Sunday, December 10, 2023

Common Ground ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Nehemiah 2 / NT + Revelation 7

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” -- Revelation 7:9-10
History has been marked by the bigotry of men; one nation rising up against another simply because of prejudice. People belittle others, all because they are a different culture. In many parts of the world every effort to establish peaceful reconciliation has miserably failed. When will people of different backgrounds come together on common ground?

As we step back and gaze at the throne of heaven we are amazed at the multitude of diversity. Every nation, tribe, people and language is represented as they worship the Lamb. No matter the color or culture, they are all clothed in white robes, rejoicing in their salvation. The long sought after common ground has been found!

We who are believers in Jesus have a vastly diverse family. One day we will worship in heaven together, but how well do we live together on earth? Did a racial slur recently come from your lips my friend?  Have you forgotten that you are related to many from that people group by blood? Yes, you stand with them on common ground... the blood of the Lamb.
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Nehemiah 3 / NT + Psalms 143-145

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Accountability ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Nehemiah 1 / NT + Revelation 6

"Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” -- Revelation 6:15-17
Intrigue, conspiracy, espionage and secrets of every kind; such is our world past and present. Leaders get nervous over Web threats and fear the spreading of comments made behind closed doors. Hiding from each other protects us from accountability for wrong.

Adam and Eve hid when the Lord came walking in the Garden. When the Lamb comes in judgment in the last days, men and women will still be hiding. We far too often fear God a day late and a dollar short. Rather than fearing God and walking with him, we end up fearing God and running from him. We hide to be protected from ultimate accountability for sin.

Why do you avoid the Lord by skipping devotions, church and Bible studies? Are you hiding from God my friend? The day is coming when all who have run from God and his grace will try to hide from him and his wrath. But there will be no hiding and no protection from ultimate accountability. Walk with the Lord today, so you won't need to run from him then.
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Nehemiah 2 / NT + Revelation 7

Friday, December 8, 2023

Tears ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Ezra 10:18-44 / NT + Revelation 5

"... and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” -- Revelation 5:4-5
People grieve and weep over many things. They express sorrow over the serious loss of a loved one all the way to a sad ending in a movie. Tears are shed over broken relationships as well as lost pets. Yet, is there not a greater cause and cure for tears?

John was moved to tears "because no one was found worthy to open the scroll". He was saddened by the missing holy character needed to open the seals. Sin and all its damaging influence caused John to grieve to the point of weeping. But at the same time hope was announced, found in the Lion of Judah, the Root of David who has conquered. Jesus alone is the cure for all tears.

Let me ask you something my friend. When was the last time you wept over sin? Have you been grieved to tears when sin has damaged your relationship with the Lord? Or when evil has destroyed someone you love? And in turn, have you found relief when focused on the Lord Jesus, the Lion of Judah who has conquered? Sin is always the greatest cause for tears and Jesus is always the only cure.
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Nehemiah 1 / NT + Revelation 6

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Be Refreshed ...

Today's Readings: OT - Ezra 10:1-17 / NT + Revelation 4

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” - Revelation 4:8
I took a CPR course a number of years ago. If you're in that kind of trouble today, don't look to me, because I don't remember enough to put in thimble. As time passed I failed to take refresher courses, so I lost the knowledge and skill. If we expect to be proficient in what we do, we need refresher courses. In the same way, if we expect to be spiritually effective we need refresher courses as well.

John saw the throne room of heaven, where the nature of God was spoken of repeatedly day and night. Have you ever wondered why? I believe it’s because all creation turns on this fact... “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” We must never forget this truth. It should run through our minds like blood through our hearts. It keeps before us the purity, power and presence of our God.

The more we are refreshed in our knowledge of God, the more we will depend on him. The more often we reflect on his nature, the more fully we will worship and honor him. The more that we think about who God is, the more we will be like him. We are only as spiritually moved as we are spiritually minded. 
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ezra 10:18-44 / NT + Revelation 5

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Pray Defensively ...

Today's Readings: OT - Ezra 8:24-9:15 / NT + Psalms 141-142

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies." - Psalm 141:3-4
Over the years, I have watched seven friends who were church pastors drawn into devastating evil. They were forced to leave the pastorate because they ate the delicacies of sin. They were men who opened the Scriptures every week and taught the principles of integrity with conviction. I knew these men, and I believed they were godly men, so how do such men fail? Maybe they weren't praying defensively.

David was a man after God's own heart, yet he still prayed defensively. He knew where to turn for strength, for at any moment... he could be drawn into evil. When he prayed defensively he experienced victory. But even David eventually failed. Perhaps he forgot to pray defensively.

The Lord taught us a simple pattern of prayer in the Sermon on the Mount which included: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13) Let's begin each day acknowledging our weakness and acquiring His strength in defensive prayer. Remember, the best offense is a good defense.
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ezra 10:1-17 / NT + Revelation 4

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Your Time Is Up!

Today's Readings: OT - Ezra 8:1-23 / NT + Psalms 139-140

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139:13-16
"Your time is up! Please put your pencils down." Oh how I hated to hear those words when I had more to write on a timed exam. There are many of us that believe there will always be more time to finish the work. We often have great ideas about how to do it, write it or say it... but later. Yet, there comes a time for all of us when we have to put our pencils down and our great ideas remain unrealized.

Our God-created lives are timed experiences. The Lord created us with profound purpose as he carefully knit us together in the womb. In the process he ordained all the days of our lives and wrote them in his book. The days and years will slip away until suddenly, without warning... "Your time is up! Please put your pencils down."

Do you understand and appreciate your God-given potential for this life? Are you aware that you have only so many days to accomplish his purpose? He won't call you home too early or too late, but your time is approaching. Yesterday is spent and tomorrow may never come; so today is all you have to live for God's glory. Make the very best of today for Jesus' sake, before "Your time is up!"
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ezra 8:24-9:15 / NT + Psalms 141-142

Monday, December 4, 2023

An Open Door...

Today's Readings: OT - Ezra 7:12-28 / NT + Revelation 3

"These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." - Revelation 3:7-8
I graduated from the Word of Life Bible Institute in 1972. Our class verse was Revelation 3:8, because we believed the Lord had set before us an open door of ministry. Fifty-One years have passed since we graduated and the door still remains open. The times have changed but the spiritual need of people remains the same and every morning brings new doors of opportunity.

Jesus opens a door of opportunity and ministry for every believer. When we are young, we may feel unprepared and overwhelmed with new opportunities. When we are older, we may feel worn down and outdated. But be encouraged, even when you have "little strength"... "no one can shut" the door that Jesus opens.

As you face a new day and a coming new year, are you looking for the open door that Jesus has placed before you? Keep his word, stay true to his name and walk through that door. Go make a difference for Jesus today!!
Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Ezra 8:1-23 / NT + Psalms 139-140