Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Function of Worship is Foundational: We Walk With Humility

Scripture: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Insights: Today is the last day this week for Thoughts by Scott and we conclude with the last segment regarding worship with the Lord and that is humility.  If we are going to walk humbly with our God, we must first confess our sins, then repent from our transgressions, and finally claim and walk in the freedom found in God’s forgiveness.  I believe the tax collector in Jesus’ parable apply portrays this posture as he beat his chest and cried out, “Forgive me a sinner.”  Jesus said this man went home justified before God rather than the religious ruler who boasted in all he had done to earn God’s favor.  All this religious leader did was point to his self-serving pride.  As I close this week there is one last thought I wish to leave with you and it is this:  Notice where the three aspects of worship to the Lord were taking place.  In other words, when the people were attempting to placate God with their worship through the facade of forms they were in the temple “worshipping” God.  The three areas of worship the Lord said was good all took place outside the temple.  In other words, the people worshipped God while doing right in the midst of the community.  The people worshipped God while being merciful to those less fortunate than themselves.  The people worshipped God while they walked in humility before a watching world.  I titled our sermon this past week off of the youth’s testimony time the previous week.  The sermon was titled Does Your Worship Make the World Wonder?  As our youth told us, God is working in this world.  When we see God working, we worship Him and as we learned our worship takes on the form of service to a lost world.  As we worship Him, the world wonders at our lives.  When they wonder and start to ask us the reason for our unusual lives, we tell them about Jesus.  Beloved, I pray you are worshipping the Lord every day and that the world is wondering and asking you what makes your life different.  Let our lives bring glory to the Lord!

1.  Would those around you be able to describe you as being humble or self-serving?
2.  In what ways does Jesus display of humility help encourage you to walk in humility?

Prayer: Father, I am a very arrogant individual at times.  Forgive me when I walk in such a manner that tries to detract from Your glory and to steal what is rightfully Yours.  Transform my heart and let me live a life of humility before You as I walk the journey of life with You.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Function of Worship is Foundational: We Look for When to be Kind

Scripture: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Insights: The KJV uses the word mercy and I think mercy carries a stronger sense of this phrase.  Kindness can and ought to be shown to all people.  Mercy on the other hand carries with it the idea of showing kindness to one less fortunate than one self.  It also implies getting one’s hands dirty by going down to where the individual of less substance may dwell and work with them where they are.  Just like with justice, how can we love mercy if we are not presently experiencing God’s mercy in our lives.  Titus 3:5 states, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”  Notice our salvation was not based on our deeds, but on His mercy.  Jesus was in perfect glory.  He was not limited in any way and yet He lowered Himself and became a human being.  He was, during those thirty-three years, confined to one location at a time.  He experienced hunger, thirst and pain.  He did not have to experience any of these things, but His love and mercy for us was so great He was compelled to intervene in human history and make a permanent way of restoration to Himself for His created beings.  It is from this example that we also must go to those who may make us feel uncomfortable and show them mercy.  We are just as compelled to extend the hand of grace to them as Jesus did for us.  The individuals the Lord puts in our paths are not worthy of our assistance, but neither were we worthy of assistance from others, including Jesus.  In some ways, Beloved, that is the whole point.  Jesus died for us.  Jesus died for those less fortunate than us.  None of us was worthy of salvation.  We all received mercy and we are told by our Lord that He loves everyone of His creations.  We, as His born again servants, are to be His hands, His feet and His mouth piece as we show His mercy to them.  All of God’s creation is unworthy, but because Jesus sees worth in all of us, we are worthy in His eyes.  He establishes the worth and value of a soul and we then experience a radical life change and seek to help others meet this Savior who saved us.

1.  In what ways are you able to display mercy for those who are in need of grace?
2.  Are you able to count the ways in which the Lord has shown mercy to you?

Prayer: Father, thank You for showing mercy to me.  Even while I was an enemy of the cross You displayed Your love and mercy to me by sending Jesus to die on the cross on behalf of my sin.  Let me now, O Lord, go and display the same kind of mercy to others.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Function of Worship is Foundational: We Fight for What is Right

Scripture: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Insights: Today we switch our focus from the form of worship which is a facade and begin to look at how the function of worship is foundational to our walk with the Lord.  For the remainder of this week we are going to be hanging out in verse eight.  Micah, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us three aspects of worship that are acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.  The key to the following three sub points is this:  it is not about us, it is about Him!  J. Vernon McGee states, “External religion without an internal experience, without reality on the inside is absolutely valueless.”  In other words, before anything can transpire in the external, it must first be experienced in the internal.  The very first area we are to worship the Lord is in regards to justice.  Again, we are not able to do justly, or fight for what is right, unless we have been justified by faith and are right with God.  Even my sentence carries with it the connotation that we first experience justice from the Lord internally, and then, we are able to dispense proper justice externally because of our life change.  Psalm 32:1-2 states, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!”  This verse helps us to recognize our ability to fight for what is right, justice, is based on the Lord imputing into us the blessing of recognizing injustice when we see it.  The Lord then works in and through us to fight for those who are experiencing this injustice.  Beloved, let me encourage you to look around your world today.  Look specifically for those injustices that prick your heart.  Then pray to the Lord to give you courage and wisdom to fight for what is truly right for those situations.  Finally, do the hard thing and defend those who are in need of defense and when they ask you why you are fighting for them, tell them it is because of Jesus.  Let them see you worshipping the Lord in your fight for what is right!

1.  What injustices do you see everyday?
2.  In what ways are you capable of fighting for the rights of those who are experiencing these injustices?

Prayer: Father, it is very scary to stand up for what is right many times in this world.  Please grant me the courage to do what is right in the midst of opposition and hostility from those who practice evil in this world.  Let me see this world with the eyes of Jesus and fight for what Jesus fights.  Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Form of Worship is a Facade

Scripture: Micah 6:6-7
With what shall I come to the Lord
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Insights: The book of Micah is broken up into three messages.  The first message is a message of warning, the second a message of promise and the third is a message of challenge.  After the people of Judah received the first message they ought to have been repentant or at worse silent before the charges leveled against them, but that is not their response. The verses today show us they cried out just like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus.  He, and these Israelites, really did not see themselves as being condemned by God for their sins.  In the words of Warren Wiersbe, “Their request [which was a request to see how they could make themselves right before God] shows how shallow their spiritual life really was and that they were ignorant of the enormity of their sin and the high cost of forgiveness.”  The evidence of Wiersbe’s statements is found in the fact the people began bargaining with God.  At each step they keep raising the bid before God.  In other words, these people were really wanting to know what was wrong with God, not themselves.  So, they start this bidding war with God. It starts off with a few calves as burnt offerings.  Then a thousand sacrifices like Solomon gave.  Then a river of oil is suggested.  Finally it is the offer of their very own progeny.  Their flaw was that they actually thought they could bargain with God for their forgiveness.  God does not bargain with sinners.  Let me again quote Wiersbe, “‘Doing penance’ without truly repenting and trusting God’s mercy only multiplies the sin and deadens the conscience.”  In other words, after time we actually believe we are purchasing our forgiveness by all our good deeds.  The entire time God is just shaking His head saying, “You don’t get it, it is not about your work, but Mine.”  So many of us bring to God a form or worship, but with no real heart change.  If you only bringing the Lord surface level worship, then you are wearing nothing more than a facade and it is worthless.  Beloved, let the Lord change your heart and bring to Him true worship this week.

1.  Are you just going through the motions when you worship the Lord?
     2.  Has your spiritual conscience been deadened because of failure to worship the Lord?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for the times in which I bring to You only a form of worship without any substance.  May my heart be changed and may I bring You genuine offers of the heart.  Amen.

Friday, July 25, 2014

God's Kingdom Has A Road Leading to Blessings

Scripture: Isaiah 35:8-10
A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Insights: We conclude the thirty-fifth chapter not with a statement like “The Kingdom WILL . . . ,” but with a present tense opportunity.  These verses are really the presentation of the gospel.  God is offering to all the world the opportunity to walk the Highway of Holiness.  The unclean will not travel on this road and the only way we can be clean is to receive Jesus’ gift of salvation and allow Him to impute His holiness into our lives.  When we receive this gift of eternal life, our lives are filled with joy and worship is the natural byproduct.  Notice the continual language of salvation found in these verses as it calls those born again in Jesus as having been redeemed and ransomed by the Lord.  Also, notice the futuristic promise of Jesus’ second coming when it states He will return.  Every bit of today’s verses is an invitation to receive God’s gift found in Jesus.  It is very simple to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  You must admit you are a sinner and that Jesus truly is God’s Son.  You must believe in your heart that Jesus really did die on a cross for your sins and rose again on the third day.  Finally, you must confess Jesus as Lord of your life and repent of your sinful ways.  If you will do this, then Jesus promises to enter into your life and to make you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It is my hope and prayer that if you do not have a relationship with Jesus that today will be the day you begin this journey of faith with the only One who can save you from your sins.  If you reject His offer of grace, then you will spend eternity separated from His love in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).  If you receive Jesus, then you spend eternity with Him in Heaven and what a day of rejoicing that will be!

1.  Are you walking on the Highway of Holiness?
     2.  If you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, what is holding you back?

Prayer: Father, Thank You for the gift of salvation found in Your Son, Jesus.  He enables me to walk the Highway of Holiness because He has made me clean.  May the joy You have given to me be seen by others as they watch me worship You, my Lord and God.  May my worship bring You honor and glory.  Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

God's Kingdom Will be Replete with Brooks

Scripture: Isaiah 35:6c-7
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

Insights:  In today’s verses we see that the new earth will be replete with brooks.  There is going to literally be a river that flows from the throne of God.  The book of Revelation gives us a lot of information about this scene in the twenty-second chapter of that book.  I encourage you to go and read about the trees and vegetation that bears fresh crops every month for the healing of the nations.  Until that day, we have access to the living water of life as well.  The Bible is God’s tool to refresh us daily with the Words that wash over our lives for our healing and growth.  Let me encourage you to read God’s Word every day.  Let His Spirit who lives within you fill you full with His presence and power.  Learn how to depend on Him for everything you need and for His refreshing of your life.  May you faithful obedience to Him as you seek Him out bring Him glory.

1.  Are you drinking daily from the living water the Lord provides to You through His Word and His Spirit?
2.  Are you looking forward to that day in which we will literally see the river of life coming out of the thrown of our Lord God?

Prayer: Father, I am looking forward to the day in paradise with You.  I desire to see the water of life coming from Your throne and to see it bring refreshing nutrients to the foliage that produces crops every month for the healing of the nations.  Lord Jesus, come quickly.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God's Kingdom Will Restore the Broken

Scripture: Isaiah 35:5-6b
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

Insights:  Yesterday dealt with the emotional and psychological healing that will come with eternity in Jesus Christ.  Today’s verses deal with the physiological restoration found in eternity in Jesus Christ.  Blind people will have their eyes opened.  Deaf people will have their ears unstopped.  Lame people with have their bones and muscles restored.  Mute people will be able to speak and shout for joy.  The physical body will no longer fail us as it presently does when we grow older.  We will no longer get tired, but will have energy to spare.  Our bodies will no longer be bound up in the sinful nature of this world.  We will no longer battle being overweight or underweight.  I as a colored blind person will no longer have a difficulty distinguishing between red and green.  I long for that day in eternity with Jesus.  Until that day, however, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which states, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  Until that perfect day, I must remember to subject my body here on earth to the will of my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.  His Spirit speaks to my spirit and I must obey because I am not master of my body, Christ Jesus is.  He rightfully claimed this authority when He purchased my body with His death on Calvary and subsequent resurrection from the dead.  Therefore, until eternity comes, and even though I do it imperfectly, I subject my body to the will of the Father.  I obey Him and trust Him to tend to my physical healing while in this temporal world.  Beloved, until that day in glory, let us all strive to honor the Lord with our bodies.

1.  Is your body starting to fall you as you get older?
2.  Do the verses today give you comfort of your future home in glory?

Prayer: Father, I am looking forward to the day in paradise with You when my body will no longer fail me.  I am so grateful for the promise of restoration to my body.  Until that day, however, may I honor You with how I live and use my body.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

God's Kingdom Will Reinvigorate the Battered

Scripture: Isaiah 35:3-4
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”

Insights:  I know I normally only ask the two questions at the end, but let me start today’s Thoughts by Scott with a few questions which are not mentioned in the end.  Are you feeling exhausted today?  Are you feeling week and feeble?  Is your heart anxious right now?  Are you facing fears?  Then let today’s verses bring you comfort and healing.  Remember the context of chapter thirty-five is our eternal look at the established kingdom of the Lord.  The Lord God will bring about His vengeance on this world.  His recompense, or judgment, will fall on those who have rejected His Son Jesus.  If you are born again, then He indeed does and will save you for all eternity and in that day He will reinvigorate your battered soul.  You will no longer be exhausted or feeble.  Your heart will no longer be anxious and you will have no more fear.  But what do you do until that time?  Is there no reinvigoration for us in the here and now?  The answer is a resounding no!  God’s Word is the tool God uses right here and now to comfort our heart.  It is God’s Word that helps heal and bind up our beaten and battered heart.  We can hold onto the promises of Scripture like James 1:1-2 which states, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  In other words, when we are in the midst of pain and anguish, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to consider it pure joy because we know God is using the event to grow us and make us more like Jesus.  Now, Beloved, I know when we are the one’s walking this journey of pain, it does not feel like joy, but I believe that is where God’s Word comes into play.  If we will learn to run to God’s Word in those times, it will help us to learn the proper response to pain and suffering.  We learn the patience it produces in our lives and we are then truly able to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17-19).

1.  Are you feeling battered by the devil or the world ?
2.  Have you discovered the healing power of God’s Word in your life?

Prayer: Father, in this world we are beaten and battered.  These assaults come from within the church and from without; and when they do, we are never truly ready for them.  This reality, Lord, is one of the many reasons I long for eternity with You.  In eternity, You perfectly reinvigorate my life and bring me to true and eternal healing from the attacks I deal with here in the temporal earthly world.  Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

God's Kingdom Will Radiate with Beauty

Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2
The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.

Insights:  Let me start today’s Thoughts by Scott with two quotes.  The first is from John Calvin and the second is from Warren Wiersbe.  These men stated, “After the Lord shall have punished the wickedness and crimes of men, and taken vengeance on Jews and Gentiles, the wilderness shall then be changed into a habitable country, and the face of the whole earth shall be renewed.”  The second quote is, “The wilderness will not remain a wilderness, for the Lord will transform the earth into a Garden of Eden.  All of nature eagerly looks for the coming of the Lord for nature knows that it will be set free from the curse of sin.”  I mention both of these quotes for two reasons.  Firstly, to help you see and understand that God’s radiant beauty in eternity is for all people, both Jews and Gentiles alike.  Secondly, is because I want you to understand that even natural creation is affected by God’s redemptive return in Christ Jesus.  The universe is remade into the perfection of the Garden as it ought to have been in all of eternity past.  God takes the sinful world and redeems it to glorious perfection.  In fact it is His glory that makes eternity so beautiful and radiant.  It is for this reason the prophet Isaiah references God’s glory and majesty.  In other words, all who enter into eternity with Him will see His majestic glory.  Beloved, these thought have all been in relation to our future glory, but the Father still gives us glimpses of His radiant beauty right now in this sin filled universe.  Today’s questions will help you think about God’s glorious beauty and help you reflect on His immense grace and radiance.  Beloved, I am so often overwhelmed by God’s glory that it makes my heart long for the day of eternity when I am no longer bond and battling this sin nature I presently fight.  What a day of rejoicing it will be when I see my Lord’s beauty unhindered.  I pray for the Lord Jesus to come back quickly and rescue His Bride, the Church.

1.  God’s ultimate glory will be displayed in eternity, but in what ways have you seen God’s beauty radiating in this world ?
2.  What is your response to God’s radiant glory?

Prayer: Father, I am looking forward to the day in which I see You and Your radiant glory displayed in all of Your beauty.  Thank You for the moments in which I see this beauty dimly already in Your creation.  Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

God's Word Produces Worship

Scripture: Psalm 119:48
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Insights:  The last aspect of God’s Word we are going to look at this week is the worship which God’s Word helps produces.  Notice the psalmist is lifting his hands up to God’s commandments, His Word.  He is worshipping the Lord God for the Word He has given to him.  I am a stuck record on this subject of daily reading God’s Word.  How can we expect to enter into corporate worship if our spiritual tank is empty because we have failed to spend time with our Lord and Savior?  If His Word has not satisfied us and filled us full, then what do have to offer to the One who is worthy of our worship?  Beloved, I can again, not explain how much your worship to the Lord will improve if you spend time with Him every day.  All I can tell you is the amazing joy one experiences as they find themselves singing praises to the Lord.  Or the intense emotional pleasure one receives from crying out to the Lord from the depths of our being as we have spent time with Him in His Word.  I want to remind you how the 119th psalm was written.  It took every letter in the Hebrew alphabet and made a beautiful song about God’s Word.  The psalmist was inspired so much about God’s Word that he wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 176 verses expressing love towards God’s Word and to God Himself for giving us these Words.  It is the longest chapter in the Bible.  It is beautiful like no other chapter in the Bible.  The psalmist could not but help worship God as he pinned these wonderful words about God’s Word, the Bible.  I have said it several times this week, but I say it again, Beloved, spend time reading God’s Word every day!  You will be blessed and grateful you did.

1.  Are you unashamedly worshipping the Lord daily?
2.  When was the last time you corporately let the Word of God draw you into public worship of the Lord?

Prayer: Father, thank You that Your Word reveals You and teaches me how I can and ought to worship You.  You are the only One worthy of my worship or for that matter the worship of all creation.  May my worship please You, O Lord.  Amen.

God's Word Satisfies Hunger

Scripture: Psalm 119:47
I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.

Insights:  The key word in today’s verse is the word delight.  This word brings with it completeness and satisfaction.  In other words, God’s Word, which the psalmist states he loves, satisfies him or brings him to a place of completion.  Of all the aspects we have looked at this week, or for that matter the final aspect we will look at tomorrow, this one is the hardest to explain.  What I mean by that statement is this seventh point is more subjective and spiritual in nature.  It is harder to quantify the evidence.  You have either experienced the satisfaction found in God through His Word or you don’t really understand about what I am talking.  The best way I can explain it is the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and does a transforming work within side of His children.  As they read His Word, it changes them and their life situations.  As it changes them, the situation itself may not change, but they themselves are changed.  Then they face these obstacles as one who does not just endure through it, but soars through it because they have come to the place where the Lord God is all that really matters to them.  They don’t have to worry about financial pressures, relational pressures, intellectual pressures or any other kind of pressure because God is all they need.  If they were to loss all they had, they would be okay as long as they had the Lord and the Word in their hearts.  They would be satisfied.  One either has this satisfaction or they don’t.  It is a very difficult and strange subject to explain.  May the Lord reveal the depths of this truth to your heart as you study His Word.

1.  With what are you trying to satisfy your spiritual hunger?
2.  Have you ever experienced the incredible satisfaction found in God as you read His Word?

Prayer: Father, thank You that Your Word satisfies my every hunger in this world.  No matter what challenge, obstacle or difficulty I face, Your Word meets my need.  May I grow in grace and learn more of It. Amen.

God's Word Brings Freedom and Endows Confidence

Scripture: Psalm 119:45-46
And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.

Insights:  Today we learn another two aspects about God’s wonderful Word.  The first is in regards to our freedom we have as the Bible teaches us how to live life.  Notice the psalmist walks at liberty.  In other words, the psalmist is living in freedom from the strangle hold of sin and death.  This week, after I preached this sermon, someone reminded me of an illustration from J Vernon McGee about this idea of freedom.  It is a picture of a funnel.  Satan says, “Look how wide the entry way is.  There is plenty of room for everyone.”  Those who walk this path think things are great and they are free from restraints, but before they know it they have travelled down this funnel and are all of a sudden restricted on every side.  The picture from the perspective of the Lord and the funnel is in the other direction.  God says, “I know it seems like a small entry way, but if you will trust me it will lead to an abundant life and great freedom.”  Those who walk this path indeed find the joys and pleasures found in Jesus and they are amazed at the freedom to live life as they grow in the Lord.  God’s Word helps in this journey to freedom because it reveals God’s love to us.  The second aspect we are studying today is the confidence God’s Word endows to us.  Notice the psalmist is giving testimony to kings and he is not ashamed.  In other words, he has confidence to proclaim the truth about God.  The more we read God’s Word, the more we understand Him.  The more we understand Him, the more we recognize His Spirit’s work in our lives.  The more we recognize the Spirit’s work in our lives, the more confident we become in proclaiming God’s Word to other people.  God’s Word is amazing with all of It’s attributes with which It empowers believers.  Beloved, spend time every day reading the Bible.

1.  Are you experiencing the freedoms found in life as you study God’s Word?
2.  In what specific ways is the Bible endowing you with confidence in your daily life?

Prayer: Father, thank You that Your Word really does bring us freedom and confidence as we live out the truths found in the Bible.  I pray I display Your grace well as I reveal to a watching world what we really have obtained in Jesus.  Fill me with confidence and boldness as I share Your love.  Amen.

God's Word Teaches Patience and Lasts Forever

Scripture: Psalm 119:43-44
And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.
So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.

Insights:  Today we learn two more aspects about God’s wonderful Word.  The first is how God’s Word teaches us patience.  Notice the posture of the psalmist as he seeks out God’s truth for his life.  He is in a posture of waiting.  Waiting is not something that comes naturally to us mere mortals.  We are a busy and fast passed people.  Yet, when we come to God’s Word, we slow down.  I think this very reality is one of the weapons with which Satan attacks us. He convinces us that we are too busy to slow down and spend time with the Lord in His Word.  We have to get out there and do the work of the Lord, but without having spent anytime with the Lord in His Word, we have absolutely NO power to live out the Word we are attempting to proclaim.  The second attribute regarding God’s Word we learn today is It’s eternality.  God’s Word lasts forever.  It is my opinion that in the book of Revelation when the Books are opened to judge people at the Great White Throne Judgment, it is the Bible that is being opened to judge the people.  This next thought is also my opinion about 1 Corinthians 13:12 which I think is often times misinterpreted.  It states, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”  How many times have you heard someone say, “When we get to heaven, we will understand it all.”  They then often times quote this verse and it is taught as if we will know everything in eternity.  The problem with this thought is there is only one infinite One and that is God.  There is only one who is omniscient and He is the Lord.  I think we learn throughout eternity and we grow in our knowledge of the Lord throughout all of our eternal existence.  I say all of these thoughts to say this: can you imagine how much of the nuances of the Bible will come to light to us when we no longer are hindered by our sin nature, which is about what I think 1 Corinthians 13:12 is really talking.

1.  How patient of a person are you?
2.  Are you grateful God’s Word lasts forever?

Prayer: Father, thank You that Your Word lasts forever.  Help me to learn patience as I wait on a word from You as I read the Scriptures.  You are the only One with the eternal Words of Your love that can give me any kind of guidance or direction in my life.  Your Word is the tool Your Spirit uses to bring peace into my life as I learn patience from Your kind hand.  Amen.

Monday, July 14, 2014

God's Word Reveals Life and Defends Faith

Scripture: Psalm 119:41-42
May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
Insights:  King Hezekiah compiled a lot of psalms and proverbs which were found during the renovation of the Temple.  One of those psalms was the 119 psalm which is the longest psalm/chapter in the Bible.  It takes the letters from the Hebrew alphabet and makes this beautiful song about the Word of God.  Each verse for eight straight verses begins with the same Hebrew letter.  then the next eight verses all begin with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet until all the letters are used and the poetic picture is complete.  This week we will look at the Hebrew consonant vav.  The forty-first verse points to the fact that Bible points us to the words which reveal life.  In other words, the Bible points to Jesus.  There is no other name by which one must be saved other than Jesus.  Everything in the Old Testament is pointing toward Jesus.  Everything after the New Testament is reflecting and testifying about Jesus.  The Bible tells us how we might enter into that love relationship with Him.  The Bible reveals life.  The forty-second verse lets us know that the Bible gives us the words to defend our faith.  The world is full of people who are deceived and are in the process of trying to deceive us as well.  The only way we are able to stand firm and not fall prey to their enticements is to know the Bible.  It gives us the tools to know all doctrine and provide the arguments against false faiths and ideas.  Beloved, I hope you can see just from the first two points regarding the wonderful word of God how important it is to spend time every day reading the Bible.  It is absolutely vital for our life and vitality in Jesus.
1.  Have you received the free gift of eternal life found in Jesus?
2.  As you study the Word are you learning how to defend your faith?

Prayer: Father, thank You Lord for the gift of life which is found in Your Scriptures.  Let me learn and grow in Your Word and learn how to defend my faith more accurately. Amen.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Third Result of Revival is Generosity

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 31:5-10
As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month they began to make the heaps, and finished them by the seventh month. When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok said to him, “Since the contributions began to be brought into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”
Insights:  Our final Thoughts by Scott this week is the third evidence or result of revival.  We have learned that joy and holiness are experienced when true revival has come.  The third element is generosity.  Look at today’s verses and notice how many times the word tithe is used.  Up to this point the priests were doing ministry on a shoe string budget.  It was not because resource were not available, but because the people were selfish and refused to give.  The same thing happens in church life as well.  People get their feelings hurt or they don’t like the direction the pastor is leading the church or they just don’t like the preacher himself and when these kinds of scenarios happen many people stop giving to the local church.  People haven’t changed much over the centuries.  The same thing was happening in Judah until this revival started.  Once the revival fell on the people they were compelled to give their tithes.  As a result, the priest had more resources than they had ever had and were, for a brief moment, uncertain as to what ought to happen.  I am fairly confident, they began to use the resources for ministry of the people.  Could you image what local churches would look like and how they would minister if people actually trusted the Lord and gave generously to Him.  Statistics tell us the average church attender gives only two percent of their income to the Lord.  God, send a revival and change this statistic!
1.  How generous are you?
2.  How would your friends describe your generous attitude?

Prayer: Father, all too often I could be characterized as a little child who says, “MINE!!!” all of the time.  Lord, please forgive me of this sinful attitude.  I desire my life to be one that is known for its generosity.  Change my heart O’ Lord and let me and let me bring You glory. Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Second Result of Revival is Holiness

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 31:1-4
Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the Asherim and pulled down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the sons of Israel returned to their cities, each to his possession.  And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites by their divisions, each according to his service, both the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister and to give thanks and to praise in the gates of the camp of the Lord.  He also appointed the king’s portion of his goods for the burnt offerings, namely, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths and for the new moons and for the fixed festivals, as it is written in the law of the Lord. Also he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the law of the Lord.
Insights:  Yesterday we learned the first evidence or result of revival is the joy we have in the Lord.  In today’s verses we discover the second evidence or result of revival is holiness.  Notice that for the first time in any kings reign the people destroyed all high places and altars which were used for worship of false gods.  The people returned to the worship of the Lord for all of the festivals which had not happened since king David reigned.  In other words, these people had a righteous indignation toward sin.  They recognized the evil that it was and treated it for the vile thing it is.  Whenever they noticed sin, they dealt with it.  They purged their land of the evil sinfulness of these pagan gods.  Beloved, this makes me think about the verse in James which states, “friendship with the world is hostility toward God (4:4).”  The church is full of people who have compromised with this world and are trying to be “good Christians” on Sunday, but live just like the world the rest of the week.  This kind of life is NOT holy.  It is depraved and puts us in the position of being in hostility towards the Lord.  May the Lord God grip His Bride, the Church, and transform our hearts and lives.  May we desire holiness and purity more than the fleeting pleasures of this earthly world.
1.  Do you tolerate and make excuses for your sin in your life?
2.  Are you in friendship with this world?

Prayer: Father, You have a holy disdain for sin.  Transform my heart I pray and let me equally have a hatred toward my sinfulness.  May my life be characterized by holiness and a constant pursuit of You.  Amen.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The First Result of Revival is Joy

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 30:21-27
The sons of Israel present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day after day with loud instruments to the Lord. Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good insight in the things of the Lord. So they ate for the appointed seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord God of their fathers.  Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy. For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.
Insights:  Yesterday we talked briefly about our need for revival in the church of America and for an awakening in the life of our country.  I then proceeded to explain the three results, or better stated evidences, of a revival.  In chapters leading up to the thirtieth in second Chronicles we discover a revival had started in Judah under the rule of king Hezekiah.  In today’s verses we see three references to the specific word joy and several references to rejoicing and attributes associated with joy in one’s life.  The point is when revival comes down upon us from the glorious One, joy is the first by product.  Think a moment about David.  After his sin with Bathsheba and his confession in Psalm fifty-one, he cries out for the Lord to restore to him the joy of his salvation.  So many in the body of Christ look as if they were baptized in vinegar and sucking on lemons all day.  Our faces, our tone of voice, our actions ought to display a life change as a result of being in the Lord’s presence, which is what revival is all about anyway.  Beloved, ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation just like David.  Evaluate your life and be honest with yourself regarding your joy level.  May your joy reflect Christ Jesus!
1.  How would other people characterize your disposition, one of joy or criticism?
2.  Are you hungry for corporate times of worship?

Prayer: Father, send revival to my life and let my life be characterized as one being filled with joy.  Let my satisfaction be found in You and only in You.  Amen.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Extremes of God's Love in Promise

Happy 4th of July!!!

Scripture: Hosea 2:16
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,
“That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.

Insights:   The final aspect of God’s extravagant love toward us is His promise.  In today’s verse we see Hosea telling Gomer that she will no longer call him Ishi, which means master, but Baali, which means husband.  Remember I mentioned earlier this week that Hosea purchased her at least three times from the slave blocks.  In that purchase what did Gomer become to Hosea?  The answer is she was his slave.  Now did Hosea want a slave?  The answer is a resounding no.  He wanted a wife to love and be loved in return.  In many ways this is the exact same relationship we have with the Lord.  He wants a love relationship with us.  He purchased our lives on the cross of Calvary and as such He is our Master.  God, however, also wants to be our future husband in glory.  So, we see in today’s verse a promise of “in that day.”  “In that day” God will bring us home and He will be our husband and we will be His bride.  We will participate in that wedding feast of eternity and be filled with joy at the prospect of such a union with the One who saved us.  This line of thinking got me to wondering about earthly weddings.  What I mean by that sentence is when a young couple is getting ready to be married what are some of the things they do before the final “I do”?  The prepare for the wedding.  Often times this might mean a physical fitness program to make themselves look the best before the wedding.  It could mean packing up ones belongings in order to merge the two families together.  It means getting all the appropriate paperwork taken care of before the wedding.  It means going to the premarital counseling.  This kind of thinking got me wondering about our preparation for our wedding in glory.  In what ways do we prepare for our final “I do” with the Lord God?  It is my prayer we are striving for holiness and purity.  I pray we are seeking to be vulnerable and pliable in His hands.  I pray we are humble enough to be honest about our weaknesses and short comings.  I pray we are seeking help from our fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus in order to become a more prepared bride before our Lord.  May we look forward to our wedding day with great anticipation.
1.  With how much anticipation are you looking towards your wedding feast with the Lord?
2.  In what ways are you preparing for this glorious day?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the promise of taking me home with You to our wedding feast.  Your promise gives me great hope in the midst of a difficult world.  Thank You for the encouragement it brings to me.  Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Extreme's of God's Love in Passion and Transformation

Scripture: Hosea 2:14-15
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her.
“Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope.
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Insights:   In the fourteenth verse we observe Hosea’s passionate love for Gomer.  He leads her away and speaks tender words of love and affection to her.  He lavishes unconditional love on her as an expression of his great joy in her.  None of this amazing love is because Gomer is worthy of this love.  It actually reveals the depths of Hosea’s love not Gomers.  God does the very same thing with us.  He tenderly leads us out of our bondage.  He compassionately speaks tender words of healing to us.  He lavishes His great love on us.  He display’s His ultimate expression of love on the Cross of Calvary through the death of Jesus, His Son.  Verse fifteen points to the transformation of Hosea’s love in Gomer.  In other words, she does change.  She does begin to turn to her husband.  She does change her loyalties and her days of trouble in the valley of Achor are transformed into days of hope and healing.  Once again, the Lord does this very same work in our lives.  We were the rebellious ones and the Lord sent Jesus to take our place on Calvary.  Because of His redemptive and life changing work we now have hope.  We are no longer doomed to days of trouble, but we now have a hope in a future with our glorious King and Lover.  Beloved, if the story of Hosea and Gomer had ended in verse thirteen it would have been a tragic tale, but fortunately for us it did not.  These two verses today and tomorrow’s verse point us to the point of Hosea’s struggle to redeem Gomer.  Or better stated, the Lord’s struggle to redeem us.  Now the story itself is transformed and it is no longer a tragedy, but a redemptive story of hope.  It is my prayer that you have experienced this hope found in Jesus.  If you have not, all you have to do is receive Him as your Lord and Savior and He will change your life for all of eternity.  May your transformed life bring glory to the Lord our God!
1.  Are you grateful for God’s passionate love for you?
2.  Is your life showing evidence of true transformation in the Lord Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I love to experience Your love for me.  I also love seeing the evidential change in my life due to Your transforming power.  Thank You for Your extreme jesters of love for me.  To Your name be brought glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Extremes of God's Love in Punishment

Scripture: Hosea 2:9-13
“Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time
And My new wine in its season.
I will also take away My wool and My flax
Given to cover her nakedness.
“And then I will uncover her lewdness
In the sight of her lovers,
And no one will rescue her out of My hand.
“I will also put an end to all her gaiety,
Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths
And all her festal assemblies.
“I will destroy her vines and fig trees,
Of which she said, ‘These are my wages
Which my lovers have given me.’
And I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field will devour them.
“I will punish her for the days of the Baals
When she used to offer sacrifices to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,” declares the Lord.

Insights:   In today’s verses we observe four different punishments Hosea places on Gomer for her life of adultery.  The Father above also punishes us in and for these same four areas.  The first punishment is found in verse nine and it is in regards to Gomer’s provisions.  Basically, Hosea says, “I am done taking provisions over to that man’s house and letting him take the credit.  It is over!”  In regards to Israel, God sent a drought on them which took away their food supply/provisions.  In verse ten we see Hosea punish Gomer for her pride in her appearance and beauty.  God also punishes us for our own self-importance.  In verse eleven we observe Hosea punishing Gomer for her false piety.  In other words, she was still going to Shiloh to worship Yahweh, but her heart was really with the Baal’s.  Hosea stopped her from going to worship the Lord and making a mockery of God’s love for her.  The final two verse reveal Hosea’s punishment on Gomer’s pagan worship.  This final punishment is really the heart of all the other.  In today’s context we may no longer be worshipping a physical idol and giving to it what rightfully belongs to God, but we do worship other things.  Those things can be family, careers, hobbies, toys, etc.  Anything that we turn to in order to fill that void in our heart which was meant only for the Lord is an idol and the Lord will not share His glory.  Beloved, these are four areas in which the Lord disciplines us to bring us back into a right relationship with Him.
1.  Has God placed you in the crucible of punishment for your rebellious attitude toward Him?
2.   Have you come to the place where you recognize God’s punishment on you is a form of His love?

Prayer: Father, it is difficult for me to thank You for punishing me when I am rebellious toward You, but I desire to be grateful.  I intellectually understand You are demonstrating Your love for me in times of discipline.  Help me to grow and receive such discipline with grace and dignity in order to bring You glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Extremes of God's Love in Patience and Humiliation

Scripture: Hosea 2:7-8
“She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!’
“For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil,
And lavished on her silver and gold,
Which they used for Baal.

Insights:   In today’s verses we again see two more aspects of God’s amazing love.  Verse seven reveals to us God’s patience.  Hosea literally is waiting for Gomer to pursue her lovers until she recognizes the false lovers have abandoned her.  In her desperation she determines life was better with Hosea and returns to him.  God, like Hosea, is that patient Father waiting on His prodigal son or daughter, you and me, to return to Him.  At the same time, however, Hosea is active in his pursuit of Gomer.  While he is waiting for her return, he also goes to the house of adultery she is staying and brings her provisions.  You can see the scene as he knocks on the door and when the “man” of the house opens it Hosea introduces himself as Gomer’s husband.  The man steps back, but then Hosea does the unthinkable; he gives the man silver, gold, grain, wine and oil.  He tells him to let Gomer know he loves her and is providing for her, but do you think this vile man of adultery is going to be honorable and tell Gomer from where these current provisions have come?  The answer is a resounding NO!  This man takes full credit and says, “Let’s go worship the Baals with our new found provisions,” and so Gomer is deceived into believing this man is her provider when it was really Hosea.  The same is true of God and us.  We think our jobs or some other means is what provides for our lives, but the truth at the end of the day is the Lord is our provider.  God displayed this ultimate act of humiliation when He left heaven and came to earth in the form of man to pay for our sins.  This single act displays in all His glory God’s amazing love for us. 
1.  In what ways have you recognized God’s demonstration of patience toward you while you remained in your sin?
2. In what ways have you recognized God’s humiliation as He has pursued you?

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful You are patient with me.  You lovingly wait on my response to Your drawings and promptings.  You humiliated Yourself in coming to the earth as flesh and bore my cross and shame.  I am unworthy of Your love, but am so thankful You give it to me.  Forgive me for sinning against You and selfishly pursuing my desires.  In the midst of it all, thank You for Your amazing love.  Amen.