Sunday, September 16, 2018

God Has a Message for You

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.  And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees.  The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.  Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man.  It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 
But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him.  Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat.  Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out.  Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.
Judges 3:12-22 NASB

For eighteen years the children of Israel lived in servitude to this foreign king who grew wealthy and powerful and lived off of the proceeds of the slavery. However, it says afterward that they began to cry.  Whats interesting is that a lot of times we'll be in slavery to sin and serving it until finally in our heart something causes us to cry out and say, "God help me!" The children of Israel had given themselves over to idolatry, to this world to pursue it. God had allowed this world to consume them and bring them into bondage. For eighteen years that Moabite King had lived off of the hard labor of the Israelite's bondage. During that time I don't know how many times the message of God had come to him but in this passage, the message of God came to him in the form of judgement. "This night thy soul shall be required of thee!" I want to look today at the message God wants to speak to each one of us. God has a message for you. When we refuse to listen or scoff at His message, the end result is one of judgement. In Psalm 19:1 it says;

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.

He said in creation the voice of God has gone forth! In Matthew 7 He says that every man has heard the word of God.

It may not be through the preaching of some missionary or through showing up at some church, the word says that all creation is declaring the Glory of God! 
Romans 1 says every man is accountable to God because all creation declares the glory of God. All creation is testifying of God and His fingerprint is everywhere for those who are willing to hear and to see and to listen.

Even now, for those reading this devotional, the wise and foolish have both heard the word of God! The foolish scoff at the word and set it aside. They have no place for it in their hearts.

We are receiving in our minds every day, messages from this world.

Psalm 1 tells us;

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wise man meditates upon the word of God. He builds his life upon the foundation of it and clings to it as his very life.

The one thing in common with the foolish and the wise is that they both experienced the wind, the rain and the storm. These storms reveal the foundation you have been building upon and the value of the house you have been building.

People want God to speak plainly to them but what we don't realize is that He is speaking to us everyday.

It's not that God's not speaking to us it's that we are not willing to hear what He is saying.

We want God to speak to us peace and safety and pleasant things but when He begins to say, "Repent! Turn from your ways!," our hearts say, "Is that really God?"

Many times God will bring people who speak into our lives and give us a word but they don't always tell us what we want to hear and we say, "That can't be what God is saying."

God often has to bring us to a place of humility, like the children of Israel to humble us and cause us to hear the word of the Lord.

He is not as the gods of this world that cannot see or hear or speak. He desires communion with us and He went through the same humility, betrayal and struggles you may have gone through but without sin so that He could be a faithful High Priest to us. 

Because we would not listen in our times of prosperity, God will allow hard and difficult things to happen because His earnest desire is relationship with us. If you find yourself in a difficult place and your not sure what to do, take heart that God hasn't forgotten about you. Cry out to the Lord and go back to the last thing you remember God telling you to do. To the best of your ability be obedient and listen to what God would speak to you in that place. Cast your cares upon the Lord today, because He cares for you. Don't lose hope as you wait patiently for Him to speak to your heart. When He does speak, don't be double-minded but instead listen and obey the Lord's voice. 

I warned you when you felt secure,
    but you said, ‘I will not listen!’
This has been your way from your youth;
    you have not obeyed me.
22 The wind will drive all your shepherds away,
    and your allies will go into exile.
Then you will be ashamed and disgraced
    because of all your wickedness.

                          Jeremiah 22:21-22

For further study today, consider this video;

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

He Lives

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—  and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.  
1 John 1:1-4 (NASB)

I have been meditating on this passage for the past few months and I've often pondered what it would have been like to walk with Jesus. Many people travel to Israel, to walk where He walked and see the places He had been. 

Well as I write this today I'm here to tell you, He lives!

As I share this, this morning, I am testifying of what I have seen with my eyes and my ears have heard and my hands have handled in regards to the Word of Life.

That's why I have hope when I like everyone else walk through great sufferings and trials. There is a conviction of my heart that He lives!

Not because it's a doctrine or because I believe in the doctrine of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. 

It's because He has become real to my heart. 

What gives me hope is, "I believe He lives!" 

Because He lives I can face tomorrow, just like you can.

Because He lives, we can face today, trusting and surrendering to His plan and path for our lives and our families.

I want to encourage you today to pause for a moment and meditate on the reality that, He lives.....and He hasn't forgotten about you. 

He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Matthew 28:6 NASB

For further devotional study today, enjoy this audio message:

Monday, August 6, 2018

Obeying God's Calling

Some of you today might be sitting in the midst of the church and saying, "My life is such a waste. There is nothing spiritual about my life and my job doesn't seem to have any real value to God's kingdom. BUT if  you could only see in the spiritual realm, the tsunami, the flood of prayers from the saints for the people all around you that do not know Christ. You have no idea who is praying at this very moment for the people you work with every day. Find the place that God has you and begin to give your life away. Sometimes we resist the very plan that God has for us. Consider the Book of Jonah in the Bible....

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. 

Think about these verses for a moment this morning. Why does God even have to say anything to Jonah? Why not speak to someone in Nineveh? For some reason He spoke to Jonah and said "I have something I need you to do. I have heard cries for help for this city, I have seen affliction there and people wrestling with despair. They have no light and have lost hope."

Jonah said, "No."

Are there places in your life where you have said no to God? Jonah ran from the Lord and wasn't willing to obey Him. God sent a storm into Jonah's life until he was willing to admit, "Guys, I'm the problem." Then the sailors threw him overboard and the word says that God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. Things got harder and harder until Jonah was willing to obey and the fish spit him out on dry land. How many of us start to obey until things get better in our lives and then we stop being obedient again?  So often we forget the vows we made before God. "I surrender all......"

I can remember in my high school years I was listening to a tape by a man named James Robinson and his daughter had just gotten married and he said on that tape how his desire was to be one who helps God's bride get ready for the bridegroom. I heard that and I thought, "God, that is what I want to do! Help the bride get ready for the bridegroom." I can remember that just like it was yesterday and that began my journey.

  Well, then I became a youth pastor and the church was starting to grow and then it happened.....the church broke apart. I remember thinking, I'm done. I didn't want to go through that again with another church. My Dad had always told me that the one thing no one could take away from me was my mind and If I ever don't know where to go, just go back to school. So I enrolled back in college and had decided I would finish and go to work for my Dad's law firm.

Everything was really moving along and I then I remember sitting in this class and I had an important exam and my mind just froze. I had prepared and studied and yet my mind was blank. My mind just locked up and after two hours I turned in a blank piece of paper.

I had no interest in even being there and I left totally discouraged and went to the house of a family who had invited me to a Bible study. A friend of mine there, who is like a sister to me, could tell that I was discouraged and pressed me until I told her what had happened. I told her how my mind went blank and I had no interest in even being there to take the test.

So we went to the Bible study and God spoke to me and asked, "Are you willing to put your complete confidence in the fact that no one can take your mind away? I've let you run for two years and now it's time to get back to where you belong."

I knew God was getting my attention and out of the blue I got a phone call from a church asking me to be a youth pastor.

God has a redemptive plan that includes you. He doesn't need us and doesn't have to use us but he chooses to. When Isaiah came to the place of seeing God in all His glory he fell on his face until God cleansed him. Then his immediate response of gratitude was, "Lord, here am I....send me."

So often God is waiting for us to say yes to Him. All you have is today to be an expression of God's love into someone else's life. I hope you'll consider this devotional as you begin your day today.  God is for you and you can trust His direction because He is not playing games with your life.

For further study today consider my podcast:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Parable of the Sower Part 3

Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Mark 4:7

We have been talking about the war to keep the Word of God from finding ground in your heart. 

Today I'd like you to think about the seed that was sown among thorns. The seed in this verse began to grow and grow but all of a sudden thorns began to grow around it and choke it. The thorns are the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things. I was talking to the church in one of the prison units and I was telling them the reason I thought the church was flourishing in the prisons. 

The reason that God is so alive in the church in the prisons is that there is no "escape" for them. You and I can, "go home," if we are weary from life's trials  and even if we want quiet time away from others we can close the door.  Think about it though, in the prison they can't do that. They are around people who are using foul language and being unkind and they can't get away from it. When they come to church they are ready to hear from the Lord and to fellowship with other believers and receive from the Word of God. 

I've told the men that the very danger this particular parable talks about becomes evident when they get out of prison. The first thing they do is get a job and then after a while they get two or three part time jobs because they say they need to buy some of the things they need now. They begin to be consumed with work and obtaining things they think they need now that they are on the outside. They forget the very God that met them in the prison and to neglect the Word of God that is their very life. 

 How about you? In your community and world have you neglected one on one fellowship with Jesus? Has the worries and cares of this life caused you to pursue things other than the fellowship with the church and hearing the Word of God? If you will cast your cares upon God and then get still and hear what the Lord would speak to your heart, He already know everything you have need of. 

This work that He has begun in your life He wants to complete it but you need time with Jesus, you need to not neglect fellowship with other believers. Those that will challenge you to do what is right and encourage your walk with the Lord. If you will make that time to spend time with the Lord and His Word and to get still with Him, God will prepare you for the place He has for you. The divine purpose you were created for will become a reality as you make time with God a regular, consistent priority in your life. 

Lord I pray this very day for everyone reading this devotional, that there would be a sense of peace and joy that arises within them that you are involved in their circumstances. You know the worries and cares of their lives because you care for them. You are their provider and their purpose in Life and as they turn their hearts to you today, may they find their happiness in fellowship with your Holy Spirit. I pray they will embrace a renewed vision to make fellowship with You a priority in their lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

For further study today we invite you to enjoy this video message:

Friday, July 27, 2018

In the Marketplace

After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.  In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 
 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus *said to him, Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.
John 5:1-9 (NASB)

  So often we think of the church as a place of healing but here in this passage we find that God had a special place that He would send down mercy, and it was in the Marketplace. It was in a place where people were coming and going about their daily business.

Our prayer should always be wherever we go, that in the marketplaces our eyes would be open to the maladies around us.

Blindness can be a physical condition but it can also be a spiritual affliction.
Jesus said in His word to, "Ask for eye salve that your eyes might be opened up."

There are maladies that we cannot always see with our physical eyes.

Sometimes there are abrasive people in our lives who can be so difficult and we wonder why we have to deal with them.
Well, if you knew the story of their life and could see them as emotionally crippled in an area of their life, would you have compassion for them?

If I see someone using a walking cane or a walker dragging their leg, I would not expect them to be able to run a race. Believe me that so often there are emotional sicknesses and spiritual maladies going on in the lives of people. If we could truly see it we would be merciful to them.

 It is easy to say about someone in prison for example, that they are getting what they deserve. I understand they have been separated out because they have a judgement against them, but what was it that brought them to that place? Something I heard someone say years ago, was that you would be a whole lot less likely to make a judgement on someone if you knew their story and where they came from.

I can't tell you how many people I have sat with and as they begin to tell me their story, I think, it makes sense to me. I see it. Things can look perfect but inside there are wounds that just don't get healed overnight.

There are things that people are walking through because God's purpose and intention is to make us whole. The marketplace is the place where God has called us to be aware of those who are afflicted among us.

So often we are afraid to be aware of the hurt and pain going on and choose instead to entertain ourselves. I'm not against entertainment, movies or television, but often it is a distraction to keep us from those in pain and hurting all around us.

Many times God is calling you to be an extension of His grace, kindness and love in those places. Some people have almost given up hope that they will see any kind of good in this life, much less in the next. As we are led by God's Spirit we can lay down our lives as a living sacrifice, allowing Christ to use us as an instrument of His love and peace. It's amazing how a smile or kind words can give someone hope and encouragement to get through another day. Or how a single prayer can move mountains or remove the dark cloud over a person's life.

Lord, give us eyes today, to see the needs around us in the marketplace. Help us be sensitive to your Holy Spirit's direction of how we may be a living sacrifice for your glory. Speak through us and act through us so that we may be conduits of your divine love. In Jesus name, Amen.

But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-- walk!"

Acts 3:6 (NASB)

For further study today, consider our podcast:

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