Tag Archives: the Gospel

September 3; Don’t Assume

Daniel 8:1-27, 5:1-31, 9:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

I’m very thankful for the truth God laid on my heart yesterday. He is such a patient God. He’s always working in hearts, always revealing Himself in so many ways every day. And He lovingly breathed His Words into what we call the Bible to encourage us, convict us, give us hope, and warn us about the price of disobedience. He laid it all out there so there would be no question.

Yesterday we saw God warn Nebuchadnezzar, then gave the king a whole year to come around. When the king still refused to repent, the events God had warned him about came true, and Nebuchadnezzar paid the price for rejecting God.

Today God is reminding me another aspect of His Holy judgment. Nebuchadnezzar’s son was king now. Belshazzar, like his father, defied God, worshiped idols, and “set (himself) up against the Lord in heaven.” (Daniel 5:23)

So God warned him in a very direct, very dramatic way. God wrote the writing on the wall. “You are going to lose, Belshazzar.” And that very night, Belshazzar died. The end. The beginning of a devastating eternity without God.

Here is where God has directed my thoughts this morning; He has revealed Himself to every one of us whether or not you want to acknowledge that, so that no one has an excuse. No one can say they didn’t know He is God. He has even put in writing His demands and His plan of rescue. God is very clear: it’s His way or we pay severe consequences. Let there be no misunderstanding. He will be worshiped.

And as patient as God is, there comes a time when He gives people what we want. You want an eternity with Him? Accept His Son and you’ve got it. But if you want life without Him, He’ll give you that. And you’ll be without Him for eternity, too.

Here is a stark reality: God did give Nebuchadnezzar a year to humble himself after the warning. Belshazzar wasn’t given a year to obey. He died that same night God wrote the warning on the wall.

Friend, you aren’t guaranteed a year, a month, a day, not even a next breath. The fact is God has been tugging at your heart, maybe shaking your shoulders trying to get you to look at Him, to hear and accept Him on His terms. You have been warned about what is ahead.

Don’t assume you have time to listen to Him later. You have this minute. Right now.

I certainly don’t know your heart. But if you have been putting off obeying God, hear Him today tell you how much He loves you, that He died to save you. Hear Him tell you you are lost without Him, that there is no other way. No other way. Humble yourself. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent of your sin and invite Him to be Lord of your life.

Don’t assume you have tomorrow.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

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Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.

September 1; The Lord Is There

Ezekiel 47-48, 29:17-30:19

God has one goal. Whether He is fighting monsters or positioning city gates, if he’s doling out acreage or making salt water sweet, He is revealing Himself to the world. He is reaching out to the only part of creation created in His image.

Us.

God can be seen in every circumstance of life. He can be seen in nature. He can be seen in a transformed life, or in the peace an aged saint has at the end of life. God wants us to know Him.

I love that the city in Ezekiel’s vision is named: The Lord Is There. I believe that’s what He wants us to know yet today.

I pray you will not miss the many ways God is revealing Himself to you every day. If you are His child through the blood of Jesus, He wants you to know Him better and better. If you have not yet accepted His grace, He wants you to know Him for the very first time.

Look around. The Lord is there.

August 24; Getting Away With It

Jeremiah 43-44; Psalms 71 and 116

The people heard Jeremiah’s message from God – and they rejected it! They called the prophet a liar, and promised to go on living just the way they were living. In fact, they said that when they worshiped idols in the past, they’d had “plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm.” They went so far as to say that trouble started only when they’d stopped worshiping their pretend gods.

What they chose to forget were the many times God had sent prophets to warn them, sent plagues or famine to get their attention. Their memory was selective, “We had it good without God.”

We all know there are people who have rejected God as blatantly as these ancient Jews rejected Him. And we are witness to the fact that God doesn’t zap them dead the minute they utter the words, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 44:17)

Many non-believers, enemies of God, prosper in this world. But don’t think for a moment God or some higher power or the universe is blessing them for their sin. Jeremiah tells us in verses 21-22 that God is not unaware of what they are doing. He tells us God endures their sin for a time.

Why? Why would God sit back and let people be wicked? Well the answer is, He doesn’t. God doesn’t sit back – ever. If wicked people prosper it is because God is patiently throwing out roadblocks, conviction, signs, messages, hardship, unrest, whatever… in order to help those people choose Him. You can’t know how God is working in anyone’s heart.

I’m glad the organizers of the NIV One Year Chronological Bible include the two psalms in today’s scripture. This is the testimony God wants every man, woman, and child to have for themselves: God is gracious, God is good, God is righteous, He protects, He gives hope, and He is worthy of praise. And I believe the Bible tells us God will keep working in the hearts of even the most vile offenders, until they die.

But Jeremiah also tells us there is a time when judgment comes. Just because wicked people seem to prosper, doesn’t mean they are getting away with anything. One day they will have to account for their choices. In Jeremiah’s day that involved disasters, sword and famine. But the ultimate judgment is so much worse. It’s eternal.

So, dear Christian, don’t get caught up wondering why wicked people aren’t suffering. God is working. Trust Him. They aren’t getting away with anything. That fact should cause us to grieve for them, to pray for them, and to allow God to use us to save them.

 

 

August 20; Sin’s Debt

Jeremiah 52; Psalms 74, 79, 85

Today’s Scriptures continue with the Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God’s disobedient children were being punished. The psalmists asked God for mercy because the hand of God was heavy on them.

God will always punish disobedience. There has never been a time, nor will there be a time, when God gives His creation a free pass. Every disobedient thought or action, every sin committed comes with a death sentence. Every sin.

I think sometimes people think that when a person becomes a Christian, God cancels our sin debt, somehow erases the ledger so we stand before Him guilt-less, just as if we’d never sinned. But I don’t think that’s the case.

When I look at the cross I know my sin debt wasn’t just canceled. It was paid for by the Savior who painfully shed His blood, and died to pay the price my sins deserve.

I love Psalm 85. God forgave us and covered our sins, but He did it with Jesus’ blood. He set aside His anger toward us and directed it to His Son instead. His unfailing love granted salvation – but it cost Him a great deal.

His peace is ours, but not because we are sinless. It’s ours because we are forgiven. The sin I committed yesterday doesn’t just disappear when I ask God to forgive it. It’s a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

If I can tell myself God simply erases my sins when I ask for forgiveness, I don’t feel quite as bad about sinning. I mean, I use erasers all the time. No big deal.

But if I remember that sin cost Jesus great physical suffering and death, that lie or that jealousy or that dirty thought takes on a different meaning. It becomes a very big deal. It makes me ashamed to have contributed to Jesus’ suffering, and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. (Ps 85:10-11)

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (verse 7)

But may we never forget what that salvation cost Jesus, may we never take for granted that our sin debt was paid for us on the cruel cross of Calvary by Someone who wasn’t guilty.

I pray you know Him and have accepted what Jesus died to give you. He took the punishment you deserve for every sin you’ve ever committed. You sin debt is paid in full. Please accept it.

 

August 18; The Branch Has A Name

Ezekiel 31:1-18; Jeremiah 32:1-33:26

God had made a covenant with the Jews. That convenient was so strong, God said it couldn’t be broken unless someone could take the control over day and night from Him. The covenant was this: David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne, and the Levites would never fail to have a  man burning sacrifices before God.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 33:14)

Then God described Jesus! We who live after the cross know that the Branch has a Name. The Lord our Righteousness is Jesus Christ. One Man, both king and priest, sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us.

And He isn’t going anywhere! He is the eternal King and Priest. The fulfillment of God’s promise to His people.

One man, one sacrifice for all.

One Savior. Jesus!

August 10; Mind-Blowing

Ezekiel 1-4

Have you ever wanted to see God? The Old Testament tells us a person could not look God in the face and live. He is that Holy, that awesome, truly mind-blowing. Once in a while though, God gives us a peek. Once in a while God cracks open the door with the “Do Not Enter” sign, and shows us a glimpse of Himself.

Like here in Ezekiel’s vision. Now, I’m not going to try to draw a picture of four living creatures with multiple faces and wings, because that is not what God looks like. It is, however, who God wants us to see. It’s what God wants us to know about Himself.

I see a force that reveals God in nature, a power so incredible that the sun doesn’t rise without God raising it, animals and birds don’t even move unless He moves.  I see a fire burning so brightly we can’t get close. We are all subject to the One in Ezekiel’s vision.

And this is what thrills me about this awesome, untouchable God: Ezekiel “saw a hand stretched out to (him)” (2:9). In that hand was a scroll that Ezekiel was instructed to eat. Do you see what I see?

Scripture makes it plain that we cannot even hope to approach God. We can never go to Him. He is too holy, too powerful, too awesome. So He comes to us!

He comes to us in the form of Scripture, that scroll Ezekiel ate, the Bible you hold in your hand. God is in there and He wants you to know Him through His own words. He doesn’t want you to just read it. He wants you to ingest it, devour it, make it a part of you.

He comes to us in the human person of Jesus, His Son. God experienced life on earth, not so He could understand what it was like to be human, but so humans could be assured He’s always understood us. Jesus came, died, and rose again so that “Do Not Enter” sign could be removed once and for all who accept what Jesus did for them.

Ezekiel’s response to seeing this vision was to fall on his face in worship. He sat for seven days afterward, “overwhelmed.” And that’s what I want my response to be, too.

When faced with the reality of who God truly is, I can only fall on my face before Him and cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” I am unworthy to stand in His Presence. But look at what God does when Ezekiel was facedown in the dirt:

As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. (2:2)

Wow. Just, Wow!

This holy, untouchable God wants to be touched. We can’t reach up to Him, but He reaches down to us, and lifts us up to Himself. It’s not an out-of-body experience. It’s an out-of-self experience. The Spirit of God comes into me and raises me to great heights that I cannot hope to reach without Him.

To think that the God of the Universe, the Creator God, Holy, Holy Holy, reaches down to me to lift me up, that He wants me to be with Him, that He loves me, died for me. And one day, I will look straight into His face without fear, because I have received what He Himself bought for me.

Mind-blowing.