The Prison of Pleasing People

0280169c35eef9158abbd39ef2e09867_XL

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.


Posted in Thoughts from Luke by with no comments yet.

A Hospital for Sinners

1398743556488

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.


Posted in Thoughts from Luke by with 1 comment.

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.


Posted in Thoughts from Luke by with no comments yet.

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.



Posted in Thoughts from Luke by with no comments yet.

Have You Ever Been There?

Jesus on the cross

Today’s Passage – Mark 15 – 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 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “1024 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Ready, Set, Go“, and “The Just for the Unjust

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

The above verse references the time when Jesus was on the cross with the sins of the whole world placed upon his shoulders. In His humanity, He cries to the Father, and for the first time Jesus calls His Father, “God” instead of “Father”. Here at this moment it seemed that everything was against Him, including God.

Does it ever seem to you like God has forsaken you? I have been through some dark valleys in my time, and there have been many times where I have wondered, “Where is God?” At those times, it seemed like God was nowhere to be found. However, in hindsight, I can see that God was there all along; and though I could not see Him or feel Him, He was there. He is always there. If you are going through some kind of a trial today, don’t trust your feelings: they will often betray you. Trust the Word of God. The Bible tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Keep trusting; keep praying, even though it seems like you are just talking to yourself. Remember faith is the evidence of things not seen. Though His presence may seem to be elsewhere, He is right there with you. He hasn’t stopped loving you, and He hasn’t stopped working for your good and His glory.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

Daddy

01-Abba-Father-660x371

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

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

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

Read the “1023 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

In our passage today, we read of the heartbreaking story of our Saviour in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. Can you imagine what Jesus must have felt as He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and forsaken by the rest? The nation that He came to save was about to humiliate Him, beat Him, spit upon Him, and kill Him. And, in verse 36 above, He is in the Garden of Gethsemane with the three disciples who were His closest friends, and they could not even stay awake to pray with Him. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the weight of sorrows that our Saviour bore for us that night.

However, in the Garden, He still had His daddy. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that most closely resembles the word “daddy” in our English language. It speaks of a warm, intimate relationship, as opposed to cold formality. It reminds us of the times as children when we could run and jump up into the arms of our earthly dads. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entered into the arms of His daddy; and though the Father did not remove the cup, I am sure that He comforted the Lord Jesus and loved on Him as He was about to do what He came to earth to do.

Notice the verses above from Romans and Galatians, which teach us that we, too, have the same privilege of jumping up into the lap of our Heavenly Father, and receiving the comfort, love, and help we need in our hour of need. It is wonderful to think that we serve a God, a Father, that wants to be called “Daddy”. God is not a cold taskmaster that demands only your service: He is a loving, Heavenly Daddy that wants an intimate relationship with His children.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

I Don’t Want to Render to Caesar

caesar

Today’s Passage – Mark 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 106 – 110; Proverbs 22

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

“And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? … And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” – (Mark 12:14, 17)

You will probably not enjoy reading this post as much as I won’t enjoy writing it. In our reading today from Mark 12:13 – 17, we see the Pharisees attempting to corner Jesus by getting him to say something that will get him in trouble. They specifically asked him about paying taxes. They thought that they had Him in a secure trap. If Jesus said that the people should not pay taxes, then they could get Him in hot water with the Roman government (Caesar); but if he said that the people should pay taxes, then the Jewish people would be furious with Him, because they hated the Roman government, and were expecting their Messiah to overthrow it. Jesus’ answer was marvelous. He simply said that the people owed a debt to the government, and that they should pay that debt. He also was careful to add that they were also to pay what was expected of them to God,

Nobody likes paying taxes; I certainly don’t. However, taxes are a necessary evil. We all enjoy the protection that we receive from our police and military. We all make use of our infrastructure: we drive on our roads, cross our bridges, etc. All of these services make our lives better. On the other side of the coin, we can all see where our government is spending too much money on things that we wish they would discontinue. Our government is voted in by the people it represents, and the people need to be part of the process. I also believe that believers should be involved in our government process. We should vote, and speak our minds regarding the issues that are important to us. We should participate in community events. Our church has done some road clean-ups in our community in the past. It’s our town. We live in it, and we should do our part to make it a better place.

It is interesting to me, however, that Jesus didn’t concern himself much with trying to correct the abuses of government. He was far more concerned with teaching doctrine, and speaking out against the corruption in the religious community. The Apostle Paul, likewise did not seek to correct or rally to correct the wrong policies of the Roman empire. For instance, in Paul’s day slavery was tolerated. Paul did not protest the government or the slave owners, trying to abolish slavery. He simply instructed the Christian slave owners to treat their believing servants like brothers; and in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, he was persuasive in the granting of liberty to a runaway slave. He also instructed the servants regarding how to love and serve their masters. I am sure that Paul did not condone slavery, however. My point is that he was more concerned about instructing, exhorting, and admonishing Christians, then he was about straightening out the world, or it’s government.

Getting back to taxes. I believe that believers should cheerfully and honestly render to Caesar (the government) the things (taxes) that are owed to Caesar. Don’t cheat on your taxes. Don’t try to hide any income “under the table”. Remember, God will take care of all of your needs, including your tax debt. He owns it all anyway. In another similar story regarding taxes, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, and in the first fish’s mouth he would find the tax money. (see Matthew 17:24 – 27) If we keep fishing for men, Jesus will continue to provide us with all of the coins that we need to pay our debt to Caesar, and meet all of our other needs as well.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

Blind Bartimaeus – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Mark 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 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Read the “1021 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-47)

Good morning. Here we have Jesus walking away from Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people. The sound of the great crowd reached the ears of blind Bartimaeus, a beggar sitting by the side of the road. He had heard about Jesus, but when he realized that it was Jesus coming his way, he cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Now there are two reactions from the crowd. The first is what you and me would probably get. They told blind Bartimaeus to shut up. What would you do if you had a need that only Jesus could take care of? Would you tremble before the crowd and hold your piece? Would you give up at what may be your only chance of freedom from the bondage of sin? How bad do you want Jesus to help you?

“And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:48)

Would you to cry out until you were heard? Continuing to cry out until you are heard leads to the second reaction from the crowd…

“And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.” (Mark 10:49)

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:8-10)

Jesus wanted to use Bartimaeus as an example of His healing power and exercise Bartimaeus’ faith…

“And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:50-52)

Bartimaeus had a request. He wanted to see. There are people all over the world who are spiritually blind and would like to see. There are also those who are spiritually blind and choose not to see: they refuse the truth. We can only give them the truth. Like blind Bartimaeus, they have to get up and come to Jesus.

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

So blind Bartimaeus came to Jesus and received his sight: physical and spiritual. How do you know it wasn’t just physical, but also spiritual? By the choice Bartimaeus made in verse 52…

“And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:52)

Jesus told him to go thy way. And what was his way? The last part of verse 52 tells it all. Blind Bartimaeus immediately received his sight, and followed Jesus. Who are you going to follow? Which way are you going to go?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Peace.


Posted in Devotions by with no comments yet.

Hear Ye Him!

Matt-17-Transfiguration-Picture

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

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

Read the “1020 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” – (Mark 9:5-7)

In our passage today we have the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus where a select few of His disciples were privileged to get a glimpse of the Lord in His resurrected glory. But something else that was very strange occurred on the mount that day that caught the attention of the disciples. Appearing to talk with Jesus was Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest men of the Old Testament. It seems that Peter was more impressed with the appearance of the two Old Testament men than he was with the Lord Jesus in all of His glory. He wanted to make three booths on the mountain: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. In all fairness to Peter, however, notice that it said in v 6 that “he wist (knew) not what to say”.  One lesson that we can learn from this is that if we don’t know what to say we should keep our mouthes shut. At any rate, what happens next is amazing. God the Father booms from Heaven, This is my beloved son, hear ye him.He sternly rebukes Peter for even considering the other two men in the same category as His Son. Peter was willing to include the Lord, but he did not give the Lord the place of 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)

I believe that most Christians today are in a way guilty of the same thing. We want God to be part of our life; but we do not give Him the place of preeminence either. He is included in our decision making, but He is not the final authority in our lives. We give Him part of out time, treasure, and talent; but we do not recognize His sovereign right to dictate wholly what we do with them. I believe God shouts down from Heaven, through His word, the same thing to us today. He is telling us to listen to His Son. Forget about all of the other voices of influence out there and give God exclusive rights in your life.

Notice that the Father commands the disciples as well as us today to “hear Him”.  Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. I wonder how many Christians today are listening for the voice of the Saviour. It is a wonder that we can hear anything at all with all of the noises and distractions that are a part of lives today. God wants to speak to us, and He will if we will simply get alone with Him and open our hearts up to Him.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

Are You For Real?

John the Baptist prepares the way

Today’s Passage – Mark 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 91 – 95; Proverbs 19

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read former posts from this pasage – “Don’t Lose the Personal Touch” & “Politicians”

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” – (Mark 6:20)

In our text today, we read about the execution of John the Baptist by Herod. I will not rehash the story, as most of you are probably familiar with it, and if by chance you are not, you can read it for yourself in Mark 6:14 – 29. John was arrested by Herod because he had been preaching against Herod’s immoral relationship with his (Herod’s) brother’s wife. People who sin willfully do not like to be pointed out, or reminded about their sin. Most people do not have the option of silencing their critics, but when you are the mistress of the King, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Thus, Herodias eventually got what she wanted – John’s head on a platter.

Herod did not want to arrest, or kill, John the Baptist. He was actually afraid of him, because he knew that John was real. He knew that John, unlike the rest of the religious crowd of the day, was genuine in his faith and holiness. Men will fear a genuine believer who walks with God, and practices what he believes. Unfortunately, they will fear the crowd more. Herod feared Herodias, and the people who were watching, more than he feared God or John the Baptist. Pilate also feared the people more than he feared the Lord Jesus. However, the fear that Herod had for John continued even after John was gone. He actually thought that Jesus was some kind of a reincarnation of John, coming back to get him.

The thought I have this morning is that Herod feared John because he knew that John was the real deal. He was genuine. He wasn’t just playing some religious game, or using religion to advance his own personal agenda. The question I have for you (and me) this morning is, are you real? Is your faith making a difference in the lives of the people around you. Are there some Herodias’s in your life that just can’t stand you because of what you stand for? Are you poking some holes in the darkness around you, or are you just going through the religious motions, playing the church game? Just a thought.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

Go Home To Thy Friends

Studymassillonchurch1

Today’s Passage – Mark 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 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “1018 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Good Ground

“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)

The testimony of this man from Decapolis that was saved by the Lord was incredible. He was delivered out of an horrible pit of the worst kinds of sin. He then volunteers by asking the Lord if he could stay with Him. You would think that the Lord would have this man travel with Him full-time sharing with the whole world what he had done for him. However, the Lord had different plans for this man’s life. Instead of taking him with Him, He told the man to go back home and tell all of his friends and family about his testimony. The Scripture tell us that the man “published” in Decapolis all things that the Lord had done for him.

I got to thinking that the Lord has different plans for all of our lives. Some of us He will call to minister for Him full-time as a pastor or missionary, etc. However, the vast majority of His children will be asked to stay home and tell their friends, family members, and neighbors about the Lord. We all have a testimony if we are saved; and the best place to start in sharing Christ with others is simply telling them what that Lord has done for us. Have you shared with your friends “how great things the Lord hath done for thee”? If you haven’t, there is no time better than today to start.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

Who Is In The Driver’s Seat?

drivers-seat

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

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

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

Read the “1017 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s Bible reading passage – “What Does It Mean To Blaspheme the Holy Ghost?

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” – (Mark 1:12)

Years ago, I used to see bumper stickers on the back of tractor trailers that would say, “God Is My Co-Pilot”. As a lost man, I remember thinking that it was a clever slogan, but now that I have thought about it, I am sure that God does not want to be a passenger in your life: He wants to drive. We see in our text that Jesus was “driven” by the Holy Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. While Jesus walked this earth He was filled with the Spirit, lead of the Spirit; and He performed all of His miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It should be the same for the followers of Christ today. We should not to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. We should be living our lives submitted to the will of God, and yielded to the Spirit of God. Consider the following verses regarding the Holy Ghost:

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

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – (Galatians 5:16, 25)

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – (Ephesians 4:30)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – (John 16:13)

When I first trusted Christ as my Saviour, I recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in my life. Though, I did not understand it then (nor do I understand it completely now), I knew that there was something inside of me “driving” me toward the direction of the will of God and the Word of God. I realize now that the Holy Spirit was even working in my life long before I was saved. I used to think that the Holy Ghost was kind of like an unseen force in my life; but I have come to realize that He is not a force, He is a Person, and He is God; and God does not take a back seat to anybody. God wants to drive, and we need to be willing to let Him drive us wherever He wants us to go.


Posted in Thoughts from Mark by with no comments yet.

True Love by Pastor Ted Stahl

The-effects-of-the-cross

Today’s Passage – Matthew 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

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

Read the “1016 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

True Love

As the people cried out, “His blood be on us, and our children!”; the soldiers took Jesus to scourge Him. The pieces of bone, broken pottery, and metal attached to the nine strands of the whip dug deeply into his skin. And the blood flowed. True love. In the true spirit of hatred, the soldiers stripped Jesus and dressed Him in a scarlet robe: they did this to the Creator of the universe. With cruel mockeries they bowed down saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  With every ounce of hate, our Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns that pierced His scalp. And the blood flowed. True love. Then came the crucifixion. Our Lord Jesus Christ was beaten so badly that Simon of Cyrene was ordered to carry the cross. Long spikes were driven through the hands and the feet of our Lord as He was nailed to the cross. They sat down at the cross to watch Him die. And the blood flowed. True love. The mockings continued as chief priests, scribes, and elders breathed out their hatred. And the blood flowed. True Love. And then He was dead. The Lord had given up the Ghost. The payment for sin had been paid because the blood flowed. True love.

Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus lovingly wrapped the body of Jesus and placed it in a cold, dark tomb. There lay the body for three days, and three nights.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.  And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:1-9)

True love.

To God, love has always been an action word. Him loving us caused Him to shed His blood paying the price for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us. When they saw the risen Lord, they held Him by His feet and worshipped Him. True love. 1Peter 1: 22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

That’s true love. Having that love in us, calling ourselves Christians, how can we kick our brothers and sisters when they are down. How can we destroy families, and cause fellow believers to leave the churches. How can we discourage and not edify Is that true love? Even when we are to rebuke someone who wronged us, it’s to be done in love and only between you and that person. Proverbs is full of wisdom about the tongue. “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out” (Proverbs 10:31).  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).

Remember the scourging. Remember the thorns. Remember the spitting, and pulling out the beard. Remember the cruel mocking. Remember true love. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another ” (John 13:34-35).


Posted in Guest Posts, Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

Just Me and God

Just Me and God

Today’s Passage – Matthew 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

Read the “1015 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Who Me?”

“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)

This was no doubt the worst night in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was in the process of being betrayed by one of the twelve. He knew also that Peter was going to deny even knowing Him, not once, but three times. The rest of the disciples were going to scatter and follow afar off, all of them distancing themselves from their leader in His time of need. In the midst of this agonizing night, Jesus desires that three of His closest friends spend some time in prayer with Him. Though it was very late, the Lord was obviously not going to get any sleep, and He asked Peter, James, and John to stay up with Him in prayer. Unfortunately, the men were weary and could not stay awake through the prayer meeting. It appears that Jesus was to go through this trial alone. It was just Him and His Father.

It is human nature to desire the company and encouragement of other people when we are going through our trials. However, in the end, it will only be God that will be with us throughout the darkest days of our lives. Our friends can’t possibly understand completely the pain that we are experiencing; they have their own concerns and troubles that plague them. Friends and family can be helpful at times, but we need to learn to wean ourselves off of dependence upon man for comfort and encouragement and instead turn to God. People can not possibly meet the spiritual needs that only God can meet. If you are going through a trial right now look to God. Don’t be too hard on your friends. Though God may use them to edify and encourage you partially, they are severely limited in their ability to help.

Having said that, let me now speak a word to those of us who may have some friends who are going through a difficult trial. Don’t try to be a replacement for God in their lives. You cannot meet their spiritual need: you can only point them to God, and encourage them to feed upon the Word of God. Don’t preach to them, and don’t promise them things that you cannot deliver: you are not God. Just try to be there for them as much as you can while continuing to point them to the Lord.


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with 2 comments.

Any Questions? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Matthew 24 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Read the “1014 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:1-3)

Good morning. The disciples had questions about the destruction of Jerusalem. the end times, and the end of the world. I can show you the answer in the Bible. It’s right in this chapter. Verse 36…

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

When God is ready, that’s when. It will come in His perfect timing. You have God’s Word on it. But let’s see how Jesus answers His disciple’s questions, #1…

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matthew 24:4)

The best way to take heed that no man deceive you is to know God’s Word. Paul told Timothy…

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Timothy 2:15-19)

Jesus told His disciple’s there would be false Christs. There would be wars and rumors of war. Not only that, but also famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. On September 19th, Mexico had an earthquake that killed 369 people.

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

Secondly, Jesus warns that there will be Christian persecution…

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:9-12)

We will be hated by all nations. Christians will turn against Christians. There will be false prophets that deceive many. And because of all this, the love of many will wax cold. Jesus said…

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Don’t be dismayed about the things going on in the world. These things need to happen. Let’s not lose our love for Jesus or each other over it. Keep loving others as Jesus loved you.

Then #3: The Gospel shall be preached in all the world.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

It started with the Jews. They were given the Law to show them they needed a Saviour. The baton was then passed to the Christian, and we hold it until the rapture of the church. The baton then goes to those martyred during the Great Tribulation…

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Revelation 6:9-11)

They pass it on to the 144 thousand…

“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Revelation 7:2-4)

The two witnesses come on the scene now…

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” (Revelation 11:3-12)

Then comes the angel to finish the race…

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

Then Jesus will return to rule the earth for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed for a season and then cast into the lake of fire. And all the stuff of this world that you care about now will be gone…

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3:9-13)

The baton is in our hands. We have been given our marching orders…

“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

Any Questions?

Peace.


Posted in Devotions by with no comments yet.

Inside, Then Out

6a00e54efdd2b3883401a3fcb63d2e970b-500wi

Today’s Passage – Matthew 22 – 23 (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 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “1013 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:26)

Matthew chapter 23 contains a harsh rebuke by the Lord to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the fundamentalist of their day. They had the right doctrines. In fact Jesus admonished the disciples to do what the Pharisees taught, but He was careful to warn them not to follow their example. They were hypocrites: they portrayed on the surface a godly lifestyle, yet on the inside they were anything but godly. They were a cold and judgmental bunch. They were quick to point out the flaws of others, but they never looked within themselves to see if their own lives were right. They had all kinds of inward problems themselves, yet they focused on pointing out the flaws of others.

Unfortunately, today we see far too often Christians who we thought had “all of their ducks in a row”, only to discover that they are hiding some dark sin in their lives. They looked good on the outside, but they were filthy on the inside. Don’t misunderstand, we all struggle with sin, but we must be careful that we come clean with the Lord through confession, and then do our best to forsake the things that displease Him. God forgives and cleanses from sin. More importantly though, we must not try to appear to others in a self-righteous way.  As fundamental Christians today, we must be very careful that while we take our stand for all of the right doctrines, and as we preach the truth about sin; that we make sure that we don’t portray ourselves as above sin. We are sinners just like everyone else. While we try to live our lives as righteously and separated as we can, we are still a people who struggle with sin ourselves. Most importantly, we must not think ourselves to be any better than those that are without. If it wasn’t for the grace of God we could certainly find ourselves involved in some of the vilest sins. We must have a genuine compassion for people who are struggling. We must never compromise the truth, but we should preach the truth with a tear in our eye.

Jesus was very hard on the religious crowd, the ones that didn’t think that they needed any help. However, you will find that though He never once compromised in either His living or His preaching, He always treated the lost sinner with compassion. He loved them to Himself. We must do the same thing. While we strive to live a holy, separated life let us also demonstrate love and compassion to the lost world around us. If they get upset with us for our position, so be it; but let them never be able to find fault with our disposition.


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

It’s Not Fair!

ITs-not-fair

Today’s Passage – Matthew 19 – 21 (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 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read another post from this passage – “The Ministry – Not What I Expected

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (Matthew 20:15)

In the passage referenced above we have the story of the man that hired a number of laborers to work in his vineyard. He started hiring first thing in the morning and promised those early workers a penny for their toil. Throughout the day he would find more people who were idle, and he offered them “what is right” in exchange for their labor. When the day was finished and it was time to pay the workers, each man, regardless of the length of time they labored, received a penny. The men who were hired early in the morning worked longer hours yet received the same wage. They complain that the man who hired them was unfair, but he reminded them that they received exactly what they agreed to work for; and that he had the right to pay anybody else whatever he chose to pay them.

The primary interpretation of this verse, I guess, would involve Israel. They are probably a little envious of the church who is a late arrival to the service of God. After all the Jews have had a long relationship with him, and who did these Gentiles think they were coming in and claiming that they have a claim to Heaven. I believe we could also see this attitude among those in the church. Let’s say for example that a man grows up in a Christian home and is saved at an early age. He goes to the same Heaven that another man would go to who trusted Christ on his deathbed.

The thought that grabbed my attention this morning, however, as I read was that we often think God to be unfair because He deals with us uniquely, and it seems sometimes that he treats others better than He treats us. There are two things that we can learn from this passage. The first is that God will always do what He says He will do; and secondly He will always do that which is right. So for us to become envious about how God blesses others, or uses others is to say that God is making mistakes, or is acting like men.

Sometimes as a pastor, I see the way God is blessing other ministries. It seems that some churches and pastors just have victory after victory. Sometimes I want to cry, “unfair!”  But I need to remind myself of a couple of things that I am sure of:

1  God loves me just as much as He loves anybody else.

2  God will fulfill every promise and principle in my life, family, and ministry just as He will with anybody else.

3  God has a unique plan and purpose for my life and ministry, which is different from His plan for others.

4  I may not have had the same upbringing, training, and equipping that others have had. I just need to be faithful to do the best I can with the training that I have received; and I need to learn and grow as much as I can so that I can be more effective in ministry.

5  My vantage point of others in the ministry is limited. I can only see a small part of the picture. Even though it may seem that there are no burdens or problems at the other ministry, I know that there are. That pastor in the large ministry is probably paying a much larger price than I am paying.

In John’s gospel there is an interesting story that took place after the resurrection where Jesus is restoring a very discouraged Peter. Peter had denied the Lord prior to the crucifixion. Here Jesus tells peter to “feed His lambs”. Peter, however, was not satisfied with just being restored to the ministry: he wanted the top post. He asked the Lord (referring to John), “and what shall this man do”. Jesus replied, “what is that to thee?”. The Lord basically told Peter to mind his own business. God had a purpose and plan for Peter, and He also had one for John. He has a plan for me and you too. I don’t need to worry about what God is doing with you, and you don’t need to worry about what God is doing with me. We both just need to be faithful.


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with 1 comment.

Pardon Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with 1 comment.

Keeping Your Focus in the Storm

1injesus-jesus-and-peter

Today’s Passage – Matthew 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

Good Ground

timthumb.php

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

Rest

Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

Religion Or Relationship? – The Saturday Morning Post

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

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

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

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Good morning. Hopefully you will never hear these words coming from the mouth of Jesus: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

If we try and work our way to heaven, we will never make it. Jesus will say I never knew you; then were will you be? Do you have a Religion or a Relationship? Religion is man trying to get to God, relationship is God reaching down with His grace to man. You can prophesy in Jesus Name. All you have to do is quote some Scriptures in Jesus’ Name. Tell someone John 3:16, does that make you saved? Anybody can do that. Did you cast out devils?

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:13-16)

But those in Matthew chapter 7 claimed that in the name of Jesus have cast out devils? What if the devil’s plan was to leave the possesed person so these seven sons of Sceva would think they were saved? If God approved it, it could happen. This would have been added to the many wonderful works they did. But are they saved? No. There is no religion that can save you. You could go to church every week of your life, and still not be saved. You could pray the Rosary and never establish a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ…

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus told us…

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Here’s how…

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5:17-21)

Only the righteousness of Jesus exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees. And the only way to get His righteousness is to receive Him as your Saviour: that He knows you. Your righteousness is not going to make it. Isaiah said…

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Your righteousness, my righteousness, the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees are all as filthy rags. You see…

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

We are all sinners…

“Wherefore, as by one man [ADAM] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

This is how much God loves you and wants to know you personally…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

God took on the hard part and made it easy for us to know Him…

“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1John 5:11-13)

And Jesus says this to everyone He knows…

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:37-40)

To those He does not know He says…

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Do you know Jesus? Does Jesus know you? There is religion, and there is relationship.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Peace.


Posted in Devotions by with no comments yet.

Quit Worrying!

Quit Worrying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

It Is Written

Open-Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Matthew by with no comments yet.

Stout Words

stout words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Malachi by with no comments yet.

What A Day That Will Be

Zechariah 12:10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Zechariah by with no comments yet.

We Will Go With You

maxresdefault

Today’s Passage – Zechariah 6 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Zechariah by with no comments yet.

The Apple of His Eye

apple of his eye

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

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Thoughts from Zechariah by with no comments yet.

From This Day Will I Bless You – The Saturday Morning Post

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 21 – 22; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30 – 31)

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

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Haggai 1:2-5)

If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.” (Haggai 2:12-19)

Good morning. Tomorrow is Sunday. People will be going to church in the morning. Going home or dining out with family. Watching football. Then going back to church (hopefully) in the evening. Good for the week, but maybe have a little refueling stop at the mid-week service. And then we go about our merry ways to our cieled houses: cozy and comfy with a roof over our heads. Everything is nice and tranquil. But what about God? Is His house in disarray? Was there something you could do about it? Was there a someone in need, physically or spiritually? Could you edify them?

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1Thesselonians 5:9-15)

Did you get a handshake? No? All you have to do is reach out and shake somebody’s hand. It’s that easy, and could brighten somebody’s day. When God sees you caring about others, He will make sure the seeds are planted, and the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree will bear fruit for you. The Jews were going about their religion. God was only blessing them partially: ten measures instead of twenty, twenty vessels instead of fifty. All the seeds where still in the barn, and not planted. God told them, “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me.”

God also told them, “From the four and twentieth day of the ninth month… from this day will I bless you.”

The Jews were informed where they had gone wrong, and that their offerings were unclean. What could they do to clean themselves up? Nothing.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” (Titus 3:5)

God did it all, and at this point in the Jews history God said He would bless them.

“We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1John 4:19-20)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

It’s only human nature to love someone who loves you (it’s God’s supernatural power that enables you to love someone who hates you).

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

God loved us first, maybe we should love others before we love ourselves? Maybe God will say, “From this day I will bless you.”

Peace.


Posted in Devotions by with no comments yet.

God Is In The Midst Of Thee

Sunrise

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 17 – 20; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0929 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.” (Zephaniah 3:15)

If I understand this verse correctly, it appears that Zephaniah is looking forward to the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth. It would seem that this will be the only time that all of the things mentioned in the context could take place. In the first two chapters Zephaniah wrote of judgment which has already come and is still coming, but the future holds a time for Israel when they will be reconciled completely with God; and God will once again be pouring out His blessings upon them; and will remove all of there enemies from the land.

My thought this morning, however, is how this verse, though directly dealing with Israel, applies perfectly to the Christian today. The Christian already has today what He is going to give Israel in the future. First, it says “The LORD hath taken away thy judgments”. How wonderful it is to know that the penalty for sin is gone. I will not be judged for my sin. I used to hear preachers say that when I stand before God, He is going to show a video of every bad thing that I have ever done. Not true. Jesus paid for all of my sins at Calvary and they are all under the blood. My record is clean because of what Jesus did for me at Calvary. My sins are gone! Praise God!!!

Secondly, Zephaniah says “he hath cast out thine enemy”. Now this isn’t true yet; but it soon will be. My enemy is Satan, and though he and his devils are reeking havoc today, he is already defeated. Some day soon, we will see Satan cast into the lake of fire. I am on the winning side and Satan is a loser. Just a thought: why do so many people, including Christians, follow him.

Finally, Zephaniah says “the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee. I know that this verse is talking about God dwelling in the midst of His people Israel, but I have God dwelling in me right now.

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Colossians 1:27)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” (John 15:4)

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

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

God is not only with me, He is in me. And if I will allow Him to have His way with my life, I will reveal Him to others around me.

P.S. I have one additional encouragement from Zephaniah 2:

“Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.” – (Zephaniah 2:3)

This verse is a great encouragement to me because it teaches that though there may be judgment by God on the world around us, we may escape it if we are in a right relationship with Him. God has not appointed His children to wrath, and though He may pour out His judgent on this land, He will still protect and provide for His own.


Posted in Thoughts from Zephaniah by with 1 comment.