Category Archives: The Gospel

August 7; Settled In And Busy

Jeremiah 29:1-32, 49:34-39, 50:1-46; 2 Kings 24:18-20

It’s fairly easy to read Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon and see a parallel in present day America. It causes me great concern to see a large portion of Americans working so hard to see this administration fail. Doesn’t anyone get it? If the administration fails, the country suffers. (of course, then the socialist agenda can swoop in and save the day. And some of you already think that’s a good thing. Wake up, America.)

We should be praying for our country like Jeremiah told the Jews to do concerning Babylon. Because if the nation prospers, “you too will prosper.” Jeremiah warns them to turn a deaf ear to the liars. And for heaven’s sake, DON’T encourage them!

I think there is a parallel between Jeremiah’s letter and the modern church, too. Christians aren’t snapped up into heaven the moment we are saved. We live in this fallen world among sinful people, much like God’s people in Babylon. But Jeremiah tells us to settle in. Build houses, plant gardens, enjoy the fruit of you labor. Marry and have lots of babies so they can grow up and have lots of babies. “Do not decrease.”

Wasn’t Jesus’ message similar? He told us in Matthew 10:16 He was sending us out to the wolves, not taking us home. He told us to go, make disciples, be the light in this dark world. He wants the Church, like He wanted the Jews, to grow one person at a time. And again, He warns us about false prophets who claim to be sent from God, but are clearly not when you hold them up to the Truth of Scripture.

We need to be praying for God’s Church in 2019. Because if the Church prospers, we prosper, too. The world prospers when the Church is healthy and growing. That is simply God’s economy.

Today, God is asking me how I am doing. Have I settled in, planted seeds, led people to the Savior? Or have I put my feet up, secure in my salvation and looking forward to getting this life over so I can be in glory? Am I grounded in Scripture, standing firmly on the Truth as God has revealed it? Or have I listened to half-truths and out-right lies without discerning what is True in God’s Word?

I believe God is challenging me to settle in here on this island where I live. Then, get busy living the Christian life and talking about my Savior. I believe God is challenging my prayer life, to pray more for His Church, His children in the world. He has promised me that one day He’ll take me home. But unless it’s today, I’ve got to get busy.

 

August 5; On Fire

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17; Obadiah 1:1-21

I will confess I was a bit down yesterday after my time in God’s Word, thinking about the persecution of believers in our world, and what that means for the future of the sweet children in my life. I pray that they will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, believers in Jesus, and His through His precious blood and the repentance of sin. I pray they will be strong to face whatever the future holds.

I read the passages for today and, honestly, my mind kept wandering. I got to the end of it and realized I hadn’t gotten a thing out of it. So I prayed and asked God to speak to me as I read it a second time.

Sigh. There is a lot of destruction and judgment in these verses. Is that what God wants to say to me again today? I wasn’t sure I could handle another day of gloom and doom.

And, because I’ve made a 10 day commitment to keep my commentaries on the shelf, I started to read these passages a third time. This time I prayed, “God, if you are wanting me to address your fierce judgment again I will. But if there is something else you want me to see, I want to see it.

“Jesus,” He seemed to say.

There it was. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Jesus, the righteous Branch, wise, and just. The One who will protect His children. The Lord our Redeemer! Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there is hope. His name is Jesus.

Then, in Obadiah 1:15-18 I heard God speak of that hope. The day of the Lord is near. There will be deliverance – AND IT WILL BE HOLY.

God’s children will receive our inheritance: eternity with Jesus. And not one of those who reject Him will survive. Not one.

So, yes. Things are heating up in the world. Satan is on a roll. But we who know the Savior have hope. Nothing that snake can do needs to cause us fear, because God is on our side. Jesus will destroy His enemies.

It occurs to me there are two ways God eliminates His enemies. One is death – physical and eternal. But that’s not His first choice to destroy His enemies.

The other way God eliminates His enemies is by making them His children. When they repent of sin and accept His grace, they are enemies no more! That’s His plan. That’s why Jesus died. That’s what He did for me and you who were once His enemies. He saved us and made us His beloved.

So, dear Christian, let’s be that fire Obadiah spoke of. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with passion and love and boldness. Let’s defeat Satan by leading people to Jesus. Let’s do our part to turn God’s enemies into His children.

Because if we don’t, none of them will survive.

August 4; No Matter What

2 Kings 24:5-6,8-9; 2 Chronicles 36:8-9; 1 Chronicles 3:10-16; Jeremiah 9:16-21, 10:17-25; 12:7-17, 19:14-20:18; Daniel 3:1-30

Our Sunday School lesson this morning centered around Paul’s second letter to Timothy. We talked about how important it is for us who know and love the Lord to spend quality time in God’s Word, the Scriptures that are God-breathed. We were encouraged to read it and ask God to give understanding and direction as we grow in Him.

Our daily Bible reading and prayer time is crucial because, like Paul said, Christians can expect persecution. It will happen. Jesus told us in John 15 that the world hated Him, and we who love Him should expect to be hated by the world, too.

In my quiet time today, as I read the passages in my chronological Bible for August 4, I heard God tell me the same message. I read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I read about Jeremiah who was beaten and forced to spend the night in stocks at the Upper Gate of the Temple. All four men were persecuted because they would not back down. They would not compromise what they knew to be true.

The time is coming, dear Christian, and is now here when we, too, could face persecution for loving Jesus. We can expect it. The liberal agenda is gaining strength, and they hate us. They consider us their enemy. And they want us silenced. We need to be praying for them every day.

Let’s gear up. Let’s train ourselves by studying God’s Word while we still can, hiding the Truth in our hearts. Let’s encourage each other to be strong. And let’s stand together without compromise, no matter what.

August 2; Success and Failure

2 Kings 24:1-4; 2 Chronicles 36:6-7; Daniel 1:1-2; Jeremiah 26:1-32, 45:1-5, 25:1-38

Are you in ministry of some kind? Is there someone in your life for whom you’ve been praying and with whom you’ve been sharing the Gospel? How do you know if you are successful or not?

Most of us would say we are as successful in ministry as the number of converts we have influenced. But is the number of people you’ve led to the Lord the measure of  success for a servant of God?

If that’s the case, Jeremiah was a huge failure. He preached the truth for 23 years, and nobody even listened to him (25:3). 23 years he preached to deaf ears. Would you say he failed? Or did the people fail?

Here’s what I believe God says in His Word: obedience = success.

If we are doing what God is asking of us, we are successful servants in His sight. If we are obedient, we’ve done our duty and can expect Him to do His. The truth is, there are disobedient preachers filling thousands of seats in mega churches every week all over the world who are failures. One day they will look into the face of Jesus and hear Him say “I never knew you. Depart from me forever.”

Fail!

I think of Jonah, one of the most successful preachers on record. Yes, that Jonah who started out as a failure, disobeying God and winding up taking a swim inside a fish. But once Jonah decided to obey God, thousands of people repented and were saved. He may have been a reluctantly obedient servant, but his obedience was instrumental in saving an entire city.

Let me encourage you preachers, deacons, Sunday School teachers, Bible study leaders, moms and dads with wayward children: Be obedient.

Don’t look at the numbers, large or small. Don’t look at the rejection, many or few. Keep your eyes on God, and be obedient. One day, if you were quietly doing what He asks of you, or if you were standing before a large congregation preaching the Truth from Scripture, you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Join me!”

Your obedience is success is God’s eyes.

July 28; Trusting The One We Fear

Nahum; 2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum reminds us that God is to be feared… and trusted. Feared because His judgment is harsh and inflexible. Trusted because He never places judgment on anyone who doesn’t deserve it. What is sin for you is sin for me.

And the wages of sin is death. He’s pretty upfront about that.

But here’s what else Nahum says about God: He is slow to anger.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (1:7)

Yes, God protects His honor and holiness with jealous zeal. Yes, there are devastating consequences for those who don’t play by His rules. But don’t get stuck there. Because the same jealous and avenging God took on Himself His own wrath, His own death penalty so you and I wouldn’t have to.

You might think God isn’t fair, and you would be right. It wasn’t fair that Jesus took your sins to the cross. He never committed even one sin. Yet our Savior endured the cross, didn’t give a second thought about the shame – for love of you!

Yes, the Creator God, Almighty, All-knowing, Eternal and Holy, is a God to be feared. You can look at Jesus’ death on the cross and get an idea how serious God is about sin, and what it cost His Son to take the punishment you deserve.

Look at the cross. That should be you up there. If that doesn’t make you fearful, I don’t know what will.

Then look into the face of your Savior, and know He can be trusted:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9; emphasis mine)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24; emphasis mine)

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8; emphasis mine)

We have reason to fear God. And we have every reason to trust the One we fear, when we are His children through the blood of Jesus.

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

July 23; Not Too Far Gone

Isaiah 66; 2 Kings 21:1-26, 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 33:1-25, 34:1-3

I’m always thankful that the life of King Manasseh is recorded in God’s Word. He was an evil man. In fact, the Bible tells us he was the worst king ever in the history of kings. He not only worshiped pretend gods, he put those idols in God’s house. Awful things happened in the temple at Manasseh’s direction, a blatant, in-your-face denial of God.

But one day, Manasseh repented. He humbled himself before God, and God forgave him. Manasseh spent the rest of his life serving God with the same energy he’d disobeyed God before.

Manasseh reminds me no one is too far gone, no one is beyond God’s grace. And it encourages me to keep praying, keep sharing Jesus, keep loving the person we might be tempted to give up on.

I have a dear friend who prayed for her husband for decades, until one day he came to her and told her he’d prayed to receive Jesus, and asked if she’d go with him to buy a Bible. Her prayers weren’t answered over night. But they were answered.

So keep praying, dear one. “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Praise the Lord!”