1 "What Hath God Wrought!"
"Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!" Numbers 23:23
Some of you trivia buffs may know that the last four words of this verse, "What hath God wrought" was the first message sent by Morse code. Wikipedia tells us that Samuel F. B. Morse sent the message from Washington to Baltimore in 1844. In March of 1876, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first audible words over the telephone, "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you." Man had succeeded in not only sending coded messages over the telegraphs, but now could send their own voices over the telephone. This century has brought greater inventions with computers, email, and instant messaging. Now, many find it amazing that they can send text messages through their cell phones with a series of codes and shortened words. Look again at this verse in Numbers 23:23. "What hath God wrought!" This Bible text was spoken by Balaam when he was hired by Balak to curse Israel. "And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all. But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do?" (Numbers 23:25-26) Balaam delivered the Lord's message to Balak in blessing Israel, instead of cursing them. Our Bible is filled with messages from the Lord. Let's look at some of these Bible Text Messages and see how they relate to our lives.
2 The Hand Writing On The Wall
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." (Daniel 5:1-6)
Preacher Mike Soop used this text Monday night in the opening service of our Youth Jubilee last week. He explained that Daniel reminded Belshazzar that he knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he lifted himself up in pride. Daniel explained the writing on the wall. "And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered this kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdon is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5:25-28) Verse 30 tells us that Belshazzar was killed that night. He took the precious, holy, vessels of God and drank wine and praised his false gods and God sent him a message through the hand writing on the wall. Many have the mistaken notion that if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds they will go to heaven. That is wrong. When we are weighed in the balances, there is no righteousness in us. "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) This message became a familiar saying as in, "He didn't see the hand writing on the wall" to describe someone who couldn't see the dreadful end. What about you? Have you seen the hand writing on the wall? You must see your sinful, lost condition, and believe that Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation. He died on the cruel cross to pay the debt for your sins. He rose again and is waiting to save you, if you will only trust in Him and repent from your wicked ways. Don't let the sin of pride keep you from an eternal home in heaven.
3 Written In Stone
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." Exodus 24:12
Yesterday we saw the origin of the phrase, "Handwriting on the wall." In the book of Exodus we can see an example of another common phrase, "Carved in stone" or "Set in stone". When something is said to be "carved in stone" it means that it can't be changed. We are all familiar with the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the written law and commandments for the children of Israel. "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18) When Moses came down from the mount and saw the sin in the camp he threw down the tables and broke them. Moses had to take two more tables of stone back up the mount and God wrote the commandments once more. We see that even though the commandments can be broken, they never change. We don't have those two tables of stone, but we have the written Word of God, sure and steadfast. "He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations." (Psalm 105:7-8)
4 Write Them On The Posts And Gates
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9
A lawyer once asked Jesus which was 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." (Matthew 22:37) God gave this commandment to the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. They were to teach the commandments to their children and speak of them throughout the day. They were also instructed to write the laws on the posts of their houses and on their gates. We can follow the example of this commandment as we hang scripture wall plaques on our walls. I have a beautiful wall decoration which quotes part of Joshua 24:15, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." I also stitched several cross-stitch pictures with Bible verses which hang in various rooms of my house. Bible bookstores often carry small molded pieces with Bible verses that you can set on coffee tables or mantles. You can write memory verses on paper and put them on your mirror or refrigerator and study each time you go by. We serve a great and mighty God who loves us. We have nothing within ourselves to repay Him for giving us His greatest gift of salvation, except our love. Take time today to think about all that God has done for you and give Him your love. And, if you don't have a Bible verse hanging in your house, you can start by printing Matthew 22:37 on a sheet of paper and putting it on your refrigerator.
5 Ribbons Of Blue
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes,... That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." Numbers 15:37-40
We could have asked the question yesterday, "What message do people get when they go into your house?" Do they see evidence of your Christianity in Bible verses on the wall or tables? Do the magazines, books, music, and movies in your home send a message of a clean and holy life? Today I want to ask the question, "What message do people see in your clothes?" God told the children of Israel to put ribbons of blue on the fringe of their clothes to remind them to be holy. We don't put these ribbons of blue on our clothes, but nonetheless, our clothes often give a message to those who see us. Paul reminds us to wear modest clothes in I Timothy 2:9, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;" We need to live and dress in such a way that those around us can see that we are Christians. We should not always "dress to impress" and choose the most expensive wardrobe, but we should let our way of dress send the message to others that we are Christians.
6 Bible Message For Success
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Joshua 1:8
God gave Moses the law in tables of stone. He commanded the children of Israel to write them on their posts and gates. He told them to put blue ribbons on the borders of their clothes to remind them of the law. Today we see the message of God in the book of the law. Our Bible, preserved by God, and handed down from generation to generation contains the infallible Word of God. How important is it to read God's book? We first read of Joshua in Exodus 17. Look at verses 13 & 14, "And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." God told Moses to write it in a book, so that Joshua would be reminded that God fought their battles. When we come to the book of Joshua, we see God's message for success. This is the only time the word "success" is used in my Bible. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (Joshua 1:8) Do you want to be successful? Read and meditate day and night from God's Word. And just as we read in James 1:22, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." There are many books today that tell you how to be a success. But, the most profitable book for successful living is God's Holy Word.
7 A Message From A Sign
"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever." Joshua 4:1-7
We have looked at several ways that God gave messages to the children of Israel. Today we see that He wants them to erect a sign using 12 stones from the midst of the Jordan River. This sign was to be a perpetual reminder to the future generations of His guidance in leading His children. We use signs everyday. If we come to a red octagon shaped sign when we are driving down the road, we slow down and come to a stop. We use road signs to give us direction. God can use signs in our lives to give us direction. He may not hold up a "Keep right" sign in front of us, but He can send reminders along our way to help us stay on the right path. We can be a help to future generations by placing "signs" along the Christian way. We can use Bible story books to teach our children about God's Word. Jesus used simple things to teach the people, such a a beautiful lily, and the birds that are fed by God. The steeples on our churches are a sign to guide people to the house of God. We often take pictures of our youth at church activities and put them on the board for others to enjoy. As we take down the old ones to make room for the new, we keep them in photo albums to remind them of the good times of fellowship we have together. We need to leave "signs" for our children to follow.
8 This Shall Be A Sign Unto You
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12
As we continue with our thoughts about messages from God in signs, we turn to this very familiar story. The angels appeared to the shepherds with the greatest message ever told. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." What did the shepherds do? They said, "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." (Luke 2:15-16) God has given us the message of the Christ Child in His Holy Word. We should also come with haste to bow to the Lord. They didn't end at the manger. Look at verse 17. "And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." They went on their way telling others the glorious good news. We are in the midst of summer, and many of our manger scenes are stored in boxes in closets. Don't keep the good news boxed up in your heart. Follow the example of the shepherds, and go and tell the good news.
9 Messages In Song
"Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel." Deuteronomy 31:19-22
We have looked at many ways in which God gave His messages to the children of Israel. Here we see that God gave Moses a song to teach to them. He knew that they would turn from following Him and forget His law. God told Moses that their children would sing His song and remember. That is so true. I can't remember all the Sunday School lessons I was taught as a child. I can't remember the sermons that I heard. But, there are many songs that my mother taught me as a child, and I taught my children, and I will enjoy hearing my grandchildren sing them to me. "Jesus Loves Me" is a wonderful song that children have sung in many different languages. The message is true and can speak to all. Keep a song of praise in your heart and mind, and be a witness for the Lord.
10 Messages In The Storm
"And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth." Genesis 8:11
I would like to give points from yesterday's sermon by my pastor, Jeff Woods to talk about Messages In The Storm. There are three things that Noah found out in the storm. (1) Noah found that God speaks in the storms. "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." (Genesis 7:1) (2) Noah found that God still remembers us in the storms. "And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;" (Genesis 8:1) (3) Noah found that God blesses in the storms. "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Genesis 9:1) God brought an end to Noah's storm, just as He brings an end to our storms. He can speak the words, "Peace, be still" and the winds cease. There are three things that Noah found out on the other side of the storm. (1) God did not fail him during the storm. "And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth." (Genesis 8:11) (2) God did not forsake him in the storm. "And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:... And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD..." (Genesis 8:18 & 20) (3) Noah found that God did not forget him in the storm. "And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, and I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;" (Genesis 9:8 & 9) Keep trusting in the Lord, even through your storms and remember that after the storm God sends a rainbow, the token of His covenant.
11 A Message In A Riddle
"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel; And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:" Ezekiel 17:1-3
One of the young girls at church had been asked a trivia question about a riddle in the Bible. The one I thought of was the story of Samson and his riddle, found in the 14th chapter of Judges. As I was looking through my Bible for messages, I came across this riddle from the Lord. God had a message for his children, and He told it to them in the form of a riddle about two great eagles. The riddle covers the first 10 verses of Ezekiel 17. God doesn't leave them in the dark about the meaning, but proceeds to explain the riddle to them. "Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon;" (Ezekiel 17:11-12) Jesus used parables when he spoke to the people. He often explained the parables to His disciples after the other people had gone away. We can also learn from God's Word using riddles and puzzles. There are many types of puzzles and word games on this web site. The Questions page has crosswords, find-a-words, and many different types of word puzzles that you might enjoy on your own, or with a group. The Activities page has games which we have played with all ages. We just had our Back to School party and the children really enjoyed the games. We have looked at many different ways God uses to send His message. This can be a different way to spread the gospel message and have fun at the same time!
12 A Message From The Potter's House
"The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." Jeremiah 18:1-6
I've heard this preached by many preachers through the years, but the message is always the same. God wants to mold us and make us after His will. He works in our lives to make us vessels to be used for His glory. He is the Potter and we are the clay. We can be truly thankful that He continues to mold us and make us, and doesn't throw the clay away. Seek God's will in your life and Let Him use you for His honor and glory.
13 Messages From Proverbs
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." Proverbs 4:7
Here's a big message from the book of Proverbs... wisdom is the thing... get wisdom... and while you're at it, get understanding. Vacation time is over for many of us, and it will soon be time for school to start again. Many will be starting the new school year on a new level, learning new things. It is a good time to look at some of the wisdom we learn from the book of Proverbs. When God asked Solomon what He could give him, Solomon asked for an understanding heart. God said, "... I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee." (I Kings 3:12) Pray for wisdom as we look at some of the messages from the Proverbs of King Solomon. And as you increase in wisdom, pray for understanding. God can give us both wisdom and understanding, and without God we have neither. "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6) Here's the thing... wisdom is the thing.
14 Trust In The Lord With All Thine Heart
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5 & 6
These are very familiar verses and seem so simple. But they are full of great truth. Sometimes it is hard to keep trusting in the Lord instead of trying to work things out for yourself. Especially when things seem to be going wrong. But remember that "...all things work together for good for them that love God..." and keep trusting that God knows best and is working everything "according to His purpose". (Romans 8:28) Even when you don't understand why certain things happen, know that the Lord is still in control. Put Him first in every aspect of your daily walk and be certain that He will direct your paths. Ask Him each morning to lead you in the way He wants you to go. There will be times when things are beyond your control and beyond your reasoning, but keep trusting in Him and follow His paths.
15 A Good Word
"Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad." Proverbs 12:25
The book of Proverbs contains so many truths in such simple verses. How many times have you been feeling so low that your heart and shoulders were stooped? How wonderful it is when someone says something that lifts your spirit. When you notice that someone around you is feeling low, take time to offer him or her a good word. When someone seems short-tempered or hateful with you, try to say something kind to him or her. You don't know what has made his/her heart heavy. It is always uplifting to hear a "good word" from a special friend when you are feeling discouraged. Be that special friend. Offer a "good word" and make someone glad.
16 Don't Be A Talebearer
"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." Proverbs 26:20
Ouch. This verse pricks to the heart. We looked at how good pleasant words can be, but here is a contrast to how bad gossip can be. How many times have we been guilty of throwing wood on the fire? It is human nature to want to gossip and talk about people, but as Christians, we should care about people enough that we would not want to hurt them. And our careless words do harm others. Verse 22 goes on to say, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Just as we would never stab or physically harm others, we should be careful also of what we say about them. Be a fireman... help put out those fires.
17 Six Things The Lord Hates
"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." Proverbs 6:16-19
First on the list of things God hates is a proud look. God wants us to humble ourselves. As we look at the remaining things on this list of things God hates, we see that three of the seven things come out of our mouth, and another one comes out of our heart. God hates a lying tongue. This is listed before "hands that shed innocent blood". It is listed again under different wording as "a false witness that speaketh lies". We should always be truthful in what we say. Those we are talking with may not know when we are not telling the truth, but God always knows. Then the last thing listed is "he that soweth discord among brethren". In I Timothy 5:13 they are called "busybodies, speaking things which they ought not". We need to choose our words carefully. Don't stir up trouble. Walk close to God and be careful to avoid these things that the Lord hates.
18 Pride, The Path Of Destruction
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
This is a good verse to memorize. We know many people who lift themselves up in pride, only to fall and sink into destruction. "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." (Proverbs 29:23) Let's look at some of the other results of pride. "When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2) "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom." (Proverbs 13:10) Let's look at our verse once again... "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." If we lift ourselves up in pride, we will fall. But we also read, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:10) Read God's Word. See how big God really is, and you will see how small you are. Humble yourself, and God will lift you up.
19 The Eyes Of The Lord
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3
What a difference it would make if everyone believed this. What a difference it would make if those of us who do believe this, would continually remember it. We all look at Jonah and say how silly it was for him to try to hide from God. But how many of us are trying to hide our sins from God? Many think that things are not wrong if they don't get caught. But God sees all and knows all. He even knows the pride and envy in our hearts. We can't hide anything from God. But look at the last word in our verse. "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." God also sees the good. There are times when you don't think it matters that you are doing the right thing. You don't think your efforts make a difference. But God not only sees the bad, He sees the good. Keep doing those things for Him that you think are unnoticed. Keep serving the Lord. You may think your part is so small that it doesn't really matter, but God sees all. He knows your heart. Remember that God is watching over you continually.
20 A Message In A Love Song
"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." Song of Solomon 7:7
We looked at a few of the many proverbs of King Solomon, so now let's look at a love song by the wise king. Song of Solomon begins, "The song of songs, which is Solomon's. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine." (Song of Solomon 1:1 & 2) The book is filled with messages of love between the bride and the bridegroom. "He brought be to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." (2:4) "My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies." (2:16) When I read this little book, I am reminded of the love of my God. Our verse above describes a man who gives everything he has for love. Well, that is just what my God did for me. He gave His only begotten Son, to die for me. Not for anything good that I could do, but for the love He has for me. "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." (John 3:16) "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. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 2:7 & 8)
21 A Message Written On The Ground
"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law comanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground." John 8:1-8
I titled this, "A Message Written On The Ground", but I could have just as easily called it, "A Message Of Forgiveness". A woman was taken to Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees pointed their fingers at her in accusation. She was guilty, caught in sin. But Jesus acted as though He didn't hear them. As they pointed their fingers at her, Jesus wrote with His finger on the ground. Many times throughout the week, people come to us with accusations of others. They spread stories that hurt and condemn our friends and family. How do we react to their gossip? Do we point our fingers at them and spread the fire even more? We should react as Jesus did, as though we don't hear them. Instead of pointing our fingers at others we should imagine that our fingers are in our ears. The scribes and Pharisees were convicted by their own consciences and walked away. "...And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) Be forgiving, as Jesus was.
22 A Message In A Book
"Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever. For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:" Job 19:23-25
Job wrote these words so many years ago, and it is as though they were graven with an iron pen in a rock forever. When we are discouraged and the headaches and heartbreaks of this world get us down we can go to God's Word and find messages of help and comfort. We can say with Job, "...I know that my redeemer liveth..." The Bible is the greatest book ever written. It is God's Holy Word and even after all these years, the Word still speaks to us. We have been talking about the messages of God and we see examples of all of them in our Bible. If we ever stopped to think that we have the written Word of God available at our fingertips, we would read it time and time again and meditate on it to understand what God is telling us. This Book, our Holy Bible, can lead us and guide us and give us messages of love, joy, hope, peace, and encouragement. Take some time to read your Bible today and see what message God has for you.
23 Seven Letters to Seven Churches
One of the most common forms of a message is a letter. Some of the best known letters in the Bible are the seven letters to the seven churches at the beginning of the Book of Revelation. There are three different interpretations of these seven letters. Some think the letters are literal letters to seven churches in John's day. Other commentators think that each letter contains a message that can be personally applied to every church. A third group interprets the letters as showing the seven chronological periods of church history. All of these interpretations are possible.
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; these things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil..." (Rev. 2:1-2) Each letter contains the phrase, "I know thy works..." It means much more to us to get personal letters from people that we know and who know us, as opposed to "junk mail". But a letter from a God who knows every thought and action of our life is a bit disarming. Psalm 139:6 says, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."
But another phrase that is found in all seven letters is the phrase, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches..." (Rev. 3:7) If something is extremely important, the U.S. Post Office can send the letter certified, and require a signature. The person who sends the certified letter has written proof that the letter was received. God says seven times in Revelation 2 and 3 that we have ears, and we had better hear what He has to say to us. We will study the seven letters over the next seven days.
24 The Letter To The Church At Ephesus
A "Dear John letter" refers to a letter one receives that informs you that you are no longer loved. In contrast, the Apostle John's letter to the church at Ephesus was a letter informing the church that the church no longer loved the Lord, at least not at the level that it had loved previously. John begins the letter on a positive note (as he does with most of these letters) and he states: "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." (Rev. 2:2-3) The church at Ephesus was strong. John stresses that their works, their patience, and their ability to discern true apostles of God were positive strengths. But then comes the bad news of the letter. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Rev.2:4) How many churches and individual Christians are strong in so many areas of their lives, and yet they have something wrong? It is not their doctrine. It is not their effort, for they are working hard for the Lord, and they show Christian patience. They are not "fainting" or growing "weary of well-doing". They have simply left their first love. Gradually we drift away from the love that bought our salvation on the cross. There are many romantic relationships in which no one gets angry or upset, and yet two people fall gradually out of love with each other. In our Christian walk we must guard against losing our love for Christ. One preacher put it this way: "Failure in the Christian life is rarely a blowout; it is usually a slow leak." John warns the church in verse 5 to "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent..." Is your Christianity a burning relationship with the Saviour, or has it become a grudging labor? Be careful not to leave your first love. Keep Christ first, but keep your love for him current and real.
25 The Letter To The Church At Smyrna
I heard an old preacher say years ago, "The church always fails at the moment that it becomes self sufficient." On the other hand, it is interesting that when the church suffers persecution, it grows rapidly. That is the message of the letter to the Church at Smyrna. John says, "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)..." (Rev. 2:9) The church at Smyrna was suffering great persecution, but it stayed faithful and strong. Rev.2:10 says "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, thay ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." It is a spiritual paradox that when we think we are poor, we are actually rich. If we are faithful unto death, we will receive a crown of life.
The Smyrna church seems to represent the church during the age of the early martyrs. (There were ten periods of persecution by ten different Roman emperors.) But it can also represent any church that suffers persecution or is burdened with poverty. We cannot control those two factors, but we are told to "fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer."
John ends the letter by saying, "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." The first death is physical death, which we all will experience unless we are alive at the Lord's return. But Christians do not have to fear the second death, being cast into eternal darkness and separation from God.
26 The Letter To The Church At Pergamos
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges..."(Rev.2:12) John begins his letter by identifying the author of the letter. John is writing, but God Himself is dictating what the letter is to say. It is God who has the "sharp sword with two edges." Rev. 1:18 describes Jesus as having the "sharp twoedged sword" coming out of His mouth. What is the sword? Hebrews 4:12 says that the "word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword..."
The letter continues by saying, "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest..." Indeed, the problem with the Church of Pergamos was the same problem with many churches today. It is natural that a church dwells in the world, but it is unnatural when the world dwells in the church. The Church of Pergamos was "holding fast" God's name, and they had "not denied" their faith. (Rev.2:13) But verse 14 says, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." The Old Testament prophet taught Balac the way to corrupt Israel was to get them to intermarry with the Moabites. The result was idolatry and sexual immorality. Israel was commanded to stay separated from the world, but they failed to do so. The Church of Pergamos had let down their guard, and the world had become a part of the church.
Verse 15 makes a reference to the Nicolaitanes, and it is unclear what doctrine this group held. It is interesting, however, that the Church at Ephesus hated the deeds of this group, as did God. (Rev.2:6) But now the Church at Pergamos had members that openly held this doctrine. In much the same way, some of our modern churches now openly condone sins that all churches condemned only a few years ago.
Rev.2:16 presents the solution: "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly..."
27 The Letter to the Church at Thyatira
"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;" (Rev.2:18) The fourth letter, and one of the longest, is to the Church at Thyatira. The interpretation of this letter, like much of the Book of Revelation, is very difficult to understand. If you view the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches as being chronological, as a picture of church history, this church is more wicked than Smyrna or Pergamos. God says, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first." (Rev. 2:19) Notice all the positives that some in the church were showing in their lives. But then comes the negative: "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee..." (Rev.2:20) The main charges concern "that woman Jezebel". Apparently a woman in the church claimed to be a prophetess, but then she proceeded "to teach and to seduce my servants." The following verses show the judgment that will come to this woman. (Rev.2:21-23)
But notice that even in the midst of all this evil, many individuals in the Thyatira church were staying true, and God encourages those people: "But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations..." (Rev.2:25-26) As the world seems to get more and more wicked over time, we must take a lesson from these Thyatira Christians--we must stay true in spite of all that goes on around us.
28 The Letter to the Church at Sardis
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." (Rev.3:1-2) What a sad statement about a Christian or a church--to have a name that you are a Christian but to be spiritually dead! How sad to profess and not possess. The letter continues: "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent." (Rev.3:3) The Sardis church had received enough gospel to be converted, but many were not saved. "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Rev.3:4-5) What percentage of church members are true Christians? I'm sure the numbers vary, but in Sardis there were only a few true believers. If you interpret the seven letters as being chronological, or seven periods of church history, then it appears that the Sardis church is very similar to our modern day churches. Notice the warning in verse 3: "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Like Sardis, we must hold fast, and repent.
29 The Letter to the Church at Philadelphia
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write...I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." (Rev.3:7-8) The word "Philadelphia" means "the city of brotherly love." It is the most positive church of the seven. The letter continues: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev.3:10-11) The Philadelphia church appears to be a picture of the true church at the time of the Lord's second coming. It has an "open door" set before it. Like Philadelphia, we have an "open door" set before us--we have an opportunity to reach others. How long will that door of opportunity be open? The Lord says, "Behold, I come quickly." We must do what we can for God in the time that we have left. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Rev.3:13)
30 The Letter To the Church at Laodicea
"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; 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." (Rev.3:14-16) The opening lines of this letter contain some of the strongest words from God in the entire Bible. To paraphrase what God is saying, this church makes God sick! Why is this language so strong? The letter continues: "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." (Rev.3:17) The picture here is of a church that is in "need of nothing." When we reach the place that we feel we are self-sufficient, we truly make God sick. Many of our modern-day churches are financially strong, have beautiful buildings, have a number of active ministries, and have large memberships. The only thing missing...is God. Many individuals are in the same condition. If our hearts are on fire for God, that is great. If our hearts get cold, we can often see our condition through the Word of God. But if we are lukewarm, we are in a sad state. Revelation 3 closes with a picture of Christ. Notice the location of the Lord: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Rev.3:20) It is sad that in the Laodicean church, and in many churches in our day, Christ is not active inside the church. Sadly, He is standing outside, knocking at the door, seeking to come in and fellowship with His beloved bride.
31 Lay It On The Altar
"And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. Of truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 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. Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only." Isaiah 37:14-20
King Hezekiah received a letter of war and he knew that he did not have the power to stand against the king of Assyria. He took the letter and spread it out on the altar before the Lord. He took his problems and laid them on the altar and prayed to God to hear him and answer his prayer. The prophet Isaiah went to Hezekiah with a message from God Almighty. "Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt in Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisrock his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword..." (Isaiah 37:33-38) We serve a strong and mighty God. When the world comes against us, we need to pray and lay our problems on the altar just as Hezekiah did. He is still on His throne and He still hears and answers prayers.
32 Letters From Paul
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" Ephesians 1:1-4
First, I want to thank my husband for writing the devotions from the seven letters to the seven churches. Many parts of the book of Revelations are hard to understand and I appreciate his help in that segment of our devotions. Those were not the only letters written to churches during that time. The Apostle Paul wrote several letters to many of the churches he visited on his missionary journeys. He begins many with exhortation as he encouraged his Christian brothers and sisters. He opens the letter to Ephesus above by reminding them of the Lord's blessings. The letter to the Colossians begins, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossee: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you," In the first few verses of I Thessalonians (1:2-3) he says, "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." He begins the letter to the Philippians (1:1-3) in much the same way, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ... Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy," Wouldn't it be wonderful if we began our letters and messages to one another with such love and encouragement. We should follow Paul's example and pray always for each other.
33 A Chance To Repent And Escape Judgment
"And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoikim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." Jeremiah 36:1-3
God gave Jeremiah a message in a roll of a book. The book was read in the house of the Lord "in the ears of all the people." (verse 10) The book was then read to "all the princes." (verse 12) "Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words." (verse 16) The people and the princes heard the Word of the Lord and were afraid of God's judgment. "So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them." (verses 23-25) The king didn't want to hear the Word of the Lord so he threw it in the fire. Was that the end? No, God told Jeremiah to write another roll just like the first roll. The end of the chapter tells of the judgment God would bring on the king and his household. God uses His Holy Word, the Bible, to talk to us today. We don't burn it in the fire, but do we listen to His Word? How often do we close it up and put it on a shelf, day after day, untouched, unread? God gave His children a chance to repent, but they refused to listen. God sent Jesus with this message, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Don't reject His Word. Repent, and let Him save you today, before judgment comes.
34 Are You On Good Ground?
"A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:5-8
We have been talking about messages from God and yesterday we saw what one king did with God's message. Today I want to ask you, "What have you done with God's message?" Let's look at the meaning Jesus gave for this parable. "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 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. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." (Luke 8:10-15) Notice that they all heard the Word, but they did not all receive the Word and bring forth fruit. Are you on the good ground? Don't let the devil snatch God's gift of salvation away from you. There is also the danger of letting temptation, riches or the cares of this world rob you of salvation. Be planted on the good ground. Hear the Word of God and be fruitful.
35 Is The Word Precious To You?
"And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision." I Samuel 3:1
We are coming to a close with our theme of God's messages. The question that we want to think about today is, "Is the Word of God precious to you?" In our verse above we read that "the word of the LORD was precious in those days..." Look at how far we have come. We are blessed to have the written Word of God. We have the knowledge and understanding to read and study His Word. We have the freedom and liberty to go to church and worship and fellowship with one another. Modern technology carries the Word across radio, television, and computers. The Word of God is more accessible to us today, than at any other time in history. But, think about this question, "Is the Word of God precious in our lives?" Think about it.
36 The Lord Gave The Word
"The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it." Psalm 68:11
The Bible is an amazing book. "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it." God used men and women of all ages, through thousands of years, and preserved His Word for us. God spoke to Samuel when he was just a young child. (I Samuel 3) God spoke to Moses out of the midst of a burning bush. (Exodus 3:4) God's voice thundered from Mount Sinai (Exodus 19 & 20) and yet He spoke to Elijah in a still small voice (I Kings 19:12-13). We have books of women, Ruth and Esther, and the wonderful letters of Paul. We can read of the wisdom of Solomon, and the weeping of Jeremiah. God gave us the story of the beginning in Genesis, all the way to the end of time in Revelation. He spoke and they listened, faithfully recording His Words. Many have tried to destroy the Word. King Jehoiakim cut the scroll with a penknife and cast it into the fire, but the Lord gave the words to Jeremiah a second time. (Jeremiah 36) When the maniac of Gadara was saved we read, "And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." (Mark 5:20) We too, should publish all great things God has done for us.