Archive for February, 2022

The Most Difficult Days (Genesis 32-35)

February 28, 2022

“He has been with me everywhere I have gone,” Isa. 35:3.

This morning I continue to have a broken heart for the people of the Ukraine. Sherry and I sat together in prayer, this morning, with hearts that could not grasp the hurt, fear, and destruction that our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing. At the same time we think about the terror that continues in Afghanistan

For many nations and people it is the most difficult of days. When I consider all the implications in our world, I turn to the one place where our help comes from. I turn to God and too God’s Word which is always on time.

We find an example of our help as we come back to the book of Genesis. Jacob is before us in the most difficult days in his life. Chapter 32 chronicles his journey back to the Land of Promise. For 20 years he had lived away from home. There had been so many ups and downs but now they were all coming to what seemed a showdown of his past meeting his present.

Jacob assumed it was going to be the most difficult battle of his life. We see him finally alone with God in Genesis 32. Jacob cried out to God:

“Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of Him,” (32:11).

What can you and I learn from Jacob’s difficult season?

  • Our sinful nature often is the source of our difficult seasons of life.
  • We owe God everything for rescuing us from our sinful state.
  • Life is much easier when we surrender to God’s will instead of fighting God’s will.
  • God’s grace is greater than we can imagine.

Oh the beauty of the day when Jacob returned to Bethel. Finally he was back where he belonged. Jacob’s testimony recorded in Genesis 35 says it all, “God has been with me everywhere I have gone.”

Brothers and sisters, consider Isaiah’s reminder for your battles:

God says, “I-I am the Lord. Besides me, there is no Savior. I alone delivered, saved, and proclaimed truth.” Isa. 43:11-12.

Brothers and sisters, we His people are safe in His hands!!!

Please join with the church in the world praying for the people of the Ukraine!

Who Was God’s Teacher? (Isaiah 40-44)

February 25, 2022

Whom did he consult,
    and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
    and taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:14

This week I have consistently been challenged by God to draw closer to His side to discover greater things about Him. I have come to know that the greater our view of God the greater our victories in this life as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

In todays readings, we see God in a greater light. Here are a few examples:

  • He is the God who makes our way straight, 40: 3-4.
  • His Word stands the test of time, 40:8.
  • He is the Everlasting God who does not faint and He does not grow weary, 40:28.
  • He is the God who restores the bruised and broken, 42:3.
  • He is the Holy one of Israel who is our Savior, 43:3.
  • He is the one who blots out our transgressions for His own sake, 43:25.

Oh there are so many more things we can discover about our God in these chapters! Please put this blog aside and take the time to read Isaiah 40-44.

Brothers and sisters, He is God alone!!!

Just before we close our time together, let me share one last thing about God with you. He is the God who has no teacher. Yes, God never had a teacher. This is so amazing to me because, every person needs a teacher to teach them what they need to know. But not our God. He knows all things. All knowledge is with him.

This means that there is never a question He cannot answer. This means there is never a problem bigger than God. This means He has all ability. This means, you and I can carry everything to Him and He will answer (41:17).

As you approach the weekend, consider God.

Here are two assignments for you:

  1. Spend the weekend in research and reflection. Who is this God?
  2. Spend the weekend in sharing your research. The world needs to know Him!

The Story of the Mislead (Job 15-17)

February 24, 2022

“1Why has your heart misled you,
and why do your eyes flash
13 as you turn your anger[c] against God
and allow such words to leave your mouth? Job 15:12-13

Job’s oldest friend, Eliphaz, made an accusation against Job that truly needs to be closely examined by all genuine Christ followers as well as all who would desire to become Christ followers. Eliphaz was holding onto a false narrative about Job. He believed Job was being mislead by his own sinful heart.

The Scriptures are clear: Our old nature (compared to the heart) is very deceptive. Our hearts, when bent on sin, can mislead us. (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus Himself spoke about the many misleadings of the heart:

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:19

Eliphaz was correct, the heart will mislead. As Christ followers we must cease in following our heart and we must center ourselves in following the heart of God which is given to us in His Word. Yesterday we read, “God leads us in paths of righteousness for His name sake,” (Psalm 23:3).

In Job’s response he did not argue the truth of his friends point. He argued that his friend was pushing a false narrative on him without realizing Job was suffering for righteousness sake. In Job’s response we discover a second way people can be mislead.

Job identified his friend as a “miserable comforter,” (Job 16:3). Brothers and sisters we can be mislead by people and we can mislead people.

There is only one place where we always find a true narrative. His Word is truth.

Here are three ways that will ensure you have the correct narrative in your life:

  1. Check out people’s advice to make sure it agrees with God’s Word.
  2. Push back when someone’s counsel (even your own) does not align with God’s Word.
  3. Never trust in your heart apart from the confirmation of God’s Word.

The Darkest Valley (Psalm 21-23)

February 23, 2022

“Even when I go through the dark valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me, your rod and staff-they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4 (CSB).

A few evening ago, Sherry and I settled in to watch part of a movie about an older couple who were struggling with the dark valley years of old age. At one point the couple is sitting in the parking lot of a church, about to go in for a friend’s funeral. The lady turned to her husband and asked, Do you think very much about death? He quietly responded, probably not as much as I should. The woman’s reply spoke volumes to me about how a dark world considers death. The woman said, I first thought about death when I was ten, when a friend died. I am now very old and I still cannot figure out death.

Brothers and sisters, this is the human dilemma. The writer of Hebrews understood the dilemma of death. He wrote, “It is once appointed unto a person to die and after death comes the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

The truth is, the prospect of a coming death is fearful for those who know not Christ. David did not fear death. He began Psalm 23 with these familiar words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have what I need.”

If Jesus is your shepherd, death is only a shadow of death. Take time to look up the Scriptures listed in the following points:

  • Jesus is the one who laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11).
  • Jesus is the one who suffered the agony of the Father’s wrath on the cross (Psalm 22).
  • Jesus is the one who defeated death by His resurrection (I Cor. 15:54-57).
  • Jesus is the one who is our answer for the dilemma of death (Rom. 6:23).

This is why David could write with confidence, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Question: Are you struggling in a dark valley? If so, follow the Great Shepherd. He knows the way through.

In all honestly, I only occasionally consider death. When I do, I draw close by my Shepherd who whispers to me, I have already walked through this valley for you. When the time comes, I will give you victory (I Cor. 15:57).

Brothers and sisters, let us comfort each other with this truth!!!

The Flickering of an expiring Candle (Judges 12-16)

February 22, 2022

“and those he (Sampson) killed at his death were more than he killed in his life,” Judges 16:31.

It has been said: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go and will keep you longer than you want to stay.” It has also been said, “Sin will cost you far more than you want to pay.”

We see a vivid illustration of this in the life of one of the Judges by the name of Sampson. Sampson was born as a son of promise (13:3-5). This son would “begin to deliver his people from bondage,” (13:15). Please read the last sentence again, “this son would begin to deliver his people from bondage.”

Brothers and sisters, this statement about Saul illustrates the power of sin at work in a person’s life who does not take captive their sin to obey God. God was at work in Sampson’s life, but it could have been so much more. Consider the following:

  • God’s Spirit stirred Sampson’s heart to lead Israel correctly (13:24), but sin tempted Sampson to sin willfully against God (Judges 14-16).
  • God’s Spirit empowered Sampson to accomplish great things (15:17), but sin clouded his viewpoint of God (15:18).
  • God’s Spirit rescued Sampson so many times (16:1-5), but sin eventually cost Sampson more than he wanted to pay (16:17).

Here is the bottom line my brothers and sisters: Sin led Sampson to become like all other men (16:17).

It is true that Sampson had one last great victory over God’s enemies, but consider what it could have been if he had taken his sin captive to obey God. Spurgeon compared Sampson last battle as:

“The flickering of an expiring candle.” Spurgeon was correct when he wrote, “Whatever the grace of God may do for us, it cannot make sin a right thing, or safe thing, or a permissible thing. It is evil, only evil, and that continually. Do not be enslaved by fleshly lusts.” (Spurgeon Study Bible, CSB Edition, Page 327).

Question: Are there fleshly lusts active in your life?

If so, crush them at the feet of Jesus and do radical surgery by following Paul’s wisdom: “Let Christ rule in your hearts,” (Colossians 3:12).

The words of an old hymn (Lord I am coming home) came to my heart. Here are the words of stanza three: “I’ve tired of sin and straying Lord, now I’m coming home; I’ll trust thy love, believe thy Word, Lord I’m coming home.

If Sampson would have only said those words early in his life. If he had, he would have done more than to begin to deliver Israel. Let it be said that we went all the way with Jesus!

Something You Need to Know (Genesis 28-31)

February 21, 2022

Surely the Lord was in this place and I did not know it,” Genesis 28:16 (CSB).

Here is a shameful confession: Sometimes I fail to realize that God is always at work in my life. Even worse I sometimes doubt His plan when things get tough in life. If these confessions are not enough, I need to tell you that I sometimes fail to consider that my victories are all God.

Maybe you ask, what is stirring all this confession in you? Surely you know, the confession comes because of the spotlight of God’s Word deep into my heart and mind.

Today we are again reading in Genesis and in particular the life narrative of Jacob. As Jacob begins his journey away from his problems (at least he thinks so), he encountered the true and living God in chapter 28. God made a promise to Jacob. Here is the promise:

13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 

God’s promises came with His own presence that was the guarantee of the promise coming true. Now here is something that you need to know: If you are a child of God, He is with you. Please take a moment and reflect on this truth: God is with you!!! Say it out loud, God is with you!

Brothers and sisters, as Jacob began his journey, he was not all in with God, but God was all in with Him. God said:

  • I will keep you wherever you go-It was God who kept Jacob from destroying himself beyond repair.
  • I will bring you back-It was God who worked in Jacob’s life without Jacob even realizing it.
  • I will not leave you until its all done-God keeps His promises.

I want you to know that I am sitting at my desk looking into this laptop with praise in my heart and on my lips. This glorious God has always been with me since my beginning days! I am wondering why have I ever worried and why would I worry now? I am sitting here gaining strength for the day and bright hope for tomorrow!

I sing praises with Paul who wrote; “I am confident of this very thing, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to perform it unto the day of His coming,” Phil. 1:6.

This is truly something I need to keep knowing all my life!!!

The Kings Highway (Isaiah 34-39)

February 18, 2022

And a highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. Isaiah 35:8

In my lifetime I have been blessed to travel on many different highways in our country and around the world. Some of those highways were breath-taking. I remember seeing the wonder of traveling through mountains in New Mexico and seeing the beauty of the North Carolina Mountains. I have traveled on coastal highways to see the beauty of the ocean and the rising and the setting of the sun. I have traveled on highways under a sky painted by God alone.

I also have traveled on some highways that were extremely difficult. I think about the highways in post communist Romania that used to be filled with pot-holes. I have traveled on the mountain highways of Zomba mountain where it seemed that we would never get to the top. Finally, I have traveled on highways that seemed to be endless. I think about that six hour drive in the Egyptian desert where there was nothing but sand.

In our Scripture for today, the prophet Isaiah uses the analogy of a highway to illustrate the way of the Lord.

The road the nation of Israel was on, in the days of Isaiah, was leading them toward captivity. One could be correct in labeling the road: The road of consequences. It was a bad road.

But the people did not have to stay on that road. According to God’s Word the people could change roads and get on the Kings Highway (35:1-7). The events surrounding the end of that highway are still to come for Israel.

However, you and I can live on this highway even now. Jesus offers us access to this road (John 14:6). He offers it to all people (Rom. 10:13). For those who take this road, the destination is Heaven. Some day all the redeemed of the Lord will join at the end of that road and sing together with unending joy, (35:10).

Oh how I love the fruit of this road. At the end of the road awaits joy and gladness that will characterize us for eternity. All sorrow and discouragement will flee. As the song writer wrote, I say, “I am looking for a city…. at the end of the highway.”

Brothers and sisters, even now you and I can find joy on the Kings Highway. It is He who walks with us, guides us, fights our battles, comforts us, uses us as His servants, calls us friend, calms our fears, draws us close in times of sadness and lights our path in the dark nights. He even carries us through the valley of the shadow of death.

I am so glad that I am traveling the Kings Highway.

Here are three takeaways:

  1. If you are not on the Kings Highway, get on it now. (Rom. 10:9-10).
  2. If you are stuck on this highway called life, cast of the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:14).
  3. If you are walking in difficulty, keep walking because the gates of the city will soon be in sight.

Whatever Comes (Job 13-14)

February 17, 2022

“Be quiet, and I will speak. Let whatever comes happen to me.” Job 13:13

The news from the doctor came crushing down like a mountain collapsing on a person’s spirit. The person who received the news from the doctor responded with a crushed response. The person said, “I can’t go through this.” But suddenly the person’s views changed. The person said, “thats not true. Whatever God says I know I can trust Him to see me through.”

Brothers and sisters, this is the message Job offers us from the pages of his life. Spurgeon labeled Job correctly when he identified him as “the master sufferer.” Read carefully Spurgeon’s commentary:

“Faith is not a grace of luxury but a grace of necessity.” (Spurgeon Study Bible, CSB Edition, Pg. 655)

Friends, the only way to live life is by exhibiting faith in whatever comes your way. Job trusted God. Job said, “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him,” (Job 13:15).

We find such faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. As He hung on the cross, enduring the agony of the cross, Jesus looked to the Heavens and entrusted His spirit into God the Father’s hands. Jesus trust proves to us that beyond a shadow of a doubt God is faithful. Even death is swallowed up in the victory of Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, here is our takeaway:

Ours is the task of trust and His is the task of triumph.

This is exactly what the person in our illustration did when the doctor gave them bad news. Its been five years now and still this person has beat the odds because Jesus is greater than any odds!

Sing out loud this great hymn of our faith:

I heard an old, old story
How a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood’s atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory, yeah

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about His healing
Of His cleansing power revealing
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit”
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me, and He bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood, oh. yeah

Sweet, sweet Jesus

Yes, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me, and He bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood
Yes, He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood

The Best Guide (Psalm 18-20)

February 16, 2022

22 For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me. Psalm 18:22

It was my first and only visit to the Holy Land. The group I was traveling secured the services of a tour guide to ensure that we had the best opportunity to see everything important in the Holy Land. It was truly a life-altering trip much in part because we had the correct guide.

Now imagine what would have happened if our team decided to lead the trip without a guide. As far as I know, not one on the team had ever been to the Holy Land before. I believe, if I had been leading the team, we would have quickly become hopelessly lost.

Question: Who is the guide in the your life?

This morning I joined with the Psalmist David in giving praise to his guide and my guide. So great was his guide that he began Psalm 18 with the following words: “I love you Lord… In David’s experience God was worthy of all praise (18:3). In every deep water moment, God had guided him through (18:16). In every long road and in every valley and hill, his guide had been faithful (18:6).

I join with David in telling you that God is faithful. He is the God of all knowledge and all power. There is no wisdom beyond Him. There is no trap of the enemy that fools our Lord. God is the best guide in the world. David was right. God is the best guide in the world.

In this Psalm David wanted his readers to know success comes only when we follow the directions of God who is the best guide in the world.

I love how Psalm 119:25-26 captures this truth:

“Teach me your statutes, help me understand the meaning of your precepts so that I can meditate on your wonders.”

I want to challenge you to take time to consider who is guiding your big decisions and your day to day decisions. Only when God is guiding your life can you know for sure that you are being guided in the correct directions.

Once, Jesus asked the disciples if they wanted to leave Him and follow a different guide. Here was their response:

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

Peter was right. Today, I run to the Father!!!

When a decrease becomes an increase (Judges 7-11)

February 15, 2022

The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’  Judges 7:2

How would you respond if I emailed you the following, “I am praying that God sends decrease in your life.” Now I know that some of you understand where I am going with this and you would respond, praise the Lord. But for a moment let’s assume you do not understand. Let’s assume that your response is, I don’t need a decrease but instead I need an increase so I can do more for the Lord.

Read the following carefully: God’s decreases are really His increases.

We find an illustration of this truth from the book of Judges. We see it in the life of Gideon who was the fearful and valiant servant of God (Judges 6:12). God said to Gideon, “I will be with you and you will strike down Midian as if he were one man,” (6:16).

According to Scripture, Gideon obeyed God after several give me a sign moments. The Bible teaches that Gideon gathers an army of 32,000 men (this is increase). But God spoke, you have too many men Gideon. Brothers and sisters, I must ask: What was in God’s mind? The opposing army was so large that Scripture describes them in their camp as looking like a swarm of locusts (7:12).

We must ask, God what was the deal?

The deal was this: God knew that with that many people, Gideon would be tempted to think, he did the work. Brothers and sisters, now we get it.

In my own life, I have experienced many decreases. Here are two things I have discovered:

  1. Decreases are my opportunity to eradicate my pride.
  2. Decreases are my wake up call to elevate my praise to God.

Little did Gideon know but this was about to be a great blessing in his life. What the Lord did brought great glory to God himself and victory for God’s people.

This morning the words of John the Baptist come to my mind. Here is what He wrote about Jesus and about himself: “He must increase and I must decrease,” (John 3:30.

Here is our takeaway:

  1. If we are experiencing decrease we must examine our lives for the purpose of crushing the pride in us.
  2. If we are experiencing increase we must elevate our praise to God become only Christ deserves the glory.

The words of Paul are a great summary for us today:

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21