Serving Jesus through discipleship

Archive for the category “Devotional”

Points of Comparison

For some reason lately, when I read the Bible, I see America’s situation in the annals of ancient Israel. How am I like other America haters both in this country and in the world. One way I can think I am different is that rather than proclaim “Death to America” I pray for our countries repentance.

Are there good people in this country? According to Jesus, only God is good so the answer to that one is no. However, relatively speaking there are many people who try to do the right thing. One of the problems is that there are so many people of authority that are misguided and will not listen to the truth. People like the teachers. How did we get so many tenured professors that are socialists/progressives? The once great Christian institutions like Harvard and Yale, established to educate their students in the way of the truth of the Gospel, are now the leading proponents of atheism.

Yale Bowl during "The Game" between ...

Yale Bowl during “The Game” between Yale and Harvard. The Bowl was also the home of the NFL’s New York Giants from 1973–1974. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The courts that are supposed to guarantee our rights are perverting the constitution to mean something that it doesn’t say and are thereby denying Americans their freedoms.

The self serving politicians are doing nothing to stop the erosion of our freedoms. The rule of the day in Washington is compromise. There is no such thing in Washington as standing on your principles!

The media is barraging us constantly with progressive ideas and calling us haters of whatever when we stand up for what is right.

We have seen the major denominations of the Christian church cave in the these progressive pressures.

Then there is the Word of God. People misinterpret it, conveniently ignore parts of it and sometimes even try to change it; however the Word of God stands. The truth! A beacon of hope in a fallen world. To realize the hope that Scripture provides, read it, memorize it, and meditate on it. The Word of God will change your life. Then encourage your family and friends to do the same. We can, as a country, return to God; one person at a time.


Shrines of the Heart

A Shrine is defined the Encarta Dictionary as an object or place revered for its associations or history. There are other definitions as well, but this is the definition that serves for today’s discussion.

Heart is defined by the same dictionary as the source and center of emotional life, where the deepest and sincerest feelings are located and a person is most vulnerable to pain. Again there are other definitions which may apply to this discourse.

One of the many small shrines in the Imamiya S...

One of the many small shrines in the Imamiya Shrine complex. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So a shrine of the heart is an object or place that is revered as the central element of our emotional life. For many that shrine is money! For others, the shrine is sex. Others may value cars, houses, boats, motorcycles, etc. In today’s political climate, some of these shrines may be abortion, so-called gay rights, women’s rights and other rights granted by the government such as welfare, humanism, etc. I think it would be safe to say that these shrines are our modern day idols. These ideas/ideals are increasingly consuming our time, talent and treasure; the resources God granted to us to do his will. Instead of dedicating these resources back to God’s work, we are chasing these vain idols.

Idolatry is nothing new! I have a theory that all sin is idolatry (think about it). The sin of Adam and Eve was putting their own pleasure before honoring God.

In Ezekiel 14:3 – 5, God again deals with idolatry in His people:

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and have put right their faces their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?

Therefore, speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD God, Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face his stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through their idols.”

God further tells Ezekiel to tell the people of Israel to repent and quit separating themselves from Him.

Our culture is becoming farther and farther removed from God. So much so, that even the church is moving away from God and taking up idolatry. You, however can be a change agent in your local church. It only takes one to start the movement. You and I can start by examining ourselves and tearing down those shrines that we have built that are squeezing God out and asking him to be Lord of our lives. It will be hard but it is necessary. Christian, repent.

Where is God?

It seems that throughout recorded Jewish history, God‘s people have been asking this question, “How long O LORD will you remain silent?” This question has been asked in many different forms. The one I read today is from Habakkuk. “How long O LORD will I call for help, and You will not hear?” I think we would do well to ask that question today.

English: Habakkuk, the Biblical prophet, water...

English: Habakkuk, the Biblical prophet, watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer is always the same. God will not hear us until we wholeheartedly turn to Him. What does that mean?

To wholeheartedly turn to God means serving Him even when things are going well. No, especially when things are going well. We tend to turn to God only in our darkest hour. When we lose control over our circumstances, when we’ve tried everything we know to escape the consequences of our actions, that is when we turn to God to rescue us. For you Bible readers out there, the Israelites throughout history did the same thing. They abandoned God until they found themselves on the horns of a dilemma. It was then and only then that they remembered that they were God’s chosen people. And when they did remember, they asked the question. That is where we find the children of Jacob in the opening words of the prophet Habakkuk. The people of Judah continue to sin with impunity and justice is perverted. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s question is that he is raising up the Babylonians as His rod of judgment. The Chaldeans will come against Judah swiftly, violently and completely! The coming storm form the east will be God’s answer to Judah’s crimes!

In twenty-first century America, who is God raising up to exercise His judgment. Al-Qaeda? Iran? Egypt? Venezuela? Syria? The United States of Islam?

How long O Lord, will you allow us to profane your name? How long will we be allowed to execute our children as if it were a God given right and then call it a women’s health issue? How long will You remain silent as people abandon the natural use of their bodies for the abominable pursuit of carnal pleasure? How long must the people who are called by Your name be allowed to do nothing before we are called to judgment? How long?

Remember, God’s judgment will rain upon the evil as well as the righteous. Joseph was a slave and a prisoner for years before he was exalted. I have no recollection of his pleading to God for deliverance but serving and exalting God through his suffering. All of his actions, even while in prison, honored the God he served.

We are called to serve God! It appears that we believe that God is supposed to serve us. Really?

The Sinful Nature of Man

It’s everywhere! This weekend we heard of a devout Christian businessman, Dan Cathey, honestly proclaim the truth of the Bible; that God‘s idea of marriage, and his, is one man and one woman. For this proclamation of the truth, Dan has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy.


Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you probably know, Dan id the founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A. It is not secret that Chick-fil-a is run according to Christian principles. The politicians that started this controversy, apparently cannot stand that someone who lives by a set of immutable principles is a success in America. The mayors of several cities are threatening not allow Chick-fil-a to operate in their cities because of Mr. Cathey’s view. These politicians are declaring sin to be good and God’s best to be evil. I think even more they want to take over the church. That’s what politicians do when they can’t pervert God’s law from without; they attack it from within.

We see that God’s word has been undermined in at least 4 major denominations that have ordained homosexual clergy. It occurs to me that the laity of these congregations more than likely don’t read the Bible and if they do, don’t understand it. I maintain that if you are a Christian and don’t KNOW the word of God; do not feed on the word of God daily, you may be letting the enemy in through that gaping chasm. Why else would king David have said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against thee.”

Contemplate the words of Isaiah, “The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! Let us eat and drink, you say, for tomorrow we die! The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: ‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”

We have a choice! Be a slave to sin or be a slave to God. Which do you choose?

The Faith of Elisha

Starting with 2 Kings 2, the book is pretty much about Elisha the prophet and his ministry until chapter 8 when it returns to the kings of Israel and Judah. That is not to say that isn’t mentioned in 2 Kings after chapter 8 because he is. Elisha is active prophesying and performing miracles until the book records his death in chapter 13. Below is a list of the miracles that Elisha performed and are listed in chapters four through seven of 2 Kings:

  • Miracle of the Increase of the Widows Oil (2 Kings 4:1-7)
  • Miracle of the Shunamite’s Son (2 Kings 4:8-37)
  • Miracle of the Deadly Stew (2 Kings 4:38 – 41)
  • Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves (2 Kings 4:42 – 44)
  • Miracle of the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1 – 27)
  • Miracle of the Floating Axe Head (2 Kings 6:1 – 7)
  • Miracles During the First Aramean Attack (2 Kings 6:8 – 23)
  • Miracles During the Second Aramean Attack (2 Kings 6:24 – 7:20)

God‘s faithful know that in reality Elisha did not perform any miracles: God performed the miracles through Elisha. It was Elisha’s faith in the LORD his God that allowed God to work His wonders through Elisha. Elisha was available and trusted that God would work through him. The Christian today is taught to make himself available, but God does not seem to work through us as He did through Elisha and the prophets of old. Could it be that we lack the faith and/or the availability? We do after all live in a self centered culture!

In my reading today, I found the Miracle of the Shunamite’s Son to be particularly interesting. When Elisha first found out that the boy had died, he sent his servant with his staff to revive the boy by laying his staff across the boys face. This did not work! The boy still lay cold and dead. Not to be undone, Elisha went personally to revive the boy. He prayed to the LORD and lay on the boy and placed his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boys eyes and his hands on the boys hands. The child became warm but still was not revived.

English: Elisha raising the Shunammites Son

English: Elisha raising the Shunammites Son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was serious! Was God not listening to Elisha’s prayer? Was Elisha’s faith faltering or was God simply testing Elisha’s faith. We know that the author of life would have no trouble restoring life to a dead boy. The text says that Elisha returned to the main room in the house and walked in the house back and forth. Was he praying? Was he casting out evil spirits? Was he gathering his faith? We don’t know!

He then returned to the boy and stretched himself on him again and this time the lad was revived. The questions about this story just don’t stop coming. Did he really expect his servant to revive the boy? Did his faith start start to falter when that did not happen? How did he know that it was God’s will that he restore the lad? The final question, How would I have reacted in that situation? Would my faith have held? Would yours?

The Many, The Proud, The Edomites

You have heard it said that pride comes before a fall. And so it is. The Old Testament chronicles that over and over again. Just what is it about pride that brings the destruction. Let’s see what the dictionary says about pride. There are several definitions half of which are bad and the rest good. I will only deal with the definitions that I think apply here: 1. inordinate self esteem2. proud or disdainful behavior or treatment 3. ostentatious display 4. a showy or impressive group (i.e., a pride of dancers).

Self Esteem Shop in Royal Oak, MI http://www.s...

Self Esteem Shop in Royal Oak, MI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we think of the phrase “pride comes before a fall” I believe the first definition is what we are thinking of; inordinate self esteem. Why do we always think of ourselves more highly than we ought? I am this or I have done that; making sure that someone is envious of you because of your accomplishments or position. We forget that apart from God we can do nothing. God is always the cause of our position and accomplishments. We would do well to remember it!

The second definition describes some of us. I think it definitely describes our country, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world. That is why the people of so many countries hate us. We, as a nation, have accomplished a lot. We enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. The poorest in America, would be considered rich in many underdeveloped countries in the world. Yet we don’t share our wealth (that’s a whole ‘nuther topic) Our poor complain about how bad they have it while people in other countries are envious.

Our lifestyle is an ostentatious display. Big cars, big houses, big bank accounts, these are the things that the rest of the world is deprived of. I have seen people living in corrugated tin and cardboard shacks. Even with our wealth, we are not satisfied. it is no wonder that we have enemies!

The book of Obadiah describes how God will destroy the Edomites (the descendants of Esau). “You are greatly despised” says Obadiah 1:2 of the Edomites. Verse three sort of explains why they are despised. They forgot that apart from God, they can do nothing. They gave themselves the credit for their lofty position instead of giving it to God who put them there. Now. they are about to suffer the consequences of their sin. God always judges sin! Read for yourself about God’s judgment of Edom.

I fear for the U.S. Is our day of judgment coming soon?

It Takes Faith? Really?

I just read another unbelievable story in the Old Testament! Ok, maybe the events really happened as the Bible says, but give those events to a modern reporter and the you’ll have quite a different story.

Cover of "The Battle Is Not Yours"

Cover of The Battle Is Not Yours

Supposedly, during the rule of King Jehoshaphat, the Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites came to make war against Jehoshaphat. This had Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah worried because they knew they were not powerful enough to vanquish such a large army. So the only thing that they could do was to gather together and pray to their God for protection from their enemies. During the assembly Jahaziel spoke a message to the assembly from the Lord. “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” There was more that he spoke (2 Chronicles 20:16-17), but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

The story says that the Army of Judah went out to the battlefield but instead of fighting sang praises to the LORD. Here’s the unbelievable part. God confused the three armies and they destroyed each other. Judah was because there was no one left alive to fight. Do you believe it?

I wonder how many of the people that were there believed it. In the same chapter of 2 Chronicles the text describes how Jehoshaphat sinned because he did not trust God (vs.35 -37). Really? After witnessing a miraculous victory, the king did not trust God? Was the historian who wrote this story really naïve enough to believe it? Or did God really intervene in a hopeless situation? You have your choice, with God or without God. Either way the story is incredible to say the least.

Every day we are face with miracles! The miracle of birth; the miracle of the interdependence of the ecosystem and the flora and fauna. God surrounds us with miracles every day. They are so common that we take them for granted and attribute them to other forces that are more incredible than God’s intervention. So is God the sustainer of the universe? You get to decide! Decide right and the Bible says you are destined for everlasting glory. Decide wrong and its everlasting torment.

Oh, here is one last thought; “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

Is There Sin in Heaven?

When was the last time you read Genesis chapter 3? If you are familiar with the chapter, you know that Eve sinned because the serpent deceived her. Let me make a quick point here. The way Eve was deceived was that \the serpent asked, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” So Satan started by misquoting God. He was successful partly because Eve really didn’t know what God said either. Are we like that Do we really know our scripture? If you don’t, I believe that you have opened yourself up to be deceived. If you look, you can find other instances where Satan tempts by misquoting God!

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagonist of John Milton’s Paradise Lost c. 1866 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason I asked the question is, the passage I read today, 1 Kings 22:19 – 23, speaks of a deception that originates at the throne of God. God asks the Heavenly host, “Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?” There was one spirit that volunteered to be a deceiving spirit and entice Ahab. God basically said sounds like a good plan to me. So the deceit of Ahab started at the throne of God! Does this mean that God is the source of the deception?

I don’t think so! God did however, allow the deception to take place. The deceiver (Satan?) was before the throne of God when this plan was hatched. The deception was not God’s idea, but it does prove that God will use sin to accomplish His perfect plan.

So the question remains: Is there sin in heaven? Not for long!

Prove It

How many times has someone told you to “prove it” when you were telling a story of amazing events? I’ll bet it is not a few. Imagine this conversation:

1st person: “I aced my math test!”

2nd person: “You probably cheated!”

1st person: “No I didn’t!”

2nd person: “Prove it!

It doesn’t matter if you have proof or not. The doubting person in all likelihood will not believe you anyway because he doesn’t want to believe you!

I have often wondered why the Israelites continually disobeyed God. When you consider the miracles of the scriptures like the exodus, the battle of Jericho, Gideon’s battle with the Midianites, David and Goliath, etc, it would be a stretch to believe that those things happened and still rebel against God. In the case of the exodus, the people watched the miracles happen and still did not trust God. To not believe has to be an act of the will.

English: Ahab was king of Israel and the son a...

English: Ahab was king of Israel and the son and successor of Omri (1 Kings 16:29-34). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still God did not abstain from showing His power to the nation Israel. During the rule of Ahab (1 Kings 16:29 through 1 Kings 22:40), Ahab (and Israel) engaged in idolatry to the extent that God performed several miracles. In one of the miracles, God prompted Elijah to prove to Ahab and the Israelites that God was worthy to be worshiped. The BAAL worshippers were to set up an alter to Baal and Elijah was to set up an alter to the God of Israel. The deity that consumed the sacrifice on the alter would be proven to be worthy. The prophets of Baal called on their god all day to consume the sacrifice to no avail. Elijah called on the God of Israel once, at the time of the evening sacrifice, to consume the offering. Not only did God consume the sacrifice with fire but consumed the altar that it was on as well as the stones of the altar, the ashes under the altar and the water that surrounded the altar. Sounds to me like God was saying, “I’ll show you!” At this point, Jezebel, Ahab’s significant other, vowed to kill Elijah because he discredited (and killed) the prophets of her god.

Ahab? You will have to read the rest of the story for yourself and it will become clear that Ahab did not fear the Lord God of Israel.

Does God perform miracles today? I say, “Yes!” You don’t hear about them and the few people that do hear about them don’t believe them. What good would it do? If we don’t believe that the miracles of the Scriptures happened, why would we believe God is active today?

Do you believe your Bible stories?

I Don’t Understand

Map showing the Kingdoms of Israel (blue) and ...

Map showing the Kingdoms of Israel (blue) and Judah (orange), ancient levant borders and ancient cities such as Urmomium and Jerash. The map shows the region in the 9th century BCE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The book of 1 Kings tells that in the days of Baasha, third king of the northern kingdom of Israel, the king made the people of that kingdom sin and provoked God to anger with their sins. The sin which provoked God so badly of course was the sin of idolatry (I believe that all sin is idolatry, but more on that later). So the LORD came to Jehu, son of Hanani, (a prophet) against Baasha saying, “Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, behold I will consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Anyone of basha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

What I don’t understand is why having dogs and birds eat your dead relatives is such a punishment. I don’t think the punishment is so bad in itself but I think the cultural implications make this a psychological punishment for both the king and his subjects. Can anyone offer any clarity on this?

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