Eventually I began to move farther and farther away from the One who had given me the pardon in the first place. I began to think, say, and do things that had already condemned me. Something inside of me bothered me, and I began to be grieved about my life; but at the same time, I gave some second thoughts to the ones that I had locked away. I reasoned, “what right do I have to hold people in my prison, when I have been given a complete pardon for the same things.” If He was willing to forgive all of my past, present, and future debt, ought not I be willing to pardon some people myself.

I have been saved a long time, and through those years I have been hurt countless times by many different people. Unfortunately, however, I have also hurt just as many people as have injured me. I have given up the mind game of trying to somehow justify that my sins weren’t as bad as their’s were. I didn’t (and don’t) deserve God’s forgiveness; and I don’t deserve the forgiveness of the people that I have wronged. They don’t deserve it from me either; none of us do. However, I accept it. I have received forgiveness, therefore I must give forgiveness. If you have wronged me, I forgive you. If I have wronged you, please forgive me. Once both of us are released from prison we will be free to serve the One who pardoned us in the first place.

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

“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” (Luke 11:4)


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Keeping Your Focus in the Storm

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Today’s Passage – Matthew 14 – 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 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “1010 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30)

Just a quick thought this morning from today’s passage. The disciples were traveling by ship in the Sea of Galilee without the Lord. The Lord had stayed behind to get alone and pray. The Lord saw them through His omniscient eyes, and saw that they were struggling and frightened in a severe storm on the sea. He went to them, walking on the water. Peter sees the Lord walking on the water and he decides that he would like to try it as well. He asks the Lord’s permission to venture out on top of the waves. The Lord bids him to come, and he Peter does well for a short time until he loses his focus. While his eyes were on the Lord, he stayed afloat; but when he took his eyes off of the Lord and focused on the storm and the waves, he began to sink. Finally, he cries out to the Lord for help.

In the Christian life, there will be many storms. Some of these storms will be physical, some financial, some relational; but we will all go through the difficult days as we serve the Lord. Some of these storms will be self-inflicted, while others will be caused by others, and still others are beyond explanation. It really matters not where the blame lies as to the storm itself. The key to staying afloat in the storm, however, will be keeping our focus on the Lord Jesus. He allowed the storm in our lives for a purpose. It may be for our good; it may be for His glory; it may be for both. We need to trust the Lord and allow Him to see us through the storm.

I have seen this principle in action many times in my life. Each time a storm would appear in my life, I would spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how the storm started and who was to blame for the storm. Surely, it couldn’t be my fault, could it? God has shown me, however,  that most of the storms that I have experienced  were at least partially of my own doing. He also has shown me that the purpose of the storms was to teach me and grow me. I must confess, I always wanted to sink. I wanted to just throw in the towel, blame everybody else for my troubles, and move on in bitterness. Instead, I have learned to cry out to the Lord for help. He has always lifted me up, and helped me to make my way back into the ship. I thank the Lord for his mercy, grace, and patience with me.


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Good Ground

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

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

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

Read the “1009 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” – (Matthew 13:8)

I have always enjoyed studying these parables in Matthew 13. The Parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3 – 9; 18 – 23) in particular has helped me to understand many things about the nature of people. I have been a Christian now for a long time, and I have observed many people come and go through the years. It grieves me when people fizzle out spiritually; some even turning their backs completely on the Lord. This parable sheds a lot of light as to why that happens.

In this passage, Jesus uses soil to illustrate the four different kinds of life situations that the seed of the gospel comes in contact with. My goal in this short devotional thought is not to discuss in detail each of these different types of lives that is impacted by the gospel seed; but I would like to make some observations about the “good ground”. After all it is the good ground that produces the most fruit, isn’t it? So what are the characteristics of good ground?

1  Good ground is well watered and fertilized. It contains all of the nutrition that it needs in order to be healthy. I have never been a gardener, but I have heard many say that when they fortify the soil with plant food (like Miracle Gro), the plants will produce much more fruit, and the overall appearance of the plant will be that of health. Christians need to be nourished and watered daily by spending time with God in His Word. The spiritual nutrition that we receive from the Word of God will yield much fruit in our lives. We will starve to death spiritually without it.

2  Good ground does not contain a lot of rocks and debrit that will hinder the root system. Rocks will also hinder the retention of water. Jesus says that this illustrates the person who never allows the Word of God to take root in his life. Many Christians make professions of faith, but never get grounded in the Word through a a discipeship program in a good local church. As a result, they never develop a strong root system that will help them get established. They do well for a while, but they cannot survive any stress that may come their way.

3  Good ground is weeded regularly. Now, I do know a little something about weeds. This year, all of the flower beds at the church were overrun with weeds. It became a huge project to dig them all up. Weeds will steal all of the nutrition and water that the plant needs to survive. This scenario pictures the Christian who allows a lot of the world’s distractions to get into his life. He becomes too busy, and often too carnal to produce fruit anymore in his life.

As you can see from this passage, there is not a lot that we can do to change the fact that some people will continue to grow and produce fruit throughout their life, and some simply will fizzle out or fall away completely. However, we can do something about the soil of our own hearts. We can make sure that we are maintaining the “good ground” by keeping well-watered and fertilized with the Word of God; by removing any rocks or impediments that will hinder our root system; and by removing any weeds (distractions, weights) that may steal away the nutrition that is necessary for a healthy and fruitful life.


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Rest

Rest

Today’s Passage –Matthew 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 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

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

Read the “1008 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – (Matthew 11:28-30)

Ah, rest! Rest is a wonderful thing. The older I get the more I cherish a Sunday afternoon nap, or perhaps an early evening where I can climb into bed and fall asleep reading a good book. Rest is one of those wonderful necessities of life. We do not function well without enough of it. God commanded that His people take one day out of seven in order to rest and refresh their tired bodies:

“Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.” – (Deuteronomy 5:13-14)

I think America was a much better place when we used to all take the day off on Sundays so that we could go to church, eat an afternoon meal with the family, and rest.

However, physical rest is not what Jesus was talking about when he promised to give rest in Matthew 11:22. The rest spoken of there is not Sabbath rest, nor was Jesus speaking here of the eternal rest that awaits the child of God in Heaven. The rest referred to in this verse is the rest that we receive when we stop trying to work our way into Heaven, and simply receive the free gift of eternal life that Christ wants to us to have. But it goes beyond just salvation itself. Christ continues to give us rest as we yield our lives, our wills to Him and His will. We do not have to figure it all out for ourselves. We can simply let Him guide and direct our lives. It is certainly a lot easier to know that God has an awesome plan for our lives, and we simply need to follow Him, instead of trying to work out the way for ourselves.

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” – (Hebrews 4:9-11)

One more thought. Be careful that as a Christian you don’t get so absorbed in the work of God, that you don’t take the necessary time that you need to rest. There are a lot of Christian workaholics out there who feel the church will die unless they are personally giving every minute of their time serving. We need to remember to get enough physical rest, as well as spiritual refreshment, which comes through time spent with God in meditation, study, and prayer. Don’t get too busy with the work of God that you forget to spend time with the God of the work. Don’t forget about your family, either. Your spouse and children need some of your free time as well.

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – (Luke 10:41-42 )


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What Do You See?

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

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

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

Read the “1007 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “What Is Your House Built Upon?

“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)

In our reading today we learned about the conversion and calling of Matthew. Matthew was at his work of collecting taxes when the Lord approached him and called him to follow. The Bible tells us that Matthew immediately left his job to follow the Lord. He didn’t even give two weeks notice! Shortly after this, Matthew invites the Lord to his house to dine with him and his friends. Now this was not the crowd that hung out down at the synagogue. These were a rough bunch of “publicans and sinners”. The kind you would tell your kids to stay away from. Jesus saw this as a tremendous opportunity to minister, and to shew mercy to these folks. The Pharisees, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to criticize. They found fault with Jesus, wondering aloud as to why he would associate with such a group of “rabble rousers”.

A few years back, our church was running a “Kid’s Club service on a Wednesday Night. I remember one particular night there was an extraordinary number of kids that got on the church bus to come to the service. As we were driving through the complexes, we were amazed! The kids just kept getting on the bus. Some of them I had never seen before. I was excited because I knew that this was a tremendous opportunity to reach some of them with the gospel of Christ. Jesus loves these kids and gives stern warnings to those who would try to hinder them from coming to Him.

As the kids service came to a close that night and we were getting back on the busses to bring the children home, many of our church families were arriving for the adult Bible study and prayer meeting. I could not help but wonder what some of them were thinking. Were they as excited as the Kid’s Club workers were? I don’t know. I am sure that some were happy to see what God was doing, but I am also concerned that some may have not looked at it the same way. Some may not have been happy to see all of the “snotty nosed bus kids” on property. After all, they don’t act right, and most of them do not dress right. I had to tell one teenager to pull up his “droopy drawers” a couple of times. Take it easy on him though. He was brand new, just got saved; and he hasn’t missed a service since.

It is amazing that two people, both Christians, can look at the very same thing, and yet see something totally different. But what do you see? Do you see the multitudes out there in the world as your enemy, or an opportunity for you to demonstrate and distribute the love of Jesus Christ? And, while I’m at it, why aren’t you helping us reach and serve these kids? They need somebody to mentor and love them.


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Quit Worrying!

Quit Worrying

Today’s Passage – Matthew 5 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1006 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

Beginning in Matthew chapter 5 we have recorded what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. These verses teach us the rules for the Kingdom. These are not verses that deal specifically with the church, nor are they principles that deal with salvation. However, these passages do show us how a Spirit filled people will live during the Millennial Kingdom. Having said that, I think these verses should also describe how a Spirit filled people should live today. These principles go way beyond the bare minimum; and they surpass the minimum requirements of the law. God’s people should be second milers. They should be a people who are willing to go beyond just the law in their relationship with God, and men.

The last section in chapter 6 deals with worrying. Many of us are consumed with worry. We stress over what might, or might not, happen tomorrow. God says that we should be able to trust him with tomorrow and just content ourselves with serving Him today. God gave us provision and protection today, and He is well able to do the same tomorrow. I am not a doctor, but I am pretty confident in saying that worry and stress are contributing factors in many health problems; but we don’t have to live that way. Worry is really nothing more than a lack of faith. If our faith is strong, we know that our God will take care of us and guide our path; so we don’t have to stress over life. We worry and stress because we have taken our lives into our own hands; and we realize that we are not able to control all of the situations that will come our way; and we will not always make the right decision. However, if we put our lives and our families in the hand of God, we can be assured that God will do right by us, and He will take care of us.

These verses are not teaching, however, that we should not carefully prepare for our tomorrows. It is not wrong to make good decisions, under His guidance regarding future planning. If you think about it, salvation itself is decision that ensures a safe future. I realize that salvation entails much more than “fire insurance”, but many of us were saved because we were concerned about a future judgment. So it is not wrong to spend some time today considering tomorrow. However, when we get to the point where we are so stressed about tomorrow where we cannot serve Him today, we have taken planning well beyond the healthy limits. It is not wrong to put some money away for a rainy day, but if we get so consumed with hoarding our income today to the extent where we won’t give our tithes and offerings, we have gone well beyond mere planning.

The bottom line is that if we can trust God with our eternal destiny, can’t we trust Him with all of the little details that comprise living for Him in this world. God took care of us yesterday; He is feeding us today, and He will continue to do so tomorrow. We can trust Him. Stop worrying.


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It Is Written

Open-Bible

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

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

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

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – (Matthew 4:4)

“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” – (Matthew 4:7)

“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” – (Matthew 4:10)

In our reading passage today in chapter 4, we have the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. The devil made three attempts here to get Jesus to yield to his will, but Jesus stood strong through all that the devil threw at him. Jesus proved that He is Who He claimed to be by resisting the devil. Theologians have argued through the years about whether this was a genuine temptation. In other words, they say that since Jesus is God He cannot be tempted. I guess that is true, but it didn’t stop Satan from making the attempt. I once heard an analogy that illustrates this point pretty well: it is possible for a rowboat to attack a naval fleet; the attack would be real, but the probability of success is not very great. Satan’s attempt to seduce Jesus was real, but because Jesus is the omnipotent God, Satan could not possibly win. Consider what God said through the writer to the Hebrews:

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

The thing that I find very interesting about this account is that Jesus quoted from the Word of God each time that He was tempted by the devil. Now I hasten to say that everything that came from the mouth of Jesus was the Word of God, because He is God. However, in our passage, Jesus quotes from something He previously said in the Old Testament: something that was already recorded in the Scripture. I believe the main reason that Jesus did this was because He was giving us the formula; the secret to resisting temptation, which is memorizing and quoting Scripture. Consider these verses:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also makea way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Notice the phrase, “a way to escape”. God’s way to escape is quoting Scripture. And you cannot quote Scripture unless you have it in your heart:

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

This is why it is absolutely critical for us to be in the Word of God all of the time. We need to saturate our minds with the Scripture through our daily reading, writing, studying, meditation, and memorization of the Bible. We are now even learning how to sing the Scripture (see Scripture Memory Songs), which also helps us to keep God’s Word in our heart and mind.

The sad truth, however, is that most believers do not know enough Scripture to resist the devil’s tempation. What a shame. There is no excuse for it. I believe that this is one of the greatest needs for the people of our church today. We need to strengthened and fortified by the Word of God so that when the flesh, the world, or the devil try to get us to yield, we can stay inside the perfect will of God.

One final thought. You will notice from this passage that Satan also said, “It is written”, but it is important to note that while Satan “quoted” the Scripture, he conveniently left out part of the O.T. verse. He is still using that same method today by re-writing the Word of God in all of these modern versions. He changes words, and leaves out words as it suits his purposes. Stick with the old King James!


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Stout Words

stout words

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

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

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

Read the “1004 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” – (Malachi 3:13-15)

As I was reading this morning, the phrase, “your words have been stout against me”, caught my eye. That word “stout” is not a word that we use often in our vernacular. In the context of this passage, the word means strong or bold. God was telling Israel that they have been very bold about what they had to say about God. The passage goes on to speak about the pride of the people. It is always a dangerous thing when God’s people become large in their own eyes. Remember what the prophet Samuel told King Saul:

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

Saul had become too big for his breeches. He started to call his own shots; he didn’t need God any more. The people of Israel and Judah had the same problem in Malachi’s day. They were proud and boastful; and they no longer feared the Lord.

Our society today is much the same way, and perhaps even worse. We are a proud people. We boldly live a godless lifestyle, and almost dare God to do something about it. We shake our fists in the face of God, and proudly declare our independence. We say with our words and our actions, “We don’t need you God – stay out of our lives. We will live as we please.” Our words and actions are “stout” against God. Even in the church their is a haughty attitude of independence. God help us. We need to get back to fearing God again. God needs to be magnified in our sight, and self needs to be minimized.

“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)


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What A Day That Will Be

Zechariah 12:10

Today’s Passage – Zechariah 10 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1003 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from Zechariah 14 – “Touchdown!”

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” – (Zechariah 12:10)

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” – (Zechariah 13:1)

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:25-26)

The Bible makes it very clear in the Book of Romans that Israel, as a nation, is right now blind to the Truth of the gospel. They just can’t see that Jesus was and is their Messiah. This does not mean that there will not be individual Jews that will trust Christ as Saviour, but as a whole they have been blinded because they rejected Christ when He first came to them:

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)

There is coming a day, however, when the blindness of Israel will be taken away, and they will be able to recognize “me whom they have pieced”.  The verse goes on to say that they will mourn, “as one mourneth for his only son”. In chapter Zechariah 13:1, the Scripture goes on to say, “in that day there shall be a fountain opened … for sin and for uncleanness”. The day referred to in this verse is the same day that Israel looks upon and mourns for the One whom they pierced. Cleansing for sin only comes after we recognize our sin, and our rejection of the Saviour.

This is the exact same process that God uses to cleanse us from our sins today. God opens our eyes so that we can see the one whom we have pierced, because it is our sin that put Him on that cross. When we see our sinful condition, and realize that Jesus took all of that sin upon Him on the cross, our eyes begin to open; and when our eyes open, so does that fountain of cleansing that removes the stain of our sin from us. What an awesome God we serve!

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.


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We Will Go With You

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Today’s Passage – Zechariah 6 – 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 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “1002 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:21-23)

Throughout the Book of Zechariah, God tells us what life will be like during the Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth. This will certainly be a wonderful time to for people to live on the earth. The Bible tells us, …the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof (Zechariah 8:5). It goes on to say, And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. (Zechariah 8:8) God will be “running the show” here on the earth, and the people will be thrilled to have him ruling in righteousness.

In vs. 21 – 23 of chapter eight, there is a phrase that grabbed my attention: ten men…shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. The people of the surrounding nations will be so impressed with the relationship that the Jews have with their God that they will ask to join them as they go to the House of God. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the people that we know today could look into our lives and clearly see the relationship that we have with our Lord, and say to us, “I want to go with you to church, because I can see the Lord is with you, and He has made a wonderful difference in your life”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God’s people today exuded the love, joy, and peace that comes from a life filled with the Spirit of God. Maybe the reason that we are not attracting too many people to desire a relationship with the Lord is because they cannot see the difference that the Lord has made.

By the way, I am not saying that all we need to do is live before our neighbors. We still need to speak the truth to the people around us. Notice v. 16

“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:” (Zechariah 8:16)

The truth is that people need to hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ from our mouths, but they also need to see the love, joy, and peace that come from the relationship that we have with Him.


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The Apple of His Eye

apple of his eye

Today’s Passage – Zechariah 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 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “1001 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” – (Zechariah 2:8)

In Zechariah 2, God is reminding us that He will someday make Jerusalem, and all of Israel, the very center of His eartly Kingdom. When Christ returns, He will reign on earth for 1000 years, and “will dwell in the midst of [Jerusalem]” (v 11). In the middle of this passage God refers to the nations that have attacked Israel through the years, and describes His anger toward them. He says that they have “touched the apple of his eye”. We still use this phrase today to describe people who we love dearly. God was making it clear that he loved Israel, and His people that live there.

As a New Testament Christian, I know that God also loves me dearly. There is nothing about me that is loveable, yet because of the relationship that I have with Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, He loves me anyway. I am His child, and He is my Father. I am not always an obedient child, and I don’t always love Him as I should, but I am still the apple of His eye. Amazing. I understand a little how He feels, because I have children of my own. They are not always obedient either, but I cannot stop loving them.

Another application that we can take away from this passage is that since God loves Israel, we ought also to love Israel; and since God loves other Christians, so should we. I may be the apple of His eye, but I am not the only apple He has His eye on.


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A Bag With Holes

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Today’s Passage – Haggai 1 – 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 – Revelation 21 – 22; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30 – 31)

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

Read the “0930 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. …Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” (Haggai 1:6 & 9)

Haggai is writing to the children of Israel that have returned to the land after their time spent in captivity in the land of Babylon, and later Persia. Upon returning, they had done well in the beginning: they immediately began to re-build the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. However, after some opposition came along (and it always does), they put aside the building of God’s house and began working on their own houses and farms, etc. The problem was that God was not blessing them in their work. In many respects they were spinning their wheels. They were working hard, but God wasn’t helping them, simply because they were no longer putting the Lord first in their lives.

I see a lot of parallels from this passage with Christians today. There has never been a time in the history of America when we are as busy as we are now. Many families have both husband and wife working with some folks working two and three jobs. It is very common to hear people say that they would like to attend all of the church services, but they always have to work. After all, they have to take care of their families, don’t they? Now, I understand that people need to work. Work is good. The Bible says that men need to work in order to eat; but when our work replaces God, or seriously interferes with our worship of Him, something is wrong. And I wonder if God isn’t doing to us what he did to those Israelites of old who had misplaced priorities. Do you miss church regularly due to work? I’m not saying it is always wrong, but you have to ask yourself and the Lord if your missing services is OK with Him.

The same could be said about our giving. We would like to give, but money is tight. We justify our lack of giving due to the fact that we need to care for our families. But did you ever think that by taking matters into your own hands, you are forsaking God and removing His blessing upon your life. God said that their wages were going through a bag filled with holes. I have often felt that my money was going into a bag like that as well. Have you stopped giving your tithes and offerings because money is tight? You can expect it to get even tighter.

The problem is that we are often blind to this condition. We don’t see where we have put something above God in our lives. Ask yourself honestly. Have you put something in front of God: your job; your children; your pleasure? What is causing you to miss the full blessing of God in your life. We need to put God back where He belongs in our lives. He deserves and demands first place. After the Israelites repented and starting working again on the temple, God said, “I am with you”. I want God to be with me in my life, and He will be as long as put Him in His rightful place. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that God is with you, that His hand of approval and blessing is on every aspect of your life?

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

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

“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” – (2 Corinthians 8:8)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” – (Malachi 3:10-11)


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Revive Thy Work

revival

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 13 – 16; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0928 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” – (Habakkuk 3:2)

In our passage, Habakkuk is writing to a nation that had forsaken the Lord. They had turned their back on God’s law, and had become a pleasure seeking, idolatrous, and gluttonous culture filled with drunkenness and all kinds of immorality. Sounds like America doesn’t it? We know from the vantage point of history that God did bring revival to this nation, but only after the nation experienced God’s judgment. It was the judgment of God that caused Judah (Israel) to turn back to Him.

I fear that it will also take the judgment of God to cause America to wake up. I know that in my own life it often takes the chastisement of God to get me to see that I am drifting from Him. I have been asking God to do whatever it takes in my life to get me to where I need to be. I want to “know Him”; I want to serve Him; and I want my life to be fully yielded to Him. I want God to revive me. I am His workmanship. I want Him to break up the fallow ground in my life, and mold me into something that He can use for His glory. I want that for my family as well, and for the people in our church. I hope that we don’t have to experience too much chastisement and trial in order to get there; but if that’s what it takes, so be it.


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Pretty Feet?

feet

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 10 – 12; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “0927 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading in Nahum – “What Are You Thinking?” and “Whose Side Are You On?

“Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” (Nahum 1:15)

The Book of Nahum is a “burden” of judgment pronounced against Nineveh. In the middle of this book about Nineveh is a very interesting verse written to encourage the people of God who had experienced the oppression of the Ninevites. Nahum 1:15 is a very interesting verse. It is written to Judah, which was the southern kingdom of Israel. The northern kingdom had already been attacked and conquered by the people of Assyria who are the main subject of this little book. As God is pronouncing judgment against Nineveh (the capitol city of Assyria)  for all that they did to Israel and Judah, He inserts this verse of encouragement to the people of Judah who were spared. God tells them that He has “cut off” the nation that was oppressing them. These were certainly “good tidings” (good news) to the people of God.

Portions of this verse have been quoted in others parts of the Bible:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15)

Notice that it says in all of these verses that the feet of of the people who bring good news are beautiful. I do not think that God was speaking literally about the attractiveness of a person’s feet, but I believe that He was saying that it was a pleasant sight to see the people who are the bearers of good tidings. When Paul quoted from this verse in Romans 10:15 he was referring to the man who is sent to preach the gospel, which is the “good tidings” regarding salvation. God says that it is a beautiful thing for people to bring the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ.

How beautiful are your feet? Are your feet being used of the Lord to bring the good news of salvation to your neighbors. Are feet are used to bring us to a lot of places, but the greatest service that they can render is to bring us to the place where we can introduce a lost sinner to Jesus.


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Do Right, Love People, Walk with God

micah6-8

Today’s Passage – Micah 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 7 – 9; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0926 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8) (Click on the verse to hear it sung by the Clark Family)

A simple but very profound verse of Scripture from the Book of Micah. Do you want to know how you can be right with your God? There is a simple three point outline here in verse eight of chapter six that explains just how to do that. Notice, however, that this verse is written to a people that already know God, so in order to make the application to yourself today you would have to have already begun a relationship with Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. If you have already trusted Him as your Savior, then this verse is for you:

1  Do justly – this has as much to do with our relationship with others as well as our obedience to God. We need to strive to be in a right relationship with others; and do the right thing by them. If we have wronged somebody, let’s try to get it right. “Do the right thing”.

2  Love mercy – this has to do with forgiving others who have wronged you. Are you bitter against somebody today? Why not release him from the debtor’s prison in your heart; and forgive him. Look at how God (and others) have forgiven you. Loving mercy could also apply to your love for the souls of men.

3  Walk humbly with God – We need to see ourselves for who we really are – nothing; and see God for who He is – everything. Do you have a walk with Him? Are you spending time daily in prayer, and in the Word? Are you living your life in submission to His will.

Living in a right relationship with God is not all that mysterious or difficult. Jesus said that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. But if we refuse to submit ourselves to His Lordship, holding on to our own will and desire; walking with Him will be impossible. I’m not talking about perfection here: we all blow it at times; but when that happens, we must confess it to God, get back up, and move forward again in our walk with Him.


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There Is Coming A Day

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 4 – 6; Psalms 121 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0925 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” – (Micah 4:1-5)

I just want to give you a couple of quick thoughts this morning from today’s passage in Micah. In Micah chapter 4, God is referring to the Millenial reign of Christ on the earth. This future time period will come only after the church is raptured and the world endures a seven year period of tribulation which will separate the sheep from the goats (the saved from the lost). This 1000 year reign of Christ on earth will be a wonderful time of peace on the earth. Christ will physically be here on the earth ruling the affairs of men. All nations will be in submission to Him, and it will truly be a time of tranquility and safety. Everyone will be living according to the principles found in the Word of God, and Christ Himself will be the instructer. What a time to live on the earth.

Obviously, the day that we are living in today is not like this Millenial reign of Christ, but I believe that Christians can do a lot more to make their homes and their churches more like this future time period. We can do this by yielding our lives to the will of God, surrendering our wills to the Spirit of God, and saturating ourselves with the Word of God. We will never be able to control what goes on in the world around us but we can do something about the homes that we live in, and the churches that we worship in. In the the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth…”. We can do the will of God while we are on this earth, and by doing so we will have a little taste of the Millenial Kingdom. Our homes and our churches should be little pictures of this wonderful time described in Micah 4.


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A God of Second Chances

The God of Second Chances

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 1 – 3; Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0924 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” (Jonah 3:1-3)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29 )

This morning’s passage is one of the most familiar portions of Scripture in the Bible: even many lost people could tell you something about this famous story. I will not take the time to revisit much of the familiar ground here, but I will sum up what happens up until chapter 3. Jonah is called by God to prophesy against Nineveh, which he refuses to do. Instead he heads east on a ship as far away from Nineveh as he can get. God causes a great tempest on the water, and Jonah ends up being thrown into the sea where he is swallowed up by a whale. While inside the belly of the great fish, Jonah repents, and after three days and nights, Jonah is vomited up on to dry ground.

Notice in chapter three that God comes to Jonah the second time, and commands him to do the exact same thing that he wanted him to do earlier. There are a couple of thoughts that I would like to consider this morning regarding these verses. First, why didn’t God ask somebody else to go. I am sure that God had other prophets, and probably even had one that would have been willing to go to the despised people of Nineveh. Why did God insist upon using Jonah? Why didn’t God give up on him and go to somebody else? Does God do the same thing with us today? In other words, is there something that God wants me to do that He will not allow somebody else to do, and if I rebel against his call, will it get done? Just a thought.

My second thought from this passage is that God did not give up on Jonah, even though Jonah rebelled against God. God patiently brought Jonah to where he needed to be, and used Jonah even though his heart wasn’t completely in the work. God gave Jonah a second opportunity to fulfill the will of God. What a great God we serve that puts up with our reluctance and our rebellion against him. God could have just let Jonah drown in the sea, but instead he brought him back to where he needed to be, and showed him what he needed to see.

God also gave John Mark in the New Testament a second chance. He was called by Paul and Barnabas to travel with them on the first missionary journey, but shortly after the trip began, he turned back. When the planning for the second journey was being discussed, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance, which Paul refused to do. Barnabas ended up splitting with Paul and taking John Mark with him. Paul admitted later on that John Mark was profitable to him for the ministry. Sometimes people don’t want to give you a second chance, but God does. By the way, if God is willing to give second chances to people, shouldn’t we?


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Spiritual Famine

drought

Today’s Passage – Amos 6 – 9; Obadiah 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 – 2 John, 3 John, Jude; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0923 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:” (Amos 8:11)

Amos is writing concerning Israel about a time where there will be an absence of the Word of God among the people. But that famine of Bible instruction and principle comes as a result of the lack of desire among the people of Israel for hearing the Words of God. The people of Judah and Israel had their fill of God. They no longer desired to hear what He had to say; they no longer desired to live in by His precepts. They simply felt that they no longer needed God or His instruction.

I feel that America today is in the same boat. There is no famine here. There may be preachers out there who water down the Word of God, and there may be a lot of compromise out there; but, a copy of the Word of God is certainly available to nearly every person in America, and there really isn’t a shortage of churches out there. The problem is not the availability of the Word of God. Rather, the problem is a lack of desire for instruction from God. We have loosed from the moorings of our Biblical heritage and are floating in the sea of secular humanism. We are shouting to God from our culture, “Get Out!”, we don’t need you and we certainly don’t want you. I don’t think it is too far fetched to think about a day in the near future when our authorities try to stop the distribution of the Word of God altogether.

God will not stay where he is not wanted. In fact, the only thing holding back the judgment of God is a remnant of people in America who love the Word and the God who wrote it. So what is the solution? Can this tide of apathy and antagonism toward God be stopped, or even slowed? I am not sure. But my instructions are still to “preach the Word”, even when it is out of season. Christian, it matters not what the world thinks about our God and our Bible. We need to keep obeying God by sowing the seed of His word to the world around us. Some day soon, our job will be done; but for now it is still our responsibility to reach who we can with the glorious gospel of Christ. There are still people out there that hunger and thirst after righteousness.


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Where Is Their God?

Where-is-God1

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

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

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

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” – (Joel 2:15-17)

“Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servantswhich is shed.” (Psalm 79:10)

Have you ever asked the question, “where is God?”  I have often heard the people of this world ask this question when bad things happen on the earth. They will say that if there was a loving God, He would not allow all of this evil in the world. I have also heard some of the people of God pose the same thought when they or somebody they care about are experiencing hardship in life. However, the context of the verse written above is a little bit different. In our passage, the people of God have strayed far away from His will. Judgment has already come, and more judgment is on the way, and the prophet is pleading with the people to turn back to God. Notice that he wants all of the people: men, women, and even the little children to gather together. He doesn’t want any of them to not be in their place. That’s a good place to start, isn’t it. Many of God’s people today have forsaken the church house, which is “the house of the living God” for us today. Then the prophet says that the priests are to plead to God for the people. God wanted this congregation of Israel to understand that they needed to recognize that they have strayed; and then repent and turn back to God. We need to do the same thing today.

My thought for this morning, however, is that I wonder how many of of the people around us: our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, etc. can see God in our lives.  Can they see the reality of our faith working throughout our day to day living. Maybe they are tolerant and even polite to us regarding what we say about our faith; but I wonder sometimes if they aren’t secretly thinking, “where is their God?” Can they see the reality of God in our lives?  No wonder we are having a difficult time reaching the people around us. If God isn’t real to us, how can he reveal Himself to others through us. I believe we have a tremendous responsibility and an awesome opportunity to show people our God through our lives.

1  Show them God by living out your faith.  If you really believe God, then live according to the principles found in His Word.  Walk with Him daily.  Yield to His Spirit and His will.  Separate from the things that are not apart of His perfect plan for your life.

2  Show them God by loving the people around you.  God loves people, unlovable people just like you.  Demonstrate the reality of God by demonstrating God’s love to people.  Look for ways to express the love of God to the lost world around you. Don’t take separation beyond where God intended it to be.  He wants us to impact their world; not only with the truth, but also with compassion.

3  Show them God by lasting. A lot of Christians start out their race, and do pretty well for a while, but eventually drop out. When a Christian throws in the towel on his faith, he is telling the world that his God was not real. When I first got saved 21 years ago, my brother said to me that he didn’t think this new life of mine would last. He thought it was just a phase that I was going through; but now I think he has come to realize that my God as well as my salvation is very real. The greatest compliment a person could give me would be for them to say that they saw the reality of God in my life.


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It’s Time

It's Time

Today’s Passage – Hosea 8 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0920 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” (Hosea 14:1-2)

A few years ago, Hosea 10:12 was the theme verse for our church. Throughout the year, we would say to each other before services or soul winning, “It’s time”. In the context of Hosea’s book, Israel was at the end of their time for turning to God. God had warned them over and over again to come back to Him; but they were content to stay away. They had become comfortable, and complacent. They had been protected and prosperous, but they attributed their success to themselves rather than to the blessings of God. God had been patient; but His patience was running out. It was past time to seek the Lord. Judgement was imminent.

As a preacher, I sometimes feel the same frustration that Hosea and the other prophets felt. I preach the best that I can, yet I get the feeling that for the most part, my words are going in one ear and out the other. I am not speaking here about people who are trying but struggling. I am in that category myself sometimes; but I am sensing that their is an indifference to spiritual things by many in our community and even in our church. I believe with all of my heart that we are in those “perilous times” that Paul spoke of where men will “heap to themselves teachers having itching ears”.

Those of you that are reading this blog most likely are not in this category. You are the “choir” that so often get preached at (or written to). You love God, and though you may have your weak moments and battles with the flesh, the world, and  the devil; you desire to live for Him. Keep seeking God. Don’t let the attitude and apathy of the world cause you to back up in your love and devotion for Him. Keep moving forward, keep growing. Hosea was writing to a bunch of lost Israelites about turning back to God; and we certainly want to encourage a lost America to turn to God. But, we also want to plead with those who may already have a relationship with God to keep seeking Him; keep drawing closer to Him.

I am praying that God will bring real and lasting revival to our church, and new life to our community and country; but I really want to experience a personal revival. I want to know God and love Him in a deeper way than ever before. How about you? It is very dry out there, spiritual speaking. If you are like me, you are thirsting for some refreshing rain from God. Let God break up some of that hard, dry soil in your heart; and ask Him to refresh, renew, and revive your life.


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Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge

why-study-the-bible

Today’s Passage – Hosea 1 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0919 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledgebecause thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:1 & 6)

I remember recently looking at a textbook from back at the turn of the last century. I think it was called a “primer” and it was used for teaching in public schools all over America. It is full of references to God and direct quotes from the Bible. It didn’t matter what the subject was, the writers of the curriculum made sure that while the students learned academics they also learned about God. When I was a child, we used to observe a “moment of silence”, which was our opportunity to pray at the beginning of the school day. When my dad and mom were young, the teachers in the classroom actually prayed to God aloud, and also recited the Ten Commandments, etc. in the public school. America was filled with the knowledge of God in years past. They say that the average lost man, 100 years ago, knew more Bible than a Bible college student does today. I don’t think that is far from being true. We have become a secular society with all of the humanistic principles and philosophies that go along with it. We no longer look to God for solutions: we look to the government or the prominent secular authority.

In Hosea’s day it was much the same way. The land of Israel was founded on Biblical principles, yet the people became increasingly enamored with the counsel and culture of the ungodly. God said that the people were destroyed because of this lack of knowledge. The question in my mind, though, is where to place the blame. Was it God’s fault? No. Was it the people’s fault? That is a good question. I mean, the people obviously had lost their appetite for spiritual things: they did not want to “hear it” anymore. It’s hard to deliver truth to people who don’t want to listen anymore. However, I would place the blame at the feet of God’s ministers. They seemed to have gotten tired of going against the popular trends of their day; and chose to acquiesce to it rather than preach against it. So, truth stop being delivered, and the people got worse.

This sure reminds me of the current religious climate in America. Preachers want to please the people. Who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is that in pleasing the people they often compromise the truth. Most churches in America today are only delivering a small fraction of the truth that they once delivered. For example: how many churches have shut down their Sunday School programs; Sunday Evening services; and mid-week Prayer Meetings? How many messages have been cut back to a palatable 20 minutes; and how many of those 20 minute messages have more than a reference or two to Scripture. God commands His preachers to preach the Word “in season (when it’s popular) and out of season”. It really does not matter if the culture wants it or not, we are to flood our communities with the truth of God’s Word. Our nation is starving for the Word of God; and, unfortunately, so are many of our church members. We need to get back to preaching and teaching the truth in our schools and in our churches and in our homes. We need also to get back to flooding our communities with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the people won’t be “destroyed for lack of knowledge”


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Shining

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

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 9 – 13; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0918 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” – (Daniel 12:3)

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” – (Proverbs 11:30)

Not too long ago I received a text message from a very excited member of our church. She had taken a trip down to North Carolina to visit with her father who was very sick. She was concerned about her father’s physical health, but she was even more concerned about his spiritual condition. This young lady had never lead anyone to Christ before and she was very apprehensive, but because she had such a love and burden for her dad, she boldly shared Christ with him. Praise the Lord! Her father was gloriously saved. I do not know that in the future she will go on to “turn many to righteousness”, or not; but I do know that she was shining like a star the day she was used of the Lord to win her father.

I don’t know about you, but that story encourages me to be a better soul winner. I want to share Christ with the world around me. There was a time in my life when I was overflowing with the gospel: I witnessed to everybody. But, to my shame, somewhere along the way, I lost some of that zeal. I want it back.


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The Prayer of Daniel

prayer_3

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

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 5 – 8; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “0917 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:” (Daniel 9:4 & 5)

The three chapters that we have read today contain wonderful prophecies about what was going to lie ahead for the people of Israel; and partially they reveal what still lies ahead for us today. Daniel receives several visions in these chapters, and for the most part they are explained to him so that he (and we) can understand them. We basically learn about all of the kingdoms that would rule the earth from the time of Daniel up until the time of the return of Christ. We learn that the Kingdom of Babylon would be overtaken by the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Following them will be the Greeks; and finally we conclude with the Roman Empire which was in power at the time of Christ. This kingdom will eventually be revived and ruled by Antichrist in the last days. These are fascinating and amazingly easy to understand passages of Scripture that leave us with the assurance of knowing that we already have the victory over any evil forces that may come our way.

However, in the midst of all of this prophecy that is given in these three chapters is a prayer to God by Daniel. The thing that captivated my attention about this prayer is that Daniel includes himself in his confession to God regarding all of the iniquity of the people of God. He doesn’t say “they”; he says “we”. Now from what we know about Daniel from what is recorded in Scripture is that he was a very good man. There is not a mark against him in the Word of God. However, we know that he was a man like every other man and was not sinless. Nevertheless, he includes himself in all of the corporate idolatry and immorality that the nation was guilty of. I don’t think that he had forsaken God as the nation had, yet he took the blame upon himself.

I have a couple of thoughts regarding this humble prayer of Daniel:

1 Daniel is a type of Christ here who, though innocent, takes the blame for the sin of others.

2 Daniel is not like most men, including myself at times, who are always trying to pass the blame on to others. Why are we so full of pride that we have to try to make ourselves look to be without flaw and without sin. We are sinners. Sinners sin: it’s what we do. When we sin, we ought to be able to admit it to the Lord, ourselves, and others. We are not God. God doesn’t sin. Remember the old saying, “to err is human”. It is. Humans err; humans make mistakes; humans get away from God. Let’s not be proud of our humanity, but let’s try to humble ourselves enough to recognize it.

Christian, let me encourage you to not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. You ought always to be willing to accept blame for your actions; and even accept some blame for the actions of those you may be associated with. Daniel took full responsibility for the actions of his nation. We ought to have enough humility to come before God the same way. It really is kind of strange the way we behave. We try to present ourselves as perfect: we want to be seen as some kind of God; but God, who is perfect, took upon Himself the blame of everyone else.


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“He Shall Stand Before Kings”

Daniel

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

(Second Milers also read – Philemon – Hebrews 4; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16

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

Read the “0916 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earthare reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:34 & 35)

But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: (Daniel 5:23)

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (Daniel 6:26)

In the three chapters that we have read today, we have the accounts of three different kings: Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; Belshazzar of Babylon; and Darius of Persia. Each of these kings came to know that the God of Heaven was the only God of the universe. Each of these kings came to know this under different circumstances. The first king we saw (Daniel 4) was Nebuchadnezzar. He had already seen the power and supremacy of our God in the events that are recorded in the first three chapters of Daniel. Somehow, however, he forgot that it was God who buttered his bread; and began to think that it was he who was the source of his own success. The last straw was in v 30, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”. God had to greatly humble him. It is a principle of God that he humbles those who exalt themselves. Praise God, though, that He gave Nebuchadnezzar another chance, and He allowed him to be restored. Nebuchadnezzar did not make the same mistake twice: he gave God the glory for all that he was able to accomplish in the kingdom.

The second king we saw (in chapter 5) was Nebuchadnezzar’s “son” who appears to have never come to the place where he voluntarily submitted himself to the God of Heaven. He actually got so bad that he drank from the cups that were taken from the Temple of God: cups that were reserved only for the priests in the service of God. God revealed Himself to Belshazzar by writing his doom upon the wall. Shortly thereafter the the prophecy from the writing was fulfilled when the Persian empire came in and conquered the city of Babylon.

The last king that we read about (in chapter 6) was Darius from Persia. It seems that Darius had a great respect at least for God, though it did not appear that he worshipped him. Because of a mistake that he made, Daniel ended up in the den of lions; but somehow Darius knew that God would deliver him. He actually ended up making it official in the kingdom that everyone was to worship God.

The common denominator for all of these kings, however, is Daniel. Daniel was a steady witness; a powerful, uncompromising voice in all three of these kingdoms. He never wavered and he never yielded to the worldly influences around him. Even though he was in captivity, he was always blessed of God, and favored by each of these kings. His story is similar to Joseph’s in many ways. Let’s learn from the example of men like Daniel and Joseph, and let’s live for God; even in times when the whole world is going in the wrong direction. There will be opportunities to demonstrate the love and power of God before a lost world. When they need God, they will look for someone who they know has consistently walked with Him, like Daniel.

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” (Proverbs 22:29)


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The Lord Is There

Keep-Going

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 47 – 48 (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 – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the “0914 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” (Ezekiel 47:9)

“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” (Ezekiel 48:35)

These concluding chapters of Ezekiel paint a marvelous picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, which He will establish here on the earth after the Great Tribulation. The Bible tells us of a river that flows from the throne of God in the Temple that eventually empties into the Dead Sea. The River begins as just a trickle but deepens and widens as it flows, eventually becoming a great river that one could swim in. I believe this is a marvelous picture of the presence and grace of God. We, as His children, often begin our journey only entering in ankle deep, but as we grow in our relationship with Him, we go ever deeper into those living waters of life that He spoke of also in John 4. It is interesting also that Ezekiel tells us that the waters will heal anything that they come in contact with. Even the Dead Sea, which is virtually devoid of all life today because of its salt concentration, will be healed and will be full of all sorts of fish and other living creatures. God told us in John’s gospel that He came to give us an abundant life, and at this time, all the world will experience the abundant life that only can come through a deepening relationship with Christ.

I love the last verse of Ezekiel’s prophecy. It says that the name of the city shall be, “The Lord is there”. I got to thinking about that statement and how it should apply to many things today. The presence of God indwells me today, so I can say about my life that the Lord is there. But I wonder how often my life is not a good representation of that reality. How often do I quench the Holy Spirit of God as He seeks to flow through me in order to reach the people around me who may not know Him. My family ought to be a picture of “the Lord is there”, as well as our church. In this Millennial Kingdom that Ezekiel speaks of everybody will see it: there will be no obstructions, no impairments that will hinder the people from clearly experiencing the presence of God. I want the obstructions to be removed from my life so that others will clearly see Christ in me. I want people to be able to say about me that God is with me; but my flesh often puts a bushel over the candlestick of God working in my life. How about you? Can people clearly see and be refreshed by the presence of God in your life? Won’t it be wonderful when this time comes that Ezekiel writes about to never have to be hindered by our flesh again: the sin nature that plaques us will be removed for good. But for now, we have to battle with our flesh; we have to surrender to the Spirit of God, and allow His abundant life to flow through us.


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God’s Plan B

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 44 – 46 (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 – 1 Timothy 4 – 6; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0913 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary,having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.” (Ezekiel 44:10 & 11)

In the passage above we see that some of the Levites were guilty of falling away from God and chasing after idols. God tells them here that they will have to face the consequences for their actions (“bear their iniquity”), but He does not cast them away altogether. He still gives them a place to serve in the temple. There were some things that they could no longer do, but they could still participate in the worship.

As I mused on this passage I had two contrasting thoughts. First, I considered how awful it must have been to be removed from a high position of service because of sin. But next, I thought about how wonderful God is to give us a second chance to serve Him. We may not be able to do the same things we used to do, but we can still participate; still serve God.

These thoughts lead me to give two challenges. The first is to those who are serving God today with no blemish on their record. They are blameless in the eyes of the community, and have not disqualified themselves from being a pastor or deacon. Stay pure, stay away from sin. Put up some fences and boundaries in your life that will keep you inside the will of God. Don’t lose what God has given you.

The second challenge is to those who may have fallen. Get back up, and do whatever God will allow you to do. You may not minister in the same capacity as you used to, but you can still serve. You can still win people to Christ. You can still be a prayer warrior. You can still minister to people. You can still be a blessing to a church by serving in a variety of ways. You can still give so that others can minister “full-time”. There is still a lot for you to do. Don’t lay down. Get back up and find God’s plan B for your life. Allow God’s grace to humble you and restore you. Who knows, God may just use you in a greater way than He did before; but just praise God that He is still using you.


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The Glory of the Lord

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

(Second Milers also read – 1 Timothy 1 – 3; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0912 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.– (Ezekiel 43:1-5)

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.” – (2 Chronicles 7:1)

I enjoyed reading this morning the continued description of the Millennial Temple and the worship that will take place during the Millennial Kingdom. I find it interesting that it appears that some of the sacrifices (like the Passover) will be re-instituted during this time. I often wondered why there would be sacrifices at this time. Then it dawned on me that there was never a “need” for the sacrifices. What I mean is that they never took away sin; they just served as a symbol or a picture of Christ’s coming sacrifice on Calvary. However, during the Millennium, they will no longer point forward to Christ; they will serve as a reminder, a memorial of Christ: much like the Lord’s Supper does for us today.

However, the thing that really excited me this morning was the thought of the glory of God passing through the eastern gate. You may recall that Christ came through the eastern gate when he rode in Triumphal Entry. That was certainly glorious, however, at that time Christ was veiled in humanity, and His glory was not evident to many who saw Him;  but at the end of the Tribulation when Christ begins His Millennial reign (after putting down all opposition), He will bust through these gates and set up  His Kingdom on earth. Imagine what that will be like. I want to see it up close. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of a world that spits in the face of God. I am tired of mosques being built where the temple should be. Don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating violence; but I long for the day when Christ puts an end to all of this nonsense. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.

A practical application for today from this passage surrounds that phrase in v 5, “the glory of the Lord filled the house”. The glory of the Lord comes with His presence. I want to experience the presence of God in our local church every time I come to worship. Isn’t it a wonderful thing when the Lord shows up while we’re at church. It is His house isn’t it? Unfortunately, there are many times that we come together for worship and the Lord’s glory isn’t as evident as it should be. I suppose there are many reasons why that is: it could be because their is bitterness and division within the church; it may be that there is too much carnality among the members; and it could be that the people are just not looking to meet with God. Whatever the reasons, it is a shame that God does not feel welcome in His own house. I want to experience the presence of God in my life, my home, and my church.


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Have You Forgotten?

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Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0911 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

17 years ago today our nation was attacked by radical Muslim terrorists filled with hatred for our culture and our freedom. I have not forgotten that day, and I am sure that all of you who read this who were alive on September 11th have not forgotten either. We remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that day. It is my prayer that as the years go by the memory of 9/11 will remain vivid in our hearts and minds for several reasons:

1 I do not want to forget that there is an enemy out there that wants to destroy us. In this world of distraction, we go about busily living our lives almost oblivious to the fact that evil still exists in our world. Satan is still very active, and His hatred for God and God’s people has only become more intense as years have passed. His influence on people has also increased; and there are more people than ever out there who are under his influence, and are willing to do his evil bidding. As Christians, we are admonished to be alert:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – (1 Peter 5:8)

2 I do not want to forget that there is still a cause worth fighting for. The evil that exists in the world reminds me that I must be daily in the battle, fighting the devil, and working to deliver people from his spell. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is still the most powerful weapon in our arsenal against the wiles of the devil. The more people that we can reach with the message of salvation, the less people Satan will have to do his bidding. Evil cannot be removed by more evil. It can only be eradicated through the love of Christ.

3 I do not want to forget that there are still people out there that are willing to die for that cause; and there are still folks out there worth dying for. Jesus died to set us free:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – (John 8:32)

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” – (John 8:36)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” – (Romans 8:2)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – (Galatians 5:1)

Jesus died to give us liberty, and there are many still today who are willing to lay down there life for the same cause. The men and woman who are fighting today are fighting for our liberty and freedom. The men and women who were murdered by the terrorists thirteen years ago were murdered because the concept of liberty and freedom was under attack.

The greatest demonstration of love is sacrifice. Jesus commended His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Parents show their love for their children by what they sacrifice for them. The men and women that went into those buildings in order to save lives were putting their lives on the line for other people. The men and women that fight for our freedom today are putting their lives in jeopardy for the cause of our liberty. They are sacrificing their own liberty in order to help us keep ours.

Let’s not forget these things. Let’s not forget these people. And let’s get in the battle ourselves, and be willing to sacrifice some of our liberty so that we can help others enjoy theirs.


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Can These Bones Live?

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Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 35 – 37 (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 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

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

Read the “ 0910 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” (Ezekiel 37:3)

In chapter 37, God shows Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of old, dry bones; and he is commanded by God to prophesy to the bones that God will put flesh upon them once again and put breath into them so they might live. Once Ezekiel begins to do this, he sees the bones begin to shake and gather together, and after God puts His breath back into them, they get up and become an “exceeding great army”. The correct meaning of this vision is explained by God Himself: the scattered bones represent the whole house of Israel. They had been divided, and they had long since died spiritually by turning away from the God who gave them life. However, through this vision, God explains that Israel will once again be united and will also once again be revived, walking in the commandments of the Lord.

Though, it is not supported by the immediate context, I would like to suggest an application of this vision on two more levels. Could we say that God can give life again to the Christian that is spiritually dead? And, could we say that God can give life again to the church that is spiritually dead? This passage is a wonderful picture of spiritual renewal and revival. Christians and churches tend to gradually slip away from the Lord: they get apathetic and lazy in their devotion. They then begin to move away from soul winning and service; and before they realize what has happened they become dry bones with no spiritual life or fruit. When these times come, we need God to breathe new life into us and cause our dry bones to live.

Notice also that a sign of the deadness of the bones was that they were scattered. God had to first gather the bones together in order to bring life back to them. Division in the church is a definite sign of deadness. The churches of the New Testament that were mightily used of God in winning souls were “in one accord” and “had all things common”. Churches that lose sight of their focus of fulfilling the Great Commission will soon become divided and die.

Let’s make this practical for you as an individual. Are you spiritually dead or alive? When was the last time you picked up your Bible outside of a church service just to spend time alone with God? How is your prayer life? When was the last time that you were concerned enough about a lost man’s soul that you spoke to him about it? Do you view life from a Christ-centered, Biblical perspective, or do you place self at the very center of the universe? Do you look forward to being with God’s people in the church services or has it become a chore for you; something you endure? Do you “have to” or do you “get to”? Be honest with your answers. Now make a diagnosis. Are you breathing, or are you dead? If you are dead or dying, why not ask God to breathe new life into you. Your dead bones can live again as you surrender your life to the will of God.


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The Watchman

watchman-on-wall

Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 32 – 34 (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 – Colossians 1 – 4; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “ 0909 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” – (Ezekiel 33:7)

“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” – (Ezekiel 33:32)

Today’s reading contained a lot of very convicting truth regarding those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. There are three different terms used to describe God’s ministers in these chapters. In chapter 33:7 we see the title, “watchman” used again. The watchmen were the men that were expected to warn the people of a danger that is approaching. God expects his watchmen to stay alert, and faithfully warn the people. He will hold the preachers accountable who fail to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. God says that if the watchman does his job and faithfully warns the people, then he will not be held accountable when the people go astray; but if he fails to warn them, their blood will be on his hands. This is a very sobering truth for those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. We must tell them, even if they don’t want to hear it. Notice verse 11:

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

God does not enjoy judging people. We must warn them.

At the end of chapter 33, God uses the title, “prophet”. Ezekiel was preaching to a people who seemed to enjoy listening to him, but they didn’t heed what he said. As a pastor, I often feel as if I am wasting my time. Though the church is full on Sunday morning with people who seem to enjoy the messages, I see very little change in their lives. It gets frustrating sometimes. But then I remember how I often disobey my own preaching. I guess that gets very frustrating to God. Things aren’t always the way they appear to be, however. I have often been fooled by people. I have known people who, on the surface, appeared to be bearing no fruit in their lives; and discovered that their lives were, in fact, being transformed and they were actually making an impact on the people around them.  I remember one time there was a guy at a former church that had long hair and a scraggly beard. He smoked like a chimney. He would come in on Sunday mornings, and I remember wondering to myself if the guy was even saved. One day, he invited the pastor to come to his house to help him talk to some of his friends about the Lord. The pastor arrived to a dozen or more people who all looked as rough as the guy who invited them; but, a bunch of those folks got saved. I was fooled by what I saw on the outside. I have also been fooled by people who I thought were walking with God because they looked good on the outside. Again, things aren’t always as they seem. I guess my job is just to faithfully deliver the truth from the Word of God, and pray that someone (including myself) will listen. But, ultimately the results are up to God and the listeners.

The title used in chapter 34:1 – 10 is “shepherds”. The shepherds were supposed to feed and protect the flock. God rebukes these shepherds of Ezekiel’s day because they were more concerned with feeding themselves. I wonder what God would say to me about my concern for the sheep that He has entrusted to me. These are very sobering passages, especially for the preachers and teachers. I will someday face God and will be judged regarding the ministry that He has given me. It is an awesome and very difficult responsibility. I have already failed on numerous occasions, but my desire is to learn and grow so that I can do better in the future. Pray for me and for all who proclaim the Truth of God that we will boldly, but compassionately deliver both the Truth of God and the love of God to those we are called to minister to.


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