Still Calling Down Fire

elijahandfirefromheavenToday’s Passage – 2 Kings 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8Proverbs 26; Psalms 126 – 130

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

Read the “0426 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.” (2 Kings 1:12)

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah passes the mantle on to Elisha, and he is caught up to Heaven. Presumably, 2 Kings 1 is recording an event that took place shortly before the Lord took Elijah home to Heaven. You will remember also that back in 1 Kings 19, Elijah was discouraged, and on the run from Jezebel, and had requested that God take his life from him. He was down and depressed, but not out completely. It appears that though Elijah was discouraged in 1 Kings 19, he had picked himself back up, and was still calling down fire from Heaven right up until the Lord took him home. The ministry can be very discouraging at times, but we must not quit. Elijah didn’t.

In our passage today in 2 Kings 1, Elijah calls down fire from Heaven twice and destroys one captain and 50 men that were sent from King Ahaziah to apprehend him. Elijah had previously sent word to the wicked king that his days were numbered, and the king wanted to speak to Elijah personally about it, so he sent an army to get him. Elijah didn’t feel “lead of God” to go, so he called down fire and destroyed the army. The king then sends another captain and another fifty men, and Elijah does the same thing. A third captain and another fifty soldiers are sent, but this time they very humbly beg Elijah to go with them, and Elijah does so. However, the message to the king does not change, and Elijah personally tells Ahaziah that he is about to die. My point is that God was still demonstrating his power, and declaring his message through Elijah right up until the end of his life.

I am thinking this morning about some men of God in our day that are still being used of the Lord in a tremendous way, even though they are well past the retirement years. I pray that I will still be in the game like Elijah, and like these men today, at the end of my life. I know my job description may change somewhat, but I do not wish to ever retire. I want to just keep going, doing what I am doing now, right up until the chariots come for me.

 


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Itching Ears

 

dog_cat_scratching_ear2

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Proverbs 25; Psalms 121 – 125

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

Read the “0425 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 Read a previous post from this passage – “Shouldn’t We Be Different?”

“Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.” – (1 Kings 22:6-8)

“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)

If you had a disease within your body that could be life threatening if left untreated, would you want a doctor who told you the truth, or would you want one who tells you what you want to hear? You would most certainly want to know the truth so that you could get the proper treatment in order to fix the problem. Why is it, however, that many people want a preacher that avoids the truth in order to “tickle the ears” of his people. In our text, this is exactly what Ahab does. He calls the 400 “prophets” who he knows will agree with him. He wants to go to war with Syria. His friend, King Jehosaphat of Judah, recommends that they get counsel from God, but instead of calling upon the one preacher that speaks the truth, he calls these other 400 who he knows will tell him what he wants to hear. The real man of God, Micaiah, when finally called upon at the insistence of Jehoshaphat, tells him the painful truth. Ahab rewards this preacher of truth buy having him thrown in jail.

Christians, we need men of God that will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. The truth will set us free. If you are church member, encourage your pastor by insisting that he gives you the Truth straight from the Word of God. Cheer him as he preaches difficult sermons. If you are a preacher, let me encourage you to be fearless, yet compassionate in your preaching. Tell them what God said, whether they appreciate it or not. Even if they don’t appreciate what you are telling them now, they probably will later. The truth is not pleasant sometimes, but it always gives the people what they need to make good decisions. You are not in a popularity contest, You are a messenger for God. The people cannot possibly make wise choices unless they have the Truth to help them.

There is also a lesson to be learned in this passage regarding separation. Jehoshaphat was a good man, but he had no business running with the likes of Ahab.

 


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Humility

Humility

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120

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

Read the “0424 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.” – (1 Kings 21:27-29)

Ahab was probably the worst king in Israel’s history. He tolerated all kinds of immorality and idolatry in his kingdom and even promoted it. He married Jezebel, a woman whose name has become synonomous with wickedness. Together, Ahab and Jezebel were responsible for the slaughter of many of the prophets of the Lord in Israel. These were bad people. Ahab was a bad man and an even worse king.

Notice, however, in the last part of chapter 21. Ahab humbled himself before the Lord. Now don’t misunderstand, this was not a complete turnaround. He didn’t surrender to go to the mission field or anything like that; but he did humble himself before the Lord; and as a result, God spared him some of the judgment that he had planned for him. Apparently, a little humility went a long way for Ahab.

I don’t think there are too many people reading this that are as wicked as old King Ahab; but it would do us well to follow his example in just this one instance. Let’s kill some of the pride in our lives and humble ourselves before the Lord. Let’s surrender to Him and submit ourselves to His will for our lives. Let’s allow him to correct us when necessary. It may just be that a little humility before the Lord will go a long way in our lives as well.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)


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Battling Discouragement

Battling Discouragement

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Proverbs 23Psalms 111 – 115

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

Read the “0423 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4)

In our reading passage today we get to see one of the greatest recorded victories in the Bible of good over evil. Elijah, a mighty prophet of God who prophesied in Israel during a time of great apostasy, challenges the prophets of Baal (850 of the altogether) to come to Mt. Carmel in prove the power of their god. After many hours of crying out Baal, and even cutting themselves to please him, Baal never shows up. The God of Israel, however, does make an appearance, and at the request of Elijah sends down fire from Heaven and consumes the sacrifice that Elijah had prepared. He also sent along some desperately needed rain, which hadn’t happened in a couple of years. The people of Israel very wisely choose the Lord’s side, crying out, “the LORD, He is the God”,  and then they put to death all of the false prophets. All in all, it was a great day to be on the Lord’s side.

Something very strange happens immediately after this great victory, however. Queen Jezebel finds out about what happened to her prophets, and demands the death of Elijah. Elijah then runs for his life away from her. Why would he run? He just saw God do the impossible. The people just slaughtered all of the false prophets, and I am quite sure they would have killed Ahab and Jezebel had Elijah asked them to. Instead, Elijah runs, and then asks God to take his life.  It just doesn’t make sense.

If you carefully examine the story, however, you begin to see some of the underlying reasons for Elijah’s despair. First of all, let me state from personal experience that discouragement can ironically come sometimes after a great victory. I am not sure why that is, it just is. There is almost a feeling of emptiness after the battle to achieve something is finally concluded. I’m told Alexander the Great was distraught to the point of suicide after he conquered all the known world because there were no more cities to conquer. Elijah sure had more work to do; he could have conquered Jezebel, but maybe he was just tired of fighting the battles. I know of a preacher right now who has resigned his church, and is going into retirement. He has been fighting battles for over two decades in a very difficult place of ministry, and he is simply just tired. Elijah seems to have been just tired of fighting. The battles just keep coming, and his strength was depleted.

What can we do when battling discouragement:

1  Get Help – Elijah thought he was all alone, but God reminded him that there were 7000 men out there, and I am sure some women, too, that were on his team. They could have, and would have, helped him. Get help fighting the battle, and get somebody to help you with your discouragement. I am blessed to have many people in my life, seasoned men, that I can turn to for advice.

2  Get Rest – Elijah had run for days without rest, and without food; his physical strength was completely depleted. He needed a good, long rest; and some nourishment. That is exactly what the angel did for him:

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.” (1 Kings 19:5-6)

3  Get Up – Don’t quit. Elijah should have asked the Lord for help and strength, but instead he asks the Lord to kill him. Quitting is never the answer. We may need to take some time out to replenish, but we should never leave the battle completely.

There will come a time in my life when God will be through with me, and at that time He will take me home to Heaven. Until that time comes, however, I need to stay encouraged, and stay in the battle. If God still wants me to fight, then He will give me everything that I need to keep fighting, including strength and encouragement.

By the way, if you are saved and your are not in the battle with the Lord, you will also be very discouraged, because God has not equipped you to sit on the sidelines. Find something to do for the Lord, and you will be greatly encouraged as you fulfill God’s purpose for your life.


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There – The Place of God’s Will

rock-water

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 15 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110

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

Read the “0422 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (1 Kings 17:2-4)

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1 Kings 17:8-9)

There are many wonderful truths in today’s Bible reading, but I want to draw your attention to the word “there” found in vs. 4 and 9 above from chapter 17 of 1 Kings. “There” represented a place – a geographic location where God wanted Elijah to go. Actually, “there” was two places. The first place God wanted Elijah to go was to the Brook Cherith. In this place God was going to sustain the prophet through meals provided by ravens. Cherith was a specific location. Had Elijah decided that he was going to go to some other geographic location, I do not think that God would have fed him. God’s will involves more than a place, but it does include a place.

Next, God commanded Elijah to travel to Zarephath, which is outside of the borders of Israel. It is important to point out that Elijah did not leave the Brook Cherith because the brook dried up, he left because God commanded him to. Anyway, in Zarephath a widow woman was prepared by God to take care of the needs of Elijah. There is a lot that could be said about how God provided for the widow woman and her son as well, but the point being made here is that God guided Elijah to a specific place where he would be taken care of, and used for God’s purposes.

Fifteen years ago, God directed my family to the place of His will – Galloway, New Jersey. I must confess that there have been times around here when I wanted to move on, times when the brook seemed to dry up, but I have never been told by God to move to another place. As much as I may desire at times to move to a place like Hawaii, that is simply not God’s will for my life. Galloway, NJ is my “there”. It is the place where God wants me; it is the place where God will provide for me and mine; and it is the place where God will use me.

Have you found the place of God’s will for your life? If you have, make the most of your time spent there. God may move you on to some other “there” someday, and if He does, He will make it crystal clear to you; but until that time comes, dig in, serve Him to the fullest, and enjoy your stay.


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Trust

old-bible-wide

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Proverbs 21Psalms 101 – 105

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0421 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

My attention this morning is drawn to chapter thirteen and the account of the prophet that was sent from the southern kingdom of Judah with a message for Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom, Israel. He was sent with a message of judgment to Jeroboam:

“And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.” (1 Kings 13:2 & 3)

At the end of this unpleasant meeting with Jeroboam, this un-named prophet is asked to go back with Jeroboam to get something to eat and to receive a reward. The prophet flatly refuses to go with Jeroboam because he was given strict instructions by God not to eat in Israel. On the way home, however, another man claiming to be a prophet asks him to go with him and get something to eat. This man lies to him and tells him that God told him that it was OK. As a result, the prophet from Judah goes with him, but soon discovers that he was tricked into disobeying the clear commandment of God, and it cost him his life.

Christian, you and I need to be careful who we listen to. Sometimes people pretending to represent God will come to us and try to get us to do things that are clearly against the plain teaching of the Word of God. We are to trust the Bible, and we can trust the men and women that preach and teach the Bible correctly; but the Bible itself is always the final authority. Be careful who you trust.

By the way, we also saw in chapter twelve that Reheboam listened to the counsel of the young men, rather than the counsel of the old men. The result was that the kingdom of Israel was split into two kingdoms. Again, we see here that you have to be very careful about who you listen to. I am not saying that it is always unwise to listen to young men, but we should always include in our cabinet of counselors some older men (and ladies) who have demonstrated that they have godly wisdom.


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When Leaders Go Bad – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100

Read the “0420 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” (1Kings 11:1-8)

Good morning. I just read about the govenor of New York stating that the people belong to the state, and the state can inject (vaccinate) them with anything the state wants. Welcome to godless socialism. Because Solomon stopped following God and chased after false gods, things happened…

Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.” (1Kings 11:11-13)

Solomon lost Israel for his son. Only Judah would follow Rehaboan. Then the LORD raised up men to fight against Solomon.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.” (1Kings 11:14)

And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria. And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.” (1Kings 11:23-26)

And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.” (1Kings 11:42-43)

All this happened in just 40 years. If I live on the earth 40 more years, I will be 105. People do live into their hundreds. What will I see in those years. Will the United States of America still be united, or will it be broken up? New York is our next door neighbor. Will the evil overflow into New Jersey. The killing of babies, the loss of freedom with the loss of being able to say no. History tells us that Hitler killed 6 million Jews. Lenin killed 100,000 during the Red Terror between September and October 1918. The regime of Moa Zedong may have killed 30 to 70 million through starvation, prison labour, and mass executions. What is going to happen to the Christians and those who oppose the liberal democratic forces. Choose now, before it’s too late. My body, my choice?

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

Murdering babies does not glorify God. Our freedoms are about to be lost. What can we do about it?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14)

Peace.


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When God Moves In

revival

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 8 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10Proverbs 19Psalms 91 – 95

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

Read the “0419 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” – (1 Kings 8:10-11)

As we study Israel’s history, we know that there were many times that they were not where God wanted them to be, spiritually speaking. Often in their history Israel would forsake their God, and err into immorality, and idolatry. These were times when God would be forced to bring judgment upon His people in order to get them to turn back to Him. However, in today’s passage, we see Israel as right with the Lord as they had ever been. They had just completed building the Temple of God, and today was the day that the entire nation was gathered together in order to dedicate the temple (and themselves) to the Lord. God was well pleased with Israel at this time, and He demonstrated His approval with a physical appearance of his presence. Verse 11 tells us that “the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord”.

I have been saved for over twenty-five years now, and I have been involved in the local church since I was born again into the family of God; and I have experienced the wonderful blessing of seeing God’s presence in the midst of His church. I did not see a physical manifestation of His presence, as these Israelites did, but I did experience the glory of God, nonetheless. Unfortunately, I have also seen the times when God’s presence was apparently absent from our church. Hindsight often provides a better perspective for analyzing the ingredients that went into the times when God seemed to be all over His church. When I look back at the times in our ministry when God was really working in a marvelous way among us, with many being saved and baptized, and wonderful Spirit-filled services, I can see that there were specific ingredients that were present. These same ingredients were present in our text today.

1  There was unity – God wants His children to be “in one accord”. A quick study of the early church from the Book of Acts will reveal that they were all together; they were all moving in the same direction.

2  There was humility – Notice in Solomon’s prayer that He recognizes that the people were prone to get away from God. He admits completely that these people were in God’s hands, and that it was God that blessed them. Notice:

“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; … Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:” – (1 Kings 8:46, 49-50)

3  There was complete tenacity and loyalty toward God. These people were all consecrated to the Lord. They were not doing that which was right in their own eyes, they were pursuing God. They were not chasing after the world with all of its idols, and all of its immorality. They were not only separated from the world, but they were also separated unto the Lord. These people wanted to please the Lord. They were focused on God. They gave up two weeks of their lives to serve and sacrifice to the Lord.

We can see God’s glory in our churches again today if we have these three ingredients in place. I want to see God move in our church. I want to see Him do great thing in the midst of this world that denies Him. He’s just waiting for us to get on board.


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Use Your Gifts for the Lord

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Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Proverbs 18Psalms 86 – 90)

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

Read the “0418 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.” – (1 Kings 7:13-14)

Not every Christian is gifted by God to be a teacher or a preacher. In this passage, we see Hiram, a man from Tyre, who was uniquely gifted by God to make all of the works of brass that were to be used in the Temple. Back in the Book of Exodus, we saw two other fellows. Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were also uniquely filled with wisdom (gifted) to build the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. As far as we know, these men never taught the Scriptures; they were not priests, or prophets; but they were greatly used of the Lord.

We have many people in our churches today who have also been uniquely crafted by the Lord to fulfill His purpose. They may be builders, like the men referenced above. They may be men or women that have a knack for cleaning, or landscaping. These are all very necessary and important jobs in the service of our churches today. As I read this passage today, I thought of a man in our church who was used of the Lord to build our platform in the auditorium along with the sound booth. He did a wonderful job, and our church building is much more beautiful and functional as a result of his using his gifts for the Lord. We also have some folks in our church that like to cook, and when we have a dinner of some kind, these people go to work, preparing delicious food for the rest of us to enjoy. They work mostly behind the scenes, but their work is very important to the Lord.

God tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” – (1 Corinthians 12:18)

Not every member is an eye or an ear: some are hands, some are feet. Not everybody is a preacher or teacher; and those that are gifted in areas other that teaching are just as important to the work of the ministry as those who teach or preach.

What is your gift? What is your sweet spot? The thing that you were born to do. Hiram was born to make brass, and he did it very well. God will be well pleased with your life if you find the thing that He has equipped you to do, and then do it for His glory.


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Almost Heaven

AlmostHeaven AlmostHeaven AlmostHeavensunset_paradise

Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 3 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85)

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

Read the “0417 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Wisdom”

“Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.” (1 Kings 4:20)

“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:25)

This is about as close to heaven as you could possibly get while still living here on the earth. Notice that Israel had the complete protection of God; and the abundant provision of God. And in these early days of Solomon’s reign the people were busy serving God by building His temple, which took about seven years to complete. So it seems that God is on His throne and the people are dwelling safely. It sort of reminds me of the history of America. We had to fight some battles in the early days; but God eventually gave us abundant provision and protection from our enemies. We are still the most blessed nation in the world.

Unfortunately, we will see in the upcoming chronicles of Israel’s history that all of this prosperity, which was given by God, will eventually cause the people to forget about God. I think we can safely say that America is in the same boat. The people in this “land of the free” have forgotten that it was God who gave them their freedom and all of the prosperity that comes with it.

Christian, let us never forget that it is God that has protected us, and it is God that has provided for us. Have you thanked God today for His blessings?


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I Will Be King

I will be king

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

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4 Proverbs 16Psalms 76 – 80)

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

Read the “0416 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.” – (1 Kings 1:5)

In our passage today, we have King David on his death bed, and the kingdom unsure about who will take his place after he passes on. God had made it clear to David that his son Solomon was to be his successor (1 Chronicles 22:9), but David had been very quiet about revealing the will of God to the people. As a result, one of the king’s other sons – Adonijah – saw an opportunity to seize power. He made a conspiracy with Joab and Abiathar to take control of the kingdom. With the backing of the military and the temple, it would be difficult to stop him. He called all of the king’s sons (except Solomon), and all of the important men of Judah (except Nathan the prophet and Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men) to announce that he was king. Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, finds out about the conspiracy and reveals it to the king. Now David has to act. He command Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon to be king over Israel. Had David been clear to the people about the Lord’s will previously, the kingdom would have avoided all of this unnecessary turmoil.

My thought this morning is about the phrase spoken by Adonijah, “I will be king”. Isn’t it inside all of us to seize control of our lives away from the reign of God? God wants to be the King in our lives, but we are constantly trying to knock God off the throne and assume power. Recognizing that this little battle rages within us, we must daily acknowledge and submit to God’s authority in our lives. Every time self begins to elevate itself, we must consciously abase him, and yield our allegiance to the Holy Spirit of God. We are really no different than Adonijah. Our pride causes us to lust for the dominion and power that does not rightfully belong to us. The key to successful Christian living is submission to the will of God. He is the only King.

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


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How Many?

people 3d

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 23 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2Proverbs 15Psalms 71 – 75

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

Read the “0415 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” – (2 Samuel 24:1)

“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)

“And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.” – (2 Samuel 24:17)

This is one of those passages of Scripture that I have a difficult time understanding. The Scripture clearly says in verse 1 (above) that God moved David against Israel; but then in verse 17, David confesses what he had done against Israel to the Lord as sin. Here we have another example of the sovereignty of God in conjunction with the free will of man. To complicate matters even more, look at what it says in 1 Chronicles 21 about the same event: the blame here is placed upon Satan. In our passage today it certainly looks as if God was forcing David to sin against Him, which in turn brings about the wrath of God upon the people of Israel.  What is going on here? Did God command it, or did Satan tempt David to do it? I believe that it was in David’s heart to number the people long before the actual numbering took place. Man’s heart is desperately wicked. There are all kinds of sins inside of it. The idea to number the people originated with Satan, because he wanted to get David to take his eyes off of God, and instead trust in his military strength. I think that God kept David from fulfilling what was in his heart for a while, but then because of His anger at Israel (and David), He eventually allows it. I believe the same thing happened with Pharaoh of Egypt. The Scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it also says that Pharaoh’s heart was already hardened. I don’t think that God caused Pharaoh to hate Israel. He already did. God finally just removed the restraint that was keeping Pharaoh back. Satan is on a leash too. He can only do what God allows him to do.

This brings me to an application of this principle in our lives. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit of God is the restraining power that keeps all evil from breaking loose on the earth. The bottom line in all of this is that Satan will tempt you to sin, but God will not cause you to sin; but He will allow you to sin, and allow you to be tempted. However, I also believe that there are many times when He keeps us from sinning against Him through His indwelling Holy Spirit.

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – (James 1:13-14)

By the way. You may be wondering why God would be against the numbering of the people. The reason is simple. He did not want Israel trusting in their numbers. He wanted them to trust in Him. They could beat any opposing army out there, regardless of size, as long as they were right with God.


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God Doesn’t Forget

God Doesn't Forget

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28Proverbs 14Psalms 66 – 70)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 51

Read the “0414 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1)

Remember back in 1 Samuel when King Saul was mad at the priests because they had helped David. (See 1 Samuel 21 & 22) Saul ended up killing all of the priests (85 of them) and then proceeded to wipe out Nob, the city that the priests lived in. What Saul did to the priests and to their families was bad enough, but there was also a group of people who lived in Nob as servants to the priests who were not Israelites: they were Gibeonites. Now, you may also remember from the book of Joshua that the Gibeonites were the people who tricked Joshua into making a covenant with them. Joshua promised these people with an oath that Israel would let them live, and in return the Gibeonites would be Israel’s servants. God never forgot that covenant, so when Saul (acting on behalf of Israel) broke the covenant and slew the Gibeonites living in Nob; God held them (Israel – not just Saul) accountable. God doesn’t forget, even when we want to. Here, an entire nation is suffering for the decision of one man.

We should be admonished when we read passages like this.  First of all, we should realize that our actions affect more people than we think; and we should carefully consider the outcome on others around us from the decisions we make today as well as the impact they will have on future generations. Secondly, we need to think about any unfinished business we may have with God or other people. We are so quick to promise things; but so slow to deliver the things that we promise. God never forgot the promise that Israel made with the Gibeonites.

Note – A separate thought from this passage of Scripture. Notice in 21:8 that five of  the ”sons of Saul” (actually grandsons) that were to be killed were the sons of Michal, David’s first wife. Michal had lived a troubled life due to men who had used her for their own gain. Saul promised her to David and reluctantly gives her to be his wife; later Saul took her back and gave her to another man; After Saul’s death, when David is in power, he takes her back, away from a man that really loves her; and now here she is losing her sons.


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A Father’s Love – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26; Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13

Read the “0413 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2Samuel 19:1-4)

Good morning. I know how King David felt. On February 16, 2012, our daughter Melissa lost her battle with cervical cancer. We still mourn, and visit her grave because we miss her. Even though we know that she is safely in the arms of Jesus, it still hurts.

David’s son, Absalom, rebelled against his father the king. David fled Israel for his life. Even though Absalom was going to do him harm, David still loved him.

“And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.” (2Samuel 18:5)

And King David was heart broken when his so was killed. And David was a man after God’s own heart. God loved David and preserved his life. God even used him to write a Psalm describing Jesus’ death on the cross…

“Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:12-18)

Even though we did this to our Lord Jesus Christ, He still loved us. Isaiah wrote…

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 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 53:4-6)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (john 3:16-17)

Love has always been an action word. Tomorrow marks one week till Resurrection Sunday; remember what Jesus did for you.

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1John 4:16-21)

Peace!


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I Smell A Rat

rat

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 15 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24Proverbs 12Psalms 56 – 60 

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Let Him Curse

Read the “0412 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!” – (2 Samuel 15:3-4)

In today’s reading, we see the gradual rise to power of Absalom, David’s son. Absalom has developed into a calculating, sneaky, and conspiring rebel, who slowly stole the hearts of the people of Israel away from their God chosen leader. In the verses above, he is standing in the gate, and pulling people aside before they go into the king. He befriends them, and promises them that if he were the king things would be different; things would be better. No doubt, he is bad-mouthing the king to everyone who would listen. Absalom is a snake; a rat. He has done nothing on his own; he has built nothing, conquered nothing. Instead, he is a destroyer, and a stealer of that which belongs to another man.

I have observed people like this throughout the years. They steal wives away from husbands; they steal the hearts of children away from fathers; they steal churches away from pastors. They tell the wife who may be having some struggles in her marriage that if he were her husband, he would never mistreat her. They do the same to church members. They want people to come to them. They usually use flattery. They always tear down God-ordained authority. Beware of the Absalom’s of life. God is never for them. Even when it looks like they have all the right answers, you need to stay faithful to the Lord and be supportive of the leaders that God has given you.


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Amnon Had A Friend

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

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

Read the “0411 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Consequences of Sin”

“But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.” (2 Samuel 13:3)

This is another tragic story in the Bible of a man who blew it because he allowed someone into his life that influenced him away from the will of God.  Amnon was one of David’s sons, and he was in love with his half sister, Tamar.   Whether or not this was a wholesome attraction is a matter for another debate.  Nevertheless, Amnon didn’t know what to do about it, but he had a “friend” that did.  This friend, however, was not the kind of friend your parents would like for you to run with.  This was a sneaky guy (subtil).  This was the kind of guy that acts like an “A” honor roll student when he is around your folks; but when he has you alone he is bringing out dirty magazines and dope.  Amnon’s “good friend”, Jonadab, convinces Amnon to trick the king into bringing his daughter Tamar into the lair of Amnon.  Unfortunately, as a result of this counselor’s advice, Amnon eventually ends up dead because of what he does to Tamar.

There are two applications that we can make here:

1  Jonadab is like the devil.  He is a liar, and a deciever; and he will always try to seduce you into going against the will of God.  Notice how Jonadab just convinces Amnon to do what he already wants to do.  He just had to give him a little nudge.  Satan know your temptations, and he throws them in front of you, nudging you to yield to them.  And he always plays both sides.  Notice later on in the chapter how Jonadab is defending the guy who kills Amnon (vs. 32 – 35)  The devils convinces you to sin and then he accuses you to God.

2  But Jonadab is also a type of some of the friends that you and I might have in our life.  And we know who they are.  They are the people who are not concerned about the will of God; they live for themselves, and they are always trying to get you to join them.  Identify the Jonadabs in your life, and remove them.  Surround yourself with people who will tell you to do what’s right, which is what a true friend does.


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Be In Your Place

 

Be in Your Place

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20Proverbs 10Psalms 46 – 50

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

Read the “0410 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” (2 Samuel 11:1-2)

This morning I want to pass along a very simple but important truth. In our passage today, in chapter 11, we read about the very familiar yet tragic story of David and Bathsheba. David is out on his rooftop and from his vantage point spots a beautiful woman who is bathing. David, who already has a few wives, sends a servant to bring the woman to him so he can sleep with her, but the woman is married. David takes the woman anyway, and ends up adding murder to his sin of adultery because he has her husband sentenced to death by placing him on the front lines of Israel’s war with the Ammonites. There is more to the story, but I have covered enough here to deliver my point.

We would all agree that adultery and murder are two very serious sins that were both punishable by death according to the Old Testament Law, but I would like to point out here that the sin precipitated these was David’s sin of not being where he was supposed to be. David was the king, and should have been fighting the battle with his men, but instead, he was home relaxing on his rooftop. Had David been leading his army in battle, this adultery and murder would have never taken place.

I find that we often get ourselves into trouble by not being where we should be. Did you know that there is a specific place where God wants you to be at any given moment? For instance, God has a time and a place where He wants you to meet with Him in devotion (Bible reading and prayer), and we need to be very careful to keep that appointment. There is also a time and a place when we need to be with other Christians, gathered in fellowship around the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. We also need to be busy at the place of our employment. These are just examples. We all have different responsibilities with different schedules, but we all have a specific place where we need to be at any given time, and being where we need to be will help us to be what we need to be and to do what we should be doing. Just a thought.


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Check With God First

Man-Praying

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 4 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18Proverbs 9Psalms 41 – 45)

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

Read the “0409 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” – (2 Samuel 7:3-5)

In 2 Samuel 7, David comes to the prophet Nathan, and informs him of his desire to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant: he wanted to build the temple. You will recall that up until this time the corporate worship of God took place in a portable tabernacle that God had designed for them while they wandered the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. But now it was time to build a permanent structure in the capital city – Jerusalem. It was a good thing that David wanted to do, and it was also good that he went to inquire of the man of God before he did it. The problem here is not with David, but with the prophet Nathan. He gave David the green light to “do all that [was] in [David’s] heart”, before he checked with God. In other words, he spoke on behalf of God, but did not say what God wanted him to say. He spoke prematurely. As it turns out, God had other plans. He did not want David to build the temple. That job was going to go to David’s son, Solomon.

There is a great lesson to be learned here for us. Before we offer our advice on a matter, we ought to check with God first. How we go about doing that is a little bit different today than it was in David and Nathan’s day. In their time God would speak directly to the man of God. Today, however, we have to discern the will of God in the following way:

1  We first go to the Word of God – check to see what the Bible says about what you want to do. Just about every possible scenario is covered by Biblical principle. Let’s say for example that a young lady wanted to know if it was OK to get involved with a young man who is not a dedicated Christian. She could look into the Word and see that it says that she is not to be “unequally yoked” together with an unbeliever. She would also see that the Scripture says that she can not “walk together” with someone whom she is not in agreement with. And there are many other passages of Scripture, which would advise her against what she wants to do. The bottom line is that if the thing we want to do is in violation of sound Biblical principle, we should not do it.

2  We go to God in prayer. We ask God to reveal to us personally His will regarding the matter. I believe that if a person is really concerned about the will of God, He will direct them. When I was praying about where to serve God after Bible college, God revealed to me precisely that He wanted my family to serve Him here in Galloway, NJ.

3  We get advice. The Bible is clear that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. Find some people with godly wisdom that you can go to for counsel regarding your decision, and give them some time to pray first before they give you an answer.

Nathan should have put David on hold until he had a chance to find out what God wanted him to do.


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Stay in the City of Refuge

www-st-takla-org-the-city-of-refuge

Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16Proverbs 8Psalms 36 – 40

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 25

Read the “0408 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.” – (2 Samuel 3:27)

These first few chapters of the Book of 2 Samuel make for some exciting reading, as well as for some valuable truth. In our verse above, we see the murder of Abner by Joab and Abishai his brother. To fully understand what is happening here, there is an underlying principle that we must learn, as well as some additional background information.

First let me give you the principle. The city where this killing took place was Hebron, which was known as a City of Refuge. You can read all about the cities of refuge in the Book of Numbers 35:9 – 34; and Joshua 20. In a nutshell, though, a city of refuge was a place where somebody could flee to for safety. You see, the law in Israel stated that if you killed somebody in wartime, or if you unintentionally killed somebody (not for cases of pre-meditated murder) that the family of the dead person could avenge the blood of their relative without any legal action being taken against them. If the person who committed the “manslaughter” could get inside the city of refuge, then he would be granted safety and refuge as long as he remained in the city; but if he was to leave the city at any time, he was fair game for the revengers of blood.

Now let’s look at the background to this story. Chapter two tells us that Joab and Abishai had a brother named Asahel that was killed by Abner during a previous battle. Naturally, Joab and Abishai had never forgotten what Abner did to their brother, and even though the act was committed during a time of war, they wanted Abner to pay for their brother’s death. The problem was, however, that they had to get him outside the gate of the city. Notice our text tells us that Joab pulls him aside, in the gate, to speak with him quietly (privately).  But why would Abner willingly leave the protection of the city in order to speak with a man that wanted him dead? Because Joab had deceived him into thinking that he meant no harm. As soon as he gets him outside, however, he kills him.

Now let’s make application. The city of refuge is a picture of the will of God; and Joab is a picture of the devil. The devil cannot touch us directly as long as we are inside the walls of the will of God, so what he does is try to lure us out of the city so that he can kill our ministry for the Lord. The moral to the story is: stay inside the city. Don’t stray from God’s perfect will for your life. Don’t let Satan convince you that life will be better outside of the walls of the city. Stay in the Word of God; stay in the prayer closet; stay in church; stay out soul winning; stay separated. Stay in the City!


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Encouragement from the Lord

Today’s Reading – 1 Samuel 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers read – Matthew 13 – 14; Proverbs 7; Psalms 31 – 35)

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

Read the “0407 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” – (1 Samuel 30:6)

In our passage this morning, we see David and his men returning home to Ziklag, and discover that the city was burned to the ground and their wives and children were gone. At this point they have no idea what these Amelekites had done to their families, but I am sure that David and his men suspected that they were either being slaughtered or, at the very least, abused. The men were naturally distraught. At times like these, people want to blame somebody, and since David was their leader, he bore the brunt of their wrath. Remember, these were men that loved David, and risked much by following him. This was certainly a great test of David’s leadership. But how was David supposed to help his men, when he was also distraught due to the loss of his family. It is very hard to encourage and lead people when you yourself are discouraged; and David is perhaps at the lowest point of his life here.

The last sentence in the verse tells us what got David back up to where he could do something to help these people who were relying on him for leadership. “…David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” It is not easy to turn to the Lord for encouragement when you are down. Honestly, I can speak from experience when I say that sometimes I want to just wallow in the mire of discouragement. Have a little pity party, so to speak. But, that will not help anybody. David didn’t stay down; he got back up. He received encouragement from the only source available at the time. Remember, his loyal men wanted to stone him at this time. David went to the Lord, and the Lord gave him the answers that he needed; and in a very short time, they had recovered their families, not to mention their possessions. However, none of that would have happened if David would have just stayed down.

This passage was a great encouragement for me today. Personally. I have been battling with a lot of discouragement lately. I guess, like David, I need to get up, go to God, and get back in the battle. Maybe, if I can get some encouragement from the Lord, then I will be able to give some encouragement to the people around me.


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What Is The Real Hate Crime? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 11 – 12; Proverbs 6; Psalm 26 – 30

Read the “0406 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them. But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields: They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.” (1Samuel 25:14-16)

Good morning. There are many preachers in jail today because our freedom of speech is becoming a myth, and telling the truth is considered by some to be breaking the Law. If you Google it, the one who comes up most is a street preacher in the United Kingdom. He told a passerby that he thought homosexuality was a sin. The last time I looked, it was (and still is). What would you do in the same situation? What does the Bible say?

Twice in Ezekiel chapter 18, God says…

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Ezekiel 33:1-8 tell us…

“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” (Ezekiel 33:1-8)

If I call a politician a liar who is just trying to keep his job, and not serving those who elected him; is that a hate crime? If I tell them they are going to spend all eternity in Hell if they do not trust Christ as Savior; is that a hate crime? Jesus said…

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

When those in power started pushing evolution as a fact to be taught in schools, while God’s truth was removed; when those in power gave their blessing to abort babies; when those in power think more about being politically correct instead of correct, they stopped serving the people. So I ask you, which is the real hate crime? Telling others about sin and how Jesus died for their sins; or not saying anything, and allowing them to go to Hell? The way the world is going, if Jesus delays His return, you may have to decide.

God’s Word is clear: Jesus died for the sins of the world: He shed His precious blood: He paid sin’s wage for us. We need to share this with others no matter what the consequences. The only sin that will not be forgiven is blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. Just like you and me, others need to decide to reject or receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Don’t be afraid of telling people about Jesus.

Peace.


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I’ve Got Your Back

2012-1-8-2012-child-under-His-wingToday’s Passage – 1 Samuel 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 9 – 10Proverbs 5Psalms 21 – 25

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

Read the “0405 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.” – (1 Samuel 22:23)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” – (John 15:4-7)

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – (Hebrews 13:5)

In our passage today (Chapter 22), we read about King Saul slaughtering eighty-five of the priests of God from the city of Nob, along with their wives, children, and even their livestock. Saul had completely lost his mind, and had become completely consumed with destroying David, and anyone he imagined to be complicit with him, whether he had any evidence to back up his suspicions or not. Saul was convinced that the priests were secretly helping out David, so he murdered all of them, save one who escaped. Abiathar was the sole survivor of the massacre at Nob, and he escaped to tell David what had happened. That is when David tells Abiathar to stay with him where he will be cared for and protected from their mutual enemy.

David, in this story, is a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are pursued by an enemy that hates us because he hates our Saviour. Yet, God offers us the same protection that was pictured here with David and Abiathar. Abiathar lost his family, his home, and his safety all because of his association with David. David felt responsible for all that Abiathar lost, so he took him in. He would see to it that Abiathar was provided for and protected as long as he was with him. Is this not what we have in Christ? He provides for our needs, and protects us from those that would harm us. This is not to say that no “bad” things will ever happen to us, but we can be sure of the fact that no harm will come to us without first being authorized by Him; and if He puts His stamp of approval on it, it will be for His glory, and/or our good; and He promised that He will never give us more than we can handle.


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Obsession

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Today’s Passage –  1 Samuel 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 7 – 8; Proverbs 4; Psalms 16 – 20)

“And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.  And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.” – (1 Samuel 22:18-19)

Chapter 22 of 1 Samuel is perhaps one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. King Saul has all of the priests of Nob slain because he thinks that they are complicit with David. Saul is now totally out of control. He is completed obsessed with David, and he is allowing his imaginations to completely run wild. Let me back up and review the story. David is on the run from King Saul. He enters into Nob, the city where the priests of God lived, looking for bread for himself and his men. David does not tell Ahimelech the priest the truth, which was wrong. He tells the priest that he is on a top secret mission for the king, which required haste, and that is the reason that he did not have time to get food before he left. Ahimelech and the other priests are completely innocent. The priests give David some of the old shewbread from off of the altar, and they also give him the sword of Goliath which was also being stored in the city of Nob. There was an evil man, named Doeg, in the city that day, and he observed what had happened, and then went and told Saul.

Saul sends for Ahimelech and the rest of the priests, and asks them what had happened. Ahimelech rehearses the matter before Saul exactly as it did happen, but Saul does not believe him. Saul then orders the death of all of the priests of God. Saul’s insecurity regarding David has completely usurped his ability to reason logically. His imagination is in total control, and his imaginations are being fed by the wicked one. The Bible says that we are to cast down imaginations:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Saul’s insecurity began and took root as jealousy because of David’s successes. God obviously had his hand upon David and Saul knew it. Saul also knew that God no longer had his hand upon him. Saul’s insecurity affected the entire kingdom. Many people died because of it. Notice that Saul’s insecurity caused him to imagine that these priests were his enemies, and they were not. His insecurity also caused him to forget about his real enemy, which were the Philistines and some of the other nations surrounding Israel.

Can you relate to any of this. Have you ever imagined that people were against you without really knowing that they were? Have you ever saw a group of people gathered together without you, and imagined that they were talking about you? Have you forgotten that your enemy is Satan, not your friends and family members? Perhaps you are a little insecure yourself. You need to confess that as sin, because it is sin, and ask God to help you deal with it. Remember that God loves you just as much as he loves everyone else, and he has a wonderful plan for your life. Keep your eyes upon him, and forget about what He is doing with other people. As Jesus told Peter, “What is that to thee?” Get control of your imaginations before you totally lose it too.

 


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Is There Not A Cause?

Is There Not A Cause

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 17 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Proverbs 3; Psalms 11 – 15)

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

Read the “0403 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” – (1 Samuel 17:29)

The account of David and Goliath is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. Even people who know little about the Bible or the Christian faith know something about this story. It is the classic story of the underdog. We love to cheer for the underdog; we love to see the guy that nobody thought could possibly win, come up from behind and win the game. However, the truth is that David was not participating in a game. He was literally fighting for His life, the lives of the men in God’s army, and for the sovereignty of Israel as a nation.

Because of the familiarity of most people to this story, I will not take the time to review it. If you by chance are not familiar with the account, make sure you read the passage. It is one of those passages that reads very easy. You will not have any trouble at all understanding what the Bible is saying. I would like to point out a few things about David, however:

1  David was a man of great faith. David’s faith overshadowed his fear. Any man in his right mind would be afraid of a guy as big and as powerful as Goliath, yet David did could not see how this man could possibly conquer God. David knew that He was fighting the Lord’s battle, and He knew that God was well able to take down Goliath. Goliath may have been big compared to David, but he was less than nothing when compared with David’s God.

Take a moment and consider now what Goliath’s you are facing in your life today. They may seem insurmountable, but if they are standing in between you and God’s cause, you must believe that God is able to overcome them.

2  David was a man of great fondness for God. David didn’t like what this big, ugly Philistine was saying about God and God’s people. It made him mad. I believe in this case we could say that David’s anger was really righteous indignation. Though we certainly should never allow our anger and passion to cause us to sin, we should still get riled up about some things; and our anger should cause us to take action. For instance, when you hear someone blaspheming your God, you should say something about it. People ought to know where you stand.

3  David was a man who made many foes. I am not referring to the Philistines, either. David’s brother, Eliab, became angry with him; and later King Saul became very jealous of him, and even sought to kill him on a number of occasions. You would think doing right would make you everybodies hero; however, many will become your enemy the minute God puts you in the spotlight. I am sure Satan didn’t take his eyes off of David after this either.

4  David had a very good friend. When you decide to live for God, you may be marked an enemy by some, and even dismissed as a fanatic by others; but there will be some – maybe only a few – who will want to be your friend. Saul’s son, Jonathon fell in love with David because of the stand that David took that day.

David took a great risk, humanly speaking, when he entered into the ring with Goliath; but God forever changed the life of David as a result of his great faith. God is looking for more risk takers today: men and women who are willing to stick their neck out to live by faith for God. There was only one young man that was willing to risk his life in a fight against a 9 foot giant that day in Judah, and there will certainly not be many today who will demonstrate that kind of faith; but by God’s grace, I want to be a man of faith like David was. I hope you do too.

 


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Do I Hear Sheep?

Do I Hear Sheep

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4; Proverbs 2; Psalms 6 – 10)

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

Read the “0402 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” – (1 Samuel 15:14 )

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” – (1 Samuel 15:22)

The story in 1 Samuel 15 goes like this: God wanted Saul and the people of Israel to go and utterly destroy the Amelekites, and all that belonged to them, from off the face of the earth. It is not often that God gave a commandment like this, but it is important to know that when He did, He had a good reason. We may not completely understand why God would want something like this to happen, but we know that God is God, and He knows what is best. Saul obeyed much of what God commanded him to do. He wiped out all of the Amelekites, except the king, Agag. Saul also spared the sheep, because he justified that the sheep could be used for a sacrifice. However, God was not pleased with Saul’s partial obedience, and He was not interested in Saul’s sacrifice. God wanted total obedience, which is “better than sacrifice”.

If we look carefully at the text, we can figure out why Saul did not completely obey God. Consider these verses from the passage:

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

“And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” – (1 Samuel 15:24)

“Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.” – (1 Samuel 15:30)

It is apparent from these verses that Saul had a problem with pride. I guess we can all relate to that, can’t we? He was more concerned about pleasing the people, and being elevated in their sight, than he was about obeying and pleasing the Lord. How many times have we compromised our obedience in order to appease the people around us?

So it was Saul’s pride that caused him to disobey. But what causes you (or me) to disobey?  Is it pride like Saul? Is it covetousness? Is it laziness? We all have something in our lives that puts the pressure on us to not do what God commands us to do. God wants a total surrender though. He wants complete obedience, and He does not accept our excuses for disobedience.

 


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Sweeter Than Honey

Sweeter Than Honey

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mathew 1 – 2Psalms 1 – 5Proverbs 1

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

Read the “0401 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.” – (1 Samuel 14:29)

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” – (Psalm 19:9-10)

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – (Psalm 119:103)

In chapter 14 of 1 Samuel we see a great victory for Israel against their enemies, the Philistines. It all started when Saul’s son, Jonathan, and his armour bearer decide that they are going to trust God to bring a great victory. This is a very similar situation to the account of David and Goliath. Here, the massive army of the Philistines is encamped near the much smaller army of Israel. Saul, Israel’s king, is not really taking any action; so Jonathon decides to do something. Him and his armourbearer go up to where the Philistines are, and God goes with them, and gives them a great victory. This starts a chain reaction where the Philistines start running for their lives, and even fighting each other. Saul is watching this from a great distance, and is not sure what is happening, but soon realizes that his enemy is leaving. Now he decides to get involved. The rest of the people of Israel, along with Saul, join the chase, and attempt to kill all of the Philistines before they completely escape out of Israel. Saul then does something dumb. He tells all of his people that they are not to eat anything until the battle is completely over.  Anybody who violates this command will be put to death. The people don’t eat, but Jonathon does. He come upon a little honey in the woods as he is chasing the Philistine army, and he eats it. Now Jonathon did not know about Saul’s order. However, the Bible says that his “eyes were enlightened”.  By the way, if the rest of Israel was allowed to have a little of that honey, they would have had a lot more energy to continue in the battle. In fact, they are so famished that when it does come time to eat, they don’t even cook their meat; they eat it raw, which was forbidden by God.

There is a wonderful picture here regarding the honey. The honey is a picture of the Word of God. Notice the other verses above that compare honey to the Word. As Christians, we are supposed to be in a battle; and we need to recharge our spiritually batteries often throughout the battle. We need to take time to open the Bible, and allow God’s Word to “enlighten our eyes”,  giving us the wisdom and strength that we need to face the battles that will come our way. Have you eaten your honey today? Don’t let the Saul’s of this world keep you from tasting the sweet Word of God.

By the way, have you noticed that Saul has a rather insecure and obsessive personality. Why would he come up with such a rule anyway. He wants total control over the people. He didn’t want their eyes to be enlightened. Religion can be like that today. They frown upon the people tasting of the heavenly honey themselves, because they want to control completely what spiritual nutrition the people receive.


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Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here  to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 16 – 19Revelation 20 – 22Proverbs 31)

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

Read the “0331 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” – (1 Samuel 10:24)

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

The life of Saul has always fascinated me. Saul started out so well. If I were reading the Bible for the very first time, and just read up to chapter 11, I would see no indication at all that Saul would eventually turn bad. So far all that we have read about Saul is good. In chapter 8, we see him serving his father by searching the countryside for some lost asses. In chapter 9, he is met by Samuel the prophet and is told that “all the desire of Israel” was on him. Upon hearing this statement, Saul humbly states that he and is family were from the least of the tribes of Israel, basically stating that he was not even worthy of consideration. When it comes time for Samuel to announce to the people that Saul would be king, Saul is hiding. I don’t see even a hint of pride in this young man so far. Even when he is opposed by some ungodly men, he holds his peace, and then later when he was annointed king, some of his supporters remembered the opposition and tried to have them executed, but Saul refuses. He seems to be making all of the right moves thus far. He is humble, yet he demonstrates strong leadership when his people were threatened by the Ammonites in chapter 11. He rallies all of the people of Israel to come to the battle, and they destroy the invading army from Ammon. Saul starts out great.

I almost want to stop reading here while everything is “still good in the hood”. What happens to Saul? Does he stay on the right path or does he go off course somewhere? Well, we will read all about it in the next few days, but let me give you a little hint here. As we have already seen, Saul starts out very humble, but he will eventually become full of pride; and pride will bring about his destruction. Pride is a huge problem for most of us. Consider the following verses:

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

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” – (Proverbs 13:10)

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,” – (Proverbs 6:16-17)

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” – (Proverbs 29:23)

The Bible has a lot to say about pride. As we read these next few chapters, watch out for pride developing in the heart of Saul; but more importantly watch out for the development of pride in your own life.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” – (1 Peter 5:5)

 


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The Circuit Riders – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 4 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click hereto view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 13 – 15; Proverbs 30; Psalms 146 – 150)

Read the “0330 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.” (1Samuel 7:15-17)

Good morning. As the High Priest of Israel, Samuel followed a circuit of towns judging God’s people. Jesus was with His eleven apostles…

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

In America, back in the 1700’s and the 1800’s, the Methodists had preachers that would go from town to town preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was something that the Methodists had done in England. As the settlements in America grew they would start churches. And just like Samuel they would spread the Word of God throughout America. The circuit riders were also known as saddlebag preachers. Everything they had, and needed, was carried in their saddle bags. They braved the elements, riding their horses through rain and snow. They knew the Lord would take care of them. We have circuit riders today called Evangelists. They also go from city to city, town to town with the Gospel. Paul wrote to Timothy…

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 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. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2Timothy 4:1-5)

But this message goes out to us also to do the work of an Evangelist. Our call is in all the Gospels. Besides Mark 16:15…

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45-48)

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21)

Even the wisest king Israel ever had (Solomon) wrote…

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken

Over wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake

To bear the burdens of a world a-weary

So send I you to suffer for My sake

Pray for our circuit riders.

Peace.


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Lent to the Lord

 

Lent to the Lord

Today’s Passage – 1 Samuel 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 10 – 12;  Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145)

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

Read a previous post from this passage – “Eli Didn’t Correct His Children

Read the “0329 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.” – (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” – (Psalm 127:3)

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – (Ephesians 6:4)

One of the greatest blessings and priveledges in life for a married couple is to be given the opportunity to raise children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”.  In our reading today we see Hannah, the wife Elkanah, who desired more than anything to be given the priveledge of giving birth to children. She begged God to open up her womb, and she promised God that she would give the child back to the Lord. In other words, she understood that the child would not really belong to her, he would belong to the Lord. God granted her request, and she was faithful to her word, and literally gave the child, when he was old enough, to be trained by the priest in the service of the Lord.

God has blessed my wife and I with four wonderful children, three of which are now grown and married. Two of our married children are still living and serving the Lord in our church, which is a wonderful blessing. However, my daughter Melissa and her husband Wesley live many miles away, and though we speak with them almost daily, and even see them often, we miss them terribly. One of the most difficult things that we can do as parents is to let go of our children when they are grown. We want to keep them around us forever. However, oftentimes God may have a special plan for our children that will lead them to be apart from us geographically. As hard as that may be, we must recognize that God gave us these children for a specific purpose, and a limited time. We were never owners, only stewards. They belong to the Lord. If God chooses to use them as a missionary on a foreign field, or perhaps move them to the other side of the country, that is His right; and we must not only accept His will, but we must support it as well.

If God has blessed you and your spouse with children, please remember that those precious ones are really only “lent” to you for a short time. You have been given the awesome responsibility of teaching a child how to love and serve God. Don’t waste time, it is very precious. You will blink your eyes twice and they will be grown, and then they will move on to serve God, and to raise a family of their own.


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Things Are Looking Up!

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

(Second Milers also read – Revelation 7 – 9; Proverbs 28; Psalms 136 – 140)

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

Read the “0328 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” – (Ruth 1:20-21)

“And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – (Ruth 4:14 & 15)

I have read this story of Ruth and Naomi many times, but every time I have written or preached on the subject my focus would either be on Ruth or Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. However, this morning I got to thinking about Naomi. Naomi was a great lady, who in many ways was a victim of circumstance. Things just didn’t work out for her in life as she had probably hoped and dreamed they would. I can relate to that. Sometimes I reflect on my own life and wish that I could re-do some things; perhaps make some better choices. Hindsight always reveals the wisdom of our choices. Anyway, Naomi left the land of Canaan with her husband and two sons many years prior to the time of our text. They intended only to sojourn in the land of Moab for a short time, until the famine was over in their homeland. I appears that they stayed a lot longer than they intended. While living in Moab, her two sons marry women from Moab, which was also not according to God’s perfect plan because these women were not worshippers of the God of Israel. To make matters worse, her husband, and both of her sons die while she is there. Now she is left in a strange land with two daughters-in-law that were in many ways still strangers to her.

Naomi is faced with a decision. Life is not working out for her in Moab, and she realizes she needs to get back to her people; to the worship of her God. Good decision. But what was she to do with her daughters-in-law? She understands that feel obligated to her, and in a very real way, both of them had become very attached to her. She must have demonstrated much love toward them, because both of them loved her; and one of them (Ruth) was willing to forsake her own happiness in order to go with Naomi. In facy, Ruth was willing to become a worshipper of Naomi’s God. It appears that Naomi represented her God very well.

The point of all of this is that though Naomi didn’t make all of the right decisions through the years, and although things did not work out for her as she would have hoped, God was still very gracious to her, and was willing to use her. She left Canaan full: full of dreams and full of hope. She left Moab empty: empty of a husband, empty of her sons, and empty of material possessions; but she did have Ruth. God had graciously given her a wonderful daughter-in-law in, Ruth, who proved to be more of a blessing to her than her sons ever were. I bet if there were another chapter to the Book of Ruth we would hear Naomi say, “change my name back to Naomi, I was ‘Mara’ for a while, but things are looking up.

Can you notice a pattern here that you and I can relate to? Life sometimes starts with hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They rarely work out the way we want them to. We make many mistakes along the way that further complicate things. But, God just may turn our lives around before it’s all over. We may find that delight (Naomi means delight) after all; and it may just come through an unexpected source. Don’t lose hope. Keep following God. Better days are coming.


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