1. God Is Great!
"18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
19 And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?
20 And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant.
21 For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.
22 Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears." II Samuel 7:18-22
King David wanted to build a house for God, but God told David that He would build a house for David. This caused David to say, "Who am I, O Lord GOD?" David recognized the greatness of God and worshipped Him as the one and only God. Do we acknowledge the greatness of God in our worship? We teach our children this little prayer, "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him, for our food. By His hands we are fed. Give us Lord our daily bread." As children we learn that God is great, but do we remember His greatness as we grow into adults? I want to spend a few weeks looking at some of the great things in the Bible, and there is no greater place to start than our great God!
2. The Temple Was Great Because God Is Great!
"And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods." II Chronicles 2:5
I was reading this past week in II Chronicles and when I came to this verse I thought about how great our God is! Many think of the temple built by King Solomon as being great, with the detailed carvings, the blue, purple, and crimson woven linen, and the abundance of gold and precious stones. The Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance and was amazed by all she saw in Jerusalem. Yes, it was great, but even King Solomon realized why it was great. "And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods." It was great because God is great! The greatness of the temple did not come from King Solomon. King David gave his son the pattern, or blueprints, for the temple, as the Spirit had shown him. King David gathered all the supplies needed for the temple, and even appointed the workers. "Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God. Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance." (I Chronicles 29:1-2) Yet, King David recognized the greatness and majesty of his God. He acknowledged that all he had came from God. The temple was great, because God is great!
"10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.
16 O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own." (II Chronicles 2:10-16)
3. The Great Mighty God Of Creation
"Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:" Jeremiah 32:17-19
My Bible begins, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) and I have no trouble believing it. I can say with Jeremiah, "Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:" God, in His great power and might created the heaven and earth. God even created those things we don't see, as we read in Colossians 1:16-17, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Things happen in our lives that bring worry and doubt to our weak minds. We need to stop and think about the truth of the matter. If God, (and He did), had power to create the vast universe and all that is therein, doesn't He have the power, (yes, He does), to keep our personal little universe from tumbling down? If God made us in His image, (and He did), where is our faith in the Great Physician? If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, (Psalm 50:10), and He cares for us, then why do we worry about having enough to eat? Why do we fear the storms when we know the One who walks on the water and can calm the wind with these words, "Peace, be still"? In our reference above Jeremiah says, "...there is nothing too hard for thee." If we continue in the same chapter we see God's reply. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27) Put your trust in the great God of all creation and believe. There is nothing too hard for God!
4. Our Great God Answers In Great And Mighty Ways!
"Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:2-3
I serve a great God who hears and answers my prayers! Jeremiah 33:3 is very special to me, tested and tried without fail. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." It is amazing that God loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. He doesn't forget about us once He saves us, He watches over us and hears and answers our prayers. There are several verses praising God for hearing our prayers. "I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah." (Psalm 3:4) "LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:" (Psalm 10:17) "In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears." (Psalm 18:6) Just as God pleads with His people to call unto Him in Jeremiah, we see His challenge in Malachi 3:10. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." The Lord Jesus reminds us to pray in Matthew 7:7-8. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." We serve a great God!
5. God's Great Mercy
"For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell." Psalm 86:13
"For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him." Psalm 103:11
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" Titus 3:5
Mercy and grace, the unmerited gifts of God on those who believe on Him and call on His name. God gives mercy, that means that He does not give me what I deserve. We are born into this world, lost and hopeless. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;... For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 3:23 and 6:23) God's mercy means that God does not give us the death and punishment we deserve for our sin. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:8-9) Grace, on the other hand, is God giving us what we don't deserve, salvation. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9, 10, and 13) We can call on the Lord and find mercy and grace. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) These are wonderful truths we find in God's Holy Word. We can be saved by His great, wonderful mercy and grace, if we ask Him before it is too late. Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Paradise. The rich man died and lifted up his eyes in torment. "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." (Luke 16:24-26) His time of mercy had passed. It was too late. We shall all fall before God. Don't wait until it is too late to beg God for mercy. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (Romans 14:11) Trust in the Lord and you can say with David, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalm 23:6)
6. God's Great Love
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
There are many types of love. There is friendship love which we have towards our friends. Women today have what they describe as "Sister Love" which goes beyond physical sisterhood. There is the great depth of love I have for my husband of 35 years which grows stronger through the years. I have experienced what some view as the greatest love, called "A Mother's Love." Now, I even know the love that a grandparent has for grandchildren. All of these can be wonderful to experience, but there is a love greater than these. God's love is the greatest of all. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." We learn of this love in the familiar verse, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We can't understand the fullness of God's love. He loved us when we were unlovely. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8) Have you accepted God's great gift of love? He is patiently waiting for you to receive His great gift of love. Once you ask the Lord to save you, and you accept His salvation for your soul, you will be filled with God's love and know the joy that comes from being His child.
7. God's Great Faithfulness
"21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:21-26
Lamentations is the book written by the Prophet Jeremiah, often called "The Weeping Prophet." In the midst of the sorrow and sadness of God's judgement on His children, we see these words of hope. What brings this message of hope to the weary prophet? "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." (Lamentations 3:22-24) Jeremiah declares "...great is thy faithfulness." God is faithful! Moses taught this truth to the Children of Israel. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;" (Deuteronomy 7:9) We may not be children of Abraham, but we can put our trust in God's faithfulness.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (I Corinthians 1:9)
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."( I Corinthians 10:13)
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)
"But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil." (II Thessalonians 3:3)
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war." (Revelation 19:11)
8. God Is Great In His Holiness
"The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved. The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy." Psalm 99:1-3
There is nothing higher than God's holiness. God, Himself said that He swore by His holiness. "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah." (Psalm 89:34-37) When Moses stood on holy ground he hid his face from God.
"1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." (Exodus 3:1-6)
We can also see how Isaiah reacted to the holiness of God.
"1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:1-5)
When we see how great God is in His holiness, we see how low we really are. Something else I notice about God's holiness is that it is the only attribute of God that I know of, that we are told to be like. We are never told to be all powerful, or given all knowledge, but we are told to be holy. "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (I Peter 1:15-16)
9. "Great Was The Fall Of It"
"21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:21-27
I was thinking this week about all the great works we can do. Each day I try to follow God's Word. To begin with, I pray. As soon as I wake up, and before I even get out of bed, I pray. Then I read my Bible. That's what God wants us to do, right? Saturday, our youth met to invite the church neighborhood to our upcoming youth jubilee. So, let's put, I invite, for our third entry. Next, I do what's right. I try to obey the Ten Commandments, make the right choices, I even floss my teeth from time to time. Finally, I try to encourage others. Now, let's review our list.
I Read my Bible.
I Invite others to church.
I Do what's right.
I Encourage others.
Some may think we could add sides and steps and make this a ladder of good deeds to climb our way to heaven. But, do you know it won't work that way. We read in Romans 3:10, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" We can not get to heaven by our good works. Look at the list again and see if you can tell what is wrong.
Each of our good deeds begins with "I". Another clue of the problem can be seen by taking the first letter of each good deed. P-R-I-D-E! All of these things are good positive things Christians should do, but we must be careful that we are not doing these things out of PRIDE. Let's look at our verses above. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." It is sad to think that there are people who are doing things in the name of the Lord, but they don't know the Lord.
Look at what the Lord said, "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." This reminds me of Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." We can't work our way to heaven. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6) "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5) When we think we can get to heaven by our own works we are letting our pride tell us we don't need the Lord. If you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then it is wonderful to pray, read your Bible, invite others, do right, and encourage one another. Just remember that if you are trusting on these things to get you to heaven, then great will be the fall of it!
10. The Lord Marveled At His Great Faith!
"5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour." Matthew 8:5-13
Preacher John Lancaster preached from this text at church Sunday night and it was very good. He spoke on the people of the text. Jesus is the Righteous One. We see the Repentant One in the centurion's statement, "I am not worthy..." Jesus speaks of the Religious Ones in verses 11 and 12 who do not trust the Lord as the only Way to heaven. And verse 13 gives us the Restored One. I won't go into the details of his message, but I want us to think about the question he asked. "What does it take for the Lord to marvel?" or "What makes the Lord marvel?" Let's look at verse 10. "When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." A centurion was a Roman Commander over 100 people. He was a man of authority and he recognized the Lord's authority. The Lord marvelled at his great faith. As we leave this account, let's once again as the question, "What makes the Lord marvel?" We can find a different situation in the book of Mark.
"1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." (Mark 6:1-6)
These two different accounts make us realize that we need to take a look at our own lives. Do we have such great faith that the Lord would marvel at our faith? Or, does He marvel at our unbelief?
11. "How Great Is The Sum Of Them!"
"How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." Psalm 139:17-18
It has been a long time since I took math classes in school, but I do remember that the sum of something is the total after everything is added together. In this lovely Psalm David tells us some of the ways that the Lord God thinks of us. First David proclaims that God knows us more than we can even understand.
"1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." (Psalm 139:1-6)
Then he explains how the Lord knows where we are, and He is always with us.
"7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." (Psalm 139:7-12)
God knew us before we were even born into this world.
"13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." (Psalm 139:13-16)
When we consider all these ways that the Lord God Almighty knows us and thinks of us, we can say with David, "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." (Psalm 139:17-18) When you look out at the sand on the shore, you can see that there are too many grains to count. And that is just the top surface. God's thoughts for us are not just on the surface of our lives, but they run deep into our inner most being. David says, "...when I awake, I am still with thee." He knows that God does not "slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4, but He keeps us in His thoughts even while we sleep.
12. A Great Fish
"Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Jonah 1:17
Mike and I went down to the beach for a couple of nights and we went out into the waves like we used to do when the kids were with us. As we stepped into the water I would pray, "Lord, please protect us from the things we can't see." And Mike added, "And the things we can." I have seen pictures of great big fish that have been caught and I believe there are many more "that got away" still left in the waters. I know the story of Jonah. I believe the story of Jonah. I don't think it was a parable, I believe that it really happened. Jesus even spoke of it in Matthew 12:40. "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." God prepared this great fish, or whale, to swallow Jonah and after three days he spit him out on dry ground. We can find three more things in the little book of Jonah that God prepared. "And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:6-8) God "prepared" these things to get Jonah where He wanted him to be. God called Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh, the enemy of Israel. If would be hard to go to the heart of such a wicked people and tell them God is going to judge them. We often have a hard time giving our friends and family this message. Jonah may have also wanted God to judge and destroy Nineveh, so that the Assyrians would not be able to destroy Israel. For whatever reason, when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah went in the opposite direction. He thought he could run and hide from God. God sent the storm into his life, and prepared a great fish to put Jonah where He wanted him to be. Jonah got angry, but God wanted to spare the children of Nineveh. There were 120,000 people in Nineveh who did not know right from left. "And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. 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 4:8-11) God may prepare great storms to come into our lives to get us where He wants us to be. He can use the great things in our lives, to lead others to Christ.
13. From A Great Storm To A Great Calm
"35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Mark 4:35-41
We saw how God can prepare "Great" things in your life to get you where He wants you to be. Jonah ended up in the storm, and eventually in the belly of the whale because he was out of God's will. Today, we see that the disciples were in God's will, they were actually in the boat with Jesus and the storm still came! Not all storms are sent because we are out of God's will. Jesus was asleep in the boat when the storms came but when they called on Him to save them, He said, "Peace, be still" and there was a great calm. When you feel those storm clouds start rolling in, call on the Lord. My daughter sings a song which says that sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms me. Call on the Lord and He can bring peace in the storm. He can bring a great calm to the storm, or He can bring a great calm to your soul.
14. God's Great Power
"1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies." Nahum 1:1-8
God sent Jonah to Nineveh. ("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." Jonah 1:1-2) The people repented of their wickedness and God had mercy and did not destroy them at that time. The change of heart did not last. About 150 years later God sent another message against Nineveh. Nahum tells them that "the Lord is slow to anger", but that He is also "great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked." Nahum warns of God's great power, but also reminds the Children of Israel that "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." When I did some research on Nineveh for our Bible Study two years ago I discovered some interesting information. The Assyrian capital was surrounded by great clay brick walls and also protected from invasion by the river. The ancient city was discovered in the 1800's and among the finds was a library of clay tablets which expounded on the destructive and horrific feats of the wicked Assyrian conquerers. Sennacherib went up against the Children of Israel during the days of King Hezekiah.
"11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?
12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?
13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?
14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
16 LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.
17 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,
18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only." (II Kings 19:11-19)
God heard the prayer of Hezekiah, "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." (II Kings 19:35)
A hundred years later the city of Nineveh was destroyed as Nahum prophesied. "But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies." (Nahum 1:8) "The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved." (Nahum 2:6) Their great river of protection flooded and melted the clay brick wall giving their enemies access into their great city, which was burned and destroyed, never to rise again. "The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:..." (Nahum 1:3)
15. Great Peace
"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165
Do you have the peace of God in your heart? The sinfulness of this world seems to be taking individuals farther and farther away from the peace of God. I am here to tell you today that even in the midst of troubles, trials, and storms we can have great peace in our souls. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) David, who knew what it was like to be pursued by his enemies, knew the peace that only God can bring. "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8) The angels brought the message of peace at the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14) The Prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the coming of The Prince of Peace many years before. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Before the Lord was crucified He promised to send The Comforter, to give us peace. "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:25-27) How can we have this peace? It comes only by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we recognize that we are lost in sin and on our way to hell it brings fear and sorrow to our inner being.. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) That is the convicting power of the Holy Ghost speaking to our hearts. We can then confess our sin to the Lord and ask Him to forgive our sin. At that moment, the peace of God floods our soul. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1) As we walk with the Lord daily, and put our trust in Him, we have that deep settled peace that passes all understanding. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
16. A Great Door Is Open
"5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." I Corinthians 16:5-9
There are many "great" things in the Bible and today we see one that we can say is still great in our day and age. Paul told the believers in his letter that "...a great door and effectual is opened unto me,..." If Paul saw his part in sharing the gospel as a great and effectual door, then what would he say today. I don't know how he traveled on his missionary journeys. Maybe by foot, or donkey, sometimes by ship, as we learn from his accounts of being shipwrecked. He was even transported as a prisoner and chained to guards. Through the hardships of the day, and there were hardships, as we see in verse 9, "...and there are many adversaries" he could still say "a great door and effectual is opened unto me". With all the modern conveniences of communication we have today, we should be able to say like Paul, "a great door" is opened. We have printed tracts and literature we can hand out to share the gospel message. We can support missionaries, or become one, through our prayers and financial support. Many carry cell phones in their pockets and even communicate through the internet from various locations. The gospel message could be shared on your homepage or favorite apps. I enjoy working on this devotional web site and consider it "a great door" opened to share the gospel message. The tracking information shows that this gospel travels all across the world, any where there is access to the internet. God has given me "a great door" to share His Word. It is my prayer that those who read this site will share the Word with others and God will be glorified. Look around you and see what doors are opened to you. You can start in your home with your family and friends. You can share God's Word with your neighbors. When God opens a door for you, don't be afraid to go through and be a witness for His glory.
17. Jesus Has Compassion For The Great Multitudes
"14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
22 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.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." Matthew 14:14-23
Hello, July. Half of 2013 is already passed and time seems to go faster than ever. This month brings many people in North Carolina onto new ground. The emergency unemployment funds in North Carolina ended in June, leaving many in our state without any money coming in. I know several people who have lost their jobs and been unable to find new jobs in our slow economy. Companies close, sometimes without notice to their employees, and people find themselves with no income, but the bills keep coming. It has been two years since I lost my job and I thank the Lord that my husband still has his job. We try to keep our faith in the Lord and praise Him for providing our needs. In our scriptures above we see a great multitude following Jesus, and they have needs, as many do today. In verse 14 we see that many were sick, and Jesus was moved with compassion, and healed them. In the next verses we see that they were also hungry. They had come to hear Jesus speak to them and they had been spiritually filled, but they also needed physical nourishment. Jesus fed them. We may think of this as one of the greatest miracles in the Bible, but I know my Lord and how He has provided for my family through the years and I believe that He has been performing miracles and providing food for His children since the beginning of time. Have you ever thought about the creation, and how God created the Garden of Eden, and everything man would need before He created Adam and Eve? Do you remember how God rained down bread from heaven and fed the Children of Israel with manna for forty years in the wilderness? You may say, well that was a great multitude of people but I am so small for God to care about me. In First Kings 17 God commanded the ravens to feed Elijah. God guided Ruth to the fields of Boaz to glean and provided far more than Naomi ever expected. I see so many today, family and friends, who have needs and I don't have any power to help them. But I know someone who can. I can't provide a shelter for the homeless or feed those who lost their jobs, but I serve a God who can work miracles. Do you need a miracle in your life today? Half the year has passed and the clocks keep ticking. Don't wait any longer to trust the Lord as your Savior. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to God and accept His gift of salvation. Then, hear the words of Jesus...
"25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:25-33)
18. Great Fear Or Great Things?
"26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.
27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not...
32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.
35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
36 They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
37 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.
38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 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 8:26-28 and 32-29
As we see in this scripture reference, even the devils are subject to the authority of Jesus Christ! When Jesus granted their request to enter into the pigs, the whole herd ran down the steep mountain into the sea. You may wonder why the big commotion when a few pigs ran down the mountain. Mark 5:13 tells us there were about two thousand pigs that drowned in the sea. That would cause a commotion even in our day! What happened next? "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." The people did not know the Lord and "they were taken with great fear." But, look at the man whom Jesus helped. "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." He knows the Lord. He doesn't have great fear. Instead, he tells everyone he meets "throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him." God can still work miracles in our lives. He has not changed. Those who don't know the Lord have a great fear of what the Lord God can do. I think that is why different groups of people protest so strongly about anything done in the name of Jesus. That is why they try to take Christ out of Christmas. They have a great fear of what God can do. But those who know the Lord can tell what great things God has done for us. Which of these "greats" apply to you? Do you have a great fear of the Lord, or do you tell what great things He has done for you? "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad." (Psalm 126:3)
19. More Great Things
"1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3 And it came to pass at the seven years' end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land.
4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.
5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.
6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now." II Kings 8:1-6
Elisha poured water on the hands of the great prophet Elijah (II Kings 3:11). When Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven in a chariot of fire with horses of fire, he told Elisha to ask what he could do for him. Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. God answered that request and used Elisha to do many miracles, even raising the dead. Gehazi was his servant and we see in our scripture reference above that the king said, "Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done." God was able to accomplish "great things" through Elisha, His faithful servant. Second Kings 13:20-21 tells of a miracle even after Elisha died. "And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet." This faithful prophet was able to do "great things" in serving the Lord. David also did "great things" for the Lord. "Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place." (I Samuel 26:25) When we look around today do we see anyone doing "great things" for the Lord? Let's continue with our scriptures from II Kings 2:9-14.
"9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over."
Elisha said, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" Today we look around and ask, "Where are the Elijah's and Elisha's of the Lord God?" Is anyone willing to step up and ask for a double portion of the Spirit so he or she can do "great things" for God?
20. A Great Nation
"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: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3
God promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation. The Children of Israel went down into the land of Egypt and even under the great bondage they grew into a large nation. God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. After 40 years they are ready to enter the Promised Land and Moses reminds the people how God has led them. He also warns them to keep the law of God and follow His commandments.
"5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;" (Deuteronomy 4:5-9)
Israel was a great nation, but they strayed from God and served idols.
I live in America and this nation was started on Bible principals. Through leaders who believed, worshipped, and served the true and living God, our nation grew and became a great nation. As America turns away from God I fear that our nation is in trouble from the sinfulness that abounds across our country. We need to turn back to God, the God who blessed America. Christians need to stand for what's right and pray that God will forgive the sins of America and turn our people back to God.
21. "Great Men Are Not Always Wise"
"6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:6-9
I just finished my reading in the book of Job and I can agree with Job when he said, "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all." (Job 16:2) Elihu must have shared Job's summation, and when he could sit quietly by no longer he said, "Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." In celebrating our nation's independence we think back on many great men and women who helped shape this great country. If you took a survey of great men and women of our day and age how many Christians would make the list? Mike showed me a list on the internet yesterday of celebraties who are atheists. I knew some of the fifteen men and women on the list, and even liked some of the movies they made. But as I read the coments they made about God I thought of this verse from the book of Job, "Great men are not always wise..." In fact, twice in the book of Psalms David said, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." (Psalm 14:1) There are many men and women in this world who are great in the eyes of the people. They have wealth and fame and may have accomplished great things, but if they say there is no God, the Bible says they are fools. This does not just apply to celebrities in the realm of movies and sports, but also to the doctors, lawyers, scientists, and men and women with great educational degrees. No matter how many years they spent learning in their field of expertise, if they say there is no God, they are fools. People who think of themselves as being great lift themselves up in pride to the point that they don't need God, and may eventually question the existence of God. Look at what Jesus said about the rich. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24) (He did not say it was impossible, as we have the examples of Abraham, Job, Zacchaeus, and Joseph of Arimathaea who were rich.) We see some of these "great men and women" in the last days in the book so Revelation 6:13-17.
"13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
22. A Great Gulf Fixed
"19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Luke 16:19-31
I have been in church all my life and in those years I have heard many, many messages from this section of scripture. The verses explain this very sad, but true, story of a rich man and Lazarus. We know this was something that really happened because Jesus never used names in the parables. I want to focus on verse 26, "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." "There is a great gulf fixed..." The rich man had all the world had to offer in clothes and food while Lazarus was a poor beggar who laid at his gate. The time came for them to die, as it will come to each one of us. The rich man found himself in the torments of hell, but Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom and a great gulf separated them. In our world today there are people who believe in the true God and trust Jesus to save them from their sin debt. There are also people who do not believe in God and they will not escape the torments of hell without the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. The difference may not be apparent in their lives on earth. I think this rich man was a religious man because he used the title, "father Abraham". But in reality, there was a great gulf between the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus trusted in the Lord and the rich man did not really know the Lord. There is a great gulf today and every person is on one side or the other. All have sinned and we can't stand in the presence of God in our sin. Jesus carried our sins on His Holy sinless body to the cross to pay for our sin. But we must believe and accept His gift of salvation. Believers are on the heaven bound side of the great gulf. Those who try to make it on their own by their good works, and those who don't believe in the Lord as their Savior, and even those who just never take the time to be saved are on the tormented side of the great gulf. The Lord could call all His children home today. Which side of the great gulf are you on?
23. "How Shall We Escape, If We Neglect So Great Salvation?"
"1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;" Hebrews 2:1-3
As we continue with our look at "Great Things In The Bible" we come to a great question. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Before we talk about what we do to be saved, let's look at what we do to be lost. What do we do to be lost? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We hear the salvation message explaining that we are lost in sin, and the penalty is death. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;... For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:32 and 6:23) Verse 1 above warns, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." If you have not given heed to the warning, and you just let the message slip from your mind, then you are still lost. Moving on to verse 2, "For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;" In the Old Testament the angels were often sent to send judgment on those who sinned against the law, but now we have the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Jesus answered, 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) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18) Not only was the gospel of salvation given by the Lord Jesus, it was confirmed by the disciples and those that heard Him. Today, it is confirmed by those who believe on the Lord as their personal Savior and tell others about this great salvation. Now, back to our question, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" The answer is, we won't escape if we continue to ignore God's precious gift, just drifting along as a boat ready to go over the falls. Please don't turn Him away any longer.
24. Great Thrones
"Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold." II Chronicles 9:17
King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord God Jehovah, but as God would not let him build the temple, he gathered all the wood, gold, silver, and precious stones for his son to build the great temple. King Solomon built the temple for the Lord God Almighty, then he built his palace, complete with a gold throne. The next two verses describe the throne in greater detail. "And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom." (II Chronicles 9:18-19) The Queen of Sheba, and most likely great people from all kingdoms, went to see the great beauty of King Solomon's temple and palace. There are manmade sights in our world today that people travel from all over the world to see. We just came back from vacation at one of the world's "great" spots to visit. As I watched the multitudes of people I thought how for many of them, that would be the highlight of their life. We had a good time, but I am glad that I know the Great King who rules the world from His great throne. Nothing this world has to offer could compare with the Holy King of Kings who rules from His great throne.
"1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:1-11)
25. "So Great A Cloud Of Witnesses"
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2
I like this verse. Our youth performed a short skit using this verse a few years back. (Bible News Broadcast Play) The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to run our race as an Olympian, lay aside the weights and sin which slow us down and run a steady pace, with our heavenly goal in sight. As the runners took their places to begin the great race, I believe the spectators filled the stands to witness the race. This great crowd cheered on the runners to a great finish. That is how I see this verse, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,..." Who is this great cloud of witnesses? We can find this answer by looking at the preceding chapter, Hebrews 11. There we find the heroes of faith, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the list goes on. It is a wonderful chapter of countless examples of men and women who kept the faith and finished their course. Their faith is recorded in God's Holy Word to cheer us on and encourage us to keep the faith and finish our course. We can move ahead in time to the great preachers of the past and great men and women who served the Lord during good times and bad, paving the way for those who followed. We can think of grandparents, and aunts and uncles, maybe even parents who lived for the Lord and have finished their course. Let their faith and endurance be a witness to you to keep on keeping on for the Lord. Don't quit. Keep the faith and finish your course, looking unto Jesus. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
26. Facing The Great Giants In Our Lives
"23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 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.
28 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.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 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.
31 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.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." Portions of Numbers 13:23-33
The Children of Israel rejioced when they saw their enemies, Pharaoh's army, destroyed in the Red Sea. God had brought them out of Egypt with mighty wonders and was ready to lead them into the Promised Land. Moses sent the twelve spies, as the Lord had commanded, to search out the land. All except for Joshua and Caleb discouraged the people by complaining about the giants of great stature in the land. The people were quick to forget the strong arm of the Lord who had promised them the land and was able to give them the land. Instead of looking to God, they looked at the giants they were facing. I am not belittling the Children of Israel. Deuteronomy 3:11 tells us of a giant whose bed was 9 cubits (about 13 1/2 feet) long. Goliath, whom David killed with a sling and a stone, was 6 cubits and a span (about 9 1/2 feet tall). (I Samuel 17:4) II Samuel 21:20 also tells of a giant of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. It would be a challenge for the sports stars of our day to play against these guys, but imagine going against them while they were carrying spears in their hands and each had an armour bearer carrying his shield. The Israelites didn't trust God and He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until all the adults had died except for Joshua and Caleb.
What about the giants that we face in our lives today? They come in all types, but they are all like mountains before our eyes and we see ourselves as grasshoppers. I have seen loved ones destroyed by the giants of drug addiction. Your financial delima may be pressing you under its heavy load. You may have physical or psychological problems of gigantic proportions. You may live or work with the giants in your life and see no hope of escape. What can we do when overwhelmed by the giants in our lives? My heart breaks to see the pain and suffering that some of my loved ones are facing. But I am helpless. I can't give them victory. But I know a God who can! God is higher than any giant we may face.
"6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:6-9)
I close with one of my favorite verses found in Jeremiah 33:3. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
27. Which Is The Greatest Commandment?
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:35-40
God gave Moses and the children of Israel Ten Commandments written in stone. The very first one is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:3-6) As God was giving Moses the law, the people were making an idol to worship. The children of Israel could not keep all the commandments so they offered sacrifices to pay for their sin. After the many years under the leadership of Moses, Joshua was chosen to lead the people. The 24th chapter of Joshua gives his last charge to the people before his death. "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good." (Joshua 24:19 & 20) Joshua tried to warn the children of Israel. We also cannot keep all the commandments and the law. Jesus came to be our sacrifice and sin-offering. We are not under the law, but under grace. But we still serve a holy, jealous God and we should put Him first and love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. That is our first and greatest commandment.
28. Youth Jubilee - A Great Congregation
"My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him." Psalm 22:25
"I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people." Psalm 35:18
"I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." Psalm 40:9-10
We are having our Youth Jubilee again this week and what a blessing it is! Pastors and church youth groups come from some neighboring states for a week of morning and evening worship services. The neighboring churches of our community help with the services and help prepare the meals for this "great congregation". It takes a lot of work and preparation, and cooperation when you host such a great number of young people. I praise the Lord that He can bring us all together to share the gospel message to these kids and young adults. It is worth all the effort to hear them sing praises to our God and watch them sit attentively in the hot summer weather. It is rewarding to see many come back year after year and watch them grow in the Lord. In these three Psalms we see that David was a great witness for God "in the great congregation." "My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation... I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people." I like that way he begins 40:9, ""I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest." "O LORD, thou knowest." God knows the work of all those who are in the background making this week go smoothly. One of the workers in the kitchen today told me that last year she was undergoing cancer treatments and was not able to help, and this year she is so glad to be able to serve these kids another year. God knows the joy she has in her heart as she does this great work for Him. I praise God for all the preachers and singers who are in front preaching righteousness, and praising God in the great congregation. But, I thank Him even more for all those who are quietly serving Him with a pure heart and pray the He will bless them for their faithful service.
29. Youth Jubilee - A Great Work
"1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)
2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?
4 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner." Nehemiah 6:1-4
I enjoy reading the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and even devoted a whole series on the theme, "A Time To Build". Nehemiah was serving in Shushan the palace as the king's cupbearer when he became burdened for Jerusalem. The king gave him leave to return and rebuild the walls of that great city that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. He returned and encouraged the people to build the walls, but not without opposition. "Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 2:18-20) He did not let the ridicule stop their "good work". "Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Nehemiah 4:3) The enemies did not give up. They became angry and fought against the builders of the wall. The workers were also hindered by greed of their own people in chapter 5. Through all the opposition they stayed faithful in building the wall and we come to my key verse in Nehemiah 6:3. "And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" Nehemiah would not let the enemies hinder him from doing the "great work". We are coming to a close with our Youth Jubilee and God has done a great work among the young people. They heard preaching to teach them, strengthen them, warn them, and help them through rough times when they are faced with the enemies and troubles of this world. Some came to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior and received His gift of salvation into their hearts. Many things in this world could have hindered the work this week, but because the workers stood together in unity, this "great work" was indeed a "great work"!
30. Youth Jubilee - A Great Vision
"Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength." Daniel 10:8
I don't usually use scripture out of context for our devotional study, but today I want to lift out three words, "this great vision" from this verse. (Chapter 10 of the book of Daniel is an amazing chapter and I hope that you will take time to read it. Daniel saw a great vision, and it was real, so real that the demons fought for three weeks to keep him from being shown the vision of the end of time.) We have the Word of God and I don't think men and women are shown true to life visions as are recorded in the book of Daniel. But we can have a vision, or maybe "envision" would be a better term, to see something good for the future. We can see an example in Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." For a people, community or nation, to thrive there must be a vision in the eyes of the leaders. I believe someone said at Youth Jubilee this week that this annual meeting began in 1998. Some men of God had a vision and decided to bring the young people of their churches together for a week of Bible preaching, singing, and fellowship for the glory of God. Our church has been sponsoring the Youth Jubilee since 2006 and many of the area churches have joined hands to help keep the vision alive and growing. It is a blessing to watch the Holy Spirit move among the people and see these young people glorify God. We don't know the impact this one-week meeting has on the lives of those who attend. I pray that the individuals who have been helped this week will carry the gospel message back to their homes and continue to let God use their lives for His glory. The young people today are bombarded with so many more problems and temptations than our generation had to face. We are all unsure about what the future holds, and our young people need to learn to seek God and depend on His Word for guidance. I thank the Lord for those few who had a vision in 1996 to see God move through the youth. I also thank Him that He has kept the vision alive and allowed me to share in that vision. I pray that He will continue to receive all glory and honor in the Youth Jubilee for many years to come.
31. Youth Jubilee - Our Great Shepherd
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21
During our morning services of Youth Jubilee last week Preacher Mike Soop preached from the 23rd Psalm. His theme for the week was, "The Lord Is My Shepherd, Is He Yours?" He talked about the importance of the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd and taught the kids a little song, "I Just Want To Be A Sheep Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba". It was a great week and I pray that as the youth sing that little song they will ask the question, "The Lord is my Shepherd, is He yours?"
Our verses above tell of the resurrection of our Great Shepherd. We can read more about our Good Shepherd in John 10.
"7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:7-15)
32. A Great Light
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Isaiah 9:2
"The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." Matthew 4:16
Yesterday I mentioned that the theme of the morning services for Jubilee was the 23rd Psalm. In particular, "The Lord Is My Shepherd, Is He Yours?" Today I want to look at verse 4. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." We see the "shadow of death" also mentioned in the two verses above. How can we have peace in the shadow of death? There is only one way. We have seen a great light. In the beginning of creation, light was the first thing God created. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness." (Genesis 1:1-4) God knew we needed light in the darkness. The book of John explains that the Lord is our Light.
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:1-9)
We also read in John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If you are tired of walking in darkness and you are afraid to go through the shadow of death, then come to the Light. Ask the Lord to save you and shine His Light upon you.
33. God's Great Goodness
"Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!" Psalm 31:19
I want to look at the 23rd Psalm one more time this week and repeat the theme of our morning Jubilee services, "The Lord Is My Shepherd, Is He Yours?" This is such a beautiful Psalm, let's read the entire chapter.
"1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
Today we are going to talk about God's Great Goodness. The Good Shepherd is good to the sheep. I can say from experience that God is good to me! He has been good to me in the past. He provides my needs, as in the first verse. He gives me peace and rest beside the still waters as in verse 2. He leads me "in the paths of righteousness". He gives me light in the dark shadows. Verse 5 reminds us that He feeds us and supplies our every need. Yes, the Lord has been so good to me! The kids sang this little song each morning, "I just want to be a sheep, Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba. I just want to be a sheep, Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba. I pray the Lord my soul to keep, I just want to be a sheep, Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba." I have to say, I am glad to be a sheep in His pasture. God is good!
34. Great Joy
"4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:4-14
You may recognize these familiar scriptures from Luke 2 as the Christmas story. We are moving right along from God's Great Goodness to Great Joy. You can only know real joy if you know the Great Shepherd, and have come to His Great Light, and accepted His plan of Great Salvation. We have looked at so many wonderful great things found in God's Word over the past few weeks. If you know the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior then you know the joy only He can give. The angel proclaimed "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The wise men rejoiced with great joy. "When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:9-11) We do not find the phrase "great joy" in the New Testament again until after the resurrection of Christ in the last chapters of Matthew and Luke. "And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." (Matthew 28:8) "And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:" (Luke 24:52) Jesus Christ brought great joy to the world at His first coming. He brought great joy to His followers after His resurrection. And Jude reminds us that we will have joy when we come into Him presence. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)
35. Great Gain
"6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." I Timothy 6:6-12
Several verses are shown above to give an enlightened explanation, but the main verse I want to use is verse 6, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." So many today are looking for great gain in this world. Some are willing to rob, cheat, or steal to get rich. Some play the lottery or bet against the odds for their chance of winning. While some hard working people are willing to put in excessive hours to make more and more money. Verse 5 of this chapter seems to indicate that those who were rich in Paul's days were thought to be blessed because they were godly. "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." Paul is telling young Timothy that material gain does not indicate godliness. "But godliness with contentment is great gain." He exhorts Timothy to live godly and be content with what the good Lord gives and that would be great gain. I close with these words of our Lord found in Matthew 16:26-27. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."
36. Samson's Great Strength
"2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.
4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known." Judges 16:2-9
When I was just a small child I used to look at the pictures in the big family Bible and I thought the picture of Samson pulling down the pillars was one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Samson was chosen as a servant of God before he was born. "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." (Judges 13:3-5) The enemies of the Israelites, the Philistines, used Delilah to learn the secret of his great strength. Let's continue with this sad story...
"14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.
15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." (Judges 16:14-20)
That last sentence shows us the real sorrow of this story. "And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." His great strength was not in his long hair. He broke all the commands of the Nazarite vow, and after the last one, the Lord departed from him. Samson's life had a tragic end. The scriptures tell us how we can follow the Lord and have great strength in the Lord. "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." (Deuteronoly 31:6) "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." (Ephesians 6:10)
37. "Faith, Hope, Charity,... The Greatest Of These Is Charity"
"1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." I Corinthians 13:1-13
I have often heard this referred to as "The Love Chapter". These verses are very clear and to the point, that anything we do is nothing unless we do it in love. This is our final great verse. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Charity is love given without anything expected in return. How important is love? In some of His parting words, Jesus said, "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:33-35) Can those around you tell that you are a Christian by your love? We need faith, and we need hope, but the greatest of these is love.
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (I John 4:7-11)