Archive for October, 2014

Halloween in our midst (Hosea 5-6; Psalm 119:154-176)

October 31, 2014

“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.”  Hosea 6:10

This morning I arose to the reality that once again it is Halloween day in America.  The reminder of all that this day depicts is very sobering for me.  The soberness turns in sorrow as I realize that we have Halloween in our midst every day in America.  Ours is a nation that mirrors the sin of the people of Israel in Hosea’s day.

Hosea, the prophet of God, is continuing his proclamation of God’s coming judgment on a people who were in God’s description, “determined to go after filth,” 5:11.

This phrase determined to go after filth is describing a people who love the world and the things of the world.

Think it through:

Why would Israel and why would America go after the things of the world?  Here is how Jesus answered this question, “Men are lovers of the darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil,” John 3:18-19. 

Brothers and sisters it is time we as the church awaken to the Halloween in our midst.  It is past time that we become a people of the light rather than the darkness.

For an accurate view of our darkness, let me recommend Todd Starnes new book, “Godless America.”  I am presently reading this book which has information about the war we are facing.  It is high time that we follow Hosea’s advice to God’s people, “Blow the horn, sound the trumpet, and sound the alarm…”

Our response:

We must become a people who make our voice heard on every street corner and in every statehouse in our land.  We must teach the Word from our pulpits and we must lead our families in the Word each day.  We must pray as did the Psalmist, “I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.”  Psalm 119:174

There is hope for our nation even though we live with Halloween in our midst.  The hope is in Christ!!!  Step up oh people of God and let your light shine before the world.

“Go Again” (Hosea 3-4; Psalm 119:121-144

October 30, 2014

“And the Lord said to me, ‘God again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” Hosea 3:1

Years ago I stood on a foreign mission field and said to God, “Get me out of this place, I will never be here again.”  My reason for saying this was simple, “The place was filthy and the people would require a great sacrifice on my part.”  Thankfully God did not listen to my prayer!  The place (Romania) and the people (Romanians) have become very dear to my heart.

Question, “Is the Lord dealing with your heart about a place where He wants you to invest your life in the gospel?”

God was dealing with Hosea’s heart.  Here the man of God followed the will of God by marrying a prostitute.  This woman gave him three children, but now she has returned to her former life.  In this setting God says, “Go again and get this woman.”  So down to the slave market he goes and buys this woman back (Redeems her).

Think it through:

Hosea’s life is a picture of how God loves Israel.  Israel is pictured as the prostitute who turns from God.  Chapter 4 describes the depths of Israel’s rebellious heart, “For a spirit of whoredom has led her astray.”

Brothers and sisters, every person is born with such a spirit.  We go astray from the beginning.  It is God who comes to us and redeems us (Colossians 1:14) from the slavery we are in.

This morning I could not keep from praising the God who brought me out of the slave market!!!

Our response:

What does God have to say about the redeemed ministry to others?  Here is one suggestion:  “The people around us are dying because no one is telling them there is another way.”

God spoke through Hosea to the people in 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  

God’s chosen people (Priests) had failed to share the Word of God.  It is often the same way today.

10 years ago I was standing on foreign soil with the Word of God in my had and heart.  But I was trying to leave.  There God broke my heart for people who had never heard.  Today, there is a thriving ministry center that is daily sharing the gospel.

Could it be that God is wanting to do the same with you today?

The Valley of Trouble (Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120)

October 29, 2014

“And there I will give her vineyards and make the valley of Achor a door of hope.  And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15

Question:  “if you were at the drivers wheel in the vehicle of your life and you came upon a sign that read, “Valley of trouble ahead.”  Would you take a different route,  would you turn back, or would you drive through the valley of trouble?

This morning God’s prophet, “Hosea,” is tasked with giving a message to people who had chosen to be at the drivers wheel of their lives.  They were living in complete idolatry.  The question that comes to my mind is this:  “Did they know where they were headed?”

Think it through:

1.  Examine the path they were on, Vs: 1-13

This nation was going after the god’s of this world.  They truly believed it was this world and its dead gods that were providing the blessings they were experiencing.  However, we know according to Vs: 8 that it was God who was blessing them.

This nation was headed directly to public shame before the world.  God would give them open rebuke.  The nations of the world would laugh at the position Israel would find herself in when she came to the valley of trouble.

2.  Examine the path they were being called too, Vs: 14-23

The Bible is clear, “God is softly and tenderly calling these people to repent.”

The chastening of the Lord would melt away the heart of idolatry and replace it with a heart of obedience.  When these people turned from their sin God promised to turn their valley of trouble into a door of hope (Vs: 14).

In this moment I ask:  “How can these things be?”  God’s answer, “I will make for them a new covenant.”  The Lord will make a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) in which He will give them the ability to have a new heart.  This covenant was fulfilled at the coming of Jesus, John 10:10; II Corinthians 5:17

Our response:

The fact it, you and I have a choice each new day.  Either we are at the wheel of our lives or the Lord is at the wheel of our lives.  If we make the decision to be at the wheel, the sign will read, “Valley of trouble.”  But if we make the decision to turn over the wheel to God, the sign will read, “Door of hope straight ahead.”

Read the good news:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Doing the unthinkable (Hosea 1; Psalm 119:73-96)

October 28, 2014

“Go and take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”  Hosea 1:2

Who (in America) would have ever thought (25 years ago) that a wedding chapel owner would face jail time because of his Christian view regarding marriage.  But this is what happened two weeks ago in Idaho as a Christian pastor was told that he and his wife would face both fines and jail time if they refused to perform same-sex marriages.

Question:  “Why are we as a nation doing the unthinkable?”

Allow this to sink in for a few moments.  Look with me at our Scripture reading for the day.  Maybe the prophet of God was asking the same question when God told him to do the unthinkable, “In marring a prostitute.”

In this setting we see the people of the northern kingdom of Israel being depicted in this relationship. The prophet Hosea is seen as representing God and the prostitute Gomer is representing Israel.

This union results in the birth of three children.  Notice their names:  Jezreel (God sows) which means that God will sow punishment to His people.  No mercy (God will have no mercy on a people who do the unthinkable).  Not my people (This people will no longer have the blessing of God on their lives).

Think it through:

This scene in Hosea is very clear.  God’s people did the unthinkable in being unfaithful to God. The result was in their bearing children who were represented as fruit of evil and judgment upon their sin.

This scene is black and this scene is bleak. If not for the grace of God these people would have no hope.  We will see this grace in chapter 3.  When we look at the cross we see God doing the unthinkable in showing his love to an unworthy people, I Peter 2:9-10; Rom. 9:24-26.

Our response:

What should our response be to such a society that is daily doing the unthinkable?

1.  We should praise God for bringing us (if you are a Christ follower) from the darkness into the light, I Peter 2:19-20.

2.  We should plead with God to give us success in the gospel. May we once again be bold and humble in sharing the gospel, Col. 4:2-5

3.  We should stand in the power of God no matter what we must suffer.  The light shines the brightest when we stand for Christ in the dark world Matt. 5:13-16.

The Spiritual Life-line (Psalm 119:49-72; Daniel 12)

October 27, 2014

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”  Psalm 119:71

Years ago I was in a pastor’s conference in North Carolina.  During the conference I was visiting the book store that was selling the books written by several of the speakers at the conference.  There was a book that I purchased on the subject of evangelism.  Little did I know the lasting impact this book would have on my life.

There was one story in particular that gripped me.  It was an allegory about the church.  The church was depicted as being an ocean-liner on the sea of life.  On this ocean-liner were members of a local church being trained to reach drowning people.  Around the ocean-liner were people drowning representing the lost world in the sea of life.  The people were crying out, “Help us.”  But the reply came as a shock to me, “Be quite, we are taking a class on how to reach drowning people.”

Brothers and sisters, I was reminded in Psalm 119 of this truth:  “God’s Word is the spiritual life-line for a drowning world.”

Think it through:

The Psalmist understands this truth as he lifts up the eternal importance of the Word of God.  This was a truth that he came to know even better as he had been through a time when he had wandered from the path.  It was God’s Word that brought him back. Here is what he wrote:

1.  The Word disciplined me when I went astray.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray. but now I keep your word.”  

2.  The Word directed me to turn back.

3.  The Word is a delight to me along the way.

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.”

I can truly say, “God’s Word is our spiritual life-line.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews helps us to understand how God’s Word directs us back to the path, 12:5-11 (Check it out).  As you and I delight ourselves in God’s Word we become God’s mouthpiece in sharing the gospel with the world. In this we throw out the spiritual life-line to those who are spiritually drowning.

Our response:

This very day I encourage you to give your life to the receiving and the sharing of the Word of God.  The Word is your life-line and it is the life-line the Word around you desperately needs.

The reason we ask (Daniel 9)

October 24, 2014

“O my God, incline you ear and hear.  Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name.  For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.”  Daniel 9:18

Each morning I arise to study God’s Word, pray, and then to read the daily headlines in our world.  This morning is no different except in the fact that I was driven back to prayer by what I read and what I saw.

I believe this was truly the case with God’s prophet Daniel.  Daniel has lived through almost 60 years of captivity.  He has both read the Word, the prophet Jeremiah’s prophecy of captivity and he has lived the reality of this news. His response in chapter 9 is a clear path for all who see the reality of the circumstances in our present world.

Here we see this beloved man of God (Vs: 23) crying out to God.

Think in through:

I.  Daniel has spiritual insight, Vs: 1-15

This man of God knows the reason for the present problems of his people.  These people are living in rebellion, Vs: 1-12.

God is Holy God and the people are unholy.  God has clearly told them the result of their choices would be great, Deuteronomy 28:15-60.

This man of God knows the result of their present problems has not be repentance, Vs: 13-15.  These people continued in their path.  Daniel pleads for God’s mercy.

II.  Daniel has spiritual integrity, Vs: 16-19

Daniel knows the only hope for his people lives within the mercy of God.

Daniel knows the only hope of the world is if they see their need of the mercy of God.

Our needed response.

You and I live in a time similar to Daniel’s time.  We are awaiting certain judgment (Daniel 9:24-27).  The only hope of the world is Jesus.  We do not deserve his forgiveness and we cannot possible earn it.  The reason we ask is the same reason why Daniel asked, “Because of the mercy of God.”

I challenge you to read Paul’s words in Colossians 4:1-4.  Discover how you and I are to seek God in our day.  Here are two suggested headings:

1.  Spend time in sincere prayer, Vs: 2

2.  Spend time in specific prayer, Vs: 3-4

“Faith,” well positioned and wonderfully powerful (Daniel 2; Psalm 106)

October 17, 2014

I really don’t know which way to go this morning.  These were my thoughts as I considered today’s blog.  Both Psalm 106 and Daniel 2 are filled with praise to our God for His wonderful work in this world.  For example consider Daniel’s praise:  “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes times and seasons.”  Daniel 2:20

Also consider the Psalmist praise:  “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  Psalm 106:1

In both these chapters we see a high viewpoint of God. In this we discover a faith that is both well positioned and wonderfully powerful.  For our time let’s consider Daniels faith.

Daniel’s faith is cast against the backdrop of a nation living under the rule of a foreign power (Daniel 1)

Think it through:

1.  God position’s his servant in an amazing place, 2:1-16

Daniel is given a vision and interpretation of the vision that is clearly coming from the one true God.

2.  Daniel’s praise for God is revealing praise, 2:17-23

In Daniels praise we see God as truly all-knowing and all-powerful.  I could not help but praise the Lord for all He has done in my life.  I challenge you to discover the goodness of God in your life.  Check out John 18.

3.  God’s revelation is more than amazing, 2:24-30

It is God alone who decides to reveal to us His sovereign plan.  This very day, brothers and sisters, God is at work over what seems to be hovering over you!!!

4.  God’s plan for his servants truly is amazing, 2:31-49

God is building a kingdom that will never be overthrown.  In that kingdom the Lord will rule forever and ever!!!  Check out John 21.

Our response:

Certainly you and I do not know what a day will bring forth.  But we can have faith that He knows and because He knows our lives have been well-positioned and will be wonderfully empowered so that His name will be made famous in whatever we face.

This is Christ at work in our lives.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”  Philippians 4:13

Of Little Account (Psalm 105; Daniel 1)

October 16, 2014

“When they were few in number. of little account, and sojourners in it,” Psalm 105:12

Could it be possible that you and I value ourselves more than we should?  Example, “We feel because we are Americans (Or wherever your country is) that we are entitled to special privileges.  I see this often when I travel abroad on mission trips.  It is so clear in airports when people become so aggressive when they have to wait in line like everyone else.

However, I also see the opposite when some people feel less than privileged.  Such people are very shy and very quite as they patiently wait their turn.

Question, “How does God view your worth?”

Think it through:

Psalm 105 was intended as a reminder of God’s great work in the lives of His people.  This work is chronicled from the time of Abraham until the coming into the Promised Land.  This Psalm was to be sung in their worship services.

All of these wonderful works are done for a people who according to verse 12 were few in number (in comparison to the rest of the world), of little account, and sojourners in it.

It is clear to me that God chose to bless a people of little account so that His name would be magnified among the people of the world.  In such a people, it would be impossible on their own to accomplish what they accomplished.  If they would obey Him and keep His laws, Vs: 45 (His name would be great).

Sadly they felt entitlement and lost their status as highly favored for a period of time!!!

Our response:

Every thing you and I possess has come to us from a Great God who favors us even though we are of little account.  This is not demoralizing to me.  Actually it is the opposite, I am humbled and honored that God would use such a person as me to magnify His work in the world.

This day I praise His name for making me and thousands more, who are taking their stand for Christ, into a people who give testimony to His great power.

Let us join with Paul in living out this truth:  “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”  I Timothy 1:16

Whose In The House? (Ezekiel 48; Psalm 104)

October 15, 2014

“The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits.  And the name of the city from that time on shall be, “The Lord is There.”  Ezekiel 48:35

Through the years our home has been almost a revolving door of visitors who come and go with a freedom knowing they are welcome in our home.  During these years we have hosted many families, some for one evening and some for weeks at a time.  I can honestly say, “It has been a joy to do so.”  However, there are those moments.  One of the moments came years ago when I was walking from the upstairs to the downstairs.  There were several people in the house at the time.  I passed a teenager on the stairs.  Once downstairs I asked my daughter, “Who was that guy?”  She responded, “I have never seen him before.”  Thankfully this was just a friend of one of Keith’s friends who happened to stop by.

This morning our Scripture reading completes our study of the Book of Ezekiel.  The prophet of God was called to minister to the exiles in Babylon.  The last chapters of the book detail the temple and the city of Jerusalem in its restored state (Which was still in the future).  As one reads the chapters, he or she cannot but see the still in the future picture of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21) which is still to come.

Also, one cannot overlook the last statement in the Book of Ezekiel, “The Lord is There.”  

Think it through:

There is coming a day when God will dwell with His people.  Yes, there is a day coming when all Christ followers will be in the presence of God Himself.

Brothers and sisters, “This will be a glorious day.”

This day will be unlike any day we have ever experienced before.  We will have the joy of seeing old friends who have passed on.  We will have the honor of seeing loved ones again.  We will dwell in peace, with no war, no more curse, and the presence of the Lord.

I have often said, “The reality of that day helps me to endure this day!!!”

Question:  “What makes that day possible?”  Answer: “The presence of God.”  Only because of God being in the house will that day be a reality.

Our response:

We cry out with the Apostle John, “Amen, come Lord Jesus,” Rev. 22:20

Weighing the benefits (Psalm 103; Ezekiel 47)

October 14, 2014

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  Psalm 103:2

Question, “What are the benefits that go with the job?”  This question was very important to the person who was considering leaving their present job to work with a new company.  In this moment the benefits were laid on the table.  After a period of investigation the person considering the job move stayed where they were because they discovered the benefits were better where they were.

This morning the Psalmist weights the benefits of following Christ.  The verses that follow verse 2 are some of the most wonderful verses in the Bible.  Each is rich with truth about the benefits of following the Lord.

In this blog I want to consider three of the benefits:

Think it through:

1.  Forgiveness of sins, Vs: 3

Here we discover the glorious benefit of no longer bearing the weight of a convicted sinner.  Here we are reminded of how that we who are sin-ridden are freed from the prison of our guilt and punishment.  Check out Romans 4:25

2. Truth life, Vs: 4-8

Here we discover the joy in knowing that the pit of death no longer holds us.  We are for the first time spiritually alive in Christ.  Our lives are marked with joy and newness of life.  Check out Ephesians 2:1-5

3.  A new status, Vs: 10-12

We are no longer considered as rebels whose record stands against us.  We are now saints of God who have a clear record because of the glorious blood of Christ.  Check out Romans 5:1-5

Our response:

Brothers and sisters, I have just hit the highlights of a chapter that speaks deeply to the benefits of following Jesus.

This day, I challenge you to write down all the benefits you discover in this chapter.  I also challenge you to take time each day to praise God for one of these benefits.  When you do these things, “You day will be brighter no matter how much darkness Satan sends your way.”  When you do these things, “You will never consider the temptation of going after the benefit package the Devil offers.”