Archive for May, 2022

A Key Difference (I Kings 1-4)

May 31, 2022

“But Joab said, no, for I will die here,” I Kings 2:30.

Today our readings take us to the book of I Kings. I Kings begins with the final moments of King David’s life and the beginning of the reign of King Solomon. There is so much to discover and to learn from these chapters. I pray you read them in submission to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

As I read these chapters, I was directed by the Holy Spirit to lean into something I had never considered before. Now it may seem small to you, but it is actually very important to our theology.

As I read these chapters, it was David who told Solomon to avenge Joab’s sin upon him (2:5-6). Joab was the commander of all of David’s armies. Joab had a distinguished career. However, there were two incidents when he committed murder apart from war.

Now, here is where it gets intense with me. When I read chapter 2 narrative of how Joab was judged, I asked God, what was different between his sin and David’s sin? David had committed murder and David had sinned in many ways. This, my friends, is a very important question.

The Lord’s response was what I needed to hear: David asked and received forgiveness. Joab never did!!! Please take note of what you just read. I had never considered this about Joab. I just assumed he was right with God, but he was not. He, like so many others, never found a place in his heart for repentance.

Spurgeon picked up on this as he wrote: “As far as we can judge, Joab had shown little respect to religion in his life. He was a rough man of war who cared little about God.” (CSB Study Bible, Spurgeon Edition, Pg. 428).

Friends, Joab’s end is a reminder of what happens when we fail to come to repentance with God. I believe it is true that one can do great work in the Kingdom of God without being a citizen of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 7:21-27). I believe it is true that one can allow sin to damage their walk with God and lose influence in the kingdom (I John 1:5-8).

This day, I pray that each of us heed Joab’s story and I pray that each of us live out II Cor. 7:10 “Godly grief leads too repentance.”

What Do People See? (Exodus 33-36)

May 30, 2022

“Then Moses said, “please show me Your glory.” Exodus 33:18

The last few days have been filled with pictures that a person would never want to see. Sherry and I sat on our couch and saw the beautiful pictures of kids with the reality that now they were dead because of the wickedness of men. We also sat there and saw the updated pictures of the war in Ukraine. Again the wickedness of men was on display.

I asked the Lord, is this all that people see? Brothers and sisters, is there anything else we can see?

For a moment, let us go back to a time in history. Let’s go all the way back to Moses day. In Exodus 33, Moses was told by God to move forward from Mount Sinai with the nation of Israel. God said of these people, “they are stiff-necked,” (33:3).

But there was one who was not stiff-necked. This man’s name was Moses. Moses had been touched and transformed by God.

According to Exodus 33, Moses meet daily with God (33:7-11). Each time the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, just as man speaks with his friend. This was no ordinary meeting. Moses had been granted the favor of God (33:13). In one of those times with God, Moses prayed:

“Please teach me your ways, and I will know you, so that I may find favor with you.”

Oh, dear friend, this is what we need to see more in our churches today. We need to see people who are concerned with knowing and carrying out God’s ways in the world. This morning I felt the Lord asking me, Keith, what do you want people to see?

My honest answer was, I want them to see you Lord!!!

The Lord’s response was clear. If this be true, do the following:

  1. Spend time with me, getting to know my ways.
  2. Take off your grave clothes and only wear the grace clothes I have provided for you.
  3. Stay in step with the Spirit speaking My Word among the nations.

Brothers and sisters, imagine how great an impact we can have when we live this way before a dark world. In the words of a dear friend, Lets get busy!!!

Useless remedies (Jeremiah 45-46)

May 27, 2022

“Go up to Gilead and get balm, virgin daughter Egypt. You have multiplied remedies in vain; there is no healing for you,” Jeremiah 46:11.

Brothers and sisters, the tragic event at a Texas Elementary school that left 18 children and one teacher dead once again brings to the forefront of our thinking, how miserably we are failing as a people to solve the wickedness in our world.

The people on the far left are again crying out for gun control and the people on the left are crying out for freedom to bear arms. Question: What are you crying out?

As this goes on the real issue gets passed over and slips by like a slithering snake on the ground. The real issue is human depravity. Yes, you can quote me, the issue is sin. I know this is not a popular position. But it is God’s position on the miserable position we find ourselves in.

I also know that our government does not agree with me. The government asks us to place our trust in their capable hands. Ronald Regan is quoted as saying, “the worst think a person can hear is that government is on the way to help.”

What America needs is the salvation of God. The people of this nation need what ancient Israel needed. Ancient Israel needed repentance. Her repentance would open the door for Jesus (Our redeemer) to come and make them new (John 3:3).

In Jeremiah’s day the people were just as sinful as they are today. God gave the people the remedy, but they would not listen. The people ended up in a terrible place. Dear friends, because America will not listen, we are grieving the senseless loss of so many. Let us mourn with others. Let us pray for awakening and let us personally be the awakening that others need to see.

Here are the words of our president:

President Biden addressed the nation last night, expressing his grief over the tragedy. Speaking from his experience in the loss of his first wife, a daughter, and one of his sons, he closed, “May the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit, because they’re going to need a lot of help.”

Greater still: here are the words of our Lord:

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

It doesn’t make sense (Jeremiah 42-44)

May 26, 2022

“So now, this is what the Lord, the God of Armies, the God of Israel, says; why are you doing such terrible harm to yourself?” Jeremiah 44:7

It was printed on the pack in bold letters. It was easy to read. The label said: this product is know to cause lung cancer. But the printed label was ignored day after day and year after year by my neighbor. Just before her death, her husband said: She had smoked herself into an early grave. Truly, in my mind, it did not make sense.

In the days of Jeremiah, God’s Word was printed on the very heart of the prophet. The people were angering God by the works of their hands (44:8). God said to the people, “You have gone astray at the cost of your lives,” (42:20).

The question we must ask is this; why did they reject God’s Word? It did not make sense.

One does not have to dig very deep into the Bible to find the answer to our question. It’s there on the printed page: “They were firmly resolved to do what they wanted to do,” (42:15).

Brothers and sisters, when a person is resolved to do what they want to do, it will not makes sense for them to do what God calls them to do.

Question: What are you resolved to do this day?

Centuries after Jeremiah’s day, Stephen (the first Christian Martyr) would speak clearly to the Jewish people: “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, as did your ancestors.” (Acts 7:51)

Brothers and sisters, I know that you and I do not want to miss God’s directions for our lives. We want to do what makes sense in God’s eyes. This day let us resolve to do the following:

  1. Humble ourselves and pray, God speak to me through Your Word.
  2. Listen to what He says. God examine every motivation of my heart and mind.
  3. Obey what He says.
  4. Praise Him for speaking clearly. Thank you Jesus for speaking to us!!!

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18

Be careful where you lean (Psalm 60-62)

May 25, 2022

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him,” Psalm 62:5.

Several days ago I was visiting a family in our church. Nearing the end of my visit, we walked together outside onto their deck which overlooks a pond. The deck is very high off the ground. If a person fell from the deck, he or she could easily lose their life. For many years the railings have been strong to hold a person up and to protect them from falling. But now, one of the railings has become weak.

I remember saying to one of the family members, “be careful where you lean.”

In Psalm 62, David is pointing every person to the security of God alone. In this life we are called to lean fully on Him. In the world people, including this pastor will fail you, but God never fails. The Psalmist twice writes, “rest (lean) on Him.”

Spurgeon was so on point when he wrote:

“It is a blessed thing to wait only on God. You have proved everything else to be a failure, and now you hang upon the bare arm of God alone. There is certainly enough for us to depend on there.” (The Spurgeon Study Bible, CSV edition, Pg. 740)

Question: Do you find yourself living in doubt and fear today? If so, you are leaning on the wrong things and the wrong people.

Question: Do you find yourself in a position of bitterness? if, so you are leaning on the hurts of people’s failures instead of leaning on God.

So often we have quoted Peter in such moments who said, “Cast all your care on God who cares for you,” I Peter 5:7,

Today, I place before you: Hebrews 6:19 “We have an anchor that is steadfast and sure.” That anchor is Jesus. I can tell you from experience, you never have to worry that Jesus will fail when you lean on Him. John 14: 1 “Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God, and also in Jesus.”

If you want to lean on Jesus, take the following steps:

  1. Own your need for God and claim His Lordship of your life.
  2. Surrender your will to His.
  3. Cast every weight fully on Him.

Scaling the Wall of Pride (II Samuel 20-24)

May 24, 2022

“With you I can attack a barricade, and with my God I can leap over a wall. God-His way is perfect, the Word of the Lord is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him,: II Samuel 23:30-31.

David’s song of thankfulness recorded in II Samuel 23 is his response to God’s faithfulness in his life. As we read his song of thankfulness we begin to see the contrast of God’s blessings and God’s judgments. God’s blessings are in the lives of those who are faithful and God’s judgments are in the lives of those who are unfaithful. Here is one quick example:

“With the pure He is pure and with the crooked He is shrewd.”

As David, in his life, walked with God, there were moments when the wall of pride stood up and hindered David’s walk with God. We find an example of this in II Samuel 24. The Scripture records that David, in pride, asked his lead team to go through his kingdom and take a census of how many soldiers he had in his kingdom. At first, we might ask: What’s the big deal?

The big deal was that David was bragging about his army and not God’s. As soon as the numbers were given to David, the Spirit of the Lord brought conviction upon him (24:10). David pleads for forgiveness and mercy. Please take time to read the chapter.

Now, here is what I want to place before you. The wall of pride cost 70,000 people their lives as God judged the nation. Pride does go before a fall.

I wonder, how many of us are standing in the road of life looking at a wall of pride?

  • In your pride you will not forgive.
  • In your pride you will not bless someone else’s plan.
  • In your pride you are withholding the blessings of Heaven on your home.
  • In your pride you are messing up what could be a family of greatness.

The key to overcoming the wall of pride is to humble yourself before God (James 4:7-10). Do as David did, repent and seek the mercy of God. Do as David did, come into God’s light and ask, what do you want me to do. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows after me, will not walk in the darkness.” This is what I know is right. When we do these things, we will scale the walls of pride for God’s glory!

On the Day God Settles Accounts (Exodus 29-32)

May 23, 2022

“But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for their sin,” 32:34.

The incident recorded in Exodus 32 always comes before my heart and mind as a spiritual shock wave. Each time I read the account of how quickly the freed Jewish slaves turned away from God (32:8) it baffles my mind. Do you remember the incident in Exodus 32?

Just so that we are on the same page, here is a quick reminder of what happened. The people of Israel had come to Mount Sinai. Moses had gone with Joshua on the mountain to meet with God for the purpose of receiving God’s instructions for how they were to live their lives and how they were to be in covenant with God.

This should have been a time of great anticipation, awakening, and a deeper drawing closer to God. But instead, the people quickly abandoned the process. Moses had left Aaron to be in charge, but he proved to be a weak leader.

This morning I am deeply reminded by God that Spiritual Awakening is personal and it cannot be accomplished apart from a personal commitment to God. Moses was all in with God and so was Joshua, but for the rest of the congregation it was at best a people who struggled to follow their leader. God even said, “they were stiff-necked,” (32:9).

If not for the grace of God and the intercession of Moses, the people would have ended their spiritual journey on that day! I must confess, I am so thankful for the grace of God that came down over 2000 years ago. I am thankful that Jesus became the atonement for my sins (I John 4:10). I am so thankful He did what I could not do (Heb. 2:17).

But He could not do what I am called to do. I am called to accept His atonement by faith (Rom. 3:25) and I am called to submit to His transformation of my life (Rom. 12:1-2) so that I can live my life in obedience. This is true awakening before God.

If the people of Israel would have personally surrendered to God, the incident in Exodus 32 would not have happened. Here is a sobering reminder, even though the people continued past that day, judgement was coming.

Take heed that there is a day of judgment coming for our world. On that day the all-ins will be separated from the all-outs. God’s people will enter the kingdom and all others will enter the flames of Hell. God help us to be a people who are personally all-in with God!

The Wise Thing to Do (Jeremiah 40-41)

May 20, 2022

 14 and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam would not believe them, Jeremiah 40:14.

The older I get the more I value friends who are wise in the Lord. These friends are gifts from God and the wise thing to do is to make the most of the wise friends that God places in your life. Proverbs 18:14 speaks about the wise when it says, “The words of a person are deep waters, the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”

Question: Do you listen to the counsel of wise friends?

In our focal text we are given an example of a person who rejects the counsel of wise friends to the cost of his own life and the lives of many others that could have been avoided. The person who rejected the counsel was a man by the name of Gedaliah. He became the appointed governor of the cities of Judah. The people of Judah applauded Babylons choice of this leader. The people came around him to serve him.

But there was a man by the name of Nethaniah who plotted to take Gedaliah’s life. When the news reached Gedaliah’s friends, they came to him with the news. But he would not listen to their wisdom. In a few days he was dead.

This sober reminder comes from Scripture, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17. Be assured wise friends are a gift from God that need to be opened and listened to every day.

Maybe you are thinking, I don’t have any wise friends. If this be the case, I say, come to Jesus. All wisdom lies with Him (Eph. 3:14-19).

Maybe you are being honest by saying, my friends are not very wise. If so, seek to help your friends to become students of the Word of God.

Maybe you are asking, how can I acquire wise friends. Seek to develop friendships with those who are students of the Word of God. Finally become a friend who is known by your understanding of God’s Word!

The Foolishness of a King (Jeremiah 37-39)

May 19, 2022

“Obey the Lord in what I am telling you, so that it may go well for you and you can live,” Jeremiah 38:20.

Gods directions given to the King of Judah through the mouth of the prophet could not have been any clearer and straight forward. The king could not deny that he understood the Word of the Lord. But according to Scripture, he was a man who “would not listen to God.”

What was God directing this king to do? This king was to surrender to the king of Babylon (38:17).

What was God’s promise to this king? God said, I will spare your life, the people’s lives, and the city itself if you will obey me.

Dear friend, God is always straight forward in His directions to humanity. But for many people, it seems that they follow the same path as the King of Judah! They will not listen, (38:15).

The king was foolish in his thinking. He believed he could ignore the directions of God. In the end, he paid the price with the execution of his own sons and the loss of the entire city of Jerusalem.

It is my prayer that you and I heed the warning from history. Please do not disobey the directions of God. If we do, great will be our destruction.

Question: Are the directions from God to you being ignored? Take heed to how James ends chapter four of his letter: “So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.”

Brothers and sisters, let us daily carry out God’s directions. Let us be people who “humbly receive the implanted Word, which is able to save our souls,” (James 1:21).

The Story worth Telling (Psalm 57-59)

May 18, 2022

“But I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning. For you have been a strength for me, a refuge in my days of trouble,” Psalm 59:16

I hear them often. Its seems they come from everywhere. Just yesterday I not only heard a story, I saw the story being lived out. I saw a dear lady being abused verbally over and over as she tried to care for the patients who came to her desk. I approached the lady and said, “thank you for caring for my wife.” She smiled not knowing what to do. I asked the lady this question: “Do you ever get encouraging words here?” Here response was with passion and heartache, “No sir I do not.” This ladies story was heartbreaking.

The truth is, we all have stories about the wicked things we face in this life. But this is not the story that is worth telling. The story of what God is doing in our lives and through our lives is the story that is worth telling.

In Psalm 59, David could have chosen (If God would have directed Him to do so) to tell the story of how Saul was wickedly treating him. But instead David was led to tell the story of His prayer to God and how God worked in his life.

The Psalm begins with David pleading with the Lord and it ends with David praising the Lord. Question: What was the story in the middle? Here it is “God came to where David was.”

This is the story that I want to tell. Over and over again, it is God who meets us in the road of adversity and reminds us, I am with you. It is God who says, trust in me for I am at work. It is God who says, hang with me, I am working it all out. It is God who says, you will have a song to sing and a story to tell in the end.

Brothers and sisters, walk through your days knowing God is writing a story worth telling!