Archive for August 2010

Then, and Only Then, Will I….

August 31, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Ezekiel 11

OBSERVATION

Ezekiel 11:18-21 ~ When that happens, I want you to clear the land of all disgusting idols. Then I will take away your stubbornness and make you eager to be completely faithful to me. You will want to obey me and all my laws and teachings. You will be my people, and I will be your God. But those who worship idols will be punished and get what they deserve. I, the LORD God, have spoken.

APPLICATION

I am finding the book of Ezekiel almost as interesting as the book of Revelation, as God really spoke to Ezekiel through a vision, including showing him how He would follow through with all that needed to be done to effectively open the eyes of the sinful nation of Jerusalem. I have highlighted in ‘red‘ one of the very key words in these verses, ‘Then’. So often we talk about/preach about/think about our loving God who will do everything for us, and often saying this while continuing to do the sinful, prideful things that God abhors. In the verses preceding these, God told Ezekiel all that He demanded of the people of Jerusalem, and only AFTER those things were done, THEN He would do His part. In other words God is saying that His good work among them will be conditional upon them doing their part. He had given so many opportunities for them to straighten up their act, but each time they miserably failed to follow through in obedience, even after He wiped out several of their towns. Fast forwarding this to apply this to life today: God still expects us to do our part. He developed us with enough intelligence to understand the written Word of God, to communicate effectively with Him in prayer; example after example of how we should separate ourselves from this sinful world and instead be light to a dark and dying world. In other words, to be an example of Him to others so that they might dedicate themselves to Him and follow His commands. Unless we straighten up our act and follow the Christ that we profess that we personally know, we could find ourselves in the same predicament as the people of Jerusalem, we could be wiped out so that God could raise up new warriors who will obey Him and sincerely do His work. Our excuse today is that I can’t do a whole lot for the large city/state/country in which I live, much less this whole wide world. Remember that this is a very true analysis of the situation, because that will be God’s job. However, I truly believe that He wants us to concentrate first on our own personal relationship with Him. Then as we example Him to our family, friends, co-workers and world He will work through our witness to reach into their hearts.

PRAYER

Father, may You find a willing and prepared saint through which You can work today as You look deep into my heart. Forgive me for my selfish motives, my personal desires and the times that I could have been way more proactive in sharing Your message with others. Please help me, through Your love and strength, to rid myself of anything that stands in the way of You using me to do Your work. Help me to represent You perfectly in all that I say or do so that others may see Jesus, and gain a desire to want to know You personally. May You have Your will and way this day, dear God.

When Our Loving God Becomes Angry

August 30, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Ezekiel 8

OBSERVATION

Ezekiel 8:17-18 ~ …. They have disgraced and insulted me in the worst possible way. So in my fierce anger, I will punish them without mercy and refuse to help them when they cry out to me.”

APPLICATION

As I read this chapter and noticed the awful things that God had brought to Ezekiel’s attention to show him how upset He was and all the things that were angering Him, I felt so terrible because I saw where there were many things going on in my town and in our society today that no doubt anger God. In fact, I would quickly declare that I probably don’t know the half of what IS going on, because I live somewhat of a sheltered life around Christians and the church. However, the greatest thing that I believe that God spoke to me on, is that I needn’t think for a moment that all the issues that anger God rest in the ways, attitudes and actions of the unsaved, because when we, as God’s people say that we love God and His people, yet we go on treating each other poorly by not forgiving them, or by snipping at them because of all that we have brought on ourselves and not because of anything that person did to us, then we are displeasing God. We are definitely not imitating our Savior when we treat others wrongly. God told Ezekiel that his people had angered Him so badly that He would punish them without mercy and refuse to help them even when they cried out to Him. Could it be that sometimes when we feel like we are hitting a brick wall and perhaps God is not hearing our cry, that perhaps He is refusing to hear us because of sin in our lives, or because we are not doing all we can to avoid sin around us? We are so good at shutting God out of our lives during those times that we feel it is necessary to gossip or otherwise commit some ‘secret’ sin, yet we think that it is so difficult or impossible to think that the loving God that we serve could possibly shut us out of His blessing because He is so angry with us. I want to strive to love Him, serve Him and do all that I possibly can to live my life in alignment with His will and in obedience to His commands, so help me God.

PRAYER

Father, You made me, so You are very aware of my weaknesses. Please don’t become exasperated with me, but give me a heart like Yours so that I may obey Your every command and display Your love for others so that they may also be encouraged to do Your will. You are a loving and holy God, please help me to show Your holiness in and through my life by the way that I live my life before others and before You. Please alert me to Your will and direction each and every day and give me strength to live in accordance with Your will. Please help me to be actively involved in my church and that, together we may be busy carrying out your work in our community. Please help us to warn others, as You have warned us in Your Word about Your soon return and Your desire to see them saved before it is a day too late.

Know that You Have Life Eternal

August 28, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: 1 John 5

 

OBSERVATION

1 John 5:13-15 ~ I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God so you will know you have eternal life. And this is the boldness we have in God’s presence: that if we ask God for anything that agrees with what he wants, he hears us. If we know he hears us every time we ask him, we know we have what we ask from him.

APPLICATION

Here are some words of encouragement for us today, some key points on which we can build our faith in Jesus Christ and reassurance for us as Christians to know that our living, powerful Savior is actively involved in our lives, as we give Him room and permission to. Here are the key points that really encouraged me:

  • Through God’s leading, with His direction, and through His grace, I accepted Jesus as my Savior back in 1976. God, through John is assuring me here that I have eternal life, therefore one day when life shall leave my earthly body, I will be taken away to forever be with my Savior in heaven! Although I already knew this, every time I am reminded of this it bring such a peace, reassurance and excitement to me. I can’t imagine why the Master of this universe would consider even me to one day join Him in glory, but I am satisfied that it will happen, praise be to God! As a side note, what is also exciting is that while this is an exclusive group that will get to join Jesus Christ at His right hand, the invitation to join the group is open to ALL who will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life. This is something that no one should refuse. I constantly pray that I will see all of my family and loved ones there, so I am praying that they will accept Jesus today, while they are still able to. Why don’t you consider doing the same thing friend?
  • As a child of the King, we have the boldness while in God’s presence to ask for anything, that He agrees with, and we can be assured that He hears us. As the last sentence in theses verses says, if God hears our prayer and it is in accordance with His will for our lives, then we can consider it done. The verse actually says that we know that we already have it! While this is super exciting, one might ask well how will I know if it is God’s will for me? For those that ask arbitrarily without any type of relationship with God, this will probably be extremely difficult. After all, think about a marriage relationship – if after leaving the altar where you said your vows, the husband goes one way and the wife another, not only is there a lack of relationship between them (although they are ‘married’), but one of them will have no idea what pleases the other in three months when they get together for dinner! Likewise, to know God’s will we must be constant in prayer and Bible Study so that we may learn His heart’s desire for us. There is a group study called ‘The Mind of Christ’. This is something that you cannot discern from a distance, this requires an intimate relationship with Christ. One of the huge ways that one can be helped with this is by connecting with a body of believers (a bible believing/teaching church). Not only will you hear the Word of God preached and taught, but to network with others of like faith brings an enormous sense of love, accountability, boldness and strength that could help both you and them through daily challenges with life here in this wicked world in which we now live. If you are not connected already friend, I encourage you to give this a try. Believe me, it works!

PRAYER

  1. Lord Jesus, You are so awesome. You have provided the means for us to have eternal life. You hear our prayers, even though we tend to stray away from Your teaching so much. I often feel so undeserved of such love, but again today I want to thank You for that love. I feel especially blessed, loved and cared for by You and can easily say thank You for all that You do in my life. Forgive me for sometimes asking for things that may not fit within your will for my life at the present time, but thank you for redirecting me towards a right path pleasing to You. Please be my guide each and every day, for

Overcoming the World

August 27, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: 1 John 5

 

OBSERVATION

1 John 5:1-5 – If we believe that Jesus is truly Christ, we are God’s children. Everyone who loves the Father will also love his children. If we love and obey God, we know that we will love his children. We show our love for God by obeying his commandments, and they are not hard to follow. Every child of God can defeat the world, and our faith is what gives us this victory. No one can defeat the world without having faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

APPLICATION

These are very powerful verses and reveal several truths to remind me of what a child of God, Christians, should look like and how we should act:

  1. The reassurance for us, in order to comprehend verses 2-5, is that for those of us that believe that Jesus is truly the Christ, we are children of the Almighty, the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, the Master of the universe. We are royalty! Words from a popular old hymn, “…I, though so unworthy, Still am a child of his care, For his word teaches me …”;
  2. If we love the Father, then we will also love His children. – How then can we say that we hate a Christian brother or sister?
  3. If we love and obey God, then we will love His children. – Slightly different to #2, because this point says that not only if we love but also if we obey God, then we will love His children;
  4. A major way that we show that we love God, is by obeying His commands. Read and/or listen to the Word, and obey what God says to us. Prove that we love God by obeying Him;
  5. Exercising our faith in God is what gives us victory over this world. We become so depressed when things of this world really burden us, yet through Christ, we are reminded that we are more than conquerors. Let’s place our hand, our faith, our trust in the hand of the only One that has power to overcome all the sick, violent, evil, hateful things of this world, for He has the power and the wisdom to overcome it all!

Why do we whine when the world seems to be against us, for we don’t serve the world. We are not servants of the world, for Jesus is our master. Our stress levels would be much improved if we place our faith where it belongs, in the only One who sacrificed it all for us.

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, please help us, Your children to get our act together, get our priorities in order, help us to just simply obey Your Word and allow You to be God, to be our Master over everything, especially the challenges of this old world, for there is power in the name of Jesus. I love You Father, and need to frequently remember who is in charge so that I can direct my energies towards obeying and serving You, and to loving Your children. Thank You for challenging me with this today!

Let Your ‘Yes’ be Yes and Your ‘No’ be No

August 26, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Jeremiah 34

 

OBSERVATION

Jeremiah 34:18-20 ~ …. But you people of Jerusalem have broken that agreement as well as my agreement with Israel. So I will do to you what you did to that calf. I will let your enemies take all of you prisoner, including the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the royal officials, the priests, and everyone else who walked between the two parts of the calf. These enemies will kill you and leave your bodies lying on the ground as food for birds and wild animals.

APPLICATION

I believe that one thing this passage is teaching is that when we make commitments, we need to stand by them, especially those that we make to God or when we make them before whom we could spoil the image of God. In accepting Jesus we then make every attempt to be imitators of Him. One thing that Jesus was known for was His candid honesty and trustworthiness. He is known as the only ‘perfect’ One. As we strive to be ‘perfect’ in all that we do, we must strive to not make vain, or empty promises. Another verse in the New Testament tells us to let our ‘yes’ be yes, and our ‘no’ be no. let us not be wavering with every little ‘bump in the road’ or known obstacle. In this story by Jeremiah, we are told that the people used an altar they had set up to help relay their commitment to God, yet they turned around and did what they wanted to do. God said that He would use this same image in His punishment to the people because they had broken their promise to Him so badly.

PRAYER

Thank God for His Word that could direct us each and every day, seeing that we are so weak in and of our own selves that we give in to the things of this world so easily in our own strength. Father I pray today for:

  • Guidance – to do those things that are pleasing and honoring to You;
  • Strength – to overcome the things of this world, and instead keep my eyes fixed on You, and my walk and talk guided by, and aligned by You;
  • Stamina – to be a bold witness for You, and to be an honest and deliberate representative of Yours in all that I do and say.

For

Peace in Challenging Times

August 25, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Jeremiah 33

 

OBSERVATION

Jeremiah 33:10-11 ~ ….The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem are deserted, and people and animals are nowhere to be seen. But someday you will hear 11happy voices and the sounds of parties and wedding celebrations. And when people come to my temple to offer sacrifices to thank me, you will hear them say: “We praise you, LORD All-Powerful! You are good to us, and your love never fails.” The land will once again be productive.

APPLICATION

Jeremiah had spoken of so much that had gone on around Judah and Jerusalem and how deserted they were. Of course this is the way we look at lean times through our human eyes, but praise God we serve the One who not only knows why we go through the times of famine, decline, desertion or major challenges to our faith, but who also has control over our destiny and control over when we should expect to see movement or improvement because of His hand at work in our midst. I was reminded of the words of that gospel song ‘Hold on my child, Joy Comes in the Morning‘, because no matter how things may appear through our human eyes, we have confidence in the only One that has control over these temporal challenges. You see, my God knows when and how, or even if, things will improve while we continue our worldly path or whether it will be our reuniting with Him that will bring Joy in the Morning for us. But let’s remember that it is our joy and reassurance to know that Joy will come for those of us that know Jesus personally!

PRAYER

Dear God, please help me not to focus too much on the temporal challenges that I see in my personal life, my family, my job or the life of my church. Thank You for reminding me that just as You had control over the challenges that Judah and Jerusalem went through and how You gave Jeremiah assurance that he would one day see them overcome, that You can and will work in the lives of Your people today to expose our shortcomings and sin so that we may allow You to cleanse ourselves, then overcome and live the victorious lives that will be a shining light and example to the dark and sinful world in which we find ourselves. Praise God I serve such an awesome, loving, powerful Savior that brings peace to me in challenging times!

Did you Know……???

August 23, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Jeremiah 33

OBSERVATION

Jeremiah 33:2-3 ~ “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

APPLICATION

When first reading these verses I thought, what a comfort to know such a wonderful Savior, one that made this whole earth and now He is telling Jeremiah, and us, to call to Him and He will answer. Then as I meditated more deeply on this I saw in the later part of verse three that God said He would tell us great and unsearchable things that we do not already know. Now unlike our natural desire to want to catch up on to gossip and hear something for the first time so that we have something ‘juicy’ to spread around to those that we speak with, I am thrilled to be reminded of these words spoken by the Lord for these reasons:

  1. God would tell us these things because He is growing us closer to Him and wants to fill us with more of His glory. We should therefore celebrate in praise as we learn something new from God, whether through reading His Word or in responses to our prayers;
  2. He wants to encourage us, because we may be feeling so out of it all in finding an answer to a problem that we are dealing with. We should therefore have the faith to implement the Word given to us by the Almighty;
  3. He has a mission for us to tell others something special directly from Him. We should be careful not to boast about this, after all who are we that God should use us? However, I believe that one of the important ways that God speaks to others, or confirms a Word that He may have given directly to them, is through another saint. Therefore while following through on sharing the great and unsearchable news with others may be a blessing to us, it could be a confirmation for a brother or sister in the Lord and a great relief to them.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus who am I that You should find me worthy to speak Your great words of wisdom to, or through? Praise God that You consider me a son of the King and therefore royalty! Praise God that it is not of anything personal that I can boast, but rather Your love for me and for others that You answer our prayers and tell us great and unsearchable things that we do not know, so that Your glory may be shown in this dark world that we live in. Thank You for loving me so much that You gave of Yourself that I may have eternal life, and that I may have peace in this troubled world. May I always be careful to pass the praise on to You anytime others are blessed by something You may have given me to share with them. You are an awesome God! My God and my King! Amen!

Faith under Fire

August 19, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: John 18 

OBSERVATION

John 18:25 ~ Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”

APPLICATION

It might be very easy for us to read this chapter and comment about the coward that Peter was. The truth is that we do this almost every day of our lives, for we act differently and/or speak differently when we are under pressure. A few examples are:

  • The ease we have in lifting up holy hands and worshipping God inside church, vs the challenge we have in doing the same when a fellow Christian tells us in front of coworkers about a miracle that occurred in their life or the life of a loved one. Sometimes the motionless way that we may respond might lead coworkers to question whether we are of the same faith at all;
  • We might easily openly pray in Church, but we don’t want to appear ‘holy’ by praying in public over our food or for a friend in need;
  • We will sit and not only laugh at dirty jokes, but not even acknowledge in actions that our ‘holy’ ears were just poisoned or stained by ungodly or unholy garbage;
  • We will quickly fill our glass with alcohol at a function so we could look/act like our buddies, even though we just said a loud ‘amen’ to the preacher that spoke so openly about ‘the sin of defiling the body’ the day before.

In the above examples I feel like our faith is being tested. Someone is watching to see if we would act the same way on Monday that they saw us pretending to be on Sunday. The sad thing is that we have not only just given them the opportunity to point a finger at our inconsistency, but we have shown that when our faith is under fire, we will act just like Peter and deny Christ. What the world needs most, is to see followers of Christ that they could see enough consistency in their walk and talk that they will freely ask questions about God’s grace, and particularly what it takes to draw closer to God in a personal relationship. The best sermon spoken to a friend is the one that shows by our actions who, and whose we truly are.

PRAYER

  1. Father, in the same way that I seek your face daily for many needs in my life, may I also be careful to not be hypocritical and act as a stranger to You when in the presence of my friends, acquaintances, coworkers, business associates, etc. Perhaps today I can be such an example to someone that they will welcome hearing from me about the Christ that I know, worship, adore and live for each day of my life. Please grant me the strength and boldness to be Your witness today dear Lord. Make me a blessing to someone today!

Benefits of Worship and Obedience

August 18, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Psalm 112

OBSERVATION

Psalm 112:1-9 ~ … The LORD blesses everyone who worships him and gladly obeys his teachings. Their descendants will have great power in the land, because the LORD blesses all who do right. They will get rich and prosper and will always be remembered for their fairness. They will be so kind and merciful and good, that they will be a light in the dark for others who do the right thing. Life will go well for those who freely lend and are honest in business. They won’t ever be troubled, and the kind things they do will never be forgotten. Bad news won’t bother them; they have decided to trust the LORD. They are dependable and not afraid, and they will live to see their enemies defeated. They will always be remembered and greatly praised, because they were kind and freely gave to the poor.

APPLICATION

I have included a lot more scripture verses than usual today because I was so touched by it. God is so moved and blessed by our worship and obedience to Him that He used David to show us that there are many benefits to us:

  • Our children will be given great power, because God blesses all who do right;
  • We will get rich and will prosper and will always be remembered, because of our fairness;
  • We will be so kind, merciful and good, that we will be an example or role model for those who endeavor to do the right thing;
  • As we freely lend and be honest in business, we will see life go well for us;
  • We won’t ever be troubled;
  • The kind things that we do will never be forgotten;
  • Bad news won’t bother us, because we are so determined to trust the Lord in all things;
  • We are dependable (so we should be some of the best employees!);
  • We will not be afraid;
  • We will live to see our enemies defeated (although I hope that we will never have enemies!);
  • We will always be remembered and greatly praised, because we were kind and always freely gave to the poor.

Wow, wow, wow! What more can we ask for? What more can we expect? If you are like me I believe that we will say, “But I just want to worship my Lord and obey His Word”, and we will have the best goal in life, but these verses are placed to let us know that there are definite benefits to doing just that! Now put that in perspective and ask why we would deserve this kind of love and I believe that, like me, you will conclude that it is the grace of God that saves us, not anything that we might do, otherwise we might selfishly boast. God is awesome, let’s devote ourselves to worshipping Him and obeying His commands, and in turn be blessed by Him beyond all that we could imagine or expect!

PRAYER

Father, I am committed to worshipping You and obeying Your Word. I acknowledge that this will require much devotion and commitment from me and much help from You to help me keep my focus and devotion to what You teach in Your Word. I know that I will have to depend on You daily, thank You for being there for me. I am so appreciative that You would love even me to the extent of blessing me in all these ways if only I will do what I am suppose to do. Thank You Jesus!

What It Means To Know God

August 17, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Jeremiah 22

OBSERVATION

Jeremiah 22:15-16 ~ ….Your father was satisfied to have food and drink. He did what was right and fair, so everything went well for him. He helped those who were poor and needy, so everything went well for him. That is what it means to know God,” says the Lord.

APPLICATION

I believe that a few wise words of Jeremiah the prophet were placed in God’s Word for the purpose of drawing our attention to what it means to truly know God. These things are:

  • Be satisfied with what we have – God cares so much for even the sparrow, I could only imagine how special we are to Him seeing that He made us in His image and His likeness, and gave us the understanding to know how much He truly cares for us.
  • Do what is right and fair – I believe that God expects us to treat one another with love and respect, just as He does in our case. Jesus taught us through His example that we should call sin, “sin”, but that we should always love the sinner, who is a creation of the Almighty God.
  • Help those who are poor and needy – following this description of Josiah, a king of Judah whose sons were not following in his footsteps, that everything went well for him because he helped the poor and needy. Unfortunately, today so many are trying to grab what they can so they try to take advantage of a giving society and/or government, however there are many who are truly poor and needy living very close to each of us and we must do all we can to do what is important in the little time that God has given to each of us here on this earth, so let’s put aside the evils of this world and try to reach the heart of God, His poor and needy children.

PRAYER

In doing these things I am told in this passage that not only will everything go well for me, but that I will actually be displaying what it means to know God. It is so important that I use my life wisely and to always strive to please God in all that I do. I pray that I will be made very aware of the needs around me, and that I will strive to follow the will of my Master each and every day through:

  • Being satisfied with what I have been, and being blessed with each day;
  • Making every effort to follow the will of God and do what is right and fair in every circumstance; and
  • Helping those who are poor and needy in every way that I can.

In doing these things, others will see and believe that God exists and still works through His servants even today. May others come to know You Lord as You become visible to them through me. Make me a blessing to someone today!