Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mal. 3:8-10 Are you cheating God?

Mal. 3:8-10  “Should people cheat God?  Yet you have cheated me!”  But you ask, “What do you mean?  When did we cheat you?”  “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.  You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!  Try it!  Let me prove it to you!”

“Should people cheat God?”  Let us pause and reflect on this question.  How might we cheat God?  Malachi addresses the issue of tithes and offerings.  God, through Malachi, challenged His people to be faithful givers to Him.  He equated their disobedience in giving to their difficulties in life.  He promised to bless His children if they brought to Him their tithes and offerings.  There are other ways that we cheat God as well.

When we fail to acknowledge God before man, we cheat Him.  When we fail to be a witness for the Lord we are depriving others of the opportunity to perhaps come to Him.  We are cheating the Lord of the opportunity to speak to a person’s needs.

When we fail to give thanks and praise the Lord, we are cheating Him of the glory He so richly deserves.  Others need to hear what God has done and our gratitude to Him for doing it. 

When we fail to serve the Lord, we are cheating Him.  God gives us gifts and talents to use to reach others with the Gospel message.  He graciously blesses us to use us and when we don’t let Him use us, we are cheating Him of the glory He deserves.

When we fail to spend time alone with Him, we are cheating Him of our fellowship.  The Lord longs for us to spend time alone with Him in His Word.  It is there that He speaks most often to us.  It is there that we learn how to live holy lives that please Him.  The Lord longs for us to spend time alone waiting before Him.  Prayer is a vital part of our fellowship with God and when we don’t pray, we are cheating Him of our fellowship.

Can God accuse us of cheating Him?  Ask Him in what ways you have cheated Him.  Wait quietly for Him to answer.  Listen to what He is telling you and start now doing something about it.  Perhaps you are cheating God in other ways.  Let Him guide you.  God wants to bless you, but when you cheat Him, you are keeping Him from doing it.  Let Him have His way with you.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mal. 3:6-7 "I am the Lord, and I do not change."

Mal. 3:6-7  “I am the LORD, and I do not change.  That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already completely destroyed.  Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my laws and failed to obey them.  Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change.”  God is the same as He always has been and always will be.  But, do we really believe it?  Think about it for a few moments.  There is so much confusion about God floating around in the church.  Many have come to the conclusion that what we once believed to be true no longer is.  Many have taken the liberty to redefine God’s words and given meaning to them that are totally different than what has been understood in the church for many centuries. 

Many have taken the liberty to rewrite the Scriptures to suit their own agendas and opinions.  There is great effort put into changing things around so that what was once known to be sin is no longer sin.  Words and thoughts are put into God that were never revealed by God to be there.

God has not changed His mind or His Word!  God has not rewritten His Word or given man permission to do so.  God has declared once and for all what is sin and what isn’t.  We have no right to question or try to change what is clearly declared to be sin in God’s Word.  Just because we may find it hard to conform to its teachings does not mean that we have permission to dismiss it and try something else.  The Word of God is absolute truth for all people for all time. 

You will never find anything in the Word of God that is not true and applicable to life.  God’s standards for holy living, His warnings against sinning, and His promises are irrevocable and unchanging.  We will stand before Him and be judged on how we have lived according to His Word.  God will not be mocked by those who now seek to alter or disregard the Word.  We all will reap what we sow.  We choose daily whether or not we will go to heaven or hell by the way we live according to God’s Word.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mal. 2:17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.

Mal. 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. ‘Wearied him?” you ask. “How have we wearied him?” You have wearied him by suggesting that the LORD favors evildoers since he does not punish them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

I wonder how may we weary the Lord and how often do we do it? It seems to me like we miss the boat when it comes to what we pray for. We are prone to pray in an unbiblical manner. We ask for things that we know are not good for us. We ask the Lord to bless our willful desires instead of what He desires for us. We insist that the Lord respond to our prayers our way, instead of as He knows best. We pray repeatedly for the Lord to change His mind over that which He has clearly made known to us. We ask the Lord to act according to our time table instead of His. In other words, the Lord is often treated as if He were not our Lord but our genie in a bottle who must grant us our wishes at our beckon and call.

When we pray outside of the will of God for us, we weary the Lord in our praying. He will never give us what we pray for when it is not for our good and His glory. If we pray according to His will,, we will have what we pray for. And, the only way we can know that we are praying in His will is for us to live close enough to Him that our wills will be one with His.

We weary the Lord when we fail to let Him judge by His standards, in His own way, and in His own time.  The Lord knows what He is doing and will make things right when the time is right.  We don’t always see things as the Lord does and must succumb to His sovereign will and not our own.  We must learn to trust Him and not doubt Him when it seems like evil prevails.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Malachi 2:15,16 God and Divorce

Malachi 2:15,16  Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife?  In body and spirit you are his.  And what does he want?  Godly children from your union.  So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.  “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel.  “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty.  “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.”

I do not claim to have perfect understanding on the issue of divorce.  I know what God says about it; He hates it.  Jesus declared that divorce exists because of the hardness of the soul towards God.  He gave very limited permissible causes for divorce.  The Apostle Paul also makes it clear that divorce is not God’s desired outcome for marriage.  Knowing how strong God speaks out against it ought to cause us to take note and consider our stand on it.

I understand that there are situations in which divorce is the only solution to a marriage that has gone horribly bad.  Sometimes it is essential for the safety of a victimized spouse.  Sometimes one is left with absolutely no other option.  What concerns me is all the other reasons why people divorce one another.  It is so prevalent in the church today that you would be hard pressed to find a church fellowship where it has not happened.

Divorce should only happen when it is obvious there are absolutely no other options for a couple.  It should never be seen as a way out of a marriage that one does not want to work on anymore.  Just to give up on a spouse because you have drifted apart from a lack of working together to make the marriage work, is not a justifiable reason to divorce one’s spouse.  Most issues in marriage can be worked out if a couple sincerely tries to work them out.  For most couples today, divorce is nothing more than a testimony to their failure to even try to make their marriage work. 

Divorce in the church is not a good thing.  We ought to cringe and be ashamed by how readily we give up on our marriages.  Instead, we accept it as normal and often condone it.  We do not think much about not installing divorced people in positions of leadership in the church.  It scarcely has a stigma anymore.  But, if God hates it, shouldn’t we take it a lot more seriously than we do?  How can we be a godly example to others when we fall flat on our faces so miserably in this area?  It is time we take seriously the vows we make to each other in the presence of God and man and try much harder to make our marriages work, either that or change our vows.  It is a very serious matter to make a vow before God and not keep it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Zech. 4:6 "It is by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty."

Zech. 4:6 Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty.”

It would do well for us to remember this truth. It is only in and through Christ that we are able to do what we do in life for Him. So often we plow ahead with little thought to whether or not the Lord is ahead of the plow driving it. We act as if it is us who is doing the good. We act as if the Lord needs us more than we need Him. Foolishly, we get the idea that we are an indispensable part of the work of Christ on earth. The reality is the kingdom of God will be built with or without us. The will of God being fulfilled through us is more for our benefit than His. We need to contribute to the work of Christ on earth in order for us to become whom God created us to be. If we fail to be who we are created to be, we miss out on the abundant life God has for us to enjoy. We are the losers, not God.

We can do nothing apart from God working in us. We owe Him the very essence of who we are. We have nothing to offer to Him except our hearts. Let us never forget this important truth. It has never been , is not now, nor ever will be, about us. It is by the Spirit of God that we become servants of God.  It is by the Spirit of God that we can do anything for God.

It is only in and through Christ that we are able to be in life who God created us to be. We cannot quit sinning on our own. We cannot see the truth of the Gospel on our own. We cannot know the guilt and shame of sin on our own. We can only be who God created us to be by the working of the Spirit of God in us. If you, or someone you know and love, is living in sin, take the matter to the Lord. Pray fervently and consistently over their souls. Pray that the Spirit will do His work of convicting. Pray faithfully and believe that the Spirit will give what you ask Him for. People do not come underneath the convicting work of the Spirit without first someone praying. It is our prayers that move the heart of God, not our friendship or love.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Return to me and I will return to you."

Zech.1:3 Therefore, say to the people, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.’ ”

God is so gracious and good. He never turns anyone away who comes to Him in repentance. No matter who you are or what you have done, the Lord longs for your company. He wants to have fellowship with you. If you once knew the delight of God’s fellowship and have wandered away, return to Him and He will once again take you in. If you have been sucked into the world and have let your love for God die out, He loves you still and longs for you to return to Him. If you have spurned His love and sought after other things, He still loves you and longs for your return. The Lord’s love is eternal and unconditional. No matter what you may do, you cannot prevent God from loving you and longing for fellowship with you.

If you have never known the delight of living in fellowship with the Lord, now is the moment God has given you to come to Him. It may be the only chance you have left in your life. Don’t waste it. God loves you and longs to have fellowship with you. He invites you to come into His arms of love. Seek Him out right now while you can find Him. Confess your sins before Him and ask for His forgiveness. If you don’t know how, at all cost find someone today who can help you. The Lord is gracious and good. All who return to Him will find Him.  

However, a word of caution is in order. Just because God loves you unconditionally, do not think that He will take you in regardless whether you turn to Him or not. He has provided only one way for us to be taken into the fold of His love and that is through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. If we could bypass Jesus, Jesus would have died for nothing. Life in God is reserved for those who come to Him through Jesus.  And, those who turn to Jesus must do so with no strings attached.  Give Him all your sins, all your heart, all your life, and you will be saved.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Zephaniah 2:1-3 There is still time to pray.


Zephaniah 2:1-3  Gather together and pray, you shameless nation.  Gather while there is still time, before judgment begins and your opportunity is blown away like chaff.  Act now before the fierce fury of the LORD falls and the terrible day of the LORD’s anger begins.  Beg the LORD to save you—all you who are humble, all you who uphold justice.  Walk humbly and do what is right.  Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.

Nothing of any significance is going to happen in the world unless God’s people gather together and pray.  The failure of the church to come together and pray has caused most of the world’s problems.  We have failed to seek the Lord’s favor.  We have failed to see the need to pray.  We have failed to see the need to come together and stay together for the sake of the souls of the world.  Instead of attacking Satan on a united front, we have seperated ourselves from one another and allowed ourselves to be divided over matters that should never divide us.  We, the church, have just as much shame as the world does.

But, it’s not too late.  There is still time to unite and pray.  God has not come yet to judge the world and until He does, there is time for the church to have a profound impact on the world.  We will never make much a difference in the world until we unite ourselves at the foot of the cross.  We must repent of our willingness to let petty things divide us.  We must repent of our self-centered agendas.  We must repent of the sins we have allowed in our hearts and churches.  We must repent of how we have allowed ourselves to be led away from the absolute authority of the Scriptures. 

We must get on our knees together and beg the Lord to save us from ourselves before we can beg Him to save the world.  We must humble ourselves before Him and acknowledge that He is our Lord, the head of the church and not us.  We must unite ourselves in Christ and set a godly example for the world to follow.  We must walk humbly before the Lord in the world and do what is right before Him.  We must, by our example, give the world a reason to want to come to Jesus.

It is not too late, but our days of opportunity are swiftly fading away.  The Lord is coming soon to take the true church out of the world.  Today is the day of salvation whereby many can still be saved.  The question is, “Will we do it?  Will we be part of God’s solution for the sins of the world, or will we be part of it’s problem?” 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Habakkuk 1:13 God is holy and hates all sin.

Habakkuk 1:13  You are perfectly just in this.  But will you, who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up?  Should you be silent while the wicked destroy people who are more righteous than they? 

The Babylonians were sent to punish the Israelites for their sins.  God had had enough.  His people had worn out His patience.  They went through the motions of allegiance to God but their hearts were far from Him.  They claimed to be His, but did not live like it.  They expected the Lord’s favor upon them, but did not humble themselves before Him or obey Him. 

God cannot allow sin in any form.  We must understand this profound and all important truth.  There is no sin in the presence of God.  Ever.  Sin must be dealt with before one approaches God or he will be denied access to God.  God is holy and hates all sin.  In order to approach God, we must be made righteous in Christ.  As much as we may not like it, we must confess our sins before Christ and seek His forgiveness.  There is no other way to draw near to God.

We don’t stress this truth much anymore, but I believe it is a critical truth.  We must preach and teach it until we believe it.  God is sin intolerant.  He will not overlook sin in any form.  He will not let sin anywhere near Him.  No one will make it to heaven with a sin problem hanging over their soul.  Repentance is for Christians too!  In fact, I believe that it is even more important for the believer than the non-believer because we are held accountable for what we know.  The sinner’s prayer for forgiveness is just the beginning of a lifetime of forgiveness.  We all sin and come short of the glory of God.

I believe it is dangerous for us to assume that once we are saved we are no longer in need of repentance.  How can sin go away without it?  Does the righteousness of Christ guarantee our acceptance by God regardless of our sins?  All I know is that the Word calls us into a confession of our sins.  God commands holiness in the heart of His children and dealing with sin is the only way it is going to happen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Habakkuk 1:1 Does God still speak to us today?

Habakkuk 1:1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received from the LORD in a vision.

As I read this verse I got to wondering about how many of have actually received a message from the Lord. Before you dismiss the idea, think about it. Does God speak only to a select few, or does He give a message to all of us? Details may vary, but I believe that God speaks regularly to every one of His children. God has a lot to say to us about ourselves and our living. We may or may not hear from God in a vision, but if we are tuned in, we will all hear from Him. How God speaks to us is not important. What is important is that we hear what we need to hear from Him and then act upon it. God speaks to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we need better understanding, conviction about sin we have allowed into our hearts, a change of direction in our lives, a task to do, someone to come alongside of to help, etc. Regardless of the reason, the Lord has an ever-changing message for us to hear. He has not disengaged himself from your life. He wants you to hear what He has to say.

In order to hear what God wants to say to you, you must be where you can hear Him. You must be in His Word, in your prayer closet, or in a quiet place apart from the distractions of life around you. You must be able to fix your thoughts on Him alone and wait before Him with an open heart. If you do, you will hear.

“Speak to my heart, even now, Lord Jesus. I need to hear what you have to say to me. I need to know what I must do in order for me to be where You want me to be, where I need to be. Lord, speak to me right now while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Micah 6:8 Doing what is good pleases God.

Micah 6:8 No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
The Lord is not mysterious about how to live a life pleasing to Him.  He makes it very clear that the righteous shun evil and live right before Him.  He vividly details what living right before Him means in practical living.  Being good before God entails doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly before God.
Doing what is right is simply living a godly life.  It is simply taking the Word of God and striving to live it.  It is turning one’s back on what is evil and taking on the righteousness of Christ.  Godly living is soul building.  It is all that helps us be like God in character.  Doing what is right is what pleases God.
Loving mercy is treating people better than they deserve to be treated.  It is letting God take care of the judgment of their souls.  It is striving to focus on the good in people instead of the bad.  It is giving people opportunity to change their ways when they mess up.  It is turning the other cheek when they wrong us instead of seeking vengenance. 
Walking humbly before God means that we acknowledge that God is sovereign over us.  It is giving the Lord the credit due Him for all He does in and through us.  It is not exaulting ourselves.  It is always seeking to honor and glorify God.  It is understanding that we owe the Lord our very lives, now and forever. 
It is good for us to do what God requires of us.  It is the only assurance that we have we will make it to heaven.  Doing these things without a relationship with Christ will make us good in the eyes of man, but it will not make us qualified for heaven.  Jesus alone is the way, truth and life.  It is only a living relationship with Christ that will make us good before God. 
Are you doing what God requires of you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Micah 2:6 Listen to God's warnings!


Micah 2:6  “Don’t say such things,” the people say.  “Don’t prophecy like that.  Such disasters will never ome our way!”

Like many before Him, Micah was warning people of their impending doom because of their sin.  He was trying to convince them that they needed to return to God before they felt the wrath of God.  God declared that judgment was coming, but the people were not listening.  They were not willing to admit that they were needing to be held accountable for their rebellion against God.  They were in denial and wanted Micah to stop his preaching.

Things are much the same today as they were in Micah’s day.  God has raised up many voices to declare that judgment is coming.  The warnings are loud and clear, “Repent!  The day of our salvation is now!”  God is love and He is merciful, but He is also holy and He will not let sin run rampant indefinitely.  No one is going to escape their Judgment Day.  No one is going to get away with rejecting God and living in sin.

There are many voices, inside and outside the church, who are trying to silence God’s modern day prophets.  People don’t want to hear messages of judgment and accountability.  They don’t want to hear of a God who will not embrace them in love just the way they are.  So many are proclaiming the message of God’s love and ignoring His message of holiness.

The reality is that God has not changed.  He is holy love.  He loves us and desires that all will repent and have a relationship with Him.  But, God cannot have a relationship with an unholy people.  He has shown us clearly the way of life that pleases Him and when we refuse to live it, He will honor our choices but hold us accountable for them. 

Certain disaster is coming to the earth.  God is going to take the righteous out of the world so that they don’t have to live through the mess that is coming.  God is going to rid the world of sin once and for all.  All who reject Him will end up in hell for all of eternity.  Saying it isn’t so won’t change a thing.  God has declared it’s going to happen regardless of how we may feel about it.

Are you ready for your Judgment Day?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jonah 2:7 When God is our only hope.

Jonah 2:7  “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the LORD.  And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.”

Sadly, we are often just like Jonah was.  We keep on trying to do things our way until there is just no hope left for it to work.  We run from God as far as we can.  We try to fill up our lives with those things which can never satisfy or bring us peace.  We try to follow the advice of the world only to discover how foolish it really is.  We keep busy so that we don’t have to deal with the gnawing feeling of emptiness in our souls.  We stubbornly try to live our lives without God in it, only to discover how miserable of a life we really have.

Jonah had to get down to the lowest possible level he could possibly be in before he acknowledged it wasn’t working and he turned to the Lord.  He once knew what it was like to live in fellowship with God, but he ran away from Him.  He got himself in a mess that he could not get out of.  He was facing certain death at the bottom of the sea in the belly of a fish.  He was covered with seaweed and he was in the middle of water everywhere.  It was dark and there was no way out.  He had a choice to make; he could die in his misery or he could cry out to the Lord for help. 

Just like Jonah, we too can discover that God is our only hope.  The Lord will not rescue us without our willingness to let Him help us.  He will not help us without our acknowledging that He is our only way, truth and life.  He will not help us until we acknowledge that we are guilty of sin and seek His forgiveness.  God will never turn away a sincere and humbled heart.  He is more than willing to help us out of our messes if we will but turn to Him and let Him.  Granted, not all of the messes we find ourselves in are our fault.  Sometimes it’s the sin of others that creates our messes.  Sometimes messes are the result of living in a fallen world. 

Sometimes the Lord does not lift us out of our messes, but instead stays with us in our messes to help us.  What we do need to know is that the Lord is willing and able to help us regardless of how hopeless our situation may be or how helpless we may feel. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jonah 2:1,2 We create many of our own messes.

Jonah 2:1-2  Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.  He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble and he anwered me.  I called to you from the world from the dead, and LORD, you heard me!”

Jonah did not have to be in the mess he was in.  He could have just submitted to God’s will and done what God had given him to do.  But, Jonah did not like what God had told him to do.  He wanted no part of it and chose to run from God.  He ended up inside the belly of a fish simply because he insisted on doing what he wanted to do instead of what God wanted him to do.  God knew Jonah’s heart and did not let him get too far away.  God knew that when Jonah had reached rock bottom that Jonah would come to his senses and listen to God.

We are a lot like Jonah.  We get ourselves into all kinds of messes because we try to avoid what God commands us to do.  Often instead of running to God, we run away from Him.  We foolishly think that God doesn’t care and will leave us alone.  But, it is never quite that simple.  God loves us and will not let us get so far away from him that we can’t find our way back to Him.  He gives us ample opportunities to return to Him. 

God also knows the difference we can make in the lives of others and pursues us when we wander from Him.  He wants us to live submissively before Him so that we can help others who need our particular influence on their lives. 

The Good News is that God hears our cry when we call to Him out of our trouble, even when we are the cause of our trouble.  He does not turn a deaf ear to those who sincerely call on Him. 

Do not act foolishly and try to run from God.  Spare yourself from much grief and unnecessary trouble.  But, if you do, don’t compound your problem by not calling out to Him.  He loves you and will hear you when you call out to Him.  He will take you by the hand and restore you to a right relationship with Him.  He will deliver you out of your trouble.  Praise His holy name!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jonah 1:5 Sleeping on the job.

Jonah 1:5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.  And all this time Jonah was sound alseep down in the hold.

I have often wondered how Jonah could sleep with all the commotion going on around him.  I like it quiet when I sleep.  A lot of noise wakes me up.  The sailors of the ship were shouting to their gods for help.  They were losing their battle to save their ship and their lives.  They were frantic and desperate for any help they could possibly get, but no help was coming.  They went and found Jonah, woke him up, and begged him to pray to his God in the hopes that maybe there was help to be found there.

Jonah was in a deep sleep.  It seems to me like that the church today is much like Jonah was.  There is a raging storm going on all around us.  The world is all stirred up and many are desperately crying out for help.  They are trying everything they know to do to save themselves and the world we live in, but it’s not working.  Yet, the church is in a deep sleep.  We are content to let the storms rage while we sleep.  We are in our own little world and not doing much of anything to try to calm the storms.  Many of us have even let the storms into our lives.

Dear friend, if you know the Lord, you have the answer within you for all the storms of life.  There is no storm the Lord cannot calm.  We can help, if only we would.  If we are not able to enter into the eye of the storm ourselves, we can pray for those who do.  In fact, we must!  Without the Lord’s help, the storms will overpower those who are in it.  Pray much that the Lord will enable those who are out there trying to do what they can to help others out of the storm.  Pray that others will recognize the danger of the storms.  Pray that people will have a desire to change their ways so that they can overcome their storms. 

The world is not going to change until Christ comes and changes it, but that does not mean that we can’t have victory while in the world.  Christ has overcome the world.  He has guaranteed help to those who are awake and are trusting in Him to help them.  Do not sleep while the storm rages around you.  Wake up while there is still time.  Jesus is the Master of the sea and our shelter in the times of storm. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jonah 1:3 Running Away from God


Jonah 1:3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD.  He went down to the seacoast, to the city of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the LORD.

There are several interesting things to note about Jonah.  Jonah was told by God to go to Ninevah and he chose instead to go in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.  We don’t always like what God tells us or gives us to do.  Many of us balk against what God tells us and try to do just what Jonah did; we run away from God.  Sadly for some, this means that they wander into lives of sin and stay there.  Just like Jonah found out, nothing but misery follows those who try to run from God.  Nothing good has ever come to those who have done it.

Jonah bought a ticket and went on board a ship that led him away from God.  This was not an accident.  He knew exactly what he was doing and thus had no one to blame but himself for the things that later happened to him.  What the Lord told Jonah to do was not a pleasant assignment.  Tarshish was the headquarters of Israel’s enemies, the Assyrians.  God was sending Jonah right into the heart of the lions’ den.  The way Jonah saw it, nothing good could come from this at all.

Like the rest of the Israelites, Jonah wanted to see the Assyrians come to an end.  He wanted God to punish them, not deliver them.  Jonah knew that if he obeyed God in this that the chances were good that God would be merciful and spare their lives.  Instead of wanting their salvation, he wanted revenge on them.  Maybe there is someone in your life that you too would rather see God judge than save.  Like Jonah, maybe the Lord has been urging you to speak to them with the intent of reconciliation.  Maybe like Jonah, you have been trying to avoid obeying God by running away from your assignment.

Dear friend, no matter how hard you try, you can’t run away and hide from God.  You will never have peace in your heart by running away from Him.  You will never know the joys of living in Christ by trying to avoid what He gives you to do.  You will never be in fellowship with God while on the run.  You will never avoid troublesome times while on the run.  Stop it right now.  Return to God and let Him restore you to a right relationship with Him.  Yield to His will for you.  It’s not too late.  Do it now while He is speaking to your soul.  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Amos 8:11-12 A Famine of Hearing the Words of God

Amos 8:11-12  “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  People will stagger everywhere from sea to sea, searching for the word of the LORD, running here and going there, but they will not find it.”

The time is coming when there will be a famine on the land for hearing the Word of God.  I believe that we are moving close to a famine right now.  We live in a time where the Word of God is for the most part available to all.  With the technology now in place, one can access God’s Word quickly and easily.  Yet, just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s being accessed.  People are growing up with very little, if any, knowledge of the Bible.  Wherever you go, you will find people ignorant regarding what the Bible says.

There are many churches today where the Bible is not used or even welcomed.  As outrageous as it may seem, it is true.  The Bible is considered to be archaic and unreliable.  It comes under great scrutiny and is not taken seriously.  Many church leaders rarely have a personal knowledge of, or appreciation for the Word of God.  When the Bible is used, it is used to promote personal agendas.  It is taken apart and out of context.  In many church circles, the Scriptures are no longer taken literally.  There is a real famine in the church today for the Word of God as God gave it. 

People are staggering around, groping for meaning and purpose in life.  They may be deeply involved in church life and spiritual activities, but they are starving to death.  They are not finding life worth the living for; they have lost their way and don’t know how to find their way back.  As a result, anything and everything seems to go in the name of Christ.

We must diligently protect God’s Word in us and in our churches.  We cannot take a lackadaisical attitude about this.  We must preach and teach only the Word of God in our churches and homes.  We must insist on basing our faith on the Word of God instead of our activities.  We must let the Word penetrate deep within our souls and captivate our minds.  We must stand unwaveringly on the truth that the Bible IS the authoritative Word of God.  Don’t starve your soul to death like so many do.  God said what He meant and means what He said; strive to always live it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Amos 8:5 How consistent are you in your faith walk?

Amos 8:5  You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless.  You measure out your grain in false measures and weigh it on dishonest scales.”

How consistent are you in your faith walk?  Far too many who go to church on Sundays don’t show it on Mondays.  There is the mindset in the church that going to church is good enough to get us into heaven, that it doesn’t matter too much what we do during the week as long as we go to church on Sunday. 

I would much rather see someone who seldom goes to church on Sunday and live righteously than those who go to church on Sunday but live like the devil the rest of the week.  Church is important as a means of strengthening and growing our faith, but it will not get us into heaven.  Only the heart that is made righteous in Christ will enter into heaven.  There is no sin in heaven and when we live in sin, we disqualify ourselves from it.

Words alone don’t cut it.  A true child of God will live like a child of God all the days of his life.  He will live obediently and faithfully before man and God.  He will strive to live a holy life, shunning sin as much as possible.  A child of God does not make excuses when he does sin.  He admits it when he sins and repents of it.  He strives to honor God in both words and deeds. 

Regardless of when and where you worship the Lord, if your life doesn’t back up your worship, you worship is in vain.  Living in Christ consumes the soul and affects every area of one’s life all the time.  Always seek to do what is right in God’s eyes and you won’t have any problem making it to heaven when you die.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Amos 5:14 Do what is good and run from evil--that you may live!

Amos 5:14  Do what is good and run from evil—that you may live!  The LORD God Almighty will truly be your helper, just as you have claimed he is.

It’s not very hard to understand at all.  If we want to live in Christ we must do good and run from evil.  If we do this, then the Lord will help us do it. 

We cannot do good if we aren’t good.  What makes us good is the shed blood of Christ applied to our hearts.  No one is good in the Biblical sense except for God and no one can be good apart from a relationship with Him.  Just because we do good things doesn’t mean we are good people.  It’s not too hard to be good before man while not being good before God.  We often confuse the two and think that our standing with man makes us in good standing with God.  It doesn’t.  Only Christ can make us good before God.

If we are good before God we will run from evil.  Now, we can’t avoid evil; it’s the norm for the world in which we live.  But, we can choose to not participate in the evil that surrounds us.  We can choose to run from tempting situations.  We can choose to not be entertained by evil.  We can choose to not get too close to evil and avoid it rubbing off on us.  Godly people have a distaste in their mouths for evil and seek instead the things of God.  They seek to let the Lord build them up instead of letting Satan tear them down.

The Lord promises to help us when we set our hearts and minds on Him.  He wants to see us become a holy people, a people after His own heart.  He wants to make us heaven ready.  He wants to teach us His ways.  He wants to help us get rid of all the baggage that hinders us.  He wants to help us live in victory and not defeat.  He wants to help us, but He won’t do it unless we let Him have control of our hearts and minds. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Amos 3:7 No one can claim innocence or injustice when it comes to sin.

Amos 3:7  “But always, first of all, I warn you through my servants the prophets.  I, the Sovereign LORD, have now done this.”

God does not act in judgment without first warning us.  God makes it very clear why He judges us.  He has over and over again made known to us the life we need to live before Him.  He demands of us holy living.  He clearly has told us what sin is and how we need to avoid it.  He makes a clear distinction between sin and godly living.  He created us with the ability to choose between good and evil and right from the beginning made it clear what was good and what was evil.

No one can claim innocence or injustice when it comes to sin.  God gave us His Word to clearly show us the way to holy living.  He has told us about coming judgment on the world.  Although most ignore God’s warnings and warning signs, it is going to happen just as He proclaimed it would.  Knowing that God does take sin seriously and judges it ought to cause us to be careful how we live.  All sin will be exposed by His holiness and judged on Judgment Day.

In order to know what God says about sin and judgment, we must dig deep into God’s Word.  A consistent reading of the Word exposes sin that is around us and in us.  We who have the Word at our disposal will be held more accountable for our knowledge of our sin for all we have to do is to open it up and read it.  A closed Bible does the soul no good.  We need to read what sin is under the law and under grace.  We need to read about the consequences of sin.  We need to read about how God has dealt with sin in the past, how He deals with it now, and how He will deal with it in the future.

You are warned.  God judges sin and will have no mercy on those who insist on living in it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Joel 2:12-13 "Turn to me know, while there is time!"


Joel 2:12-13  That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time!  Give me your hearts.  Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.  Don’t tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts”  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful.  He is not easily angered.  He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.

If you have turned away from the Lord, hear what He is saying to you today.  Turn to Him while there is still time!  You don’t know what is ahead of you.  You may not even finish reading this today.  Right now is the time to turn to Him and give Him your heart.  Don’t let pride get in your way.  Humble yourself before God and seek His face.  Admit your sins, confess them before Him, ask Him to forgive you right now while you can.

The Lord is gracious and merciful; He will not turn you away.  He will not reject you just because you have rejected Him.  He is gracious and merciful and not easily angered.  He has open arms to all who would turn to Him and repent.  He longs to have fellowship with you.  He longs to pour out His love and blessings on you.  The only one who can stop Him from doing it is you. 

The Lord is full of kindness and is eager to not punish you.  He takes no delight in punishing anyone for sin, but He must if they don’t repent.  God is holy and will never let sin go.  He patiently waits for the soul to return to Him, but there always comes a point in which His patience runs out.  He knows the soul and will continue to try to woo us back to Him while we are still able to return.  Don’t let sin harden your heart to the point where God can no longer penetrate it.  Return to Him now while you can. 

If you have not forsaken the Lord but find yourself not as close to Him as you once were, now is the time to turn back to the Lord before you drift farther away.  Today is the day of salvation.  You may never have another chance to get back right with God.  Do it now while you can.  If all is well with your soul, praise the Lord for it and pray for those who need to return to Him.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hosea 14:9 Wise are those who know the paths of the Lord and walk on them.

Hosea 14:9  Let those who are wise understand these things.  Let those who are discerning listen carefully.  The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.  But sinners stumble and fall along the way.

Wise are those who know the paths of the Lord and walk on them.  Wise are those who know the  ways of the Lord are always true and right and when we follow them we will make it to heaven.  The Lord has never led one soul astray and, He never will.

The paths of the Lord are whatever it is that leads us to God.  God makes himself known to us clearly and in a wide variety of ways.  When we follow the path that leads to God, we will find Him.  God makes himself abundantly clear in the Scriptures.  You cannot read the Scriptures without encountering God.  When we pray with sincere hearts seeking God, we find Him.  God hears the prayers of those who sincerely seek Him and answers them.  God is found in the fellowship of the church.  You may have to look hard in some churches in order to find Him, but in most churches, He is there.  God is found in the lives of those committed to Him.  Getting to know godly people helps us to find Him.  God is found in creation; all we have to do is to look honestly and humbly at creation and we can only conclude that God is.  God is found in music, books, movies and we will find Him if we are sincerely looking for Him.

Righteous are those who are sincerely seeking God.  They want to see God.  They are observant in life and attribute to God the things that flow from God.  They pursue those things that lead them to God.  They strive to avoid those things where God cannot be found.  The passion of the righteous is being in the presence of God.

Sinners stumble over the paths that lead to God.  They are so blinded by sin that they have a very hard time seeing the paths that lead to God, let alone follow them.  The desire of the sinner’s heart is not for God so they don’t pursue Him.  They stumble and fall over the witness of God all around them.  Sinners who are content in their sin will not find God. 

Lord, help us to understand that we must always walk only on the paths that lead us to you and to not be content with the life of sin we are prone to drift into.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hosea 10:12 Plant the good seeds of righteousness.....


Hosea 10:12  Plant the good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of my love.  Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness on you.

When you live in righteousness you will naturally be a loving person.  You cannot be right with God and not inherit His love nature.  No matter how well you may be able to live righteously by man’s standards, if you are not loving, you are not living righteously by God’s standards.

Hosea spoke to a people who based their righteousness on how well they were able to live by God’s law.  God made it very clear what they must do in order to be right with Him.  What ended up happening was that when they lived by the law they failed to love one another and legalism without love creates a hard heart.  Hosea’s admonition was for them to plow up the hardness of their hearts.  Obedience to God must be done for the right reason.  What we do must flow from hearts of love, not duty.

If you are not motivated by love for the Lord in what you do, now is the time to do something about it.  Continuing on without love makes the heart hard towards God.  No matter how much good you are doing, if love is not behind it, you do it in vain.  God knows your heart and whether or not your motivation in doing what is right is love and He will hold you accountable for your motivation.  If you want to be sure your heart is right with God, take a bath in His love.  He will shower you in His righteousness and all will  be well with your soul.

Loving God overshadows everything we do.  It affects not only our standing with God, it affects our relationships with others.  We cannot love God without loving people.  We cannot live righteously with uncaring souls. 

Now is the time to examine your soul.  Now is the time to seek the Lord.  Now is the time to make sure that loving God is the driving force in your life.  Now is the time to live righteously before God.  Tomorrow may never come and if you don’t do it now, it may be too late.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dan. 9:4 Does God really keep His promises?

Dan. 9:4  I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed, “ O Lord, you are a great and awesome God!  You always fulfill your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands.”

Do you really believe it?  Do you believe that God always fulfills His promises of unfailing love to those who love Him and obey Him?  Think about how you think about God when circumstances overwhelm you and He seems to not care.  Be honest.  Do you consider God loving you when things are going bad for you?  Don’t you question the love of God for you when nothing seems to change for the better?  After all, if God really loves, He would make sure everything went well for us, wouldn’t He?

We doubt God’s love because we can’t see the forest because of the trees.  All we can see is the moment we are in, not the broader picture of our lives.  We don’t see how the moment can be good for us in any way.  We don’t see how God is going to use us the rest of our life journey and how our present circumstances are a part of our preparation. 

We don’t see the good in the bad because we fail to remember what God says about himself.  He is holy love and is incapable of acting in a non-loving way.  Everything God does, or allows to happen in our lives, flows from love.  He is incapable of doing anything wrong.  We may not understand it at all, but it is true.  In order to deal with life we must accept as absolute truth everything God says.  All of God’s promises come to pass but, there is a condition if we are going to personally experience them.

We must love the Lord and obey Him.  When we love the Lord we trust Him.  We rest in the knowledge that what we are going through is noticed by God and is being used by Him for our good.  We do not speak negatively of Him; instead we acknowledge Him, thank Him, and praise Him regardless of what we are experiencing.  We continue to faithfully obey Him regardless of how we feel.  God never fails us, but we do fail Him.  God will see you through whatever you are going through if you love Him and obey Him.