1. Winter Turns To Spring
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Genesis 8:22
February has been cold, bitterly cold, and I have had enough ice and snow. I am ready for spring! As we go into March I am reminded of the saying I learned as a child, "March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb." Well, it does seem to be coming in like a lion. The winds can be fierce and the cold air can sting and bite from the tip of your nose to the bottom of your toes. The good thing to think about is that winter doesn't last all year. After the flood God promised Noah, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." So, hang in there and try to stay warm, because in about four more months we will be in the midst of summer and you may be wishing for some relief from the heat.
2. The Word Of God Is Like A Burning Fire
"Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" Jeremiah 23:29
I had already decided on this topic, "In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb," for our new theme, so when Pastor Tripp preached Sunday night on "Staying Warm In The Cold" he gave me the first few ideas for our new devotionals. The prophet Jeremiah preached God's Word to His people and over and over we are told that they refused to listen. The priests, the prophets, the princes, and the people all stood against Jeremiah and he finally decided to keep still. "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." (Jeremiah 20:9) The most familiar example would be when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
"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)
God Jehovah, the great I AM, that would lead His children out of the bondage of Egypt, first spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Moses took off his shoes and hid his face, for he was on holy ground. Many today have lost the reverence for God's Word and their hearts have grown cold. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24:12) Let's turn back to God's precious Word and let it warm our cold hearts.
3. Prayer Is Fervent
"16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." James 5:16-18
James not only tells us that prayer can be glowing hot, but he gives us an example. The prophet Elijah told wicked King Ahab that it would not rain, and it did not rain for three and a half years. Elijah stood for God against 450 prophets of Baal. They offered their sacrifices and cried and cut themselves but their false gods did not answer. So that there could be no mistake in who was the true and living God, barrels of water were poured on the sacrifice offered up by Elijah. Then Elijah prayed.
"35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God." (I Kings 18:35-39)
The prayer of Elijah was short and simple, but it was a fervent prayer, reaching up to heaven and the people believed and said, "The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God." Then God sent the rain. Another example is when King Solomon prayed and dedicated the temple. "Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house." (II Chronicles 7:1-2) I want the glory of God to fill my life. I need to spend more time on my knees in prayer.
4. Meditation Warms The Heart
"My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am." Psalms 39:3-4
Some of my dearest and sweetest moments with God have been during times of quiet meditation of His goodness to me. I used to meditate and think on my devotional thoughts as I drove to work in the mornings. My mind was fresh, my heart was seeking God's will for a new day, and many times my eyes burned with tears as I was overcome with God's goodness in my life. It is so easy to let our days be overwhelmed with the noise and stress of this world, and we are quick to find some type of electronic devise to ease our tension with games or entertainment. How often do we take the time to quietly meditate on God's Word and seek His will for our lives? One of my favorite verses is Psalms 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." I am reminded of the great prophet Elijah as he hid in the cave from Jezebel.
"9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (I Kings 19:9)
Elijah had been very busy for the Lord and he had an answer when God asked him, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" We may be very busy for God. And many times we look for the Lord in supernatural ways. But sometimes while we are looking at the stormy winds that blow, the earthquakes that shake our lives, and the fires that burn, we need to be listening for "a still small voice." Our days are numbered, just as we saw in our opening verses ("My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.") and we need to ask ourselves this question, "What are we doing here?" Are we seeking God and listening for His still small voice in meditation of His Word?
5. Fellowship And Communion With The Lord Warms The Heart
"And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:30-32
There were many men and women who followed Jesus and they believed Him to be the Messiah, who would set up His kingdom at that time. When He was crucified they were saddened and confused. After the reports of His resurrection they were still not sure about all that had happened. This is where our story begins...
"13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:13-32)
I used more scripture than I usually do, but I felt it was important to get the whole story. I want us to notice verses 17 and 19 when Jesus asked them why they were sad. He already knew everything about their broken hearts, but He wanted to hear them tell Him, so He could help them. It is the same with us today. Jesus knows all about our problems, fears, troubles, and all our anxieties, but it will help us to tell Him all about it. He can give us peace when we put our trust in Him. He showed them the truth found in the scriptures, just as He can do for us when we spend time in fellowship with Him. I also want us to notice verses 30 and 31. Their eyes were opened and they knew Him when He blessed the bread and broke it and gave it to them. They may have been in the multitude that was fed by the loaves and fish on the mountain side and watched as He broke the bread. They may have recognized His prayer of blessing. Or, maybe they saw the nail prints in His hands. We don't know in what way they recognized Him, but they said, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" We can't explain to the lost how we know that Jesus lives in our hearts, but we can feel the joy that He brings. We can't understand the peace that He gives, a peace the world doesn't have, but it carries us through the darkest nights. And we can't find the words to explain how the Holy Spirit lives within, but we can feel it when "our heart burns within us."
6. Warm Up Our Worship With Praise
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Psalms 100:4
When I would say something about being cold, sleepy, tired, or stiff at work Cindi would stand by our desks and say, "Let's do some jumping jacks!" My mind would go back to school days when we started each gym class with jumping jacks. That was usually the chosen exercise to get us warmed up, for what was to follow. Since we are talking about staying warm spiritually in a cold world I felt that praise is our jumping jacks, or exercise, to get us warmed up for what is to follow. Psalms 100 is a great Psalm of praise.
"1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
As you stand and sing the opening song in the worship service, think about how it can warm you up inside and get you ready for something better, yet to come!
7. "Neither Hot Nor Cold"
"14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" Revelation 3:14-17
I saw a short video clip of some people in China as they received a box of new Bibles. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched them receive them as a most precious gift, holding them to their hearts, shouting for joy, and kissing God's precious Word. There are different interpretations concerning the seven letters to the seven churches in the opening of the book of Revelation. One is that the churches represent seven periods of church history beginning with the early church in the book of Acts. Many who hold to this idea believe that we are in the last church period. As we read the message to the church of the Laodiceans it is easy to understand this interpretation. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" As I watched the love and gratitude of those receiving a Bible it made me realize that I don't have that great love for God's Holy Word. I don't want to be lukewarm. I want to have a burning love for my Lord and Savior. To the very first church of Ephesus we read, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Revelation 2:4) How much farther away have we strayed from that early church? When a scribe asked Jesus what was the first commandment, He answered, "...The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31) Love. We spend so much time talking about God's love for us, it would be great if we returned our love to Him.
8. Treasures Of The Snow
"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?..." Job 38:22
We went to sleep with the snow falling gently and woke up to a six inch beautiful white blanket that covered the ground and draped across the tree brances. That may not be much snow for many areas, but it is quite a covering for us. The last time we had such a snow the children were still home and we built a fire in a barrel to help warm their hands and strung Christmas lights down a path. They had a great time sledding with their friends, then they came in for hot chocolate. I have often thought of memories such as these as being like "the treasures of the snow." Even farther back in time... when I was in the second grade my younger sister and I walked home from school. One day it snowed and we really didn't know what to do, until Dad showed up with two new pairs of red boots. We felt so special with our early Christmas presents and we had a great walk home in the snow with our Dad. I saw many pictures online today of families building snowmen, sledding, and making their own memories. But our new little treasure tops them all! We don't usually go driving around in the snow, but this afternoon when the sun started melting the snow off the roads we took a trip to the hospital to meet our newest granddaughter. My daughter and son-in-law have an 8 lb. 4 oz. baby girl and we braved the snow to go see little Elsa Faye. Congratulations to Susanna, Andrew, and big brother Jedidiah.
9. Snow Days
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet." Proverbs 31:21
Today's devotional is a tribute to all you Moms and Dads who are spending another snow day with your children. I remember those days well. Before the children could go out and play we would put on two pairs of pants, extra socks, extra shirts, jackets, and coats, then hats and gloves. We would go out the door so bundled up we could barely move, and when we got too cold from the sledding, snow ball fights, and making snow angels, we would go back in for a short while to get warm. As we went in the door I tried to start peeling the layers of clothing and packed snow from the children in one place so the melting snow would not soak everything in the house. With five children it was hard to find a place to put the clothes to dry, so the next time they went out they usually started out again with clean clothes and when they ran out of dry gloves they would put socks on their hands. During the warming up periods inside they played games, read books, and pulled out puzzles and toys and it was great family time. For all you parents out there spending another snow day with your children, enjoy the extra time you have with them. Don't be afraid of the snow days. These days will quickly pass and you can put your house and lives back in order soon enough. Love on your children. Listen to them. Hold them and read to them as long as they will let you. Teach them Bible stories and show them that God's Word is precious. Pray for them and pray with them. Tell them how much Jesus loves them and came to save them. The snow will melt away, but a solid foundation will last forever!
10. As White As Snow
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18
Most of the time when it snows around here, it is only an inch or two and it doesn't really cover the ground. The snow we had last week was about six inches deep, so everything was covered. It made everything look so clean and pure. The Bible tells us how we can be cleansed and made pure, just like the white of snow. We see this in the life of David as he prayed for forgiveness in Psalms 51:1-3. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." And in verse 7 he said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Isaiah also tells us, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..." God's Word has this promise, "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) Let's look at what the Bible says about sin...
"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)
"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)
"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, & 13)
That's it. Have you asked God to take your sinful heart and make it as white as snow?
11. From Being A Cheater To Becoming A Prince With God
"And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" Genesis 27:36
"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." Genesis 32:28
We began our "In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb" devotions looking at ways we can stay warm in a spiritually cold world. Now, we are changing directions and looking at people in the Bible whose lives started out like lions, and ended up as lambs. Jacob is maybe the most well-known character of the Old Testament that fits this category. Jacob and Esau were twins, but Esau was born first and the family inheritance was rightly his. When Esau came in hungry from working in the field Jacob made him give him the birthright for a bowl of pottage. Esau traded his future inheritance and rights as the firstborn for some bread and beans, so he hated Jacob. When Isaac was ready to die Jacob cheated his father into giving him the family blessing, over Esau. Esau hated Jacob so much he vowed to kill him as soon as their father died. Jacob had to flee for his life, and he found out what it was like to be on the other end of a cheating man when he worked for Laban. When he finally reached the point where he had had enough he decided to go back home, and Laban went after him. We can see that Jacob learned from his experience in his answer to Laban. "Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight." (Genesis 31:41-42) Jacob was leaving a man who wanted to kill him, and was on the way home where he left a brother that wanted to kill him. And in the night he wrestled with the angel of God.
"24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Genesis 32:24-28)
Jacob grabbed Esau's heel at birth and spent most of his life grabbing for all he could get, but through his struggles he finally found peace with God and peace with his brother. His twelve sons became the twelve Tribes of Israel, God's chosen people. Jacob came into this world like a lion, but he became a prince with God and went out like a lamb. When we reach the point that we are wrestling with everyone in our lives and even feel at odds with God, then it can only get better when we humble ourselves before God and make peace with Him, and with ourself. Then we can begin to make peace with those around us and turn our lion nature into a gentle lamb.
12. The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
"25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:25-27
The Apostle John often referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and in our example above we see that the description fit him well. Jesus must have thought very highly of John to ask him to take care of His mother after His death. Matthew 13:55 tells us that He had four brothers. "Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?" (Have you ever wondered why one of Mary's other children did not take her into his home to care for her?) Was John always the loving, caring person we read of here? When Mark names the twelve apostles he gives us a different picture of John. "And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:" (Mark 3:17) James and John were fishermen and they were accustomed to hard work and the toil and labor out on the sea, often fighting against the storms that arose suddenly. Jesus called them, "The sons of thunder." John was zealous in following Jesus, as we read in Luke 9:49-50. "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us." And just a few verses later we read, "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" (Luke 9:54) It was also James and John who asked Jesus if they could sit on His left and right in His glory. (Mark 10:37) John followed Jesus closely, leaned on Him at the Last Supper, stood at the cross with His mother, and became "the disciple whom Jesus loved." John learned of God's great love and he shared it with others. His gentleness also shows as he addresses his readers as "little children" nine times in the book of I John. If God can take a son of thunder and give him a heart of love and compassion, then He can do the same for us.
"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)
13. Saul To Paul
My heart aches for the Christians who are being persecuted and killed for claiming the name of Jesus. I try to pray for them as often as I can, and I also try to pray for those who are creating all the havoc. Only God can change their hearts and minds and make a difference. It is hard to believe that someone that cruel could be saved, but we have a great example in the Bible. Saul is first mentioned consenting to the stoning of Stephen. Then we are told he went to every house putting men and women in prison. The same thing is being done in other countries today. We need to pray for these men and women, and even children being killed for their Christian beliefs. We also need to pray for those taking part in the brutal treatment, in hopes that they will hear God, as Saul did. The scriptures show us what a difference God made in the life of Saul, as he became the great Apostle Paul.
"55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:55-60)
"1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." (Acts 8:1-3)
"1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:1-6)
God did show Saul what He wanted him to do. His name was changed to Paul and God sent him to the Gentiles so that they, (should I say, "we") too, could receive God's precious gift of salvation. I can't praise the Lord enough for opening up the way of salvation to the Gentiles and saving my soul!
14. Two Sams, A Lion And A Lamb
When I am reading through the Bible I like to try to place the scriptures I am reading in a mental timeline with other sections of the Bible. In reading the book of I Samuel we see that Eli and Samuel judged Israel, even though neither is mentioned in the book of Judges, which ends with the death of Samson, the last judge listed there. Each source I studied listed different dates for these two judges, but my Scofield Study Bible shows 1161 at the top of the page showing the birth of Samson (Judges 13:24) and 1171 at the top of the page showing the birth of Samuel (I Samuel 1:20). These two men lived during the same Bible period, and may have known each other. There are several similarities in the lives of these two Sams. Both the mothers were barren and had no children. (Judges 13:2 and I Samuel 1:5) The arrival of both of the babies was prophesied. (Samson, in Judges 13:3 by the angel of the Lord and Samuel, in I Samuel 1:17 by Eli.) The boys were both set apart to serve the Lord, Samson from his birth, and Samuel from the time Hannah took him to the temple as a small child. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Samson and the Spirit of the Lord called to Samuel. Their lives began in much the same way. But in time Samson changed. He is our lion in this story. In fact, he tore a young lion apart with his bare hands in Judges 14:5-6. When we continue reading in Judges we see that he caught 300 foxes and tied them tail to tail and put fire brands in the tails to destroy the fields and vineyards of the Philistines after his wife was given to another man. When they came up against him he killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. After that Samson went to Gaza and the men of the city had him trapped in the walled city. "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." (Judges 16:3) He was a lion of a man. His downfall came when he told Delilah that the secret of his strength was not having his hair cut. This was actually the third and final step in breaking his Nazarite vows. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 16:20. "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." He did not even realize that the Lord was departed from him. He was captured by the Philistines but eventually his hair grew back and he regained his strength. With one final prayer, he pulled down the pillars of the house where the Philistines mocked him and he killed more enemies in his death than he had in his lifetime.
Samuel is our lamb in this illustration. Like Samson, he was set apart to serve God. Hannah vowed that if the Lord gave her a son she would give him to the Lord and no razor would touch his head. After she weaned baby Samuel she took him to the temple to be a servant to Eli, the Priest. "And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men." (I Samuel 2:26) Samuel was like a little lamb following the Good Shepherd down every valley and up every hill. God called to Samuel in the night when he was just a child. "And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD." (I Samuel 3:19-20) As the priest, Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. He also anointed David to be king. Samuel was faithful to God all his life as we read in I Samuel 7:15. "And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life." Samuel was a prophet, priest, and judge and served God faithfully, without wavering. Samson seemed headstrong in his rash decisions, but he also served God. They are both mentioned in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:32. Two Sams, a lion, and a lamb.
15. King Manasseh, From A Lion To A Lamb
King Hezekiah reigned 29 years in Jerusalem "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done." (II Chronicles 29:2) After his death, his son Manasseh began to reign at 12 years of age. He was a wicked king.
"6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God...
9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God." (portions of II Chronicles 33:6-13)
There are a few things I want to mention about King Manasseh. First, his father was a good King who removed the idols, repaired the house of the Lord, restored worship in the right way, and God brought revival to the people. Yet, we read in II Kings 21:9, "...Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel." This tells us that each individual has to make the decision to serve God. We won't go to heaven just because we have godly grandparents or good Christian parents. Also, it shows us that our Christian testimony can have a good effect on those around us as King Hezekiah had over his people during his reign, and the actions of the wicked also influence those around them in a bad way. Next, we notice the truth in the old saying, "You sin, you pay." ("Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7) God sent judgment upon Jerusalem and the people of His land. Another important point in this example is that when we humble ourselves and pray to God for mercy, He will hear and answer our prayer. Finally, I want to look forward in time to the prophecy of Jeremiah, many, many, years after the death of King Manasseh. "And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem." (Jeremiah 15:4) Although King Manasseh went from being a lion to a lamb, there were still consequences of his actions. His wicked leadership over Jerusalem brought judgment on the land.
16. Jesus First Came As The Lamb Of God
"And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" John 1:36
It has been two months since we celebrated Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Easter, the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. The two go together. Jesus came as a Lamb, to be the sacrifice for our sin. As a King, He could have been born in a palace, but as a Lamb He was born in a stable. "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." (Luke 2:7) And who would be most interested in the birth of a little Lamb? Shepherds. Shepherds watching their flock in the night. They were the first visitors to welcome and proclaim the birth of the baby Jesus. "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." (Luke 2:15-17) When it was time for Jesus to begin His ministry on earth He went to John to be baptized. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) The Prophets foretold of the Lamb that would come and die for our sin. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:5-7) And those who trust in Him as their Savior will one day join the angels in glory to forever praise our holy Lamb of God. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Revelation 5:11-13)
17. Jesus Will Come Again As A Lion
"And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Revelation 5:5
Jesus first came as a lamb to offer Himself a sacrifice for our sin. When He comes again He will come as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. I watched the movie, "Left Behind" that shows the chaos that will take place during the rapture of God's children. I don't believe any movie could come close to its portrayal of how terrible things will really be on earth, but I pray that "Left Behind" will make people look inside and ask themselves, "Am I ready for the Lord to come back?" People often say, "God is love" and they are correct, but God is also a righteous God and a God of judgment. Revelation chapter 6 begins with the opening of the seven seals of the book and judgment begins. Here is just a portion of things to come...
"2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." (Revelation 6:2-4)
"12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
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?" (Revelation 6:12-17)
This is just the beginning. Are you ready for the judgment of the Lion of the tribe of Judah?
18. A Lion And A Lamb
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." Isaiah 11:6-7
Back in the late 1980's our children found a book in the library about Koko the gorilla and her kitten, All Ball, which had no tail. Since then I have seen several short videos of various odd friendships such as an elephant and dog, and a cat that raised ducklings. I have seen many pictures of these unusual companions, but I have never seen a wolf with a lamb or a calf with a young lion. We are told by the prophet Isaiah that the day will come when "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9) There has not been that kind of peace on this earth since before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. I have read the prophecies in Daniel, Isaiah, and Revelation, and I still don't comprehend all that is going to take place, but I do understand that in God's new heaven and new earth there will be perfect peace. Won't it be wonderful! Our world is in turmoil with the fighting and oppression by militants. It is not safe to walk down the streets in many places. I look forward to the day when fear and anxiety are a thing of the past. Jesus promised in John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." I'm getting ready for my new home, are you?
19. Daniel In The Den Of Lions
"My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God." Daniel 6:22-23
No Bible study about lions would be complete without the account of Daniel thrown into a den of lions. I enjoy reading the book of Daniel. The book opens with such exciting stories... Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into a fiery furnace... King Nebuchadnezzar and his dreams... Belshazzar and the hand writing on the wall, and that is just the first five chapters. Daniel and the lions' den is in chapter 6, but I want to look back at the first chapter, verse 8. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Not only did Daniel purpose in his heart not to sin against his God, but he also did the right things that he had been taught. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." (Daniel 6:10) He was praying towards Jerusalem, as found in King Solomon's prayer in I Kings 8:47-49. "Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, ... And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, ... and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause," Because this is found early in the book of Daniel it is easy to think that this took place when he was still a young man, but he had to be very old at this time. King Nebuchadnezzar carried Daniel captive as a child, and internet sources say he reigned about 45 years. Belshazzar reigned 2 years. Darius was next, so Daniel had lived faithfully all those years, and God rewarded his faithfulness. We need to purpose in our heart to obey God's Word just as Daniel did.
20. A Roaring Lion, Ready To Devour
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" I Peter 5:8
We read in Ephesians 4:27, "Neither give place to the devil" and I don't think I have ever given him space on these devotional pages, but we need to heed this warning of Peter. In the parable of the sower Jesus warned that the devil tries to prevent people from hearing God's Word and receiving salvation. "Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." (Luke 8:12) Even after we are saved we never reach a point of being above sin and temptation. Jesus was "tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus is the only one to have power over the devil, and He can help us in our fight against temptation. The Bible gives many examples of people who were filled with demons and Jesus casts them out. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell of the man of Gadara who lived among 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.
29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
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." (Luke 8:28-35)
Mark's gospel tells us "the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid." (Mark 5:13-15) The whole city begged Jesus to leave, but the man who had been possessed with the devils wanted to go with Jesus. "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." (Mark 5:19-20)
21. I Am One Of His "Other Sheep"
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." John 10:16
We have given enough space to lions, now let's look at the lambs in the Bible. All lambs need a shepherd to guide them. He does not drive them forward like cattle, but he gently calls to them and leads them. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." (John 10:4) Sheep also need a good shepherd to protect them. Not only are lions, wolves, and bears a threat to the flock, but the sheep need protection from thieves. "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. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 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. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep." (John 10:10-13) Next, we see that the sheep need provision. "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:9) What's wonderful about these verses is that the sheep know the Good Shepherd, and an even greater blessing, the Good Shepherd knows the sheep. "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." Jesus came to redeem the Children of Israel, as He said in Matthew 15:24. "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But, praise the Lord, the way of salvation was opened up to include all who will turn to Christ. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) " And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16) Praise the Lord I am one of the "other sheep". I was a little lost lamb and the Lord called to me. I was 8 years old and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me I was a lost sinner, on the road that leads to hell. I asked the Lord to forgive me and save me, and He took me into His fold. As one of His "other sheep" I have the same blessings as David did when he wrote this precious Psalm.
"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." (Psalms 23)
22. All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6
When the children were small, we tried to be faithful to church but sometimes we missed worship services because of sickness. They shared everything, from colds, to chickenpox, so sometimes we missed several services consecutively as each of the five children took his or her turn in bed. As Mom, I was kept busy caring for the sick, while at the same time, trying to keep the well ones from getting sick. I remember one Sunday morning in particular that I was the sick one who kept us home. As I rested on the couch Mike found a preacher on television, and I do not remember who he was, but I remember his sermon even after these twenty plus years. His text was from Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." His three points were very simple, but the truths have stayed with me all these years. First, "All we like sheep have gone astray..." We are all sinners. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:.. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:10 and 23) Second, "...we have turned every one to his own way;..." We are all selfish. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Romans 12:3) And third, "... and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." We are all special. Jesus Christ left His heavenly home to come to a world that would reject Him and crucify Him, just for you and me. What amazing love! "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) There you have it, simple but such great truth. We are sinners. We are selfish. But, we are special.
"1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:1-7)
23. Feed My Lambs
"9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." John 21:9-15
I have talked before of how the crowing of the rooster each morning reminded Peter of how he denied knowing Jesus. It must have been terribly hard on him to forgive himself with the fresh reminder each morning. So one night, "Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing." (John 21:3) With the sound of the wind and the waves Peter would not hear the rooster. He could go back to his old lifestyle and try to pick back up where he left off to follow Jesus. Jesus was gone--what else did he know to do? Notice that the disciples that were with him joined him. Peter had become a leader, and they followed. Well, he went back to where he was before, with the same results. Remember when he met Jesus in Luke 5:5, "And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." If Peter had trouble remembering, Jesus reminded him, "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." (John 21:4-6) Peter jumped into the sea to go to Jesus, where He had fish and bread ready for them. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." (John 21:15) I can imagine the Lord pointing to the boat and the sea, or maybe the pile of fish they brought to shore, or perhaps the bread and fish on the coals, as He asked, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?" (Do we love the Lord more than our jobs, or possessions, or recreation?) He had denied the Lord three times and the Lord asked him the question three times and it grieved him "And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." (John 21:17) I don't think Peter had trouble looking back from that day on. Jesus gave him a task, "Feed my lambs" the young converts of the flock, and "Feed my sheep" for even the ones who have been saved many years need to be fed. I am thankful that through the years God has put people in my life that fed me from His Word. When I was very young my Mom taught Sunday school and on Saturday nights she would place the flanelgraph pictures on the table and tell us the Bible stories. My grandpa, Moyer P. Beasley, was preaching when I got saved and I am so thankful that he was not afraid that he would offend someone if he preached on hell. God has put me under many wonderful pastors at church, and preachers in Revival meetings and Campmeetings. I've learned from Sunday school teachers and youth leaders. My constant prayer is that God will use this Devotional Site to feed His lambs, and maybe even feed His sheep.
24. Out Like A Lamb
"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;" Song of Solomon 2:11 & 12
March came in like a roaring lion, and now that we are halfway through the month I am glad to see that it is going out like a lamb. I am ready to say "Goodbye" to the snow and ice and "Hello" to springtime. After spending long winter days indoors, I start looking forward to the sunshine. It gives me great joy to wake up with the sun shining through my window and hear the birds singing on spring mornings. I also like to see the yellow daffodils pop up and announce that spring has sprung. A few years ago I heard that the floods in California watered seeds that had lain dormant for many years and the deserts bloomed. How is the seed in your heart? Has your love grown cold? Now is the time to let the seed grow and let your life bloom for Christ. Just as we bask in the sunshine, let's look upward to the Son and shine in His love.
25. I Need Sunlight And Son Light
"1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain." II Samuel 23:1-4
I married young and at age 20 I became a stay at home mother. Ten years later, I was 30 and a mother of five children, so I really became a stay at home mother. It was great during the summer months. I could spend time with them outside, or take the kids to their Grandparent's house to spend the day. But in the winter our small home seemed even smaller, as we stayed in the house all day, day after day after day. I would go through periods of deep depression and I realized that it was the worst during the month of February, and it always went away in March. I discovered that I need sunlight. I realized last week, that even though my children have grown up and settled into their own homes, this need for sunlight still affects my mood. And the thing that brought it to mind, was the fact that I have been singing while I'm cleaning. I was washing dishes and singing, "Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight, flooding my soul with glory divine. Hallelujah, I am rejoicing. Singing His praises, Jesus is mine." It's March! The sun is brighter, and so is my temperament. I need sunlight! I read some information on the S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and I don't think my problem is that advanced but I thrive in sunlight.
As I read these last words from "the sweet psalmist of Israel" I really liked verse 4. "And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain." That is really a beautiful picture of springtime, and describes the way I rejoice in the Light of my Savior. Because not only do I need sunlight, I need the Light of the Son! Jesus is my Light. "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." (John 8:12) I find Light in God's Word that gives me a desire to know more about Him. I pray to Him for Light to guide me day to day. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalms 119:105) And I know that I will live in His Light forever. "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 22:5)
26. The Dayspring From On High
"Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:78 & 79
At the birth of John the Baptist, Zacharias prophesied of the coming of our Lord in these poetic words, "...the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Matthew 4:16 tells us that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. "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." (from Isaiah 9:2) We were in darkness, lost in the cold depths of our sin. But through the tender mercy of our God, the Dayspring from on high has brought light into our lives. Jesus came to bring us out of the darkness. "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." (John 8:12) Do you walk in the light of life? Or are you living in the darkness of this sin cursed world? Acknowledge that you are a sinner, lost and hopeless. Believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation. Confess your sins to God and ask Christ to save you and give you the light and peace that only He can give. Just as we are leaving the cold bitter nights of winter behind for the long bright days of springtime, you can leave the darkness behind and walk in the light of His love and mercy.
27. God Gives Us Springtime
"Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;" Job 38:12
This is part of the Lord's answer to Job. He mentions several aspects of creation in this chapter. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7) All the way back to Genesis we read, "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. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:3-5) God created light, and the morning for the dayspring. Then after the flood, God made this promise, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22) We may experience cold dark winters, but we can be sure that springtime, our seedtime, will follow. God created the seasons, just as He created day and night and put them in their time and place. What a wonderful God we serve!
28. God's Word In The Morning
"And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house. And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away: And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad. And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God." I Samuel 9:25-27
Samuel woke Saul early, "about the spring of the day." You may remember this story. The children of Israel wanted a king. Saul was a goodly young man who was taller than all the Israelites, from his shoulders upward. (I Samuel 9:2) He and his servant went out to look for his father's donkeys that were lost. They searched and could not find them and decided to ask Samuel, the "man of God". Samuel told Saul the donkeys had been found. Early the next morning, "about the spring of the day", Samuel woke Saul and told him it was time for him to go back home. As they started out of the city, Samuel said, "...stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God." The next chapter begins, "Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" (I Samuel 10:1) Later in the same chapter, Saul is made the first king of Israel. Early this morning, before dawn, I awoke and it was as though God wanted to show me something in my Bible reading. I got up and read, and these are the verses that He had for me today. It seemed as though God was telling me that sometimes we need to get up at the spring of the day and look for guidance in His Word. I am afraid that we are often too busy and rushed to hear God's Word. We need to be "still a while" and listen with our heart for a message from God. The next time you wake up a little early, listen with your heart. Maybe God wants to show you something from His Word in the still of the morning.
29. Springtime Of Life
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 2
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said "To every thing there is a season." In using this allegory with man, we can say that when a child is born and enters into early adulthood, he or she is in the spring of life. And those who are growing old would be said to be in their winter season. Since we have been talking about springtime, I want to spend this last sping devotion on the spring of life. Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes as a man, a king, looking back over his life. In chapter 2 he tells of all he gained, "I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards... I made me pools of water... I got me servants and maidens... also I had great possessions... I gathered me also silver and gold... I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments... So I was great... and whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy;..." (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10) Solomon had it all. But the next verse says, "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." (2:11) What are you seeking in life? Solomon had it all but it did not bring him satisfaction. The book ends with a description of growing old. "In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened," (Ecclesiastes 12:3) The knees tremble, and men no longer hold themselves straight and tall in old age, the teeth fall out and sight becomes dim. The chapter continues with other parallels to growing old, but I want us to look at the advice he gives. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;" (12:1) Many young people say they will serve God when they get older. But Solomon advises to remember God and serve Him while you are young. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." (12:13 & 14) Whatever season you are going through, don't put off serving the Lord.