Bible Burning

Bible-Burning1

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 33 – 36 (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 – Acts 25 – 28; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0823 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” (Jeremiah 36:22-23)

“Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” (Jeremiah 36:32)

When Jeremiah the prophet wrote down the words that God had given him to deliver to the people to Judah, it was ultimately given to Jehudi to be read before King Jehoiakim. The king did not like was written about him by God through Jeremiah, so he took out a knife and cut the book in little pieces, and then threw it into the fire. However, this did not stop God, or Jeremiah. He just wrote another copy of what was previously written, and then added a few more things regarding the judgment that God intended upon the nation and particularly King Jehoiakim. The king tried to get rid of the judgment by removing the Word of God, but he could not eliminate the Word or what it says by burning it.

I find this is what many in our world are doing today. They attempt to hide from the Word of God by removing it from their sight. They figure that if they could just get rid of the Bible, and those that preach it, they could somehow escape the revealed judgment that God has declared against those who live in rebellion to Him. However, their attempt to remove the Word is futile because the minute you try to destroy it in one place, God will just raise it back up again from somewhere else. The communists in Russia, China, and other places have attempted to suppress the Word of God; but have failed miserably. In fact, in China where the Bible has been outlawed, there are millions of copies of the Word being circulated underground, which God is using to bring an incredible revival.

There also some, who having realized the futility of eliminating the Word, have attempted to alter the Word, changing it to meet their agenda. Their claim was that the words needed to be updated and modernized in order to continue to be relevant in an ever-changing culture. When I was saved back in 1990, I went to the Christian book store to buy a Bible. I had no idea what to buy. The clerk tried to sell me one of the modern versions, but for some reason I was drawn to a beautiful, leather-bound copy of the King James Bible. I am thrilled that God led me to the old King James. It has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family through the years. I have never doubted that the Book that I carried was an accurate copy of the very words of God. Stick with the Book!

There are also some preachers and churches that have essentially done the same thing that Jehoiakim did. No, they did not burn the Bible, but they did stop preaching it. Their worship services may include part of an altered verse, or two; but, for the most part, they gather together infrequently to watch movies, and listen to ear-tickling homilies about the love of God, without a word being preached against sin. Churches that once had vibrant Sunday Schools, and Bible studies throughout the week are now barely meeting together at all, and when they do, there is very little of the Bible being preached.

Let’s not be like King Jehoiakim: let’s revere the Word of God, and let’s read the Word of God; and then let us submit ourselves to what it says.

 


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Investing for the Future

investing in the future

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 30 – 32 (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 – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0822 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read another post from this passage – “No More Soulwinning?

So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 32:8)

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:” – (Jeremiah 32:37)

In chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah there is a very interesting story. Jeremiah the prophet is in jail, the nation of Israel is in a complete mess, the Babylonians have already taken a good number of the citizens of Israel into captivity; and, the final invasion by Nebuchadnezzar into the land is imminent. You would not think that this would be a good time to be purchasing real estate in the land of Israel. However, God told Jeremiah, who in turn told the people, that though things were going to be horrible for a number of years, God was going to give the people of Israel their land back, and He was going to prosper them once again. Of course, this is one of those dual purpose prophecies: it was fulfilled back in this Old Testament period, but it will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns.

The bottom line is that Jeremiah had enough faith in the Word of God to invest his money in a piece of land that was at that time worthless. He knew that God would do what He said that he would do, and that someday the property would be very valuable. I don’t know how much land is worth in Israel today, but I know this: someday it will be priceless because Christ will make Israel the capital of His World government. I am putting my money on Israel, and on God. He will do what He says He will do. You can bank on it.

We also need to be investing more into eternity. The Bible is clear that the investments that we make into the Lord’s work here on earth will yield a great deal of interest someday in eternity, not to mention the temporal blessings that also come while we are still here. We need to believe the Word of God as Jeremiah did in this passage, and God says that our investments in Him are very secure. We really cannot depend on the fact that our earthly retirement accounts, or social security, will be there for us in the future, but we can trust that God will always be there to take care of our every need.


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Keep Looking

Keep Looking

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 26 – 29 (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 – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0821 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Make the Best of It” and “Who Can You Trust

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jeremiah 29 is written to the captives that had been taken away from Jerusalem in the first wave to Babylon. Jeremiah is writing to them from Jerusalem, and is encouraging them to not lose heart; and to not quit following the Lord. No doubt, they were a discouraged people: they had been uprooted from the place that God had given their fathers; and they had been carried away into a strange land with strange gods and peculiar customs. They probably thought that God was finished with them; and that it was all over for them. Jeremiah reminds them that God is not done with them, and that their time spent in Babylon is only for a season. He exhorts them to make the best of it in the land of captivity: to marry, build houses, and plant orchards and vineyards so that they would not decrease during their stay there.

I have gone through seasons where it seems that God has abandoned me: times when it feels like I am miles away from God. I am encouraged by passages like this that remind me that God will never leave me nor forsake me; and even though it seems like He doesn’t care at times, I know He does. I will try to follow the exhortation of God through Jeremiah: keep searching for me with your whole heart, and eventually, I will find Him. I know that God hasn’t moved away. It is my heart that has positioned itself elsewhere; but when I search for God with all my heart, bringing my heart back to Him, He will once again reveal Himself to me and place me in that spiritual land of Canaan known as the will of God.


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Handle With Care

Handle with Care

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 23 – 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 – Acts 16 – 18; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0820 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 23:28-32)

Jeremiah 23 is a strong rebuke against the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day that claimed to be speaking on behalf of God, but were really just telling the people what they want they wanted them to hear. I do not believe that we would be doing injustice to the Scripture by making application to the many people in our world today who claim to be preaching and teaching the Word of God. This passage delivers a scathing warning for those who mishandle the Bible. In this text I have noticed three common errors that are made today by people who claim to be representing the Lord:

1 Lying – We lie to the people when we don’t tell them exactly what God said, or when we insert our philosophies and opinions. God’s word is very clear. He has very specific instructions regarding how we are to conduct ourselves on this earth. Yet, preachers will often misrepresent God by not declaring plainly and interpreting literally what God said. I wish every Christian knew the Bible intimately themselves, but unfortunately that is not the case. Many of the people that come to us for help are trusting us to tell them them what God would tell them. We have no right to just tell them what we think. Who cares what we think? What really matters is what God said!

2 Leaving Out – By this I mean that we neglect so many of the important truths of the Word. We do not declare the whole counsel of God. We conveniently select passages that promote our agenda, and we take verses out of their context. God expects us to preach and teach the whole Bible, not just the parts that will make us look good in front of the people. We are “itching” people’s ears today by ignoring the passages that deal with their sin.

3 Lightness – Notice verse 31. God mentions the prophets’ lightness. The preachers did not take their jobs seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to be God’s representative. We are to faithfully deliver and explain the Tuth of the Word of God. The people need Truth, not entertainment. We have become comedians, and story tellers, and entertainers; but our “lightness” has caused an entire generation to fall away from God. We need to get back to the sober business of declaring the Truth. When I think back to the prophets of the Old Testament, I see men that were grave, serious, bold, determined, and fearful of the God the represented. We need to get back to that in our teaching and preaching today.

God wants His Word handled very carefully. God magnifies His word even above His name, and His name is above all other names. God’s Word is important. We need to be very careful that we are delivering it clearly, and entirely to the people of God.

Oh, and by the way, according to vs. 1 & 2, God’s flock needs to be handled with care as well. Woe to the pastor that takes advantage of one of God’s children.


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The Potter’s House

potter.jpg

Today’s Passage –  Jeremiah 18 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 13 – 15; Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

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

Read the “0819 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” – (Jeremiah 18:3-6)

I love this passage of Scripture. The immediate context of this passage is about Israel. God was basically telling Israel (more specifically the southern kingdom of Judah) that though they had blown it and become “marred”, they could be “made again” into another vessel that would give honor and glory to the Lord. Our God is a God of second (and third, and fourth …) chances.

The broader interpretation that we can apply to our lives is that God can also re-mold us. We are also marred people born with a nature that is useless to God. However, God can re-make us into “new creatures” through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. This can only come through the new birth. Consider the following verses:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – (John 3:3)

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

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

I am excited that God is continuously re-shaping my life into something that He can use for His glory. I am a long way away from the finished product, but I look a whole better than when He found me. Praise the Lord!

It gets even better. While I am being worked on by the Lord, He lets me help Him work on some others. I get to minister the Word of God to the people of God, which is a big part of God’s transformation process. That’s a weird thought isn’t it? God uses marred vessels to help transform other marred vessels.

PS – one more unrelated thought from Jeremiah 22:

“Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” – (Jeremiah 22:28-30)

If you study the genealogical record of the Lord Jesus from Matthew 1 and Luke 3, you will find that this man Coniah (Jechonia or Jechonias) is listed in Matthew’s list but not Luke’s. The reason for this is simple. Matthew traces the legal lineage of Christ through his adopted father Joseph. Luke’s gospel traces the biological lineage through His mother, Mary. Jesus was the “seed” of Mary, but not the seed of Joseph. Jeremiah prophesied long ago in this passage that anybody that descended biologically from Jechonia would be “disqualified” from being the King of Israel. Any of Joseph’s biological children were disqualified; but Jesus was not Joseph’s biological child. Mary was Jesus’ biological mother, but Mary did not descend from Jechonias. Study it out. It is amazing how accurate our Scripture is.


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The Point of No Return

point of no return

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 14 – 17 (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 – Acts 10 – 12; Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

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

Read the “0818 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!’” (Jeremiah 15:1)

In the picture above, the man is jumping from one rock formation to the next. You will notice that the position of his body would make it impossible for him to change his mind at the last minute. He had reached “the point of no return”.

In our passage we see that the people of God had passed the point of no return. God said that it did not matter if Moses or Samuel came to intercede on their behalf, they had gotten too far away from Him, and judgement was unavoidable. God had warned them and corrected them previously, but to no avail. They would not receive the correction and they did not heed the warnings. They continued to travel down the road eventually leading them to the point of no return. God was about to bring in the Babylonians as a judgment for the backslidings of Judah.

I wonder how far God will allow America to get away from Him until she gets to the point of no return, where nothing can be done to escape judgment. I wonder how far the Christian can travel down the road of sin before God says, enough is enough. Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that God will remove a Christian’s salvation if they are genuinely born again; but I am saying that He will eventually get fed up with rebellion, and will be forced to impose severe chastisement in order to rectify the situation. He may even take the offending Christian home to Heaven prematurely.

Let’s not allow our lives to get so out of control that God says we have passed the point of no return. Let’s keep an open heart, listen daily to His admonitions and exhortations from the Word of God; and heed what He says. Let’s yield to the working of the Spirit of God within us and yield to His will for our lives. I want to be used of Him all of my earthly life. I don’t want to be put on a shelf, or worse, face some sort of terrible judgment. I want to bear fruit that remains in my Christian life. I guess I had better stay close to my Saviour and far away from the point of no return.


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Strange Gods – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 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 – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Read the “0817 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.” (Jeremiah 10:1-6)

Good morning. If you had asked me a few years back if I thought America was under God’s judgment, I probably would have said I didn’t think so. Everything appeared to be going okay. After 9/11 things drastically changed in the United States.

An illustration that many preachers have used is about how to cook a frog. If you toss a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will hop right out. But if you place a frog in a pot of water, and slowly bring up the heat, he will stay there in the pot till he gets cooked. That’s what happened to us. The devil has been working on this country for quite some time. The religion of Evolution is preached in our schools as truth instead of just a theory. Children are taught that the baby formed in the womb is just an unfeeling blob of goo, so abortion is okay. People are numbed by propaganda telling them that homosexuality is an alternate life style and not sin. The Word of God has been removed from schools, government buildings, and replaced with books of “higher learning”

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:22-25)

Coexist is written on many of our bumper stickers. You can be whatever religion you want, just don’t attack anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter if they are on their way to Hell: they’ve been taught that there is no Hell.  Why, you can even be a god yourself. Just jump around like Shirley McLane and shout I am god, I am god. Is it any wonder that many Americans have tried to push God out of their lives, and unfortunately the lives of others too? Even if the godless succeed in removing from the Pledge of Allegiance the phrase: one nation under God; we are still, and always will be one nation under God. And God chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-11). Look what God said about Israel in Psalm 81…

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” (Psalm 81:8-16)

Maybe one of the problems is that as Christians today, we don’t see God work in our lives. Why should we see God work? Look at what God says in Isaiah 43…

“I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.” (Isaiah 43:12)

God has spoken to us through His Word. God has saved us, not only in salvation from sin, but also problems attacking our lives. And God has showed us His great love to us. And we are supposed to be His witnesses of these things. And God did these things in our lives. He did them “when there was no strange god among” us. Logic with me for a minute. If anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Then anything that we deem more important than God, is a strange god. What is more important than God to you? Is it sports? Is it your job? Is it a favorite TV show that’s in the same time-slot as church? What is your strange god? When we get rid of them, maybe God will start working in our lives again. We will be witnesses for Him. He will heal our nation (2Chronicles 7:14). Psalm 85 is a good model prayer:

“LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.” (Psalm 85:1-13)

Tired of not seeing God work in your life? Get rid of the strange gods.

Peace.


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Circumcision of the Heart

Circumcised Heart

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

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

Read the “0816 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Closed Eyes, Closed Mouths, Closed Ears“; and “To God Be The Glory

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9 & 10)

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jeremiah 9:25-26)

In this passage God is rebuking the people of Judah for their hypocrisy. Apparently they felt that they could do whatever they wanted to do, live anyway they wanted to live; and then go down to the Temple and participate in some type of religious ceremony or ritual that would make everything OK. These people were far away from God’s principles and commands, but they were trusting in their religion to save them. As I read these verses this morning, I could not help but think about the state of religion today in America. People commit all sorts of sin; ignore the clear teaching of the Word of God, and then come to church thinking that their participation in a ritual will save them. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that going to church is a bad thing for anyone; but I am saying that it is hypocritical to ignore God 99% of the time and then claim Him as your Lord on Sunday. I am also not trying to make the case that there is anyone out there, including myself, that is without sin (and lots of it). We are all sinners, and we all need God’s mercy; but to live completely in rebellion to the will of God without any conviction about it is another thing altogether.

The New Testament speaks about this as well:

“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)

True religion, genuine faith will make a difference in your life. The Scripture is clear, “faith without works is dead”; “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature”. If you are truly a child of God on the inside, it will work its way out to your life on the outside. Too many in our churches today are Christians outwardly, but inwardly are very carnal and worldly. They are no different from the Israelites mentioned in Jeremiah: they were circumcised physically, but were uncircumcised in the heart.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29)


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The Old Paths

old-paths-dan-etpr

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

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0815 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Catching Men” and “Fallow Ground

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – (Jeremiah 6:16)

Independent Baptist preachers can often be heard using the phrase “old-fashioned”. We refer to our churches, our congregational singing, our method of soul winning, and even our King James Bible as being old-fashioned. We consider it a complement to be considered old-fashioned in many aspects of our worship and service for the Lord. But I want to clarify a few things about the why I like being old-fashioned about a lot of things. First of all, I do not believe that just because something is old that it is necessarily good, and I do not think that all new things are necessarily bad. I enjoy using all of the latest technological gizmos that make our lives easier and more enjoyable today. When I refer to something being old-fashioned I am usually referring to the wholesome, Biblical traditions and methods of our past that do not need to be changed. I like our old-fashioned Bible. I enjoy singing the old-fashioned hymns from the hymnbook. I have seen many people get saved through the old-fashioned method of soul winning. I am glad my wife and daughters are old-fashioned in their modest dress. The old paths didn’t need to be changed. I have often said, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”.

In our passage, God is telling the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, to return to a time when they were closer to the Lord. In the old days they were a nation that refused the evil that surrounded them on every side, and they stood for the truth of the Word of God. They worshipped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and they obeyed the precepts of the Law. As a result of their relationship with God they were a greatly blessed nation, and God prospered them mightily, and protected them against any nation that would seek to harm them. But the prosperity that they enjoyed caused them to stray away from their God. They had become a very idolatrous and immoral nation. God wanted them back on the old paths.

The same thing can be said about our nation. We were once a nation that stood for the Truth. Our culture was filled with people that worshipped and served the Lord. God blessed our nation with a prosperity unequalled in the history of the world; but as it was with Israel, so it is with us. Our prosperity has spoiled us, and we have become an ungrateful people who have bitten the Hand that was feeding us. We need to get back on the old paths.


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Turn Around

U-Turn

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 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 – John 21; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

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

Read the “0814 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Before I share the my main thought from the Scripture this morning, I just wanted to point out from the passage that the writer, Jeremiah, was a hand made child of God that was uniquely designed by Him to be a prophet to Israel and Judah. (see Jeremiah 1:4 – 6) God has also made you and and I, and wants to use us in a special way to fellowship with Him, glorify Him, and fulfill His plan for the ages. We are not here by accident. We were specially created the way we are on purpose, and for a purpose.

Now for today’s main thought:

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Throughout the history of Israel, the people of God have gone through periods where they would fall away from God. Here in this passage the word “backsliding” is used seven times. Here in this passage Jeremiah is pleading with the backsliding people of Israel to come back to the Lord. Our God is awesome! Who else but God would love these people and keep taking them back, even though they would turn against Him over and over. He never gives up on His children. I must confess that I have a tough time forgiving people in the same way that God has forgiven me. I want to write people off; but God is not like me. He continues to reach out to those who have forsaken Him. Notice what God required of the people in order for them to come back into a right relationship with Him:

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:13)

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” (Jeremiah 3:14)

God says that if the people would acknowledge their sin, and then turn, He would take them back. Turning means that they would put away all of the things that they were doing that God was displeased with. This is a pretty good definition of repentance, which involves more than just acknowledging.

The people of God today could follow this same simple formula in order to come back to their God. We must acknowledge where we have gone wrong. It may not be some deep sin or rebellion. It may be just apathy, coldness, or laziness. Then we have to confess it to God and turn away from it. God loves us deeply and wants more than anything for us to be in love with Him. If you have “slidden” away from God, return again to the Lord.


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There Is Coming a Day, But It’s Not Here Yet

wolf and lamb

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 63 – 66 (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 – John 19 – 20; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

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

Read the “0813 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall bethe serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 65:25)

There is coming soon a wonderful period of time when Christ shall rule and reign on the earth, and when that time comes there will be complete peace and harmony among all of the inhabitants of the earth, including the animals. This Book of Isaiah speaks much about this future time where we will not have to fear lions, wolves, snakes, or each other. However that time is “not yet” Right now, we still live on an earth that is plagued with sin of the worst kind. Every creature on earth seems to be out for itself. Animals will do whatever is necessary to survive, and so will man; often at the expense of others.

There are a lot of wolves out there today and we’d better beware of them. They want to come into our homes, and into our churches. They will often disguise themselves as sheep in order to infiltrate the flock and destroy it from within. These wolves may try to pray on the innocence of our children; they may try to bring in false doctrine; or they may try to cause us to stray away from the will of the Shepherd. We need to be sober and vigilant to anything or anybody that will try to move us away from the will of God.

I can’t wait for the Millennium; but for now, if I see a wolf, I am not going to pet it or play with it; I am going to do my best to get rid of it.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – (Matthew 7:15)

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – (Matthew 10:16)

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” – (Acts 20:29)


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Preach the Word

preach-the-word

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 58 – 62 (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 – John 17 – 18; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

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

Read the “0812 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,” (Isaiah 62:6)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

All of my previous posts from this reading passage have had to do with Isaiah 62:6. This morning, I would like to consider a similar verse: Isaiah 58:1. I believe this verse, though originally given to Isaiah, is directly applicable to preachers today. I believe that there are three ingredients for sound Bible preaching found in this verse, and, unfortunately, these are also sadly lacking in our preaching today.

1 Notice the Passion of Preaching – “Cry Aloud …lift up my voice like a trumpet”

Preaching should be passionate. Perhaps not ever message, or every part of a message will be done with a loud voice, but Bible preaching should be very often be done with a loud, passionate voice. The volume of the preachers voice should reveal his passion regarding the truth of God and it should also demonstrate his compassion for the needs of the people. Many Christians shy away from passionate preaching, preferring devotional teaching. However, the preaching of the word should be packed with Bible truth, and delivered in a manner that reveals the seriousness of God.

2 Notice the Perfection of Preaching – “spare not”

Not only should the preacher not hold back any volume and passion when he preaches, he should also not hold back any truth. All too often today preachers are afraid to preach all the counsel of God because they are too concerned with offending and possibly losing church members. We must remember that our duty is to please the Lord, and to deliver His message, uncut, and uncensored.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (2 Timothy 4:3)

3 Notice the Pointedness of Preaching – “…shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

Preachers must not be afraid to point out the sins of the people, even the ones that are very unpopular to preach against. In the culture that we are living in it is getting increasingly difficult to not be offensive. The world is rapidly moving away from God, which should cause the preacher to be more passionate, and more pointed. The world, however, and even many Christians, will be offended.

 


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Look Beyond The Cross

theeffectsofthecross

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 53 – 57 (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 – John 15 – 16; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

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

Read the “0811 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – (Isaiah 53:6)

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” – (Isaiah 53:10)

This passage in Isaiah has always amazed me for a number of reasons. First, I am always in awe of the accuracy of the Word of God. Here the prophet Isaiah is writing several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, and yet paints such an accurate picture of the events surrounding Christ’s death. No wonder the Jewish people have removed this passage from their Scripture. It proves perfectly that Jesus is their Messiah.

Secondly, I have often thought about the phrase from verse 10: “it pleased the Lord to bruise him”; and then in verse 11: “he shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:” I can’t completely wrap my head around these verses. How could the horrible, agonizing death of His Son please and satisfy God? On a human level, I look at these verses and think to myself that there is no possible way that anything could be worth putting my son through the agony that Christ faced on the cross. But God saw something that made it all worthwhile. He saw you and me; and He saw a way that your sins and mine could be atoned for. He saw a way for fellowship to be restored between us and Him. To be sure, God was not pleased with the Cross in itself. I am sure it was the hardest thing for Him to endure; but beyond the Cross was salvation for you and I; and that pleased and satisfied God greatly. Thank you Father for being willing to watch your Son die for me. Thank you Jesus for being a willing participant in my redemption.

On a practical level, I want to offer one additional thought about the cross that you may be bearing right now in your life. You may be going through a difficult time in your life that is anything but pleasing or satisfying. By faith, look beyond the cross to what God is going to ultimately accomplish through your trial. God may be using you to help bring about the eternal redemption of somebody else, which makes all of the temporary suffering worth it. He may be refining you a little through the process; or He may be just glorifying Himself somehow. I know that He has a wonderful plan, and the cross that you are bearing today is part of it, and will be used by Him to “work all thing together for good.” You may not be able to see it now, but someday God will reveal something beautiful; something very pleasing and satisfying. All because you carried the cross that God placed in your life.

I just thought of another verse:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus looked beyond the cross too.


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He Is The LORD Of Hosts – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 48 – 52 (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 – John 13 – 14; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

Read the “0810 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them. Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb. For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 48:1-11)

Good morning. God is the LORD of hosts. The word host means a mass of persons (or things) especially organized for war. Yes, God is in control of everything: He is the LORD of hosts. Even so, He is much more than that.

1) He is the I AM.

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Exodus 3:13 – 15)

2) He is THE WAY.

“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Exodus 13:17-22)

“Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11)

“And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.” (Ezekiel 20:42)

“When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.” (Ezekiel 39:27-28)

3) He is THE TRUTH.

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35-36)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” (Isaiah 46:9-13)

4) He is THE LIFE.

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”(Isaiah 43:10-11)

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:21-22)

“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:13 – 15)

5) He is THE GREAT SHEPHERD.

“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)

6) He is THE LORD.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Do You Believe HE IS?

“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)

“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

He is the LORD of hosts, and we are His: walking in the good works that He has ordained for us to walk in. He is the LORD.

Peace.


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He’s The One and Only

535555_JesustheOneandOnlyJPGToday’s Passage – Isaiah 44 – 47 (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 – John 11 – 12; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

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

Read the “0809 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this reading passage – “Custom Design

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” – (Isaiah 44:8)

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:” – (Isaiah 45:5)

“That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:6)

“Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.” – (Isaiah 45:14)

“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:18)

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour;there is none beside me.” – (Isaiah 45:21)

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – (Isaiah 45:22)

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” – (Isaiah 46:9)

Did you notice all of the times in Isaiah 44 – 46 that God declares that He is the only God. I really like what God said in Isaiah 44:8 – “I know not any”. If God who is omniscient doesn’t know of any other God, then there isn’t any. If God is the only God, then why are so many people worshipping other “gods”, and even other things. Most people worship themselves, but some worship their children; some their careers; some even worship other people. Their are a myriad of things out there that people bow to, but God is the only One that is worthy of worship, because He is the only true God.

And if He is the only true God, then:

1  His Word is the only truth.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – (John 17:17)

2  His Way for man’s salvation is the only way to Heaven (see Why Jesus?)

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – (John 14:6)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – (Acts 4:12)

3  His Work can only be organized through His Church

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – (Matthew 16:18)

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” – (1 Timothy 3:15)

Your search has ended. There is no other God, and there is no other Book that tells us about Him. There is no other plan for our salvation, and there is no other place for us to fulfill His commission. Why would you want another anyway. The One we have is awesome!!! By the way – His name is Jesus.

 


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Forgiving and Forgetting

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

(Second Milers also read – John 9 – 10; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0808 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Tired of God?

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” – (Isaiah 43:25)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

The verses listed above are very encouraging to me. Each of these Scriptures speak of God’s forgiveness primarily to the people of Israel; but in a broader context, they apply to all who have “called upon the name of the Lord”. It is certainly a wonderful truth that God forgives our sin. Of course, forgiveness is only possible through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wrath that we deserved was poured out upon Him. However, God goes beyond just forgiving us: He forgets our sins as well. To forgive is one thing, but to forget is another level entirely. The phrase “blotteth out” has the idea that the record of our sin has been completely expunged (removed).

Now let’s try to apply this wonderful attribute of God to our own relationships. We are supposed to be like God, aren’t we? If we are saved we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and we have God on the inside of us transforming us to be like Him. If all that be true, then we should be able to forget like God forgets. We say that we forgive someone who has wronged us, but we often replay mentally (or re-tell verbally) the act that was committed against us. In other words, the act has not been blotted out completely in our minds. We store the thing that was forgiven in a special compartment where we can retrieve it again in case we need it. We often pull it back out when a new violation is committed. We are keeping score in our minds. God does not do this. He removes the record altogether. Real forgiveness will lead us to blot out the act altogether; not that their will be no consciousness of the act; but it will not be allowed to be dredged back up again for some future judgment against the offender.

I have one more thought. God not only forgives sin, and erases the record; but He also refuses to record any future violations. It is like getting a completely free pass from the penalty of your sins. Don’t believe me?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:5-8)

Oh that we could be more like Him: forgiving, forgetting, and even determining that we will not hold against someone any future acts committed against us. We like to be the receiver of such treatment, but oh how we struggle to treat others in this manner.

God, help us to be more like you. Help us to love people like you do. Help us to truly accept the forgiveness that you offer us, and then help us to return the favor to someone else.

Perhaps as you are reading this, God has put someone in your mind that you are harboring unforgiveness toward. Why not determine to take that person out of your heart’s prison by giving them the forgiveness that God has given you.

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


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Forsaking Future Generations

the-future-generation

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 37 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

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

Read the “0807 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” (Isaiah 39:5-8)

I think that the last verse of Isaiah 39 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. King Hezekiah, who was one of the best kings that Israel ever had, makes a statement here that is extremely selfish. He is told by Isaiah that because he had opened up his kingdom and welcomed the Babylonian messengers that someday Babylon would come back and take away all that Hezekiah’s family owned, and would also take his family members into captivity. We know that this prophecy was literally fulfilled in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came down and destroyed Jerusalem, and had carried nearly the entire population back with them into Babylon.

Notice, however, what Hezekiah said when he got the news: “Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” Hezekiah was OK with the news that his children would be destroyed, as long as no destruction came while he was still alive. Very selfish indeed!

Hezekiah is not alone, however, in his selfishness. I find that many of us today are guilty of forsaking our future generations by some of the decisions that we make.

I’ll give you an illustration. Let’s say that John Smith is a lost man, living in sin, and beginning to reap the negative consequences of his worldly lifestyle. One day, he is confronted with his sinful condition, and is warned, not only of the eternal consequences that he will face, but also the problems that his children will have because of the course that he has charted. John is convicted of his sin, and realizes that he wants something better for his family. He trusts Christ as Saviour, along with his wife, and immediately begins to make some changes in his life. He brings his family to church every time the doors are opened; he removes many of the weights and also the sinful things from his home, and serves God with a passion. His family immediately begins to reap the benefits of his decisions. God is now blessing the family. He is meeting their needs, and is even giving them some of their heart’s desires. His kids grow up, and marry godly spouses. Everything is good. However, the next generation does not know, or perhaps doesn’t remember too well, what life was like before dad got saved. They are all saved also, but they don’t seem to fear the world and the devil like dad did, and they are not quite as zealous for the Lord as the first generation. They begin to allow some of the things that dad stood against back into their homes. They are not as consistent as mom and dad were about church attendance, either; and they do not feel like they should have to serve as much as their family did when they were growing up. Gradually and slowly they begin to pull away from what dad fought for. However, for the most part, life is still good: they are prospering financially, and they seem to have well adjusted families. Their children (generation 3), however, are even less interested in the things of God than generation 2 was. They hardly go to church at all now, and their children (generation 4) will not even be exposed to the gospel so that they could be saved like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Life isn’t so good for them. They make a lot of bad decisions, and the consequences of sin have completely ravaged their lives.

You will notice in the above example that a complete circle has been made. You will notice that in every generation there were decisions made that affected either positively or negatively the next generation. Great Granddad made some decisions that prospered his children, but unfortunately his children decided to do some things (or not do some things) that adversely affected the third generation. That is exactly what Hezekiah did. He made a decision that benefited himself temporarily, but destroyed future generations.

Parents, please be careful. The decisions that you make today will either positively or negatively affect your children and grandchildren. Don’t forsake the future generations.


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What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 33 – 36 (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 – John 5 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0806 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Streams in the Desert”

“Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” (Isaiah 36:22)

Chapter 36 of the Book of Isaiah is the beginning of an historical portion of the Book, which will end in chapter 39. You will notice that the style of writing changes completely for just these 4 chapters, and you will find the story that is told in this portion of Scripture is also found in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. In chapter 36 we read the beginning of the story, and we learn about a huge problem that has come upon King Hezekiah and the City of Jerusalem. In this chapter we discover that an extremely powerful army from Assyria has surrounded the city and is threatening to utterly destroy it unless the people surrender everything. How would you like to be in King Hezekiah’s shoes at this particular time in history? He is facing an impossible situation, and he really has very few options. He cannot fight them because the Assyrian army  is infinitely more powerful than Jerusalem’s defenses. It seems from the context that Hezekiah may have considered getting help from Egypt, but even the Egyptians were no match for Assyria. Jerusalem was completely powerless to do anything on their own; they were utterly helpless. What should Hezekiah do? What would you do if you were King Hezekiah?

Well, we will find out tomorrow what Hezekiah does, but let’s consider just for a moment what we should do when we are faced with impossible problems in life. God has a way of getting our complete attention through tragic situations. Sometimes God allows the rug to be pulled out from underneath our feet so that we will have to look up to Him to see what happened. Much of life we seem to be able to figure out on our own, but every once in a while God will allow something to take place that will drive us to our knees in total dependence upon Him for a solution. As Christians, we are supposed to be trusting God every day for everything, but unfortunately our flesh likes to think that it can “do life” on its own, all by itself.  God is very patient and gracious with us, but eventually, when we stray too far from Him in our independence and stubbornness, He will do something to get our complete attention. It is a shame that we cannot learn to pay a little more attention to Him before the impossible problems surround us and painful tragedies come our way.

Why don’t we take a moment right now and ask God to forgive us for our lack of attention to Him, and our failure to depend upon Him. Let’s commit to trusting Him today to guide and direct the decisions that we make, and let’s be sure to thank Him for His abundant provision and divine protection. And, by all means, if you are facing the trial of your life today and you don’t have a clue about what you should do, then do what Hezekiah did: go to God. It may be that God will deliver you from your problem just as He delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrian army. But, even if He doesn’t take the problem completely away, He can minimize it, and He also promises to give abundant grace that will help you as you go through it.


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Don’t Tell Us What We Want To Hear – Tell Us The Truth!

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 29 – 32 (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 – John 3 – 4; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

Read the “0805 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

There is a striking resemblance between the people of Isaiah’s day, and the people of the last days that were spoken of by Paul to Timothy. They do not want to hear the truth, but rather are content to listen to anything, whether true or not, that pleases their ears. They want the preachers of God to tell them what they want to hear. They want to feel good about themselves, and they do not want to change anything about the way they are living. Now I must be honest, there are times when the preaching of the Word of God rubs me the wrong way, but I know when that happens it is because there is something wrong with me, not something wrong with God’s Word.

These passages should send an admonition to both the preachers of God’s word, and also to the people of God:

First to the Preachers – Don’t ever get to the place where you start desiring to please the people with your preaching, rather than be faithful to the truth of God’s Word. You do not have to go out of your way to be offensive, but you do have to have enough courage to preach unpopular truths. There are a lot of things in the Bible that are unpopular in this culture. It is not in vogue to preach against fornication, and homosexuality; and it is not politically correct to teach that Jesus is the only way to salvation; but these truths, along with all the other counsel of God, need to be proclaimed boldly. Remember, it is not the world that you must seek to please, but the Lord.

Next to the People of God – Demand that the people that minister the Word of God to you are faithful to the truth. Encourage the preachers to be completely honest with you, and courageous enough to tell you things that you may not want to hear. Do not tolerate watered down, politically correct speeches. Demand the truth.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:14-15)


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Peace

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 24 – 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 – John 1 – 2; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

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

Read the “0804 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

Peace is truly a wonderful thing. It is something that everybody desires but very few ever find. The world pays billions of dollars to find it through secular counseling, and even through entertainment, drugs, and alcohol; but those things cannot bring peace. If you were to look up the word “peace” in a dictionary or thesaurus you would find synonyms such as tranquility, contentment, safety, completeness, quietness, health, prosperity. I think that all of these words do well to describe what God was talking about in Isaiah 26:3, and they can only come to the person whose mind (thoughts, focus, and affection) is stayed on the Lord.

Too many Christians today, including myself at times, lack the peace that God wants all of His children to possess, and it is simply because they transfer their focus from God to something else. I tend to dwell on problems and circumstances when I should be focussed on and communicating with the Problem Solver. Life is full of things, people, and situations that draw our minds away from the Lord, but when we lose our focus we also lose our peace. We need to remember that when problems come (and they always do) to bring them to the One who already has the answer. When people hurt us we need to remember that there is One who will never do us wrong, and will always be there for us no matter what happens. God is the answer to every problem and distraction. It isn’t that we shouldn’t think at all about solving problems and restoring relationships, but we should filter all of these situations through Him, and He will give us the wisdom that we need as well as the comfort and strength that we need to endure. Keep your eyes on the Lord.


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What Happened to Tyre – The Saturday Morning Post

Tyre Today

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 19 – 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 – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Read the “0803 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins. As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” (Isaiah 23:1-9)

Good morning. The city of Tyre was part of Lebanon. Partially on land and partially on an island. Tyre was described as a strong city in Joshua…

…And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib…” (Joshua 19:29)

King Hiram was ruler there, and was friends with both David and Solomon. He sent cedar trees, and craftsmen to David to build his house. Solomon made the same deal with Hiram, and was sent more cedar trees, and craftsmen for the Temple project. And if Tyre had the craftsmen, skilled workers, for David and Solomon, can you imagine what Tyre itself looked like? It must have been a beautiful city. The people must have been proud, and that was the problem.

Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

And the LORD said in our passage about Tyre…

“The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” (Isaiah 23:9)

And who here are the honourable of the earth? They are the trafficers: the merchants: those who are there to make money.

“Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?” (Isaiah 23:8)

And who is the king of pride? The biggest self-worshiper of all time? Tis the devil himself…

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:12-17)

So what can we do if the devil snares us with pride? Humble yourself.

1) Confess it as sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

2) Don’t be proud of your Salvation: you did nothing, it was God’s gift to you.

“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)

3) Realize that you cannot do nothing on your own.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John15:5)

So what happened to Tyre? God kept His promise. The mainland portion of Tyre was conquered a few times but the island portion was not conquered until Alexander the Great. He tore down the mainland city and used the cut stone to build a causeway over to the island. It is not the great merchant city that it was, but is a tourist city for visitors to Lebanon.

Peace.


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Do You Need an “I” Exam?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 14 – 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 – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0802 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I willascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Five times in this passage, we see Lucifer (Satan) using the phrase “I will”.  Did you ever notice how much we use the word “I”. We, like Satan, are full of ourselves. Satan fell because of his pride, and most of us have the same problem. We would never admit it, but we are really the “god” of our own lives. We worship ourselves, and though we won’t admit, we are really not much different than Satan, when it comes to pride. It is natural to exalt ourselves, and it is very diffficult to be humble; but humility is required for us to surrender to Christ. In order to be saved, we need to humble ourselves, and in order to live the spirit filled life, we must continually abase ourselves and lift up Christ. Easier said than done.

Lately, we have been bombarded with news of great men who have fallen into sin. It both grieves me, and scares me because I know that it could be me. I am sure, however, that pride is a root factor in all of these moral failures that we are hearing about. I think if we were to be able to examine each individual case carefully in retrospect, we would be able to recognize a pattern of pride. A Biblical example of someone falling due to pride is what happened to King Saul. He was at one time “little in his own eyes”, but God elevated him in the eyes of men. He enjoyed the praise and respect of men, and began to believe all of the nice things that people were saying about him, and all of the attention that he was getting. Somewhere along the line, he probably started to think that he somehow deserved the credit that he was getting. He gradually began to steal a little of the glory that rightly belonged only to God. He then started to operate independently of God, doing his own thing instead of obeying what God commanded. He also became threatened and insecure when anybody else received any praise. Eventually, he fell.

David fell also. He became too important to fight with the rest of his army, so he stayed home. He saw a woman that belonged to another man, but because he was the king, he felt that he was entitled to take her. He then tried to cover up his sin with the murder of her husband, and he was sure that he would get away with it. After all, he was a big and powerful man. Who would dare question King David? He though that he could do whatever he wanted. He wasn’t under any authority, not even God. What a shame.

Unfortunately, we see this all too often in the ministry, as well. As God begins to allow us to see some success in our ministries, we must remember that it is He that worked through us. We have no right to think that we are deserving of praise. To God be all the glory. Watch out for pride. Stay “little” in your own eyes, and don’t allow people to exalt you. Deflect all praise to the Lord for He alone is worthy.

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” – (Psalm 34:3)

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – (Proverbs 16:18)


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Who Turned Out the Light?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 9 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

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

Read the “0801 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

The verse of Scripture referenced above deals with the birth of Christ. When Christ was born in the earth, he poked a huge hole in the darkness of a world that had been without light for a long time. Christ is light, and light equals righteousness and holiness; and it is also synonymous with spiritual understanding. The Bible says of God:

“Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:” (Psalm 104:2)

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Light is not something that God has or something that God can produce; it is what He is. Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of this light on the Mount of Transfiguration. John saw it again when he was on the Isle of Patmos and given the Revelation. Paul saw this light on the road to Damascus when the Lord gloriously saved him. All of these examples were actual physical manifestations of the light of God. However, when He came, He revealed to the world more than just Physical light: he delivered to the world a spiritual brightness that many had seen and received; and many more continue to receive to this day.

My thought for the day is: if Christ came and delivered this light to us 2000 years ago, and many millions have received this light from Him via the Holy Spirit; then why is this world still very dark. Jesus told us to shine the light to the dark world around us:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

You would think with all of the millions of lights out there that should be shining, the world would be pretty bright; yet it continues to dwell in darkness. Why? Because God’s people are not allowing the light of Christ to radiate and reflect through them to the world around them. They are covering their candles with a bushel instead of elevating it on a candlestick. Three thoughts regarding the failure of the Christian to shine the light of Christ:

1 We fail to shine the light when we fail to separate from the darkness. Instead of increasing our light, we often participate in things that are very dark: things that are inconsistent with light. Light repels darkness; they cannot dwell together. So in order for the Christian to dwell in darkness, He has to douse His light. He has to quench the Spirit of God that dwells within Him.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

By the way, unfortunately, the verse above oftentimes applies to the Christian as well as to the world.

2 We fail to shine the light when we fail to saturate ourselves in the light of the Word of God.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130)

3 We fail to shine the light when we shield the light from reaching those around us. This has more to do with fear than anything else. We have the light, and we desire to shine it; but we are so intimidated by the world around us that we conceal it. It is time that we decide to take a stand, and decide once and for all whose side we are on. We belong to God. We owe this world nothing but the light of Christ. Get out of the way, and let His light shine through you.

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:15)


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What Could Have Been Done More

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 5 – 8 (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 – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0731 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? … For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” (Isaiah 5:4, 7)

Our church has a lot of property, most of which is undeveloped. A few years ago a couple from our church asked if they could use a small patch of that land to plant a community garden. At first I was a little hesitant, but I agreed to let these folks plant their little garden as long as it didn’t cost the church too much money, and as long as it didn’t require any extra work from me. I had to admit, I was fascinated watching the whole process, from the cultivation of the ground to the actual planting. In the years we had that garden, we actually reaped quite a bit of vegetables. Personally, I was a big fan of the little cherry tomatoes, and so was my grandson, Jaxon. Whenever he was at the church, we always walked back to the garden to eat a few. One day, I was out in the garden with one of the men, and he noticed a rather large green caterpillar on one of the tomato plants, very similar to the one pictured above. After careful inspection, he discovered another one on another plant. If left unchecked these pests would have completely consumed all of the plants, and our little garden would have been ruined.

In our text today, we read about God’s vineyard, the Nation of Israel. God found his vineyard in ruins, and He asked the question: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” That is a good question. What more could God have done? He gave them everything that they needed to thrive as a nation, and for a while, they did just that; but eventually sin, like those nasty caterpillars, crept in and destroyed the vineyard.

Though this passage is written for and about Israel, I believe that there are some great principles here that we can apply today. I believe applications can be made to our individual Christian lives, and also to our families, and even to the local churches. Each one of these areas are a type of vineyard that belongs to the Lord. What can we do with all that God has given us in order to thrive and produce the fruit that God wants to produce through us?

1 We must use good seed. God has given us the Word of God. Why would we want to use the corruptible seed of man’s philosophies. Years ago, I made the decision that my life was going to be established with and directed by the Bible.

2 We must weed. Weeds and pests will overtake the gardens of our lives if we allow them to. In our Christian walk, many distraction can creep in, along with sinful things and false doctrines that will steal all of our energy and redirect our focus so that we cannot produce healthy fruit.

3 We must feed. Good nutrients and plenty of water will cause a garden to thrive. As Christians, we must feed daily on the Word of God, and in our churches, we must make sure that we are providing plenyt of opportunities for church members to come and dine on a healthy diet of Bible doctrine.

If God’s vineyard fails today, it will not be His fault. He has given us all that we need to thrive and produce abundant, healthy fruit.


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Where Are The Men?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 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 – Luke 15 – 16; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “0730 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” (Isaiah 3:12)

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” – (1 Corinthians 16:13)

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” – (Ezekiel 22:30)

Isaiah is writing at a time when the people of Israel and Judah were in economic prosperity but spiritual and moral depravity. The end of chapter 3 records that the people were very proud, they were full with possessions and pleasure, but they were far away from God. God warns them through the writing of Isaiah that judgment will come. It is important to keep in mind as we read this Book of Isaiah that God is often dealing with the present condition of Israel and Judah 800 years or so before the time of Christ, but he also speaks prophetically regarding Israel and others in the last days. He speaks much about the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Here in chapter 3, He is specifically speaking of Israel, but the application can be made to us today.

The condition of our nation is very similar to Israel and Judah prior to the judgment that came through the nation of Assyria, and later Babylon. We are a very proud and prosperous people. This prideful attitude permeates our society. We scream out with our lives that we don’t need God; and we certainly aren’t going to submit to Him. Notice in the verse above that the women are ruling. I don’t think that this is a slap against women as much as it is a statement that the men were not fulfilling their God given roles as leaders. We have the same problems in our society today. The men are abdicating their responsibility as the leaders in the homes, and in the nation. Our churches are also full of women that will volunteer for anything; but where are the men? Why are their so few men who will take on the responsibility of leadership?

We need men that will lead their families. So many homes today are without fathers. Statistics have shown this to be absolutely devastating to the lives of the children. We need some strong men who will be leaders in our communities, and in this nation. We need men who will lead, teach, and mentor in our churches. I praise the Lord for the woman who have stood in the gap and taken on some leadership positions. Many of these ladies are doing a great job, but we need men to step up to the plate and assume the responsibilities intended to them by God.


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Without Spot

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Today’s Passage – Song of Solomon 5 – 8 (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 – Luke 13 – 14; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0729 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!” – (Song of Solomon 7:6)

“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)

“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)

The Song of Solomon is a beautiful song written through the pen of Solomon. On the surface it would seem that this song represents a dialogue between Solomon and his wife; but considering he had 1000 wives and concubines, we would certainly be left wondering which wife this song refers to. This song then must go much deeper than any earthly relationship. I believe that the intimate relationship so beautifully detailed here is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. Keeping that in mind, consider the little phrase in chapter 4 where the bridegroom says of the bride, there is no spot in thee. This is an amazing statement, because in reality there certainly are many flaws in any person; but the amazing thing is that this Man sees no flaw at all in His bride.

When I think about the unconditional love that Christ has for His Church (the Bride), and me in particular, I am blown away. How can he possibly love me? When I think about how spotted and flawed I am, I recognize my complete and total unworthiness. The only thing that I deserve is judgment: yet He loves me; and more than that: He does not see any flaw in me at all. Mind boggling! I guess that is what Romans 3:22 meant when it said that believers receive the righteousness of God. He sees me as completely righteous; flawless. Amazing!

God has given me two practical thoughts  while I contemplated this passage:

1 Do I appreciate Him – I know I am totally undeserving, yet He treats as if I am. This should cause me to live my life in surrender to whatever He wants from me. This should completely humble me. The Bible tells us that the love of Christ constrains us. I have often thought that was speaking about our love for Him, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is His love for us that constrains us.

2 Do I appreciate others – If I am undeserving, yet accepted unconditionally; why then do I have such a hard time unconditionally accepting others, especially those that are a part of His bride as I am? Why do I see everyone else’s flaws. Should not I try to see others as Christ sees me?


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This Is The Whole Duty Of Man – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

Read the “0727 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Good morning. Fear God, and keep His commandments. This is the whole duty of man. One of those commands is to rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

Looking at the world, the direction it is going (I just saw an advertisement on TV for an “R” rated movie staring young boys – not even teens yet) it is on a moral downhill spiral waiting to crash and burn. It is overrun with sodomites, baby killers, liberals, and the like. But it is still commanded that we rejoice in the Lord. Jesus talked with His disciples…

“And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20)

If you’re saved, heaven is your home, so choose to rejoice. Habakkuk wrote…

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Another command is to trust in the Lord…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:12)

Are you trusting in the Lord? Do you love the Lord? It’s commanded, but it should come natural after all He did for you.

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?   And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:15-21)

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Peace.


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Promises, Promises

 

Handshake

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 5 – 8 (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 – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0726 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” – (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

Back when my grandfather was a young man, a man could get a loan simply by promising with a handshake that he would pay it back. People in those days kept their word. They followed through on what they said they would do. Today it is much different. Many people today are not at all trustworthy. They are quick to promise, but often slow to keep their word. God says here in our passage this morning that we should be slow to make promises, but once a promise is made, we should do everything we can to keep it.

I want to encourage all of you that are reading this thought this morning to think (and pray) very carefully before you commit yourself to something. Don’t let pressure or emotion cause you to agree to do something that you may not be able to fulfill. I remember years ago I gave a pledge in January that I would give a certain amount of money per week toward that year’s faith promise missions offering. I was making good money at the time, and I did not think that there would be any problems. However, later that year, my family and I packed up to move to Texas to go to Bible College. I was no longer in a financial position to keep that committment, but I had made a promise, and I knew our church’s missions program was depending on that offering. Cindy and I agreed that we should sacrifice some things in order to fulfill our pledge. I haven’t always kept my promises in life, but I am very glad I kept that one.

Today we live in a world that is lacking basic trust, and the reason we don’t trust one another is that we do not keep our word. We say one thing and do another. We make promises to people and to God that may be well meaning, but ultimately we fail to follow through. Let’s stop making promises that we can’t keep. And when we do give our word, let’s keep it.


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All Is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 12-13 Fear God And Keep His Commandments beige

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 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 – Luke 5 – 6; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

A few years back I preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1 There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.

2 There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3 There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had wisdom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.


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Get the Vision

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Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (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 – Luke 3 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Samuel 3:1)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time then you have most likely heard a sermon preached on vision. Most of the time the preacher will use Proverbs 29:18 to prove that the pastor and people need to have some type of plan for the future in order for the church to survive and thrive in the next generation. For instance, I have heard this verse used by a preacher who was trying to convince the congregation regarding a new building. He was trying to get the people to “see” the new building, to get a vision for it. While I do believe it is wise for the pastor to know where he is going in the future, and I also think that He is responsible for casting the “vision” for the church, I do not believe this verse is teaching that. This verse, and the verse in 1 Samuel 3 both connect the term, “vision”, with the Word of God. God is not saying that the preacher or church need to have their own vision, but rather that they need to have God’s vision, which is the Word of God.

Christians often speak too flippantly about what “God told them”. I always ask them about the book, chapter, and verse that God used to tell them the thing that He supposedly said. You see, God does not speak to us with audible voices anymore; He gave us His Word. God uses the revealed Word of God to “direct our paths”, etc. Now I am not saying that God does not lead us down particular paths, and into specific areas of service. He does reveal His will to us through a combination of means, but it all starts with the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is God’s “open vision” today.

As Christians, we need to look to the Bible for direction in life. Preachers, we need to faithfully study, learn, and teach the Word and Words of God that He has given to instruct His people today. It is the Bible that will guide; it is the Bible that will encourage; it is the Bible that will give comfort; it is the Bible that will correct; it is the Bible that reveal the future; and so much more. All we need is the Bible, and the Holy Ghost of God Who will help us understand it. So, get a vision; but get it from the Bible.

 


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