Our Trust Is in God

Today’s Reading – Ezra 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalm 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush,“ and “Here We Go Again.

“21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. 22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.” (Ezra 8:21-23)

In Ezra 8, Ezra is reviewing the details of the preparations for his journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezra was returning to Jerusalem with over 1,700 men, plus some women and children. Chapter seven gives us the date that Ezra left Babylon and the date that he arrived in Jerusalem. It also tells us that Ezra had permission from the king (Artexerxes), after Ezra assured him that God’s hand of blessing was upon him and the returning remnant:

“6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. 7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:6-10)

The chapter goes on to tell us that Artaxerxes wrote a letter on behalf of Ezra permitting any Jews who desired to go with Ezra and authorizing the complete funding of the trip. Ezra was very appreciative of the king’s kindness but also acknowledged that God worked in the king’s heart to motivate him to be such a blessing to the Jews: 

 “27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:” (Ezra 7:27)

“1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

After having assured the king that God’s hand was upon this returning remnant, the last thing Ezra wanted to do was request protection by way of a military escort from the king. Ezra 8:21 – 23 tells us that instead Ezra stopped at a place near the beginning of their journey to “afflict [themselves] … to seek of him a right way.” They fasted and prayed that God would protect them on their journey and be able to avoid all the pitfalls and dangers that they would surely face somewhere along the way. Ezra did not want the king to think that God was unable to protect them, so he bypassed asking the king for protection. They wanted the king to know that God was able to protect them on their journey. By stopping to fast and pray, Ezra and the remnant were declaring their complete dependence upon the Lord. And God came through. He brought them into Jerusalem safely.

 


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Tears of Joy, or Sorrow?

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16Psalms 131 – 135Proverbs 28)

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

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone,” “The Heart of the King,” and “Stop Living in the Past

“But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:12 & 13)

In chapter 3 of today’s passage, we see the children of Israel (or at least some of them) back in their land after a long captivity in Babylon and Persia. Eventually they begin the process of rebuilding the Temple of God that had been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar years earlier. Remember, the Temple that had been built by Solomon was perhaps the most beautiful piece of architecture that has ever been constructed, with literally tons of gold covering much of the building itself and also the furniture and instruments used in the temple. The building that they were in the process of constructing now could not possibly compare to the old one. Only the foundation for the Temple had been laid at this point but the congregation of Israel was super excited about what God was doing. I remember when our church pulled the trigger on our recent building addition. We did not have the money that we needed to finish the project, but we did have enough to get started, so we cleared the land and poured the foundation. That foundation stood there for almost a year before we could add a building to it, but we were all still excited because we could see something tangible on that spot of ground. The process of building had begun and we rejoiced because of it.

In our text, we see that some of the very old folks that had actually seen the old Temple that was built by Solomon and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, were weeping. It very well could be that they were weeping for joy because they were seeing the beginning of the rebuilding of God’s House. They had witnessed the savage slaughter committed by the Babylonians decades earlier; they had seen their beloved Jerusalem completely destroyed; but perhaps worst of all, they had watched as the armies of Nebuchadnezzar pulled the Temple completely apart and stole any thing of value. But now, God was giving His people a second chance, and they were seeing the beginning of the construction of a building which represented the very presence of God.

Or, it could be that some of these old timers were upset because this new building could not possibly be as beautiful or extravagant as the former one built by Solomon. However, it is important to note that these elder men who may have been despondent over the lack of luxury in this new temple had actually never seen the presence of God at the old one. At the time that they were there (before the captivity), the glory of God had long since departed because of the falling away of the people of God. So these elders were upset simply because of a building. They failed to see that this new building, though not nearly as ornate and expensive as the old, had the potential for being a place where God would actually meet with His people.

In my many years of being saved, I have observed this same mentality. I have seen church buildings that were absolutely gorgeous with large auditoriums, countless classrooms, fellowship halls, and even landscaped gardens. However, many of these buildings, though beautiful, have “Ichabod” written all over them. But on the other side of town there is a storefront building with no classrooms, where a preacher and church are boldly proclaiming the Truth, with the Spirit of God all over them. Yet, most people in the world, and even some Christians, would say that the church with the beautiful facility is the “real” church.

One more thought from this passage: Sometimes, those that have been saved for a while and have seen the power of God in previous years, tend to live in the past. God does not live in the past. Actually, He is way ahead of us. We are supposed to be following Him. This is partially what Paul meant when he said, “leaving those things which are behind.” I believe the greatest movement of God is yet to come.  I believe the greatest days of Jersey Shore Baptist Church will be in the tomorrows, not in the yesterdays. While I rejoice over what God has done in the past, I am looking for “greater works than these.”


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Reconciling God’s Sovereignty with Free Will

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

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this morning’s passage – “A Fresh Start,“ and “It’s All According to God’s Plan”

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.” (Ezra 1:1-6)

The Book of Ezra details the return of some of the people of God from their captivity in the land of Persia. You will recall that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and had taken the people of Judah captive somewhere around 586 BC. The Babylonians were then overtaken by the Medes and Persians and during the reign of King Cyrus, the people were permitted to return to Jerusalem. Ezra 2 records the specific number of people who returned (approximately 50,000) along with some genealogical information.

What caught my attention from this passage is the contrast that seems to exist between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Note the highlighted words in the passage above. For example, we see that the return of the people of God was a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, and that the Lord had “stirred up” and “charged” Cyrus. We also see that the people who participated had their spirit’s stirred by God. But we also see that these folks who returned into the land had “willingly” offered their “freewill offerings.”

From this passage we can clearly see that God was doing something and that He was moving in the hearts of both His people and this Persian King. Consider the following verses:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

However, could we also say that these people who were part of this movement of God were also operating according to their own free will. Do you think that there were any there who really did not want to go? Do you think that King Cyrus really hated the people of God and desired to keep them locked up in Persia, but God forced him to do His bidding? I don’t think so. God was certainly moving and working and influencing in order to accomplish His will, but He was also using willing participants.

The story about Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus is similar to this one, but only in reverse. There we see the king of the land bent on holding the people of God back and persecuting them. He refused to let the people go. The scripture tells us fifteen times that Pharaoh’s heart was “hardened.” The interesting thing is that some of those times it was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and other times it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart. The bottom line is this: Pharaoh’s will was already made up. He had determined already that he would not let the people go (see Exodus 5:2). Do you really think that Pharaoh was just about to start a new Sunday School ministry for the Hebrew slaves, but then was instead forced by God to make things harder for Israel? No – he was a willing participant in Israel’s misery, and he was completely unwilling to release the people of God out of Egyptian bondage.

How can we reconcile these two concepts – man’s free will and God’s sovereignty? I must confess that I cannot completely wrap my head around all that would be included in this discussion, but I am pretty sure that God’s sovereign plan is accomplished while allowing man to make choices. Man certainly chose to sin against God. Could God force His will upon man? He could, but does He? I am not so sure about that. Does God work in man, influencing man’s decisions? I believe He does, but I do not think that man is a mere robot preprogrammed to do whatever God desires. Neither is he a puppet whose strings are controlled from Heaven. God is certainly sovereign and accomplishes His plan for the ages just as He determined before the beginning of the world, but He will not remove man’s free will in the process. Man is free to accept or reject God’s grace, and he is free to obey or disobey God’s commands. He (and the people around him) will also suffer the consequences of his choices, but he does have a choice. Joshua said, “choose you this day,” and in Revelation, the Spirit of God invites “whosoever will.” These are expressions of choice. I do not always choose wisely, but I cannot blame God for the choices I make or the consequences of those choices.


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Enough is Enough

Enough-is-Enough-Poster

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 34 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 5 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “0526 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” – (2 Chronicles 36:15-16)

God, in His mercy, will send us messengers to warn us of the judgment that is coming if we fail to humble ourselves before Him, and submit to His will. Oftentimes the people of God would turn back to him and would escape the judgment, or at least postpone the judgment. But here we see the people of God, not only rejecting the Word of God; but are also mocking and attacking His messengers.

Today in America, the Spirit-filled preacher of the Word of God is also mocked, and sometimes even attacked by the world around them; and even sometimes by the people of God. God will not put up with this too much longer. There will come a time when God will say, “enough is enough”. And when that happens we are finished as a nation.

But let’s think of this a little more personally. Do you as a faithful member of a Bible preaching church consider the preaching and teaching by the pastor as a message from God? Or perhaps, do you just think of it as just good information that may or may not be helpful? Are we not guilty of almost the same thing as these people from Judah, when we don’t heed the warnings and exhortation given to us by God through His word in our churches. When you listen to the preaching this week, look past the preacher and focus on the message that God has supernaturally ordained to be given to you through His messenger. Support your preacher: cheer him on as he labors to deliver the message from God to your family.


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The Protection Of God – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 32 – 33 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 1 – 4; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

Read the “0525 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Good morning. God’s Word is powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It gives us comfort in knowing that God is with us.

1) We can be strong and courageous.

2) We do not have to be afraid or dismayed.

3) We have God to help us.

4) We have God to fight for us.

5) We do not have an arm of flesh like our enemies; we have the LORD our God.

There are many examples of men in the Bible who refused to believe God.

In this chapter it was Sennacherib king of Assyria.

God protects His people. And with God’s protection comes…

Peace!


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Seek Ye First

Today’s Reading  2 Chronicles 29 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 25 – 28Psalms 116 – 120Proverbs 24)

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

Read the “0524 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “Living for the Lord – A Formula for Success;” and “Soulwinning in 2 Chronicles

3 He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.” (2 Chronicles 29:3)

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

Hezekiah is not my favorite king, but he is high on the list. He definitely started out extremely well. As a very young, 25-year-old king, he made it his first order of business to open the doors of the Temple and repair it. By the way, have you noticed from our reading through these chapters in 1st and 2nd Chronicles that the House of God would always fall into disrepair when God’s people got away from Him. And when a good king came along, he placed the repair of the Temple and the reinstitution of sacrifices and observances high on his priority list. Here in chapter twenty-nine, Hezekiah commands the Levites to remove “the filthiness” out of the Temple. That word, “filthiness,” is an extremely strong word which describes the worst kinds of impurity and here is probably referring to idolatry.

Once all of the garbage was out of the Temple, they began to worship the Lord through sacrifices and singing:

27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. 28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. 30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.” (2 Chronicles 29:27-30)

I believe that a pattern can be seen here in the reign of King Hezekiah that we can follow in our lives today. We need to get rid of the all the garbage that this world pumps into our lives, homes, and churches also. And we also need to confess our sins and sinfulness to the Lord recognizing the sacrifice that He made for the sins when He died for us on the Cross of Calvary. Then will also be able to sing, praise, and worship the Lord. But let’s not wait to start this process; let’s get right on it. Just as Hezekiah put God at the highest level of priority when he became the king, we need to start right now to put God and His will first in our lives.


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Plenty More Where That Came From

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 25 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “0523 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s passage – “His Heart Was Lifted Up” and “The Key to Prosperity

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” (2 Chronicles 25:9)

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalms 50:10)

In the three chapters today, we have seen pretty much the same pattern that was observed throughout the Chronicles of the kings of Judah. That is, if the king was following the Lord and submitting to His will, His reign was blessed and prosperous. Conversely, if the king chose to forsake God, then God also forsook him. Out the window would go God’s provision and protection. Notice these verses from today’s reading:

“And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.” (2 Chronicles 26:5)

“So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 27:6)

I was interested in the story in chapter 25 regarding Amaziah, the King of Judah, who hired 100,000 men out of Israel to help him fight against the Edomites. He paid around 7500 pounds of silver (over $2.1 million) to the Israelites in order to hire them. God was not pleased with Judah yoking up with Israel for this battle, and He sent a man of God to Amaziah to tell him to fire the Israelites and send them home. Amaziah was willing to do this, but was upset about the money that he had already spent. God assured him that there was plenty more where that came from.

I got to thinking about how many times God’s people get messed up over money. Sometimes we get into a dispute with our brothers and sisters in Christ over some business deal and we find ourselves fighting over money. Can I give you some advice: give in and don’t fight over money. If someone is insisting that you owe them something, give it to them. You might say: “why would I do that?” Because your relationship with people is more important than any amount of money, and if you do the right thing, God will replace what you lose with interest. We stress far too much about money. We give it to the church but then tie a string from ourselves to the money, and then get upset about it later. Don’t give it if you cannot completely let go of it. It really comes down to a matter of faith. If God asks you to give it, then give it. He has more to give you, and He will bless abundantly the person that trusts Him with their money.

The king of Judah almost continued in a bad plan, simply because he had already laid out the money for it. He almost let money cause the destruction of his nation. Many a Christian I know has allowed the love of money to destroy them. My preacher used to say, “God’s got plenty of money.” And you and I can get all that we need if we will be willing to let go of what He has already given us. It’s all His anyway. I am not talking about being a bad steward here, but I am saying that we need to be able to let go of HIS money, anytime He asks us to.

Another thought from this passage is this: how many times do we continue going down a path that is clearly not the will of God simply because we refuse to admit we made a mistake? I have made many bad decisions in my life, some of them were irreversible, but many were. But, even when I could get turned around, I often didn’t because I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong, so I continued suffering the consequences of my bad decision. How stupid! A truly wise person will be able to quickly recognize a bad move and then make the necessary corrections. I remember one time my wife and I were traveling to Florida to visit her family. This was before the time of GPS, but I had followed the maps perfectly until I got within a few miles of her brother’s house, and that’s when I messed up. I took a wrong turn, and ended up getting lost, but I refused to call her brother for help or stop and ask directions. I continued driving further and further away simply because I was too prideful to admit I made a mistake. This was very frustrating for my wife and family. After 20 plus hours of driving we were so close to our destination, yet we drove in circles for another hour or more when we could have been where we were going in a few minutes. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Don’t be like me. Realize your mistake, take the loss, and change direction.


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Too Dependent upon the Preacher

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 21 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “0522 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “How Will You Be Remembered?

“And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” – (2 Chronicles 24:2)

“Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.” – (2 Chronicles 24:22)

The story of King Joash is certainly a fascinating account. After the death of his father, King Ahaziah, he was rescued as a baby from his grandmother, Attaliah, who had all of her grandchildren assasinated so that she could be queen. Joash was hidden in the house of God for six years, and was influenced greatly by Jehoiada the priest. When Joash finally became king, the influence of Jehoiada remained with him, and Joash was a great king, serving the Lord by repairing the temple, and replacing all of the vessels of gold and silver that were used in the service of the temple. Unfortunately, Jehoiada the priest “waxed old and died”, and King Joash went downhill afterward. It seems that without the influence of a man of God in his life, the peer pressure from some of the wicked men in his kingdom began to overpower him. He eventually went as far as having Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, put to death after being rebuked by him.

There are two principles that I would like to consider from this passage. The first is that we need to be careful that our faith is in God, not a man. I have seen this in my ministry, where people become too dependent upon me. They look to me to solve their problems for them. The problem with this is that I cannot possibly deliver what these folks expect from me, because I am not God. Eventually I will let them down, and they will throw the towel in on their faith. As a preacher, it is my job to strengthen people’s faith and relationship with God. As John the Baptist said regarding Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I must point them to Christ. I must work to strengthen their relationship with Him, not me. I will certainly have to give special attention and nurturing to the new believers, but I eventually want to work myself out of a job so that if I blow it, or if God removes me from their lives, their faith will remain strong.

The second principle that I would like to pull from this passage is that Joash did well as long as he was being influenced by a preacher. When “his preacher” died, he then divested himself from the influence of all preachers. We need to always place ourselves under the influence of a church and sound Bible preaching. When we get away from the church, our lives will get out of the will of God. Stay in the church where the Word of God can influence your life for good.

A Second Thought

From the Second Miler passage today, God spoke to my heart about something else. In Psalm 106, the psalmist is giving a review of some of Israel’s history, declaring their continued unfaithfulness despite the fact that God was always faithful to them. In verses 32 – 33, the psalmist reviews what happened at Kadesh when Moses lost his temper because the people were complaining once again, this time about a lack of water:

“32 They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: 33 Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.” (Psalm 106:32-33)

Notice that Moses became angry and then spoke unadvisedly. Anger in itself is not a sin, but when it causes a wrong reaction, it becomes sin. Jesus was angry but never sinned. Paul said:

“26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” (Ephesians 4:26)

Moses’ anger became sin when he spake unadvisedly. He called the Israelites rebels and he claimed to be the one responsible for “fetching” the water for them from the rock (See Numbers 20:1 -10). In his wrath, he smote the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded.

Sometimes situations or people will provoke a person to a place where their anger is ready to boil over into sin. This happens to me often. I struggle with giving away (not losing) my temper. I have to be very careful that I don’t allow that to happen. There are three words that will help anyone who struggles with anger: pray, pause, peace. Pray specifically about your angry spirit, and ask God to help you to control your reactions to situations that provoke you. Pause before you react. Before you say anything in response to a situation that is making you feel the emotion of anger, pause. Get away for as much time as necessary until you can pray and think through what the appropriate response should be. Remember also that God promises Peace to those who are in love with His word. Get in the Bible and let God minister to your heart, calm your spirit, and give you wisdom as what you should say or do.


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Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

fix-your-eyes

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 18 – 20 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 16 – 18; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

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

Read the “0521 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2Chronicles 20:12)

My focus this morning is on chapter 20 where we see the nation of Judah threatened by a federation of three nations. Together, these nations were far superior in both numbers and power to the nation of Judah. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, did not seek out help from other nations did (as Asa did in chapter 16); but instead turns the problem completely over to the Lord. Jehoshaphat was a great man of faith, though not a separated man. He often would yoke up with the ungodly northern kingdom. However, here he does everything right. Notice in this passage how he demonstrates great faith in God:

1 When first confronted with the problem he sought God. Don’t wait until all else fails. Go to God first.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,” (2Chronicles 20:3-5)

2 He searched the Scriptures. Notice in his prayer, in vv 5 – 13, he knows the principles and promises contained in the Scripture. He was able to ask “in the will of God” because he knew what God had promised in His Word.

3 He submitted to the man of God. In v 14, Jehaziel prophesies, and tells Jehoshaphat what to do; and Jehoshaphat obeys the prophecy of the man of God. When you are faced with a battle, go to the man of God for counsel; and listen to what he has to say.

4 He sang praises to God before the battle was actually won. This demonstrated both that he had great faith, and that he was content with whatever God was going to do. Do you trust God enough with the outcome of your battle to praise him before you see the final conclusion.

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endurethfor ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” (2Chronicles 20:21-22)

The Christian life is full of battles; but if God is with us, the victory is already ours. Don’t fight the battle in your own strength. Keep your eyes upon the Lord , and allow Him to win the battle for you.


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Trust in the Lord

trust-in-the-lord

Today’s Reading – 2 Chronicles 13 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Acts 13 – 15; Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

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

Read the “0520 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “Asa – He Started Well But Finished Poorly“; and “Don’t Shoot the Messenger”

“Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 13:18)

“And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.” (2 Chronicles 14:11)

“And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. … For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7, 9)

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)

In our reading today we learn about two kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa. In chapter thirteen we see that King Abijah and the people of Judah relied upon the Lord in a war between themselves and the northern kingdom of Israel, and the Lord gave them a great victory. In chapter 14, we see King Asa, the son of Abijah, in a war with the Ethiopians. Asa, like his father before him, also “rested” in the Lord, and the Lord delivered the Ethiopians into his hand. However, when we get to chapter 16, we discover that King Asa paid the Syrians to help him in another conflict with the northern kingdom. He “relied” upon the Syrians, instead of trusting in God.

As you might expect, God was not at all pleased with Asa for not trusting in Him to bring the victory against the enemy. God sends Hanani, the “seer” (prophet), to Asa to rebuke Asa, but Asa becomes very angry and throws the prophet into prison. The Bible goes on to report that Asa became “diseased in his feet”, but again, instead of going first to the Lord, Asa trusted in the physicians. He died two years after he contracted this “exceeding great” disease. (See Note Below)

There is a lot that we can glean from this passage. Too many times Christians are trusting in the philosophies of the world, or the security of their possessions, instead of trusting in the Lord. Many times, we are given clear instruction from God, but we hesitate our obedience because it goes against human reasoning. We need to be very careful to obey the principles of the Word of God, even when they do not seem to make sense to us, humanly. We must walk and live by our faith in God; and we need to continue down that pathway of faith. Asa started out walking by faith, but eventually he started walking by sight, forsaking the faith that he once possessed. We can trust God. He has never let us down, and He never will forsake us.

Note – there is nothing wrong with going to physicians, after you have prayed to the Lord. The Lord uses physicians, but our trust needs to be in Him, not the physicians.

 


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