Archive for May, 2010

One True Hero

May 31, 2010

Today we as a nation celebrate Memorial Day.  This day is set aside to honor those who have given their lives in the pursuit and the protection of freedom in our nation.  Yesterday afternoon I was able to spend a few minutes watching Fox News coverage of the lives of many of these true American hero’s.

Even though each of these hero’s did unique things, there were several things they had in common.  First they all were human, they were not perfect.  They had good and bad points in life. Secondly, they were not able to save the lives of every person around them.  Certainly they were able to save many lives but not everyone’s life.  Thirdly, they all died.

Now you might be thinking, “these things are common with everyone.”  However this is not true. There is one true hero who is different from all other hero’s.  This mornings devotion covers Ezekiel 28-35.  In chapter 34 we find these words, “Therefore I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be a prey.”  Who is this one who can do this?  The next verse gives the answer, “I will establish one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them-My Shepherd David.” The true is hero is Jesus Christ.  He is different from all other hero’s.  Yes He is human but He was perfect as a Human and is at the same time God.  Secondly, He is able to save the lives of everyone who comes to Him in repentance.  Thirdly, He did die, but He arose from the grave forever purchasing eterna life for those who believe in Him.

I am so thankful that He is my Lord and Savior.  Yes we will celebrate our hero’s today.  Yes we will wave the flag and I am honored to do so.  But every day I will celebrate the fact that Jesus is our one true hero.  And I will wave the banner of the cross before a lost and dying world.

Enjoy your day!!! Also Please give honor to whom honor is due.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here for He has risen, come and see the place where he laid,” Mk 16:5.

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Standing In The Gap

May 28, 2010

In life one of the greatest joys is when someone comes to your assistance.  It has happened in my life twice this week.  The first time was when a friend paid for the repair bill on my vehicle.  I was in amazement when the mechanic said, “Your bill is paid in full.” The second time was at about six-thirty this morning when my phone rang.  It was my neighbor across the street.  He said, “I have about two hours this morning if you want to fix the drainage problem on the backside of  your property.  This time I was amazed at the kindness afforded to me by a neighbor.

My devotions for this morning were Ezekiel 19-28.  I had just finished reading chapter 22 when my neighbor called.  I was praising God for what I read.  Here is what God said to Ezekiel, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one,” 22:30.

As I read those words, I was sad because there was none in Israel who could take on himself the wrath of a Holy God against sin for the people.  But at the same time I rejoiced because there is one who has stood in the gap for our sin.  This one is Jesus.  But not only did He stand in the gap, He continues to stand in the gap for our sins.  The bible says in Hebrews 7:25, “He ever lives to make intercession for us.”

Maybe this is a day when you are not feeling blessed as a believer?  Maybe you are feeling unloved or you are feeling all alone?  Child of God nothing could be any farther from the truth.  Jesus is standing in the gap for you.  He has done and continues to do for you what you could never do on your own.  He is our Lord and Savior.

Think about what you have read.  Just like my vehicle bill, “Your debt has been paid in full.”  You could never pay it, if you lived a million years, but He paid it all. Just like my neighbor who showed kindness, so too did our Savior show kindness in coming and dying in our place.  Again we did not deserve it nor did we earn it.  It was solely by grace.

When I read about the terrible judgment on the nation of Israel I see what my life would be without the one who stood in the gap.  Be encouraged today and be thankful for the one who stands in the gap.  Also pray for the boldness to share Christ with those who have no one to stand in the gap.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Jesus died once for all when He offered up Himself,”  Hebrews 7:26.

The Fruit of Repentance

May 27, 2010

There can be no greater joy in a relationship than when the person you have offended says, “I forgive you.”  There are been several (Probably many) times when I have failed my wife.  Those moments are heartbreaking and they are often lonely because our lines of communication have been blocked by sin. However when forgiveness comes, the sweet fruit of restoration is wonderful.

However there is something that must occur between offense and forgiveness.  The something is called repentance.  Without repentance there can be no restoration.

My devotion this morning covered chapters 11-18 in the book of Ezekiel.  God’s people were in sin and this sin was robbing them of the sweet fellowship with God.  The more God sent prophets to deliver a message of repentance, the harder they became.  Judgment was upon this people because they refused to evidence the fruit of repentance.

However Ezekiel makes it clear that God does not take joy in the death of one who dies.  God actually cries out; ” Turn and live,” 18:32. In this chapter God makes it clear, repentance is for everyone.  Our Lord does not refuse anyone who evidences fruit of repentance.

For me, this is amazing because to be honest we as human’s often do not forgive as easily and as completely as does God.  Often we say we forgive but it comes at a price.  We are cold for a few days or we make the person pay over and over for their failure.

But how different is our God.  He placed all of His wrath upon Christ and His forgiveness is total and unconditional because Jesus made a sufficient payment for our sins.  So when anyone bears fruits of repentance he or she receives forgiveness and a new standing with God.

My challenge to you is twofold.  First, do you need the forgiveness of God?  If so, bear fruits of repentance in this moment.  Second, do you need to give forgiveness to someone who is bearing fruits of repentance?  Someone once said,” God forgives much quicker than we do.”  I challenge you to be like Christ and forgive unconditionally.  Jesus said, “If we do not forgive men their trespasses our God will not forgive your trespasses.”

So no matter which place you find yourself in, either needing to repent or needing to forgive the repentant, so do it in Jesus name.  Sherry and I know first hand the joy of the fruit of repentance.  It has been invaluable to our marriage and to our walk with Christ.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all my statues, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die,” Ezekiel 18:21.

A Trivial Thing

May 26, 2010

This mornings devotions covered the first ten chapters of Ezekiel.  The prophet of God is called to minister to the exiles who were facing the judgment of God.  With each chapter Ezekiel was reminded of the stiffness and sinfulness of the people of God.

By chapter nine Ezekiel is broken over the depravity and destruction of God’s people.  Here is what he cried out to God, “Ah, Lord God!  Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem,” 9:8.

As I read these words, I was reminded of the coldness of my own heart concerning my own people in the nation I call home.  Our nation is in terrible condition in so many ways.  The greatest is her sinful lifestyle against God.  To make it even worse she is like Israel in that she considers her sin, “A Trivial Thing.”

God made it clear to Ezekiel in 8:17 that the people considered their sin a trivial thing.  I wonder was all of the innocent children who died a trivial thing?  I wonder was all the destruction of land and even the temple of God a trivial thing?  I wonder was the Glory of the Lord being removed a trivial thing?

Brethren, “Sin is a big deal to God!” We as a nation can cry reform and we can blame our problems on others but the real problem is our nation’s attitude toward God and sin.  It is not a trivial matter.

Unless we become zealous and repent sure destruction is at the door.  Ezekiel writes, “Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none,” 7:25.

All of this spoke deeply into my heart as a follower of Christ.  I must not allow any sin in my life to exist nor must I consider the small things commanded by God to be considered trivial.  I must daily pray and take inventory of my life.  I must daily submit myself to the truth of God.  I must daily mortify sin.

When I do these things, my perspective for the people around me matches that of Ezekiel.  I experienced this yesterday as I sat outside of a Love’s Truck Stop waiting for Sherry.  A young lady came walking by and it was clear by the way she was dressed that she was filled with a world system that takes the truth of God as a trivial thing.  She was holding hands with a little girl that I am sure was her’s.  I must confess there are times when I would have had legalistic thoughts.  But on this day the Lord had me where He wanted me.  I began to cry as I thought about the little girl and her mother.  “Without Christ the little girl has no change of peace and genuine love.  She and her mother have no hope of heaven without Christ.” I pleaded with the Lord to allow me to somehow reach out to this family and all of the families in our nation.

Sin and hell are not a trivial thing.  God help us to awaken to the place and time we are in.

I leave you with the word of the Lord, “I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days,”  Ezekiel 3:15.

Delaying the Obvious

May 25, 2010

Certainly there are times when our lives seem so filled with trouble that we find ourselves on the verge of saying, “I quit.”  This past week has been a week where I have either meet or received emails from so many people who are in this place.

I wondered, as I finished the last two chapters of Jeremiah and then read the book of Lamentations, if Jeremiah wanted to quit?  The fact is, he knew Israel was going to be defeated and taken captive, but the people were trying their best to delay the obvious.  In Jeremiah 52 we discover for two years the people inside the city of Jerusalem delayed the obvious.  “By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land,” Vs: 6.

Jeremiah had repeatedly told the people to submit to God’s judgment and go where He was leading and He would restore them.  But they continued to delay the obvious.

Now pay close attention here, “It’s obvious that you and I cannot handle all that comes into our lives.  So why delay the obvious, cry out to God for mercy and grace.”  Our God does not desire to punish or to destroy you.  He desires just the opposite, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,”  Lamentations 3:22-23.

Adrian Rogers wrote, “If you woke up this morning and you’re still here-God still has a plan for your life.” So why delay the obvious?  Repent of your self-reliance.  Repent of your self-pity.  Repent of our selfish motivation. When you fail to daily do these things, “You are delaying the obvious that only God can lead you to victory.

Once we repent it is obvious that we must seek His mercy and we must seek His might.  Jeremiah continues to write, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!”  Place all of your hope in Him today and you will experience His mercy and His might.

Maybe you ask, “How long will it be before this thing works out?” The answer is obvious, “In His timing!!!”

I leave you with His precious word which is timely for this moment, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord, “Lamentations 3:25-26.

Up To Your Elbows In Trouble

May 24, 2010

Today is monday!  Certainly there is no divine revelation in this statement, but there is something to be said about Monday’s .  In my life Monday is all about sharing with the Lord all that I experienced on the Lord’s day.

For example: “I praised Him for the wonderful way He taught us truth yesterday and I praised Him that I could worship Him.  I praised the Lord for someone joining our fellowship and I praised the Lord for the way He blessed us with children praising the Lord.”

However there were also many things that I petitioned the Lord about.  I must confess that I enter into people’s trials and tribulation’s.  Yesterday was no exception.  Many people around me are facing tough moments.  I am sure some who read this today are also facing tough moments.

As I read chapters 35-50 in the book of Jeremiah I was reminded that our author was “Up to his elbows in trouble.”  “So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire” 38:6.

As I read those words I could feel a sadness come over me as I thought about this great prophet suffering for simply sharing the word of the Lord.  Brothers and sisters be assured you and I will face those moments when we will also be up to our elbows in trouble, II Timothy 3:12.

But also be assured our God will see us through.  Our God has a great purpose in our suffering.  He will use our suffering to place His mark upon our lives.  He will use our suffering to magnify His name in all the earth.  I am sure Jeremiah had fears and doubts as he sank.  But I am also sure he was strengthened by the Father.

Just a few verses later he would be released and he would be able to roam free in his own nation. “He was lifted up.”  Just as Jeremiah was lifted up so to was our Lord lifted up.  He was lifted up on a cross for people who were and are up to their elbows in trouble, this trouble is called sin.  Jesus took our trouble, sin, so we could take His righteousness, II Corinthians 5:21.

When Jeremiah was lifted up, he was lifted up with old rags.  Isaiah wrote, “Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.”  When Jesus was lifted up, “He was our spotless lamb.”

So as you and I come before God up to our elbows, we can take heart that we have a spotless lamb who was lifted up for our sin.  Our God offers us peace and perspective in any trouble we face.  I encourage you to look to our Redeemer in your trouble today.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Their Redeemer is strong; The Lord of Hosts is His name.  He will thoroughly plead their case, that He may give rest to the land,”  Jeremiah 50:34.

The Day Is Coming

May 21, 2010

Though out my life I have always been one who would get excited about upcoming events.  I can still remember being unable to sleep as I thought about the carnival coming to town the next day.  The fact is, in almost every event I have been a part of, I could not sleep the night before.

This also happens to me every Saturday night as I get ready for Sunday. This same excitement happens with my youngest son as he gets all fired up about any event.  He gets so fired up that we will not tell him ahead of time because he wearies us in wanting to know when we are going to leave for the event.

As I read chapters 30-35 in the book of Jeremiah I found myself so excited about the prophecy in chapter 33.  “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah:  In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of Righteousness…”

A serious student of scripture knows this is a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah.  You and I can rejoice because we know Messiah has come and we can rejoice because we know He is coming again. When He comes again He will reign on an eternal throne.

However I discover Israel did not live her life as if the day was coming.  In fact she was living as if the Lord would not return.  I wonder do you and I live our days with the anticipation and excitement concerning His return?  Do we live with an urgency of reaching others in anticipation of His return?

This morning, I feel this urgency because I have friends and neighbors who are not ready if this day comes.  I feel the weight that I must be the one who sows seeds of the gospel into their lives.  God has placed me on this street and He has placed me in this world for such a time as this and I must be about His business of proclaiming, “The day is coming.”

I am praying for those who read this, “Your life will be lived with the wonder and the weight of His coming.”  Let me encourage to daily pray for opportunities to share with those you meet and let me encourage you to live with an expectancy of His return.

I leave you with God’s precious word, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be self-controlled,”  I Thessalonians 5:6.

God’s Thoughts

May 20, 2010

Often we encounter people who are more than willing to give us their thoughts.  For example, “Last night my oldest graduated from high school. The commencement speaker began with the following, ‘two minutes after I am finished speaking you will have forgotten my words.”  As I sat there I thought, “How true he was.”  Our words or our thoughts are passing and they lack the power to penetrate the hearts of those we speak to.

However it is different with God.  His words (thoughts) are eternal and they are powerful to penetrate hearts and lives.  This morning’s devotion covered chapters 21-30 in the book of Jeremiah.  Several times Jeremiah is told to speak the word’s of the Lord.

In chapter 39 Jeremiah writes a letter to those who have been taken captive.  These people were to settle in the land and to pray for the land where they would spend the next seventy years of their lives.

In the middle of the chapter we find the following truth, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” 29:11.  In this verse we discover God’s thoughts toward us.  Our God has a peaceful plan that will take us from the beginning of our lives all the way through to the end of our lives.

I am amazed that Jeremiah uses the word peace.  Especially since much of our lives are spent in circumstances that are less than peaceful.  However our peace is not in the circumstances but in God who is over the circumstances.  The question we must answer in all of these circumstances is simply this, “What are God’s thoughts?”

When we know and obey God’s thoughts we have peace in every situation. Maybe you ask, “How can we know God’s thoughts?”  Here is the answer, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all of your heart,” 29:12-13.

To know God’s thoughts demands that you focus your attention to His thoughts which are contained in His word.  You must submit all of your thoughts to Him and you must filter everyone else’s thoughts through the earpiece of God’s word.  Then and only then will you and I be able to know His thoughts and experience His peace.

The truth is, my daughters commencement speaker was correct in saying, “in two minutes you will have forgotten my words.”  However our speaker went on to say, “You must remember His words because they are the key to success in life.”

I am praying for you, this day, that you will know and obey His thoughts.  When you do, your life will be filled with peace.

I leave you with His thoughts, “For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, and has perceived and heard His word?  Who has marked His word and heard it,” Jeremiah 23:!8.

Why Lord?

May 19, 2010

Over the course of human history there have been countless people who have asked the question, “Why?”  We could exhaust our time in sharing the stories of the moments when you and I ask, “why.”

The Prophet Jeremiah was in this place in today’s devotional, chapters 10-20.  Here is the why of his question, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why are those happy who deal so treacherously.” 12:1.  God’s people were facing the wrath of the enemy and it seemed to Jeremiah that God was not dealing with the enemy.

In God’s response, 12:1-17, we discover the fact that Jeremiah did not see the big picture of all that was going on in the circumstances he was living through.  It is often the same way in our lives.  We get caught up in our battle and we fail to see the bigger picture of the war that is taking place.  We focus on the hurt of the moment instead of the happiness that will come at the top of the mountain when we get there.

Jeremiah was faithful in trusting in the God who answered his why’s.  I wonder are we faithful in trusting God when He answers our why’s?  Before you answer this question, please consider the ways God answers our why’s:  1) Sometimes God is silent about the why and chooses to only speak the words, “Trust Me.”  2) Sometimes the Lord responds with the words, “Be patient and wait.”  3) Sometimes the Lord responds with the words, “You must go through this, This is for My glory and your Good.”

Now let me ask you, “Under these circumstances, will you still trust Him?”  The answer to the question will be determined by the state of your spiritual life.  Israel did not trust because they were in a dry and desert place in their spiritual life.  “They went to the cisterns and found no water, they returned with their vessels empty,” 14:3.

Brother and sister make sure you are in a place where you spend time with the Lord daily.  Be sure you are walking in submission and be sure you are examining your life through the lens of God’s word every day.  These disciplines will assure that you will hear and heed God’s response to your why’s.  This was always the case in Jeremiah’s life.  Here is what we often find in the book of Jeremiah, “Then the Lord said to me.”  There could be no sweeter words in our why moments.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “For I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.  I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible,” Jeremiah 15:20-21.

Plowing In Hard Ground

May 18, 2010

One of the blessings of living in the country is the blessing of being able to see all the famers and the work they are doing.  I always enjoy seeing the farmer plow his field.  For me there is so much excitement because I know spring is in the air.  I also know it is time to sow and I also know there will be a time of harvest because of the plowing and sowing.

As I read Jeremiah 2-9, I found myself thinking of this analogy.  Jeremiah is given the assignment to sow God’s word to a people who’s hearts could be easily compared to hard ground.  They had forsaken the Lord and they were willingly sinning against God.  Jeremiah describes these people as follows, “They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return,” 5:3.

Because of their hardness of heart God was sending judgment.  This judgment broke the heart of the prophet, 9:1.  Much in the same way, our nation stands at the same place before God as we willingly sin against God.

The question I have for you this morning is simple?  Is there any hope for people who are living life in hard ground?  The answer is yes.  But it is a conditional yes. Here is what Jeremiah wrote, “Break up your hard ground.  And do not sow among thorns.  Circumcise yourselves to the Lord.  And take away the foreskins of your heart,” 4:3-4.

People living in hard ground must experience God’s plow called His word penetrating the hard soil of their hearts.  When this happens the heart becomes soft and moldable before God.  I experienced this very thing this morning as I came before the word with something that was dogging my mind and heart.

As I read the word, I realized God was plowing in hard ground.  I realized I had to submit to what He was saying and I had to put away what was hurting me.  In this I found great joy because I was able to grow and I was reminded, at some point I will bear fruit.

Here is how Jeremiah describes the plowing I went through this morning, “It you will return, O Israel,” says he Lord, return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight, then you shall not be moved,” 4:1

I wonder, “Is there hard ground in your life?”  If so, be assured you will not bring forth fruits of righteousness until you allow God’s word to plow under the hardness in your heart.  Let me encourage you to dig deep into His word.  Also allow me to encourage you to do it today, because we could wait to long.  Israel waited to long and the following proclamation was made, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved,” 8:20.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty,” Matthew 13:23.