Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dan. 3:16-18 Get to know the Lord well enough to trust Him.

Dan. 3:16-18  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.  He will rescue us from your power.  Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew God well enough to know that for them there was no other God.  They would not bend to the pressure of the king to bow down and worship another god, even if it were to cost them their lives.  They knew what God was capable of .  Would God deliver them?  They didn’t know, but they were willing to trust Him with their lives.  They had gotten to know the Lord well enough to know that they could not put their allegiance anywhere but in Him.  They knew Him well enough to know that He was worth dying for.

It is imperative that we too get to know the Lord well enough to trust Him with our lives.  We live in a world that has many different understandings of God.  People try to force their understanding on others.  People chide those who stand strong on Biblical principles.  We need to work hard at developing a relationship with God that will keep us anchored in Him regardless of the circumstances we are in.

When we really know and love the Lord, we do not need to defend ourselves.  We discover that it’s not about us; it’s about the Lord.  We don’t fear what others may be able to do or what they think.  We put ourselves in the Lord’s hands and accept whatever may happen.  There is no power on  earth that can defeat a soul who’s God is the Lord.  Jesus is the way and there is no other way.

Work hard on your salvation so that you will be able to stand up strong in the faith regardless of whatever circumstance you may find yourself in.  The stronger your faith is, the less fear will grip your soul.  The Lord will be with you to help you always when you are totally committed to Him, even in the face of certain death. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dan. 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself.......

Dan. 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead.

Daniel did not wait until he was faced with temptation before he decided whether to yield or not; he made up his mind before the temptation to sin ever came.  What a powerful lesson for us to learn!  In order to live victoriously, we must decide the course of our lives and stick to it. 

We must determine that we are not going to put ourselves into tempting situations in the first place.  We can’t avoid all temptations to sin, but we can help ourselves out a lot by choosing to not put ourselves into temptation’s way.  Daniel knew that the way of the king was wrong for him.  He knew that there was a better way and he chose it for himself, in spite of the consequences that may come from it.  He knew that the king was in control and you obeyed him, or else, but that did not keep Daniel from choosing to do what was right before God. 

We can avoid so many sins by determining in our hearts beforehand that we will do what we know God wants us to do regardless of what may happen.  Others may not understand our choices, they may mock us, they may pressure us to back down, or they may try to make our lives miserable for us, but we must stand strong on our commitment to obey God and not man.  We must be willing to give up the pleasures of the world and chose to obey God.

Don’t be wishy washy in this.  Choose to be like Daniel and make up your mind right now that you will always do what is pleasing and acceptable to God.  Before temptation strikes, determine in your heart that you will do what is right before God.  It does not matter what others may think; it matters what God thinks.  It does not matter what others may do; do what is right before God.  You will stand before God someday and give an account for the choices you make.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ezek. 37:4-6 "I am going to breahe into you and make you live again!"

Ezek. 37:4-6 Then he said to me, “Speak to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to breathe into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have been a witness to this event.  God told Ezekiel to speak to a bunch of dry bones!  I have spoken to a bunch of people like that over the years.  People do dry up spiritually.  There are some churches today who have been spiritually dry for a long time.  It doesn’t usually happen over night.  It happens when the Word of God ceases to be the life food for the soul.  It happens when the church stops praying together for one another and others.  It happens when the church becomes more of a social gathering than a worship gathering.  Regardless of how it happens, people and churches dry up spiritually.

The message God told Ezekiel to preach was THE WORD OF GOD.  It is the only remedy for dried up souls.  The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12).  It pierces deep into the soul and roots out sinful deeds and thoughts.  It gives hope to the dried up soul.  When God speaks, exciting things begin to happen!  The Lord’s message was that He was going to breathe life into the dead bones and give them life.  He can, because He is the source of all life.

The Lord goes on to declare that not only would the bones be given life, they would be given an abundant life.  They would be clothed with flesh, muscles and skin.  This reminds us that there is so much more to life than just life; there is an abundance!  God provides all that we need to have life and so much more.   He equips us with all we need to live and serve Him.  We are not given life to stand around or to sit and vegetate.  We are blessed to know that He is Lord of life and to live to honor and serve Him.

Has your soul dried up?  Do you need a fresh breath of God on you?  Get alone with the Lord and ask Him to breathe into you some fresh air.  Ask Him to take away from you all those things that have caused you to dry up.  Make a vow to the Lord today to let Him change you so that you might live again the abundant life He came to give you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ezek. 36:26-27 The Lord gives us a new heart.

Ezek. 36:26-27  And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.

When Jesus enters the soul of man, things begin to happen.  There are a lot of different things that He does within us besides forgiving us of our sins.  The first thing that He does is He gives us a heart transplant. 

The Lord gives us a new heart.  He does this because the old heart, the heart of sin, is hard as a rock and cannot accept the things of God.  A heart full of sin cannot obey God.  It cannot long for the things of God.  It cannot hear God when He speaks.  It has no desire for the things God provides. 

When we live in Christ, the way we were gives way to a new life.  We desire to please God instead of ourselves.  We desire to hear from God so that we will know how to please Him and what we must do in order to obey Him.  We develop a hunger for the Word of God because we know it is God’s voice speaking through it.  We desire to be with God so we seize opportunities we have to have fellowship with Him. 

You cannot have saving faith without having a new heart.  God transforms us.  We are constantly changing into a holy people.  Christ becomes the influencer of all we do.  We live for Him and follow Him wherever He may lead us.  There is an insatiable longing in the heart of the redeemed for Jesus now and for all of eternity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ezek. 34:1-2 A pastor who is not feeding his flock is not fit to serve as a pastor.

Ezek. 34:1-2 Then this message came to me from the LORD, “Son of man prophecy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: Destruction is certain for you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?”

This devotional today is about pastors and for pastors.  In the Scriptures pastors are often depicted as being shepherds, overseers of the people entrusted to them.  This passage is a stern warning for pastors.  God is warning those who are overseers who look out for themselves at the expense of their people.  These are people who feed off of people instead of feeding people.  God declares very clearly that their destruction is certain.

If you have a pastor who is not taking care of his people, you must do something about it.  If you are not being fed, you are starving your soul to death.  Your pastor has the responsibility to lead you into the Word where your soul can be fed.  Only as you are continuously fed the Word are you able to feast and grow.  Your pastor must constantly feed and challenge you on so that you don’t get lazy or satisfied with where you are at.  Your pastor must stand guard over your soul so that any potential danger can be addressed before you are harmed. 

A pastor who is not feeding his people is not fit to serve as a pastor.  It is a grave sin for a pastor to take advantage of people or use them for personal gain.  Anyone who would be more concerned about themselves and their personal comforts than they are about the needs of the people they serve will feel God’s wrath.  Pastors should always feed their people.

Dear friend, hold your pastor accountable, but when you do, hold yourself accountable as well.  No matter how well your pastor may be feeding you, you have to do your part.  You must take what is being offered to you, chew on it, and swallow it before it can do you any good.  You must be careful what you feast on and avoid those things which are bad for your spiritual health.  You must be discerning and feast on what you need.  What you need today may be different than what you need tomorrow.  Listen to the Spirit of God and chew on what you need and not just what you want. 

Don’t rely just on what your pastor may offer you.  A once-a-week feeding binge will not meet your spiritual needs.  You must be taking care of your soul daily.  Your pastor can only do so much for you.  Pray much for your pastor.  If your pastor is feeding your soul, support, encourage, and thank your pastor often. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ezek. 22:30-31 It is too late?


Ezek. 22:30-31  “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them in the fire of my anger.  I will heap on them the full penalty for all their sins, says the Sovereign LORD.”

These verses ought to grab our attention today.  God says He looked for someone to rebuild the wall of righteousness guarding the land, but He could not find anyone.  Look around you.  Is there a need in the land for the walls of righteousness to be rebuilt?  Regardless of where you may live, I am quite sure that there is a desperate need for righteousness all around you.  Without righteousness guarding the land, evil prevails.  All kinds of wickedness run wild where there is no righteousness.  We have seen it in our history books; we see it all around us.  Wickedness rules and God makes it clear that judgment falls on the wicked. 

God delays judgment so that people will repent and come to Him, but His patience with wicked man does run out.  He puts up with wicked people just so long and then He steps in and destroys their land.  How long will God put up with the wickedness in your land?  Only God knows when judgment will fall on you.  In the meantime He is looking for someone to stand in the gap for righteousness so He won’t have to destroy your land.  He is looking for us to stand strong for righteousness.  If we are gutless and do not stand, God in His anger will heap on us the full penalty our sins deserve.

We don’t know if it is too late for us or not, but that is not the point.  God needs us to do what we can to stem the tide of wickedness so that He can delay our punishment.  He has no desire to destroy, but He must if righteousness is not found.  We must set the example of righteousness for others to follow: in our homes, churches, workplaces, and in society as a whole.  If godly people do not let their godliness be seen and known, wickedness will continue to be seen and flourish.  Only the godly can stay the hand of God.  Will you stand in the gap and be a righteous influence in your world?  Will you do your part in rebuilding the wall of righteousness in your land?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ezek. 20:39 Many people have such a low regard for the Lord.

Ezek. 20:39 “As for you, O people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign LORD says.  If you insist, go right ahead and worship your idols, but then don’t turn around and bring your gifts to me.  Such desecration of my holy name must stop!”

Many people have such a low regard for the Lord.  They do not hold Him up in high esteem.  God is treated as one of us.  Many have taken the truth that God is with us to mean that He is one of us.  God may be deemed to be greater than we are, but barely.  Many speak of Him in ways that make Him to be less supreme to us than He actually is.  God as being perfectly holy and worthy of our humility before Him does not captivate most of us.

God is often treated as an extra in our lives.  We give Him attention, but He is not the center of our attention.  We acknowledge His realness and presence, but we don’t invest our lives in Him in such a way that He is Lord over us.  In practice, we devote more time and energy on other things than we do God.  He is not our supreme God.  We allow idols in our lives and give them the place in our lives that God alone deserves.

The Lord says that we must stop putting other things before Him.  He is not pleased with us when we give Him lip service and when we do, He will not acknowledge the time we do give Him.  What we offer to Him is regarded as an insult to Him.  If our hearts are not devoted to Him, the Lord will not tolerate what we do in His name.  We live and worship in vain if God is not supreme in our lives.  God is a jealous god and He says all such things must stop; they are a desecration of His holy name.

How convinced do you think God is when you claim that He is yours and you are His?  He knows your heart and is not fooled by the things that fool us.  If Jesus is not your Lord you are not living a life pleasing and acceptable to God.  He demands our full attention.  We are to love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul.  There is no room for anything less.  We need to stay in constant vigilance over our souls.  We need to examine our hearts to see if Jesus is indeed Lord of them.  If He is not, you need to bow before Him today until He is. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ezek. 18:25-28 God lets us choose whom we will serve.

 Ezek. 18:25-28  “Yet you say, ˜The Lord isn’t being just!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one who is unjust, or is it you? When righteous people turn from being good and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. And if wicked people turn away from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. They will live, because after thinking it over, they decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die.”

It is very simple really.  God lets us choose whom we will serve.  If we choose to not live in His righteousness, we will pay the price for it.  If we choose to live righteously, we will be rewarded for it.  We cannot live on past laurels and think that it’s good enough.  It is how we are living now that matters to God.  Judgment will be made on how we are living when we die.

It is possible for righteous people to get caught up in sin and reject God in their lives.  And it is possible for sinners to reject their sins and turn to God.  No matter how we may think about it, God does not change his mind about sin.  It is an abomination to Him and must be punished.

I believe that sometimes our concept of eternal security can become a false security.  Salvation does not give us a license to sin.  We are not free in Christ to live contrary to His holiness.  We can never get away with sinful living.  Salvation changes the heart of man so that he no longer can be comfortable with sinning against God.  It moves us to want to please God by resisting the urge to sin against Him. 

Past profession doesn’t always translate into present living.  It behooves us to always be vigilant guards over our souls.  He who sins must repent, change his ways and go and sin no more.  God rewards those who turn from their sins and live in Him.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ezek. 18:24 Can righteous people turn to sinful ways and act like other sinners?

Ezek. 18:24  However, if righteous people turn to sinful ways and start acting like other sinners, should they be allowed to live?  No, of course not!  All their previous goodness will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.

This truth should get our attention.  Regardless of how you understand the issue of eternal security of the soul, we must hear what this verse says.  The fact of the matter is, if righteous people turn away from the Lord and live lives of sin, they will die in their sins.  Whether or not one’s previous righteousness will still get them into heaven only the Lord really knows.  He alone knows those who are worthy to be with Him throughout eternity.

Can righteous people turn to sinful ways and act like other sinners?  This verse seems to suggest they can.  We cannot go beyond what the Scripture says.  We know that there are those amongst the righteous who do turn away from God and go their own way.  There are those who end up denying the faith and live sinful lives.  Were they ever saved?  Only the Lord knows the answer to that.  All I know is what the Word proclaims. 

This verse tells us that all the previous goodness of the righteous who turn from God will be forgotten.  It’s a hard truth to digest.  Other people can debate what it means.  Should we make a distinction between a person’s righteousness and his goodness  (see Ezekiel 33:13)?  All I know is that God says what He means and means what He says.  Does the fact that we live under grace and not the law change this truth?  I am not smart enough to give an absolute answer to that one.  We are told that their previous goodness will be forgotten and they will die for their sins.

One thing is for certain.  I do not want to die for my sins.  In order for us to avoid this, we must strive to live righteously at all times.  When we are living submissively to Christ, this is a non-issue for us.  The Lord blesses and rewards those who live godly lives.  When we live righteously before God and die in our righteousness, we will be ushered into heaven when we die.  There is no debating the destiny of those who do not wander away from God.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ezek. 18:23 The Lord does not want to see wicked people die.

Ezek. 18:23  Do you think, asks the LORD, that I like to see wicked people die?  Of course not!  I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.

We must understand this truth.  The Lord does not like to see wicked people die.  God knows that those who live wicked lives will go to hell when they die if they don’t repent.  They must be sent to hell for no sin can ever be in His presence.  In human terms, it’s not God’s most favorite thing to do.  His holiness demands it, but His love does not want to do it.

The Lord does all He can do to get people to repent.  He shows himself to us in a multitude of ways.  He can be found by anyone who sincerely is looking for Him.  He bears witness of His existence and love in all of life.  For those who have eyes to see, what man needs to know about God in order to be saved is everywhere.  God wants people to open their eyes and see Him.  He wants them to see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.

But, He also know that sin darkens the mind of man and prevents the soul from seeing or wanting God.  The deeper one goes into sin, the harder it is for the soul to find God.  God allows man the freedom to choose how deep into sin they go.  No one has to be a slave to sin.  Living in sin is a choice that is daily made.  It is the natural tendency of the heart, but it is not the way it has to be.  God provides a way out of sin and a way to stay out of it.  It is God’s heart desire for us to choose to come out of sin and live in righteousness.  There is a way out; there is hope for the soul.  Jesus is the way, truth, and life.  We come to God only through Him. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ezek. 18:21-22 Wicked people do what wicked people do.

Ezek. 18:21-22  But if the wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my laws and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.  All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

Wicked people do what wicked people do; they blatantly sin against God.  Nothing they do should ever surprise us.  But, wicked people are not necessarily stuck in their wickedness.  People can, and do, change.  When wicked people get tired of their wickedness and turn to the Lord, they change their ways.  When they do change, they shall live and not die in their sins.  It is an amazing thing when the Lord redeems the wicked. 

No matter how bad of a life a person may live, when Jesus takes residence in the heart, an amazing thing happens in heaven.  God wipes from His memory bank all their past sins.  He has the mysterious ability to remember their sins no more.  He looks upon the righteousness of Christ in the soul and looks no further.  It seems like God would be like us.  When we are forgiven and let Christ take over our lives, we still remember what we have done.  We may be able to bury our wicked deeds deep within our memory bank, but they are still there and come back to haunt us throughout our lives.  Satan refuses to let us forget how bad we were and he tries to convince us we are still as bad as we were.  But, God declares us to be different. We become new creations in Christ; the old self passes away and we become new in Christ.

In Christ we live.  We live differently and we are deemed to be righteous in Christ.  We live honorably before God and man.  What we do pleases God.  Only in Christ can our wickedness be done away with.  Only in Christ can God consider us to be righteous.  Yes, the wicked can be miraculously changed.  It is possible for our standing with God to change.  It is possible for us to live eternally in God’s presence.  Don’t ever let Satan try to convince you otherwise.  It is impossible for us to do it, but with Christ all things are possible.  Believe God, trust Christ with your soul, and you will be forever set free from the sins that bind and destroy you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ezek. 13:1-3 We must preach and teach only the Word of God.

Ezek. 13:1-3 Then this message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, speak against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Tell them to listen to the word of the LORD.  This is what the Sovereign LORD says. ‘Destruction is certain for the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’”

Ezekiel was told to speak out against those false prophets of Israel who were inventing their own prophecies.  We need to do the same thing today.  We need to speak out against those who are preaching and teaching another Gospel.  I am not speaking about the non-essential differences of doctrine in the church today, but those who blatantly promote other ways to heaven.  There are many who pervert the Gospel message to promote their own agendas and ideas.  There are those who endeavor to justify sin by declaring that what they do is not sin.  There are many who pick apart the Bible and declare it outdated and no longer relevant to our lives.  There are those who take things out of the context in which they are written in order to make it say what they want it to say.

We have a mandate to speak out against these false prophets and stand clearly on what God declares is truth.  We must preach and teach only the Word of God.  We must not cater to those who do not accept Biblical truth as being truth.  We are to not listen to their rhetoric or have fellowship with them.  It is our mandate to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth of God’s Word.  We must protect our pulpits and never let false prophets have access to them.

Destruction is certain for all who would promote another Gospel message or who would distort it.  We must warn them of what is to come for them if they don’t repent.  We must as well guard our hearts and minds so that we don’t get caught up into their untruth.  We must diligently study God’s Word so that we will know the truth.  The eternal destiny of our souls is at stake.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ezek. 3:20-21 Can good people turn bad?

Ezek. 3:20-21 “If good people turn bad and don’t listen to my warning, they will die. If you did not warn them of the consequences, then they will die in their sins. Their previous good deeds won’t help them, and I will hold you responsible, demanding your blood for theirs. But if you warn them and they repent, they will live and you will have saved your own life too.”
Every time I read this passage and meditate on it, it challenges me.  I know God spoke to Ezekiel during a different time than we live in.  The Israelites were living under the law and not grace.  God dealt with His people differently then than He does now.  Yet, I can’t help but take this passage and draw a parallel to our living. 

The Lord suggests that good people can turn bad.  Can godly people turn away from their godliness and sin against God?  I believe so.  We do not lose our freewill when we give our hearts over to Christ.  We still choose between good and evil.  We still choose whether or not we are going to live by God’s Word or not.  We daily make spiritual choices.  So, what happens when godly people turn away from God and choose to live in sin?

This passage tells us that the people of Ezekiel’s day would die if they did not repent.  Does this mean that they would lose their standing with God?  I will let others debate that issue.  All I know is what the Word declares.  Here God says that their past goodness would not help them.  God says He would hold them responsible for their sins.  I believe that God has not changed.  He still holds us responsible for our sins.  How can it be otherwise?  God is holy and there will be no sin in heaven whatsoever.  One way or another, all sin will be dealt with before we are allowed into heaven.  God makes it clear in His Word that when we sin we must confess it and seek Christ’s forgiveness.  Only the pure in heart will see God.  What happens if we don’t confess our sins and seek God’s forgiveness?  He will deal with us accordingly.  He judges each of us by the righteousness of Christ and the standards of His Word.  He will judge each of us rightly.

I would caution each of us to not ignore this truth.  It is a very serious thing to harbor sin in our hearts.  It leads us away from God and soon takes over our lives.  If we turn away from God and live sinful lives, we will stand before God and give an account for our lives.  Listen to what God says about sin; let His Spirit lead you according to His Word. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ezek. 3:18-19 We are the message bearers.

Ezek. 3:18-19  “If I warn the wicked saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible, demanding your blood for theirs. If you warn them and they keep on sinning and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved your life because you did what you were told to do.”

We are the message bearers.  God wants everyone to know that sin leads to hell.  He wants everyone to hear what the consequences of disobeying God are.  He has placed upon us, His chosen ones, the responsibility to tell them.  We cannot control how the wicked will respond to the message, but we can control whether or not we tell them.

If we fail to warn the lost of their lostness, the Lord will hold us responsible for our failure.  We may still stay in fellowship with the Lord, but we will not be in His favor.  He does not save us so that we will hoard the Good News.  If we truly appreciate the wonderful gift of our salvation we will want to tell all we can about it.  How can we not be excited enough about our salvation to not want to share it with others?

There are going to be those who will respond positively to the Good News and be saved and there will be those who will keep on sinning and refuse to repent.  It should come as no surprise to us that most will reject the message.  Jesus made it clear that people in the dark stay in the dark because they know that in the light their deeds will be exposed.  And, once deeds are exposed they must be dealt with and changes made in behavior.  Most people either fear change or simply do not want to change.  Most people will continue to sin and reject the Good News.  Only the Holy Spirit can change the heart of man and if He can’t get through to people, why should we expect positive results?

When we obey the Lord and share the Good News, we will be blessed by God.  Our obedience assures us of our own salvation.  All we can do is plant the seed.  It is the Lord alone who can make it grow.  The Lord has saved us to be bearers of the Good News.  Do not disobey God in this.  Spread the Good News whenever and wherever you can.  Great will be your reward in heaven when you do.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ezek. 3:7 The Lord is working in people's lives to prepare them for the Gospel.

Ezek. 3:7  “I am sending you to the people of Israel, but they won’t listen to you any more than they listen to me.  For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn.”

Scripture does not tell us how Ezekiel received this news.  God told him directly that He was sending him to a hard-hearted and stubborn people.  Ezekiel was sent to be a witness to them in spite of the fact that they would probably not listen to him and rebel against him.  There would be those who would mock him, seek to physically harm him, speak lies about him, criticize him, and ignore him completely.  The future did not look too bright for Ezekiel; it was not a mission very many of us would want to go on.

Yet, is it not what we are to do daily?  Think about it.  The world is not a friendly place for the Gospel.  Most people do not welcome the Christian message, and the farther away we get from the holiness movement of days gone by, the more unwelcome the Gospel is.  Most people in the world are not children of God.  Most people are either antagonistic towards the Gospel, agnostics, or apathetic towards it.  The world is populated with people who have very little grounding in the things of God.

Yet, the Lord tells us to go into the world with the Gospel and make disciples.  He knows what the world is like.  He knows most people are stubborn and hard-hearted.  He knows there will be much opposition to the Gospel message.  In spite of what the world is like, the Lord says to go into it and make disciples.  He knows that there are people in the world who are actually open to the Gospel message and are just waiting for someone to present it to them. 

The Lord is working in people’s lives to prepare them for the Gospel.  We don’t know who they are and that is why we are to just keep on being witnesses and ambassadors for Christ.  It’s not our role to convince people of the Gospel; it’s our role to proclaim it.  When it falls on fertile soil, we will know it and then we can begin the process of disciple making.  The Lord gives us a mandate to take the Gospel into the world.  We are to preach and teach it as often as we can.  We are to train ourselves in the Gospel so that when the opportunities come we can help those who will receive it.

The Lord does not send us alone.  He is with us each step we take and we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses to support us.  The Lord has yet many souls to save.  The harvest is ripe and ready.  Are you praying for those who are going?  Are you doing all you can do to reach the world for Christ?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lam. 3:37-42 Can anything happen without the Lord's permission?

Lam. 3:37-42 Can anything happen without the LORD’s permission? Is it not the Most High who helps one and harms another? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn again in repentance to the LORD. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, “We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us.”

Just because the Lord permits things to happen doesn’t mean He orchestrates it.  We must understand the distinction.  God gives us freedom of choice; He doesn’t make our choices for us.  We are not puppets on a string destined to do only what God ordains for us to do.  God knows those who will respond properly to His help and those who won’t.  He knows what He is planning to do and those whom to bless to make it happen.  There is a mystery to this that we will never grasp.  We must learn to trust in what God does and permits to happen.

We basically have two responses when we experience the consequences of our sins.  Some will ignore them and continue on doing what they are doing, denying the fact that whatever they are experiencing is the result of sinful choices.  They tend to complain and blame when they endure the consequences of sin.  Others will recognize that they are responsible for the messes they get themselves into and strive to change.  The negative effect sin has on our lives will either be good or bad for us.

Those who continue on in sin can only expect more of the same.  Things won’t get any better for them because they aren’t any better in their souls.  Sin breeds sin.  Instead of complaining about the consequences of sin, one should stop sinning and turn to the Lord.  Failure to do so ends up hardening the soul against God and will eventually lead the soul into hell.

On the other hand, when we stop and examine ourselves, acknowledge our sin and repent, we are changed and begin to stop the cycle of sinning.  We will never be better until we do repent and seek Christ’s forgiveness.  When we learn from our sin mistakes and turn to the Lord, He leads us on the pathway to heaven.

The Lord will help us with our sin problem, but only if we let Him.  We must deal with sin the proper way.  We must not complain about how bad things are; we must instead turn to the Lord and repent.  Only Christ can change us so that we can change our ways and attitude.  Let Jesus have His way with you.  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lam. 3:40 Let us test and examine our ways.

Lam. 3:40  Instead, let us test and examine our ways.  Let us turn again in repentance to the LORD.

Today I challenge you to take this verse literally.  I challenge you to examine your ways.  What do you do daily in your life outside your home, in your home?  Do you intentionally line yourself up to the Word of God to the best of your ability?  Do you consider it important to live by Biblical guidelines or not?  How does your actual doings line up with your believing? 

Do you think others would think the same way about you that you do?  When was the last time you asked your spouse, children, friends, or co-workers what they thought about how you are living out your faith?  Most of us have never actually sought out the observations of others.  We are either afraid of what we may hear or too proud to put ourselves out there for examination.  Of course, we should be even more concerned about how God would evaluate our living in light of His Word.

Upon careful examination, if you know that you have much to be desired as a child of God, turn to the Lord and repent of your sins while it is on your mind and heart.  Do not let pride stand in your way.  It is okay to not be okay with the Lord.  No one is spiritually perfect.  No one always gets it right.  We all fall short of God’s standards and need to repent.  To never repent of your sins is the worst thing you can do.  Sin left unattended to hardens the soul and if enough sins accumulate, God no longer has a hold on you.  You can neglect your soul’s need for repentance and get to the point where God no longer is a part of your living. 

Don’t be foolish and let sin hang around.  Confess your sin before God, ask for His forgiveness and make a commitment that you will strive to not repeat your sin with His help.  Keeping the soul free from sin to the best of our ability is the soul’s salvation security.  It is the pure in heart who will make it to heaven.  God commands us to be holy and He means it. 

Is your heart right with God today?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lam. 3:31-33 The Lord never gives up on us.

Lam. 3:31-33  For the LORD does not abandon anyone forever.  Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love.  For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.

What these verses say to me is that the Lord never gives up on us.  As long as we have breath, we have hope.  The Lord loves us and will always do what He can do to bring us back to Him when we wander away.  The Lord does not like it when people leave Him.  He doesn’t like it when people live in misery because of their sin.  The Lord wants only what is best for us, a relationship with Him through Christ.

Now, I do believe that we are able to abandon the Lord.  We do have the freedom to live in sin if we want to.  The Lord will not stop us from self-destruction.  He does honor the stubbornness of the heart bent on rejecting Him.  He will do whatever He can to draw us back to Him, but He never holds us captive against our wills. 

Grief is a good thing for the soul out of fellowship with God.  It helps the soul to know that things are not as they should be with God.  It draws the soul out of self and sin to the Lord.  It reminds us that God loves us and desires a relationship with us.  The Lord does not want to cause us sorrow, but does hesitate to use it in order to draw us to Him.

If we truly love the Lord we will have no desire to leave Him.  If we are keeping our souls fed with the Word and stay in touch with the Lord through our prayers, we will not wander away.  It is only as we totally neglect our souls that we wander away from Him.  You cannot expect to keep in touch with God if you ignore Him. 

It is not for me to determine whether or not a child of God can keep on wandering away from God to the point where He will not return.  I will let that up to the Holy Spirit to determine that for the soul.  All I can attest to is God’s love for the soul and His faithful and determined pursuit of the soul.  He will pursue a wandering soul as long as there is breath in the soul.  He has no desire that anyone would perish.  He longs for everyone to spend eternity with Him, even though He knows most won’t.  Hell exists for those who abandon the Lord.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lam. 3:25-27 Waiting for the Lord is hard to do, isn't it?


Lam. 3:25-27 The LORD is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline.

Waiting for the Lord is hard to do, isn’t it?  We want God to act and act now.  We want to dictate how and when the Lord acts, but it simply does not work that way.  The Lord is sovereign and moves independently from man.  When we wait on the Lord and follow where He leads, life can be a very wonder-filled experience.  We may wonder why things are the way they are while at the same time be filled with wonder at God’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Like most in the church, I long for the Lord to come back and take us home.  It is so easy to get so caught up in His coming back that we cease to be effective in our living here.  There is so much living for Christ in the world to do.  We must keep busy serving the Lord.  There is a multitude of people all around us who are not saved.  They need people to show and tell them the way of salvation.  We are mandated by the Lord to go into the world and make disciples.  We are to preach and teach the Word.  We are to be His ambassadors in the world.  Yes, we should be looking forward to the day of our salvation, the day in which we will go to be with Him in heaven, but we must keep busy while we wait.

When we are young is when we most need discipline.  Youth are enthusiastic and usually cannot see the bigger picture of things.  They generally have a lot of energy and don’t know how to best corral it for their good or the good of others.  We tend to be like youth when it comes to our faith.  We may be very enthusiastic with a lot of energy to serve the Lord, but we lack discernment and wisdom.  We need to learn how to grow and serve.  We need to learn how to balance out our longings for heaven with our living here.  We need to learn to let the Lord be in charge of His coming.  We need to see the world as He sees it, as lost and in need of a Savior.  We need to submit to the Lord, serve Him where we are planted, reach out to the lost, and wait quietly for the day of our salvation.  We can be too heavenly-minded to be much good for the Lord on earth.  Seek the Lord now and we will see Him later.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lam. 3:22-24 The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!


Lam. 3:22-24  The unfailing love of the LORD never ends!  By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day  I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!  Isn’t that great news?!!  It is the best news that man could ever hear.  The Lord never fails to love, because He is love.  Satan tries hard to convince us that we are not loved or worthy to be loved, but what he says is nothing but a lie from hell.  God is not able to do anything but love us.  Now, this does not mean that God will embrace us in His love regardless of what we do or become in life. 

God is holy love.  He will never embrace those who defy Him or live unholy lives.  God is absolutely perfect in holiness and no sin will ever get near Him.  God does not ever condone the sin of His children.  He never ignores sin or overlooks it.  All sin must be dealt with by Christ before we can be embraced by God.  Only Christ’s righteousness in us makes us approachable to God.  We must never be presumptuous and take our sin lightly.  Our only hope of drawing near to God is Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

God is merciful and faithful.  Every day is a testimony of God’s mercy towards us and His faithfulness to us.  If it were not so, no one would be left on earth to live for Him.  Heaven would be an unreachable place.  No one would be able to see God, let alone experience Him in their lives.

As God’s children, we inherit the righteousness and holiness of Christ so we have a sure hope that we will be with God some day.  Great is God’s faithfulness to us and He will see us home to be with Him.  But, we must cooperate with Him and strive to live holy lives.  We must not cater to sin or ignore it when we do sin.  We must stay in close fellowship with Christ by confessing our sins and being fixated on Him.  We must strive to live obediently to God’s Word and seek to please Him in all we do.  Heaven awaits those who do these things.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jer. 31:33-34 A great day is coming!

Jer. 31:33-34  “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD.  “I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying, “You should know the LORD.” For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know me,” says the LORD.  “And I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins.”

A great day is coming!  There is coming a time in which life as we know it is going to change.  God promises His children, the nation of Israel, a time in which everyone will know God.  It will be a time in which all will live in harmony with God.  It will be a time in which the way of holy living will be the norm for His people.

We live in a different time right now.  Most people do not know the Lord.  Most people scarcely know about Him and they don’t care to know about Him.  Most people are opposed to God and  they have issues with those who do know Him.  It’s not easy to live godly lives in a world that is hostile towards God.

Until a better day comes, we need to equip ourselves so we can live godly lives in the world.  We do that by hiding the Word of God in our hearts and minds.  We become familiar with what God says to the point where it governs the way that we live. We think biblically about things and live biblically.  We become so convinced of the truth of God’s Word that we pass it on to others.  We endeavor to teach them as well how to live life in a way that pleases God.

Most do not know what it is like to be forgiven.  They live in the darkness of sin and wickedness prevails.  Mankind is heading for a confrontation with God.  There is coming a time in which God will reign down punishment on mankind.  He will clean up the world from its wickedness and create a new heaven and earth where His children can dwell in peace and safety. 

It is our duty know to tell them, “You should know the Lord.”  We have yet a little time left to warn those who will listen.  Today is the day of salvation and the day will soon end.  Go; go and tell all who will listen, that some will be saved and spared the day of God’s judgment on the earth.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jer. 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you......"

Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

You may not know what the future holds for you, but the Lord does.  He knows all that lies ahead of you, both the good and the bad.  He knows your ups and downs.  There is nothing that you will face in life that He doesn’t already know about and He is preparing you today for what lies ahead.

What you need for your future the Lord knows and lovingly is providing you with it today.  You may not see it or understand it, but be assured that the Lord is taking care of you.  He lovingly is equipping you for your good and He will be glorified because of it.  Do not take lightly what the Lord is doing in your life today, because you need it for all of your tomorrows.

Learn well what the Lord is showing you about Him and life.  Search the Scriptures daily so you will learn all that you need for today and your future.  Observe what is happening in your life so that you can learn important spiritual lessons from it.  Learn from others who have walked the path you are on so that you can handle what lies ahead of you.

The plans the Lord has in store for you are all good.  He does not let you go through anything in life that is not good for you.  Trust in God’s goodness and do not let Satan cause you to doubt it.  Nothing that happens in the life of the godly is bad if we but have eyes to see the goodness of God.  Things may be difficult for us to go through, but we can go through them victoriously for Christ gives us the means and strength to do it.

Keep your eyes focused on the truth of God’s love and goodness and your future will be bright, full of hope and the peace of God will steady you each step you take.  The Lord plans on walking with you each step you take until He gets you home to heaven.  Trust God; He will not let you down or disappoint you as you boldly step into your future.