The Glory of the Lord Filled the House

2015-03-10-20-22-24

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

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

Read the “0517 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Just Ask Him

“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” – (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)

Nothing pleases the Lord more than the praise and worship of His people. Here in the first five chapters of 2 Chronicles we see Solomon building the temple of God on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. All of the preparations had been made; all of the materials had been provided for; all of the instruments of worship, and the ornate furnishings had been created; and everything had been put in its proper place. Finally, this temple, which was first conceived through the Lord in the heart of David, is now almost complete. I say almost, because God does not arrive on the scene until His people in one accord begin to worship and praise Him. It isn’t until then that God shows up, and fills the temple with his glory.

Two things caught my attention from this passage. The first is that they played and sang “as one”. That tells me that there was unity and harmony. God loves when His children are dwelling together in unity. The second thing is that God is well pleased with the praise of His people. This is one of the things that sets us apart from other religions. God does not force us to worship Him. Nothing about true worship is forced. Worship and praise are voluntary expressions of our love for the Lord.

As I am writing this passage, I am burdened about many things in my life, and in the life of our church. I have been thinking lately that something is missing in our church. I could not put my finger on it before, but I think God has shown me something here. We are not praising the Lord as we should. We are not singing as we should with a heart filled with praise and adoration for our God. The song service in our church should be more than just some obligatory precursor to the preaching. It should be a time when we as God’s children stop everything and focus our attention on Him completely, lifting up our hearts and voices to Him in praise. It’s really pretty simple isn’t it? Maybe if we start praising and worshipping God as we should the glory will fill our house as well.

 


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Help Wanted – Ministry Positions Available

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Do You Pass the Test

“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Are you looking for a job? Do you want to make lots of money, live in a spacious, comfortable home, drive a fancy car? Are you looking for something that will not require a lot of your time and energy, but will yield great financial benefits? Do you require a good health insurance package, including dental and optical? Do you desire a great retirement package that will allow you to retire early with enough income to live comfortably? Then don’t apply for this job.

Welcome to the ministry. Paul the apostle was perhaps the greatest Christian that ever lived, but look what his earthly benefit package included: rejection, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger; and long, thankless hours. The ministry is not something that you do because of what you will get from it in this life. Those who surrender to God’s call to ministry will more often than not, know a life of sacrifice and struggle. Don’t misunderstand me, the ministry does have it’s great moments, and there is a good deal of satisfaction knowing that you are making an eternal difference; but the fact remains that if it is earthly rewards that you are looking for, you will most likely not get them in the ministry.

However, the ministry does provide the best eternal retirement package there is. Those who sacrifice for the Lord here on earth, will receive an abundant return for their investment in Heaven; and those benefits will last a lot longer than any earthly retirement package.

In spite of all the negatives that Paul had to endure, however, he would not have traded places with anyone else in the world. He couldn’t do anything else; and he learned to be content with whatever the will of God provided for him. As much as I often gripe about some of the aspects of the ministry, I don’t think that I could be happy doing anything else either. True happiness and joy is being in the center of the will of God, wherever that leads you.


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Without Wax

Without Wax

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “And Be Ye Separate” and “Casting Down Imaginations

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

“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.

In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters, I would strongly recommend that you give to the work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.

Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

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

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shallnot be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.


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Are You Blind?

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What’s New About You?” and “Ambassadors for Christ

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Many years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.

There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth, but what can I do about it?

1  I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.

2  I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

3  I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.


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And Be Ye Separate

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10

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

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

We have gone too far. Christianity has become too much like the rest of the world. We have somehow seriously misinterpreted and misunderstood the doctrine of separation. We have flooded our homes with worldly philosophies, through television, social media, and other forms of entertainment. The results of our lack of separation are evident everywhere we look within the churches: we dress like the world, and we act like the world. Our churches are replete with immoral behavior and all other kinds of sins, and we just pretend its not happening. We need to wake up! We are living in complete disobedience to a crystal clear commandment of Scripture. The Bible is perfectly clear – we are not to love the world (1 John 2:15 – 17); yet we are completely infatuated with all that the world has to offer. We need to make an “about-face”; we need to get turned back around.

I am not advocating that we isolate ourselves in an “Amish” type of culture, but I must confess that there is much about the lifestyle of “plain” people that I admire. I do believe we need to simplify our lives, and I also think it is imperative that we remove many of the influences that have permeated our homes. Preachers used to preach against television and the movies, but now these things are a big part of our lives. Think about it: the average Christian spends, at best, a few hours per week in spiritual exercise and activity, but may spend several hours per day in front of the television or computer. The world is flooding in, when the Word of God is only trickling in. It has slowly changed the way we think, and instead of being transformed into the image of Christ, we are subtly being conformed to this world’s mindset. I don’t know if I have all of the answers, but I know we need to do something to get back to where God wants us to be. It’s no wonder that the church has lost its power and influence in the community. We are no different than they are. Just a thought.

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


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Are You Blind?

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Memory passage for the month of November – Luke 1:26 – 38

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

Read previous posts from today’s Bible Reading Passage – “What’s New About You” & “Ambassadors for Christ”

Watch a great video – “Life Is Like Coffee

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Twenty-two years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.

There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth. but what can I do about it?

1  I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.

2  I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

3  I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.


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Do You Pass The Test?

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 13; Proverbs 7

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 31 – 35)

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? “ (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The Apostle Paul loved the people of Corinth. He had travelled to Corinth on his second missionary journey and had stayed with them for eighteen months, preaching the Word of God. As a result, many were saved and a new church was established. However, after Paul’s departure, the Church at Corinth began to have a lot of problems. As we have read through these two letters to the Corinthian Church we have learned what some of these problems were. This church was a very carnal church. They had problems with morality and idolatry, which Paul rebukes sharply in these letters; but we also discover that this church had a problem receiving preachers and teachers who were false prophets, so much so, that many of the people of Corinth were turning against Paul. Now, this puts a preacher in a difficult position. No spiritual man likes to defend himself because in doing so he feels like he is lifting himself up in a prideful way. Paul very carefully reminds this church of his credentials, and he also reminds them of what he has already done for them.

By the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul makes the statement which seems to explain the root of all of the problems that existed in Corinth. He tells them to examine themselves to see whether they were really saved. I believe many of the people in Corinth were in fact genuine in their faith, but there must also have been many that were perhaps sown in by the devil to cause trouble. By admonishing them this way, he is causing them to carefully look into their lives to see whether or not the Holy Ghost of God is really in them. The bottom line is that the only thing that clearly explains the trouble with the Corinthian Church is that there were many unconverted people within the church, as well as many carnal believers.

How about you? Would you pass the examination? Are you really saved? I will list here a simple three question quiz that you can give yourself in order to verify that you are in fact a child of God:

1  Do you have a testimony? Can you point back to a specific time and place where you remember acknowledging your sin to God and accepting the payment of God’s Son on the cross for  it? Is there a time in your life when you asked the Lord to save you? Nobody was born saved. You may have been born to a good home with a godly influence, but there has to be a time in your life when you personally receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior.

2  Has there been a transformation? You may remember a couple of days ago I shared some thought on the subject “What’s New” from 2 Corinthians 5:17. Are you a new creature since you have been saved? Has anything in your life changed? I trusted Christ as my Savior twenty years ago, and my life has never been the same since; and it is still changing, transforming into the image of Christ. Don’t misunderstand, I still have my struggles and flaws, but Christ is chipping away at them as I grow in Him.

3  Can you pass the Bible tests?  Here are some of them:

Do you have a better understanding of the Bible? (1 Corinthians 2:14) Now none of us understands everything about the Bible. I am learning new things every day from passages that I have read dozens of times before. God gives me the truths that I need in my life today; but He is teaching me.

Do you have a love for the brethren? The Bible says that people will be able to see that we are disciples by the love we have for each other. (1 John 3:14)

Do you have a desire to obey God’s commandments? (1 John 2:3 – 5) None of us will be perfect, and I suppose we all have particular areas where we really struggle; but how do you feel when you sin. If you can sin without feeling any conviction at all from within, something is seriously wrong. If you are God’s child, the indwelling Holy Spirit of God should be constantly reminding you when you do wrong.

I am not trying to get anybody to doubt there salvation, but I am concerned that there may be many people within our churches that profess to know God, but have not truly been born again. How did you do on the test? Did you pass? Do you have full assurance of your salvation? If not, go to the “Are You Saved?” page on this site, and find out how you can be gloriously saved.


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Casting Down Imaginations

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10; Proverbs 6

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 26 – 30)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 )

I have always been fascinated by verse 5 of 2 Corinthians 10, but I must confess that I don’t think that I fully understand all that this verse is teaching us. Yet, I find myself using this verse often as I minister to people. The word “imaginations” can mean thoughts, ideas, or philosophies. There are many philosophies and ideas coming from the world today that are contrary to the teaching of the Scripture. There are also many thoughts that enter into our mind, or are even conjured up in our minds that are simply not true. We must be careful to dismiss, or cast down any thought or idea that is contrary to Scripture, and we must also try not to let thoughts develop in our minds that may not be true. I have had thoughts in my mind about people that weren’t true. For example, I have many times imagined that a person was mad at me, but later discovered that my perception was wrong. Our minds can often deceive us. I sometimes wonder if it isn’t the evil one putting some of these false notions into our heads.

The verse tells us that we are to “bring into captivity every thought”, which means we are to capture or control what we think about. You might think that your thought life is beyond your control, but to a large degree it isn’t. We can certainly have better control over what enters into our thoughts. Consider what the Scriptures command us in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – (Philippians 4:8)

What do you think about? God wants us to control what we think about. We need to stop feeding our minds with all of the “high things” that come from the lost world, and instead replace them with good things. The Bible is a good thing. The songs of God are also good to meditate on. Edifying communication from a godly friend will produce good thoughts. When you find your mind wandering into forbidden areas, try quoting Scripture. Don’t let your imagination run wild.

There is a lot more in these verses that we could talk about, but perhaps you can use what has been said as a seed thought to help you develop a better understanding of how to submit your thoughts to the lordship of Christ.

Let us know if you have any helpful thoughts or suggestions regarding this topic.


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Ambassadors for Christ

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5; Proverbs 5

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 21 – 25)

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” – (2 Corinthians 5:20)

By definition, an ambassador is an “accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country”. The thought for this morning is simple. We represent Heaven to this world. We are God’s official ambassadors. We do not represent our own interests and desires, we are committed to communicating the wishes and desires of the Lord. Our message to the world is the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the sins of all men.

Being an ambassador for the Lord is an awesome responsibility and privilege. This commission is not just for the select few among Christians, but for all of the saved. We who have trusted Christ as our Saviour must recognize that we are no longer our own, for we have been “bought with a price”. God could have taken us immediately to Heaven, but instead He left us here on this earth – our mission field – so that we can get the message of salvation to other men and women. How serious are we taking our responsibility as ambassadors. Remember, people are watching our every move, and they are listening to every word that comes out of our mouths. Do our words and actions bring glory to the Kingdom of God? These are sobering thoughts, but they must be considered. As you go about your daily affairs today, recognize that you are on official business for the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

Someday soon, God will pull all of us ambassadors out of this earth, and take us home to the place of our real citizenship – Heaven; but until that time, we need to be about the Father’s business.


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Hear Thou From Heaven and Forgive

Today’s Passage – 2 Chronicles 6 – 8; Proverbs 18

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9; Memorize Proverbs 10:19)

“Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.” – (2 Chronicles 6:27 KJV)

While reading chapter six of today’s passage, I noticed in Solomon’s prayer a phrase that appears over and over again: “Hear thou from Heaven”.  If you look carefully at the context of each of the times that this phrase was used you will notice that it always involves confession and forgiveness.  Basically Solomon was asking the Lord to forgive the people whenever they had come to Him in contrition and confession involving a wrong that the people had committed.  Chapter seven tells us that when Solomon had finished praying the fire fell from Heaven and consumed the sacrifices; and also that the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.  So, it appears that God was pleased with what Solomon had prayed regarding forgiveness.  Why will God continue to forgive and not forsake His people?  The answer lies in the Temple itself.  Remember the Temple was the place that sacrifices for sin were offered unto God.  Now we know that these sacrifices could not atone for sin; but they reminded God of a coming sacrifice: the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary.  When God thinks of His Son, He can forgive the people:  their debt has been paid in full.

Why do we as God’s people have such a hard time forgiving and reconciling with each other.  Like God, we should view the atonement of the shed blood of Christ as payment for the sins that have been committed against us.  We fully expect God, and people to forgive us, yet we are so reluctant to forgive others.  Or, we say we forgive them with our mouths; but harbor bitterness in our hearts toward them.

One thing that has helped me in this area a long time ago was to actually sit down and consider all of the times that I had blown it; all of the times I had sinned against God.  Though, I could only recall a fraction of the actual list, I still had a ponderous number of transgressions listed.  I began to think, why would God forgive me?  How could He love someone as wicked as myself.  The answer – Christ.  How can you forgive those who have wronged you?   The answer – Christ.

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


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Let’s Speak About the Unspeakable Gift

Today’s Reading – Jude 1, Revelation 1 – 3

I have decided this morning to break from tradition by not writing a devotion on the day’s reading. Instead, I will be giving you the outline from this morning’s message that will be preached (the Lord willing) at Jersey Shore Baptist Church. I am doing this because of the snow storm that has already started, and is supposed to blanket our area with more than a foot of snow. We will still hold church services this morning for the hearty souls who will make it out; but for those of you who could not travel to the church in this weather, you can still participate in the service and message.

Text – 2 Corinthians 9; Text Verses – 2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:7 & 8; 9:15

Today is the day after Christmas. This is the day when we often think about the presents we received yesterday. This is also the day that some of us will begin to write a note of thanks to those who gave us the gifts. In our text this morning, Paul is speaking to this Corinthian Church about giving, but he is careful to remind them that giving begins and ends with the “unspeakable” gift, which is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Introduction – Review 2 Corinthians 9

God gave us His Son. He is the “unspeakable” gift mentioned in verse 15. (John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8 & 9)

I            Reflect Upon the Gift

A            His Person – this is Who He Is – His Attributes – omniscience, omnipotence, infinite love, etc.

As I said before, Christ is the gift, but with the gift comes many extras. Have you ever gotten any Christmas presents that came with extras? Did you ever open the extras first, perhaps by mistake? I remember one time I opened an 8-track tape of “The Platters”. It was a gift from my dad. (I often wondered if he got it for me or for himself.)However, I thought it was strange because I did not own an 8 track tape player. Guess what was the next gift I opened?

B            His Propitiation – His Blood Atonement for our sins which provided both grace and mercy.

C            His Presence – “[He] will never leave thee nor forsake thee…” (Hebrews 13:5); “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20); “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

D            His Presents – The Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5); The Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12)

E            His Provision – 2 Corinthians 9:8; Matthew 6:33

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)

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

F            His Purpose – He has a plan for my life and yours too?

II            Rehearse the Gift to God and to Others

Reflection begins with thinking and begets thanksgiving (Psalm 100). Tell others about the “unspeakable” gift. Speak about the indescribable gift.

A            Thank God – Spend some time in prayer worshipping Him for who He is, and praising Him for what He has done.

B            Thank the People that God has used. (Luke 6:38) – God uses people to be a blessing. Luke 6:38 says that men shall give into your bosom. God works in the hearts of people (even unsaved people) to be a blessing to you. Be sure, though, to tell them that you not only thank them, but that you thank God for them.

III            Reciprocate the Gift

Give back to God and to others. Learn to be a giving person.

I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

A            Give to God’s Purpose – The Great Commission through the local church

B            Give to God’s People – Look for ways to give back to God by helping to meet the needs of His children. Remember, God loveth a cheerful giver!

Well, What did you get for Christmas yesterday? If you are saved, you got Jesus, and with Jesus you got it all.


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Without Wax

Today’s Passage – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10

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

Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf. (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.

In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters I would strongly recommend that you give to work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.

Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

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

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.


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What’s New About You?

Today’s Passage – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5

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

I just want to share some quick thoughts from the Word this morning, as we are busy preparing for the Lord’s Day.

The verse above expresses one of the most fundamental truths of the Christian life. I have heard all of the arguments on both sides regarding whether a person is truly saved. Many Christians believe that God has called them to be fruit inspectors; examining the lives of their brothers and sisters in Christ to see whether they have genuine faith or not. I don’t believe God has called me to be a fruit inspector as much as He has called me to be a sower of seed (the Word of God).  However, we must never forget that anyone who has the Holy Spirit of God indwelling them is a new creature. He is not the same as we was before salvation. Now he might not be as spiritual as we may think he ought to be, but he is different.

I believe the difference can be seen in these three areas.

1  There will be a desire to saturate in things of God. I can’t speak necessarily for everyone, but I know what happened to me when I trusted Christ as my Saviour. I had a craving for God’s Word, God’s People, and God’s House which was never a part of my life before.

2  There will be a desire to separate from the things of this world. Now this will increase as the believer matures, but even as a babe in Christ there will be a new understanding that the Holy Spirit within is in conflict with the world system and philosophy without.

3  There will also be a desire to share Christ with others. A little further along in our text, the Bible says that we are ambassadors for Christ; we are His representatives here on the earth.

Let us examine ourselves (not others). Are these three ingredients part of your life. I am not trying to get you to doubt your salvation, and I know that we all struggle and fall short in all of these areas; but is the desire in you in these three areas. God has cataclysmically transformed my life since I have been saved; and He is still transforming me. He renews me day by day, molding me into His image. If you are His child, He is also doing the same to you.


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