Thursday, October 31, 2013

Regard God as holy.

I Chron. 13:9-10  But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark.  Then the LORD’s anger blazed out against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark.  So Uzzah died there in the presence of God.

Each time I read this passage, I am struck by the how God dealt with Uzzah.  King David was leading a procession to bring the Ark into Jerusalem.  They were doing their best to honor God, but they were not doing things in the way God had instructed the Israelites to do it.  The responsibility for carrying the Ark was reserved for the Levites.  David’s heart was in the right place, but he failed to do things the right way.

God sent a clear message to David and his people.  God was holy and He would be treated as holy or there was a price to pay.  The Ark was God’s dwelling place.  It was where God had declared He would be amongst His people.  The intent of David’s heart was to bring the presence of God back to His people. 

However, in order for God to dwell amongst His people, He must be regarded as holy.  We must respect and honor Him as holy.  Most people do not do that very well today.  If we were to regard God as holy, we would have a much greater concern about sin.  We would strive harder to not sin.  We would address sin wherever we found it amongst His children.  We would be far more diligent in our efforts to live godly lives.  We would be far more focused on God than we are the other things in our lives.

The greatest need that we have today is to reclaim our passion for holy living.  We cannot manufacture holiness by the things we do.  It is only found in a dedicated and determined life lived in Christ.  If you find yourself to be less than holy in your conduct, conversations and thoughts, return to the Lord your God.  Bow before Him with humility and brokenness.  Ask Him to forgive you for your lack of holiness.  Renew your commitment to Christ.  Rededicate yourself to loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.  Without holiness, no one shall see God or be with Him.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Neglecting Our Savation

I Chron. 13:3  “It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.”

Saul was a man who started out well.  He was humble and considered himself unqualified to serve as king over Israel.  However, he was weak in character and could not handle the position or the fame it brought him.  He became a proud and arrogant man.  He failed to listen to godly advice and took it upon himself to do whatever he wanted to do, whether it was right before God or not.  He also was plagued by jealousy and was prone to express it in fits of anger.  Saul failed to lead his people into a fellowship with God because he was out of fellowship with God.  There was a draught in the spiritual life of the nation during his reign because there was an obvious neglect on Saul’s part to keep his heart right with God.

The thing I wonder about is, “What have we neglected?”  It is easy to get so involved in life that we begin to neglect the things of God.  It can start so subtly and even unknowingly.  We fail to maintain the disciplines we need to stay close to God and before you know it, we progress into total neglect of those disciplines.  We must realize that we need to keep on doing those things we need to do in order to keep our relationship with God fresh.

It may begin with not taking time for our personal devotions because of the busyness of our lives.  We start off small, missing a day here and there, and then gradually finding excuses to miss more days until we begin to get the idea that it’s not necessary at all.  We begin to miss a few church services because we are too tired or busy.  Gradually we just go occasionally, as our schedules allow it.  Before you know it, it is more normal for us to stay away from church than it is to go.  Faith becomes more of a head thing than a heart thing for us. 

We dare not let up on those things which feed our souls.  We are prone to wander from a disciplined life, so we have to work hard to stay on track.  “What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself?” (Heb. 2:3 NLT)  Indeed, we shall not escape.  We shall not escape a life without God nor the consequences of lives filled with sin. 

Neglecting our salvation is a grave sin we dare not let creep into our lives.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Others See in You

I Chron. 4:9-10  There was a man named Jabez who was more distinguished than any of his brothers.  His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful.  He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and extend my lands!  Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain.”  And God granted him his request.

The thought I want to dwell on today is that Jabez was found to be more distinguished than any of his brothers.  He was different.  He stood out.  What was there about Jabez that made him different?  We can only speculate, but for me it was probably more spiritual than physical.  Here was a man who knew how to pray.  He knew how to pray because he prayed.  He sought the Lord on his knees.  He endeavored to live for the Lord in a way that pleased Him.  He sought the Lord’s favor on his living.  He sought the Lord’s presence in all he did.  He sought the Lord’s protection over his life.

What sets you apart from others?  What makes you noticeable amongst your family and friends?  Do people take note because of your looks, position in life, wealth, influence, or fame?  Are you noticeable because you are gifted?  As much as these things are sought after, they are meaningless.  The only thing that God notices is the heart.  He judges the heart and not the noticeable things of life.  If our heart is pleasing and acceptable to God, others will see it and take note.  We cannot hide from others the Lord when He controls us.

What do you want others to see when they see you?  You may never be noticed because of the things the world notices, but the world should notice Christ in you.

May we be more distinguished than all the rest because we live in Christ and Christ lives in us.  May others see Christ in us before they see anything else in us.  May they know we are His and He is ours.  He must increase and we must decrease.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Praying to please God.

I Chron. 4:10  He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and extend my lands!  Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”  And God granted him his request.

While I believe that we need to be careful about how we latch onto prayers and promises that are directed to a specific people in a specific time and place, I do believe that there are things we can glean from them that can certainly benefit us in our walk with the Lord.

It is good to desire blessings from the Lord so that we can better serve Him and reach more people for Him.  I shy away from asking the Lord to bless me for my sake so that my life will be easier, more comfortable, or more pleasurable to me.  I don’t hesitate in asking the Lord to bless me if it means more people are touched by my life.

I want the Lord to be with me in all that I do.  When we live on our own and neglect to ask the Lord to be with us, we are opening the door to all kinds of trouble and pain in our lives.  I want to know that the Lord is with me.  If He is with me, I can face anything and do anything through Him because He enables me to do it.

I don’t like trouble or pain.  They are a part of life, but I don’t like them.  I especially don’t want to be the cause of it.  We need to ask the Lord to help us to not be a pain in the neck to others.  Some trouble and pain we bring on ourselves because of wrong choices we make.  We need to constantly be on guard against them by bathing in prayer the daily choices we make. 

May our heart’s prayer be like Jabez’s.  Let us pray not for personal gain, but that our gain may be used to be a blessing to others.  Let us pray that the Lord will keep us away from trouble caused by our own bad choices and the ensuing pain it causes us and others.  Let us pray that the Lord will be with us always in all we do.

When we pray like this, the Lord will grant us our requests.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Judging By Appearances

I Chron. 4:9  There was a man named Jabez who was more distinguished than any of his brothers.  His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful.

Jabez was more distinguished than any of his brothers.  We can only speculate, but I wonder what made him more distinguished than his brothers.  Certainly it would not be the nature of his birth, because it was a very painful experience for his mother.  Was it his good looks, his size, his personality, his achievements in life, his influence?  There are many things that cause one to stand out amongst his peers and family.

What do you look at when you evaluate a person’s life and worth?  Do you deem a person worthy of your attention by your first impression of him?  Do you see others through the lens of your own notions of what makes a person worthy of attention?  Do you treat others based on your perception of them without bothering to get to know them?  

How often have you misjudged a person because of your initial reaction to them?  We are not very good at judging one’s character based upon what we see and hear.  We don’t know why people act the way they do in front of us.  We don’t know why someone may be dressed the way they are or why their personal hygiene may be bad.  We don’t know what others think of themselves.  And, we will never know these things unless we allow ourselves to get close enough to them to discover what is behind the mask they portray.

Let us never forget that no matter what we see, there is a person behind the appearance.  There is someone who has feelings about themselves, life, God and others.  There is someone who has experienced life in ways that may be different than us and it may have scarred them deeply.  There may be someone who is able to put on a good front to hide who they really are.  There may be diamonds in the rough just waiting for us to discover them.

Be careful.  Don’t dismiss others just because of who they may appear to be or not to be.  The needs of everyone for love and acceptance are the same.  Everyone needs someone to know them and care about them.  Everyone needs a friend, just like you do.  Ask the Lord to help you to be slow to judge others by who they appear to be.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does God's Word really matter?

II Kings 22:13  “Go to the Temple and speak to the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah.  Ask him about the words written in this scroll that has been found.  The LORD’s anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll.  We have not been doing what this scroll says we must do.”

Hilkiah, the high priest in Judah at the time, found the Word of God hidden in the Temple and went and told King Josiah about it.  Josiah was a godly man and had maintained his godliness under the direction of the priests.  Even though he did not have the Word of God at his disposal, he was able to discern right from wrong and chose to do what was right before God.  When the Word was brought to him, he eagerly devoured it.  He wanted to know what God had said, because he had a real heart for God.

We notice a few things about what Josiah discovered and how he responded to it.  The nation of Israel had been given clear direction on how they were to live life.  There was no confusion on the matter for God had it written down for all to see.  However, it was obvious that they had ignored God and lived life the way they wanted to.  Even though they often had declared their allegiance to God, their lives told a different story. 

Josiah discovered that God had also made it clear that there were consequences for ignoring Him.  God promised to bless those who lived obedient lives and punish those who didn’t.  It was obvious that the nation of Israel was in serious trouble with God.  Josiah believed what he read and took it to heart.  We find ourselves in the same position as Josiah.  We have a choice to make. Do we believe what we read in God’s Word or do we dismiss it?  If we truly believe that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for our faith and living, then does it not make sense for us to take it seriously?  Yet, it is obvious that most who claim to believe the Word is true do not seriously endeavor to live by it. 

Josiah was overcome by fear when he read what God had to say.  He knew that serious trouble was just around the corner unless they repented of their sins.  He believed that God was holy and would indeed deal with sin.  He feared the wrath of God.  We would do well to have the same sense of fear in our hearts.  Most of us do not fear the wrath of God.  We hide behind the cloak of God’s love and grace and figure that there is nothing to fear when we disobey God.  I believe there is a great deterrent in believing that God deals with sin.  A proper understanding of God’s view of sin helps us to think twice before we decide to jump into it.  God is holy and must deal with sin wherever it is found.  He is just and will judge the heart.  He knows the intent of the heart and when it is set on sinning against Him, He will hold the sinner accountable for it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"He did not turn aside from doing what was right."

II Kings 22:1-2  Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.  His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath.  He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David.  He did not turn aside from doing what was right.

When King Josiah was 26 years old, we discover that things weren’t going very well in Judah.  The people were without the written Word.  The people of Judah had ignored God’s Word for so long that it was deemed to be no longer relevant to their lives.  The Word was stashed away in the Temple.  It was out of sight and out of mind.  Josiah had instructed the Temple servants to restore the house of God back to a functional state.  He wanted people to once again include God in their lives.

As the Temple was being cleaned up, the Word of God was found amongst all the long forgotten relics of the Temple.  It was brought to Josiah and upon hearing it read, he repented (11).  He repented of his own sins and then the sins of his people.  He then set the example for his people and began obeying the Word (23:3) by leading his people into reform.

We must be careful that we don’t ever neglect God’s Word.  It is our lifeline to God.  We can never put it on a shelf and forget about it and expect to be right with God.  Our love for God is directly related to the time we spend in the Word.  Daily we need to be reading the Word.  We reap what we sow and if we are not feeding our souls with the Word, it shows up in how we live and think.

We can see in the public arena what happens when the Word of God is neglected.  It soon leads to it being ignored and scorned.   A public display of sin becomes the norm.  We see it in public and we see it in the church.  Many churches are leaving the Word out of their lives.  Many who are including it do not treat the Word as God’s authoritative voice.  Many distort it or adapt it to their liking.   Many use it for their own purposes and do not listen to what it says.  God is no longer deemed to be its author and it no longer is deemed to be relative to our living by many.

We reap what we sow.  When God’s Word loses its hold on us, we are going to live in sin.  Our only hope is to return to the Word, believe what it says, repent of our sins, and change our ways.  God blesses those who cherish highly His Word and live by it.  Certain disaster happens to those who don’t. 

Let us be very diligent in keeping the Scriptures at the center of our lives.  Read and meditate upon it daily.  Don’t let the busyness or concerns of life crowd them out of your life.  The life of your soul depends on it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"The Lord himself told us"

II Kings 18:25  “What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the LORD’s direction?  The LORD himself told us, “Go and destroy it!”

Not all who claim to speak for the Lord does.  Hear me again, “Not all who claim to speak for the Lord does!”  There are many, many voices who claim to be speaking for the Lord.  Listen closely to what they are saying and you will soon discover that many are proclaiming different messages.  There are many different spins on the truth and some messages are not the truth at all.  So many claim to be proclaiming truth; yet their messages conflict with each other.  There is a constant battle amongst professing believers as to who is really speaking the truth.  The problem is that everyone cannot be right.  Sincere people sincerely proclaiming what they believe to be truth do not make it true. 

Who can we trust to be telling us the truth?  How do we know that what we hear is truly what God said?  In order to be able to discern that which is true from that which is false we must do a couple of things.  First of all, we must make sure that we are staying properly connected to the Lord.  In order to know it is God speaking to us, we must stay close to Him.  We must be diligently seeking Him with sincere and humble hearts.  We must have a longing in our hearts to know God above everything else.

We must diligently be students of God’s Word.  Don’t let others determine what God says to you.  Carefully examine the Scriptures yourself with an open heart to God and let Him speak to you from it.  Don’t believe something someone says without meditating on the Word yourself and discerning whether or not it is reasonable to believe that what you hear is true.  If you are not thinking yourself over the Scriptures you will be easily led astray.  Take seriously your need to know what the Word of God says.  We must want to know the truth before we can know the truth.

Bathe what you believe to be true in prayer.  The Lord will not lead you astray.  He will cement His Word into your heart.  There is only one absolute correct understanding of God’s Word and we will never discover it without being constantly in prayer, seeking God, and listening to Him speak.  Inconsistencies in messages come from man, not God.  Different messages come from man’s flawed relationship with God.

Be careful what you believe to be true coming from the lips of man.  Spend much time in the presence of the Lord and He will guide you into all that which is true.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Greed destroys the soul.

II Kings 14:10  You have indeed destroyed Edom and are very proud about it.  Be content with your victory and stay at home!  Why stir up trouble that will bring disaster on you and the people of Judah?

Amaziah was king of Judah and he had just come back from a successful military campaign in Edom.  He was feeling pretty good about himself and issued a challenge to King Jehoash of Israel.  He wanted to go to war with the Israelites, believing, I am sure, that no one could stop him.  He probably thought that this was an ideal time to reunite the tribes of Israel into one like they used to be under David and Solomon’s rule.  Scripture goes on to tell us that they did indeed go to war and that Judah was defeated by the tribes of Israel.

How many times do we get ourselves into trouble because we are not satisfied with how things are in our lives?  The soul craves for more than what we have.  Having enough is never enough.  We are driven by greed. 

Yet, we are forewarned by God over and over again that greed destroys the soul.  No matter how much or little we may have, we should be grateful for it.  There is nothing wrong with trying to improve ourselves or our lot in life, but if we do it because we are not satisfied with what God has provided, we have a problem in our soul.  Gratitude is an attitude that supersedes all circumstances.  

We should accept with gratitude whatever we have been blessed with and be willing to accept it if we never are blessed with more.  There will never be enough of more if we are not grateful for what we do have.  There will never be peace with God if we are always bent on getting more. 

We don’t know how having more may affect our souls.  It may very well be disastrous for us, causing us to lose our connection with God.   Blessed is he who knows how to be grateful each day for what the Lord provides and is satisfied with it.  Blessed is he who wisely lets the Lord have ownership of what he has and uses it for His good purposes. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is your heart right with God?

II Kings 1:10  But Elijah replied to the captain, “If I am a man of God, let a fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!”  Then fire fell from heaven and killed them all.

James tells us that Elijah was a man just like us (James 5:17).  Wait a minute!  A man just like us?!!  Elijah was a prophet of God who did some amazing things in his life.  He was used by God to perform many miracles.  He was a man of tremendous faith.  Read about his life and you are amazed by how God used him.  I am not like him!  I don’t go around doing the things he did.  I don’t have the faith to believe that God would use me like he did Elijah. 

We don’t know anything about Elijah’s life prior to his showing up to visit with King Ahab and telling him there would be no rain in the land until further notice.  All we can do is speculate as to how he was raised and came to be the mighty man of God he was.  Whatever his background was, as an adult Elijah was a usual man of God used by God in unusual ways.

The issue I want us to consider today is the status of our own hearts before God.  Before God can do anything through us, He has to do a work in us.  Faith exercised is faith developed.  We must take seriously the condition of our hearts before God.  This means taking care of our soul is our number one priority in life. 

We deliberately and consistently feed our souls with God’s Word.  We listen to God speak to us through it.  We humbly accept and embrace it.  It takes time and effort to hear from God in His Word.  You will never have a proper understanding of faith until you do.  You need to have a reading plan and stick to it.  Quantity time is just as important as quality time when it comes to spending time in the Word.

We deliberately spend time alone with God.  This means we set aside the time it takes to wait on God.  Prayer takes precedence over all other activities.  If we find ourselves too busy and something has to go, it is never our prayer time.  We develop an attitude of prayer that draws us to the Lord throughout our daily living.  The Lord is always on our mind.

We deliberately seek out fellowship with those who love the Lord and are striving to live for Him.  We need to be around and influenced by the people of God. 

We may never be used by God in the way Elijah was, but we can have the faith of Elijah.  In fact, we must if we are going to be of any use at all in the work God is doing on earth. A living faith is a growing faith and a growing faith is a glowing faith.  You will be used by God in your own miraculous ways if you take care of your soul and let Jesus be Lord of your life.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I have had enough, Lord.

I Kings 19:4 Then he went on alone into the desert, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

Have you been there? Have you struggled to the point where you have had enough? Has life dealt you such a blow that you just literally want to give up? If so, you are not alone. Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of all time. He had been used of God to do some mighty miraculous things. He had just come down from Mt. Carmel where God had used him mightily to witness to the nation of Israel that he is God. It was a day unlike any other day in Israel’s history. You would think that Elijah would be floating on cloud nine. But just the opposite was true. Elijah had irked the wrath of Jezebel, the reigning queen. He had the prophets of Baal, whom she served, killed. She wanted revenge and threatened Elijah’s life. He was totally exhausted and there was no fight in him. Instead of standing strong before her, he ran. He ran as far as his weary body would take him. He was spent, and all he wanted to do was to die.

We all get weary at times and want to just give up. We all want the Lord to just take us home. It’s easy to get that way when we don’t keep our gas tanks full. When we run on adrenaline, or our reserve tanks, we sooner or later run out of fuel. It is imperative that we never let our fuel tank run low. We need to constantly stay in the Word and in our prayer closets. We need to constantly seek the Lord while He may be found. We need to make sure that we don’t ever try to go on our strength.

We need to be wise enough to know when to pull back and recharge our batteries. We are most vulnerable when we are weak, even if it is weakness from doing good. We need to understand that we can’t fight Satan when we are weak. We need to take care of our bodies and minds. We need to take care of our souls.

We need to be honest with ourselves about our limitations. We are not God. We need to take the time to rest. We need to say no when we are doing too much. We will not do ourselves, others, or the Lord, any good if we get so down that we want to just give up.

May the Lord give you the wisdom to know that everything does not depend on you and that you need to take care of yourself so that you can give of your best to the Master.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walk up to the altar and pray.

I Kings 18:36,37 At the customary time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

Elijah walked up to the altar and prayed. I get the feeling that this was a walk of confidence and boldness. Elijah was not impressed by the number of those who opposed him. He was concerned about the skeptics who were hanging around to see what would happen. Elijah was bothered by the fact that the prophets of Baal had been praying to their god all day long to no avail. They had put on quite a show, but Elijah wasn’t impressed or worried that maybe God would not hear and answer his prayer.

Notice that Elijah never questioned his own faith in God.  He knew that God was who He is and that He was his.  He was bent on trying to convince those gathered on Mt. Carmel that God is and that He wanted to be their god.  Elijah was persuaded that God was there, that God was able to silence the voices of those opposed to him, and that God was going to convince the skeptics that he was indeed the Lord God of Israel.

In fact, Elijah had taken measures to make it seemingly difficult for God. He prayed and then prepared the sacrifice in such a way that it would take nothing less than the hand of God to consume it. Elijah knew that God would not leave him hanging. He knew that God would hear and answer his prayer. He knew, because he had walked with God throughout his life and God had never failed him. Time and time again God had made himself known to Elijah, and Elijah knew that this time would be no different.

I wonder about whether or not we have the same kind of confidence Elijah had when we pray. Do we trust in God’s favor upon us? Do we believe in a God who hears and answers the prayers of those who trust in Him and pray according to His will for them? Do you approach God with boldness and confidence when you pray? Do you believe the Lord when he said that if we ask anything in His name according to His will that He will give it to us? If you are living right with God, you know Him well enough to know that He will hear and answer your prayers. You will be able to approach Him with boldness and confidence.

Walk up to the Lord’s altar today and pray.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What validates your life?

I Kings 18:25-26  Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you.  Choose one of the bulls and prepare it and call on the name of your god.  But do not set fire to the wood.”  So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar.  Then they called on the name of Baal all morning, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!”  But there was no reply of any kind.  Then they danced wildly around the altar they had made.

When I read these verses, I am struck by the futile foolishness of these prophets of Baal.  Scripture tells us that there were 450 of these men devoted to the worship of Baal.  These men were living utterly foolish lives.  They were committed to the worship of Baal.   They devoted their lives to a god who was no god at all.  Think about it.  In spite of the fact that Baal was nothing but wishful thinking, they persisted in chasing after the hope that maybe they were wrong, that maybe Baal was real after all.  Even though none of what they hoped that Baal could do for them ever had happened, they refused to let go of their hope that somehow he was a god.  They refused to humble themselves and admit that they were wrong, that Baal was no god at all.

These prophets were from the people of Israel.  They should have known better.  They were exposed continuously with the reality of God’s presence.  They had constant opportunities to hear about God and witness His workings amongst them.  However, they refused God’s witness and chose to follow Baal instead.  They devoted themselves to chasing after empty promises and lived lives that were hopeless with no one who could help them.  They were so deep into their foolish thinking that they could no longer see the truth.

How futile their lives were!  They were desperately hanging on to the hope that their lives had meaning, hoping that their god was a god after all.  They did everything they could to validate their beliefs.  They gave it their all.  They ranted and raved in front of their god, trying to get a response.  They not only were trying to give purpose and meaning to their lives, they were trying to convince those watching them that they were not mere fools.  Can you imagine the noise and confusion as they desperately tried to make their god real?

What are you chasing after in order to validate your life?  What gives your life purpose?  What gives you the assurance that life is worth the living?  If you are trying to find what you are looking for apart from a relationship with Christ, you will never find it.  It is utter foolishness and life lived chasing after that which can never satisfy is futile living.  Jesus alone can give life purpose and meaning.  He alone is real.  He alone can help you.  He alone is worthy of your life devotion.  He alone can help you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I am all alone.


I Kings 18:22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the LORD who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets.”

Maybe you can relate to how Elijah felt. Here was a man of God who simply felt like he was the only one standing up for God. He was seemingly always on the spot. He was known as a man of God, but few seemingly cared for God. He was being singled out and confronted because of his faith. Elijah would not back down; he remained strong in faith wherever he went. His witness was strong, even in the midst of being intimidated to the point of death. Elijah was weary of it all and made it known that he was the only one around who was faithful to the Lord. He was surrounded by a multitude of people who were opposed to him because of his faith.

Sometimes we get tired and weary because we too think we are the only witness the Lord has around us. Even though we know better, we sometimes feel like there is no other believer around whom we can have fellowship with. Satan wants us to feel sorry for ourselves. He wants us to feel isolated. He wants us to think more about ourselves than those around us.

He knows that as long as he has us thinking about ourselves, we won’t be concerned about the soul needs around us. We won’t be reaching out in ministry to others. We won’t be praying for those who would persecute us or those who are in need amongst us.

There are two things to do to get out of from under this kind of a mood: first, ask the Lord to show you other believers who are around you; and secondly, ask the Lord to change your heart from being self-centered to other-centered. The Lord has other witnesses for Him in your world and He will make that known to you if you ask Him to.

The Lord wants to love others through you. He wants you to reach out to the hurting around you and bring them the hope we have in Christ. He wants you to stand in the gap and be His witness to the lost in your world. Satan is a liar; you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Don’t let Satan silence your witness for Christ in your world. Stand strong in faith and take Christ to the needy souls all around you. People you know are waiting for you to step up to the plate and give them hope. Will you do it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How long will you waver?

I Kings 18:21  Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How long are you going to waver between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him!  But if Baal is God, then follow him!  But the people were completely silent.

Elijah had called out the prophets of Baal and the Israelites to come and watch the spectacle.  There was a real drought in Israel at that time, both physically and spiritually.  The Israelites had wandered far from God.  They became entangled with the lives of those around them.  They embraced the false gods of their neighbors instead of remaining loyal to God.  God had tried over and over again to get them to repent and change their ways, but they would not listen.  In order to get their attention, God dried up their land.  They had had no rain for 3 1/2 years.  They were in desperate times.

Elijah challenged the people to decide once and for all whom they were going to believe in, the Lord or Baal.  Baal obviously had a much greater hold on them than God did.  They knew about God, but they didn’t know God.  You would think they would have had enough of the empty promises of the Baal worshipers.  You would think that they would have realized that they were trusting in false gods.  You would think that they would have declared their allegiance to God whom they had forsaken.

But the people were silent.  They did not say anything at all.  Why?  I believe one of the reasons why was because they had drifted so far from God that their souls were deadened.  They were not able to declare their allegiance because they had lost their grip on God and they had lost their belief in a personal God who wanted to be in a relationship with Him.  They were living in darkness and those in the dark don’t come to the light out of fear their deeds would be exposed.

Sin does that to the soul.  The more we engage in it and justify it, the less confidence we have in a God who loves us and desires a relationship with us.  It deadens the soul and left unchecked will darken the soul to the point where we forsake God.  Don’t underestimate the effect sin has on the soul!  Sin is an abomination to God and it should be to us.  It is our enemy, not our friend.  We should be diligently on guard over our souls and not allow it to take a hold of us.  When we sin we should be driven to our knees before the Lord and confess it.  We should be constantly feeding our souls with God’s Word and hiding it in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. 

Take sin seriously; it can be lethal to the soul.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In order to hear the voice of God.....

I Kings 17:2, 9, 18:1  Then the LORD said to Elijah…..

In all three of these verses, the Lord is speaking to Elijah in different places, to different people, for different reasons. What strikes me is that the Lord spoke to Elijah. James tells us that Elijah was a man just like us. Has the Lord ever spoken to you so vividly that you simply could not deny it or mistake it? Does the Lord speak to you?

There are times in which God speaks to us when we are not expecting it or wanting to hear Him. The Apostle Paul comes to mind. But, most of the time, we have a lot to do with whether we are able to hear from God or not. And, I do believe the Lord still speaks to us. He speaks to us from His Word, through pastors and teachers, books, music, etc. There are some things we must know if we want to hear from Him.

In order to hear the voice of God, we must be in a position to hear it. We must be tuned in with the Lord so that we are able to recognize His voice and respond to it. The only way that can happen is to make Jesus not only our Savior, but our Lord. We must intentionally and passionately pursue Him and live for Him. We must be humbled before Him and long to serve Him.

In order to hear from God, we must be in a place to hear Him. We must be willing to shut out all the distractions that surround us and focus our thoughts on Him alone. We must be still before Him before we can know He is near. We must make it a priority in our lives to spend quiet time with Him where we focus our minds solely on Him.  Do you have a quiet place where you meet with God?  If not, I urge you to find one today and faithfully go there every day.  For some it may mean that adjustments will have to be made in schedules or activities.  There is nothing more important to do in life that to find a place where you meet with God.

In order to hear from God, we must be in a program to hear Him. By that I mean, we must be in a consistent discipline of being in His Word and prayer. We must consistently take the time to read and meditate on the Word. We must allow it to saturate our minds to the point where it is our guiding light in all we do.  We must intentionally have fellowship with the Lord, opening our hearts up to Him, sharing with Him all that is within. 

In order to hear from God, we must be under the control of his Spirit. We must allow Him to actively work in us to change us and mold us into godliness.  We must be a people of praise and thanksgiving. 

May the Lord open up our ears, minds, and hearts so that when He speaks, we will hear, listen, and obey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Costly Disobedience

I Kings 16:34  It was during his reign that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho.  When he laid the foundations, his oldest son, Abiram, died.  And when he finally completed it by setting up the gates, his youngest son, Segub, died.  This all happened according to the message from the LORD concerning Jericho spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

God says what He means and means what He says.  Why is it that we so often have to learn it the hard way?  Or, is it that we simply don’t care?  God does not speak to just hear himself speak.  He speaks because He has something important to tell us, things that are for our own good.  He wants to spare us from our self-destructive ways and make it possible for Him to bless us.  But, we make it so hard on ourselves by not paying attention to what He says.

Do yourself a favor and pay attention to what the Lord has to say.  Keep your Bible open and read it often so you won’t miss it.  Meditate upon God’s words, pray over them, and then strive to live them.  Consistent time spent in His Word keeps us from forgetting His instructions or becoming confused by them.  We can’t do what pleases God unless we know what God expects of us.  We can’t avoid sin unless we read about it and recognize it when we see it.  We can’t discern truth from error unless we are students of the truth.

We are able to discern truth from false teaching as we stay in the Word.  We learn the value of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.  We learn a lot about God and about ourselves.  We learn everything we need to know about how to please God and be accepted by Him.

Wise is he who holds God’s Word close to his heart and obeys it.  God holds each of us accountable for what we know and how we live it.  He also holds us accountable for getting to know the Word given to us.  There is no excuse for ignoring what God says.  There is no excuse for not getting to know what God has to say to us and then living it.