"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15 KJV The Bible makes known this unspeakable gift of eternal life made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Mere words cannot adequately describe it. How would you measure Christ's physical pain and agony? In today's language, on a level of 1-10, his pain might score 20. There was the mockery, the bloody crown of thorns, the scourging whip tearing his back into a bloody pulp, and the carrying of the cross to Golgotha. Then there were the nails through his hands and feet, the body-tearing drop of the cross into a hole, the struggle to breathe, and finally, hanging there for more than three hours. The spiritual agony was more severe than the physical. You have felt the weight of guilt from your sin. Compare this with the sinless Jesus, who bore the weight of guilt and punishment for all sins, not for one person but for every living person, past, present, and future. God is of too pure eyes to behold evil. He turned His back on Jesus. Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Later, Jesus gave a cry of victory as he said, "It is finished." Three days later, He arose from the dead, forever guaranteeing the effectiveness of His sacrificial gift. When accepted, this unspeakable gift transformed Paul's life from a murderer to a missionary. Some fishermen became mighty apostles. It has changed countless unsaved good people, drunkards, addicts, adulterers, perverts, liars, and thieves into fruitful servants of the Lord. If you are unsaved, this gift can transform your life. Accept Christ as Savior today. If you are saved, let this gift transform you into His likeness.
Healing All Diseases
“Who healeth all thy diseases.” Psalm 103:3 (KJV) This praise chapter, Psalm 103, lists many God-given blessings. Verse 3 expresses the benefit, “Who healeth all thy diseases” I remembered that it is not always God’s will to heal. In II Timothy 4:20, Paul, who had the gift of healing, writes, “Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.” Paul counseled Timothy in I Timothy 5;23 to “use a little wine for thine stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” In II Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul prayed three times that his “thorn in the flesh” might depart from him. God answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” We also know that disease, sickness, accident, or old age will someday claim our life. God has designed our bodies with many healing mechanisms. He heals our bodies from illnesses, cuts, bruises, broken bones, injuries, surgeries, and other physical problems. Many times, with or without medicine and doctors, we have all been healed. Sometimes we prayed and God healed in a miraculous, unexplainable healing. The most significant healing is spiritual. God forgives all our iniquities and redeems our life from destruction (Psalm 103:3,4). Sin, unforgiven, brings eternal death in a literal hell. But Christ died to pay for our sins so we can be healed spiritually and have eternal life. When we trust Him, He forgives us, turns us around, and spares us from all the self-inflicted consequences we would have had living in sin without Christ. Today, if you are not saved, turn to Christ now! If you are saved, thank the Lord for your spiritual and physical healing and all other blessings listed in this chapter.
Are You Ready for The Rapture?
I Thessalonians 4:16 – 17 says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:52 says that this event could happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”. I was looking for a job – eagerly hoping and anticipating a job. I sent the preliminary email using a special email address I had for my job search. Waiting - - waiting - waiting for the response that never came. This special email account was set up so it would show up at the bottom of my computer screen when an email arrived. Nothing happened. Then one day I decided to check that email address anyway. Oops! Even though the notification system had not worked, I actually had a response to my email - several days before. But now it was too late for that job. If you are a born-again Christian and know just a little about the Bible, you know that Jesus is coming. He could come at any time and take all believers to heaven to be with Him in the Rapture (catching away). Are you born-again? Are you watching and ready? Do you love Jesus? Is He the pre-eminent One in your life? I John 3:2-3 says, “we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” I John 2:28 says, “abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” Are you ready (born-again), watching, and confident as you look for His Return?
The Unspeakable Gift
Joy is a choice. Knowing God’s will is a choice. Finding the right job, the right life partner, or the right church is a choice. Not deciding at all is a choice. Letting life simply happen to you is not a wise choice! Christian leaders and all Christians have confronted difficult choices all through history. The Psalmist said in Psalm 119:30 (KJV), “I have CHOSEN the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.” In Joshua 24:15, Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; -- - - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Paul said in I Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined [a choice] not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” While in prison for preaching the gospel, Paul commanded, “Rejoice [a choice] in the Lord alway:” (Philippians 4:4). Queen Esther had to decide to risk her life by revealing her Jewish identity and speaking up to save her people. She chose wisely. God blessed her and rescued her people from destruction. As Christians, we are accountable to God for our choices. Because God loves us and wants to give us the very best, He provides Biblical guidance for decisions. James 1:5-6 states, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. --- But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” When God gives you the answer, choose to obey His direction. Obedience to God’s direction brings blessing. Disobedience brings His chastening. When confronted with a decision, pray. Search the Scriptures for His direction and choose to obey. Then enjoy His blessing in 2023!
Keep Within the Lines
I drove north in the middle of three lanes on I35E in Texas. Cruising down the highway at 70 mph, I needed to stay within the lines of my lane. To veer right or left could cause immediate risk. Absent-mindedness, looking at roadside distractions, texting, or any other foolish endeavor could cause a wreck with injuries or loss of life, and wrecked vehicles. Even if my intentions were good, with no desire to hurt anyone, that wreck could occur. It could happen to a sincere, born-again, dedicated Christian who wants to honor the Lord. In like manner, there are many spiritual wrecks in the Christian life, even among Christians who have given many years of faithful Christian service. They stepped “outside the lines” of God’s will and missed God’s best for them. It would be highly beneficial for dedicated Christians to keep their hearts, minds, and wills “close to THE book.” Joshua 1:7 (KJV) states, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” Isaiah 30:21 counsels, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” When you keep close to THE book, you will go in the right direction and enjoy intimate communion with the Lord, abiding fruitfulness, and answered prayers. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7.
A Devilish Horse
O NO, a cow is out again! I didn’t know why. Fence jumping was becoming a regular habit with that cow. When I found her, she would be contentedly biting off clumps of grass outside her pasture. Sometime later, I found out why. I saw that cow and our palomino mare in the same field. The mare saw the cow and must have thought, “this is my opportunity.” As she ran toward the cow, the cow saw her coming and stopped eating. With panicky and furtive eyes, she looked for a way to escape. She tried running away, but the horse was too fast. She changed directions, but the horse did too. She ran back and forth, frantically looking for a possible escape route, but there wasn’t any. Then she ran, jumped, and cleared the fence. For some reason, the palomino did not follow her. She was free! What a relief. Now I knew why the cow had become an escape artist. The solution was to keep the horse in a different pasture from the cows. Satan is somewhat like that horse. He finds our weakness, then keeps tempting us until we give in. He is described in I Peter 5:8 (KJV) by these words, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t be like that cow that jumped the fence and ended up where she didn’t belong. Satan hounds all Christians with temptations. The context of I Peter 5:8 gives the solution in verses 5 through 9. “Humble yourselves.” “Cast all your care upon him.” “Be sober, be vigilant.” “Resist stedfast in the faith.” Always run to the Lord for safety and deliverance from Satan’s attacks!
Where Cell Phones and Wi-Fi Are Prohibited
Green Bank, West Virginia, is called the "quietest town in America." A sign at the edge of town states, "You are entering the Radio Astronomy Instrument Zone: Diesel Vehicles Only; No Portable Electronics except for Authorized Purposes; Do not install or leave Unattended any equipment that does not comply with ITU-R RA.769." This 13,000 square mile area is home to the Green Bank Observatory. It has the largest steerable radio telescopes in the world to measure invisible energy waves descending on earth. It has found black holes, radiation belts, and gravitational waves. Electromagnetic silence is required to do the necessary tasks. At its inception, the federal government established Pocahontas County as a National Radio Quiet Zone. Operating any electrical equipment within ten miles of the observatory is punishable with a $50 fine. The authorities have never enforced this law. What would life be like without cell phones? We would engage in more face-to-face communication. The absence of cell phones would reduce Irrelevant and annoying distractions. We could concentrate better on the task before us. We could be better able to listen to God. We sing "Sweet Hour of Prayer," but in our distractedness find it hard to give God five minutes of prayer. We sing "Draw Me Nearer" but will not take the time to draw nigh to God. We sometimes let the noise and distractions of the world drown out the sound of a word from the Lord. Psalm 46:10 (KJV) says, "Be still and know that I am God." Today might be the right time to shut off the world's distractions and be quiet before the Lord. Give Him the time to let Him speak to you through His Word and your prayer time.
The Incredible Faith of an Evolutionist
I Corinthians 1:21 “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” I walk into a Ford dealership parts department. The parts manager comes to help me. I say, “Do you see my Ford F-150 pickup out there?” and I point to it. “I want to order every part that goes into that pickup.” He says, “Are you a mechanic?” I answer, “No.” “Well, what are you going to do with all those parts?” I reply, “I’m going to put them in a massive shaker assembly. I will shake those parts until they all fit together and then I’m going to drive my new Ford F-150 out of that shaker assembly.” Then he asks me, “Are you crazy?” and proceeds to call the local behavioral health hospital. You say, “That’s ridiculous.” And you are right. Everything in nature degenerates. The second law of thermodynamics, or the law of increased entropy, says that over time, everything breaks down and tends towards disorder - entropy! It doesn’t get better over time. As our body ages, we don’t get stronger. We get weaker, our skin loosens and sags, and we get wrinkles. We don’t get more beautiful. My Ford required a master engineer and designer. Architects draw and design new houses. A computer hardware engineer plans a new computer. A software engineer and a programmer develop new programs. Doctors spend years studying and trying to understand the complexities of the human body and the human brain. But the evolutionist says it all happens by random chance. And to make that happen, he invents millions or billions of years to give time for all this random chance to occur. I don’t have enough faith to be an evolutionist. But I do have enough faith to believe in God, THE CREATOR. “In the beginning God created - - -. “ And this Creator sent His Son to die for my sins and save me. He’s my Savior. Is He yours?
Songs In The Night
Job:35:10: But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; Ps:40:3: And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Music has been a prominent part of my life since childhood. Often, I will sing to myself in the morning. Recently I noticed that the Lord was giving me a new song every morning right after the alarm went off at 5 am. For example, these songs the last seven days: “My Lord knows the way”; “When We All get to Heaven”; Doxology; “When We All Get to Heaven”; “My Lord Knows the Way”; “Are Ye Able”; and the Doxology. You will notice three repetitions: My Lord knows the Way, When We All Get to Heaven, and the Doxology. I thought, “Isn’t this wonderful?” The Lord is waking me up with a new song each day. That’s when I started writing them down. Years ago, I started the habit of singing a happy melody after I got up. Usually, it was a chorus like “This is the day that the Lord Hath Made.” It helped me to get the day started right with the Lord. Indeed, the Lord does give us a song in our hearts if we know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. He causes us to rejoice. Why not sing it out loud to ourselves – and anybody else in the house – and get the day started right in praise and thanks to the Lord?
Almost All The Leaves Are Down
It was fall. The leaves fell rapidly. The branches of the trees look practically empty. Observing the nearly bare trees made me think of myself. I had been a widower for over three years and was approaching the late seventies, the fall of life. Isaiah’s words came to mind when he spoke to Hezekiah. “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” (KJV, II Kings 20:1). Was there a future for me? Should I make plans to live – or to die? It is wise for every man and woman to set their house in order because everyone will die. “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). If you have not yet accepted Christ (who died for your sins) as Savior, now is the time to trust Jesus. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2). But God was speaking to me about service. I had served the Lord continuously since becoming saved as a pre-teen. God said to me: “You’re not done yet. I’ve got much for you to do. Don’t get swallowed up in self-pity. Don’t quit. Keep on serving me until I take you home.” “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Corinthians 4:16-17). “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” (Psalm 92:13-14). Now is the time to keep serving!
You Can’t Do It Without the Lord.
Has anyone better credentials? Joshua’s resume showed outstanding success. *Recruited and led the army that defeated the Amalekites – Exodus 17 *Faithful minister and personal servant to Moses and the Lord for many years. Exodus 24, Numbers 11 *One of the twelve spies that searched the land of Canaan. One of two spies united with Moses and Aaron to conquer Canaan. Numbers 13 & 14 *Appointed by God and Moses to succeed Moses. Numbers 27. *Led all of Israel across the Jordan River in flood time. Joshua 3 Now Joshua faced the challenge of conquering Jericho. Surely his experience and knowledge would qualify him to plan and execute the battle strategy. But God had His plan to direct Joshua. “Behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15 KJV) Then God (captain of the Lord’s host) gave him a very unusual military strategy that proved successful. No matter how experienced or successful we have been in the past, we need to humble ourselves. Seek the Lord’s guidance, instruction, protection, and enabling for His work. Jesus said in John 15:5b “Without me ye can do nothing.”
I Want My Gourd
“Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more then sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? Jonah 4:10-11 KJV Jonah was pouting at the edge of the enemy city of Nineveh. He had, unwillingly, preached a message of judgment and repentance to the city of Nineveh, and they had repented. God spared the city from destruction. Jonah preferred that God would annihilate Nineveh. While he sulked, God prepared a gourd that gave shade to Jonah in the intense heat. Jonah enjoyed it. God then prepared a worm to destroy the gourd. After the gourd’s destruction, God prepared vehement east wind. Jonah became so hot and miserable that he wanted to die. Jonah felt he had justified anger over the wilted gourd. He was more concerned about his comfort than the 120,000 children and adults God would have destroyed if they had not repented. Jonah’s priorities were skewed! Like so many Christians today. Jonah was more concerned about his comfort and physical well-being than lost souls. Today Christians are suffering, imprisoned, tortured, and martyred for the sake of the Lord. But we are only concerned about our comforts and our toys. As souls are perishing, we are content to give a little pittance for missions and are reluctant to give our sons and daughters for missions. If ever there was a time to get our priorities right, it is now. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
If That’s What a Christian is
“If that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one.” Have you ever said that? A young man witnessed his father losing his temper, using foul language, and drinking with his buddies. Then he saw his father dressed up for church, singing enthusiastically and giving a testimony in the church of how wonderful God had been to him. The young man said, “if that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one.” A young lady saw her dad coming home late on Saturday night drunk and vomiting all over the house. On Sunday morning, he dressed up, went to church with his family, and sang the praises of God loudly. She said, “If that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one.” A young lady who worked at a fast-food restaurant repeatedly observed the behavior of a well-known local preacher. She watched as he demanded extra service, was rude and demeaned the girl who waited on him. She said, “If that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one.” There is no excuse for this kind of behavior by Christians. But - - - Would you choose to go to hell because of the bad behavior of a professing Christian? Would you prefer to miss heaven because of that person? Romans 14:12 says, “every one of us shall give account of HIMSELF to God.” The “bad behavior Christian” is irrelevant. What will you do with Christ? Christ is the perfect, holy Son of God. There is no disappointment in Jesus. He loved you, died for your sins, and arose from the dead so that you could have eternal life. Trust Him today.
When the World is Falling Apart
Psalm 11:3,4 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” The “woke” crowd is obliterating moral standards, and true Biblical Christianity is mocked. Violence runs rampant. Respect for parents and authority are all being rejected. You might ask, “What’s new? That’s the daily news.” You are right. Any student of the Bible knows that all these things will get increasingly worse as Christ’s return approaches. Since He has not returned yet, we must face these issues. Throughout history, Christians have suffered. Countless Christians have suffered and even died for Christ in this 21st century. The enemies of Christ are attempting to destroy Christianity. What can a Christian do? The text for today gives the answer. The Lord is in his holy temple, and His throne is in heaven. He is sovereign over everything that exists. He sees all and tries all. He tests the righteous, but he judges the wicked and the violent. God, the judge of all the earth, will do right (Gen.18:25b). We can trust Him to do right even while we are going thru trials. GOD IS IN CONTROL. During these trials, God is working in our lives. I Peter 1:7 declares, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 26:3 states, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.” Trust in Him. Remain proactive and obedient to His Word.
Self-important Christians! As we learn more and grow in the Lord, we sometimes consider ourselves experts. We have all the answers to others’ problems. Before listening to the problem completely, we give them an answer. When Samuel went to anoint King Saul’s successor, he thought Eliab was the right man for the job. God reminded Samuel that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. David, the youngest son of Jesse, was God’s man. When David told the prophet Nathan about his plan to build the temple, Nathan quickly told David to go ahead and do it. But later that day, God spoke to Nathan, telling him that David was not the man to build the temple. Nathan had to go back to David and correct his counsel. Many times I have joined a small group listening to someone talk about one of their problems. Before listening to the complete story, one person speaks up. “I have had that problem. Here’s what you need to do about it.” But perhaps you have not listened long enough to understand their problem. And, maybe, God doesn’t want them to handle the situation as you did. That may be why Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” James 1:19 cautions, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.” Proverbs 15:28 gives this critical statement, “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer.” For one Christian to counsel another, he must be sure that his heart is right with God. Then determine from the Scriptures and under the direction of the Holy Spirit what you should counsel the brother or sister in Christ.
Early Will I Seek Thee
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” Psalm 63:1,2 It’s dark outside. No one else in the house is up and around. There are no distractions. Whether during the heat of summer or the cold of winter, early is a special time to seek the Lord. Jesus prayed early in the morning. “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Even though Jesus is God in the flesh, He needed, and wanted, time alone with His Father. What an example to follow! Did anybody but Jesus do this? David: “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Ps. 56:17) Daniel: prayed three times a day – (Dan. 6:10) Jesus prayed all night as he prepared to choose his twelve apostles. (Luke 6:12-13) Although there are no direct commands from the Lord to pray at a certain time of day, this is a good rule to follow: Early will I seek thee. I need to pray early: before I start a new day; before I make a decision; before I begin a romantic relationship; before I discipline my children; before I decide on how to solve a problem; before I go to public worship; before I minister to others. I Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” We always need God’s wisdom for every task, every problem we face. And James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Pray and determine, “Early Will I seek thee.”
Taking the Bit in your Teeth
I took our palomino mare, Blondie, to ride on the country roads near home. Soaking in the bright sunshine and watching the leaves float down gently from the trees, I was happy knowing that Fall would soon be here in its full beauty. But as a novice teenage horse rider. I had forgotten a couple of significant characteristics of my horse. She loved her own “territory” around the barn where the feed was. And she knew how to fool me. Sensing her opportunity, Blondie tilted her head up, inhaled deeply and suddenly clenched the bit in her teeth and began to run toward home. I was powerless to stop her. When we approached an intersection I knew we were in big trouble if a car came. Realizing my danger and being unable to gain control, I started praying. I gasped with relief when we made it through the intersection. Then came a mad dash home and up the steep and curved driveway. She did not slow down for low-hanging tree branches, so I ducked to avoid getting knocked off her back. Finally, she stopped so suddenly at her destination that I almost flew out of the saddle. We can be just like that horse. In Numbers 13 – 14, Moses sent out 12 spies to search the land of Canaan. God had already promised the land to them. But they came back saying they could not win. The enemies were too great. Of the twelve, only Joshua and Caleb firmly maintained that they could do it with God’s help. The people rebelled and wanted to turn back to Egypt. God pronounced judgment. The ten spies who brought back the evil report died in a plague. The adult Israelites would do a death march for 40 years, but their children would live and conquer the land. Upon hearing this, the people admitted they had sinned. Now, too late, they were willing to go to battle. God was not with them, and the enemy defeated them in the ensuing conflict. As a Christian, don’t take the bit in your teeth. Let God have the reins. Find out what God wants you to do. Then do it – in His way and His strength. Only then can we expect the Lord’s blessing.
Do We Need to be Revived?
II Chronicles 7:14 "If MY PEOPLE which are CALLED BY MY NAME, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." You are a candidate for revival IF: You are born-again – You need to possess spiritual life before there is anything to revive. The Bible says that unsaved persons are DEAD in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). New life is available by grace, not good works – baptism, church membership, and other good deeds (Eph. 2:8,9). Our sins can only be paid for by the shed blood of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:18,19). Have you trusted Christ as your own personal Savior? If you are born-again, you are one of His People, and you are Called By His Name. But, sad to say, after we are born-again, many of us let our hearts grow cold, our love decline, and our zeal evaporate. We substitute ritual for reality, form for faith, feeling for fact, and emotional display for sincerity. And sometimes, after we have allowed our love to grow cold, we become blind to our anemic spiritual condition. We have now become genuine candidates for revival IF we recognize and confess our shameful slide into spiritual frailty. At this point of recognizing our desperate personal needs, we can apply the actions required in II Chronicles 7:14: Humble ourselves, Pray, Seek His Face, and Turn from our wickedness. So, Are you a candidate for revival? Are you ready? Will you take action today?
No Substitutes for the Bible!
Don’t read about the Bible! Read the Bible! Good devotionals, commentaries, and Bible study books abound. But before consulting them, read, study, and meditate directly from the Bible. After studying the Bible, consult the other books, proof them for adherence to Biblical truth, and then use them for further enlightenment. Use the Bible to interpret the Bible. I Corinthian 2:12-13 KJV declares, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Many cults start because someone took a verse out of context or did not check the entire teaching of the scriptures on a specific subject. By walking in the way of the Word of God and delighting in the Word, we can live a fruitful and abundant life (Psalm 1:1-3). Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is all about the book. The Word of God is effective for cleansing and for preventing sin (v. 9-11). It gives understanding above my human teachers (v. 99). It is a lamp and a light to guide us (v. 105). The words give light and understanding (v. 130). Reading the Bible should not be casual but rather diligent study. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (II Timothy 2:15). Read, memorize, study, and let the Word change your life.
Good Guy Lost, Bad Guy Saved
“God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are” (Luke 18:11 KJV) “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13 What a paradox! This devotional title does not make sense and seems contradictory to reason. Shouldn’t good guys go to heaven and bad guys go to hell? Yet, in this parable, Jesus is teaching just the opposite. The good guy, the Pharisee, does good things - fasts twice a week and gives tithes. He doesn’t do bad things. The publican, a hated tax collector working for the Romans, represented everything the Jews regarded as evil. The Pharisee, in all his religiosity, regarded himself as much better than the despised publican. His self-importance, good works, pride, and self-sufficiency assuredly made him worthy of heaven. The publican knew his condition. He readily confessed that he was a sinner and asked simply for mercy. He was a sinner, unworthy even to lift up his eyes toward heaven. Jesus said the publican was justified (declared righteous in God’s eyes), but not the Pharisee. The Pharisee didn’t realize that his good works, moral character, and religious acts could never earn him entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus proclaimed to another religious man, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” Trusting Jesus and His blood shed for your sin is the only way to salvation. Turn from sin today and trust Jesus
Wisdom That Destroys
The world by wisdom knew not God. I Corinthians 1:21 (KJV) The well-known French infidel, Voltaire, made a bold prediction: In one hundred years, the Bible and Christianity will be swept from existence into oblivion. His prophecy “bombed.” Voltaire died in 1778. Sixteen years later, the printing press he used to print his infidel literature began to print copies of the Bible. After 58 years, the Geneva Bible Society prepared and stacked Bibles in his house. Countless attempts have been made throughout history to destroy the Bible and the integrity of the gospel account of Christ. All have failed. Jesus said in Matthew 24:15, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Man chooses not to know God. In man’s wisdom, the Bible could not be accurate. But it is true. If you reject the Bible and God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, you lose everything! When you die, you face the judgment of God and eternity in the physical torments of a literal hell. The born-again Christian experiences the blessed assurance of sins forgiven and new life in Christ. When he dies, he will go to heaven to be with the Lord eternally, where there will be no death, sorrow, crying, or pain. Peace and perfect harmony will be the constant ‘normal’ in heaven. Do you know Christ as your Savior? You cannot earn salvation by baptism, church membership, or good works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 A person must realize he is a sinner, repent of his sins and turn to Jesus (John 14:6). God loves you and wants to save you. Jesus died to pay for your sins and then arose from the dead. Trust Him for your salvation today. See God’s plan of salvation in these verses: Romans: 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; and 10:9-13. Choose Jesus today.
Wicked Christians Preventing Revival
"If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." II Chronicles 7:14 Christians can commit any sin you can name – and sometimes they do. We categorize sins and have a group of "bad" sins we think we would never do, such as adultery. But Jesus said that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Then there are the somewhat respectable sins (because everyone does them): the white lie, breaking the speed limit, gossiping, overeating, wasting time on the job and getting paid for it, disrespect for your boss or parents, or pastor, or others in authority. Just look at the lists of sins Christians are warned against in Galatians 5, Ephesians 5, and the whole book of James. What about the sins of omission? Prayerlessness; Failing to study the Bible; Skipping church services; Refusing to serve actively in the church; Failing to witness; Coldness of heart; Lack of compassion toward those in need; Refusing to talk to some brother or sister in Christ; Refusing to ask for forgiveness. Every Christian needs to turn from the wickedness of these omissions. One Bible Dictionary definition of wickedness includes these: The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality. The world is full of wickedness. The sad thing is that many Christians, perhaps most, permit corrupt practices in their own life and think it is ok. Is it any wonder that God does not send revival to America? God's prescription for revival in 21st century America is the same as in the Old Testament: Humble yourself, pray, seek my face, TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS! The big question is, what will I and what will you do about this today?
Hypocrisy In the Church When Praying for Revival
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” Luke 18:11 When we think of revival in America and the need for repentance, we are often like the Pharisee that prayed. In his opinion, he was better than the other four classes of people he mentioned. Jesus described him as a person that trusted in himself that he was righteous and despised others. (v. 9) In the context of this Scripture, both the Pharisee and the others all needed to be saved. But what about Christians when we pray for revival? We think that other Christians need to repent and get right with God but seem unable to recognize our own sin. Hypocrisy in the church is a critical issue. Even if we are leading an exemplary Christian life, have we considered these critical personal issues? How much time do I spend in prayer? Even Jesus had extended times of prayer. Am I busier than He was? What about personal, daily Bible study: reading, meditating, memorizing, studying? Do I know the Bible better today than I did a week, or a month, or a year ago? What about applying the Word? (Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only – James 1:22) Do I love the Lord, and do I walk with Him? If you love someone, you want to spend time with that person. Am I closer to the Lord today than I was a month ago? (“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8) Peter wrote in I Peter 4:17 that “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:” If we are going to have genuine revival, it will require that we, as faithful, Bible-believing Christians, recognize our own sin, repent, and let God change our lives.
Praying for Revival Requires Humility
“If my people which are called by my name, shall HUMBLE THEMSELVES, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14 Humility is not a common character trait today. In fact, the very opposite seems to be encouraged. We are urged to build our self-esteem and help others build self-esteem. All people have worth or self-esteem simply because God loves us and Jesus died for us. But to have power with God in prayer and to pray for revival, we are urged to humble ourselves. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less. It is lowliness of mind. Humility does not seek its place at the head of the line or seek to be honored. Paul instructed that “each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3) Notice these three examples of how Paul described himself: “I am the least of the apostles” I Corinthians 15:9 I am “less than the least of all saints.” Ephesians 3:8 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” I Timothy 1:15 Christians often quote the text for this devotional today without considering the meaning. As a result, we minimize our own sin and certainly do not humble ourselves. Here is the path to humility, as shown in James 4:7-10. “SUBMIT yourselves therefore to God. RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you. DRAW NIGH to God, and he will draw nigh to you. CLEANSE your hands ye sinners; and PURIFY your hearts, ye double-minded. BE AFFLICTED, and MOURN, and WEEP: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. HUMBLE YOURSELVES in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Note the commands in CAPS. We cannot expect God to answer our prayer for revival until we meet His conditions. Humility is absolutely essential. Are you willing to humble yourself?
Start a Revival In Your Own Prayer Closet
II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and PRAY, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Although this verse is God’s formula to heal a nation, prayer for revival is a very personal thing. Revival doesn’t start with a country. It begins with each individual. Prayer for revival starts with you and me, not the millions that make up our society. This Scripture tells us first to humble ourselves and then pray. If we have humbled ourselves, we will recognize our sin and our wicked contribution to the sad national predicament. This prayer is not just a superficial request such as “God bless our nation.” Or, “Lord revive our nation,” or, “Lord correct the politicians.” It is not a “quickie” prayer either. Sometimes our urgent, intense prayer may last for hours. After recognizing our waywardness, apathy, and coldness toward the Lord we come with a broken heart for our own sin. We realize that today’s problems result from our complacent satisfaction in just attending church and going through our religious routines. We have forgotten that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and let Christ live through us. Young’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word (palal) for “pray” in this verse as “to pray – to judge self – to pray habitually.” It is in the spirit of James 4:9, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” Until we are willing to understand the gravity of our national crisis and the significance of our apathy, we will be unable to pray as the Lord requires in this directive. What is your prayer response to II Chronicles 7:14? Begin today with a genuine, heartfelt prayer for revival.
End of the Road? NO
In the moment of temptation, he failed. It was a decision he regretted for the rest of his life. David was called a man after God’s own heart. Yet, when confronted with a lustful temptation, he gave in to it. It led to the sin of adultery, murder, and then a cover-up. During his cover-up time, he said, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; - - - I acknowledged my sin unto thee and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:2-4 Although forgiven, the consequences of his sin remained. The baby born of adultery died. He had to fight wars continuously. He experienced continual family strife. His son raised a rebellion against him and then was killed. David almost lost his throne. God did not allow David to build the temple. His sinful decision and action created suffering for him, his family, and his nation. David had regrets for the rest of his life about what could have been if only he had been obedient. Past sins or bad choices may make you redirect your life, but not make you quit. It is not the end of the road. David remedied that: he repented, and God did forgive him. God restored fellowship and David lived for the Lord through the consequences. Don’t let bad choices in the past keep you from serving God now. Confess, repent, and draw nigh to God. Give Him your very best for the rest of your life.
Revival: Falling in Love With Jesus
II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and SEEK MY FACE, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The third condition in praying for revival is to Seek God’s Face. What does that mean? Why is it better to talk face-to-face rather than over the phone, or by letter, or texting? When a young man is courting a young lady, he wants to see her and be in her presence while they talk together. Why? Because you not only hear the words, but you see the expression of the face and the look in the eyes. You can sense sincerity or insincerity. You get to know the person. When we genuinely seek God’s face, we want to know Him – to know his words, thoughts, emotions, and character. The word face has the idea of “presence.” We want to know God intimately. We want to pour out our hearts to God and let God talk to us directly. We want to spend time with Him. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of thine heart.” Ps. 37:4 We are so immersed in our relationship with God that we want what He wants, and He wants what we want. You are one in the Lord. In Ps. 42:2, the Psalmist said, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” In Philippians 3:10, Paul desired “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” When you seek God’s face, you are willing to SPEND THE TIME to get to know Him and see Him as He really is. We are glad to bend our will to His. We are committed to love Him, follow Him, and Obey Him. Are you seeking His face?