Tag Archives: Scripture

God Has Our Backs (Ezekiel 1-4)

Ezekiel had a call on his life. God wanted him to speak Truth in a time when the Israelites had rejected the Truth. I believe we, as people who know the God of Truth, have the same calling on our lives. Here is what encouraged me today:

2:1-2 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.” (emphasis mine)

God didn’t tell Ezekiel to get up, then sit back and watch Ezekiel struggle to stand. God gave him an order, then enabled Ezekiel to obey. Then when Ezekiel was on his feet, he was able to hear God speak. God was in this with Ezekiel, not an observer but an active participant in the calling on Ezekiel’s life.

3:1-2 Again he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.” (emphasis mine)

Again God gives an order, then gives Ezekiel what he needs to obey the order. Ezekiel didn’t have to go searching for the scroll. He didn’t have to write his own scroll. God gave the scroll to Ezekiel.

After Ezekiel had ingested the scroll God told him to go to the Israelites and “speak my words to them.” I am reminded that God has given us His Words in the pages of Scripture and tells us to do the same: Speak God’s Words to our world. But first we must ingest His Words just like Ezekiel did. How much time do we spend in God’s Word every day? Have we devoured it, tasted it, ingested it so that it becomes a part of us? God has given us His Word, like he gave Ezekiel the scroll, and with it the command to tell others what His Word says.

Yes, Ezekiel was commanded to go to people and tell them about God. But never forget God gave Ezekiel the words.

3:10-12,14 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” Then the Spirit lifted me up…The Spirit then lifted me up and took me way…” (emphasis mine)

Once Ezekiel had ingested the Words of God, God told Him to take it to his countryman and tell them the words Ezekiel had taken to heart, the words of God. But again, Ezekiel didn’t have to find his own way. God lifted him up and took him to the exact spot where the exiles lived.

We are called to go and make disciples, to be a light in the darkness, to speak Truth, to be prepared to give an answer for our hope in the Lord. But it is getting increasingly difficult to do.

We know people are being attacked verbally and physically, some are dying for offending someone, or disagreeing with someone, or speaking Truth when the lies are becoming accepted as truth.

But Ezekiel’s experience encourages me. I only need to be obedient. God will take it from there. He will give me the words to speak, open doors and put me in the middle of people who need Him. He will raise me up and be everything He needs me to be in order to be obedient.

I am reminded of Isaiah 30:21 which says:

Whether you go to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

That voice behind you is God. He’s got your back.

We have a calling. It’s not a popular calling. Our message might be rejected. But take heart, dear one. If we obey what God commands, He will raise us up, give us the words, and show us the way.

Be encouraged today.

Is God the Enemy? (Lamentations 1:1-3:36)

What had been beautiful and blessed now stood in ruins. The people who had been protected by God were now in captivity. Those who had been respected were suddenly targets of scorn. How did things get so bad for the Old Testament Israelites? Listen to what the writer of Lamentations says:

The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading. (2:14)

In other words, the people had exchanged the Truth for a theology that didn’t require them to repent of sin. And they liked it.

But the consequences for disobedience were without mercy. In fact, the writer says this sad statement: “The Lord is like an enemy…” (2:5) Then he goes on to say things like God had laid waste His dwelling, destroyed His place of meeting, rejected His altar and abandoned His sanctuary. God had withdrawn from Israel.

It’s a sobering thought to think God is like an enemy when He is punishing sin. This patient, loving God who pursues each of us, woos us, throws out one sign after another to reveal Himself as the One True God, has a limit to His mercy. And His final judgment without mercy is worse than any of us can imagine.

The thing is, God wrote down all His requirements so that there would be no question about what is expected of us. Then He spelled out what His anger and judgment looks like so no one could say they didn’t know. But He also tells us in His Word that He Himself provided the way for us sinful people to go to Him, receive His mercy and forgiveness, and live not as an enemy, but as a beloved child now and forever.

If God is the enemy it is only because we have embraced our own “truth,” refused to deal with sin according to Scripture. We’ve listened to false prophets who tell us a relationship with God means health and wealth, that worship of God should be an experience, that Jesus isn’t God, that there are many ways to approach God, that a loving God doesn’t send anyone to hell.

And if God is the enemy, we are in serious trouble, my friend.

A Godly Leader (2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35

A godly leader can turn things around. King Josiah was not afraid to stand up and read Scripture to the people. He didn’t send a priest to do it. He did it himself, and the hearts of the people were moved.

Josiah had been confronted with the truth of Scripture, and it broke him. He humbled himself before God, then went on to live the life of a man dedicated to God. But he wasn’t satisfied with a personal experience. He wanted his whole country in on the blessing. So he read them the same Scripture that had spoken to him. Lives were changed.

Oh, for a godly leader in America. I think we have a president who isn’t afraid to stand up to the masses. He says and does what he believes whether or not it is popular with any of us. But wouldn’t it be amazing if President Trump got up and read Scripture at his next press conference? What if his tweets were Bible verses? What if he started standing for right and Truth, and didn’t get into word wars with game players?

Never happen, you might say. But are you praying it will? God’s arm is not too short, nor is He too weak to break the heart of Donald Trump, to do a work in our president’s heart that would turn him into a godly leader.

Are you praying that Donald Trump will accept what Jesus died to give him, then follow the Lord in a pubic, zealous way like King Josiah did? I don’t care if you are a Republican or Democrat. Are you a Christian? Then you should be praying for our president. Remember, God is not going to answer a prayer not prayed, and if we want our country to turn around, we’d better be praying for a godly leader.

 

Don’t Read My Blog (I Kings 12-14)

God used Jeroboam to rip the nation of Israel in two. But not because Jeroboam was such a great guy. God was punishing Israel’s disobedience.

So now there are two Jewish kingdoms. Jeroboam, son of Nebat and not related to King David, reigned over what was known as Israel. Rehoboam, son of Solomon and grandson of David, reigned over the tiny nation known as Judah. But both kings and nations worshiped idols.

Something struck me as I read 13:33. It tells us anyone who wanted to be a priest could be a priest. Now, remember God’s conditions for anyone holding that ministry. There were stringent requirements. Holding the position of priest meant something in God’s economy, and it was NOT open to just anyone who wanted to be a priest. But in the split Jewish nation, the opposite was true.

It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7. It’s something we need to be reminded of yet today.

I don’t know what church you attend, what TV preachers you follow, whose Bible Study curriculum you use, or whose workshops you attend. I don’t know what blogs you read. But I’m here to tell you, you HAVE to know that not everyone who names the name of Jesus is known by God. Not everyone who claims to speak for God does.

There are heresies being preached every day, by some very popular Christian-sounding “authorities.” Can you recognize the lies imbedded in the partial truths they speak?

In Matthew 7, God addresses people who prophesied in His name, who cast out demons and did mighty works in His name. Yet the bottom line was God never even knew them. They were speaking for God without taking the first step of obeying Him by dealing with their own sin. In the end, they were condemned to hell.

Dear one, YOU need to be in God’s Word. YOU need to know for yourself what He has written in Scripture. YOU need to know the truth so YOU can recognize the lies. Do not depend on someone else to do that for you.

I have often said that I would much rather you spend time in God’s Word than read my blog. I might be the only blogger out there that encourages you not to read what I write… IF the only exposure you get to God’s Word is through this blog. Because I am not the final authority. And neither is your pastor or Sunday School teacher, or that TV preacher, or Bible Study guru who writes volumes of their opinions on God’s Word.

I am thankful for theologians, for people who have studied God’s Word and share their opinions about its meaning. I am a big fan of Ravi Zacharias, of Matthew Henry, of Warren Wiersbe for example. There are some encouraging, Biblically sound devotionals and Bible Studies that are useful in our walk with the Lord. But I understand those are written by people who are merely sharing their opinions about God’s Word, and none of them are the final authority.

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I really do hope you will continue. But I am begging you to not read this or any other text in place of reading God’s Word for yourself. Please do not listen to some TV preacher and think that’s enough. Don’t go to church on Sunday and let your pastor or Sunday School teacher read the Bible for you.

YOU need to open the precious pages of the Bible every day. YOU need to ask God to give you understanding, to speak His Word to your heart. YOU need to turn off the TV, exit out of the internet, close the study books, and open your Bible.

Because YOU are going to be held accountable for what is in there. YOU are going to stand before God and give an account for what you believe, what you’ve done with the truth recorded in God’s Word.

Read the Bible. Then read it again. Read it today and tomorrow and the next day. Pray over it. Think on it. Memorize it. Love it.

Then if you have the time, read my blog, or do a Bible Study by a trusted author. But please, let God’s Word be your first and  final authority. Read everything else through the lens of Scripture, not the other way around.

Don’t read my blog. If you get so caught up in reading God’s Word that you don’t have time to come here, or to read anything else today, that would be awesome. Nothing is more important than your time reading God’s love letter to you. Nothing is more worth your time and effort than reading the Bible for yourself.

I’m praying for you today.

 

 

All We Need To Know (Psalm 119)

Why did God inspire men to write down His words, to spell out His plan for the human race, we who are created in His image? To what degree does it pertain to life in 2020?

The reality is, God is not playing games here. In His sovereignty and because of His great love, He has told us everything we need to know about life, about death, and about Himself. We don’t have to guess about anything He considers important. It’s all here right in the pages of the Bible.

Is it relevant for today? Let me ask you this: Do people experience any emotions today that weren’t experienced by people four thousand years ago? Do people have complicated relationships any differently than they did when Scripture was written? Were there temptations to sin back then, to lie, to cheat on their wives, to take what wasn’t their’s, to put their interests ahead of others and God? Was there illness and war and poverty and unfairness and prejudice? Let me assure you there was all of that. And what God inspired men to write in what we know as the Bible is as up-to-date today as it was back then.

Verse 133 says this:

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

As we read God’s Word we become aware of sin and the devastating and eternal consequences for sin – for our sin. But God also demonstrates in His Word that He has done what it takes to break the chains of sin so that sin no longer has to control us.

As we read God’s Word each day, let’s pray with the psalmist:

May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word. (vs 169)

Give me understanding. But, dear one, we need to be reading God’s Word if we want Him to help us understand it. May this be the prayer of our hearts:

May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commandments. (verses 171-176)

Right in Our Hands (Psalm 119)

The theme of the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is God’s Word. In every one of the 176 verses you will find words such as laws, precepts, promises, ways, decrees, and commands as the psalmist celebrates God’s love letter to His people.

Every time I read this psalm God gives me a gut-check about my attitude toward His Word. Do I let it sit on my nightstand unopened, or do I “delight in (His) commandments because I love them?” Do I read a few verses every day, then promptly forget what I’ve read? Or do I “hasten and not delay to obey (God’s) commands?”

I would challenge you to read this psalm slowly and thoughtfully over the period of a few days. Make the “I” of it personal, and ask yourself if what you are reading is really the attitude of your heart.

I am going to do that. Then with the psalmist, I pray I will be able to say:

Oh, that my ways (Connie’s ways) were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I (Connie) would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. (verses 5-6)

I (Connie) seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. (verse 10)

And…

I (Connie) run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. (verse 32)

There is so much in this psalm. I pray we all will take time to let it speak to our hearts about the precious gift of God’s own words, right here in our hands.

What God Wants You To Know (Psalm 94)

God’s Word is alive. Whenever I prayerfully read it, God always – always – speaks to me about something that applies to my life at that very moment. It might be a verse I’ve read many times before, but when I am going through something and need a word from God, that same verse brings on new meaning at just the right time. Oh, what a treasure I forfeit when I don’t spend time reading God’s love letter to me every day.

I’d like to share something Mom had underlined in her Bible, a couple verses that spoke to me from this psalm this morning. I think it might be something God wants us all to hear Him say as our world slowly opens up after the forced separation surrounding the virus.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (verses 18-19)

My prayer is that all of us will rest in the supporting love of our Lord. I pray that any anxiety we might feel will be replaced with joy that only God can give as we allow Him to console us.

Dear one, I would ask all of us to stop listening to the media tell us how scared we should be. Stop allowing Satan to cause us anxiety and hopelessness.

Listen instead to God, read His Word instead of the newspaper, and hear Him say that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); He wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Then, may we all go through this day, and tomorrow, and the next day with the confidence of God’s support, the joy that is ours through our relationship with the Creator. This is the day the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it, May 29, 2020, virus and all.

I think that’s what God wants us to know today.

Read All About It (I Samuel 27)

Do you know what I love about reading the Bible? God didn’t sugar-coat anything when He whispered into the ears of the men who penned His Words. We don’t just read about the victories and the blessings. We also read about the epic failures and the devastating consequences for sin. God never paints His children as perfect. I like that.

Take David for instance. Here we read about the future king who will be described as a man after God’s own heart, murdering whole towns of people and lying about it. He’s living with the enemy and doing what he needed to do to survive there.

I Samuel 27:1 holds the key to this very dark time in David’s life:

But David thought to himself… the best thing I can do is…

There is no mention that David was obeying God. In fact, there’s no mention that David consulted God at all during this time with the Philistines.

Now some people will say it was God’s will, that it was all part of God’s plan for David. And to be honest, I can get a little angry when people brush sin off like that. I wonder if people who believe that really know God at all. Our holy God does not cause His children to sin. There is no evil in Him. But there is evil in each of us, and God is very honest to tell us that that is something we need to address, because the consequences are serious.

We read that David went on his own and sinned. He thought to himself. He came up with that plan on his own. And we will find there will be consequences he’ll face for his sins.

But David will also be forgiven. And that’s why I love reading the good, the bad, the ugly, and the grace we find when we open God’s Word. God not only tells us what happens when we choose sin, He tells us how we can be forgiven. He not only describes a heart hardened by disobedience, He describes a heart cleansed by the blood of His Son.

If you want to read the Bible in order to feel good about yourself, don’t bother. This book will break your heart. It will sit heavy on your shoulders as your sins are revealed. It will tell you you are a sinner, then it will tell you that again and again.

No, this book won’t make you feel good about yourself. But it will make you feel good about your Savior. While you were a sinner, not a cleaned up version of yourself, while you were still a sinner Jesus died for you. You, my friend, don’t deserve what Jesus did for you there. But He did it anyway.

Because He loves you that much. You can read all about it in the pages of the Bible.

It’s Time (Joshua 9-11)

God promised to give the land to the Israelites. But accepting that gift meant going to war. It required bloodshed and obedience. God went before them, fought for them, even miraculously brought victories on occasion. But the land wasn’t simply handed over to the Jews.

Scripture tells me Jesus died for the sins of the world. But that doesn’t mean the whole world is saved. Accepting God’s gift of redemption requires obedience.

God promises to never leave or forsake us, that He works all things together for our good. But to receive the blessing of these promises, we must obey.

I’ve heard it said in regard to this pandemic, “God’s got this.” That seems to be a common response when people go through difficult or uncertain circumstances. And absolutely our Sovereign God not only has got this, He’s already on the other side of it. Yes He’s got this. But do we?

Satan may have used his limited power to get this virus going, believing it would throw the world into a tailspin, that it would close church doors, and cause people to blame God. He’s not wrong, really.

But what if every quarantined Christian pulled out his or her Bible and began to read, to pray, to search, to get to know God again, to allow God to put a finger on sin in our lives, to break us, and heal us. What if during this forced isolation, Christians regained our first love, and were revived as we renew our faith through God’s own Words?

I know the temptation is to pick up a good commentary or study guide, or to read our favorite author. And I’m not telling us not to do that. But if you have time to read Josh McDowell or Joel Osteen or John Grisham, you have time to read the Bible. And, dear ones, we all have a lot more time than we did before this virus scare.

I know without a doubt that our world could experience the greatest revival of our history if Christians, if you and I, spent time reading the Bible, and asking God to do His thing in our lives as a result. Revival isn’t only possible, it’s a sure thing if we obey.

What Satan intended for evil, God can turn into something amazing. Think about it. When this time of isolation is over, can you imagine the impact revived Christians will make on our world? Can you picture what the Church will be when Christians are right with God? Can you even dream how our world would be changed if Christians change?

Is revival possible? I guess that depends on you and me. God’s giving us the land. Will we take it?

I think it’s time we did.

 

Wearing Truth (Deuteronomy 11)

What a privilege we have to hold God’s own Words in our hands, to read it, study it, memorize it, any time of the day or night. I trust you aren’t squandering this incredible gift.

Moses told the Israelites that God said to “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road…” (Deuteronomy 11:18ff) Simply reading the Bible isn’t enough.

Moses goes on to tell the Jews what God promises to those who have His Word in their hearts. They would possess the land. Their enemies would be defeated. No one would be able to stand against them.

In Good News Club the past few weeks we have been talking to the children about the armor of God. The first piece of the armor is the Belt of Truth. In this day and age of many so-called truths, how can we know what is really truth, or is there such a thing?

The ancient soldiers wore a thick leather belt in battle. It wasn’t decorative, or meant to hold up their trousers. It was an important, life-saving, piece of armor. For one, it held a soldier’s weapons at the ready. There was a leather flap attached to the belt which covered the soldier’s manhood. If the belt was not worn properly, or if it was twisted even slightly, the soldier couldn’t access his weapons efficiently, and was exposed to an enemy’s fatal blow.

The people in the Ephesian church to whom Paul wrote his letter, knew exactly how important that belt was in battle. So when Paul told them to put on the Belt of Truth, I’m pretty sure they understood the analogy. The Truth is that vital.

So how can we know what is true? Moses shared God’s instructions. The truth is in God’s Word. This Bible that we have in our homes is that first and necessary piece of armor in this battle against the enemy. We have got to put on that Truth for protection, for readying us to use the weapons of war that are God’s righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Spirit. All of those things must be secured by the truth of God’s Word.

There are those who would twist what the Bible says, or replace it with man’s wisdom. But, folks, we are in a battle with eternal implications. Why would we want to fight it without state-of-the-art battle gear? Why replace the Belt of Truth with a Belt of Opinion? That would be like taking a Nerf gun into a nuclear war.

Read your Bible. Fix God’s word on your hearts and minds. Never be ashamed of what is there, never try to hide it or twist it or replace it. Talk about it to your children who are being fed a lot of lies about Truth. (actually, now that most of us are quarantined because of the virus hype, it would be a great time to have those conversations with your children stuck in your homes. What Satan intends for evil, God can bring about something really good! Don’t miss this opportunity.)

God promises to bless those who wear His Truth. Be blessed today.