Tuesday, September 30, 2014

God Sends Warnings

Scripture: Malachi 4:5
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Insights: In today’s verses we see God’s involvement to help parents stay focused on their first purpose of instructing their child(ren).  God sends warnings through other people.  In the specifics of this verse it is a prophetic pointing to John the Baptist who would be the forerunner to Jesus.  The point being made in this blog, however, is that God is sending us warnings.  There is a day of judgment coming.  We will either be judged at the Bema seat of Christ or the Great White Throne Judgment.  The reference in this verse is the Great White Throne Judgment.  In other words, God’s hearts desire is for parents to be godly parents who instruct their child(ren) in the ways of the Lord.  The Lord also knows the only way this is possible is if the parents are in a healthy, vital and growing relationship with Him as well.  As a result, the Lord sends prophets, preachers and other godly people in our lives to point us back to the Father.  The Lord, through these individuals, is warning us about God’s future judgment.  These individuals are doing all they can to get us to return to a right relationship with the Lord.  Beloved, don’t forsake these warnings.  Do not just say they are the rantings of a religious fanatic.  They are straight from the Father above because of His immense love for you.  Respond to Him and let His grace wash over your life.  Allow Him to transform you into the person and the parent you ought to be because of His Spirit dwelling in You.  May your life bring Him glory and praise!

1.  Who has the Lord placed in your path to bring you back to a closer walk with the Lord?
2.  Is your time getting short before the Lord unleashes His great and terrible day?

Prayer: Father, every day we are one day closer to Your great and terrible day.  I am so grateful you put people in our paths to preach and proclaim the truth.  To give each of us warnings to return to You and to train our child(ren) up in the way they ought to go.    Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2014

You are to Instruct Your Children

Scripture: Malachi 4:4
“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.

Insights: This week we conclude the Old Testament part of our journey through God’s redemptive history.  The final book in the Old Testament is Malachi and it is a sad story of a people who have again left their first love.  The distinction between the peoples rebellion before the exile to Babylon and their rebellion in the short time after the temples restoration was this: before the exile they worshipped other false gods.  After the exile they did not worship those gods, but did not worship the One True God with all of their heart.  So, the book of Malachi is a series of rebukes telling the people to return to the Lord.  In this final chapter, specifically the first three verses, Malachi warns the people of God’s great and terrible day of judgment that is going to fall on the world if they don’t turn their hearts over to Him.  In verse four, however, Malachi turns his focus to the last words God is going to say before He becomes silent for four hundred years (the time period we call the inner-testimonal period of time).  These verses are an instruction to parents regarding two of their primary purposes as parents and two ways in which the Lord involves Himself to insure those purposes are being met.  The first purpose is the one we will look at today, and that is, to instruct your child(ren).  In other words, as a parent it is your job to tell your child(ren) about God.  In the shema the Israelites were told to teach their children diligently when they sit in their house and when they walk by the way and when they lie down and when they rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7).  We are to look for opportunities throughout our day to point our child(ren) to the Lord.  Obviously, these lessons need to be age appropriate, but even to a toddler, one can begin teaching them about God and His amazing grace.  One of the primary truths in which we need to instruct our child(ren) is in their sinfulness.  They need to understand why they need a Savior to rescue them from their sin.  Again, this is communicated in an age appropriate manner, but the sooner the instruction begins the sooner they recognize their sinfulness.  Beloved, let me encourage you to not to just go through the motions, but to truly look for ways to instruct your children in the ways of God.

1.  In what ways are you instructing your child(ren)?
2.  Do you actively look for opportunities in which you can instruct your child(ren) in the ways of the Lord?

Prayer: Father, I understand that one of my primary purposes as a parent is to raise my child(ren) up in such a fashion that they will be introduced to You; and hopefully, by grace they will receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.    Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

How Do You Handle the Difficult Situations of Life, Part 4

Scripture: Esther 4:15-17
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.

Insights: Today’s verses conclude our thoughts for this week.  These verses are probably the second most quoted from this little book.  It is in today’s verses that Esther has come to the place of complete sacrifice.  She is willing to give her very life for the service of her people and for the glory of her Lord.  She tells Mordecai and the rest of the Jewish people to fast and pray for the Lord’s favor to be on her as she has surrendered to the reality that she must go before the king.  She is going before the king to ask him to pardon her people, but to go before the king is a very risky proposition.  As she had already laid out in her time of excuse making, the king could have her put to death just for approaching his thrown without a summons having been issued.  Esther has committed to going before the king and says, the second most quoted line, “and if I perish, I perish.”  What a resolve she had.  She knew she had to stand for her people.  She understood that she had won the beauty pageant not just to be queen, but to be a vital instrument in the saving of her people from destruction.  She has resolved her fate to be in the hands of the Most High.  If she is to die, it will be in a pursuit after Him.  Beloved, this needs to be our attitude and heart beat.  We must say yes to the Lord no matter what the consequences of that decision are.  We must seek His glory and put our wills and personal desires to death.  May your life reflect such a heart commitment and pursuit.  To His great name be praise!

1.  Are you ready to sacrifice of yourself in order for the Lord’s will to be accomplished?
2.  What is holding you back from total surrender to the Lord’s commands?

Prayer: Father, I really do want my heart to be ready for total sacrifice to You.  All too often I fall and sin with what we would call little sins in my daily life.  In moments like these I wonder how I would be able to sacrifice of my very being for Your glory.  So, I ask You to strengthen my heart and let me desire You and Your love more than anything this world has to offer.  All for Your glory, Lord!  Amen.

How Do You Handle the Difficult Situations of Life, Part 3

Scripture: Esther 4:13-14
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Insights: In our verses yesterday we observed Esther making excuses as to why she was incapable of helping her cousin Mordechai and the rest of the Jewish people.  Esther sent her response back to Mordechai through Hathach.  In today’s verses we see Mordechai’s response to Esther’s objections.  He did not throw his hands in the air and say, “Oh, well, I guess it was too hard of a request.  We all ought to just lay down and let them kill us now.  This situation sure is bad, but I guess that is what I get for being born a Jew.”  Mordecai sends back a subtle, yet direct, rebuke to his cousin Esther.  He informs her that God is going to save the people of Israel, but she ought not to think that she will be spared just because she is the queen.  Many Jews will loose their lives in this attack and she, living in the palace, would be one of the first once her identity was made known.  Mordechai then states, what is probably the most famous quote from this little book, “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this (italics mine).”  It is for no accident that you have been born in this particular time in history.  God has brought you into this world for many different tasks and He desires you to full fill them.  Some of those tasks are going to be risky and you need to be willing to still follow through in obedience because you are alive right now for such a time as this.  Beloved, I want you to know that Mordechai was not just going to roll over and die.  He had heard from the Lord in his crying out for deliverance.  The Lord instructed him to speak to Esther through Hathach and now Mordechai was remaining faithful and persistent to the task in front of him  Beloved, let us remain faithful and steadfast to what the Lord has commissioned us to be about for His glory!

1.  As one in the trial, are you persistent to what the Lord has revealed to you?
2.  Would others classify you as a finisher or a quitter when life situations get too hard?

Prayer: Father, I desire to be known as one who finishes well and runs hard after You.  Let me respond like Mordechai and fight through the obstacles of life and pursue You with all of my heart.  As I run faithfully to You, may it bring You glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Do You Handle the Difficult Situations of Life, Part 2

Scripture: Esther 4:6-12
So Hathach went out to Mordecai to the city square in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go in to the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.  Hathach came back and related Mordecai’s words to Esther. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” They related Esther’s words to Mordecai.

Insights: In today’s verses we see Mordechai receiving Hathach as an answer to his prayers.  In other words, Mordechai saw Hathach as the Lord working in the midst of his trial.  When the Lord is clearly working in your midst you need to respond in such a fashion.  Often times we begin to doubt or we let fear grip our hearts and render us paralyzed from action.  We must learn to respond like Mordechai and obediently follow after the Lord’s involvement in our lives.  He told Hathach to tell Esther everything that had transpired and even given her a commission of activity to do in order to help the Jewish people.  There is a second thing we observe in these verses today and that comes from the standpoint of Esther.  She began to make excuses as to why she was incapable of assisting in this particular crisis.  Beloved, we all, too often, respond like Esther.  This kind of hesitant response is not because we don't care or that we don’t want to get involved.  The real issue is fear.  We become struck by fear and begin to pull away from the individual in crisis.  We make excuses and then talk about the sad state of the individual in our safe little communities.  God forgive us for such a response.  We have all made those kind of excuses, but let me encourage you to keep returning this week to my blog and see what the final outcome of this scene really is, because it can be life changing.

1. When the Lord begins to move in the midst of your trail, what do you do?
2.  Do you offer excuses as to why you won’t help one in the midst of his/her trial?

Prayer: Father, make me pliable in Your hands and to recognize Your activity.  Don’t let me make excuses as to why we cannot help those in need.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Do You Handle the Difficult Situations of Life, Part 1

Scripture: Esther 4:1-5
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. He went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.  Then Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her, and the queen writhed in great anguish. And she sent garments to clothe Mordecai that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathach from the king’s eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was.
Insights: This week’s Thoughts by Scott will be a serious of questions dealing with difficult situations and trails in our lives as well as in the lives of those around us.  Let me quickly set the scene for this weeks verses.  Esther won a beauty pageant and became queen.  The vile Haman has outlined a plan to exterminate the Jews and the king has signed off on it.  Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, has heard of the decree and responds with the verses we read today.  Notice with me that Mordecai has turned to the Lord in this time of crisis.  He is weeping and wailing while fasting and sitting in ash with sackcloths on his body.  The fasting indicated that he has turned his attention to the Lord as the only One who can rescue him from his present predicament.  We also see in these verses that Esther, even though she was incapable of going personally to find out what had happened to Mordecai, has sent a messenger to bring her news.  She was deeply concerned about her cousin’s well being.  It is note worthy to mention that Mordecai had raised Esther since she was a little girl.  He was for all practical purposes, her father figure.  Beloved, in these verse we see two truths that ought to be applied to our lives as well.  Firstly, when we are in difficult situations, we ought to turn to the Lord for help.  Secondly, when we see others in difficult situations, we ought to inquire of them directly and see if there is any way we can help assist them in their time of crisis.  Let us honor the Lord with our faith and trust in Him and our compassion for those in distress.
1.  To whom do you turn when trials come?
2.  How do you respond to the trials of others?

Prayer: Father, when trials come my way, grant me the grace to turn to You quickly and when I watch others going through a trial, let me be a blessing to them, not a hinderance.  Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

God Intends for Purpose to Result from the Rebuilding: Glory, Peace and Blessing

Scripture: Haggai 2:9 & 19c
‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares the Lord of hosts….Yet from this day on I will bless you.’” 
Insights: Yesterday we learned that God intended for His rebuilding to have purpose that produced results.  Today we will look at three of those results.  First, the first part of verse nine tells us that this second temple would have greater glory than the first.  Now what is interesting is that when the second temple was completed those who had remembered the first wept because of how small it was in comparison to the first.  Yet the Lord is telling them that it was not about the size, but rather about what was done in the temple that mattered.  In this second temple the people would be more faithful and God’s glory would be reflected more.  Second, the second part of verse nine tells us that we would be given peace.  I tell people all of the time, “If you are questioning your salvation, ask the Lord if you have His peace and joy in your heart.  He will always answer this prayer.”  Third, the last part of verse nineteen tells us that he will bless us.  In the preceding verses God was telling the people the reason their crops were failing was because they had rejected God and had served themselves (you will remember that on Tuesday I mentioned that they had stolen all of the building materials to build their own homes rather than the temple).  God tells them, if they will humble themselves and repent, then He would indeed bless them.  This concept of blessing has come up the past two weeks.  Remember from last week that the blessing I am referencing is not the same as that propagated by Joel and Victoria Olsten or the rest of the Word of Faith personalities.  I am referencing biblical blessing which will take on the form of joy and peace.  It will be contentment in the things of God.  Is it true that sometimes the blessing is financial?  The answer is obviously, “yes.”  We, especially as Americans, focus more on the financial blessing than we do on the relational blessing found in being a child of the One True King.  Let the Lord’s rebuilding of your heart result in glory, peace and blessing!  May His name be praised.
1.  In what ways are God’s glory, peace and blessings on your life being made evident to a watching world?
2.  Are you personally recognizing God’s glory, peace and blessing in your life?

Prayer: Father, thank You for your glory, peace and blessing.  Help me to truly be mindful of Your activity in my life.  I desire for others to see this transformation and wonder what makes my life different from theirs.  Let me then have the courage to tell them about Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

God Intends for Purpose to Result from the Rebuilding

Scripture: Haggai 2:23
‘On that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’” declares the Lord of hosts.
Insights: In today’s verse we see the third part of God’s rebuilding program of His temple.  Now remember this book was written about a literal temple that was about to be built, but I am using these same principles to apply to our spiritual lives.  We, if we are indeed born again, are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He dwells within us.  This last part of the rebuilding program is to let us know that God intends for His rebuilding to result in some kind of purpose.  In Haggai’s day, God commissioned Zerubbabel for a task.  The Lord tells him that he is going to be like His signet ring.  In other words, the king would use his signet ring to authenticate his edicts of law and his orders of military command.  He also used this ring to announce his correspondence to others.  The point is that whether the king was authenticating, ordering or announcing something he had a distinct purpose every time he used his signet ring.  God is telling Zerubbabel that He has a specific task for him to complete and God is the authorizing the work to be done.  Beloved, the Lord does the same thing for all of His children who are born again.  We were not saved to sit in our pews and grow fat and happy.  We were saved to serve Him and to bring honor, glory and praise to Him.  Many of us serve, but we do it with a heart that is not rejoicing, but capitulating instead.  Our service ought to be with our whole heart and with joy at the prospect of pointing other people to our gracious Savior.  Beloved, let us serve Him well because He has a purpose for our lives.  Seek Him with all of your heart and He will reveal His commission to you.
1.  In what task has the Lord commissioned you to participate?
2.  Are you performing your responsibilities as unto the Lord or begrudgingly?

Prayer: Father, You are the One who commissions me to service and I am grateful.  Let me serve You in such a fashion that You are brought glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

God Inspects the Materials Used for Rebuilding

Scripture: Haggai 2:15
But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord,
Insights: In today’s verse the Lord tells us to consider from this day onward what kind of stones we are placing before Him at the temple.  To understand this context you have to go back to verse ten and read through verse fourteen.  In this section the Lord is asking about holy objects and defiled objects.  The illustration runs like this: the Lord is the One who makes an object holy, but the holiness of the object does not make whatever touches that object holy.  The reason for this reality is because only the Lord can make it holy.  On the flip side, however, if you have a defiled object and it touches another object, then the object that was touched does become unholy.  After explaining this you come to verse fifteen and the Lord tells us to consider what we are offering to Him.  In other words, the Lord is inspecting the materials of the heart to determine if they are defiled or holy.  If our hearts are defiled, then it affects everything we do and offer to the Lord.  In our lives it gets played out this way: we enter into our corporate worship services without any planning or preparation.  In fact, many times, we have fought with our family all the way to church.  When we arrive, however, we put on our happy faces and go in and “worship” the Lord.  Now, we have not prepared our heart through prayer and confession because we were too rushed to put that in our plans.  As a result, we bring all kinds of defiled thoughts and attitudes into worship, and as a result, defile our worship before the Lord.  All we had to do was stop and pause for a moment and ask the Lord to examine our hearts.  If He revealed anything that was unholy, we then ought to confess it and then, and only then, enter into corporate worship.  At that point our offering would be inspected and received well because it reflects a heart truly set apart for the Lord.  Beloved, let me encourage you to slow down on Sundays.  Think and pray with the Lord before coming to church.  It may require you to get up fifteen to thirty minutes earlier, but it would be well worth it.  Slow down and prepare good materials to be offered to the Lord.
1.  What does your heart reveal about the types of materials you are offering to the Lord?
2.  If you are offering defiled materials, are you willing to repent and begin offering materials of holiness to your Lord?

Prayer: Father, You inspect the offerings I bring to You.  You search my heart and know the truth of all I am and all I bring to You.  May my heart be pure and blameless.  May my offerings bring You honor and glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God Initiates the Process of Rebuilding

Scripture: Haggai 1:14
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
Insights: Haggai is one of my favorite minor prophets and his book is very applicable for us today.  To set the scene for you, king Cyrus sent the exiles from the Babylonian captivity back home in a few waves.  Ezra the priest was sent back in the first wave and is commissioned to start the rebuilding process of the Temple, however we are clearly told the rebuilding had stopped.  When Haggai returns, sixteen years later, God commissions him to get the rebuilding back on track.  Haggai gives us the reason the building had stopped in the fourth verse of chapter one and it was basically that the people had stolen all the construction material to build their own homes.  From that point on, they did nothing until the Spirit of the Lord stirred the spirit of Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant to begin work on the house of the Lord.  This biblical truth is still relevant today.  In other words, until the Lord God draws on a persons heart, they are not able to respond to the Father.  Until the Spirit moves our heart we are not able to serve the Lord.  Once, however, He begins to stir up our spirit, we have only one rightful response back to Him and that is, “Yes, Lord!”  It is an encouraging truth for a believer to understand that the commission of service is contingent on the Lord.  The reason this truth is encouraging is because that means the onus is on the Lord to provide the resources, power, and stirring to serve Him.  Now, we do, unfortunately, still have the freedom to reject all the Lord gives to us, but He supplies everything for us to succeed for Him and by His standards.  I emphasis His standards because His ways are not our ways and His view of success is obedience expressed by faith and not the results or outcomes.  He wants to see our heart reflecting His glory and pointing to His majesty.  We may fail in an earthly sense of the word success, but in His eyes we have performed beautifully.  I might also add here that when He calls, more often than not it is to succeed even by earthly standards.  Let us feel His presence and obediently respond with, “YES, LORD!”
1.  Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
2.  If, you already have a relationship with Jesus, in what ministry is the Lord commissioning you to serve?

Prayer: Father, You are the One who starts any endeavor with You.  You lead me into salvation.  You guide me into service.  You empower me to be obedient.  It is all about You and Your glory.  May I never forget this reality.  Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Healing Power of the River

Scripture: Ezekiel 47:9-11
It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.
Insights: The final part of God’s power is His healing power.  What I am specifically referring to is the way He takes us through the sanctification process.  The sanctification process is the Lord’s healing work in our lives.  He is taking us through a process that purges our sin nature.  This process really is for our healing and the Lord takes great pains to mold us into the image of Jesus.  We, however, often times fight against the Lord and try to maintain our autonomy and independence which leads us only to pain and suffering.  Beloved, the sooner we drink of the Lord’s living water from His river and allow Him the complete control of our lives the sooner we will reflect the glory of Jesus.  It is all about Him and the work He is doing in and through us for His glory.  Our lives become a testimony to His greatness and goodness.  Our lives display such transformation that a lost world begins to ask themselves what makes us so different.  They ask themselves why we face trials and successes differently than the rest of the world.  Because of the good response we give regarding Jesus’ healing work in our lives, we are able to point these individuals to Him.  Then by His grace they are able to be restored and then healed just as we have been through His process of justification, sanctification and glorification.  Let us live a life that points to His glory and thank Him for this process that heals us.
1.  Are you grateful for the sanctification process through which the Lord is taking you for your healing?
2.  What area of your life is the Lord presently speaking to you about that needs to be purged?

Prayer: Father, I am not always grateful for Your healing work in my life, but I want to be.  Transform me I pray into the image of Your Son, Jesus and heal my life..  Amen.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Restorative Power of the River

Scripture: Ezekiel 47:6-8, 12
He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh….By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
Insights: Third aspect of the river is broken up into two parts.  Today we will look at the first part which is the restorative power of the river.  Notice in today’s verses that the river is made fresh.  This is not a picture of our salt water fish verse fresh water fish.  This is a picture of the Dead Sea becoming fresh and alive.  Presently, that sea is not able to sustain life, not even salt fish life because the content of salt is too high.  So, for all practical purposes the Dead Sea is properly named because it is dead.  Yet, the Lord is going to send His living water into that sea and it is going to be made fresh.  In other words, God’s river has restorative power to transform something that was dead and make it alive.  This principle is exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross of Calvary.  He took our dead existence and gave to us new life.  It is for this reason we use language like born again.  We are literally reborn in Jesus and we are new creations.  The old dead existence is no longer.  We are alive, full and experiencing abundance in Jesus.  Beloved, considering our lives have so radically been altered, we ought to be zealous to tell others about God’s amazing grace.  We ought to desire to see everyone we meet to come to this saving relationship found in Jesus.  Maybe you are one who has never received Jesus, then will you today?  All you have to do is accept Him by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.
1.  Have you been made alive in Christ Jesus?
2.  In what ways have you personally experienced God’s restorative power in your life?

Prayer: Father, thank You for restoring me and making me whole in Christ Jesus.  I once was lost and dead.  I was desperate for life and You came and restored to me the life I had lost.  Thank You for Your grace.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Depth of the River

Scripture: Ezekiel 47:3-5
When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.
Insights: Today’s verses were really the key thrust of my sermon Sunday night.  Notice how quickly the trickle of water turns into a mighty river that can not be forded.  The different levels of depth are in many ways the way our Christian walk can be described.  Many of us get saved and our feet our now wet with ankle deep faith.  Some never leave this level of faith.  They are casual attenders of church and are not going to stretch and grow in their relationship with Jesus.  Others begin to grow, and for  sake of illustration, join a small group Bible study.  These individuals become knee deep Christ-followers.  Their faith has been stretched a little and they have walked out there a little bit further into the river, but they don’t want to be classified as a Jesus Freak or anything and they stop growing.  Still there is another group and they keep walking out in their faith into deeper water, which is up to their waste.  At this point they start to feel the thermal changes and start to feel the power of the current and they say, “This is far enough.  If I go any further it will not be safe.”  In other words, it is at this point they have possibly experienced some resistance or even some minor persecution and they are not will to risk it all for their love of Jesus.  There is still a fourth group, however, and these are the ones who desire to swim with Jesus.  They plunge into the deep waters of the river and their faith is tested and stretched beyond anything they could have imagined.  It is at this point, however, we need to be reminded of Hebrews 11:6 which tells us it is impossible to please God without faith.  We need to ask the Lord to increase our faith and then we need to actively obey His commands when He tells us to step into the deep water.  Beloved, let us live by faith and swim in the deep waters with the Lord.
1.  Are you swimming by faith or just getting your feet wet?
2.  What God sized assignment has the Lord called you to that you have been resisting?

Prayer: Father, I am often times afraid to swim in the deep water, but every time I do, I am overwhelmed by Your grace and mercy.  You are wonderful and worthy of praise.  Increase my faith Lord, and let me swim with You.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Source of the River

Scripture: Ezekiel 47:1-2
Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.
Insights: Sunday morning I preached out of Daniel chapter four, but I felt my evening message was more applicable for where we are as a church.  For this reason, therefore, my daily blogs this week will be reflective of the evening service.  We looked at Ezekiel chapter forty-seven which is also pictured in Revelation twenty-two.  John and Ezekiel saw the same scene and John gives us a few more details about it that Ezekiel left out.  For example in Ezekiel he describes the water trickle starting from the right side, south of the altar; whereas, John tells us it comes straight from the throne of God.  As we will see later this week, this river has restorative and healing power.  It is living water, if you will permit me to use that kind of language.  When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well He told her if any one drinks the water He offered they would never thirst again.  Here is the point today: the source of this living river of water is the Lord God.  Jesus is the second member of this Triune entity and it was His work on Calvary that purchased the sin payment that allows Him to offer this living water to anyone who will receive it and drink.  If we will receive this gift of life, then we will be born again and made new.  We will have eternal life with our Lord and Savior.  If you are one who has never received Jesus’s gift of salvation, then I pray you receive Him today.  Just pray and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come into your life.  Then find a Bible believing church and start growing in your relationship with Him.  Talk to Him as you would anyone else and let Him know your fears, doubts, joys and happiness.  Let Him in every area of your life and watch your life brighten as you continue to drink of His river of life.

1.  Have you received Jesus as the living water that flows from the throne of God?
2.  If not, why not?

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful I am a part of the body of Christ.  I have been washed in the blood and am joint heirs with Jesus because You gave me the living water to drink and I have now been refreshed.  Praise Your mighty name for Your great gift.  Amen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Family Unifies Each Other

Scripture: Obadiah 14
“Do not stand at the fork of the road
To cut down their fugitives;
And do not imprison their survivors
In the day of their distress.

Insights: The final thing the Edomites did was isolate and divide the people of Judah.  In other words, they exacerbated the hostility even more by imprisoning the survivors.  This act alone, not counting the previous three injustices, would have been enough to drive a wedge in the family relationship between the Edomites and the Israelites.  In modern day times we are not imprisoning our family members, but we often times drive wedges in our relationships.  We isolate family members and by practicing the previously mentioned items this week we divide our family loyalties.  Beloved, when we live our lives like this it is only bringing our adversary, Satan, the glory.  A watching world of lost people are watching those of us who claim to be members of the body of Christ Jesus.  They want to see if we really do love each other.  They want to see if we are unified or divisive.  The reason they want to see is because they have watched over and over again the body of Christ tear each other apart with their words and deeds.  If you were a lost person and you saw the body of Christ acting this way, would you want to be a part of it?  the answer would be a resounding, “NO!!!”  Let us this day, start to strive for church unity.  Let us start today to seek after love and fellowship with each other.  Let us do the opposite of what these Edomites did and let us defend, encourage, support and unify ourselves to one another.  May the Lord be brought glory as a result of our love for one another.

1.  As you think about your primary interaction with your family, is it divisive or unifying?
2.  In what ways are you striving for unification within your family?

Prayer: Father, You tell us to be one as You and the Son are one.  Unfortunately, I often times mess this plan up and am rather divisive and isolating with those of which I am in contention.  Lord, forgive me and change me to strive for unity within my family so that we may shine forth brilliantly before a lost world that is watching us display love and unity toward each other.  Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Family Supports Each Other

Scripture: Obadiah 13
“Do not enter the gate of My people
In the day of their disaster.
Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity
In the day of their disaster.
And do not loot their wealth
In the day of their disaster.

Insights: The third thing the Edomites did was to rob the children of Judah from their wealth.  Now it is important to understand that at this point the people of Judah no longer have wealth because the Babylonians have already taken it back to their kingdom.  What the Edomites were doing was coming in and looting whatever of value still remained, whether that was food, clothing, or a few trinkets of value that somehow did not get taken by the Babylonians.  In other words, they came in and financially made a very bad situation worse.  They actually were hinderances to the people of Judah having any chance for economic recovery.  Beloved, we live in a day were many people are struggling to make their meager means make it to the end of the month.  It makes me wonder what I am personally doing to help relieve this distress or am I just as much of a hinderance to them by my judgmental attitude as these Edomites were in their physical robbery.  I pray we all allow the Lord to work on our hearts when it comes to this subject of financial responsibility and truly come to the place we are generous supporters of our family and not judgmental hinderances or worse actual thieves. May the Lord be brought glory as He works through us to help meet the financial woes of our family.

1.  As you think about your primary interaction with your family, is it hindering or supportive?
2.  In modern day economy many families are financially struggling, in what ways are you helping your family?

Prayer: Father, I may not rob my family as the Edomites had done with the people of Judah, but at the same time I am not always supportive of my family either.  Help my heart to be transformed Lord to where I am generous with the provisions that are rightfully Yours.  Let me be used in such a fashion as to be a blessing to my family and not a hinderance.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Family Encourages Each Other

Scripture: Obadiah 12
“Do not gloat over your brother’s day,
The day of his misfortune.
And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Yes, do not boast
In the day of their distress.

Insights: The next thing the Edomites did was to degrade the children of Israel by rejoicing in their pain.  They were literally standing around taunting the children of God and increasing their already demoralized spirit with their verbal assaults.  Beloved, again, I tell you as I did yesterday, it is very bad when our own families join in on the attacks of our lives.  These Edomites ought to have been over there encouraging the people of Judah to remain strong in their faith, to hold on to the truth of the Lord God.  They ought to have been encouraging them to repent and to turn from their wicked ways.  Instead they joined in on the Babylonian band wagon and increased the torment with their words.  It was a tragic event and one of the problems I perceive to be rampant in the local body of Christ.  We come in each Sunday with fake smiles and the placating, “I’m fine” response to people’s enquirers as to our well being.  Then after we give our obligatory response, we are often times talked and gossiped about behind our backs.  At worse times, we are even told to our face the reason for others disappointments in us.  God forgive us for our hurtful response to people.  May the Lord truly transform our hearts and allow us to display the love of Jesus with and to everyone we meet and encourage them to remain steadfast in their faith.  To God be the glory!

1.  As you think about your primary interaction with your family, is it degrading or encouraging?
2.  When the pressures of this world rise against your family, in what ways do you help them get through the ordeal?

Prayer: Father, I am not always the best encourager.  Please forgive me for those times in which I degrade my family instead of lifting them up with encouraging words.  I am grateful You don’t treat me as I treat my family.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Family Defends Each Other

Scripture: Obadiah 10-11
“Because of violence to your brother Jacob,
You will be covered with shame,
And you will be cut off forever.
“On the day that you stood aloof,
On the day that strangers carried off his wealth,
And foreigners entered his gate
And cast lots for Jerusalem—
You too were as one of them.

Insights: The passage we are going to be looking at this week comes from the book of Obadiah.  It is a small little book which is a judgment against the nation of Edom.  The Edomites were descendants of Esau, who was Jacob’s older twin brother.  In the verses this week we are going to see the way the Edomites treated the children of Israel and in seeing their response we see the way we ought to treat family.  In today’s verses we find that when Babylon came and laid siege against the nation of Judah that the Edomites did nothing to defend their brothers.  In fact, they were coming along side and making raids themselves from time to time to help with the subjection of the people of Judah.  Beloved, these truths this week do not only apply to our families by blood and name, but also to the family of God.  We ought to live at peace with our family.  We ought to be the first ones to come along side and defend our family when attacks come.  The problem is that often times the attacks come from within our families.  It is our very own flesh and blood that attack us and cause us the most pain.  This sad reality ought not to be.  When attacks are coming we ought to be the first people to come along side of them and encircle them and help them defeat these assaults.  Beloved, do not stand aloof and watch your family be covered in shame.  Live at peace with them and defend them from the evil of our adversary, which is ultimately Satan himself.  Let the love of Christ defend, protect and empower you to fight for your family, both biological and the family of God.  Let our actions bring glory to our Lord!

1.  As you think about your primary interaction with your family, is it aggressive or peaceful?
2.  When others attack your family do you defend them from the assaults?

Prayer: Father, in this world we are hated and attacked by enemies on all sides.  Satan hates us and the lost world does not understand our values.  As a result many of us are confused and easily swayed to live as the lost world lives.  Help me, O Lord, do defend my family and to live peaceably with them.  Amen.