1 Strangers and Pilgrims
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country… now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16
We have a dear preacher friend, who for many years has called us “pilgrims”. When we read these verses in Hebrews, we see that we really are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” We journey here on earth for only a short time. John 14:2 & 3 are very familiar verses to many, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” We just came back from a summer vacation. It is fun to visit another place for a short while. I want us to think about some of the places mentioned in the Bible. As pilgrims, we can keep a vacation journal and take little visits to some of these places. And then, when our work on earth is done, we will go to our new heavenly home that Christ has prepared for us.
2. Abraham Looked for a City
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,… For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham was the father of God’s people. In Genesis 12:1 & 2 we read, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” God told Abraham to go, and he went. We read, “…he went out, not knowing whither he went.” He had faith in God and journeyed to the “land of promise”. Has God called you out of your old country? Did you leave the old paths of sin, or the old acquaintances of sin, and begin your Christian journey in a strange country to the land of promise? It takes faith to walk the Christian way. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13 & 14) Take that first step by faith… and enter into God’s land of promise.
3. The Tower of Babel
“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there… And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:2 & 4
Our first stop in the Bible lands is the land of Shinar. “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech…Therefore is the name of it called Babel;…” (Genesis 11:5-9) I remember hearing the story of the Tower of Babel as a young child. I thought it was foolish for those people to try to build a tower that would “reach unto heaven”. But I think there are people today who think their works will get them to heaven. Many believe that if their ‘good’ outweighs their ‘bad’, they will be accepted into heaven. They give to charities or donate their time and think God smiles on their works. But we read in Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing or regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” and in Ephesians 2:8 & 9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” The people of Shinar also wanted to boast in their city and tower saying, “let us make us a name”. There are multitudes in America who live to make themselves a name. They want fame and glory. They put themselves first and have no place in their lives for God. The Lord came down and sent confusion to the people at the Tower of Babel. Don’t dwell in the land of confusion. Accept the fact that you cannot save yourself. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and put Him first in your life. That is the only way to reach heaven.
4. Christians at Antioch
“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Acts 11:25 & 26
We read of Barnabas going to Antioch in the previous verses. “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” (Acts 11:23 & 24) He was a good man and exhorted the people to serve the Lord. Then he went to find Saul and bring him back. They stayed a year with the church at Antioch and taught the people. This was when the disciples were first called Christians. People noticed that they were like Christ. Has your Christian service taken you to Antioch? Do those around you call you a Christian? Can the people you live, and work with daily see that you are like Christ? Are you a disciple, teaching and encouraging others to “cleave unto the Lord”? Maybe you can spend this year in Antioch as a disciple for Christ.
5. In The Right Place
“And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him… And they went their way, and found the cold tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.” Mark 11:1, 2, & 4
Tuesday night at the High Point Baptist Camp Meeting, Preacher Chris Haizlip preached from this scripture on “How to Have God on You”. He used the example of this colt that Jesus rode while people spread their garments and palm branches in the way saying, “Hosanna, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” His first point was that the colt was in the right place. Find your place in the house of God. The next point was that the colt had perimeters. He was tied. Our works and righteousness cannot save us, but we must have Christian boundaries to have God on our lives. And last, the colt was in the right position. The people cried “Hosanna” to the Savior. No one paid any attention to the colt that Jesus was riding on. If we want God to be on us, we must give Him all the glory and honor. I began looking at different places mentioned in the Bible this week. This is a good place to start. Make sure you are in the right place, with the right perimeters, and in the right position. Only then can you have the power of God on your life.
6. Praise in Bethlehem
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath make known unto us.” Luke 2:13-15
We are in the middle of summer, but I want us to go back in time to Bethlehem. Whenever I think of Bethlehem, I think of the little town where our Lord Jesus Christ was born. The angels sang praises to God. Luke 2:20 tells us that the shepherds went to Bethlehem and also praised God. “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Many of the Psalms remind us to give praise to the Lord. “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117) In December we get so wrapped up in the holidays that we may forget to praise the Lord. Let your mind travel now to the little town of Bethlehem. Think of all the wonderful things you have heard and seen through the years in your Christian journey. And praise the Lord.
7. Wells of Water in the Valleys
“And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.” Genesis 26:17 & 18
Isaac was living in the valley of Gerar and because of the abundance of his flocks and herds, the Philistines envied him and filled all the wells with dirt. God had blessed Isaac and he was very great. But in the midst of God’s blessing, he went through a valley and his enemies stopped up his wells. We all have times in our lives when we go through valleys. We may be in the midst of great blessings from the Lord when our enemy stops up our wells. We need water for our thirst and also for cleansing. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14) We also read in Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Jesus is our living water and our cleansing. But sometimes Satan, our enemy, tries to stop up our wells. What did Isaac do? Genesis 26:18 tells us he “digged again the wells of water.” In verse 21 we read, “And they digged another well…” Again in verse 22, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well…” Once again, “And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.” (Genesis 26:25) What can you do when you feel like the enemy has stopped your wells of water? Build an altar, call on the name of the Lord and dig a little deeper in the Word of God. Don’t let the enemy fill your well and rob you of your joy.
8. The Potter's House
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.” Jeremiah 18:1 & 2
“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:3-6) Here we have a very familiar story from the book of Jeremiah. We are the work of God’s hands, just as the clay in the potter’s hands. The clay does not choose what it wants to be, but it is molded by the potter. We need to let God mold us and shape us into a vessel that He can use for His glory. The Lord sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to hear His Word. We go to church to hear the Word of the Lord preached, but if we truly listen to what God has to say to us, we can hear His Word all around us. One night on vacation, I stood and watched the lightening in the dark clouds over the ocean waves. I thought of how Jesus stilled the storm on the troubled sea with the words, “Peace, be still.” I can see a fluttering butterfly and remember the verse, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) Jesus said, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 7:16) It is time for us to go where the Lord tells us to go and hear what He is saying.
9. Bethel, The House of God
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it… And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not… And he called the name of that place Bethel… And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:… and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Portions of Genesis 28:12-22
The story of Jacob’s Ladder, that reached up to heaven, took place as Jacob was running from his brother Esau, after he had tricked him of his birthright and blessing. Jacob named the place, Bethel, which means “the house of God”. He vowed a vow to God and continued on his journey. After he served Laban for twenty years God said, “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” (Genesis 31:13) So Jacob started on his journey back to Bethel and on the way God changed his name to Israel, which means, “prince of God.” He may have gotten a little side-tracked on the way because we read again in Genesis 35:1-3, “And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” We all go through times of distress. Many times when we cry out to God, we make vows to Him and He answers our pleas. Then, along the way we often forget our vows. God reminded Jacob to go back to Bethel, back to the house of God. Have you made vows to God that you may have forgotten? Are you faithful to the house of God? Have you given Him your tithes, or kept other promises you might have made during times of distress? It’s time to go back to the house of God. Put away the “strange gods” in your life that have come between you and God. Clean up your life and your garments, and find your way back to Bethel. Many times people say they don’t feel as close to God as they once did. Well, God is still right where you left Him. Go back to Bethel and the altar of God.
10. A Stormy Sea
“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away… But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Matthew 14:22 & 24
Jesus had just fed the five thousand with two fishes and five loaves of bread and He sent the disciples ahead of Him while He went up into a mountain to pray. It was the fourth watch of the night and the disciples were in the midst of the sea in a terrible storm. Jesus went to them, walking on the water. “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:26 & 27) We all go through storms in our lives. We may even face contrary winds while in the midst of God’s will. Just because the wind is blowing against us, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are not where God wants us to be. The disciples were right where Jesus had told them to be, and yet they sailed into a storm. But we read in Mark 6:48, “And he saw them toiling in rowing…” Jesus saw them in the midst of the storm and the darkness. No matter how dark it may seem around you, or how contrary the winds may be, Christ still watches over you. Have faith in Jesus, He can take you through to the other side.
11. Jonah Hops a Ship to Joppa
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa…”
When I told my children this story when they were small, they laughed at the thought that Jonah thought he could hide from God. God told Jonah to go one direction, and he ran from God in another direction. He went to Joppa and boarded a ship and went to sleep. When a terrible storm came, the men of the ship woke him and demanded answers. “Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.” (Jonah 1:10) Yesterday, we talked of how Jesus can see us in the midst of our storms. Well, Jonah learned the hard way that you can’t hide from God. Another thought I want us to meditate on today is in Jonah 3:1 & 2, “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” God gave Jonah another chance. You may be right where God wants you to be, doing exactly what God wants you to do. But maybe God is pointing you in another direction. Maybe God is leading you to go to a new place of service for Him. Paul went on various mission trips to preach the Word of God to many different people. Pray for boldness so that you can speak the Words God puts in your heart. Also pray for direction so that you can go where God wants you to go. And if you feel like you have failed Him in the past, don’t be discouraged, God gave Jonah a second chance.
12. The Battle of Jericho
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15
God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. After the death of Moses, the Lord told Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. They were about to face their first battle under Joshua’s leadership. And Joshua came face to face with the captain of the Lord’s host, and he fell on his face and worshipped. When we come in God’s presence we fall on our face before Him. Romans 14:11 says, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” It is better to bow before Him now, than to wait until the judgment. Joshua asked for God’s guidance. He said, “What saith my lord unto his servant?” He listened to what God had to say to Him. And he took off his shoes because he was on holy ground. We know the story about the fall of Jericho. Seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns and the men of war marched around the city once every day for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times and the priests blew their trumpets and the people shouted and the wall fell down flat. The power of the Lord won the battle. You may be facing battles that you can’t overcome. Maybe walls of doubt are keeping you from having victory. It’s time to follow the captain of the Lord of host. Bow before God. You can even take off your shoes in reverence to His holiness. Listen to what He has to say. Then do what He tells you. There may have been those who thought that Joshua didn’t know anything about war. But Joshua knew the captain of the Lord of host, and that was what mattered.
13. Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod
“There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.” Joshua 11:22 & 23
God told the children of Israel to destroy the Anakims in Deuteronomy 9:1-4, not for their righteousness, but “for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.” Again in Deuteronomy 12:2 we read, “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods…” Joshua did as the Lord commanded except in Gaza, Gath, and in Ashdod. He obeyed, but it was not complete obedience. How did this affect the children of Israel? Samson went to Gaza and met Delilah. She tricked him and he lost the power of God and was bound and blinded by the Philistines. (Judges 16) There is war in Gaza to this day. Just this week, I read in the newspaper of bombing in Gaza. In I Samuel 17 we read the story of David and the giant, Goliath, who came from Gath. And in I Samuel 5 the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon. Incomplete obedience can cause pain and problems in our lives as well. Our text ends, “And the land rested from war.” But, their failure to wholly follow God, brought war and sorrow later on. Obedience is not only following the “thou shalt not” commands of God, but there are also “thou shalt” commands. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
14. Abraham and Isaac at Moriah
“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah: and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:2 & 3
This was an amazing test of Abraham’s faith. “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said My father: and he said Here am I, my son. And he said Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering: so they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:6-8) Isaac carried the wood up the mountain. And just as Abraham raised his knife, the angel of the Lord showed him a ram caught in the thicket. God provided the sacrifice. Many years later, a wooden cross was laid on my Savior’s back as He became my sacrifice. God did provide himself a lamb. John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) My heart weeps when I think of the great sacrifice that was made so that I would not have to spend eternity in hell. Praise the Lord and the Lamb of God! I pray that you have been to Calvary.
15. Pharaoh's Treasure Cities
“Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses… And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” Exodus 1:11, 13 & 14
The children of Israel worked hard to build treasure cities. They served with rigor. But their work was all for Pharaoh. We may work hard. We may be laying up treasure. But for whom are we working? The book of Hebrews speaks of Moses, God’s deliverer, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:25-27) Verse 24 says Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Who are you serving? Are you working for Pharaoh, building treasure cities for someone else? Paul told the Corinthian believers, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try everyman’s work of what sort it is.” (I Corinthians 3:11-13) After Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land he told them, “And if is seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
16. If My People
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
God appeared to King Solomon after the dedication of the temple and made this promise to the children of Israel. But through Christ we too can become sons of God. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13) I was not born as a child of Abraham in the flesh. But, through the grace of God, I have become a child of God through the salvation of my Lord Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate freedom in America. I thank God for allowing me to be born in America, and especially for allowing me to become a part of the family of God. God has blessed America. But many in America have turned away from God. As Christians, we need to humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God, and turn from our wicked ways. This is the only hope for America. This is the only hope for the world. This web site has been read in Spain, Trinidad, New Zealand, France, Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. God has people all over the world, and all His people need to turn back to Him.
17. The Nation Whose God is the Lord
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” Psalm 33:12-14
As we celebrate the birthday of America we are reminded of the Godly heritage on which this country was founded. We can read historical documents and sing songs that tell of the faith and hope our leaders have had in the past. Even our money has the words, “In God We Trust”. As many in our country fight to remove The Ten Commandments, and take God out of our Pledge of Allegiance, we must do our part to stay true to our Lord. Paul told Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4) We need to pray for those that are in authority. Pray for our leaders. And have faith that God, from His place in heaven, looks on “all the inhabitants of the earth” and will hear our prayers.
18. Egyptian Bondage
“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.” Exodus 4:21
God sent Moses to Egypt to lead His people out of bondage. Moses said, “…but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” The Egyptians had brought him up and he probably did feel that his Hebrew speech was slow. So God let Aaron, his brother, be his spokesman. They went to the Israelites and they believed and bowed their heads and worshipped. (Exodus 4:31) Chapter 5 begins, “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” Then Pharaoh told the taskmasters to stop providing the straw for the bricks. They beat the children of Israel even more and demanded that they keep up with their daily work. “And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.” Moses and Aaron did as God had commanded them and things got worse. Sometimes when we follow God’s will, things will get worse before they get better. That’s very hard for us to understand. We are prone to think that as long as we are in God’s will and we are following God, then everything will go well in our lives. But, sometimes we have problems even when we follow God, and sometimes those around us blame us for the problems. God sent Moses and Aaron back to the children of Israel to reassure them that He would bring them out and lead them to the land that He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God told them, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out…” (Exodus 6:6) We must follow Him and make Him our Lord and believe that He will bring us out of our problems.
19. Plagues in Egypt
“But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:4 & 5
Pharaoh didn’t let the children of Israel go the first time Moses and Aaron went to him. Aaron threw his rod down and it became a serpent, and the magicians did the same thing with their rods. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. Exodus 7:14 tells us that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not let the people go. Then Moses and Aaron lifted up the rod and all the water in the rivers, and ponds, and streams turned to blood. And verse 22 says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. In chapter 8 frogs covered the land and Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron to ask them to take away the frogs. The frogs died and were gathered in heaps that stank and Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then followed plagues of lice, and flies, and the cattle became sick and died, boils broke out on the people and the Lord rained hail and fire on the land. “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.” (Exodus 9:34 & 35) The plagues continued with locusts and darkness over the land. “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.” (Exodus 10:27) Moses warned Pharaoh of the last plague upon the firstborn. “And all the firstborn in the land of Egpyt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.” (Exodus 11:5) God gave the children of Israel safety in the Passover Lamb, but all throughout the land of Egypt was a great cry of death and Pharaoh sent Moses and Aaron and the Lord’s people out of the land of Egypt. Time and time again Moses and Aaron spoke the words of the Lord to Pharaoh and time and time again Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. God speaks His Word to us through Bible reading, preaching, Christian music, and maybe even in the still small voice to our heart. We choose to obey His Word, or we harden our hearts to His Word. Listen to the voice of God. Don’t harden your heart to His Word.
20. The Red Sea
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt…And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Exodus 13:17, 18, 21 & 22
God led the children of Israel by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He didn’t lead them the short route, but He led them to the Red Sea. He knew what was best for them. Sometimes we don’t understand the direction God is leading, but we must remember that He knows best. They complained that it would have been better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13 & 14) I can imagine this great multitude of people backed up against the Red Sea and Moses says, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” I have heard preachers use this as titles for sermons, but we must read the next verse. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:” (Exodus 14:15) I think this is a funny verse. The people have their backs against the sea and God says, “Why are you crying to me? Go forward.” He then tells Moses to lift his rod over the sea and God let them go across on dry ground. “And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that is the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fightest for them against the Egyptians.” (Exodus 14:23-25) The next time you are facing the enemy, with your back against the wall, “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”. And when God tells you to go forward, keep on marching and let the Lord fight your battles for you.
21. The Wilderness of Sin
“And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:1-3
They came to the wilderness of Sin. Let’s look at their journey thus far. In chapter 14 of Exodus, Pharaoh and his host of chariots are drowned in the Red Sea. Chapter 15 is a song of praise to the Lord. They sang, “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: his is my God… and I will exalt him.” (verse 2) “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” (verse 13) They went three days into the wilderness of Shur and found no water. They arrived at Marah and the waters were bitter so they murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (verse 24) Had they forgotten in that little time, what the Lord had done for them? The Lord had them cast a tree in the waters and they were made sweet. Then in verse 27 we read, “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” God led them to an oasis of Elim in the wilderness. They began their journey again and came to the wilderness of Sin. And they murmured again. God rained down bread from heaven for them, but He wanted to prove them, and gave them commands concerning the manna. They had to gather just enough every morning, and twice as much on the sixth day. Then Moses told them, “…what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.” (Exodus 16:8) God gives us great victories and we sing and shout praises to Him. Then when hardships come our way, we forget His mercy and cry our murmurings and complaints. Are you wondering in the wilderness of Sin? God knows our every need, just as He knew the children of Israel needed water and bread. When we complain in our journey, we are murmuring against the Lord.
22. Battle Against Amalek at Rephidim
“Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Exodus 17:8-11
When the Egyptian Army followed after the children of Israel, they were all drowned in the Red Sea. Now another enemy has come up against them, and we meet Joshua for the first time. Joshua led the children of Israel in the battle and when Moses held up the rod the children of Israel prevailed, but his hands got heavy. So Aaron and Hur got a large rock for him to sit on and they held up his hands. Verse 14 tells us, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua…” Joshua later became the leader of Israel. God wanted Joshua to remember that the victory came from the Lord. We have battles with the enemy. Sometimes we are in the midst of the battles. Sometimes we are on the sidelines, holding up the rod of God in prayer for others. But we always need to remember that we don’t fight our battles alone. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer…” (Ephesians 6:12-18)
23. Mount Sinai
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.” Exodus 19:9-11
The people sanctified themselves and prepared to hear what God would say to them. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.” (Exodus 19:16-19) Moses went up into the mount and stayed forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18) God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and gave him instructions for the tabernacle and the priesthood. Exodus 33:11 tells us, “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…” It is amazing that God would speak to man as a friend. God, in all His holiness, came down on Mount Sinai to meet with man. It is even more amazing that God, in all His mercy, came down to Bethlehem to give His life for man. The children of Israel saw the lightning and heard the thunder of God and trembled. Even then, they stooped low in sin before Moses came down from the mountain. We have God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit always with us, and yet we often fall into the temptation of sin. Today is the Lord’s Day. Take time today to listen to what God has to say to you. And thank Him that we are not under the law, but under His saving grace.
24. The Tabernacle - The House of the Lord
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1
When Moses was on Mount Sinai God gave him instructions for the tabernacle. The people had to make the curtains, which were the walls, and the furniture, which was covered in gold. They had to make the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Moses was given specific instructions for the candlesticks and dishes. And the boards for the tabernacle were ten cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. (Exodus 26:16) Many estimate that a cubit is around 1½ feet. This would make the boards about 15 feet long and over 2 feet wide. The tabernacle was moved as the children of Israel journeyed. This was a lot of hard work. But we read in Exodus 40:24 “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle… And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:34, 36-38) The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. We have the convenience of driving to church in nice vehicles and sitting in an air-conditioned building on padded pews. Don’t take this convenience for granted. Our forefathers worshipped in brush arbors on wooden seats. Many foreign countries lack the facilities that we enjoy. Attend the house of God when the church doors are open. Pray for the glory of the Lord to fill His church and the hearts of His people. Be faithful and glad to go to the House of the Lord.
25. The Valley of Baca
“Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.”
The valley of Baca means, valley of tears, or weeping. We don’t always live on the mountains. Sometimes we go through valleys where troubles and trials bring us to tears. The verse before this one tells us the “Who” of this verse. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.” (Psalm 84:5) When we have the Lord Jesus living in our heart then our strength is in Him. And because of Him, we pass through the valley. “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” (Psalm 84:7) He gives us strength to continue through the valleys, strength to strength. We go one day at a time, one step at a time. And we know we shall appear before God. As we pass through these valleys, we make a well. This will help those who come after us. We will be able to comfort those who go through the same valley of tears. And if we don’t have the strength to make a well, the Lord will fill the pools with refreshing water. Maybe you are in a valley of tears. Look to the Lord for your strength. Find comfort in the compassion of those who have been through the same valley. And when you rise up to the mountain top again, be a help to those still going through the valleys.
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Jonah 1:2
We have talked before about how Jonah tried to hide from God and the Lord prepared a great fish which swallowed Jonah. Today, let’s see what happened when Jonah was given his second chance and he did as God commanded. He went a day’s journey into Nineveh and proclaimed, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4) The people believed God and fasted. Even the King of Nineveh sat in sackcloth and ashes and said, “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:8 & 9) And God saw their works and did not destroy them. Then Jonah got mad. The people of Nineveh were wicked and he wanted God to destroy them. “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore, now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2 & 3) And he went outside of the city and sat down and waited to see what would happen to the city. God prepared a gourd to grow and become shade over Jonah, but the next day God prepared a worm that caused the gourd to wither. Then God prepared a vehement east wind and the sun beat down hot on Jonah’s head. Then Jonah became angry with the gourd. “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:9-11) God had mercy on the people and even on the cattle. Think about Jonah’s anger. He was angry that God spared Nineveh. It is possible that there were 12,000 children, in that they did not know their right hand from their left. Then he was angry that God let his gourd wilt away. He was more concerned about his comfort than he was about a city of people. I heard someone say last week, “Too many people are too worried about their gourd… to get any work done for God.” We need to get our eyes off of ourselves, and start looking at those around us who don’t know our Lord. God spared Nineveh, but this earth will be destroyed after the rapture. We too, have a commission from God. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
27. Spies in Canaan
“Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.” Numbers 13:2
Jonah got a second chance to obey God. But God does not always give us a second chance. I have heard preachers tell stories about God telling them to speak to someone and they didn’t, and the person died shortly thereafter. I have heard them tell of people trembling in the house of God and refusing to humble themselves before God, and being in a car wrecks on the way home from church. Sometimes we don’t get a second chance. The 12 spies searched the land of Canaan and brought back a cluster of grapes from the brook Eshcol that two men carried on a rod. “And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there… And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” (Numbers 13:27, 28, 30, & 31) God had already promised to give them the land of Canaan. He had done many mighty wonders before their eyes. But they were afraid of the giants. They said, “…we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:33) Joshua and Caleb tried to encourage them to go up and possess the land saying, “If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land;… their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” (Numbers 14:8 & 9) The next verse says that the people tried to stone Joshua and Caleb. God told them they would wonder in the wilderness 40 years, a year for every day they searched the land. Only Caleb and Joshua would be able to enter the land of Canaan. He would give the land of Canaan to their children. All the men and women would die in the wilderness. The people then had a change of heart. “And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.” (Exodus 14:40) Moses told them not to go up because the Lord would not go with them. They went up anyway and were defeated. They said, “We have sinned.” They tried to do what God had said. But it was too late. Sometimes we don’t get a second chance to do what God has told us to do. Have courage in the Lord. Obey His voice the first time.
28. The Tabernacle of Korah
“Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” (Numbers 16:24)
Korah was a great grandson of Levi, and grandson of Kohath. Chapter 4 of Numbers tells us that the sons of Kohath had the job of carrying the holy bowls, spoons, candlesticks, and vessels when the tabernacle was moved in their journeys. When Korah led 250 people, “famous in the congregation, men of renown”, against Moses and Aaron, then Moses fell on his face and said God would show them whom He had chosen. (Numbers 16:2-5) Moses asked them, “Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:10 & 11) He then called Dathan and Abiram and they refused to come. So they went to them. God told them to get away from “the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram”. It sounds to me like maybe they made their own tabernacle. They didn’t like the way Moses and Aaron were leading, so they burned their own incense. And God opened up the earth and they were swallowed up alive with their houses and all they had. Fire came from God and consumed the 250 that offered incense. The Bible says that Moses was the meekest man of the earth but when Korah and his 250 famous men said, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them…” Moses answered them, “…ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.” (Numbers 16:3 & 7) Moses knew he was God’s chosen leader. He stood up against them and God was with him. We need to be very careful before we say anything against God’s men. Don’t question the authority of your pastor. Don’t murmur and complain against his leadership. And don’t follow after the wrong leader. Korah had 250 followers that were said to be famous, men of renown. Just because someone has a following of famous people, doesn’t mean he is a God-chosen leader. Pray for our leaders. And be on the side of God’s chosen men.
29. Moses on Mount Pisgah
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto this people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.” Numbers 27:12-14
Moses did not get to go into the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God’s Word. God told him to speak to the rock and water would gush out for the people to drink. But he smote the rock. (Numbers 20:7-13) We can read the last chapter on the life of Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 34. “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.” I think this is such a sad story. Moses had been the leader of this huge multitude of murmuring people. He had seen all the miracles in the land of Egypt. He had wandered with the children of Israel 40 years in the wilderness. Now they had come to the Promised Land and God took him up to a high mountain and showed him the vast land, flowing with milk and honey, but he could not go in. I think the milk symbolizes the abundance of cattle and the honey shows the land produced flowering fruits and vegetables. He came that close, but could not partake of God’s promises. I wonder how many times we can’t experience God’s promises because of our rebellion. Moses was a friend of God, who spoke with Him face to face. And one sin, kept him out of the Promised Land. Our Bible is full of the promises of God, and I hear people quote them often, but rebellion can prohibit us from receiving those promises.
30. "I Want That Mountain"
“Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.” Joshua 14:12-14
I grew up singing a little chorus, “I want that mountain, I want that mountain, where the milk and honey flows, where the grapes of Eshcol grow. I want that mountain, I want that mountain, the mountain that the Lord has given me.” Caleb went to his old friend Joshua and said, “I want that mountain.” He was 40 years old when he and Joshua first went up to Hebron to spy out the land of Canaan. Because the children of Israel did not have faith to go into the land God had given them, they had wandered in the wilderness forty years and everyone over the age of 20 had died except for Caleb and Joshua. After the death of Moses, the children of Israel began to enter into the land and they finally came to the place Caleb wanted. Caleb said, “And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.” (Joshua 14:10 & 11) There are many valleys in the Bible. The Psalms tell us of the Valley of Baca, which is the valley of weeping. We also know of the valley of the shadow of death. We all go through valleys, but I am glad that we don’t have to live in the valley. We can claim that mountain. We may have to face giants, just as Caleb faced the Anakims. Giants of fear, and doubt, and sorrow. But God can give us strength to claim His promises and rise above our enemies. Trust God, have faith, and climb that mountain.
31. From The House of Bread to a Washpot
“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.” Ruth 1:1 & 2
My Scofield Study Bible has a little side note that says that Bethlehemjudah means “House of Bread and Praise.” We read in Psalm 108:9, “Moab is my washpot…” There was famine in the land and Elimelech and Naomi moved their family to Moab. They left the House of Bread and Praise and went to a washpot. Elimelech died and the two sons married and lived in Moab about ten years, then they died also. “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread…And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me… Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.” (Ruth 1:6, 8, & 9) Orpah went back to her people, but Ruth stayed with Naomi. “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) What a beautiful verse. They returned to Bethlehem and Naomi said “call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) The book of Ruth is a beautiful story of the kinsman redeemer. Boaz was a near kinsman and married Ruth and they had a son. His name was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Sometimes we may feel like we are in the midst of famine in our House of Praise. But we need to keep the faith. Have you journeyed away from God? Do you feel “all washed up”? Things did not get better for Naomi until she returned to Bethlehem. Go back to your Father’s house. Zacharias prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;” (Luke 1:67 & 68) Praise the Lord! We have a Savior and blessed Redeemer.
32. Crossing the River Jordan
“Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” Joshua 4:22-24
The children of Israel saw the mighty hand of God in the plagues on Egypt. They crossed over on dry land through the midst of the Red Sea. Because of their unbelief and lack of faith, they wondered in the wilderness for forty years, until everyone over age 20 died in the wilderness. They came to the Jordan River, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” There were many getting ready to enter the Promised Land that had heard their fathers and mothers tell of God’s wonders and the crossing of the Red Sea. God wanted them to see that He was with them, just as He had been with their parents. Then they would be able to tell their children and generations to come of the power of their God. We have heard of the great revivals of the past. But God’s power has not diminished. He is still with us, just as He was with the children of Israel, and just as He was with the preachers of the past. We may be wondering in the wilderness. We may be standing on the banks looking over to the other side, but content to stay just where we are. Or, we may be looking back at the past, and not looking ahead to the future. I want to see God’s power. I want to experience revival in my life. I want to cross over to God’s Promised Land. And I want my children to see the power of God in their lives also.
33. Shushan the Palace, "For Such a Time as This"
“Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13 & 14
The book of Esther is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and this has become one of my cherished phrases, “…for such a time as this”. Esther was an orphan, being brought up by her cousin, Mordecai. They had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. Esther was a beautiful Jewish girl who was chosen to be the queen in Shushan, the palace. Haman devised a plot to destroy all the Jews, and Mordecai sat at the gate in sackcloth and ashes. He sent word to Esther to go before King Ahasuerus and plead for the lives of the Jewish people. Esther knew that the king had power to kill her if she went into the inner court to the king without being called. And Mordecai gives that poignant statement, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther may have wondered from time to time why she was carried away captive to another country. She must have missed her Father and Mother and wondered why she was left alone, to be raised by her cousin. She may have thought being a queen was like living out a dream. But, God had put Esther at the right place, in the right time. Have you ever wondered why your home situation is like it is? Do the questions tumble over and over through your mind… “Why did God put me in this school?” or “How did I ever wind up with a job here?”, or even “Does God really want me in this church?” Maybe God put you right where you are “…for such a time as this.” We went to the mall last weekend and it was pouring down rain. A young woman sat at the door with her small baby. She asked my husband if he would go get her car for her. She said she sat there a long time just looking for the right person. I believe God let us be there just at that moment for that young woman. I have been able to help family and friends through my job. And even though I get discouraged and disgusted some days, I believe that God put me there “for such a time as this.” The next time you question why you are in the place you’re in, look around you and see if you are there “for such a time as this.”
34. The Fiery Furnace
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:16 & 17
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken away captive into Babylon and God gave them more wisdom than all the magicians and astrologers in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. But when the king set up a golden image and told them to bow to the image they refused. “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” (Daniel 3:19) The fire was so hot that it killed the mighty men who threw them into the flames. But they stood firm to God’s commandment not to bow to any graven image and they were bound and thrown into the furnace. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:24 & 25) The Lord was with them in the fiery furnace. God does not always deliver us out of the fiery trials that we face, sometimes He goes with us through the fiery trials. God told them not to bow and they obeyed God’s Word and He went with them into the fire.
35. The Den of Lions
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel 6:10
The princes of Babylon could find no fault in Daniel so they had King Darius to sign a decree, which said that no one could ask a petition, or pray to anyone except the king for thirty days. Our verse begins, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed…” Daniel knew about the law. He also knew that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, it could not be changed. The next part of the verse says, “…he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem…” In Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple, he prayed, “That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.” (I Kings 8:29 & 30) Solomon continued and asked God to have compassion and forgive His people if they sinned and were carried away captives, and repented, and prayed toward their land. Daniel knew the scriptures and he prayed with his windows open, toward Jerusalem. “…he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God…” I know that we can pray in any position, but when we kneel or bow before God, we are humbling ourselves to Him. Now, the last portion of our verse, “…as he did aforetime.” Daniel had a habit of praying. He didn’t just start praying when he was commanded not to pray. And he didn’t stop praying, or even try to hide his prayers. We know the rest of the story. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions and the angel of God shut the lions’ mouths. The angel of God went into the den of lions with Daniel just as the angel of the Lord had gone into the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends. Daniel’s friends were told to do something they shouldn’t do, and they obeyed God and didn’t bow to the image. Daniel was told not to do something he should do, but he continued to pray to his God. Those around you may try to get you to do things you shouldn’t do, but keep following the Lord. If they don’t succeed at that, they may try to keep you from doing the things you should. But again, keep following the Lord. We may feel proud of ourselves for not falling into the temptation to try drugs and alcohol, or shoplifting, or cursing. But are we totally following God’s Word in prayer, and Bible study, and worship?
36. The Lord's Song in a Strange Land
“Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;…The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.” Ezra 2:1 & 64-65
I heard A.F. Blackburn preach from Psalm 137 about 30 years ago and those verses have stood out in my mind ever since. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:1-4) The children of Israel lost their song. Have you come to a place that you have lost your song? Do you feel like you are in a strange land, far away from God? A remnant of the children of Israel returned back to Jerusalem and Judah. The book of Nehemiah also begins, “And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3 & 4) You can go back to God. It may not be easy to restore all the walls in your life that have been broken down. You may have more tears to shed before you find your song. You may have adversaries fighting against you. We read in Nehemiah 4:17 “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” They got very discouraged but look at Ezra 2:65, “…and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.” They escaped from the hand of their enemies and returned back to God, and they once again found their joy and song.
37. Temptation in the Wilderness
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:1-4
Many times when people go through trials and temptation, they feel that they are the only ones to ever go through that wilderness. But Hebrews 4:15 & 16 reminds us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Jesus came down from glory and became man and was tempted just as we are. He was tempted even though He was “full of the Holy Ghost”. He was tempted when He was in the perfect will of God the Father. Don’t think that you are above being tempted. We are all tempted. What can we do to withstand the tempter? We can use the example of our Lord. Jesus knew the scriptures and He quoted them. We need to learn memory verses and use them in times of temptation. Psalm 119:11 tells us, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” I wish I could say that when we overcome temptation Satan would leave us alone. But Luke 4:13 says, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” The devil may leave us for a season, but he doesn’t give up. Learn the scriptures, stay close to God, and go boldly to the throne of grace in prayer.
38. Friends of Jesus in Bethany
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” John 11:1-5
Jesus went to Bethany, to the home of his friends. His love for them was apparent to those around them. We read, “Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:35 & 36) At the grave Jesus told them to take away the stone and they said, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” (John 11:39) Jesus called Lazarus to come forth, and he rose from the dead. Jesus had friends in this home in the town of Bethany. We can also have a friend in Jesus and invite Him into our home. Philippians 3:10 says, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Part 1, “That I may know him…” Do you know Jesus? Mary knew Jesus. Luke 10:39 tells us that Mary “…sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” She also anointed his feet with ointment and dried them with her hair. She listened to His word and worshipped Him. Part 2, “…and the power of his resurrection…” Lazarus knew the power of His resurrection. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25 & 26) Lazarus experienced the power of His resurrection and came out of the tomb “…bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin…” (John 11:44) We, as believers, will also be resurrected from the grave, if we don’t go up in the rapture. Part 3, “…and the fellowship of his sufferings…” Martha knew the fellowship of his labor. Jesus went to the home of his friends, “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42) Are you doing your part to serve the Lord? Do you sit at His feet and worship the Lord? Are you ready to rise up and walk with the Lord through eternity? “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 11:45) Can our friends see the work of Christ in our lives and believe on Him?
39. Seed in the Good Ground
“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up; Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:3-9
Jesus told many parables to the people. He would explain the parables to His close friends and disciples so that they could “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 13:11) In this parable, the seed is the Word of God. When someone hears the Word and doesn’t understand it, “the wicked one” comes and takes away the seed that was sown in his heart. That is the seed that fell by the way side. There are some who come to our churches and sit and listen, but they don’t seem to understand or accept the Word of God. The seed that fell in the stony places is when someone hears the Word with joy, and receives it, but he has no root in himself, and is offended when trials or persecution comes. We have seen people come to church and go to the altar and make a confession of faith. They come to church for a month or two, then like the seed in those stony places, they fall through the cracks and we don’t see them anymore. Next we have the example of those that hear the Word and the “care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:22 & 23) I used to think that our church was the place of the good ground. And my place was right up on one of the front rows, near the altar. But the Holy Spirit showed me Sunday when our pastor was preaching, that those in the good ground bring forth fruit. I hear the Word. I understand the Word. But I’m not fruitful. That was a sad realization. I have let the cares of this world choke out the Word in my life. I get all stressed out at work, wrapped up in the “deceitfulness of riches”, letting it rob me of my joy. I need to get back in the good ground and hear the Word, and bring forth fruit. “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9)
40. Maniac of Gadara
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains… neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,” Mark 5:1-6
My chapter heading says, “The maniac of Gadara”. This man was a maniac because he was filled with many terrible demons, which tried continually to destroy him. But we read in verse 6 that “he ran and worshipped him.” Jesus asked him, “What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.” (Mark 5:9 & 10) I think that the demons had such control over the man, that one of the demons answered Jesus. “Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave…” (Mark 5:11-13) The demons had no power over Jesus. They had to ask His permission to go into the pigs, and they could not until He gave them leave to do so. Continuing with verse 13, “…And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” The people that fed the pigs told all about it in the city and in the country and Matthew 8:34 says “the whole city” went to see what had happened. They saw two thousand pigs floating all about in the water. They saw Jesus. And they saw the man who had the legion, “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:15) They had never seen anything like this before. They had never known anyone with such power. They had two choices. They could have looked at the man and rejoiced and sought healing for their own loved ones. But I think they looked at the swine. Luke 8:37 says “Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.” Those who don’t know our God would have great fear if they saw His power. But as His children, we want to be with Him. “Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.” (Luke 8:38 & 39) Which choice have you made? Have you sent Jesus away? Or do you tell others what great things Christ has done for you?
41. Where are the Children?
“And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnashest with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not… And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.” Mark 9:17-21
My title for this thought is, “Where are the children?” Several years ago there was a television commercial that asked, “Do you know where your children are?” This man brought his son to Jesus because he was demon possessed. When Jesus asked him how long he had been filled with the demon, the man answered, “Of a child.” Matthew 17:18 says, “And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.” Our children are not safe from attacks of Satan. We need to bring our children to Jesus. I know many adults that were raised in church, and taught the gospel. But they have drifted away from God and their children are being raised without the influence of the church. This father pleaded with the Lord, “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (Mark 9:22) The father felt pain for his son. He prayed, “…have compassion on us, and help us.” “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) How many times have we shed tears over the hold Satan has on our children? How many times have we pleaded with the Lord to have compassion on us? Satan is trying to destroy our children. Do you know where your children are? Take them to Jesus.
42. Jesus in our Midst
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” John 20:19 & 20
The disciples thought they had lost a very dear friend. Even though Jesus had told them of His death and resurrection, they didn’t understand. But Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace be unto you.” And they were glad. We had Bible Conference at our church this week, and there were times that we felt Jesus come and stand in our midst. He gave this promise, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) We have been talking about some of the many places mentioned in the Bible. With our vast means of transportation, it is easy to travel to places all over the world. But I am so glad that no matter where we are, even when all the doors around us are shut, Christ comes and stands in our midst. We don’t have to have a large number in our church to worship Him. He said “where two or three are gathered together”. When we gather in His name, He is with us. Jesus gave another promise to the disciples after His resurrection, “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
43. In My Father's House
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3
I mentioned this verse in our opening theme about the many places described in the Bible. And of all the places we have discussed, this is the most blessed. I believe in God and it doesn’t amaze me that He has a heaven full of beautiful mansions. What does amaze me is the fact that He wants us there with Him. Jesus said, “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” We are nothing, and Christ is everything. We have nothing, and God has everything. Let’s continue, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:4-6) There is only one Way that leads to heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way. Preacher Allen Gullick was at our Bible Conference last week and he spoke on being a part of the family of God. There are three ways you can become a part of someone’s family. First, you can be born into a family. When we accept the fact that we are sinners, lost, and on our way to hell and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Savior, and confess our sins, we are born again into the family of God. Secondly, you can be adopted into a family. Just as we are born again through Jesus Christ, the Son, we are adopted by God the Father and we become heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. Thirdly, you can be married into a family. Through the Holy Spirit, the church is the Bride of Christ. We read in Revelation 21:9 & 10, “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” And John goes on the describe the twelve gates of pearl and the streets of gold. We read the last recorded words of our Savior in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I come quickly.” Are you headed to that city? Christ wants you to be with Him. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)