Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “1112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:32)
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – (Hebrews 13:5)
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – (Matthew 28:20)
The context of this passage of Scripture is the conversation Jesus had with His disciples after the Last Supper and before the crucifixion. He has repeatedly told them that He was about to leave them, and He has also instructed them several times in these three chapters about the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost of God. In verse thirty the disciples make a bold declaration of their faith, and in the verse above (32) Jesus tells them that when He is taken away for crucifixion the disciples will scatter, leaving Him alone. However, He tells them that He is not really alone because the Father is always with Him. The Father will endure with Him the darkest time of His earthly life.
Have you ever felt that you were all alone and that nobody cared about what you were going through? God cares and God shares the pain and sorrows of life with you. If you are a child of God, born again through faith in His Son, you have the Holy Ghost of God that Jesus told us about in these chapters inside of you and with you. He is there all the time. Have you talked to Him today? Have you acknowledged His presence? Have you yielded to His will? I think the reason why most of us feel so alone at times is because we have failed to fully appreciate and develop our relationship with the indwelling Spirit of God, which then causes us to become over-dependent upon the approval of men. Think about it. If we could learn to live daily with the realization of the presence of God in every aspect of our lives, why would we be so concerned about what people think? Yet, we are constantly pushed and pulled by the whims of men.
One of the central truths of the Christian faith is the presence of the Holy Ghost of God in the life of every believer, all of the time. We must learn to cultivate that relationship until the reality of that presence becomes very real to us. Speak to the Holy Ghost constantly, acknowledging Him. Ask for His help in understanding the Scriptures. Ask for His guidance and direction with decisions you need to make in life. Look to Him for comfort before running to another human. It may seem weird at first, but as you put these things into practice, it will become more natural and He will become more real to you.
Posted in Thoughts from John by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “1110 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “The Door”
“When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. … 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 11:4, 45 KJV)
Our church studied 1st Peter on Sunday mornings a couple of years ago and gleaned much from that book on the subject of suffering. The believers in Peter’s day were going through much tribulation because of their identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. In that study of 1st Peter we had considered the possible reasons that God would allow a person or church to experience trials or suffering. We concluded that there are three reasons that stand out: the glory of God; the furtherance of the gospel or edification of believers (others are watching); and the instruction or correction of the person (or people) suffering. In the account of the sickness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus here in John 11, we see all three.
In the story of Lazarus several thoughts come to mind. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. However, Jesus allowed the people He loved dearly to suffer. Lazarus was sick unto death and Jesus did not go to heal him. Lazarus suffered through his sickness, and though his sisters were not ill themselves, they suffered along with him because they loved him dearly. They also had to endure the suffering of grief for four long days while they mourned for their brother after he had died. By the way, we sometimes forget that none of these folks knew what Jesus was going to do. In their minds, Lazarus was gone forever. Even Jesus suffered somewhat. He “wept;” he “groaned in the spirit,” which is very interesting because He knew that Lazarus’ death was only temporary. Perhaps, He wept because He knew that He was removing Lazarus from the place of comfort that he was then in (after he died and went to Paradise), and was bringing him back into a sin-cursed, Christ-rejecting world.
We can see from this account that the suffering of Lazarus and his sisters accomplished all three of the purposes mentioned above:
- Christ was glorified in that Mary and Martha, though struggling, maintained their testimony of faith in Christ. He was also glorified because of the fact that the many folks who were present had the chance to witness a great miracle, and Christ was magnified in their eyes.
- The believers present were also edified and strengthened in their faith, and many unbelievers believed as a result of what they saw and heard.
- Mary, Martha, and all of the people present learned a great lesson about trusting in God. Though their suffering was not a consequence of some action on their part, they were corrected in their thinking nonetheless.
How about you? What is your attitude regarding the suffering that God has allowed to come your way? We need to learn to accept the fact that the God who we love and serve also loves us. He is well aware of what we are enduring, and He is working in us as well as in those around us, through our trials. We need to believe that God truly will “work all things together for good” in our lives (Romans 8:28), and trust that the suffering that we may go through today will produce a greater joy sometime in the future. We simply need to trust Him.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33
Read the “1109 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “Put Down Your Stones”
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3)
In John 9, we have the familiar account of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. Jesus’ disciples inquired as to why this man was born blind. Often in Bible times, human suffering was attributed to some type of sin. They must have reasoned that since the man was born with the condition, it must have been caused by the sin of his parents. It has to be somebody’s fault, right? You may recall the Old Testament story of Job. Job’s friends thought the same thing about all of his problems. “It must be your fault, Job! You must have done something to cause it.” Jesus refutes this argument and states that in this case, the man’s blindness was not caused by any particular sin, but rather that this blind man’s condition and subsequent healing would be used to glorify God.
This story does bring up some interesting questions regarding human suffering. Did God create it? And, if He is a loving and powerful God, why would He allow it to continue? The disciples in John 9 thought that this man’s suffering was specifically caused as the result of a particular person’s sin. Though Jesus corrects their logic regarding this particular case of blindness, He does not here address the subject of the root causes of human suffering in general. The fact is that human suffering is caused by sin. The curse of sin upon the world is behind all of the pain and misery that we are experiencing. Had sin not came into the world, there would be no disease or death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a) We live in a sin-cursed world, and the evidences of the decay are everywhere. And, to complicate matters further, man continues to make more sinful choices that adds to the problem and accelerates the decline. So, in answer to the question: who did sin? The answer is “Adam,” but the answer is also “me.” I didn’t cause all of the problems with the sinful world around me, but unfortunately, I have at times, contributed to it because of my own sinful actions. However, even in the midst of a sin-cursed world, God can be greatly glorified, and his marvelous works will be manifested for the world to see.
We have a man who was born blind attending our church. He is a great guy, and though he is blind, he is also extremely gifted by God. He can play the piano and organ beautifully, and he also has literally hundreds of Bible passages committed to memory. When people see this man, their attention may at first be drawn to his blindness, but eventually they cannot not miss the fact that God is using him in an awesome way. This man’s life glorifies the Lord greatly. God’s works are made manifest in his life.
You and I can do the same thing in this imperfect and sometimes painful world that we live in. Don’t let the results of sin keep you from finding ways to manifest God’s grace and glory. We can glorify God and show the world his amazing and supernatural grace even through our times of suffering.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read the “1108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” – (John 6:68)
I remember recently having a discussion with a close friend of mine about whether he ever thought about quitting on God. His answer kind of reminded me of Peter’s answer in John 6:68 above. He said, “where am I going to go?”. What he was actually saying was that there is only one hope for salvation and that is in the Person of Jesus Christ. Who else could we possibly turn to? There is no one else.
I have been saved now for many years and in that time I have experienced many mountaintops. It is easy to praise God and exalt His name when things are going very well. However, I have also been in the valley many times due to some bad decisions that I have made. In the valley it is not always so easy to praise the Lord. In fact it is not always easy to even see the Lord. There have been times that I have actually contemplated throwing in the towel and turning my back on the Lord and His church. By the grace of God He has kept me in, but I think what has always helped me was the fact that God would remind me that I really have no alternative. Who would I go to? What would I do? If I thought the valley I was in at the time was bad, I wondered how much worse life would be without the Lord. My faith in God and the promises of His Word would always keep me from quitting.
Praise the Lord for His grace! Let me encourage you, don’t run from the Lord – run to Him. He has the Words of eternal life!
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1
Read the “1107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “Living Water”
“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
I remember as a young boy I used to play baseball on a sandlot baseball team. Our team was made up of fellas from our neighborhood and we would challenge other neighborhoods to come play against us. I remember one particular game in the heart of the summer where we were playing the team from Lake Riviera. It was about 95 degrees outside and very humid. Do you know that only one person out of all of those boys there had enough sense to bring some water. We had about 2 dozen guys there that were very thirsty. The guy with the water jug almost did not make it out of there with his life, let alone his water.
In this passage of Scripture, we have the Lord Jesus talking with the woman at the well in Samaria. She was concerned about earthly water, the kind that is necessary to sustain life for the body. The Lord was concerned about spiritual water, the kind that is necessary to bring about everlasting life. He was referring to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God which would indwell all believers.
My thought this morning though is not about the water itself, but the thirst. Thirst equals desire. It is amazing to me how that so many Christians have a desire for the things that this world offers, but little thirst for the things of God. What do you desire? What do you thirst for? God desires to fill you to overflowing with eternal things, with the fruits of His Spirit; but He will not fill those of us who are not thirsty. Are you thirsty for God? I almost beat up the kid with the water jug that day, because I was thirsty; but how passionate am I about my desire for the spiritual? How about you?
Posted in Thoughts from John by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read the “1106 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” – (John 2:5)
Several years ago Nike developed an advertising campaign surrounding the phrase “Just Do It”. I don’t know if the phrase was original with them or not, but they made it very popular. The world is still filled with t-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan on them.
As I was reading this morning’s passage and came to John 2:5, I thought about the phrase “Just Do It”. I got to thinking that this phrase kind of sums up the secret to the successful Christian life. We are to find out what God says and do it. Now before you fuss with me, I understand that salvation is a gift we receive, and not an action we do; but we do need to listen to what God says about salvation and then apply it personally to our lives. And then after we are saved, we are to find the will of God for our lives through the Word of God, and obey it. God says that if we “just do it” we will have success and fulfillment in the Christian life.
We are also to do the will of God heartily:
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” (Colossians 3:23)
There is way too much apathy among God’s people today. Where is the zeal for the Lord’s work that used to be so prevalent among believers?
We are also to do the will of God for our lives with joy:
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
We are also to do God’s will quickly, without procrastination.
“So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” (Luke 14:21)
Just Do It!
“And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” (Luke 8:21)
Posted in Thoughts from John by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Read the “1105 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)
Years ago I had a friend that loved to eat Chinese food. The problem was that it would destroy his stomach whenever he ate it. He would get the worst heartburn every time. But do you think that kept him from eating it? No! He would feast at the Chinese restaurant every chance he got. Our passage today contains an account about a different kind of heartburn. Two of the disciples of the Lord are walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus which was about 7.5 miles from Jerusalem. All of a sudden the Lord draws near and begins walking with them but they do not recognize Him after His resurrection. They begin to tell this “stranger” about all of the events surrounding the crucifixion that had taken place in Jerusalem just three days ago. They also recount the fact that the Lord’s body is now apparently no longer in the tomb and some of the women have claimed that He has risen from the dead. Jesus then begins reciting passage after passage from the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold that all of these events would happen, and He rebukes these disciples for not believing the Word of God.
I found it interesting that twice in chapter 24 the Lord takes the Old Testament Scriptures and uses them to teach the disciples regarding Himself. He did not perform any miracles here. He just opens up their understanding to the Word of God. I got excited about that because that is exactly what I do. I open up the Scriptures and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I help people understand them. The disciples on the road to Emmaus stated that their hearts burned within them as he taught them the Scriptures. When was the last time your heart burned within you because of the Word of God? We almost act like God’s Word gives us the bad kind of heartburn, like my friend got when he ate Chinese food. We avoid reading and studying the Bible like it causes us pain. The Word of God is the most powerful tool that we have available to us today in the transformation of our own lives and in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, yet we seem to be using it less and less these days. Our sermons are getting shorter and shorter, and whole services and studies are being removed from the schedule. It just seems that in practice we do not recognize the power of God’s Word to transform lives. Jesus did. He quoted Scripture all the time: when tempted by Satan, and here He is quoting Scripture to help these disciples understand His death and resurrection. We need to place the same emphasis on the power of God’s Word in our lives. Let’s get back to reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible.
Posted in Thoughts from Luke by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51
Read the “1103 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13)
The word “occupy” literally means to stay busy. In this parable the Lord gave each of his servants a unit of money called a pound and instructed them to occupy – to stay busy – to do something with the money that the He had given them so that when He returned He would receive a profit. Two of the servants had been diligent to invest the money wisely and when the Lord returned he received from both a substantial increase. However, one of the servants took the money and buried it, and gave it back to the Lord with no increase. The Lord rebuked him sharply and took the pound from him and gave it to the man who reaped the most profit.
The Lord has given each of us many things. He has given us talents and abilities; and He has also blessed us with material possession. We are to “occupy” with all of the gifts that the Lord has given us, meaning we are to stay busy, using them for His glory. We are not to waste the gifts he gives; we are not to keep them for ourselves; we are to bring them back to Him with an increase, a profit.
Christians today are very busy; they are “occupying”, but are they busy with the things that really matter? Soon the Lord is going to come back for His Bride, and the time for being busy here on the Earth will be over. I believe at that time we will regret what we were not busy doing with our gifts. Let’s get busy using the talents and tangibles that the Lord has given us. He’ll be back soon!
Posted in Thoughts from Luke by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm One Hundred Nineteen Verse One Hundred Five
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:7-10)
In our text today we have what almost seems like a hodgepodge of principles, but upon careful examination, we see that they are all related. Jesus begins by declaring that “offences” are going to come (v. 1), especially as these disciples were about to enter that time of extreme persecution in the first century. People are going to do bad things at times. We are all sinners living in a very sinful world. It is just in their nature to sin against others. However, he warns that the people who commit those offences will be judged harshly (v. 2). The Bible is very clear that we are not to avenge ourselves (Romans 12:19), but rather are to leave all judgement to God who will, in His time, deal with those who oppress and persecute His children. Jesus then reminds these disciples that must be willing to forgive each other – repeatedly if needed. The disciples know that this will be difficult and ask the Lord to increase their faith (v. 5), so that they would be able to do this. Jesus states that if they had even a little bit of faith, they could do amazing and supernatural, impossible things.
In verse seven, it almost seems like Jesus is introducing a new topic, but I believe he is still referring to forgiveness. Forgiveness is Christianity 101. It is the foundational principle of Christian living, and we should not be expecting some great “Attaboy” for forgiving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus loves us and forgives all that we have done and continues to forgive all our current and future offences against Him; it is the least that we can do to forgive others (Matthew 18:21 – 35).
Christians ought not to be looking for special recognition for anything that do in service to the Lord. We are His servants. Yet, He has given all to redeem us. We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:2-; 7:23). Now, the Lord does reward us and even recognize us for our service, but we ought not be looking for recognition, we ought to be content with just being able to serve the One who loved us and died for our sins. Besides, if we only do just what is commanded, we are unprofitable. We ought to be cheerfully willing to go above and beyond just what was commanded of us.
By the way, we should not be looking for recognition by people either. Stop expecting a pat on the back every time you pick a piece of paper up off the floor or put a dollar in the offering box. You should not be looking for recognition by men.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
One final thought. Though we should not be looking for recognition from others for the good things that we do, we should try to recognize and appreciate the people who are serving us by serving the Lord. Our recognition should not be their motivation, but it is right for us to appreciate privately and publicly those who are doing right.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6
Read the “1101 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
In all three of the chapters that we have read this morning, there is a soul winning illustration. I understand that the proper interpretations of these passages does not primarily involve the church and winning people to Christ, but I think you will be able to see the practical application.
1 In chapter 14, I see the Compelling of the soul winner.
“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23)
I have noticed that we have gotten to the point in our soul winning presentations that we are almost apologizing for bothering people. If you got word that there was an explosive device about to detonate in your neighbors house, would you apologize for bothering them? No, you would compel them to leave the house immediately. We need to take our soul winning presentations up another notch. We need to go beyond mere bidding (inviting) and start compelling people to trust Christ. I think our problem is that we deep down inside really don’t believe it all, or we really don’t believe time is running out.
2 In Chapter 15, I see the Compassion of the soul winner.
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
The father had the right attitude. He was longing for the return of the son. He was ready to receive him whenever he “came to himself.” The older brother, on the other hand, had the wrong attitude. He was not too excited about the reconciling of the younger brother to the father. He was perfectly content keeping the situation as it was. After all, the younger brother didn’t deserve another chance. He made his bed, and now he should have to sleep in it. Is that your attitude toward the lost soul that desperately needs Christ, or the wandering saint that needs to come back? We need to have compassion on people. We need to love them as Jesus loves them.
3 In chapter 16, I see the Consequences of not soul winning.
“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27 & 28)
Now I cannot to be sure that the rich man had no man in his lifetime that attempted to reach him, but let’s assume that he did not. What a shame that not only this man, but also his five brothers will spend eternity in Hell because of a lack of soul winning. Let me remind you, they are without excuse. God’s law was written in their hearts; they could see God in creation, and there were synagogues on every corner just as there are churches on every corner today. But how much better were his chances for salvation had somebody had compassion on him and attempted to compel him to be saved.
Posted in Thoughts from Luke by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.