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

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

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

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


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

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 29 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 3 – 4; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Peace

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 24 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A House Divided

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 19 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

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

“And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3;25)

As we read through this portion of the Book of Isaiah, we see that God is pronouncing judgment on all of the nations that have been enemies to God and His people, Israel. In chapter 19, we see that God is dealing specifically with the Egyptians. The Egyptians had been an enemy to the people of God throughout much of their history. Perhaps, they were not as bad as some; yet, still God states here that some judgment is coming.

My thought for this morning surrounds verse 2 of chapter 19. Part of the judgment that was going to come to Egypt was a battle from within its own borders; a fight among its own inhabitants; a civil war. Our nation faced this same type of conflict 150 years ago. It was perhaps the ugliest battle America would ever face: neighbor against neighbor; brother against brother. We found that it was impossible for the nation to move forward until its inner struggle was settled.

I have noticed that we oftentimes face a similar type of judgment in our families and in our churches: a division on the inside; a battle, not with an invading army, but with an injured brother. When a church moves away from fighting the external battle against the world and the devil, it then begins to fight amongst itself. It seems that by nature we are fighters, and to some degree we ought to be. We ought to fight against the sin and the darkness of this world, we ought to hate the devil, and we ought to be striving together in order to bring the gospel to the people around us. Oftentimes we forget who the real enemy is and we take up arms against each other. Satan is very wise and understands that if he can get us to destroy each other, he won’t have to destroy us himself.

We see that this problem is also prevalent inside the home. Parents are not always in one accord, but are often at odds with one another. They fight about finances, about child-rearing, and about a lot of other things. All of this division is rooted in pride, with each individual insisting on getting his and her own way. Shame on us.

The cure for this problem is simply to recognize the battle is not within, but without. When we get busy fighting for the Lord, we will not have time nor desire to fight each other.


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Do You Need an “I” Exam?

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 14 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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What Could Have Been Done More

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Today’s Passage – Isaiah 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Without Spot

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Today’s Passage – Song of Solomon 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Prayer Is First … by Jaxon Erickson

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

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

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.

Action Jaxon

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Promises, Promises

 

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Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Get the Vision

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Today’s Passage – Proverbs 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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