Today’s Passage – Song of Solomon 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – James 4:10
Read the “0728 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” – (Song of Songs 2:4)
I must confess that I would rather write about a subject this morning that I have a better understanding of. The Song of Solomon is a wonderful account of love and marriage, but I really do not comprehend all that is contained in this beautiful story. I know that there is a literal, earthly story here about the love between a husband and a wife. It is clear from the passage that Solomon is the husband; but trying to figure out the identity of the wife with certainty is rather difficult as we know that Solomon had 700 of them (and 300 additional concubines). It is thought by some that this beautiful woman is Abishag, the woman who ministered to Solomon’s father in the last days of his life. We know that she was a Shulamite woman (6:13). At any rate, she is obviously Solomon’s first wife, before he had sinned by marrying so many other women.
The broader implication of this book is that Solomon is a type or picture of the Lord Jesus Christ; and his bride is a picture of the Church. It was a strange thought for me when I first learned that I was part of the Bride of Christ. I guess the man in me rebels against the feminine identity; but as I have grown through the years I have learned to accept and even somewhat understand the meaning of it all. I do love my Lord Jesus. I want to grow and learn to love Him more, but in order to do so I must learn to love myself a lot less.
As I said in the beginning of this thought, I don’t understand all that this love story has to tell us; but I love the story nonetheless from both an earthly perspective, and from the spiritual picture that it represents.
Posted in Thoughts from Song of Solomon by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Read the “0727 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)
Matthew 21:22 talks about how if you believe God, He will answer your prayers. If it’s God’s will, He will give you an answer. It may not be what you are hoping for, but you can trust in God that He will always do what is right.
So keep praying for your family, your friends, your games (in the future), and school tests.
Love you guys. Be safe.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 10 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “0726 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much“
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” – (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)
Back when my grandfather was a young man, a man could get a loan simply by promising with a handshake that he would pay it back. People in those days kept their word. They followed through on what they said they would do. Today it is much different. Many people today are not at all trustworthy. They are quick to promise, but often slow to keep their word. God says here in our passage this morning that we should be slow to make promises, but once a promise is made, we should do everything we can to keep it.
I want to encourage all of you that are reading this thought this morning to think (and pray) very carefully before you commit yourself to something. Don’t let pressure or emotion cause you to agree to do something that you may not be able to fulfill. I remember years ago I gave a pledge in January that I would give a certain amount of money per week toward that year’s faith promise missions offering. I was making good money at the time, and I did not think that there would be any problems. However, later that year, my family and I packed up to move to Texas to go to Bible College. I was no longer in a financial position to keep that committment, but I had made a promise, and I knew our church’s missions program was depending on that offering. Cindy and I agreed that we should sacrifice some things in order to fulfill our pledge. I haven’t always kept my promises in life, but I am very glad I kept that one.
Today we live in a world that is lacking basic trust, and the reason we don’t trust one another is that we do not keep our word. We say one thing and do another. We make promises to people and to God that may be well meaning, but ultimately we fail to follow through. Let’s stop making promises that we can’t keep. And when we do give our word, let’s keep it.
Posted in Thoughts from Ecclesiastes by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
A few years back I preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:
1 There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)
This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.
2 There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.
3 There is a key verse:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.
One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had wisdom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.
Posted in Thoughts from Ecclesiastes by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Read the “0724 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
Good morning. Do you remember when our country was controlled by the righteous? President George Washington, after he was sworn in, walked next door to pray in a small New York chapel. How he dedicated our new country to God. Every session of congress would open with prayer: our leaders asking God to direct their paths. Matthew Henry gave a comment on this verse…
“The people will have cause to rejoice or mourn according as their rulers are righteous or wicked; for, if the righteous be in authority, sin will be punished and restrained, religion and virtue will be supported and kept in reputation; but, if the wicked get power in their hands, wickedness will abound, religion and religious people will be persecuted, and so the ends of government will be perverted.” (Matthew Henry)
In 1962, the Bible and prayer were taken out of schools: it was all down hill from there. Today we have kids embracing godless Socialism. Instead of being taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, they are taught that homosexuality is okay. If you are a boy, and identify as a girl, you are a girl. If you are a girl, and identify as a boy, you are a boy. And if you tell them that God made you a girl, or God made you a boy, you are labeled as a hater. You violated their rights. You hurt their little feelings. Poor baby. You can put on the clothes of the opposite sex, but you will still be what God made you. But the government says it’s okay, so it must be okay. Depressing isn’t it? Ecclesiastes 10:5 says…
“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.” (Ecclesiastes 10:5-6)
Even at the birth of Jesus there was wickedness in high places…
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:16-18)
Herod murdered many children of Bethlehem who were 2 years of age or under. When the Jews made their children pass through the fire to Baal, there were about 7000 children murdered: burned alive. Although abortion have slowed in past few years, in America there have been over 62 million abortions since Roe vs. Wade. Depressing when you see what our country has become? There is medication for depression. One of the side effects is thoughts of suicide. And depression is one of the devil’s most powerful tools. But we can fight it because we know Him who has all the power.
“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)
And we also know where the devil is going to end up…
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10)
So we know Who wins in the end. We also know that the devil will be cast into the lake of fire, where he will remain forever burning. But what can we do now?
1) Believe on the LORD that He will deliver you.
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1John 5:13)
2) Trust in the LORD that He will deliver you.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
3) Have faith that the LORD will deliver you.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)
God is God, and His perfect plan is being executed. And you are included in that plan. Knowing that God is in control, knowing that you have a home in heaven, and knowing that Jesus is your Saviour is all you should need to get out of your depression. Don’t give the devil a bullet for his gun.
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with 2 comments.
Today’s Passage – Proverbs 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8
Read the “0723 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – (Proverbs 27:6)
“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” – (Proverbs 27:10)
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – (Proverbs 27:17)
Chapter twenty-seven of the Book of Proverbs includes the word “friend” several times. I have posted some of them above. From these verses we can get a better, Biblical understanding of what a true friend is. The world would have a broader definition for friendship, but the Bible is much more specific about what a friend is, and what a friend does. We each may have many acquaintances, and people that are friendly at times to us; but if we were to really apply the Biblical understanding of true friendship, we would have to conclude that the number of real friends we have is few.
The Bible tells us that a true friend is there for us no matter what. We have all probably heard the expression, “fair weather friends”. This type of person is the one that will be your friend as long as you have something to offer them. I remember years ago when I was newly saved, my wife and I were attending a church in Toms River, NJ. We were both very young Christians, and we had a hard time establishing relationships with some of the other couples that were there. There was one man that all of a sudden began to take an interest in me. He invited us over to his house, and he really seemed to be trying to reach out to us. I was very flattered, but then this man began to tell me about a business venture that he wanted me to be a part of: something that was going to eventually make me very rich, but at first would require an investment on our part. When this man finally realized that I didn’t have any money to invest in his business, he stopped being nice to me. This man was not my friend. He was friendly as long as he thought I could benefit him in some way. A real friend is not merely concerned about what he receives from the relationship, but is instead focussed on what he can offer to it. True friends will also remain friendly through the good times and the bad.
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – (Proverbs 18:24)
The Bible also tells us that a true friend will not be someone that tells us what we want to hear, but rather tells us what we need to hear. I want my friends to help me be a better me. In order for that to happen they will need to be open and honest with me. There are many things about me that I cannot see. My flesh has set up protections that insulate me from facing myself. My pride causes me to think that I am always right. But I know that can’t possibly be true. So God has placed some people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I often do not want to hear about myself. Don’t misunderstand, these friends do not spend all of their time criticizing me, but they will straighten me out when I need it. The greatest friend that I have, besides the Lord, is my wife. She doesn’t pull any punches with me: she loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear.
Of course, the Lord is the greatest friend that we have because He gave His life for us. A true friend will give himself unconditionally to those that he loves.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – (John 15:13)
Posted in Thoughts from Proverbs by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11
Read the “0722 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” – (Proverbs 24:10)
Many years ago, before I went to Bible college, I saw a poster similar to the picture above, hanging on the door of a walk-in freezer in the stock room of one of the supermarkets that I delivered to. I asked the clerk if I could make a copy of it, and I put that picture on my refrigerator at home. When we moved to Texas to go to Texas Baptist College, the picture managed to remain with us, and ended up once again on our refrigerator. Bible college was tough, and there were many times that I contemplated quitting; but I would often look at that little poster, and remember that God had called me into the ministry, and He specifically revealed His will to me about where I should go for training, and that I should finish what He had called me to do. That poster served for those three years as a reminder of the fact that no matter how hopeless the situation might seem, God would always bring me through, if I would just not quit.
There were many “war stories” that I could share from those college days, but one particular time stands out in my memory. It was the August before my senior year at the college, and it was registration time for the fall semester. I didn’t have a dime to my name. I was struggling to pay all of my bills, and even just put food on the table; and I knew that I was going to have to pay the college something in order to get enrolled for my final year. To make matters worse, I still owed them money from the semester before. At first, I wasn’t even going to attempt to go through the whole process of choosing classes, etc. I mean, why bother? They weren’t going to let me in anyway; but for some reason, I went down to the college, and started to go through the motions of registering. When I finally got to the final step of the process – this was the part I really dreaded – meeting with the comptroller of the college, Brother Shaw, I timidly entered his office waiting to get yelled at, or maybe even laughed at. I explained my situation to him, and I remember him saying to me, “Brother Erickson, let’s just see what it says in our records.” He went to his computer and told me that not only was there no balance due from the previous semester, but there also was $1000.00 already paid for the new one. I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there with my mouth open, while he sat there grinning at me. To this day, I have no earthly idea where that money came from, but I do know that God taught me a great lesson that day. Don’t give up. No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, keep getting up and doing what God has called you to do. Don’t quit. There is always hope in the will of God. There have been many other times in the ministry where God has miraculously come through to help in time of need, He always came through. He may not always do what we want Him to do, but He always fulfills His will. We just have to hang in there, and stay faithful.
Posted in Thoughts from Proverbs by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Proverbs 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31
Read the “0721 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – (Proverbs 20:1)
“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” – (Proverbs 21:17)
“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” – (Proverbs 23:29-35)
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: … Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” – (Proverbs 31:4, 6)
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – (Ephesians 5:18)
The Bible is full of warnings against the consumption of alcohol. Above, I have listed some of the verses from the Book of Proverbs that deal with drinking, as well as a New Testament reminder. God did not outlaw the use of intoxicating beverages in the Bible, but He certainly taught that consuming alcohol was the cause of a great many problems for His people. The first mention of fermented wine in the Bible was in Genesis 9 referring to Noah who drank of the wine and then lay naked in his tent, causing his son Ham to sin by looking upon his father’s naked body. Shortly thereafter in the Book of Genesis we read about Lot who drank wine and then slept with both of his daughters. Alcohol will certainly cause you to do some pretty dumb and damaging things. Today it is no different. In America, 38% of all traffic fatalities occur because of alcohol consumption (nearly 65 people a day). Statistics reveal that there are over 14 million people in the U.S. that are addicted to alcohol; and alcoholics are four times more likely to be hospitalized than non-drinkers. When will we learn?
In the New Testament there is an added warning to the child of God regarding the consumption of alcohol. The verse mentioned above from the Book of Ephesians tells us that alcohol is a controlling force that will hinder the Christian from being filled with the Spirit. That is why they call being drunk “under the influence”. To the degree that you are “influenced” by alcohol, you are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit of God. Plus, God warns us that we should be careful about being a stumbling block to another Christian. You may be able to handle an occasional drink, but by your indulgence you may just be encouraging a future alcoholic. If you are a child of God, filled with His Spirit, you have no business consuming alcohol. God is the only influence you and I need in our lives. We don’t need alcohol to enjoy the abundant life that God has given us while serving Him on this earth.
Posted in Thoughts from Proverbs by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Today’s Passage – Proverbs 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15
Read the “0720 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and awordspoken in due season, how goodis it!” (Proverbs 15:23)
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” (Proverbs 17:7)
“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28)
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – (Proverbs 25:11)
Isn’t it amazing how much the Bible has to say regarding our tongues. The verses listed above are just a few of the references from today’s passage that deal with the words that we say. God is very concerned about the things that we allow to escape our lips. A good passage to read that also teaches along this line is found in James 3. In it, God gives a scathing rebuke to the tongue that is used to destroy. As God’s people we must strive to allow the Holy Spirit of God to control our words. As God’s ambassadors we have no right saying the things that we want to say, but rather we must speak the things that will glorify God and edify others. One of the reasons that I sometimes prefer to write (text, e-mail) to people rather than talk to them is because I can carefully choose the words that I use. I find myself re-writing, looking for just the right thing to say. Often when conversing with someone face to face I find myself being quick to speak, when God wants me to be slow to speak.
I think that I could be much more affective as a minister of God if I would employ the following principles in my life regarding my speech:
1 I should pray before I speak. David prayed,
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
2 I should pause before I speak. The Bible says a lot about refraining from speaking. Will what I am going to say edify the listener? Will it glorify God? Will it tear down somebody else? These are all thing to consider.
3 I should pastor (minister, edify, teach) with my speech.
It would certainly be a quieter world, if we would all put these principles into practice; but it would also be a lot more peaceful.
“O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say”
Posted in Thoughts from Proverbs by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Read the “0719 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previos post from today’s passage in Proverbs – “O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say“
“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” – (Proverbs 14:4)
Every Sunday afternoon, immediately following the morning service, we clean the auditorium and bathrooms of our church to make it ready for the evening service. I am often amazed at how dirty our building can get, especially considering that it was only in use for a few hours. There are bulletins lying all over, and the hymnbooks are everywhere except where they should be. We find candy wrappers and water bottles in various places. Sometimes, I even find chewed gum stuck to a chair or on the floor. Yuk! The place is a mess. But I thank God for the mess, because the mess indicates that people were using the building. There are times when I get a little tired of cleaning it, but if I didn’t have to clean it, it could only be because nobody was coming to our services.
I have determined that I will never get the mindset that the building that God has given us is to be some sort of museum for the Saints of God to observe and admire. I want our building to be functional and practical; and I want it to be used by our people as much as possible, and as often as possible. And if it is being used, it is going to get dirty, and at times things are going to need to be repaired. I have been spending a great deal of time this summer painting and upgrading parts of our building. The rooms that were finished last month already have some marks on the walls. Praise God! That means that people: men, women, children; souls are coming to the House of God, and are getting the help that they need. I will keep cleaning the crib, but I think I am going to keep the oxen as well.
Brother Hyles tells a story about a man in his church that was complaining about the oily messes made in the parking lot by all the busses that were used to bring boys and girls to church. Bro. Hyles reminded the man that D.L. Moody brought in a lot of children, too, in his day, and the horses used to pull the wagons were a whole lot messier.
Posted in Thoughts from Proverbs by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.