Nuggets of Gold

Nuggets of Gold

Today’s Reading – Psalms 36 – 39 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0623 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” – (Psalm 37:4)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” – (Psalm 37:23)

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” – (Psalm 37:25)

Have you ever noticed that Psalm 37 contains many wonderful verses that we often quote. I have listed three of them above, but really I could have added more. This Psalm almost reminds me of a chapter from the Book of Proverbs, but the theme seems to be the same throughout the Psalm. The bottom line to this Psalm is that God is encouraging us to trust in His promises and provisions; and to not worry about the apparent prosperity of the lost world around us. Their success and superiority is short-lived at best; but ours is eternal.

Let’s consider the three verses listed above. David says that a good man will “order” his steps according to the direction of the Lord. This means tha a good man will yield himself to the will of the Lord. Notice that both verse 4 and 23 say that this good man will “delight” in God. God then in turn not only provides the necessities mentioned in v 25, but also will grant his desires. What a wonderful and awesome God we serve. What does this world have to offer you that could possibly compare to what God wants to give to that “good” man (or woman) who delights in Him.


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Forgiven

Forgiven

Today’s Reading – Psalms 32 – 35(Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0622 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1

The Book of Hebrews admonishes us to grow up in our faith and move beyond the foundational truths of the Christian life. That’s good advice: we cannot stay babies forever. However, it is wonderful to be reminded often about the simple truths of the forgiveness that God offers to all those who are willing to put their faith in Him. In this passage, there is a reminder to all of us who are saved. The verse above simply reminds us of the fact those who have their sins forgiven are a blessed people. To think that an omniscient God, who knows every sinful act of my past as well as every evil thought, would be willing to forgive me, and even look at me and treat as if I had never done or thought any of those horrible things.

It gets even better. Notice verse 2:

“Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Psalm 32:2)

It is one thing to choose to forgive the acts of the past; but to also forgive ahead of time all of our future transgressions is beyond comprehension. God loves us unconditionally. He says he will not “impute” our sin. The word impute means to assign to or credit to. God says that he will not assign or credit our debts or sins to our account. Why? Because 2000 years ago he laid all of the debt of my sin upon the His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus paid my sin debt for me. What a wonderful thought. Notice h
ow that happened to David:

“I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

He acknowledged his sin. He did not deny them or hide them. He then confessed them to God and asked the Lord for forgiveness. God could only forgive him because the debt would be paid by Christ. Have you confessed your sin to God, and asked Him for forgiveness? Have you come to the foot of the cross and called upon the name of the Lord for salvation. If you haven’t done so yet, please call upon Him today.

To those of us who have received the forgiveness of God through the remission of our sins, how are we at forgiving each other? God has forgiven everything that I have ever done or will do. What right do I have to withhold forgiveness from others? Just a thought.


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Joy Cometh in the Morning

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Today’s Reading – Psalm 26 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0621 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” – (Psalm 30:5)

This is a tremendous, encouraging truth from the Word of God. Sometimes living and serving on this earth can be very trying. There are going to be days, and even seasons, where we experience hardships, pain, and suffering; but, praise God, He always brings us to the other side of the trials to the place where we can see the glorious sun of God’s love rising over the dark horizon.

As I read this verse this morning, I thought of the Stahl family. Ted and Camille have had a pretty rough go of it for the past few years. They dealt for years with the debilitating arthritis of their daughter, Melissa, which involved many surgeries.  Later, their daughter developed cancer, and after a long battle with more surgeries and painful treatments, she finally went home to be with the Lord. It was certainly a dark time for this godly, faithful, serving family. After Melissa’s death, Camille had a heart attack, which would necessitate surgeries for her. In the midst of it all, Brother Ted was struggling to take care of his family due to problems related to his job. Through it all, they remained true to their God: they stayed faithful. It did not seem like this long night of weeping would ever end, but God has brought them to the place where they could once again experience the joy of living and serving Him.

Ted and Camille Stahl are not the only ones that will go through the fiery trials of this life. Our family also went through a very dark valley a couple of  years ago, and there were times when we thought it would never end. But, God has brought us through to the other side of the trial, and we are now enjoying life more than ever. The truth is that we will all experience the rough times, the dark valleys; but it is good to know that God will be with us every step of the way, even though at times we cannot perceive His presence. It is also very comforting to understand, that every dark tunnel that we may experience in this life has a light at the end of it; and when this life is all over, we have the bliss and splender of Heaven waiting for us.

Are you in a dark valley right now? Take heart. Stay faithful. Joy does come in the morning.


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Mountaintop or Valley

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 21 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0620 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Are You Teachable?

“Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.” (Psalm 21:2)

“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:2)

Isn’t it interesting the difference between Psalm 21 and Psalm 22. Many of these Psalms are just praises and prayers to God right out of the heart of David. In Psalm 21 everything is great. David is praising the Lord for all of the wonderful things that God has done for him. In Psalm 21 it appears that everything is going great in David’s life.

Now when we get to Psalm 22, it seems like the bottom has fallen out of David’s life. Notice in verse 2, he accuses God of not hearing him. That’s funny because in the first Psalm he said that God gave him the desires of his heart. What happened? Is there some kind of a contradiction here? No. It is just that David, like us, is viewing God through the eyes of his present circumstance. Apparently his circumstance in Psalm 22 was not as good as Psalm 21. Remember, these Psalms are expressions of the deep feeling coming straight out of David’s heart.

I find that my prayer and praise to God is much the same way. Like David, I too go through different seasons. At times, it feels like nothing is going wrong in life; but at other times it seems as if God is completely absent from my life and the devil is having a “free for all”. Do you ever feel that way? I guess maybe David was just as human as we are. I would like to some day get to the place where my praises to God are consistent regardless of the valley or the mountaintop I may be traveling through.


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My Thoughts and Words

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 17 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 9 – 13; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0619 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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

I love the Word of God. I thoroughly enjoyed the Book of Job; but I am also having a wonderful time each morning in the Psalms. As I read this morning, I was captured by the beauty of Psalm 19. Verses 1-6 are expressions of David’s worship of God. Verses 7 – 11 are remarks that lift up the Word of God, and the reader is admonished to place a higher value on the Word of God than gold. Great Advice!

However, the verses that really caught my attention were verses 12 – 14 where David prays to God regarding God’s help in keeping him from sin. In verses 12 and 13, he speaks of secret sins and presumptuous sins. The presumptuous sins are those that we do blatantly, proudly, and in public view. David begs God’s help in the removal of these things.

Verse 14 is the prayer that all of us should have on our lips and in our hearts the moment that we awake from sleep. How often do we violate our relationship with God by allowing evil thoughts to take hold of our meditations. we muse on things that are clearly outside of the will of God. Ask God to control your thought life. The minute the devil causes you to think about something that is wrong, take it to God. Ask Him to help you. Purposely divert your thoughts to things that are true, honest, just, and pure, etc. Our sin begins with the musings of our heart.

Notice also the petition regarding his words. Oh how I wish that I could take back some of my words. The tongue can be a consuming fire, a deadly poison. Why not ask God to help you get your tongue under control.

I wonder how many mistakes we could have avoided in the past had we made this our prayer? We don’t have to make the same mistake in the future. Let God control your thought life and your tongue!


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Does God See?

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Today’s Reading – Psalms 9 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 5 – 8; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0618 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” – (Psalm 10:11)”

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” – (Psalm 11:4)

“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” – (Psalm 11:7)

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” – (Proverbs 5:21)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” – (Proverbs 15:3)

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” – (1 Peter 3:12)

The simple answer is yes – He sees. I believe the Scriptures referenced above make that clear, and there are many other verses we could include. Yet, little man thinks that somehow his actions and his thoughts are hidden from the eyes of God, but He sees it all. There is both a negative and a positive side to this principle. The negative, of course, is that God is aware of every evil thought that we contemplate, and every sinful thing that we do. The positive side, however, is that God also sees all of the things that we have done for His glory. Whether any man ever sees it or not is not important. We know that God knows, and we also understand that God will reward us for all that we do for Him. Just a thought.

 


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I’d Better Keep My Mouth Shut

remain-silent

Today’s Reading – Job 39 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Titus 1 – 3; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0616 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” (Job 40:4)

“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” (Job 42:3)

Have you ever made the statement, “I’d better keep my mouth shut”? Have you ever told your child the same thing? We can really get ourselves in trouble with our mouths, can’t we? Sometimes it’s better not to say anything. I remember when I was a brand new Christian. I was having a discussion with Pastor Thompson about reaching the people around me for the Lord. He said something that I never forgot: he said that if you don’t have an answer to their questions, or even their arguments, tell them that you don’t know the answer. His exact words were, “Don’t snow them”. What he meant was that we shouldn’t try to offer something on behalf of God that isn’t what God said. We shouldn’t offer what we feel or think about God; but only tell people what we know to be true. These friends of Job (and Job himself) were doing a lot of talking about God: each offering their own opinion about the situation; but how much of what they said was actually true.

The Bible says that we are God’s ambassadors. We represent God to this world around us. We speak on his behalf. Shouldn’t we be very careful about what we say? I wonder what God will have to say about me someday, especially the things that I have taught others about Him. Preachers and teachers have an awesome responsibility. Therefore we need to make sure that we are daily spending time with God in His word so that we can know how He thinks; and know what He teaches about any given subject. And then when we are given the opportunity to speak on His behalf, whenever possible, we should tell people what God actually said, instead of what our opinion is. As God’s ambassadors we have no right to represent ourselves, or present ourselves, or try to make ourselves look good in the eyes of the people. We need to make God look good; and we need to give people the actual Words of God.

In God’s rebuke of Job, He said, “will thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous”? What God was saying was that Job said things to justify himself; to make himself look good. How often do I do that. I am so afraid of the opinion of men that I have often condemned others in order to elevate myself. Shame on me! and shame on all of us. The Bible is very plain in its teaching that we don’t have to say too much, and that it is wise to hold our peace at times; and then when we do speak, we should be very careful about what we say.

 


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Gird Up Thy Loins Like A Man

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Today’s Reading – Job 36 – 38 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

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

Read the “0615 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” – (Job 38:3)

It is now God’s turn to speak. God hasn’t said anything in this book since His earlier conversation with Satan; and the humans in the story were not privy to that conversation. All of this talk that has been going on since chapter 2 has been by people who really had no idea of the true circumstances regarding the calamity that Job was facing. They were clueless. Job’s friends were accusing Job, and Job was defending himself. They were all speaking on behalf of God; yet much of what they said was not true. However, now we will hear from the Source. God is speaking, and we know that everything that God says is true. By the way, you get the idea from the tone of this passage that God is not very happy about all that has been said. It kind of reminds me of a time when I was much younger and I was rebuked by an authority figure in my life. He had some things to say to me, and I was going to listen. God will take 4 chapters to basically remind Job and his friends that He is God, and they are merely humans.

As we read chapters 39 – 42 together tomorrow, pay close attention to God describing Himself, and His magnificent, omnipotent power. Between now and then, however, think a little bit of how much we are like Job and His friends. We are just little humans, trying to understand an infinite God. Let’s start thinking of ourselves as we really are. We are not much. We are pretty small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. And while we are at it, let us also start trusting God’s wisdom in allowing the things that have happened to us in our lives.

 


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Multiplying Words

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Today’s Reading – Job 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Timothy 4 – 6; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the  “0614 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “That Which I See Not

“Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.” – (Job 35:16)

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” – (Proverbs 26:4)

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” – (James 1:19)

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

There is entirely too much talking going on in this entire Book of Job. Job’s so-called friends should be listening to Job rather than rebuking him. He certainly has suffered enough. Even Job is talking too much by arguing with these idiots. They are all “experts” on God; yet there is much that they do not, and cannot understand.

We do the same thing, don’t we? We talk about things, and try to sound like we have complete knowledge on a subject; but half the time we really do not know what we are talking about, especially when it comes to talking about God. The best thing that we can do is quote Scripture if we have to talk at all. The older I get, the more I realize that I really do not know much. I should keep my mouth open proportionately to the amount of knowledge that I have, which means it should not be open much.


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What Are You Looking At?

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Today’s Reading – Job 30 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Timothy 1 – 3; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0613 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)

In our reading we have been following the conversation between Job and his friends. Job has been declaring his innocence: not that he claims sinlessness; but he does contend that his sins were open and confessed to God, and that he was not living a double life. His friends, however, are sure that Job must have some heinous secret sin in his life. In this chapter Job seems to be answering a charge regarding his fidelity. Perhaps the underlying accusation was that Job was an adulterer. Job’s answer in chapter 31 is that he had been faithful, not only in not touching that which is forbidden, but in not looking on another woman besides his wife.

In our culture the accepted instruction is, “you can look, but you just can’t touch”. The fact of the matter is that looking might just lead to touching. Job said that he made a covenant, a commitment to himself and his eyes not to think (let alone look) upon a maid. David said something similar when he said that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes.

Men, we need to do the same thing regarding the opposite sex. We need to determine to keep our eyes and our minds on that which is pleasing to the Lord. Turn off the TV if you have to; get rid of the internet if you must, but do what you have to do to keep yourself from sinning against your God and your wife. It is wise to know your limitations and put up some fences to protect yourself. A little accountability will go a long way. And ladies, your not exempt from this either. Your lusting may not be for the opposite sex per say, but I am sure you have your weak areas as well. Maybe with you the struggle involves seeing things at the mall that you can’t afford. We all need to make this same covenant that Job made to keep us from seeing and thinking about the things that we know are not part of God’s perfect will for our lives.


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Where Shall Wisdom Be Found

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Today’s Reading – Job 27 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0612 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:12)

“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

In today’s reading we have seen a continuation of what we have been reading for the past several days. Job is debating with his three friends regarding his calamity: they are claiming that Job is responsible; and Job is declaring his innocence. However, in the middle of this discussion is a passage dealing with wisdom. At first glance i wondered why God would put this teaching right in the middle of the discourse between Job and his friends regarding Job’s suffering; but then I remembered a similar teaching from the New Testament regarding trials and testing from the epistle penned by James. Remember that James admonished us to “count it all joy” in the trials; but then he added some instruction regarding wisdom:

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

Apparently there is an association between enduring trials and wisdom. God doesn’t hold back wisdom to those who fear him and depart from evil. Job had the wisdom of God. We know this to be true because later on when God enters into the discussion He states that Job spoke of Him the thing that is right.

If you are going through a time of testing, don’t seek the world and its counselors for wisdom: go to God. If you fear Him and are seeking to do that which is right, God will give you the wisdom that you need to see your way through the trial. In order for you to get to the other side you will need God’s wisdom, coupled with God’s grace. It is apparent that Job had both of these attributes.

You can find wisdom in God’s Word. The Bible is full of the wisdom of God that will help you when you need it. You can also find wisdom from godly counselors who will take Biblical principles and help you to apply them to your situation.


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Gold

Gold

Today’s Reading – Job 22 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0611 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” – (Job 23:10)

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” – (1 Peter 1:6-7)

There are several great, golden nuggets of truth in the Book of Job, and many of them are in today’s passage. I thought this morning about the statement made by Job in chapter 23, and verse 10. Job is going through the worst trial in his life. I think it would be safe to say that no other man in history was put to the test like Job. Many people have suffered the loss of health, and many others have endured the death of a child, and still more have gone through tough financial situations; but who can say that they have had to face the loss of everything they owned, and all of the children they loved, and then had to suffer through perhaps the most painful health condition known to man, all within the same time frame. Job could certainly stand alongside any man on earth, and win the “pity party” comparison. Yet, Job knew that when it was all over,that God would bring him through to the other side of the trial; and he also knew that the trial would make him a better man.

All men will endure the hardships of trials, but to experience suffering for no apparent reason can be especially difficult. Job did nothing to deserve the treatment that he was receiving at the hand of Satan, but God would use Job’s suffering to accomplish a few wonderful things. First, He would prove to Satan that there are some men who will retain their integrity, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Second, though Job was a good man, even a great man when compared among men, this trial would make him a still better man. I believe Job had a better understanding of the greatness of his Creator, and also a better grasp of his own frail humanity as a result of this ordeal. But, perhaps the greatest thing that God would reveal to us through Job’s trial, is that we can trust God. He won’t allow us to go through something that is greater than our ability to glorify Him through. He loves us. He doesn’t punish, but He does correct us at times through the trials and sufferings of life. Sometimes the trials are a direct result of sin, but they are often just God’s way of bringing us to the next level of faith. And if we will allow God to have His way in our lives, we too can come forth as gold; better servants, and better sons: more equipped to represent Him as the ambassadors of His glorious gospel.


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Thoughts About Job from Phil Erickson Jr.

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Today’s Reading – Job 15 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Philippians 1 – 4; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0609 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.” (Job 16:2)

The story of Job in the Bible has always fascinated me. I have always loved hearing messages preached about his life. For those of you who attend our church, the “Hast thou retained thine integrity?” message is one of the all-time greats. To think that a man could go from being ”the greatest of all the men of the east” as the Bible calls him, to having nothing in just a matter of hours, and still praise God through all of it just boggles my mind. I have often wondered what it was that made Job such a “perfect and upright” man. Was it the fact that he gave his tithes and offerings faithfully? Maybe. Was it the fact that he cared so much about his family and their spiritual condition? Could be. Or maybe did God just like him better than anyone else at the time? God is not a respecter of persons, but who knows? Maybe He did favor him. He obviously blessed him with a lot. But as I read these few chapters a thought jumped out at me. Job is right smack in the middle of the absolute worst time in his life, and here come his ”friends.” They go on and on about why they think this is all happening to Job. And right in the middle of it, I noticed verses 19-20 of chapter 16. And, I may be wrong, but I think these couple verses may be the secret to Job’s “success” as a man of God. The verses say – “And now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.” Job cared about what God thought, and ONLY about what God thought. He said ‘my witness is in heaven’ , and ‘ my record is on high.’ He knew that God knew everything that was going on. He knew that God knew his heart and his intentions with everything he did in his life. He knew that God knew that his tithes and offerings, his service to God, and his love for his family was out of his love and devotion to God. It had nothing to do with ANYONE else. So, when the chips were down, and everything went down the drain, he didn’t go running to his friends or anyone else. He went to God. He brought his tears to God. He knew that when things were good, it was God. When things were bad, it was God. And he praised God through it all.

As Christians we need to see that everything that happens to us, good or bad, comes from the Lord. He loves us more than we can ever know. He has a plan for our lives, and we need to trust Him and Him alone. When the chips are down, our friends won’t always be there. Sometimes even our family won’t be there. But God is always there. He never turns His back on us…who are we to turn our backs on Him?


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We Will Trust in Him

In-God-we-Trust

Today’s Reading –Job 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 4 – 6; Psalms 36 – 40Proverbs 8)

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

Read the “0608 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read another post from this passage – “Wisdom

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15)

In this statement we see Job’s declaration of faith in God. Though Job certainly has not figured out why God has allowed all of this tragedy to come into his life, he plainly declares here that no matter what God does to him (or allows to be done to him), he will continue to trust Him. When you and I read this book of the Bible it is easy for us, from the perspective of history, to identify with what Job has stated here. But think for a minute with me. If it were you or me going through what Job went through, how would we be feeling about God? If God were to allow us to lose everything all at once; and then to have excruciating physical pain be placed on top of it all, how would we react? Could we say, truthfully, “yet will I trust in Him”?

A few years back, I watched a movie/documentary called Amish Grace about the Nickle Mines tragedy in Lancaster, PA. The movie recounts the true story of a troubled man who went into an Amish school house, shooting 10 little girls and killing 5 of them. The amazing thing is that the Amish people chose to trust God’s wisdom in allowing what happened. Though it was very painful; though it took a little time for all of them to come to this decision: they chose to forgive the man that shot their children. This was certainly a modern day picture of what Job went through. These Amish folks did not understand why God had allowed it to happened, yet they continued to keep their trust in the Lord.

Most of the time I feel that my faith is so weak, I doubt whether it could stand up to such intense suffering. I guess it will have to be the grace of God that will sustain me through the dark days that seem to find their way into every believers life at one point or another. I know that difficult days lie ahead for me as well. I want to be prepared for them by getting so close to God that it will be easier to trust Him when it doesn’t seem like He is even there.

I also wanted to make a comment about the second half of verse 15. Job says that he will maintain [his] ways before him (God). I believe what Job was saying here is that though he was being severely tested by the Lord, he was still going to continue to do what he had always done. In other words, he wasn’t going to quit. He was going to keep on living for the Lord through the difficult trial. I know that when we are going through trials in life it can be very difficult to “maintain” your walk with the Lord; but it is especially important to stay close to God during the tough times. Don’t quit.


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The Daysman

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Today’s Reading –  Job 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 1 – 3; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “0607 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” – (Job 9:32-33)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” – (1 Timothy 2:5)

The word “daysman” in verse 33 of chapter 9 literally means a mediator. Job is lamenting because there is no one to bridge the gap between the righteous and holy God, and a sinner like himself. He already stated in verse 20 that he could not justify himself. God became man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as the God-man he came to justify sinners like Job, and you and me also. He was the go-between, the mediator, the one who came between God and men, so that men could come into the presence of an holy God.

Consider some of these verses regarding what Christ accomplished for us when He came to earth as a man and died for our sins:

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” – (Matthew 27:50-51)

The veil in the temple separated men from God; but through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, the veil was removed. Notice that the veil was torn from the top to the bottom, signifying that it was God that removed the veil that once kept man from Him.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Jesus was, and is, fully God, yet also fully man. He understands what it is like to be tempted, because he experienced it; yet without sin. He, as our great high priest, went before us and opened up a door for us to now boldly enter into the presence of God. We can now enter into God’s presence through “the Door”; through “the Way”; through Christ.

There has always been a “daysman”, even in Job’s time; but Job may not have understood it at the time. Praise God, however, we definitely have one that we can know today!


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Encouragement or Discouragement?

Today’s Reading – Job 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 4 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Read the 0606 Evening and Morning post by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage –The Chastening of the Almighty

“Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?” (Job 6:24-25)

In our passage this morning we read the conversation betweeen Job and his friends. In chapter 5, we read the continuation of what was said by Eliphaz to Job, and in chapters 6 – 7, we see Job’s reply. These friends of Job came to comfort him because of the anguish that he was experiencing. I believe that they were sincere in what they were trying to do because they waited for a full week with Job without saying anything. I think that they really wanted to help him, but I am also sure that they did not understand what Job was going through, nor did the have a clu as to why this was happening to him. They assumed that Job was receiving punishment for something that he had done. Our friends and family members oftentimes do not know how to react when we are going through the dark days. When you get down to it, it is really impossible for people outside of our situation to completely identify or understand what we are going through.  Sometimes when people try to help, they can often cause more trouble for us with the things that they say.  I guess we often ask for the added problems because we so desire to have the fellowship of people around us, especially when we are hurting.

My advice to you that are hurting right now is to try to understand the lack of understanding on the part of your “encouragers”. Try to appreciate their motivation to help you, but don’t be too frustrated by the help itself.  Understand also that you may be the one who is not seeing things clearly and the people who are trying to help you might just be right about what they are saying, though you may not want to hear it.

My advice to you who would try to encourage those that are hurting is that you would be slow to judge, and slow to speak.  Give a listening ear and let them vent a little; let them cry on your shoulder for a while.  There will eventually come a time when they will need to move forward but give them a little space to see what God is doing their lives. Remember, someday it will be you that is going through the valley and you will be glad that there are others around you who are patient and understanding with you.

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


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The Road May Be Long

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Today’s Reading – Job 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 1 – 3; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0605 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” – (Job 2:13 )

I have read these first four chapters from Job many times, and I have preached several messages from them, but I noticed something new to me today that I thought was worth developing. But, first let me review the story. In chapter one Job lost all of his children, and nearly everything that he possessed; yet, his response was worship for God (see vs. 20 – 22). In chapter two, Satan is permitted to destroy Job’s health. I do not know much about what Job experienced, but I would imagine that Satan chose the most painful malady possible in order to make him break. Yet, Job maintained his integrity, even when his wife turned against him. By the way, I used to beat up Job’s wife for her weakness, but now I have some compassion for her. After all, she did lose all of her children and her possessions. This must have been a very difficult time for her as well. Then Job’s friends arrive. Again, I used to be pretty rough on Job’s friends, but they stayed with him for seven days without saying a word. I believe they truly wanted to help him.

It is not until we get to chapter three that we see Job begin to break down. He begins to complain that he wished that he had never been born at all. Satan couldn’t get him to break with the loss of his children and possessions, and he couldn’t get him to yield initially when Job lost his health. However, after enough time went by, Job began to crack. Time was the element used by Satan to wear Job away. Then, once he began to break, Job’s friends also piled up on him. They shouldn’t have said anything, but I think like most well-meaning people, they didn’t have a clue.

I have seen this happen in people’s lives today. When tragedy comes their way, oftentimes their first reaction is positive, but after a little time, bitterness begins to set in, and soon their faith begins to wane. Had Job’s trial ended the day after it started, he would have been fine, but time took its toll and slowly caused him to lose all hope.

I don’t know exactly what can be done in order to keep encouraged during trials like this, but I think understanding that trials are seldom short-term can be a help in itself. In other words, we need to realize that when we go into the valley, we need to be prepared to be there for quite a while. I have experienced long seasons in the valley, and I am sure there will be some more of them in my future. I need to understand that God may not be finished working in, and or, through me. I need to just trust Him. He can do what ever He wants. I need to remember that He knows what He is doing, even if I cannot see it. God may never remove a trial, but that is His decision. We need to be prepared to endure until the Lord removes the trial, or takes us home. It may be a very long road.


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Sometimes We Reap More Than We Sow

Today’s Reading – Esther 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13, Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0604 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.” – (Esther 9:5 )

“But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,” – (Esther 9:16)

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” – (Esther 7:10)

In today’s reading we read about the destruction of Haman, his family, and all others who would try to hurt the people of God. Remember, in the previous chapters we read how that Haman had a carefully devised plan to have all of the Jews in the Kingdom of Persia put to death. He even built a special gallows to have Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, displayed on. His plan ended up destroying only him and his kind; and he ended up being hung on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. He not only got back what he gave to others, he got back far more than he gave. The lost world will reap far more in this life, and especially in eternity, what they have sown.

Christians today need to remember that the principle of sowing and reaping still exists. Thank the Lord as God’s children, because of His wonderful grace, we won’t reap nearly the amount of judgment as compared to the sin that we have sown; but we will reap some in this life. However, we can also reap back a lot of good if we sow it. As the people of God today, we should be concerned with sowing love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to the people around us. I am sure that there will be times when we will want to have those things come back to us. And the beutiful thing is that the Christian will reap much more in eternity what he has sown in this life. The Bible indicates that the rewards in heaven, and to some degree, even in this life, are multiplied exceedingly.


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Spring Cleaning

 

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

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

Read the “0602 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” – (Nehemiah 13:9)

In Nehemiah 13, I noticed that there were four things that had crept back into the life of the people of Israel that had to be cleaned out:

1 In vs. 4 – 9 we see that Eliashib the priest had actually emptied a chamber in the temple of God, and had prepared it for Tobiah to stay in. Tobiah had been the one who had opposed Nehemiah and the people of God as they rebuilded the city of Jerusalem. He had to go. Nehemiah gave him the boot.

2 In vs. 10 – 13 we learn that the Levites had to go back to the fields to work because the people of God were not supporting them through their tithes and offerings. Nehemiah corrected this problem as well.

3 In vs. 15 – 22 we see that God’s people were violating the Sabbath by working, and by trading with outsiders. God wanted the Sabbath Day to be kept holy, and set apart from the normal routines of the week. Nehemiah commanded that the gates of the city be closed on the Sabath so that the merchants could not enter in to do their business.

4 Finally we see that the Jews began to inter-marry with the heathen people around them. It got to be so bad that some of the children did not even speak the Hebrew language, but instead conversed in the language of the land where the mother came from. Nehemiah had a fit about this, and made the people promise to separate from people who were not Jews. He reminded them of how even King Solomon was caused to sin because of his marriages to non-Jewish women. God wants his people to marry within the household of faith.

It is amazing how quickly all of these abuses crept back into the lives of the people of God. Every once in a while we need to have an old-fashioned house cleaning to remove all of the junk that creeps into our lives as well. Why not take a spiritual inventory of your own life. Is there anything in your home, or in your life that God would want cleaned out? Just a thought.


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We Will Not Forsake the House of Our God

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 13 – 16; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the “0601 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.” – (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” – (Nehemiah 10:39)

I enjoyed thoroughly reading these three chapters today from the Book of Nehemiah. The people of Israel are back in their own land after having been in captivity for many years. They are united, “in one accord”; and they are fully surrendered to the Lord. This is certainly one of the high places in their history. In these three chapters I have noticed some ingredients that were in place that brought about a wonderful revival in the lives of God’s people. As I already mentioned, the people were unified, which in itself is an important part of the revival; but in addition to that, let me list some ingredients that I observed.

1 They are putting a heavy emphasis on the reading and preaching of the Word of God. We see this in chapter 8, and again in chapter 9. The people stood for a fourth part of the day listening to the Word. We have a tough time getting people to sit in padded seats for an hour. The word caused them to implement many changes in their lives, including the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

2 There is an emphasis on prayer. In chapter 9, we see the people corporately confessing their sins; and praising God for His mercy and grace upon them. People who are right with God will praise God. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

3 In chapter 10, we see that the people have made a commitment to the House of God. They committed to give their offerings so that the servants of the Temple, including all of the priests and Levites, would have everything that they need in order to minister to the people.

I have left out some other things, but as you can see from the reading today, these three ingredients were part of one of the greatest revivals in the history of God’s people. If we ever see revival again in America, I bet that these three ingredients will be here as well.

 


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I Cannot Come Down

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Today’s Reading –  Nehemiah 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0531 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – (Nehemiah 6:2 – 3)

In our passage today we see Nehemiah busy doing what the Lord had called him to do: rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. He had a job to do, and he was intent on completing it. Now there were also people in the area that were intent on stopping Nehemiah from fulfilling the will of God, but Nehemiah did not let them distract him from completing his work. I love what Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” The work Nehemiah was doing was certainly great, because it was God that had asked him to do it.

I have a great work to do for the Lord as well, and so do you. God has something to do for all of us who are His children. We must not get distracted from completing the work that God has given us. I have observed through the years that distractions can come from a variety of sources. The wicked one is famous for distracting people away from the will of God. This was the case with Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshom from our text. They were wicked men who did not have Nehemiah’s best interests in mind. They were working against the will of God, but notice how they tried to disguise themselves as God’s servants and as Nehemiah’s friends. As God’s children we need to learn to be discerning about the true motivations of the people around us as they attempt to pull us away from the primary tasks that God has given us.

Another type of distraction comes from good people who often invite us to do “good things”; but even these good things become evil if they take us away from the best things. I am slowly learning how to graciously turn down many “good” invitations from caring people. I simply do not have enough time and energy to do all of the things that I might like to do, especially as they pull me away from the primary areas of my responsibility. As a pastor, I get invited to many birthday’s, picnics, graduations, dinners, weddings, conferences, barbecues, etc. I love to be with God’s people, but I simply cannot go to them all.

A third distraction is the distraction God brings your way. There are times that God will interrupt the daily routine in life in order for you to learn something, or maybe in order for you to accomplish something special for Him. Again, we must be very careful to discern whether these distractions are indeed from God. A few years ago, because of the tight budget at the church I had to go back to a secular job for a few months, which required me to work overnight 6 nights per week. This job was certainly a hindrance that kept me from doing all that I might have wanted to do in the ministry; but I am convinced that God had lead me down that path, at least temporarily. My primary ministry is my family, and God had provided this job as a means for my family to be taken care of while still allowing me to serve as the pastor. However, because of this constraint on my time, I was very limited to what I could do. My life consisted basically of working, sleeping, prayer, Bible reading, studying and preparing for messages, and a little soul winning. That is all that I could do during those months. I  had to learn to say no to many other things so that I could do those main things. My focus was still on serving God, but I had to take some time away from that service in order to help the church financially, and in order to put food on my family’s table. God taught me much in the short time that I had been working the outside job, and He even used me to be a light to a very dark workplace. I thank the Lord that my time at the supermarket was short, and that He has turned our church’s financial situation around, but I am convinced that God allowed that period in my life for a reason.

The bottom line of today’s devotion is this: don’t allow distractions to pull you away from the primary things that God wants you to do, unless, of course, it is God who is doing the distracting.


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A Mind to Work

Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “0530 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “See the Need and Take the Lead

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)

My previous posts from this passage have always focused on Nehemiah as he led the people of God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, but this morning I would like to consider the people themselves, as they sacrificed and labored for the Lord. Our text verse says that the people had “a mind to work”, which means that they were willing to put all of the necessary effort and skill into the reconstruction of the walls around the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was merely one man, and there is no way that he could accomplish a task of this magnitude without the help of many men, women, and children that all did their part to get the job done.

In my ministry, there have been a number of times when the people of God were so inspired by a need that they all got on board to help meet it. Those were certainly sweet times. It is wonderful to see the people of the church all get together to accomplish something for the Lord. However, most of the time, the work of the ministry is done by a few people who have to do more than their share of the labor. You may have heard it said that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. I have found that to be true more often than not. It is a shame that we can’t get more of the people of God involved in the work of the ministry. Imagine with me what it would be like if we had every member of the church out for soul winning; and how about if we had more people than we could use to do all of the maintenance on the building and grounds. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Think about what could be done if we had people waiting for the opportunity to teach a Sunday School class, work a bus route, or disciple a new convert.  I believe that there would be several benefits to this, but two stand out. First, the people that are sacrificing and participating would get so much more out of the Christian life. The happiest people are the ones who get involved in serving others. Secondly, I believe that we could do so much more for the cause of Christ. More people would be saved, and more lives would be changed for the glory of God.

I want to challenge every saint of the Lord that is reading this article today. Have a mind to work. Find something to do in your local church, and give it all you’ve got. Get busy!


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Here We Go Again

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Today’s Reading – Ezra 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalm 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s blessing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

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

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

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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God Has His Eye On You

God Has His Eye On You

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone” and “Stop Living in the Past

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.” (Ezra 5:5)

“Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:27-28)

The context of these chapters from the Book of Ezra involve the period when the children of Israel were released from captivity in the Land of Babylon. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar had completed his destruction and plunder of the City of Jerusalem, and had take most of the citizens into captivity. After many years in Babylon, and later Persia, a good and godly king named Cyrus gave certain of the captives permission to return to the Land of Israel and begin to rebuild it and the Temple of God within it. Years had passed while the construction dragged on, and finally, during the reign of King Artaxerxes, some opposition came along and actually caused the work of the Temple to cease. This is all laid out very  clearly in the passage, and I am leaving out large portions of the story. However, some more years pass and the prophet Haggai stirs up the people to get back to work, and this time, God prevents the enemies of His people from causing the construction to stop, and the people of God were able to complete the project.

The two phrases that caught my attention in the middle of this drama are found in Ezra 5:5, and Ezra 7:28. In those verses it states that God’s eye was upon the elders of Judah, and God’s hand was on Ezra specifically. I have listed below some verses that tell us about the eye (or eyes) of the Lord. It discomforting to know that God is watching over us, and He is ready, willing, and able to help us as we fulfill His will for our lives. Carefully consider the following verses. God has got His eye on you.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;” (Psalms 33:18)

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalms 34:15)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)


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Enough is Enough

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Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 34 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 5 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0526 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” – (2 Chronicles 36:15-16)

God, in His mercy, will send us messengers to warn us of the judgment that is coming if we fail to humble ourselves before Him, and submit to His will. Oftentimes the people of God would turn back to him and would escape the judgment, or at least postpone the judgment. But here we see the people of God, not only rejecting the Word of God; but are also mocking and attacking His messengers.

Today in America, the Spirit-filled preacher of the Word of God is also mocked, and sometimes even attacked by the world around them; and even sometimes by the people of God. God will not put up with this too much longer. There will come a time when God will say, “enough is enough”. And when that happens we are finished as a nation.

But let’s think of this a little more personally. Do you as a faithful member of a Bible preaching church consider the preaching and teaching by the pastor as a message from God; or perhaps do you just think of it as just good information that may or may not be helpful. Are we not guilty of almost the same thing as these people from Judah, when we don’t heed the warnings and exhortation given to us by God through His word in our churches. When you listen to the preaching this week, look past the preacher and focus on the message that God has supernaturally ordained to be given to you through His messenger. Support your preacher: cheer him on as he labors to deliver the message from God to your family.


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The Grace of God

 

Rest

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 32 – 33 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 1 – 4; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0525 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.” – (2 Chronicles 33:12 & 13)

In our passage today we see a beautiful picture of the grace of God. The theologians degine “grace” as an unmerited or undeserved favor. In chapter 33, we have the account of King Manasseh who was arguably the most wicked king that the southern kingdom of Judah ever had. He had undone many of the wonderful things that his father, Hezekiah, had done for the nation. Manasseh was into witchcraft, and even made two of his sons “pass through the fire”, which means he sacrificed them. Manasseh was a bad dude, as bad as they get.

In verse 10, the Scripture tells us that God “spake” to Manasseh, but he didn’t listen. God then came in and judged Manasseh by sending in the armies of the Assyrians. Now that got Manasseh’s attention, and he was ready to listen to God. The Scripture says he “besought” the Lord in his affliction. Manasseh was truly a “new creature” after this moment, and he dedicated the rest of his life to serving the Lord. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to undo all of the evil that he had committed before he was redeemed, and even though he finished well, he still has the reputation of being a wicked king.

The first thing that I would like to point out from this passage is that God saves bad people. It is hard for us to fathom the salvation of a man like Manasseh, but God has been in the business of saving wicked men and women for a long time. By the way, it is kind of arrogant on our part to decide who “deserves” salvation. None of us deserves to be saved. We are all sinners, and are all capable of all of the depravity that we have seen in the life of Manasseh. The amazing thing is not that God would save someone like Manasseh, but rather that he would save any of us.

The second thought I would like to pull from this passage is that God had to bring Manasseh down, before he could get his attention. I have often prayed for specific lost people that I know, and I have noticed that God will often allow tragedy to come to their lives in order to get their attention. People who are on top of the world, tend not to take notice of God; but let them go through a severe trial, and they will often re-think things. Though I do not enjoy watching people suffer, I know that the affliction that they may be experiencing today may be the very thing that causes them to turn to the Lord.

The third thought from the passage is that even though it is a wonderful thing that God’s grace reached Manasseh, and that He was saved before it was eternally too late; he still did a lot of bad things in his lifetime. I’ll bet he wished that he could go back and re-do some things. But once our time is up, it is up. Manasseh had an appointment with death, and when that appointment came, there was no more time to get things right. We all need to redeem the time, because our time is running out as well.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” – (Hebrews 2:9)

Did you catch that? – every man – even someone as bad as Manasseh – even someone as bad as me


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Living for the Lord – A Formula for Success

to-love-is-to-live-in-god

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 29 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 25 – 28Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0524 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Soulwinning in 2 Chronicles

“And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” (2Chronicles 31:20-21)

I think one of the main reasons that God wants us to daily spend time in His word is because that it serves to remind us daily of the basic truth that God will bless those who seek Him and serve Him.  As we have been reading in these historical books, we have seen over and over again the blessings of God upon the godly kings; and conversely the judgment of God upon the wicked.  Of course, none of the kings were perfect: all made mistakes; but when they sought the Lord for forgiveness, God would always respond in mercy.  Even the bad kings that humbled themselves before God would receive mercy.  As we look today at the life of Hezekiah we see the same principle in place.  Hezekiah “wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God…with all his heart”, and God prospered him.

Child of God, the same applies to you and me today.  I am not trying to over-simplify the Christian life, but the principles of succeeding in life are really very easy to understand.  Find out what the will of God is for your life; and then fulfil it with all of your heart.  Give it everything you’ve got.  Live for God!  I’m not saying that every day is going to be amusement parks and sunshine; but you will have that abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.  It’s your choice:  live for God, and your life will be blessed of God; live for self, and you will look back with regret.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalms 1:1-3)


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Plenty More Where That Came From

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 25 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0523 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s passage – “His Heart Was Lifted Up” and “The Key to Prosperity

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” (2 Chronicles 25:9)

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalms 50:10)

In the three chapters we have read today we see pretty much the same pattern that we have observed throughout the Chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah. That is, if the king was following the Lord and submitting to His will, His reign was blessed and prosperous. Conversely, if the king chose to forsake God, then God also forsook him. Out the window would go God’s provision and protection.

I was caught by the story in chapter 25 regarding the King of Judah, Amaziah, hiring 100,000 men out of Israel to help him fight against the Edomites. He paid somewhere around 7500 pounds of silver (over $2.1 million) to the Israelites in order to hire them. God was not pleased with Judah yoking up with Israel for this battle, and He sent a man of God to Amaziah to tell him to fire the Israelites and send them home. Amaziah was willing to do this, but was upset about the money that he had already spent. God assured him that there was plenty more where that came from.

I got to thinking about how many times God’s people get messed up over money. Sometimes we get into a dispute with our brothers and sisters in Christ over some business deal; and we find ourselves fighting over money. Can I give you some advice: give in; don’t fight over money. If someone is insisting that you owe them something, give it to them. You might say, why would I do that? Because your relationship with people is more important than any amount of money; and if you do the right thing, God will replace what you lose with interest. We stress far too much about money. We give it to the church; but tie a string from ourselves to the money, and then get upset about it later. Don’t give it if you can’t completely let go of it. It really comes down to a matter of faith. If God asks you to give it, then give it. He has more to give you, and He will bless abundantly the person that trusts Him with their money.

The king of Judah almost continued in a bad plan, simply because he had already laid out the money for it. He almost let money cause the destruction of his nation. Many a Christian I know has allowed the love of money to destroy them. My preacher used to say, “God’s got plenty of money”. And you and I can get all that we need if we will be willing to let go what He has already given us. It’s all His anyway. I am not talking about being a bad steward here, but I am saying that we need to be able to let go of HIS money, anytime He asks us to.

Another thought from this passage is this: how many times do we continue going down a path that is clearly not the will of God simply because we refuse to admit we made a mistake? I have made many bad decisions in my life; some of them were irreversible, but many were. But, even when I could get turned around, I often didn’t because I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong, so I continued suffering the consequences of my bad decision. How stupid! A truly wise person will be able to quickly recognize a bad move, and make the corrections necessary. I remember one time my wife and I were traveling to Florida to visit her family. This was before the time of GPS, but I had followed the maps perfectly until I got within a few miles of her brother’s house, and that’s when I messed up. I took a wrong turn, and ended up getting lost, but I refused to call her brother for help, or stop and ask directions. I continued driving further and further away simply because I was too prideful to admit I made a mistake. This was very frustrating for my wife and family. After 20 plus hours of driving we were so close to our destination, yet we drove in circles for another hour or more when we could have been where we were going in a few minutes. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Don’t be like me. Realize your mistake, take the loss, and change direction.


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Too Dependent on the Preacher

preacher

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 21 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0522 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “How Will You Be Remembered?

“And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” – (2 Chronicles 24:2)

“Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.” – (2 Chronicles 24:22)

The story of King Joash is certainly a fascinating account. After the death of his father, King Ahaziah, he was rescued as a baby from his grandmother, Attaliah, who had all of her grandchildren assasinated so that she could be queen. Joash was hidden in the house of God for six years, and was influenced greatly by Jehoiada the priest. When Joash finally became king, the influence of Jehoiada remained with him, and Joash was a great king, serving the Lord by repairing the temple, and replacing all of the vessels of gold and silver that were used in the service of the temple. Unfortunately, Jehoiada the priest “waxed old and died”, and King Joash went downhill afterward. It seems that without the influence of a man of God in his life, the peer pressure from some of the wicked men in his kingdom began to overpower him. He eventually went as far as having Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, put to death after being rebuked by him.

There are two principles that I would like to consider from this passage. The first is that we need to be careful that our faith is in God, not a man. I have seen this in my ministry, where people become too dependent upon me. They look to me to solve their problems for them. The problem with this is that I cannot possibly deliver what these folks expect from me, because I am not God. Eventually I will let them down, and they will throw the towel in on their faith. As a preacher, it is my job to strengthen people’s faith and relationship with God. As John the Baptist said regarding Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. I must point them to Christ. I must work to strengthen their relationship with Him, not me. I will certainly have to give special attention and nurturing to the new believers; but I eventually want to work myself out of a job, so that if I blow it, or God removes me from their lives, their faith will remain strong.

The second principle that I would like to pull from this passage is that Joash did well as long as he was being influenced by a preacher. When “his preacher” died, he then divested himself from the influence of all preachers. We need to always place ourselves under the influence of a church, and sound Bible preaching. When we get away from the church, our lives will get out of the will of God. Stay in the church where the Word of God can influence your life for good.


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Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

fix-your-eyes

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 18 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 16 – 18; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0521 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2Chronicles 20:12)

My focus this morning is on chapter 20 where we see the nation of Judah threatened by a federation of three nations. Together, these nations were far superior in both numbers and power to the nation of Judah. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, did not seek out help from other nations did (as Asa did in chapter 16); but instead turns the problem completely over to the Lord. Jehoshaphat was a great man of faith, though not a separated man. He often would yoke up with the ungodly northern kingdom. However, here he does everything right. Notice in this passage how he demonstrates great faith in God:

1 When first confronted with the problem he sought God. Don’t wait until all else fails. Go to God first.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,” (2Chronicles 20:3-5)

2 He searched the Scriptures. Notice in his prayer, in vv 5 – 13, he knows the principles and promises contained in the Scripture. He was able to ask “in the will of God” because he knew what God had promised in His Word.

3 He submitted to the man of God. In v 14, Jehaziel prophesies, and tells Jehoshaphat what to do; and Jehoshaphat obeys the prophecy of the man of God. When you are faced with a battle, go to the man of God for counsel; and listen to what he has to say.

4 He sang praises to God before the battle was actually won. This demonstrated both that he had great faith, and that he was content with whatever God was going to do. Do you trust God enough with the outcome of your battle to praise him before you see the final conclusion.

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endurethfor ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” (2Chronicles 20:21-22)

The Christian life is full of battles; but if God is with us, the victory is already ours. Don’t fight the battle in your own strength. Keep your eyes upon the Lord , and allow Him to win the battle for you.


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