Grieving God

Today’s Passage  – Genesis 4 – 6 (Click on the reference to listen to the audio. Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

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

Read the “0102 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Walking with God,” Sin Lieth at the Door,” and “Shining Brightly in a Dark World.”

“5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5 – 6)

“11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6:11 – 12)

The spiritual condition of mankind prior to the flood was without doubt a time of complete depravity. Man had gotten as far away from God as they possibly could. Notice that “every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually.” And then, those wicked thoughts overflowed into actions because “the earth was filled with violence.” It got so bad that God actually says that “it repented [Him] that he had made man.” That means that mankind’s rebellion against God caused Him to change directions and destroy nearly all of the people on the earth with the Flood. Everyone was destroyed except Noah and his family. By the way, Noah was not perfect either, but he was a believer, and because of his faith in God, he “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).

Jesus says that the way things were in the days of Noah are the way things will be before Christ returns:

“26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26 – 27)

The spiritual condition of our world today is pretty bad as well, but I do not think that we have devolved quite as far as they did prior to the flood. To be sure, we are a wicked people, but the restraining work of the Holy Spirit along with the light of Christians is holding back the evil somewhat.

My thought for this blog post, however, is not about how bad the world is getting, but rather about how our thoughts and actions grieve God. Believers can grieve God, and I believe it is very possible that when we sin, it may grieve God even more than when lost people sin, because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God within us. We can choose either to yield to our fleshly lusts and the pressures of this world, or surrender to the Spirit of God within us and submit to what He wants us to do.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

I get it, we will never be sinless, but we can sin less. And, thank God for His grace and mercy toward us as He forgives our sins. He is also well aware of the fact that we can never be perfect, but we can, by faith, yield to Him. We can choose Him and what He wants over what our our old Adamic and sinful flesh desires.

We also can choose to think about things that are good, holy, righteous, and true:

“8 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. 9 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).

If we can train our minds to think about good things, then good things will come out of our lives via our actions.

Let us make it a goal – a resolution – in this New Year, not to grieve God.


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Not Finished Yet

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

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 1 – 2Proverbs 1Psalms 1 – 5)

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

Read the “0101 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “In the Beginning;” “He Is Still Creating Me;” “Let There Be Light;” “Just Don’t Do It;” “Subdue and Replenish;“ and “Two Became One.”

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

Before I share my thoughts from the Scripture reading from today, let me say how excited I am about starting a new journey this year through the Bible along with you. I want to encourage you to “tune in” everyday, read and listen to the passages, and then leave a comment. You can share your own thoughts from the passage or perhaps, make an encouraging remark about the blog post. In addition to posts written  by me on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and the Saturday Morning Post by Pastor Stahl, I have also invited various guests writers this year to share some thoughts with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact me via the comment feature or email me at pastorphil@jerseyshorebaptist.com.

Now for my thought from today’s reading. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, but in verse 2, the Scripture states that the earth was “without form and void.” There are many opinions as to exactly what this somewhat mysterious terminology means, including some who have promoted a “Gap Theory,” which basically states that God’s original creation became corrupted due to the fall of Satan but was then recreated by God in verses three and following. This theory does offer an answer for the billions of years taught by the evolutionists as well as an explanation for the fossil record.

Personally, I am not a fan of the Gap Theory. I believe that the earth is very young, possibly created with apparent age, just as Adam was created as an adult, not a baby. I also believe that the dinosaurs and the other strange creatures found in the layers of the earth all existed prior to the great Flood recorded in Genesis 6 – 8.

So, what did God mean when He said that the earth was “without form and void.” It means that when God first started the creation process, it was not complete. As we have read here in Genesis 1, God took six days to complete the earth. On Day 1, it was incomplete and required additional work on days two and following. God did not have to take six days to complete it. He could have spoken it all into existence in a millisecond. He probably chose to use the six days of work and one day of rest as a pattern for us.

In this creation story, I see a wonderful picture of sanctification, and the new life that God imparts to believers. When we first get saved we are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), but on day one we are not yet what God has planned for us. We are predestination to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), meaning that what we are when we first trust Christ is not who we will be someday. God is still working, and He will continue to work on us until His creation of us is complete, which really will not happen until He takes us to Heaven.

I am greatly encouraged by this verse:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

If you are like me, you get a little frustrated with yourself at times because you are not all that you think you should be as a Christian. Maybe you are a little like the earth on Day One – “without form and void.” Be encouraged. God is not finished creating you yet. He is still working on you.


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The Great White Throne

Today’s Passage – Revelation 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150Proverbs 30)

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

Read the “1230 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Behold, I Make All Things New,” and You’re Invited.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

These verses discussing The Great White Throne Judgment are perhaps the saddest in all of the Bible. In this passage we see the final fate of all of those people who lived on the earth but never received the free gift of eternal life by trusting Jesus Christ as their Saviour. This is a judgment for the lost and not for believers. Believers’ sins were judged by the Lord on Calvary. Believers’ works are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11 – 15). The lost will be resurrected from their temporary holding place in hell. Note – this is the second resurrection (which actually brings them to a second death) mentioned in verses five and six. They will then be judged by the Lord at the Great White Throne and, being found guilty, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

If we as believers were judged for our sins we, too, would be found guilty; but, praise the Lord, Jesus was judged for our sins paid the penalty of death for them on the Cross. He died for all of these people here at the Great White Throne as well, but they never received Christ’s payment. If perhaps you are reading this blog today and have not yet trusted Christ as your Saviour, I beg you to do so today. You can find more information regarding the free gift of salvation under the “Are You Saved?” tab on the home page of this website.

Christian, thank God that you will not have to face a just and thrice holy God at this Great White Throne Judgment. You may, however, have to watch from the perspective of Heaven as those countless lost people are cast into the Lake of Fire for all of eternity. Some of those people will people that you knew on earth: family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc. People that you may have had the opportunity to share Christ with but didn’t. That is a very sobering thought, is it not? Please, while we still have time, let’s all get busy talking to people about the forgiveness that is available to them freely through faith in Christ. Let’s get back to passing out gospel tracts and inviting people to church. Let’s earnestly and boldly witness to those that God places in our path. Time is running out. We could be living at the time of the Lord’s return and then the time for telling people about Jesus will be over. We have to commit to winning souls to Christ while we are still here!


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No More At All

Today’s Passage – Revelation 16 – 19 (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 – Psalms 141 – 145Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – James 4:10

Read the “1229 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “It Will All Be Gone Someday” and “Supper’s Almost Ready.”

“And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. … And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Revelation 18:14, 21-23)

The prophetic context of these chapters in Revelation is the Great Tribulation Period, which is a time yet future when the true Church of Jesus Christ will already have been removed from the earth via the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51 – 52; Revelation 4:1). If you are saved, you will not have to worry about all this crazy stuff prophesied here because it will all happen after we are gone. (Praise the Lord!)

In Revelation 17, the focus is on the fall of religious Babylon, which I believe is a reference to the religious system, an ecumenical and apostate church that will be in place during the first half of the Tribulation Period. This system will be destroyed by Antichrist and replaced by a system of worship headed up by his false prophet (the second beast) and will be centered in the worship of himself (Antichrist). In chapter 18, the focus is on on commercial Babylon.

The question arises as to whether “Babylon” here refers to the actual geographical location on the Euphrates River where the city of Babylon was once located when it was the capitol of the world back in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Or, is Babylon a symbolic reference to the capitol of Antichrist’s kingdom. It is possible that wherever Antichrist’s headquarters is located geographically that it could be given the name, “Babylon.” While the actual location of this capital city may not be precisely known, we do know that it will be the center of both religion and commerce during the Tribulation Period.

My focus for this devotion is on the repeated statement in Revelation 18:9 – 19, “no more at all.” In these verses we see that all of the things that people think to be supremely important – the “merchandise” along with the wealth that could purchase it, was all stripped away, until there was “none left at all.”

Recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw grocery stores shelves stripped of their merchandise. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies were all being rationed, and there were shortages of food items as well. Perhaps, that was just a small glimpse of what is coming someday in the Tribulation Period. Possessions and pleasures are so important to people, but God will someday take away all that these people hold so dear.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about the love of money and possessions:

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Jesus also taught extensively about covetousness.

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

Christian, we know that these Tribulation verses do not apply to us in the Church, but let’s try to make a practical application from the passage. The people in Revelation 18 are mourning because all the things that they lived for – the things that were most important to them – were taken from them. How about you? Do you place an unhealthy value on the things that this world has to offer? Do possessions even matter at all when compared with eternity? We need to be careful that we do not get to the place where our possessions become idols. We need things to live, but the things that matter most are not the tangible trinkets that commercial Babylon produces. The things that are really important will be able to follow us into eternity. Just a thought. 


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Before It’s Too Late

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Today’s Passages – Revelation 11 – 15 (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 – Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

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

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6 & 7)

I have always been fascinated with the Book of Revelation. In it, we see the final destruction of the earth, and the judgment of all of those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ. However, in the midst of all of the judgment and destruction are many invitations for people to come to Christ. Chapter 14 in particular reveals this truth. The last verse in the chapter is traditionally understood to be about the final battle in the Tribulation Period known as the Battle of Armageddon. Not much of a battle really. Christ is going to return and completely destroy all that oppose Him. Notice, though, that prior to this great battle, even right before the final destruction, God was inviting people to come to Christ. The chapter begins with a discussion about the 144,000 who are evangelists covering the earth with the gospel of Christ. Next, we read about three angels that are flying around the skies warning people about the impending judgment, and inviting them to trust Christ. You see, God is not willing that any should perish. Even at the very end, He is inviting people to turn to Him.

I am no history expert, but I think I remember hearing that before we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we warned the people of the coming destruction by dropping leaflets from planes. I may have my facts mixed up a little, but I have heard that our government is known to warn the innocent, so that they can be saved. It kind of reminds me of what God is doing here in these passages. Yes, the judgment is certainly coming, but God is willing to save any and all that will come to Him before that day comes.

How about you? Have you heeded the warning from God regarding the coming judgment? You see, my friend, the wages of our sin is eternal death; but God in His mercy and grace is willing to save anybody who is willing to turn from their sin unto the Saviour. If you haven’t yet trusted Christ, I encourage you to read the “Are You Saved?” page on this blog.

Now to those of you who are saved, don’t ever give up on your unsaved loved ones. Keep praying for them, and preaching to them. As we have seen in this passage, God is going to keep giving them opportunities to repent, even at the very end. We should have the same attitude. Keep trying to win them, keep inviting them, keep reaching out to them, keep loving them, even until the end of our earthly lives.  It may be that last try that convinces them that Christ is their only hope.


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He Alone is Worthy

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Today’s Passage – Revelation 4 – 10 (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 – Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

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

Read the “1227 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Come Up Hither

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Revelation 5:9)

“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12)

Three times in our passage today, there are references to Jesus being “worthy”. In chapter four, He is found worthy because He created all things, including you and me. In chapter five, He is found to be the only one that was worthy to open up the seven seals. He was  worthy because he “wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by [his] blood”. We owe everything to the Lord, so He alone is worthy.

He Is Worthy Of Our Praise

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalms 150:6)

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” (Psalms 107:1-2)

He Is Worthy Of Our Service

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalms 2:11)

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalms 100:2)

He Is Worthy Of Our Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

We spend a lot of time praising men, serving those who will serve us back, and sacrificing for ourselves; but Christ alone is worthy of all of these. This year, let us determine to put Christ at the very center of our lives; let us conform to His will, yield to His Spirit, fulfill His commission. He alone is worthy of all of our devotion and effort.


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Compassion Makes a Difference

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Today’s Passage – Jude – Revelation 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 26)

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

Read the “1226 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

“And of some have compassion, making a difference:” (Jude 1:22)

The Epistle General of Jude is a very interesting letter. Throughout almost the entire letter God is calling for us to stand up and fight against those who are promoting doctrinal error, as well as those that are encouraging immoral lifestyles. These are not the ones who are merely walking in the counsel of the ungodly, but have gone all of the way to sitting in the seat of the scornful. They are not just allowing sin, they are spreading it. The letter demands that we draw a line in the sand, and that we hold that line, defending it with all of the passion that we can muster. However, at the very end of the letter, Jude says something very interesting:

“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

While we are earnestly contending for the faith, we are to be looking for people who we can show compassion to, which will make a difference. These may be people who have fallen prey to those who are promoting  error. These could be people whose lives have been absolutely torn asunder because they have believed the lies of the ungodly. These are people whose lives may have been destroyed, but whose hearts have been softened enough to be salvaged for the glory of God.

There are a lot of people out there in the world today who desperately need to experience the compassion of God. They certainly may not look or act like the people in our churches, but God sees something in them that He loves, and He sees hope. We don’t know who they are, either, so we had better be prepared to be compassionate with a lot of people until we find the one upon whom it will make a difference.

Compassion will make a difference. Don’t give up loving people for the Lord Jesus. People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.

How can we demonstrate the compassion of God to those around us?

1  Share Christ with Them – Though the context of this passage would certainly include people who are saved but have strayed from the faith, I think it would be safe to assume that many of the people that God wants to make a difference in are still lost in their sins. We need to compassionately convince these people of the love that Jesus has for them.

2  Spend Time with Them – We certainly need to maintain separation from people with ungodly lifestyles, but how are we supposed to reach these folks without interacting with them. We can be separated without being isolated. I do not have to participate in or condone the sins of those we are called to reach, but I can still come int their world. Verse 23 states that we have to pluck some of them out of the fire, and we cannot do that without getting close to the fire. Jesus said that we were to be in the world, but not of the world.

3  Supply Needs for Them – People whose lives have been torn apart by sin are often brought to their knees through very drastic circumstances, and many times they will need the support of God’s people in order for the love and compassion of Christ to penetrate them. Hungry people need food as well as the gospel. Homeless people need shelter and clothing as well as Bible principle. We might argue that the gospel and Bible principle are more important than the physical needs of the body, but these people will likely never give us their ears to hear, unless some of the distractions of the physical need are removed.

Jesus went about showing compassion on hurting people. He fed them, healed them, comforted them, and forgave them. We who are saved need to be ambassadors of God’s compassion today.

A man is walking along the shoreline of an ocean when he comes up on a little boy standing in the midst of thousands of starfish that had washed up along the shore. The man watches the little boy as he picks up a starfish and one by one throws them back in the sea. The man watches for several minutes then walks up to the boy and asks, “What are you doing?” The little boy answers, “I’m saving these starfish so they won’t die.” The man says to the boy…”There are too many too save, it wont make any difference.” The little boy reached down and picked up another starfish and said, “it will make a difference to this one” as he threw it into the ocean.


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The Saviour of the World

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Today’s Passage – 1 John 3 – 3 John 1 (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 – Psalms 121 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “1225 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14)

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

I submit two thoughts for your consideration this morning from 1 John 4:14:

1  The Exclusiveness of Candidates for Saviour – Notice the definite article “the”, indicating that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, is the only Saviour for the world. There are not many ways to be saved, only one.

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:12)

The disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus once and asked Him if He was the one that they were waiting for, or perhaps is there another one coming. (Luke 7:20). Jesus replied emphatically that He was the One who fulfilled all of the Biblical requirements for being the Messiah, and He also added that we should not be “offended” in Him. Jesus is “the” Saviour, and He is also “the” Lord.

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

2  The Inclusiveness of the Candidates for Salvation – Notice the word “world” – it is the same word that is used in John 3:16:

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

The word “world” (Greek – κόσμος [kosmos]) does not mean just a select few; it means everybody. God wants everybody to receive the gift of the Saviour. Unfortunately, not everybody will come to the Saviour for salvation because they reject “the way” and “the truth” and “the Life”, choosing instead to be the god of their own lives. What a shame.

Thank You, Father for sending us Your Son, the Saviour; and thank You, Jesus, for being willing to come.


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Suffering

Today’s Passage – 1 Peter 1 – 5 (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 – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

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

Read the “1223 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6 & 7)

As I was reading this entire first letter from Peter, I could not help but notice all of the references to suffering. It seems that the Christians in the first-century Roman Empire were indeed put to the test often due to their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Look back in the text and notice the following verses:

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” (1 Peter 3:14)

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1 Peter 4:12)

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

In fact, the word “suffer” appears 11 times in 1 Peter. These folks certainly knew what it was like to bear the cross of the Lord Jesus. There are people today in other parts of the world who also are well acquainted with suffering for the Lord. They know what it is like to be persecuted, and in some cases prosecuted, simply for living their Christian faith.

In America, however, there is very little suffering being experienced by believers. We live in a land of freedom. We can still worship the Lord without fear of reprisal. We know little of “counting the cost” in our relationship with God. We are well fed, we are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we sit on cushioned seats; we have it made. Yet, if you were to carefully examine the hearts and attitudes of many believers today, you would find that they really do not fully appreciate the freedom and luxury that they have. They don’t recognize the wonderful place of liberty that God has given us here in the good ole U.S. of A. This is not to say that they haven’t experienced other forms of suffering, such as illnesses, etc.; but I am merely trying to point out that they are not suffering at the hands of their neighbors, or the government for worshipping Christ. Maybe, its because we are very carnal here in America. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3 that all that live godly shall suffer persecution. Maybe we are not as godly as those first century Christians.

There is something that Peter wrote in this epistle that I think we can all identify with, however:

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (1 Peter 2:11)

Though I do not know any Christians here in our land that are being tortured for their faith, I do know of many that are in torment because of the battle going on in their flesh. I know that my flesh is my number one enemy. I can certainly identify with the Apostle Paul when he said that the things that he does not want to do, he does, and vice versa. Maybe that is why Satan isn’t attacking us with the frontal assault of persecution. He doesn’t have to because we are still losing the battle in our flesh and our lusts are keeping us from having the effectiveness and impact in the world that we could be having.  See the list of the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19 – 21 if you don’t know what I am referring to. But maybe, if we really started walking in the Spirit, and putting to death the lusts that are reeking havoc in our lives, then we just might get the wicked one’s attention. Don’t misunderstand, I am not inviting, nor looking forward to suffering at the hands of the devil or the world; but I am looking forward to living a “Spirit-filled life” that is worthy of their attention.


Posted in Thoughts from 1 Peter by with 2 comments.

Don’t Budge

unmovable-faith-570x290

Today’s Passages – James 2 – 5 (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 – Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

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

Read the “1222 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)

As I was reading this morning, my attention was drawn to the word “stablish” in verse 8. The context of this verse regards the believer enduring persecution and suffering seemingly at the hands of unbelievers. Verses 1 – 6 of chapter 5 are written to the rich oppressors of the world, but then, beginning in verse 6, the focus of the discussion is changed from the oppressor to the oppressed. James encourages these first  century believers to be patient; to stay with it. I did a little study on the word “stablish”. The word means to establish, to strengthen, or to fix resolutely. It means not to budge, not even a little bit. James is admonishing these struggling believers to be resolute in their faith; to strengthen their resolve, so that they will not turn back.

Too many believers today are turning back. Too many are quitting. Recently, I have observed many that have thrown in the towel on their faith. In some cases, it was the allure of the world that pulled them away; but I have also seen many who became discouraged because of a trial that they were going through. It seems that they were not “stablished” in their faith. I like what Isaiah said regarding our Lord Jesus: “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Jesus was resolute; unmovable, and unwavering in his fulfillment of God’s will. As His followers, we need to be just as resolute; just as fixed in our faith. It is easy to have strength on the mountaintop; but we often waver when we get into the valley.

James admonished the believers to stablish their hearts. God would not command us to do it, unless it was something that we could actually do. But how? What can we do to strengthen our faith? I believe that there are three steps that we can take that will help us to remain fixed in our service and devotion to Him:

1  Stay in His Book – “Faith cometh by hearing”  The Bible will strengthen our faith. Read it, study it, memorize it, hear it preached.

2  Stay in His House – Get around a group of people that are “stablished” themselves. Stay away from the negativity and naysayers. Run with people in your church that are fixed in the right direction.

3  Stay in His Service – What I mean by this is be actively involved in serving others. If you have people that are depending on you, you will not be as tempted to get off track. If you know that people need you, and are following you as you follow the Lord, you will not want to let them down.

We need a whole lot more solid Christians in these last days who are stablished, fixed, resolute in their faith and devotion to the Lord. Why not ask God to help you be one of them.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)


Posted in Thoughts from James by with 5 comments.
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