Heart Burn

Page-Banner-Walking-with-Jesus1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Stay Busy for the Lord

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

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

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

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

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

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

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


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Where Are The Nine?

lepers

Today’s Passages – Luke 17 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Soul Winning

Saturday Soulwinning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Put Away Your Ax

axe

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

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

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

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

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


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Who Is My Neighbour?

neighbor-message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Return To Thine Own House

friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Prison of Pleasing People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A Hospital for Sinners

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Fruits Worthy of Repentance

fruits worthy of repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Certainty

Open-Bible

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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God Sees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Heart Burn

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

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

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

Scripture Memorization for November – The Kenosis Passage – Philippians 2:5 – 11

Read a great article by Pastor Paul Chappell – “If I Don’t Pray For You

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

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

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

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


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This Is Just The Beginning

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Today’s Passages – Luke 21 – 22;

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

“And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” – (Luke 21:7)”

And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.” – (Luke 21:11)”

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” – (Luke 21:25)

All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – (Matthew 24:8)

The picture above is of the Mantoloking Road Bridge, which connects the mainland in Brick Township with Lavallette, one of the barrier islands that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The house I grew up in is about 5 miles west of this location. While hurricane Sandy was pounding on the east coat, there was also a large earthquake on the west coast, just offshore of Brittish Columbia.

Is it just me, or does it seem that these natural disasters seem to be coming more and more frequently these days. Al Gore will tell you that it is due to global warming. I am not sure whether the earth is warming up or not, but I do know that the Bible says that as we approach the time of Christ’s return there will be an increase in these catastrophic, natural events. And the Bible says that these are just the beginning of sorrows. I believe that we are very close to the time when Christ will come and take away His Bride from the earth via what we Christians refer to as the “rapture of the Church”; and when He does that things will get even scarier here on the earth than they are now. As bad as things may seem now with all of the earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, famines; not to mention the political and economic unrest; this is nothing compared to what will come during the Tribulation Period, after the rapture.

As I reflect on all of these scary events, I am very relieved to know that God is with me, and He will never leave me nor forsake me. No matter how hard the wind may blow outside, I know that God’s everlasting arms are wrapped securely around me; and someday, maybe very soon, He will take me home to Heaven. I hope you have that same assurance too.

Click here for more imformation on how you too can have “the peace, which passeth all understanding”, even when the storms of this life surround you.


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Soul Winning

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

Second Milers also read – Psalm 1 – 5Proverbs 1

Memory passage for the month of November – Psalm 95

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” – (Luke 16:27-28)

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


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Soulwinning

Today’s Passages – Luke 14 – 16;

Second Milers also read – Psalm 1 – 5; Proverbs 1

Memory passage for the month of November –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Your Heart Will Follow Your Treasure

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

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

Scripture Memory for October – Matthew 5:1 – 16

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

Read previous posts from this passage: “Thou Fool”; and “Put Away Your Ax”

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – (Luke 12:34)

This is one of those passages that is often misunderstood. When we read the  phrase, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”, we often think the exact opposite of what it is actually saying. For years, I thought this verse was saying that we will invest in the things that we love. However, the opposite is actually the truth. This verse is plainly teaching that we will love what we invest in. There is a difference. Our hearts will actually follow what we spend our time, toil, talents, and treasure on; but the investment precedes the heart.

I love my wife, children, and my grandson, Jaxon. I must be honest: I love them more than I do other people’s children and grandchildren. I want to be around them, and I want to do things for them. I not only love them, I like them alot. But why is that? It is because I have invested my life into them, and my heart has followed my investment. I love my church. I have given the last 11 years of my life laboring to make it a church that is effective in fulfilling the Great Commission. Again, my heart has followed my investment.

This principle will revolutionize our relationship with God if we will allow it to. Many times, we fail to obey and fulfill the will of God for our lives, because we do not desire to. Our hearts are simply not in it. However, if we understand this principle, we know that if we invest our time and obedience to the will of God today, our hearts (our desire) will be wrapped up in it tomorrow. I remember when I was in Bible College down in Texas. I was given a bus route in Texarkana, Texas and Arkansas. My job was to visit the route on Saturdays, trying to minister to and encourage the riders we already had, and then to invite new riders on to the bus so we could bring them to church the following day. On Sunday, we would leave early in the morning, pick the kids up, bring them to church, and then feed them at our own expense on the way home. We would also bring many of the kids back to church for the Sunday Night service. To be honest, I was not too thrilled with giving up my entire weekend for this ministry. It was a tremendous investment in time, energy, and resources. To be perfectly honest with you, at first, I didn’t even like the kids, let alone love them. But as time went on, I developed a bond with these children, and a love for them. In fact, even when I was offered an easier, more lucrative ministry in my senior year, I turned it down. My heart had followed my investment. I developed a love for the ministry that God had given me. What began as pure obedience developed into real enjoyment.

Maybe God is asking you to do something that your flesh simply does not want to do. May I encourage you to give your life to the will of God, and in time your heart will be right there with you.


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Cast Out First The Beam

Today’s Passage –Luke 6 – 7 

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

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” – (Luke 6:41-42)

You can’t see anything in the picture above because there is a huge telephone pole blocking your view. In our passage today, Jesus warns us not to be too critical of what we may think we see in other people’s lives, at least until we get all of our own problems straightened out, which probably won’t be anytime soon. There is something about our human nature which causes it to justify and condone our own sin; but yet we are quick to notice the sins of other people, particularly when they sin against us. Jesus said that we have to be careful about being judgmental. We all have problems, and we are all still sinners with a fallen nature bent on sinning more. Thank God for salvation. Thank God for the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. Thank God for immediate justification and then the lifelong process of sanctification in our lives; but let us never forget what we are still flesh. Paul said that in him “dwelleth no good thing” and it would do us well to recognize the same thing about ourselves.

Having said all of that let me now say a few things about judgement. Jesus did not mean that we should never judge things.  In fact 1 Corinthians 6 clearly tells us that we are to be judges at times, and we will even someday judge angels. We can and should be discerning about a lot of things. For instance I can judge whether or not an action is right or wrong based on what the Bible says about that act. However, I can not clearly see the motivation that went into the act; and I also cannot tell whether or not the person who committed the act is a saved person or not. I have seen saved people (including myself) do some pretty sinful things.

God has also put most of us into a position of being a judge in some specific areas. For instance, as a father, God has given me the right to be a judge when it comes to the lives of my children. As a pastor, I have also been given the responsibility to discern or judge certain situations in lives of the people that He has entrusted to me. But I have to be very careful because I am limited as to what I can see; and I cannot see into the hearts of people. I really do not fully know my own heart.

The bottom line is that we need to be careful about our judgement of people. God may put you in a position where you may have to look a little more closely at somebody else’s life; but be careful that you do not develop an attitude of superiority over those people. You are still just as much a sinner as they are. Analyze your own motives. Are you truly just trying to help people with their problems or are you somehow trying to justify yourself?


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Certainty

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

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 121 – 125Proverbs 25

Scripture Memory for October – Matthew 5:1 – 16

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

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

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

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

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

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

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


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He Looks Upon Us Too

Today’s Passages – Luke 21 – 22; Proverbs 4

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 16 – 20; Memorize Jude 22)

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

This morning, I am with a group of about 50 men in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. We have gathered together to come apart to strengthen each other, to fellowship, and listen for the voice of God. Sometimes God has a hard time breaking through all of the distractions in our lives in order that He can speak with us. I thank God for times like this Men’s Retreat, where we make special time for the things of God. Pray that God speaks to our hearts in a special way while we are here; and pray that some relationships will be strengthened between the men of our church, and the other churches that are here with us. I will try to post some pictures from the retreat soon on this site.

This post is a re-post from last year’s blog. I will try to post something fresh for you tomorrow morning.

“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 21:61 & 62)

I have often felt sorry for Peter. For over 2000 years we have read over and over again this account of Peter denying the Lord Jesus. Some preachers have been very hard on him, especially because of his bold assertion that he could never do such a thing. The part of the story that really grips me, however, is when after Peter had denied for the third time, exactly as the Lord had told him, the Lord then turned away from all that was happening to him, and made eye contact with Peter. I don’t think Peter even fully realized what he had done until the Lord looked at him. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt.

The Lord sees us too, just as he had looked upon Peter. He sees you and me as we deny him, and when we sin against him. Somehow I don’t think we fully realize that fact. God’s omnipresent eyes are everywhere. He doesn’t miss a thing. I believe if we could come to that realization, we would be less likely to sin against Him. He sees, He knows. We are not hiding anything from Him. And it grieves Him. We know from the passage that Peter was grieved, but what is not recorded was the Lord’s grief. I would be willing to bet that the Lord was more upset about what was going on with Peter at that time, than he was with His own situation. The next time that temptation to sin knocks at your door, picture the eyes of Christ watching you.

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

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Heading in the Right Direction

Today’s Passages – Luke 19 – 20; Proverbs 3

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 11 – 15; Memorize – Jude 22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read last year’s post on this passage – “Stay Busy”

“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” – (Luke 19:9)

In Luke chapter 18:9 – 14, Jesus tells us about two people that went up into the temple to pray. One of them was a self-righteous Pharisee who actually didn’t pray, but instead listed for the Lord all of his attributes that made him think that he was better than the other man. The second man was a publican (tax collector) who saw himself as being completely unworthy of the grace and mercy of God; yet he humbly sought it from the Lord. The Scripture says that the publican went away justified.

In chapter 19, I believe we may now get to meet by name that publican. It could very well be that the Zacchaeus of chapter 19 is the publican of chapter 18. It is also very possible that the proud Pharisee of chapter 18 was among the murmurers in chapter 19 (see v. 7). It is interesting to note that Jesus did not want to fellowship with the prideful bunch of Pharisees, but instead chose to spend His time eating with Zacchaeus. I believe the reason for that is because Zacchaeus was humbly heading in the right direction, while the Pharisees were stubbornly set in their ways. Now I don’t want you to misunderstand: Jesus is not condoning any past sinful behavior of Zacchaeus, and He will expect Zacchaeus to live a holy life in the future. What Jesus is condemning, however, is the attitude that Pharisees had: they only saw the flaws of others, yet did not recognize any faults of their own. You see, the Pharisees were just as sinful as this publican. It may be that their sin was a little more concealed than Zacchaeus’ sins were; but they were sinners nonetheless.

I believe the main point in this passage is the humility of the publican as compared to the pride of the Pharisee. God hates pride:

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – (James 4:6)

Zacchaeus received the grace and mercy that he desired simply because he was humble enough to bow before the Lord. The Pharisees were not willing to do so. They were still trusting in themselves, bragging about how good they were. Until they got to the point where they recognized their need, they could not receive the mercy that was extended to Zacchaeus.

Watch out for pride!


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Forbid Them Not

Today’s Passages – Luke 17 – 18

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” – (Luke 18:16)

One of the biggest regrets that I have is that in recent days we have had to scale back our bus ministry. We have had to cut out one Sunday morning route, and also eliminate our Sunday evening Kid’s Club program. A year ago at this time we were running two buses on Sunday morning, and a “packed” bus on Wednesday evenings for Kid’s Club. Four of our best children’s workers left for Bible college, and another very dedicated worker took a job as a church secretary in North Carolina. I am thrilled that we have young adults going away to serve the Lord, but I sure do miss their energy and enthusiasm around here. I believe that any church that is doing what it should be doing will be a church committed to reaching, training, and loving children. I am excited that two of our college students will be back at Christmastime, which should enable us to get these ministries back up and running.

I believe the Lord wants us to spend a good deal of our attention and energy reaching children for the following reasons:

1  They are easier to reach. Adults are far more difficult to reach with the gospel, probably because of their pride. Children will be more open to the simple truths of the gospel: they are not so “set” in their beliefs.

2  They are easier to teach. Children have a lot less mental baggage in their heads and hearts. They retain information so much easier than we adults do. They remember so much more of what they learn.

3  They are easier to preach to. They do not get offended as adults do. Preachers have a lot more liberty preaching to children simply because they do not worry as much about offending them. As a result children are hearing the straight truth, not mixed with any sweeteners that make it more palatable.

I could say a lot more about the blessings of working with children. Suffice it to say that children are a real blessing. By the way, the best workers that we have in the church today are those that grew up here as children. They get the picture. They understand what this ministry is all about. Let’s do all that we can do to keep the children coming!


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“Shotgun!”

Today’s Passages – Luke 14 – 16; Proverbs 1

Second Milers also read – Psalm 1 – 5; Memorize Jude 22

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

Read last year’s post – “Soulwinning” from Luke 14 – 16

“But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.” – (Luke 14:10)

When I was a youth director I used to get a kick out of watching the teenagers fight over the front seat of the van. They would race to the van all shouting “Shotgun!”, which apparently meant the front seat alongside of the driver. I remember taking the time to teach them from this passage and others like it that we should really be fighting over the back seat and not the front. I was kidding about the fighting part, but those kids took me literally and began to race, trying to beat one another to the back of the van. I think those crazy teens just loved to fight!

What is it about our old fallen nature that we must insist on getting the preeminence? We want the front seat of the car; we want the closest parking spot in the shopping center. We will actually fight over these things. It’s craziness. I have often thought it funny that people who will walk for miles in an exercise program won’t walk an extra twenty feet in a parking lot.

We need to get over ourselves, and just accept the fact that we are just a small part of a big world made up of now 7 billion people. The universe does not revolve around us, it revolves around Christ. Our goal is to give Him the preeminence:

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

One of the best ways for us to give the Lord the preeminence in our lives is to give Him first place, and then to put other people before ourselves. There is an old acrostic that illustrates this principle very well:

J – Jesus

O – Others

Y – You

JOY


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Put Away Your Ax.

Today’s Passages – Luke 12 – 13; Proverbs 31

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150; Memorize – Jude 22)

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

Listen to Sunday Morning’s Message – “The Family Business”

Listen to Sunday Evening’s Message – “Where Did They Go (Part Two)”

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Thou Fool”

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

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

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


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The Sunday Morning Post by Pastor Ted Stahl

Cindy and I would like to thank the church family for remembering and honoring us for our tenth anniversary of ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church. We are looking forward to serving alongside of you for another ten years, and beyond, if the Lord will allow. The audio for yesterday’s Fall Harvest/Tenth Anniversar Celebration is available below.

Remember – you can access the prayer list and the church bulletin through the audio player in the right column, or by clicking here.

Today’s Passages – Luke 10 – 11; Proverbs 30

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 141 – 145; Memorize – Jude 1:22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34

Note – this is a repost from last year’s blog article on this passage.

Good morning, and it’s always good to start your morning with prayer. In Luke chapter 11 we find the Lord praying…

“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. 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 11:1-4)

In this passage we see that when we go to the Lord in prayer we ask for something: we want God to do something.Lord, teach us to pray.Lord, make you name Holy. Lord, let your kingdom come, and your will be done. Lord, give us what we need today. Lord, forgive our sins. Lord, lead us not into temptation. Lord, deliver us from evil. This is a prayer asking God to act: to do something. And notice that this prayer is not wavering, but specifically asks.

In Matthew 21, Jesus curses a fig tree…

And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matt. 21:20-22)

In the October 2010 issue of In Touch magazine from Dr. Charles Stanley there is an excellent article by Allen Harris. The artical was titled: “(All About Me) Two Prayers That Can Hold You Back.” I want to pass on these two nuggets of truth to you. These will more than likely ring a bell; we all have used them at one time or another.

The first is, “Lord, but if…”

My daughter Melissa has cancer. I would pray, “Lord, please heal my daughter from this cancer, but if not, help her to deal with all the pain and suffering.” My belief wavers: I don’t seem to believe that God can actually heal her, so I give Him an way out. God is fully capable of healing my daughter: He does not need a way out. “But if” just shows my lack of faith and trust. Now I just pray, “Lord, heal my daughter from the cancer, and giver her relief from the pain.” I’m not giving God an out, I’m trusting Him to answer my prayer. As Christians, we should be mature enough to allow God to answer: yes, no, or not right now. We need to keep asking until we get an answer. That’s what Paul did about the thorn in his side. After asking three times, God gave Paul the answer: My grace is sufficient.

The second hinderance that Mister Harris mentioned is “Lord, let me…”

I want to see God work in my life. How can I if I’m in the way. “Lord, let me be the kind of father I need to be to Melissa.” I can do it, let me. No I can’t. Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” How about, “Lord, give me the wisdom and understanding to raise your child as you would want.” I’m relying on God to do something, and that includes giving me what I need to do the work that He has prepared for me to do.

We should all want to see God’s work in our lives. Allowing Him to work is a great start. And when we see God work, He gets all the praise. Thank the Lord for other believers who are willing to share what the Holy Spirit has taught them so the church can be edified.

Peace (John 14:27)


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Can’t See Can You?

The sermon audio player on this site sometimes disappears for whatever reason. You can still access sermon audio as well as the bulletin and prayer list from Jersey Shore Baptist Church by clicking here.

Read last year’s post on this passage – “The Prison of Pleasing People”

Today’s Passages – Luke 6 – 7; Proverbs 28

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 131 – 135; Memorize Psalm 126:5 – 6)

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” – (Luke 6:41-42)

You can’t see anything in the picture above because there is a huge telephone pole blocking your view. In our passage today, Jesus warns us not to be too critical of what we may think we see in other people’s lives, at least until we get all of our own problems straightened out, which probably won’t be anytime soon. There is something about our human nature which causes it to justify and condone our own sin; but yet we are quick to notice the sins of other people, particularly when they sin against us. Jesus said that we have to be careful about being judgmental. We all have problems, and we are all still sinners with a fallen nature bent on sinning more. Thank God for salvation. Thank God for the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. Thank God for immediate justification and then the lifelong process of sanctification in our lives; but let us never forget what we are still flesh. Paul said that in him “dwelleth no good thing” and it would do us well to recognize the same thing about ourselves.

Having said all of that let me now say a few things about judgement. Jesus did not mean that we should never judge things.  In fact 1 Corinthians 6 clearly tells us that we are to be judges at times, and we will even someday judge angels. We can and should be discerning about a lot of things. For instance I can judge whether or not an action is right or wrong based on what the Bible says about that act. However, I can not clearly see the motivation that went into the act; and I also cannot tell whether or not the person who committed the act is a saved person or not. I have seen saved people (including myself) do some pretty sinful things.

God has also put most of us into a position of being a judge in some specific areas. For instance, as a father, God has given me the right to be a judge when it comes to the lives of my children. As a pastor, I have also been given the responsibility to discern or judge certain situations in lives of the people that He has entrusted to me. But I have to be very careful because I am limited as to what I can see; and I cannot see into the hearts of people. I really do not fully know my own heart.

The bottom line is that we need to be careful about our judgement of people. God may put you in a position where you may have to look a little more closely at somebody else’s life; but be careful that you do not develop an attitude of superiority over those people. You are still just as much a sinner as they are. Analyze your own motives. Are you truly just trying to help people with their problems or are you somehow trying to justify yourself?


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Let’s Go Fishing

Today’s Passages – Luke 4 – 5; Proverbs 27

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 126 – 130

“And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” – (Luke 5:10)

My thought this morning comes from Luke 5. In the beginning of this chapter we see the Lord calling Peter to follow Him. Now this is not the first time that the Lord had met Peter. Peter had been watching the Lord for a little while, but it appears that He was not yet convinced that Jesus was the Messiah that Israel had been waiting Lord. Here in chapter five, however, Peter is convinced that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. Peter is coming back from a fruitless (or fish-less) night of fishing. Upon returning in the morning, the men were tired and were cleaning up their nets, getting ready to get some rest. The Lord tells Peter to go out and let down the “nets” again. Peter reluctantly lets out one net. You’ve read the story. One net wasn’t big enough to contain all of the fish that the Lord had provided for them.

The Lord uses this miracle to get Peter’s attention. Peter realizes here that Jesus is God. The Lord then tells Peter that his business would no longer be catching fish; but rather, Peter would be about the business of fishing for men. For the next three years Peter is personally trained by the Lord for the work of the Kingdom.

Peter only turned back once after he was called by the Lord. You will remember that Peter made the biggest mistake of his life when he denied the Lord at the time He was being condemned to be crucified. Peter thought that his ministry was over after that, so he went back to fishing for fish. You can read the story for yourself in John 21. It is interesting to note that once again Peter did not catch any fish until the Lord showed up. The Lord wasn’t through with Peter yet. Though he had blown it, God had some great plans for Peter. Through Peter’s fall and subsequent restoration, God showed Peter that the work of God must be done, not in man’s strength, but in God’s.

As far as we know, Peter never went back to catching fish again. Peter gave his life to fishing for men. When is the last time that you obeyed the Lord’s commission and fished for some men?


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The Family Business

 

Today’s Passage – Luke 2 – 3

 

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” – (Luke 2:49)

My father has been in the candy business for over 60 years. His company packages and distributes candy and nut products all over New Jersey and out into Philadelphia and now he even delivers into New York. Growing up, our lives revolved around the family business. If it was a busy time of the year, we would all pitch in to help. It didn’t matter if it was early in the morning or late at night; it didn’t matter if it was the weekend. Our family’s life revolved around that business.

In context of our text this morning, Jesus is a young man, twelve years of age. He and His family had traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. When it was time to go home, Joseph and Mary, along with their children and extended family all made their way back to Jerusalem; but Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem. Now before you get mad at Mary, I want you to remember that Jesus was not the type of boy that she would have to worry about: He never did anything bad. I have heard parents brag on their children before, but let me tell you, when Mary said that her boy, Jesus, was the perfect little lad, she wasn’t lying. You also have to remember that their were probably dozens of their family members and friends travelling together “in the company”. Mary just thought that Jesus was with some of the other family members. But He wasn’t. He deliberately stayed behind in Jerusalem.

When the family realized that He was not with them, they went back looking for Him. They found Him in the Temple, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions”. I am sure that they were a little upset about the fact that Jesus did this. They had a hard time finding Him. When they questioned Him about it, He said, “didn’t you know that I have to be about my Father’s business” [my paraphrase] Now Jesus earthly step-father, Joseph, was a carpenter; and I am sure that all of the little Joseph’s were training to be  carpenters too. Jesus, no doubt, worked in the carpenter shop alongside of Joseph. Just think, the hands that created the universe were in a small shop in Nazareth making furniture. Anyway, Jesus was not referring to carpentry when he spoke of His Father’s business. He was not referring to Joseph at all. He was talking about His read Dad, God the Father; and His Father’s business was at the Temple.

I grew up in my father’s candy business; but now I am giving my life to the Heavenly Father’s business. What is the Father’s business? It is reaching people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The Father’s business is also preaching and teaching the glorious truths of the Word of God. It is ministering to the people of God. These are all of the things that make up the Father’s business. I too must be about my Father’s business. How about you?


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Are You Certain?

Today’s Passages – Luke 1; Proverbs 25

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 119; Memorize Psalm 126:5 & 6)

Read a good article by Dr. Paul Chappell – “Trusted With The Gospel”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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