Archive for November, 2015

A Spiritual fireworks display (Psalm 145; Amos 2; Hebrews 8; I Chronicles 1)

November 13, 2015

“My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.”  Psalm 145:21

Yesterday I had the joy of leading the devotion time for our Senior Adult Ministry.  The saints of God who filled that room were some of the greatest servants of God in days gone by in our church.  As I stood before them, I was filled with the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 145.

The writer was focusing on the greatness of God.  This greatness led the writer to challenge believers to evidence God’s greatness to the world.  R. C. Sproul comments on this Psalm as follows, “David encourages us to praise the law in such amazing ways that resemble a fireworks display at the end of a great game or concert.”

I challenged those who came to the meeting and I challenge you to consider your life as a “spiritual fireworks display.”  Here were 5 actions that I challenged the brethren to display:

  • Every day we can praise the Lord because there is more and more to discover about our God, Vs: 2-3
  • Every day we can proclaim what we know to those who do not know, Vs: 4-7
  • Each day we can both experience and express the love of God, Vs: 8-10
  • Each day we are to look for the Lord who may come at any moment, Vs: 11-3
  • Each day we can share the great provision of God who meets our every need, Vs: 14-19

As David reveals these things to his readers, we find him building to the great fireworks display.  In this moment verses 20-21 leap off the page as a fireworks display.

This is really important.  If we fail to fuel the fires of our witness we will eventually burn out, fall out, or go out in our light for Jesus.  I pray Psalm 145 stirs you to be as Jesus commands us to be in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men.”

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A glorious future (Psalm 144; II Kings 25; Amos 1; Hebrews 7)

November 12, 2015

“may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets,” Psalm 144:14

The words of Psalm 144 could possible not seem as something you would be praying?  It also could seem to be something you would not consider to be “glorious.”  But be assured Psalm 144:14 speaks of something glorious.

Think it through:

David is crying out to God in the midst of conflict.  He is asking for both the presence of God in his life and working through his life.  David uses three words to describe God’s work that brings us to a glorious future:

  • Rock

Because He is our rock we have a place to stand, a place of protection, and a place from which to launch out into the battle.

  • Rescuer

He is the God who rescues us from our sins, Vs: 3-4, and rescues us from our enemies, Vs: 6-11.

  • Rewarder

For those who seek God he is their rewarder.

These three words help us to understand how David’s words promise a glorious future.  Consider this fact, “If the cattle can give birth without trouble and the city streets are not filled with cries, it means there is peace.”

Brothers and sisters, there is peace in Christ alone!!!  We must be a people who stand in faith in the trial, Revelation 3:11-17.  We must be a people who worship God in every trial, Revelation 5:9; 14:3

Looking to another day (Joel 3; II Kings 24; Psalm 143; Hebrews 6)

November 11, 2015

“And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streams of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the valley of Shittim.”  Joel 3:18

Sometimes it is extremely hard to see the big picture when your eyes are staring directly at a hard moment!

Think it through:

The nations of Israel and Judah are staring directly at the world they have been scattered into, Vs: 6.  The people have endured the following: enslavement; exile; and exploitation of all things.  However, the Prophet Joel reminds them of this fact:  “There is coming another day.”

I want to encourage you to read Joel three with your eyes firmly focused on another day.

Two things to note:

  1.  There will be a vicious battle on that day in the Valley of Decision, Vs: 9-16

Notice the godless people who come to the battle.  They are ripe for the battle and the wine vat of their wickedness is overflowing.  We see this in our day and it will be on that day according to Revelation 14:20.

Notice God’s people who come to the battle.  Praise be to His name because they are on the winning side, Vs: 16.

2.  There will be a victorious blessing after the day in the Valley of Decision, Vs: 17-18

Take time to note all that is awaiting those who are Christ followers!!  Pay close attention to the last book and the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation.

All that Joel wrote about is coming to be in the Valley of Decision.  I pray that you decide to look fully and faithfully to that day!!!  The writer of Hebrews speaks of this day as being the “Anchor of our hope,” Hebrews 6:19-20.  “Father, use us for your glory this day as we look for another day!!!

Visible signs (Joel 2; II King 23; Psalm 142; Hebrews 5)

November 10, 2015

“Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near.”  Joel 2:1

Last Saturday John and I were given tickets to the Georgia game.  We were blessed in being able to go to the game.  When we got to the campus of the University of Georgia, signs were very visible about parking and they were very visible about every part of the game.  It was a very cool experience, but above all the kindness of different people helped us with answers that visible signs could not give.

Consider the book of Joel.  There is much debate as to when it was written.  The dates vary from the time just before the Babylonian exile to the time after the return from the exile.  Either way the truth of the book is the same.  Joel is sounding a cry to be ready for the “Day of the Lord.”

The “Day of the Lord” can speak of several different days:

  • The day of immediate judgment-against a people such as Israel in the days of captivity.
  • The day of future judgment-when the Lord will return to judge the entire world.
  • The day of your personal judgment-when you and I stand before this God to be judged.

Think it through:

We see the visible sign of the army of the Lord in Vs: 1-11.  Here we see references to the terrible force of the battle and the outcome of God’s people when they are judged, I believe in the immediate judgment of the Babylonian captivity.

We see a visible sign of a people who repent in Vs: 12-17.  God counsels both the priest and the people to genuinely repent before the coming of the Day of the Lord.

We see the visible sign of the day when Israel will be brought back in the kingdom, Vs: 18-27.

Finally we see the visible sign of the church coming before the Second Coming of Christ, Vs: 28-32

Before the Lord returns, the church will come on the scene and usher in the last days.

We see Joel’s prophecy coming turn on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2.  We will see the Lord return, I believe soon, because the signs are all around us.  I Peter 1:10-12.

Our response:

What is to be our response to what we have read?

I believe it is to be the visible sign of Christ at work in our lives.  While at the game on Saturday, there were two people who helped us interpret the signs around the stadium.  Because of their help we were able to find success in our journey.  Brothers and sisters, “Signs are just signs unless those who understand the signs show others the way.”  This is our call this very day.

I plead with you to study the signs and to share the signs as one who is maturing in Christ (Hebrews 5:11-14).

Here in chapter 2 we read the visible signs that mark the “Day of the Lord.”

Finding the Book (II Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Psalm 141-142; Joel 1)

November 9, 2015

“Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found.  For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book to do according to all that is written concerning us.”  II Kings 22:13

Wow!!!  Did you read the above verse?

Maybe, if we understood the context it would be even more a wow for us?

Think it through:

The nation of Judah is edging closer to what their sister nation Israel had already experienced, “the judgment of God.” God has raised up a new king in Judah by the name of Josiah.  His heart, unlike many other kings, is loyal to God, Vs: 2.  We see immediate changes as he seeks to repair God’s house.

While they are repairing God’s house, a copy of the Law of God is found.  Immediately the king recognizes the following:

  • This is God’s Word
  • We as people are not obeying what God has said.
  • Judgment is coming.
  • We must repent.

Josiah repents before the Lord.  This repentance leads to a moment of revival for God’s people.

Brothers and sisters, “If we want to see personal revival, we need to see God’s Word.”  God’s Word must be implanted deep within us day after day!!!

Brothers and sisters, “If we want to see our nations reached with the gospel, we will have to share the gospel and pray for an awakening to do what it says.”

So on this Monday, wherever you are in the world, spend time with God’s Word and then spend your time-sharing what God has said in His Word.  The results will be both obvious (Hebrews 4:12) and overflowing (John 3:16-17).

The answer for our distress (II Kings 19; Psalm 135-136; Hosea 12; Hebrews 1)

November 6, 2015

“They said to him, ‘This says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress; of rebuke; of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.”  II Kings 19:3

Imagine the day Hezekiah was having, “the enemy of God’s people was on them.  The city was surrounded and there seemed to be no hope.  The leader of the Assyrian army comments about their distress in 18:27, “You are doomed to eat your own dung and to drink your own urine.”

Brothers and sisters this is a place of great distress!!!

If you were giving council to these people, what would it be?

Here is what the King did:

  • He first was focused on the great distress:

The army of Assyria was bearing down and it cause great anxiety because he did not know what the future was holding for the nation.

  • He focus came as he prayed.

Check out verses 14-19:

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.16 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 19 So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

The king bow’s before the Sovereign Creator of the Universe and he pleads for deliverance for the sake of God’s glory.

God’s response is amazing:  “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.”

Brothers and sisters, the answer for our distress is always “Prayer.”

When we pray according to God’s will two things happen:

  1.  There will be peace in the midst of the distress in knowing God is all over the distress, Philippians 4:6-7.
  2. There will be God’s power in overcoming because He is doing this according to his covenant with us and for His glory, James 5:16; I john 5:14-16.

Are you in distress?  Pray, Pray, and Pray!!!

Our Holy Father (Hosea 11; II Kings 18; Psalm 132-134; Philemon)

November 5, 2015

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”  Hosea 11:1

There are moments when God moves each of us into positions where we are called to reflection concerning our lives.  Those moments could come when we have a near death experience or a life altering experience.  For some people, it is when they are faced with a time of being shaken by God’s judgment or showered with overwhelming grace.

Question:  “Are you in a moment of reflection?”

This day, the Lord brought me to a great moment of reflection as I considered the overwhelming grace of God in being my heavenly Father.

Think it through:

Hosea chapter 11 has the following heading in my ESV Study Bible, “The Lord’s Love for Israel.”

There were three snapshots of our Father’s care for Israel that stuck close to home:

  • God made Israel into a son-in the same way God call’s men and women into his family, Romans 8:14-18.
  • God developed Israel into a nation-in the same way God develop’s his children into a family, Ephesians 4:12-16.
  • God loved Israel in spite of her sinfulness-in the same way God loves his children with an everlasting love, John 3:16.

These snapshots made an amazing impression on my life.  They were even more impressive as I considered the snapshots of God’s children:

  • They were rebellious and without a thankful heart, Vs: 2-3.
  • They were resistant to disciple and attempted to bypass God’s judgment, Vs: 5-7.

Brothers and sisters I see myself in these snapshots.  How often have I lived in rebellion taking credit for God’s grace in my life.  How often have I tried to reason away the discipline of God.  This very day, I praise God for His steadfast love for His people.

I so clearly see God grace in rescuing Israel from total destruction, Vs; 9-10.  I so clearly see our Holy Father providing a way of escape in His own Son Jesus Christ.  This day I celebrate the love of our Holy Father.

Our response:

Question:  “Now that you have reflected on the snapshots of the Holy Father as well as the snapshots of God’s children, what will you do?”  For me, I want to join the Psalmist in praising God for Jesus, Psalm 132:12, who is our hope beyond judgment, Acts 2:30!!

Lord, I love you and I praise you for being my Holy Father!!!

The Truth Be Told (II Kings 17; Titus 3; Hosea 10; Psalm 132-134)

November 4, 2015

“Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight.  None was left but the tribe of Judah only.”  II Kings 17:1

One of the many things that still amazes me about God’s Word is the truthfulness of God’s description of people and nations. Consider this fact:  “God is holy and we are not.”  But still, he amazes us in giving mercy to us as sinners, Titus 3:4.

In II Kings 17 we have an example of God’s Word speaking truth about the Northern Tribes of Israel:

  • God is going to judge Israel in carrying her into captivity because of her rebellion against Him, Vs: 1-18.

These verses are extremely descriptive of Israel’s rebellion.  Here is one verse that summarizes their rebellion, “But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.” 

  • God would judge Judah in carrying her into captivity unless she repented of her rebellion against God, Vs: 19-20.

Judah had been introduced to the rebellious ways of Israel and she had fully embraced the rebellion.  Judgment was coming on this people.

In this moment, I pause and I look toward our day and the truth that I am sure God is still telling about the nations of the world.  Ours is truly a world filled with nations that mirror the rebellion of Israel and Judah.  The question that bears on my mind is this, “If God did not spare Israel, what will be the end of the nations of the world?”

Here is what Jesus says:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, the he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”  Matthew 25:31-32

Brothers and sisters, “Our resolve should be to both live and share the light of the gospel with this world.”  As we do these things, “We pray for God to shine his light on the darkness of this world so that men would see their darkness and turn from darkness to the marvelous light of Jesus.”

Lies and more lies (Hosea 9; II Kings 16; Psalm 126-128; Titus 2)

November 3, 2015

“Rejoice not, O Israel!  Exult not like the people’s; for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.  You have loved prostitutes wages on all threshing floors.”  Hosea 9:1

The prophet of Gods words seen so harsh and so anti nationalistic, however they were so true!!!  Hosea’s prophecy cuts and it seems to be impossible for judgment to come upon the Northern Tribes of Israel. In years gone by the nation has experienced so much prosperity, but now, Hosea says, “Its coming to an end.”

Think it through:

When was the last time you heard someone teach the book of Hosea?  When was the last time you heard someone, in politics, proclaim, “We are fooling ourselves in saying, we are going to prosper in the ways we are going?”

Sadly, the political and religious landscape of many nations is the same, “Lies and more lies.”

Hosea spoke the truth in Hosea 9.  Here is an outline of what He said:

  • Prosperity is over, Vs: 1-2.
  • Captivity is coming, Vs: 3-4
  • Celebration is useless, Vs: 5-6

In a very short time the Northern Kingdom would fall.  God’s judgment has come, Vs: 7. Why has this judgment come?  The people have turned away from God to other God’s.  Despite all of God’s warnings, they would not turn back to Him, Vs: 8-17.

Much in the same way, John prophecies of God’s coming judgment upon the world in the last days, Revelation 22:10-11.  I believe our day could be these very days.

The question that comes to my mind is this:  “What can you and I do to stand against lies and more lies?”  Answer, “Psalm 126.”

Psalm 126 shares the glorious praise of a people who have endured judgment and have been restored by God.  The Psalmist challenges the people to do two things:

  1.  To daily pray in brokenness, Psalm 126:4
  2. The daily pray in faith believing God can turn it all around, Psalm 126:5

Question:  “How will God turn it around?”  Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we faint not.”  We must become a determined people who will labor in believing and broken prayer for the nations of the world.  We must share the glorious news of God’s return to this earth to correct every wrong and to establish a kingdom where righteousness dwells, Titus 2:11-13.

Lord, help us to be both a Hosea and a Titus in our stand for the glorious truth!!!

Sowing Sin (Hosea 8: II Kings 15; Psalm 123-125; Titus 1)

November 2, 2015

“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.  The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flower.”  Hosea 8:7

This past Friday the Lord awakened me extremely early so that I could spend extra time in prayer and study.  As I sat down in my old comfortable chair, I felt the pressure of busyness running through my head.  This has been the case for a few days.  As I attempted to read God’s Word, all I could do was think about all the areas of my life that needed my attention.

Question:  “Can you identify?”

I immediately starting getting nervous and felt increased pressure.  But then, God’s Word came flooding in my heart, “Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10.  In that moment the Lord reminded me of the importance of each moment!!!  

  • God said, “I have everything taken care of for this day, spend time with me.”
  • God said, “It is of zero value to rush through your day, nothing great can come of it.”
  • God said, “You are not enjoying me in each moment.”

I immediately repented as James teaches us in James 4:7-10.  I immediately felt a release of the pressure and a return to the sweet fellowship of God.  I was able to see the Bible’s meaning in tough passages.  

Here is a simple example from Hosea 8:

  1.  Israel planted sin, Vs: 7A

This sin was both in obeying other kings and in worshipping other Gods, Vs: 4.

2.  Israel harvested judgment, Vs: 7b

God was coming to judge his people for their sin.  They were useless in their walk, Vs: 9.

The application is clear:  “Galatians 6:7 “We reap what we so.”  God intends for us to reap a harvest of righteousness as we follow Christ as our king and worship Him as our God.    Paul put it this way in Romans 8:6, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Dear Father, thank you for reminding me of how I was planting sin in trying to do so much in each day.  Thank you for your kindness in judging me with the Word of God and for giving me Your unmerited favor.  Father, lead every Christ follower to embrace a life of sowing both love for your Son as King and worship for Him as God alone.